1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Aguadilla Wedding Balloons.

    Note From Mick The following post is a series of excerpts from a report prepared by Rubén Lianza, Commodore (ret), Argentine Air Force, who is the the Head of the Argentine Air Force Committee for Aerospace Phenomena Research. He asked me to share it here.

    On the night of April 25, 2013 at about 09:22 PM (local time), a Bombardier DHC 8 airplane operated by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection equipped with an Infrared camera, captured and followed a very peculiar flying object which yielded a fluctuating infrared signature over Rafael Hernández airport, Aguadilla (Puerto Rico). The object at times seemed to disappear (which was interpreted by some ufologists as “splashing into the ocean”) and also split into two pieces (1).

    The Aguadilla UFO video has been uploaded to many websites. Here is one

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6s5RwqnnLM
    [Mod note: link in the PDF report is broken, replacing with a similar link]

    While attending a course on IPACO photo/video analysis software under Dr. Eng. François Louange, I was shown by my instructor a copy of the Infrared video of the Aguadilla UFO. Even though it initially seemed rather difficult to interpret (since I had never seen it before), after viewing it a few times and gathering enough evidence, I could come up with the explanation of what (I would later realize) for many UFO researchers was a true example of “unidentified aerial phenomena.”

    Making theories to fit the facts

    One thing that really helped me a lot to quickly interpret this alleged UFO as a wind-driven object was my former military pilot experience, having shot several airborne videos during hundreds of hours of test flights. But to avoid imposing here any “argument from authority” and to make this work completely scientific, I still had to demonstrate that the conditions for this object to be wind-driven must be met.

    So… no matter how familiar a wind-driven object would look to me, I started to work assuming this is a theory (not an obvious fact) so I would not contaminate my analysis with preconceived assumptions, thus following Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character (Sherlock Holmes) who quoted: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead theories to suit facts”.

    Question 2: Is it one object… or two? The timeframe of the video that shows the object splitting into two was crucial to determine its true nature. Far from being the result of a single image “duplicated” by atmospheric diffraction, as Bob Bixler suggested: “Some or all of the 9 factors above could lead to image shimmering and signal variability, mirages (double mirages) and signal loss” (3) or even the most bizarre explanation about an extraordinary flying object duplicating itself, the two objects do not show reciprocating (mirror) images, as some kinds of mirages usually do. They are identical in shape and size and also bear exactly the same Infrared signature. The upper “lobes” show hotter (darker) spots as much as at the bottom areas (where lantern´s fires are usually located).

    Under close inspection, it can be easily seen that each one of them is unmistakably manufactured in the shape of a heart.

    Their truncated bottoms owe their shape to the circular openings for the air intake right below the candles.

    Question 3: In case they were two lanterns, is it normal that sometimes they fly in pairs? The answer is YES. Applying Ockham´s razor principle, by approaching this UFO case starting from simpler to more complicated theories, and considering the humans´ social behavior before thinking about any non-human flying object theory, I believe this case might have been easily solved a long time ago, just if we bore in mind that heart-shaped hot air balloons are, in fact, released tied in pairs during some earthlings´ wedding parties.

    Indeed… there exist companies which sell pairs of lanterns in the shape of hearts paraphrasing the song “Love is in the air” (George Young and Harry Vanda, 1978) and offering the balloons tied up holding a banner with the names of the just married.


    Next, I looked for the weather report for that day at Puerto Rico´s Rafael Hernández airport (www.wunderground.com). According to the historical weather records, that night the wind was blowing from the East North-East quadrant.

    Question 4: Where did they come from? Many resorts in Puerto Rico offer their facilities for wedding parties. Among the most known is the Mansion Hacienda Villa Bonita, less than 10 km South East of the airport (www.mansionvillabonita.com/bodas):
    There are also many Beach Resorts where wedding parties take place. One of them located on the beach near Villa Montana shows in the Internet pictures of people releasing (you guessed) wedding lanterns (https://ar.pinterest.com/pin/350788258448744602/):

    The Villa Montana Beach is located right to the East North-East of the Aguadilla airport, exactly the direction the wind was blowing from the night of April 25, 2013! In the map below we can see the area where the alleged UFO was captured in video and the relative position of Villa Montana Beach Resort.

