UFO UpDates
A mailing list for the study of UFO-related phenomena
'Its All Here In Black & White'
Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Nov > Nov 18

Re: Pilots & UAP

From: David Rudiak <drudiak.nul>
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 19:57:56 -0800
Archived: Sun, 18 Nov 2007 07:36:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Pilots & UAP

>From: Joe McGonagle <joe.mcgonagle.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 16:18:24 +0000
>Subject: Pilots & UAP [was: Question To FAA About National
>Press Club Conference]

>>From: Don Ledger <dledger.nul>
>>To: ufoupdates.nul
>>Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 11:43:00 -0400
>>Subject: Re: Question To FAA About National Press Club


>>A pilot might not know what he saw when reporting a UFO [anymore
>>than anyone else does] but the pilot will tell you what it was
>>doing, where it was coming from, altitude, attitude, speed,
>>direction, behavior, what the weather was at the time, the sky
>>conditions, angle of descent or ascent, position with reference
>>the pilot's aircraft, threat to that aircraft and the time
>>usually to the minute.


>Hi Don, List,

>Altitude, speed, attitude - if the pilot doesn't know _what_
>they are looking at, how big it is, how far away it is, or
>what (3-dimensional) shape it is, how can he determine these

>I don't dispute that a pilot could provide a good estimate of
>angular size, relative elevation/depression, and apparent
>vertical motion, but that's not quite the same is it?

Information such as direction of motion, behavior, or various
angular measures have nothing to do with knowing the distance,
shape, or size of the object. However, a pilot might have a
direct measure of distance from radar, or may be able to
estimate it from distances of known objects. E.g., if the pilot
sees the object pass in front of another plane of known
distance, or a building, a mountain range (e.g., Kenneth Arnold
sighting), pass directly underneath (hence between the plane and
the ground), etc., that gives him/her a good bound on the
maximal distance. In the recent Chicago O'Hare case, the object
was below a solid cloud layer of known altitude, then punched a
hole through it, which gave all the witnesses a later
investigators a very good idea of how far away it was and how

A less reliable but not useless means of grossly estimating
distance (used by everybody all the time) is atmospheric haze.
Objects relatively close will suffer little effects from haze
and be relatively sharp and of high contrast, whereas objects
far off in the distance will appear hazy and of low contrasts.
Thus we often have a rough idea of how far away a mountain range
may be just by the degree of haze. Although a crude measure, it
was the haze factor in the 1950 Trent photos that enabled
various researchers (such as our own Bruce Maccabee) to estimate
the distance and size of the object in the photos, and hence
distinguish between a distant, large object (genuine) and a
tiny, nearby one (hoax).

If the object were very close (less than about 1000 feet), the
pilot might be able to directly perceive the distance using
stereopsis (a form of neural triangulation). If the object was
greater than around a thousand feet, the pilot would no longer
associate a sense of depth to it. It's rather silly to claim
that pilots can't distinguish a nearby object flying right off
their wingtip from something miles away. Of course they can,
just like you or I can see that a small Christmas tree is only
100 feet from us instead of being a large pine tree a mile away.
Another clue to closeness might be turbulence associated with
the object.

If the pilot could compare notes with other observers situated
elsewhere, distance could later be calculated using
triangulation, just by knowing angular directions and elevations
from the different locations. This can be a very accurate way of
determining not just the distance, but other variables that
depend on the distance, such as object size and speed (just a
matter of multiplying the distance times the angular size and
angular speed).

Daylight sightings, where many distance cues may be available,
are obviously likely to yield much more quantitative information
than nighttime sightings. Obviously "lights in the sky"
observations are not going to be as reliable.

Thus there can be many possible clues to distance, and hence
size and speed. It is simply NOT true that a pilot (or anybody
else for that matter) can NEVER estimate distance/size/speed of
an unknown object with any accuracy. That, unfortunately, is
just debunker propaganda talk. It is more accurate to say that
distance, speed, size cannot be determined with accuracy in the
complete ABSENCE of any cues.

David Rudiak

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



[ Next Message | Previous Message | This Day's Messages ]
This Month's Index |

UFO UpDates Main Index

UFO UpDates - Toronto - Operated by Errol Bruce-Knapp

Archive programming by Glenn Campbell at Glenn-Campbell.com