The Falcon is a 48-foot-long blimp that can fly silently, equipped with a NASA-quality camera to pick out a giant ape from the sky. If it ever gets off the ground, it could finally confirm or deny the legend of the creature lurking in our forests.
There are two ways to explain why Bigfoot can’t be found. There’s the conventional view–that Bigfoot doesn’t exist–and then there’s what we might call the Donald Rumsfeld view: that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. In this view, we haven’t found Bigfoot because we haven’t looked hard enough. Specifically, we haven’t looked with drones.
This is the raison d’etre of the Falcon Project. It’s a kind of supernatural missing persons mission, calling for “eyes in the sky” in combination with a “quick response investigative ground team.” They would spend months at a time scanning undisclosed locations with high Bigfoot potential, hoping not only for irrefutable video, but to make contact. “You know, putting out a transmitter in a banana that can be passed through the gut and while it’s internal serve as a tracking device,” says principal investigator Jeff Meldrum. “Those kinds of things.”
Those kinds of things. As outlandish as the plan sounds, it has the imprimatur of Idaho State University, which set up an account to receive tax-deductible donations. The reason why is Meldrum. He’s the most reputable face not only of the Falcon Project, but of all Bigfoot belief. Meldrum is a tenured professor at ISU who teaches human anatomy and publishes papers on how (non-Bigfoot) primates walk. When I spoke with him, he was late because his students were busy cutting up cadavers. “We just did the abdominal wall and the inguinal canal,” he said.
But a sizable hunk of Meldrum’s CV falls under the category of “cryptozoology,” where he applies his knowledge of primate gaits to footprints identified by amateur Sasquatch-ologists. This work is published not in Science or Nature, but places like his own journal of Bigfoot Studies, the Relict Hominoid Inquiry. “Some would label me as a crackpot, and [say] that I’m an embarrassment to the university,” says Meldrum. But publicity is publicity. “ISU has in some ways been kind of put on the map as the only university that has a resident faculty member who is publishing on this subject,” says Meldrum. “And that’s noteworthy.”