We have been investigating UFOs for 70 years (06/1947-06/2017). What have we actually learned?

We have learned the following:


  1. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) space picket RADAR system has never detected any UFOs entering or leaving the Earth's Atmosphere.

    Every object they detected was an expected object or a new foreign launch.

    -- This means that at least one of the following must be true:

    • UFOs do not come from outer space.
    • UFOs from outer space do not cause returns on NORAD RADAR systems.
  2. NO case has ever been conclusively proved to have involved any vehicle or entity from outer space.

    -- No UFO has ever exhibited any extraordinary flight characteristics that stood up under investigation.

    -- No UFO has ever exhibited any extraordinary emitted light characteristics or spectra that stood up under investigation.

    -- No UFO has ever been proved to have emitted radioactive particles or rays.

  3. NO evidence has ever been found that proved to be left by any vehicle or entity from outer space.

    -- No UFO has ever left any material or residue that, after investigation, proved to be made of anything extraordinary that is not available on this earth.

    -- No UFO has ever left any material or residue that has been exposed to the environment of space (as is found on crashed satellites and on our spacecraft).

    -- The above do not include naturally occurring meteors.

    -- Note that strange isotope ratios found in materials mean nothing today because:

    • Anyone can order any stable combination of compounds containing any wanted ratio of isotopes from chemical supply houses. This includes radioactive isotopes.
    • These mixtures are used to calibrate mass spectrometers and other analytical equipment.
  4. Many UFO sightings remained "unidentified" because the witnesses saw classified flights or devices.

    -- Often these sightings are in one or more of the following cases:

    • The UFO was a classified type of aircraft.
    • The UFO was an aircraft on a top secret mission (e.g. diplomatic).
    • The UFO was a top secret spy device (e.g. the Mogul Spy Balloon).

    -- The witnesses of these sightings were told that the military was unable to identify the objects they saw (so the secret would be kept).

  5. For the first year, the Army Air Corps (Air Force predecessors) and the Air Force thought UFOs were Soviet spy devices.

    -- The extraterrestrial hypothesis did not appear until their previous hypothesis was disproved.

    • The Soviets didn't have the technology to make what were being reported.
    • They thought the Soviets were using captured German technology, but German military records showed no scientific or engineering developments in that area.
    • The investigators proposed the extraterrestrial hypothesis in the Project Sign Estimate of the Situation in August 1948 because they couldn't think of anything else that explained the reports.
    • General Vandenburg rejected the extraterrestrial hypothesis and told them to redo the report.
    • They hadn't yet realized that not all of the UFO reports were describing the same kind of phenomenon. They were trying to find one kind of object that explained all of the cases.
    • They needed time to discover that UFO reports were a heterogeneous set of reports of unrelated objects that cause similar, but unrelated, stimuli.
  6. UFO reports are heterogeneous in nature.

    -- Each UFO report has its own cause, which can differ from the causes of other reports.

    • There are literally hundreds of different kinds of things that can be seen in the sky.
    • Any of these things seen in the sky can be something that is unknown to the witness.
    • Any of these things seen in the sky can be something that can be seen under unusual conditions.
  7. People are easily fooled by what they see in the sky.

    -- Most people can be confused when they see a normally familiar object in an unfamiliar way.

    • Anything seen for less than 5 seconds will be confusing because it will not have been seen long enough for identification.
    • Objects seen against a bright background are hard to identify.
    • Objects seen at a great distance are hard to identify.
    • Objects moving at a high angular velocity are hard to identify.
    • Objects seen through magnifying optics are hard to identify.
    • Lights in the sky are difficult to identify at night.

    -- Most people don't know about the huge variety of the things that can be seen in the sky.

