'Meteor' Over Los Angeles That Sparked Confusion on Social Media Turns Out to Be Publicity Stunt

While Los Angeles has experienced some unusual weather-related events lately, fortunately, the fireball that lit up the skies on Wednesday and left many Angelenos baffled was not one of them.

The flaming object that suddenly appeared over Downtown Los Angeles last night looked similar to a meteor, but was slow-moving and seemed to dart from side to side, which isn’t the typical movement of a rock speeding into Earth’s atmosphere from space. Needless to say, the spectacle was confusing for people watching it from the ground.

“What is this flying item on fire above downtown Los Angeles?” wrote Twitter user Dennis Hegstad, who posted a video of the display that has garnered more than 2 million views.

“Anyone else see a giant meteor or fireball in the middle of downtown Los Angeles like a few minutes ago? It looked like a meteor but it was WAY too low to the ground,” wrote user Kasey Clark.

Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool

While L.A. may be used to seeing sparkly things in the sky thanks to the frequent launch of rockets from SpaceX, which has its headquarters in Hawthrone, the Los Angeles Police Department quickly dispelled any notion that the object was either from outer space or from Elon Musk.

“PSA: A meteor did not crash into Downtown Los Angeles, and no, it’s not an alien invasion… just a film shoot,” the department wrote on their Twitter page. “This is Tinseltown after all.”

Turns out, the firey object was actually a group of Red Bull-sponsored skydivers who jumped out of a helicopter 4,000 feet above the city to celebrate the final supermoon of the year.

“In order to mark the occasion, some of the most experienced skydivers, BASE jumpers and freeflyers on the planet in the Red Bull Air Force took to the skies above the famous American city for the aerial flight,” the company said in a statement.

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“Wearing wingsuits that shape the human body into an airfoil, they leapt from a helicopter 4,000 feet above LA and swooped into downtown at more than 120 mph.”

Red Bull skydiver | Andy Farrington/Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull skydiver | Andy Farrington/Red Bull Content Pool

The company continued: “To add a touch of Hollywood glitz, the suits were fitted with LED lights and sparking pyrotechnics that lit up the night sky as the sun set and the supermoon rose.”

For the amount of attention Red Bull’s fireball received on social media and television, it was clearly a success as far as publicity stunts go.

The display comes just days after the MIT Technology Review announced that a real-life meteor exploded over the Bering Sea in December that hit the planet’s atmosphere with a force equivalent to 173 tons of TNT — which is 10 times bigger than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.