This image was captured near Harbour Mille, N.L., by resident Darlene Stewart on Jan. 25.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday that he doesn't know what people in southern Newfoundland saw recently but he promised the federal government does have plans to help them.

"We will provide money to build a landing strip for UFOs at Harbour Mille," said MacKay, speaking in St. John's to announce federal funding for road construction in the province.

"No, I'm only kidding. I'm joking. That's a joke."

Jokes aside, MacKay said there's no need to worry about the unidentified flying object.

"We've checked with other countries and we'll continue to do so but I don't think it is any cause for panic," said MacKay.

Comments called laughable

A model plane flier said an earlier a comment from the Prime Minister's Office about a mysterious object spotted near Harbour Mille is laughable.

Thursday, a federal government spokesperson suggested people in Newfoundland and Labrador like to launch model rockets.

Ed Welsh, who heads a model plane club in Swift Current, north of where the unidentified flying object was photographed on Monday, said he's not aware of any model-rocket activity in that area.

He also questioned why anyone would launch a model from a boat.

"Why would a model enthusiast, why would they pile everything aboard of a boat and go out offshore, when they could do the exact same thing on land?" asked Welsh Friday.

Welsh also said the object's flame and smoke were too intense to be from a model rocket.

So far, RCMP, public safety and military officials have refused to offer an explanation for the object.