    • Weather phenomena (clouds, lightning, storms, tornadoes, hail, windblown objects, rainbows, ice crystal refractions, etc)
    • Astronomical objects (stars, planets, comets, meteors, etc)
    • Animals that fly or glide (birds, insects, ballooning spiders, bats, gliding mammals, etc.)
    • Gliding objects produced by plants (seeds, leaves, etc.)
    • Balloons and other manned lighter-than-air flying machines (gas balloons, hot air balloons, blimps, dirigibles, etc.)
    • Airplanes and other manned heavier-than-air flying machines (propeller planes, jets, helicopters, military craft, missiles, hang gliders, etc.)
    • Rockets and other spacecraft (launches, re-entries, satellites, space stations, missiles, reflections from polished satellite surfaces, etc.)
    • Unmanned flying objects (drones, flying toys, kites, advertising banners, toy balloons, weather instrument balloons, etc.)
    • Non-flying objects (flags, vehicles, lights, parts of buildings, etc.)
    • Optical effects (reflections, focused sunlight, halation (bright sun expansion), shadows, shadows on clouds, mirages, etc.)
    • Advertising devices (towed banners, lighted signs on aircraft, smoke writing, signs on tall posts, beacons, tethered balloons, searchlights, fireworks, etc.)
    • Unusual things only rarely seen in the air. (radio antenna balloons from submarines, distress flares and signals, searchlights on aircraft, fireworks, smoke from explosive device tests, trap or skeet shooting targets, etc.)
    • Things not intended to be in the air (objects thrown into the air by accidents or explosions, advertising gimmicks that blew away, plastic bags, windblown boxes, things falling from airplanes, soapsuds foam, etc.)
    • Fake UFOs intended to trick sighters

      -- Objects placed in the sky (fire balloons - sky lanterns, flares on balloons, fireworks, lighted kites, flying toys, etc.)

      -- Light aimed at the sky (projected images, sun reflections, spotlights, LASERs, special lights, shadows, etc.)

      -- Scenes staged for others (marks on the ground, burned spots, broken branches, etc.)

    • Anything else that nobody thought of.

    -- Some people report as UFOs things that were tricks of their own vision.

    • Optical illusions
    • Reflections in windows
    • Distortions within the eye
    • Distortions caused by magnifying optics (binoculars, telescope, zoom lens)
    • Multiple reflections on eyeglasses
    • Hallucinations
  8. People are too quick to conclude that an unknown object seen in the sky is a vehicle capable of carrying a man.

    -- The Air Force purpose is to detect and stop invading aircraft and missiles, so they are looking for vehicles.

    -- People tend to not think of objects much larger or much smaller than a man-carrying vehicle:

    • Birds and insects are flying objects that most people don't think of.
    • Likewise, people usually don't think of stars or planets.
    • Moving clouds can hide the identity if a star or a planet.
    • Flying toys can look real.

    -- Some people report as UFOs things that were tricks of their own vision. They think of vehicles for these too:

  9. No astronauts or space research vehicles have seen evidence of extraterrestrial visitation.

    -- All of the cases of astronaut sightings have been identified:

    • Most of the vehicle sightings of astronauts in the Mercury and Gemini programs were classified spy satellites. This information became known in the 1990s.
    • The sightings in space by Apollo astronauts were jettisoned equipment from their own spacecraft (e.g. LEM cover doors).
    • Several photographs claimed to be UFOs were accidentally taken photos of the interior of the spacecraft.
    • Some videos taken in space show reflected images of the camera's iris.
    • A video showing objects that change course outside the space shuttle window actually shows small particles in the sun when the shuttle fired a thruster to adjust its attitude. The shuttle moved, not the objects.
    • A "what is that" conversation aboard the space shuttle was to identify a piece of equipment with a flashing light inside the cargo compartment.
    • ET UFO proponents have deliberately altered space conversations and photos to make them appear to support the ET UFO hypothesis.
    • New photos of the Mars face shows that it was a trick of light and shadow with the sun in one particular place.
  10. Unaided human eyes can't find the size or distance of something seen against the sky.

    -- Human eyes have the following limitations:

    • Lens accommodation (focus) for distance works out to about 20-30 feet (6-9 meters)
    • Eye convergence (angle between eyes) for near objects works out to about 20-30 feet (6-9 meters)
    • Parallax (difference in what each eye sees) works for greater distances.
    • Parallax requires a patterned background at a known distance.
    • Perspective (convergence of lines at a distance) works for much greater distances.
    • Perspective requires continuous view of the ground and contact with the ground.
    • The sky does not work as a background for either parallax or perspective.
    • Magnifying optics make the effect worse.
  11. People are too quick to conclude that the UFO is an extraterrestrial space vehicle.