    Even though the complete IPACO report can be read on Annex A, we can here anticipate the conclusion that for a UFO size of about 3 feet (1 m.) of transverse height and width, the camera-UFO distance was calculated in 3.9 NM (7,223 m.).

    In the graphics below, I have superimposed frame 01:24:44 most relevant data, on a Google Earth (satellite) 3D view. This may help readers have a complete spatial perception of the distances, angles and especially about the fact that the UFO was, indeed, flying over land, although the frame showed only water in the background. All data were converted into the metric system for accuracy. Dimensions of the FOV have been exaggerated for readability.


    Summarizing all the reports written on this strange UFO case, in addition to my recent IR image interpretation plus having identified a wedding lantern release scenario in perfect coincidence with the prevailing winds the night of April 25, 2013, I can conclude with a decent margin of certainty that a simple explanation does exist for the flying objects captured by the Wescam Infrared camera over the Rafael Hernández airport.

    The alleged UFO was a simple pair of wind-driven hot air lanterns in the shape of hearts, tied together, very likely released during a wedding party, from a beach near Villa Montana Resort (or any place upwind from the Airport).

    Link to Original Report:
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
    • Like Like x 5
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. skephu

    skephu Senior Member

    Youtube link is broken.
  3. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  4. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    Hi Nick, As you know Our Facebook group built a 3D model of the scene and found that a small object floating at wind speed (like a balloon or lantern) PERECTLY matches the video. Additionally, we found many errors in the SCU report and came to the same basic conclusion that several other folks came to (Bixler, Lianza, et al) We detailed our findings for the SCU but they seem to avoid discussion, preferring to preach to the converted instead.

    Here is our model:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/g1d3b73g5qf8d42/Simulation September 2016.mp4?dl=0

    And here is how it was built:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/qd3niwkwf6hqdrr/How the Simulation was Made.mp4?dl=0
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
    • Like Like x 3
  5. Jose Perez

    Jose Perez New Member

    1. Chinese lanterns do not go up and down, they just go up and when the wicks run out they fall off. 2. They emit incandescent light so they would look brighter in the infrared. 3 .. They do not circle around an airport. 4. They would have been seen by many people and would represent danger in a restricted area. 5. It is very rare that they can be moored 2 (although it may be, there must have been many more dragged by the wind in the same direction because they supposedly were comming from a weding clebration. I bet the researchers have never come to Puerto Rico. I'm one of the original investigators of this case. I'dont beleive ie a UFO but it is certainly NOT CHINESSE LANTERNS. My personal oppinion is that they are just a couple of seagulls flying at unison.
  6. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    Jose Perez...none of your objections run counter to what is seen in the video:

    1. The various lighter than air hypotheses do not assume up and down (although there is around a 20m drop over time in our 3D model).
    2. Yes, the object shows as hottest in the frame (we are not sure that it is a chinese lantern but your objection does not contradict one.
    3. No one says (other than the SCU) that there was anything other than a mostly linear path in the direction of the wind.
    4. The company that launches these is nearby and the wind was correct for the night. Maybe they usually don't float into the airport's space. Maybe that is why the crew was interested in it.
    5. By moored, do you mean 2 tied together? We don't know the answer to this. Our group (PRRR) doesn't really buy the heart shaped lantern or the idea that there were two (but there could have been).
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Curt Collins

    Curt Collins New Member

    I'm not sold on Lianza's tethered Chinese lantern explanation. It seems designed to answer why two objects seem to appear at times,but I'm satisfied that is just due to resolution problems from the IR imaging, the same shortcomings that makes the object seem to vanish at times over land an then over water near the end.

    Lianza agrees that it's a small object moving with the wind, so that's getting closer to the truth than a UAP defying the laws of physics as the SCU reported.

