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Flex has a UFO story too!

  1. Sep 21, 2010 #1


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    With the glut of UFO stories flooding the forum lately I thought I would share three of mine. I am an amateur astronomer and an avid astrophotographer; night sky phenomenon are not usually mysteries to me.

    1) It was a cold winter night, and I was set up in a rural peach farm far form light pollution. While taking a long exposure photograph, I laid back and stared up. I was trying to catch satellites out of the corner of my eye so I could watch them.

    While following one, I caught a bright one off to the side (about twice the brightness of the satellite I was watching). I seemed to grow dimmer once I looked at it, and then actually faded into nothing. I had never seen a satellite do this, certainly not one so bright! At first I was overcome with the feeling that I had seen something truly special. It was only in retrospect that I realized my cognitive bias.

    Firstly, I had seen it out of the corner of my eye, so the brightness was exaggerated as compared to what I was viewing. So my comparison of brightness was really quite invalid. Secondly , as it faded to nothing, it could've simply fallen out of sunlight or perhaps by looking at it, my eyes adjusted to the relative brightness and it drifted behind a high altitude cloud (hard to see even on good nights). Ultimately, I discounted it as being nothing other than a satellite despite the fact that I (an avid observer) had another satellite to compare it to and would've reported it as something exceptional.

    The reason I mention it is because the memory is so vivid. The event alone almost seems important to me, as a result, I feel the need to make it seem more important. The idea that it was just a satellite almost seems unfair since my heightened emotional state "couldn't be due to a satellite." Still, reality is reality.

    2) I was in Vermont with some family friends, and we had driven to a nearby town for dinner. On our way back we decided to drive down a few back-roads and enjoy the peaceful summer night. As far as we could tell, there were no man-made lights anywhere around. A thick fog set in on us as we crested a steep hill, my friend Art and I were observing the fog as suddenly an incredibly bright red light in the sky illuminated the entire interior of the car. The road was flooded with red light and the fog made it impossible to see anything. The driver stopped the car for safety reasons.

    The light suddenly turned off and by comparison we were in total darkness and could see nothing. At first everything was silent. The driver was the first to mutter an obscenity. Then the light came back on, even stronger than before and it seemed like everything was bathed in a red light. And it faded out again.

    It look a solid 7 or 8 seconds for us to realize that we had stumbled upon a radio tower and this was the warning beacon for aircraft. We had seen nothing leading up to it because of the thick forest, the steep hill, and the dense fog (cloud) which wasn't present at lower altitudes.

    By any measure the moment was intense. We all experienced the same moment of cognitive dissonance where our brains completely failed to integrate this new data into our picture of reality. I recall my heart essentially stopping the second time the light came on. My fight-or-flight response was triggered so heavily that I distinctly remember the feeling of being "caught," as though something had sprung a trap and caught me.

    3) This one is probably the best since it most closely matches the experience of others as an unexplainable aerial phenomenon which has the behavior of a plane but doesn't appear to be one.

    I was driving down the highway at night and saw a distinct plane shape off to my right. It was marked by 5 white lights that I could clearly see. They seemed to make out the shape of a cheese wedge with a 6th light being obscured by object.

    I assumed it was a large slow moving plane. The odd thing was that it was so slow moving that I was able to pass it completely. This didn't fit into my world view of a "plane." So I got off at the next exit (it was still visible) and backtracked. I lost sight of it and thought it had probably disappeared. When I turned around to get back to the highway, I spotted it "over a field" (I use quotes because it's likely that it was much farther away than I thought). It was now turned up on its side.

    I still don't know what it was for sure. But my best guess is that it was a large refueling plane and that I had sorely misjudged it's location initially; if thats' the case, then my first hunch was probably correct. If you simply assume you saw something incorrectly, or that you interpreted it incorrectly, you can slowly piece together a plausible situation. I would certainly say that I'm more likely to make a mistake in my perception than that I would see something truly unexplainable.


    Anyway, I hope that sharing some of my stories will help other people recognize how easily they can be fooled. There's nothing to be ashamed of, we all love being fooled; that's why we go to magic shows! Still, mystery and uncertainty are fun. you just have to be sure not to lose your objectivity.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2010 #2
    My guesses:

    1. It could have been a satellite. It could have been an airplane's landing lights, which often fold in before turning off. That might explain the fading. How long was the fade?

    2. Lol! I'll bet it was a bit shocking until you figured it out!

    3. Haven't a clue.

    Hey! Thanks for sharing!
  4. Sep 22, 2010 #3


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    I'm pretty sure #1 is a satellite and that viewing it had some how been compromised. Since it wasn't accompanied by any other obstruction (i.e. fuselage blocking stars), my guess is it was a satellite going behind some high altitude clouds. The fade out was maybe about 3 seconds. Long enough to realize what was happening and witness the fade.

    I didn't mention that I was with a friend (a very skilled night sky observer). He was convinced it was something more "exotic" (and still is). But he is also more prone to sudden fits of belief than I am.
  5. Sep 22, 2010 #4


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    OK Flex, I'll see your three and raise you three.

