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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Nov > Nov 20

Re: Pilots & UAP

From: Don Ledger <dledger.nul>
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2007 15:42:45 -0400
Archived: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 08:06:01 -0500
Subject: Re: Pilots & UAP

>From: David Rudiak <drudiak.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 19:57:56 -0800
>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 Conference


>>>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.


>>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.

Good points Dave.

I'll add a couple of others, if I may, re. a pilot's ability to
estimate distances.

First it should be understood that once hands-on flying works
its way into your life you soon lose your prejudice of distances
and what you perceived on the ground. You start to measure with
known distance markers you become familiar with. Radio comes
into play. For example, you are 15 miles back from an airport
and when you report in to tower, identify yourself and your
intentions to to get permission to enter that zone, they come
back with permission and then advise of traffic and the active
runway, etc., even though you might have the Automatic Terminal
Information Service.

They will advise of say a B-767 or A-340 on final for a runway
and another aircraft number two for that runway perhaps a bit
further away than that. Even at that 15-20 mile range-assuming
no intervening cloud or haze - you can pick out the aircraft.
The radio, via tower, has given you the range and now you see
the aircraft at that range and gain a estimate of its size at
that range. This happens so often that you get used to
estimating sizes.

It is hard to explain but once in the air and with years of
experience you can tell aircraft types and range from great
distances. The same holds true with ground detail. For example,
flying out of North Bay, Ontario in 1987 for the American Soo
[Sault St. Marie] and having popped up to 8,500 feet, the 1,200
foot smoke stack at the Inco mine in Sudbury was clearly visible
65 miles away.

The fly in the ointment here is that some unknown cannot be
positively identified for its size since you don't know its make
and type - obviously - but if it is within range of known ground
markers, hills, mountains, towers, airports, lakes,
intersections on major highways or as you have suggested, Dave,
between your airplane and another known aircraft-make whose
distance you can estimate because you know what its apparent
size will be at various distances.

Other things come into play such as flight characteristics,
reflectivity, outline, color attitude, movement against the
background and odd behavior.

Perception is a very necessary thing for pilots. Even with a
fixed rate of descent and glideslope, when it comes to setting
the wheels on the pavement you still need your perceptive
ability to know just exactly when to flare so the wheels contact
just at the stall. It gets even more important whan you are in
the flare on a 747 and your ass is 90 feet off the ground and
the main wheels are 100 feet behind you.

Don Ledger

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



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