I would like to ask how you have dealt with the problem of these pool lights being underwater, probably to a depth of between 5 or 8 feet.
Having been a sports diver for some 35 years I can tell you that little focused light escapes the surface of the water when a light is beamed up to the surface. The underside of the water acts like a mirror. Carrying such a beam even further to the cloud base seems implausible to me. The pool lights themselves were likely diffuse and meant only to light within the pool rather than project above the surface. Additionally they would have been sealed in a waterproof transparent recess [for obvious safety reasons] which lens would have further degraded the illumination.
Nova Scotia, Canada
[Next to being a sports diver, Don LEDGER is a pilot and a well-known UFO researcher. He authored two books on UFOs and one on the investigation of a 1998 airliner crash that killed 229 people.]
Our reply :
Thanks to Don LEDGER for his pertinent remarks regarding the degradation of the pool-light beams. We considered this point when we prepared our article on the Montreal case, and concluded that the fact of the lights being underwater did not weaken our explanation. Three reasons:
(1) Judging from the time exposures taken by Mr. LAROCHE, the lights over the Bonaventure Hotel were not very bright. This can also be deduced from the fact that none of the witnesses used the word "bright" in his or her description.
(2) The helicopter sequence from the CBC Newswatch broadcast shows the separate pool lights quite clearly.
(3) The cloud base was relatively low : between 3,500 and 4,200 feet (between 1,148 m and 1,377 m).
Especially this last point may have contributed to the quality of the reflected image. Compare this altitude for instance with the altitude of the reflecting cloud base in the case of the reflection photographed by Belgian amateur astronomer Joël BAVAIS at Ath. In this particular case, the spotlights were reflected in an ice-crystal cloud at 22,500 feet !
But most importantly of all, we should keep in mind that what we are dealing with here are images reflected in a cloud of billions of horizontally oriented tiny mirrors, not a beam of light illuminating the base of a cloud deck.
Mr. LEDGER also ran our conclusions about the Montreal incident past Dr. Richard F. HAINES, the principal investigator of the case. In his reply Dr. HAINES writes :
Anyone who understands how light is reflected by small diameter water droplets (cloud, fog) knows that the collection of rain, cloud, fog scatters as the cosign of the incident angle impinging on each particle. Because there are so many microscopic particles the integrated effect is a diffuse area of illumination not separate bright sources as the several eye witnesses here stated (and sketched). There is no way that a single (or many) individual spotlights aiming upward from this hotel roof could reflect back down as separate individual light sources !
As we have stated above and in our evaluation of the case, our attempted explanation holds that the lights over the Bonaventure hotel were caused by light reflecting off of the flat surfaces of ice crystals in high cloud, not by "light reflected by small diameter water droplets". We are not talking about fog, but about ice crystal layers situated at altitudes roughly between 5,000 and 23,000 ft (1,500 and 7,000 m). When there is more than one light source, and the observer is standing close to these lights, the reflected pillar-shaped images will appear to converge near the zenith, creating a star-shape pattern. It is our conviction that this is what happened in Montreal on November 7, 1990.
The mechanism behind this rare optical phenomenon is explained in Chapter 2 of our six part article Light pillars in cirriform clouds.
In a later mail to Don LEDGER, Dr. HAINES gave to understand that he still stands behind the report he and GUENUETTE compiled back in 1992. An attitude that, we think, does not reflect good sportsmanship.