    -- Instead of going through A to Z first, they jump right from A to Alien.

    -- Many people WANT the object to be an alien vehicle.

  12. People go into "UFO mode" when they find out a UFO might be in the area.

    -- When a UFO report comes into a military base or a police station, the following happen:

    • People start seeing as UFOs any fixed lights, RADAR targets, airplanes, stars, planets, and other items normally ignored.
    • Anything out of the ordinary instantly becomes a UFO.
  13. Officials can give out misinformation that misleads UFO witnesses.

    Official misinformation can hide the truth behind the identity of a UFO:

    • People see a UFO and call an airport or base. They say they have nothing in the air. But this ignores the following:
      1. Military bases don't have information on private and commercial flights.
      2. Commercial airports don't know about military and private flights.
      3. Private airports know about only the flights using that airport.
      4. Some aircraft are not known by any airports.
    • Sometimes the military lies to cover up covert activities. The Rendlesham Forest-Bentwaters case is an example of this.
    • Often the police lie to prevent special evidence from being revealed to the public in an ongoing investigation.
    • Politicians often lie to cover up things that happened that they could be liable for.

    -- Untutored laymen get wind direction wrong.

    • Weather bureaus always give the wind direction as the direction the wind comes from.
    • Uninformed laymen often assume that the reported wind direction is the direction the air is moving.
    • At least one UFO author (Coral Lorenzen) made this mistake in every book she wrote.
    • The wind direction reported at an airport miles away might not be the same as the wind direction at the time and place of the sighting.
  14. Some effects can change what the eye sees or what the camera photographs.
    • Sun halation can expand a common silvery object into a large blob of light. This happens in the eye, on film, and in a video. Often this happens to a silver airplane seen in the sky with the sun shining on it.
    • UFOs known as "rods" have been shown to be artifacts of the NTSC interlaced camcorder video format when birds or bugs are photographed in flight.
  15. Things that look mysterious in photographs are often easily identified when actually seen live instead of in a photo.
    • A still camera, by freezing motion, can make UFOs, such as a bird frozen in flight, which can produce a strange shape in the image.

      -- Windblown leaves and flying bugs produce a similar effect.

    • Flashbulb failures cause strange images with mainly lights.
    • UFOs called "orbs" have been demonstrated to be dust in the air caught by a cheap camera with the flash right next to the lens.
    • Often the flash of a camera catches a flying insect near the photographer, making a strange blob on the film.
    • Pointing a camera at the sun can cause film damage. Often the sun burns a hole in the negative.
  16. Some "UFO" effects are caused by people breaking the law.

    These are examples of UFOs caused by people breaking the law.

    • Smugglers were using model rockets and airplanes for years.
    • Poachers may have caused the 1966 Dexter MI sightings.
    • Criminals have released and reported fire balloons to divert police while they committed crimes.
    • The HeavensGate scam used a UFO theme.
    • Cattle mutilators had a helicopter with chasing "UFO lights" around a frame on it.
    • Tabloids used "Men-In-Black" pretending to be government officials to steal UFO evidence and heighten the UFO mystery.
  17. Copycat cranks report fake UFO sightings or cause UFO sightings after a real sighting happens.

    -- Whenever a UFO sighting is reported in in the media, many people send or call in fake sightings. It is not known why they do this.

    -- After a UFO sighting, pranksters give us more UFOs to see with sky lanterns (fire balloons), flare balloons, lighted kites, searchlights, and other devices.

  18. People (especially teenagers) send up fake UFOs to make people see UFOs and scare them.

    Fake UFOs intended to trick sighters include:

    • Objects placed in the sky for others to see (see list in #7 above)
    • Lights aimed at the sky to cause images for others to see (see list in #7 above)
    • Landing scenes staged for others to find (see list in #7 above)
  19. Many UFOs are caused by advertising stunts.

    These include:

    • Towed banners seen where the tow plane was not seen (e.g. behind thin trees).
    • Towed banners casting shadows on clouds create very weird effects.
    • Lighted moving-letters signs on aircraft look like rotating discs at a distance
    • Beacons and searchlights sweeping across the sky or moving across clouds can create moving spots that seem to be UFOs.
    • Tethered balloons seen at a distance look strange.
    • Balloons that escape their tethers look stranger.