    The SCU, however, has issued a rebuttal to Lianza's report. While they seem less adamant about the extraordinary claims, they are clinging to the belief that the object passes behind trees and splits into two UAPs. SCU: Rubén Lianza Sky Lantern Hypotheses Rebuttal
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2017
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    Really the biggest issue, unwisely glossed over by the SCU, is that ALL of their information on this case is second hand testimony. They have an unnamed person (whom they know) feeding them the supposed facts as they come from the supposed pilot (a unnamed person whom they DO NOT know).

    To compound their error and starkly demonstrate their biases, the SCU presents the claims of persons unknown on various internet sites as somehow supportive of their second hand testimony. Amazingly it seems to not be apparent to the SCU that those anonymous posters could easily be the same person as their source.

    The SCU assumes and presents all of this poor quality "testimony" as unquestioned fact.

    The truth is that this case should have been a non-starter from the beginning if those promoting it had any sense of how evidence works.

    Our (PRRR) digging found good evidence for who the second hand source may be (or perhaps the son of the second hand source) and found his YouTube page which features Chinese Lanterns labeled as UFOs!
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Curt Collins

    Curt Collins New Member

    Mick, this should be dead, but the promoters of this, the SCU's Robert Powell in particular, continues to claim the "UAP" passes behind trees, briefly submerges into the ocean, and splits into two objects near the end. All these alleged actions seem to be shortcomings of the camera tracking it. Do you know an infrared camera expert that could comment on what's seen in the video?
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Ruben Lianza

    Ruben Lianza New Member

    Dear Friends: I have finished my counter-rebuttal to Powell's reaction and it will be in about 7 to 10 days published in a blog from V-J Ballester Olmos (Spain) in English and Spanish. I was really sorry to have to write such a "surgical" reply to Powell's apparently "surgical" rebuttal, but my friend Vicente Juan Ballester Olmos asked me to write a comment on SCU reaction to my Aguadila UFO Case Resolution Report.
    Since you all deserve it, here I am passing you some excerpts in advance:

    The major flaw I see not only in Powell´s rebuttal but also in the initial SCU report, is that from the beginning to the end it is strongly influenced by a couple of wrong assumptions (most probably due to a regrettable optical misinterpretation) about the object´s ability to dive into the ocean and reproduce into two. In this sense I would strongly recommend to the international UFO research community to exercise extreme caution when looking at an IR video, since not all of its frames (if you are lucky, maybe just a few ones) can be interpreted the same way you would interpret an optical video. A good example of infrared imagery’s misinterpretation was the one suffered by CEFAA from Chile: after two years of allegedly “thorough professional study” an IR video was released on its web as a true UFO craft, when it actually was a commercial airplane within the Terminal Control Area of Santiago de Chile.

    The Chilean UFO was first explained by the IPACO team as a medium haul twin jet airliner (http://www.ipaco.fr/ReportChileanNavyCEFAA.pdf) and later as the most probable cause being Iberia 6830 (https://www.metabunk.org/explained-chilean-navy-ufo-video-aerodynamic-contrails-flight-ib6830.t8306/)

    Paradoxically, in order to refute my two-lantern hypothesis, Powell shows a link to another infrared video, showing two foil balloons tied together recorded by Chris Isbert (Black Hot LWIR [8-12μm] FLIR M-SERIES):

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl2EQhNB-So


    Frankly, I see almost no difference between Isbert´s video images (top) and the Aguadilla images (bottom), especially where one of the balloons can be seen appearing behind the other in an almost 3D perception on both videos.

    Isbert´s valuable video also shows that, on infrared imagery, two or more objects can sometimes appear just as a single one (remember that infrared signatures only exceptionally can show the exact shape of the entire object). The same applies to both infrared videos:


    But most important of all, Chris Isbert´s video teaches all of us two important facts:

    1) Two Chinese lanterns can, in fact, be released tied together

    2) No matter how short or long the thread is, its gentle pull down (weight and air drag) is more than enough to bring both balloons together most of the time. It is a simple physical principle!

