Since the release of a report analyzing a UFO video allegedly captured by a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) aircraft using a thermal imaging camera, online UFO researchers have shared a lot of opinions. Several have come up with alternate theories. However, the few experts that have shared an opinion support the findings in the report.
The report was authored by a group of UFO researchers with backgrounds in science and technology who have posted their findings on a website called the Scientific Coalition for Ufology (SCU). You can read more about their findings in a previous story on OpenMinds.tv and in the video below.
Robert Powell, one of the authors of the report, who is also the Director of Research for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), says they have heard from a French organization called The Aeronautical and Astronautical Association of France (3AF). They are an important mainstream organization in Europe, similar to the United State’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Powell says they have been impressed with the SCU’s findings, and they also do not have an explanation for the object in the video.
Another expert who has offered an opinion on the report is Dr. Richard Haines, a former research scientist for NASA. He told Billy Cox of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, “For a number of reasons, I don’t believe it is a hoax. It does deserve a lot more serious study for what it may tell us about small volume, generally globular (i.e., contained), dynamic, heat-emitting resources.”
Haines is the founder of a non-profit organization called the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP). NARCAP examines UFO encounters from an air safety perspective.
Haines told Cox they received a copy of the video from a witness in 2013. However, NARCAP decided not to investigate due to questions about how the video was acquired.
“[Restricted access] has still not been determined by anyone as far as I know,” states Haines, “and that is one of the reasons we (NARCAP) did not proceed with any more than a cursory examination of the video long ago when we first learned of it. We wanted to (and still want to) play by the rules, so to speak, in this regard considering that it might have been classified information.”
Morgan Beall, another member of the SCU team, told Cox something similar to what he told OpenMinds.tv in a recent interview on Open Minds UFO Radio interview.
Cox wrote: “According to our witness,” says Beall, the Florida State MUFON director who coordinated the investigation, “Air Force intelligence kicked it back down, said ‘We don’t know what it is,’ and said to call the 800 number of a civilian research organization. Actually there are two to three witnesses, and when there didn’t appear to be any interest from the upper echelon, their attitude was, well, does that mean we’re free to talk about it? And that’s when the leaks started.”
The expert with the most experience with the exact type of thermal imaging system used to capture the video has asked that his full name and the company he works for not be printed. OpenMinds.tv did have access to his name and personal information, and we were able to confirm his identity and experience. However, he says he still works on government contracts and did not want to jeopardize his career, but he and his colleagues do find the video fascinating, so they wanted to share their expertise.
This expert’s name is Dave, and he says he is a “Infrared Specialist that is quite familiar with government FLIR systems, including the one in question.” He says, “I have 10 years of experience with infrared systems and I have viewed thousands of hours of combined live and recorded video.”
He says, “The absence of any obvious propulsion system and the heat it generates is quite fascinating. The object’s movement is atypical to what I generally see in infrared video; it moves more like a projectile.”
Dave also doesn’t believe the video is fake. He writes: “It’s my opinion that the video is legitimate, it would be quite difficult to fake. The video is consistent to the manual tracking of an airborne object.”
Dave says he and his colleagues, who all have an interest in the video, don’t know what the object is.
Marc D’Antonio, MUFON’s photo and video analyst says he thinks the object might be a balloon. One of the main arguments the SCU researchers make that they believe rules this out is the speed the object is moving. However, D’Antonio says they got the speed wrong. He says the object is closer than it looks, and when the object appears to go behind trees and other objects, it is actually a system “anomaly.”
D’Antonio says he works with thermal imaging systems and has seen these sort of video anomalies before.
Dave disagrees. “I’ve watched balloons in the sky with IR before and they act differently than what is presented in the video. They tend to “ride the thermals” and either rise – or fall – in a haphazard fashion. Of course, this is all determined by the winds at the time, the lift the balloon still has, and its size. This object seems to have a determined path and it is almost linear in the nature of its travel. Granted the plane is moving, along with the FLIR rotating continuously left, and it can be easy to lose orientation. But what is interesting to me is the apparent speed of the object and heat.”
Dave says compared to the other heat sources in the video, such as the cars and the planes on the tarmac, this object is much too hot to be a balloon.
He continued, “As far as the object fading in and out, I don’t quite get what the gentlemen is referring to. There is a hot object that is moving through the sky, with all sorts of fluctuating background heat scenes. There seems to be little to none of auto-gain or auto-level in which the IR camera will make subtle adjustments in gain/level to enhance the picture. It appears to be fairly consistent. Thus, I would think it would be safe to assume that if the object was to fade in and out, it was behind trees, fog, buildings, etc.”
Another argument has been that the object is actually a bird. The most thorough argument to this theory has come from a paranormal investigator by the name of Chriss Pagani. She posted her analysis on her website U Debunked It.
Similar to D’Antonio, she feels the SCU group got the speeds wrong. She believes the object is closer, moving more slowly, and she also believes that wings can be seen in the video. Her theory also explains a strange part in the video where the object appears to split in two. She says the bird most likely landed on the water and the water on the wings caused it to cool down and not be seen on the video. At that point two birds took off, making it appear as the object split in two.
Dave disagrees with this theory also. However, he does think Pagani makes some valid points.
Dave wrote: “First, let me say that Chriss does point out that the FLIR is not tracking the object in question. That’s true. She says that it’s tracking the distance to the ground instead, with the distance at the bottom mid-right (in nautical miles). That’s true too. Even if the object was being tracked by the FLIR, I highly doubt [the object] would give a return to the laser rangefinder, which is used to compute the triangulation. A ship – yes. A plane – yes. This small of an object, moving at a different angle – no way. There really is no way to determine the speed of the object in this video, IMHO. To me, it really doesn’t matter how fast it’s traveling – that’s not relevant to what’s odd with this object.”
As for the wings, Pagani argues, “Some people have objected that you can’t see wings, but you can – only at certain points. You have to remember that this is infrared video; it’s reading heat signatures. Since wings are thin and have low vascularization, they have a very low heat signature. To infrared, they are almost invisible.”
“No. Here, she is wrong,” says Dave. “But, let’s say she was right. Wouldn’t the cool wings then in effect be blocking the heat of the body? How can she justify the circular appearance of the object if the big cool wings are in the way? This cool wing theory is just speculation on her part. The truth is that the wings of a large bird are clearly visible to an IR camera. I know this for a fact, because I see vultures, heron, osprey, and all sorts of birds in flight at work all of the time. The next time we run a system outside, I’ll see about getting some video for you. You can watch them riding the thermals, changing directions and body position accordingly. Knowing that the wings are indeed visible, this object would show them if it were a bird. Even if it was gliding the whole way, it then would not be circular in appearance, given the long wingspans of pelicans.”
Dave adds, “The first thing that pops out is the linear nature of the travel of the object. That’s not normal to any bird I’ve seen. There doesn’t seem to be any fluctuation in elevation, as most birds do while flapping wings. There’s no real change in direction. That’s the weirdest part of it. Then there’s the heat signature itself. What is circular, travels in a linear direction, and has no obvious moving parts or wings? At that heat – which is around the same heat as a jet engine or car exhaust? Not a bird.”
Another suggestion has been that the object is some sort of drone, but Dave has ruled that out also. He says, “I doubt the object is a human-made drone, due to the speed at which is moving and the lack of tilt. Not to mention that it’s being flown at night and the distance it’s covering.”
Dave says he and his buddies in “the shop” don’t know what the object in the video is. He says, ” Nobody knows FLIRs like we do and it’s nothing we’ve seen before.”
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