      -- In one case a life-size inflatable car balloon broke its tether and flew upside down across a city.

    • Projectors and LASER scanners have their own special effects.
  20. Reporters and writers try to keep the mystery going so they sell more papers, ads, and books.

    The mystery is newsworthy and sells books. Not so with the solution.

    • While UFO sightings are still occurring and still a mystery, newspapers and TV stations cover them for the sensationalism.
    • They accept witness descriptions, including sizes and distances, as facts, even though visual estimates can't be trusted.
    • When the UFO is identified, the solution is published as a human interest story (if published at all).
    • The media are interested in selling papers and ads, not telling the truth.
    • Some authors take solved cases and introduce new elements to them to make them unsolved and mysterious again. They do this to sell more books.
  21. There are many ET UFO believers who refuse to believe that many of the solved UFO cases are really solved.

    They believe that the government is hiding the true identity of most UFO cases from the public.

    • They come up with excuses for why the official identifications are false.
    • They plant false evidence to keep a sighting from being identified.
    • They publish lists of "unsolved" cases that include many cases with known solutions.
    • They use pejoratives, prevarications, innuendo, and namecalling to demean anyone who tells the truth about a case.
    • They take solved cases and introduce new elements to them to make them unsolved.
  22. Military people are fooled when their equipment malfunctions.

    Among the many malfunctions are these:

    • RADAR can produce extra blips if miscalibrated. It can also display stationary targets in Moving Target Indicator mode when miscalibrated.
    • A relay failure can cause some RADAR and ELINT sets to display everything 180° off from true direction.
    • Anything computer controlled is subject to all of the troubles plaguing computers, including adding noise to images.
    • Anything computer controlled is subject to all of the troubles plaguing computers, including adding noise to images.
    • Computerized gunsights can latch onto false targets.
    • Global Positioning System (GPS) devices can get the wrong coordinates if metal objects interfere with the signals.
  23. RADAR is not a picture of what is in the sky.

    -- Many other things are seen on RADAR:

    • There are usually hundreds of unidentified targets on RADAR at any time. Most private planes are unidentified blips.
    • Tall objects on the ground can be picked up as permanent or intermittent blips.
    • If the RADAR beam reflects off multiple objects before returning to the set, extra targets will appear on the screen.
    • If the RADAR beam is bent by atmospheric conditions, it can pick up aircraft beyond the normal range of the RADAR set. If the reflection returns after the next set of pulses is sent by the set, it shows the wrong distance from the set.
    • If the RADAR beam is bent by atmospheric conditions even further, it can pick up objects on the ground.

    -- RADAR sets and aircraft (usually commercial and military) are equipped with transponder equipment. This adds the following capabilities to RADAR:

    • The transponder system tells the RADAR operator the identity and altitude of any aircraft with a transponder.
    • When switched to exclusive-transponder mode, the hundreds of private planes disappear from the screen.
    • Tall objects and objects on the ground also disappear in exclusive-transponder mode.
    • When the RADAR beam reflects off multiple objects before returning to the set, the computer can remove the extra targets with the same transponder code from the screen.
    • An aircraft beyond the normal range of the RADAR set can return a scrambled transponder code.
    • In combination mode, the unidentified blips of private aircraft and ground targets show on the screen. But the computer still removes the extra blips of multiple reflections of transponders.
  24. People told by others where to look to see a UFO.

    Spurious RADAR targets and unrelated lights are combined into a UFO:

    • The RADAR operator tells others where to look. They then find usually ordinary lights as the UFO.
    • A visual sighter tells others where to look. They then see normally uninteresting lights as the UFO.
    • A visual sighter tells a RADAR operator where to look. The operator then picks up a spurious target as the UFO.
  25. Unrelated, independent events which would not be mysterious if seen alone can combine to cause a sighting.

    Several events can overlap in space and time to an observer to make a strange effect.

    -- In one case, a car, a seagull and construction machinery behind a hill combined to make someone report a noisy bird-shaped UFO chasing a car.

    -- In another case, a farm waste burnoff fire tended by someone on a scooter and some kids playing a prank combined to make children think aliens had landed.