    It was 1970 - I was a mid teen school boy, working part time in a pasty / crumpet factory in a light industrial area in Sydney south west. Three floors up were the vats - large room size receptacles, into which I would spend my shift pouring bags of flour and other stuff (the dough was then gravity fed down to lower floors where production occurred). It was always hot and stuffy - stifling almost, like being in a sauna. Because of this, there was a good size balcony for workers to get a breath of fresh air during their breaks.

    4 AM - I was the only one on the floor (very low production period). Got my current quota of bags thrown in, regulated and turned on the water flow and the giant mixer, and went out to the balcony, facing south west. Beautiful clear night - only a few small clouds, and of course, the obligatory thin pall of industrial haze / pollution sitting over the area, as it always did. A few minutes passed. I can't recall if there was a moon or not that night. I stood up to go back in. As I did so, a round orb .. no, two, caught my eye, emerging past the side of the adjoining building. Each was approximately the size of a full moon, and the colour of the moon, but about one third of the moons luminosity. One was vertically below the other - about two 'moon' lengths below. They were at about 30deg above the horizon, and slowly moving laterally across the sky from my right to my left. WAIT ! Another two following them, just emerged from the side of the adjoining building, exactly like the first two. You could now say that the four of them formed a square, for each was the same distance from the other ... and .. now, ANOTHER two, the same as the others.

    Thus, I was now looking at two rows of three objects, silently, steadily, perfectly, moving horizontally across my field of vision. I say perfectly, because they seemed to be so perfect - no aberration in their movement whatsoever - just totally steady, and so fixed in their own pattern relative to each other, that you could say they were on a transparency being dragged across the sky. Their shape was perfectly round too, and as I said, about the size of the moon, but with no visible markings at all. I had no real way of knowing, but would guess that they were between one to two kilometres away from me, and over an area that I later determined, was predominantly heavy industrial.

    I watched them for a minute or two, but had to run back in to do my work. But over the next 10 minutes or so, I would run out to see - yep, they were still there, moving in their perfectly horizontal path from my right to my left over the horizon. As they approached the extreme end of my field of vision quite far away now, (there was nothing to obstruct them) they appeared progressively smaller, distorted, dull and wavy - a consequence of the increasing distance and the industrial air pollution, I figured, and disappeared into it.

    So that's it. I have no idea what they were. I heard nothing in the news subsequently about UFO sightings, and have heard nor seen anything like it since. But, I wasn't hallucinating, and the period of time of my observation, a total of about 15 minutes, allowed me to be fairly certain of what I was seeing.

    But I don't think they were alien space craft. And I'm certain they weren't an illusion.

    The ONLY other alternative ? Man made military / industrial things.

    What do you think ?
  6. Sep 22, 2010 #5


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    The girl I'm dating now had a very similar experience recently. She called me panicked asking what to do. She said there was something round and fairly bright (dimmer than the moon) flying around in the clouds. I asked her if the flight path was repeatable and she told me that it seemed to be two orbs following elliptical paths. They were over a relatively industrial/heavy commercial area.

    I asked her to discount the fact that they could be flying craft and asked her if they could be search lights, or spot lights from the ground. She swore to me that they weren't and asked if she should try to drive away, or go back inside and hide (she was just leaving her shift at Taco Bell... she's a bit younger than I).

    I told her not to move. Look at the ground. Gather her thoughts and look up again. Once she calmed down, she confirmed that, in fact, these were spot lights from the ground hitting clouds (that she "totally didn't notice").

    Alt, I'm not suggesting that you had ground spot lights in play here, but it could be possible that you were dealing with search aircraft (specifically helicopters). If there was a hazy cloud cover, the light might have been refracted and thinned so that it appeared as a larger orb with less intense light. And despite what many people think, helicopters and small planes can be very hard to hear even at relatively low altitudes. This is especially true on hot days.

    The procession of repeated lights seems to be the contending factor. Is there an airfield nearby?

    EDIT: I didn't mention that she kept calling them "the ships." So I knew what she was thinking. I insisted that she call them "the lights" to try to get her occipital lobe back on track and get rid of her preconceived notions.
  7. Sep 22, 2010 #6


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    No, no, no, and no.

    (But yes, I'm not the girl you're dating)
  8. Sep 22, 2010 #7
    FlexGunship, concerning #3 - there are perhaps a few reports submitted to MUFON each month of things that are the shape of an isosceles triangle. (Equilateral triangle reports occur every day, though.)

    One recent report was this one from Oregon, and they latter added these illustrations they created of it: http://www.mufoncms.com/files/25498_submitter_file1__img018.jpg [Broken], http://www.mufoncms.com/files/25498_submitter_file2__img019.jpg [Broken], and http://www.mufoncms.com/files/25498_submitter_file3__img020.jpg [Broken].

