Effects that make ordinary events into UFOs

The following are common effects that make people see UFOs instead of the common, everyday items that were actually present:

  1. "UFO MODE" - When a UFO report comes into a military base or a police station, the men on duty start seeing lights, RADAR targets, and other objects they normally would have ignored as UFOs. To them, anything out of the ordinary becomes a UFO.
  2. "TOLD WHERE TO LOOK" - Spurious RADAR targets and unrelated lights are combined when either the RADAR operator or a visual sighter tells others where to look. They then pick up normally uninteresting lights or spurious targets as the UFO.
  3. "INDEPENDENT EVENTS" - Several mundane events that have nothing to do with each other may overlap in space and time to an observer to produce a strange effect. In one case, a seagull, a car, and construction machinery behind a hill combined to create a strange report.
  4. "ONLY IN THE CAMERA" - A camera, by freezing motion, can produce some UFOs that would be instantly identified by a witness on the scene. An example is a bird frozen in flight, which can produce a strange shape. Windblown leaves and flashbulb failures are other causes of UFO photos.
  5. "NEW EQUIPMENT" - Newly installed Moving Target Indicators (MTI) on RADAR sets caused both the 1952 Washington National sightings and the 1956 Lakenheath-Bentwaters sightings. This device has the ability to delete stationary ground targets from the RADAR display, but in doing so, it amplifies weak weather targets into clear planelike blips. Unfamiliarity with new devices can cause confusion. The 1964 Socorro NM case is an example of a new flying machine that none of the witnesses knew about.
  6. "OFFICIALLY WRONG" - Official misinformation can hide the truth behind the identity of a UFO. People see a UFO and call the air base. They say they have nothing in the air. But this totally ignores private and commercial flights. Likewise, commercial airports don't know about military and private flights, and private airports know about only the flights using that airport. Sometimes the military lies to cover up covert activities. The Rendlesham Forest-Bentwaters case is an example of this.
  7. "WRONG-WAY WINDIGAN" - People can be so misinformed about wind direction. A common misconception is that wind direction is the direction the air is moving toward. IT IS NOT! Wind direction is always reported as the direction the wind comes FROM, the direction most important to farmers and sailors. Also, the direction reported at an airport miles away is used to imply that the wind direction at the site is the same. Topography, obstructions, weather conditions, and different winds at different altitudes can make the wind direction for the object much different than that at the weather station.
  8. "BIGGER TO THE EYE" - Sun halation can expand a common silvery object into a large blob of light. The effect happens in the eye, on film, and in a video camera. The strong light scatters as it strikes the retina, film, or camera tube, and activates adjoining light sensitive areas. I once saw a DC-3 expanded to three times its size by sun halation. Also, witnesses often recall the object as being larger in angular size than it really was.
  9. "ILLEGAL ALIENS" - Some strange activities can be traced to people breaking the law. Smugglers were using model rockets for years along the Mexican-US border before the Border Patrol figured it out. Poachers may be responsible for the 1966 Dexter MI sightings. In at least one case, criminals released a fire balloon and reported it, to keep police busy while they committed their crime. On top of this, there are cases such as the HeavensGate type of scam, and the "Men-In-Black" tricks pulled by tabloids to heighten the UFO mystery.
  10. "VEHICULAR ASSUMPTION" - Some sighters get into trouble by assuming that what they see is a human sized vehicle of some sort. This then makes them assume the wrong size, and the wrong distance to the object. The size, distance, speed, and altitude of an unfamiliar object more than 30 ft (9 m) away cannot be determined by visual estimate, unless one of these values is accurately known by other means. This is the reason fire balloons and re-entries fool most people. They assume that the fire balloon is larger and farther away, and are amazed by the violent maneuvers. They make the meteoric fireball seem smaller and closer, and its speed seems fantastic.
  11. "JOIN THE CROWD" - Whenever a UFO sighting occurs, copycat sightings appear. Publicity hounds report similar sightings. Pranksters launch fire balloons to cause more UFO sightings. And in some cases, pranksters have created fake landing sites. So what started as a single UFO case turns into a wave of reports.
  12. "NEWS SENSATIONALISM" - While mysterious UFO sightings are still occurring, newspapers and TV stations cover them for the sensational headlines. They accept the descriptions, including distance and size estimates, as facts, even though such estimates are dubious at best. But later, when the true identity of the UFO(s) becomes known, the solution is published as a human interest story, if it is published at all. The news media are more interested in selling papers and advertising than they are in promoting the truth. The mystery is newsworthy, but the solution is not.