    (You can http://www.mufon.com/mufonreports.html [Broken] by things such as shape, if you're interested. Note that I personally find reports that contain photographs to be more likely something earthly [such as birds, bugs, balloons, lens flair] that is unknown to the observer rather than something that's difficult to explain and no one thought of taking or was able to get a picture of it so they only submitted a written report.)
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  9. Sep 22, 2010 #8


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    It wouldn't be an illusion if you knew it was an illusion. The one thing you could never be certain of is that it wasn't an illusion.

    Have you seen photographs of blimps at night? Could be a good explanation. They're the only single aircraft I know (off the top of my head) that has a rectangular pattern of marker lights.
  10. Sep 22, 2010 #9


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    Heh, I appreciate the effort. I'm quite sure it was a plane that I was viewing at an odd angle and improperly judging distance. I think if everyone that reported to MUFON was honest with themselves about their observational abilities, a lot of those reports would go away.

    I actually called MUFON (really; they claim to be based out of Pease commercial airport and air force base in NH) to see if they could tell me about any planes in the area, but all the guy wanted was a report. He had no interest in helping me find out what it was. So I flatly denied reporting what I saw.
  11. Sep 22, 2010 #10


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    I accept your semantic clarification regarding 'illusion'.

    They weren't a rectangular pattern of marker lights. I could see through the spaces between them, the clouds, stars, etc, as they passed in front.

    Helicopters - No. I've heard helicopters at a similar distance - clearly. These were 6 ! I would have heard 6 ! There was total silence in respect to these, and very quite in any case, as it was 4 AM !

    Search lights ? No ! I would have seen their beams through thin pall of air pollution, and would have seen some distortion of the orbs given that the source wouldn't have been me -ie, me perpendicular to it, to form the perfect circle. Also, they moved perfectly (to the limits of my perception) horizontally.

    Blimps ? I see 'em all the time (the Goodyear blimp, etc) over the touristy part of the Hunter Valley (grape growing region) where I have a hobby farm. I also see and hear hot air ballons, paragliders and the like - the area has got plenty of them. These were nothing like it. They were perfect orbs. Nothing attached to them.

    And I should clarify, the thin pall of air polluton, was just that - very thin. I could see clearly through it at the far distance, the outline of the Blue Mountains on the horizon, some stars, etc.
  12. Sep 22, 2010 #11


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    What color were they?

    [PLAIN]http://www.gettysburgghosts.net/orbchart.jpg [Broken]

    Joking aside, I suspect your recollection of the event has faded due to the passage of time. I have no doubt that what you experienced was thrilling and felt very intensely special to you; I wouldn't be surprised if your brain had reserved a special place for the event.

    However, we really only remember our perceptions and not our observations. If you remember the time of year, perhaps we could check UFO report databases to see if someone has a picture. Do you think a picture (or video) of it would help support your memory, or somehow diminish it?

    I fear it would be like the Paulding light where any explanation immediately invokes the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. "Oh, you explained it? Well, then it wasn't the real Pauling light."
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  13. Sep 23, 2010 #12


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    I see my retort to your above, and your subsequent, have disapeared. Fair enough I suppose, 'cause it was a little cheeky. But posting that silly colour chart, telekinetic powers 'n all Flex, was somewhat insulting. I believe I mentioned earlier that the objects were the same colour as he moon but about 1/3 as bright.

    No, my recollection is fairly clear. No, it wasn't particularly thrilling or intensely special. No I haven't reserved a special place for the event, although if you re-read your paragraph above, you might marvel (as do I) at how I managed to restrain my sarcasm here, so that the post doesn't get bleeped again.

    No, I remember my observation quite well. Interestingly, I don't think I got that exited about it. I wasn't much into Ufology or anything else - just hard work and trying to make a buck - my family was exceedingly poor back then.

    It was in 1970. I recall winter, and I never worked night shifts during school, so it must have been during school holidays, ie, the 2nd quarter school holidays during Aus winter, ie, around late July / early August 70.

    The factory mentioned, was called Golden Crumpets (I am 80% sure of this) and was located at Georges River Road, Croydon Park, NSW.

    You probably won't believe this, but I have no idea of what you're talking about here, nor know anything about the Paulding light. Yes, I have seen a thread of that title here, but never opened it (or don't recall having done so). I'll have a look, if you think it important.
  14. Sep 23, 2010 #13


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    You're right; I apologize. There's no reason to degrade to that type of discourse. I only posted it because, in my hunt to find images of orbs that might be similar, I came across the chart and thought it would be worth a laugh.

    I'm afraid that this is the same way in which people mis-remember all kinds of things. I'm not saying you did, I'm saying it's an unfortunate possibility. The lowest form of evidence available in the world is eye-witness testimony for this reason. We apply a cognitive bias to things we see.

    I'll look into this later (if you haven't already).

    No need to look it up. It's a "ghost light." Which seems to only appear to true believers. When skeptics observe it, it just dissolves into car headlights and taillights.
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