    If someone is having any doubt about the second point above, please go ahead and try it yourself. It works with any kind of lifting pair of objects, either hot air or helium balloons.


    In his rebuttal, Powell (SCU) seems to completely ignore this simple physical principle. The unfortunate proof of this becomes apparent when he writes: “The second issue with a Chinese lantern relates to a question of why didn’t the IR camera pick up the separation of the lanterns earlier in the three minute video. With two distinct heat sources separated by a minimum of three feet (the width of a lantern) the MX-15 system would have detected the two heat sources for a majority of the video”. Actually the laws of physics are telling us exactly the opposite: the balloons will stick together as a rule, and will became separate, only as an exception.

    Putting theories before the facts: Back to SCU’s major misinterpretation of the object(s) ditching into the ocean, I have no doubt in my mind that it was triggered as a direct outcome of his early misinterpretation of the object(s) flying behind trees. SCU clearly put theories before the facts subordinating mathematical calculations to a simple and wrong assumption: “…we calculated (UFO) speed only at points in the video when the object either moved behind another object… or at the times when the object entered the water”. However, in any scientific work, measurements must be made based on physical parameters or at least on facts, not on theories. By completely assuming that the object passed behind trees (simply not proven) shows us a noteworthy example of putting theory before facts!

    Needless to say, a more reasonable way to accurately measure the object should be when it is showing its perfect shape and full size and NOT its degraded shape and minimum size. The latter would be applicable only to an optical video, when the object is enlarged by blurring, in which case a frame with a smaller object would indicate better focusing. But just as I warned above, never judge every frame in an IR image with the same applied logic as with an optical one.

    In its initial report, SCU committed the fatal mistake of generalizing the idea that the object faded as a direct result of being masked by foreground trees and then translated that to a water masking. In their rebuttal they wrote: “…the only arguments as to why the disappearance of the object is an illusion have revolved around ‘could be’ and ‘could have’”. It is evident that Powell et al did not study all the clues before jumping into their ill-fated conclusion. As you can notice in the following frame, the object´s image fades away within the IR sensor´s view even when NOT having any trees in front of it:


    To realize how hasty a conclusion SCU made about the object fading due to flying behind trees, I’d urge the readers to review the Aguadilla video from frames 5990 through 6060 so you can judge by yourselves. I bet you will NOT find any trees in front of the object in those frames. The UFO is disappearing due to something else. This should be proof enough to reconsider a completely reexamination of all the frames showing signature degradation before and after the above mentioned ones.

    The first lesson this “disappearance-without-trees” teaches us, is this: if the object fades with no trees in front of it, then it could simply indicate that the UFO never flew behind trees during the entire length of the video!

    This rare “disappearance” also teaches us a second important lesson for future IR imagery analysis. When for any reason the Aguadilla UFO IR signature fades, it wouldn´t disappear completely to the eye of the camera, but it rather gets “ghostly” dim and white. The same thing happens as from frame 6888 where the entire frame is filled up with background water. The only difference is that in the case of the frames showing only water behind, the ghostly white spot was already zoomed in, which, in turn, made it appear blurred, larger and with a shade of grey almost matching that of the background water.

    This optical effect (and nothing else) is what confused Powell et al, who, by the way, never explained how in the world a Thermal IR imager could continue tracking this object underwater, showing exactly the same IR “ghostly” trace as it yielded when it was supposedly “behind” the trees.

    Thinking reversal by simple comparison: As stated above, I have no doubt that the idea of a diving UFO was a direct outcome of assuming that the pre-diving “ghostly” image was due to masking by foreground trees. But, as it was proved above, there are several frames where the “ghostly” image shows up even without trees on the foreground. Here I pasted side by side a couple of key frames showing no substantial difference between both “ghostly” traces of the UFO either on land or on the water. Can you now tell why it gets more confusing in the second frame? You guessed, some particularly spotty areas in the background water show an almost identical hue to that of the ghost signature than in the first case (background land). The additional problem on the second picture (right) is that now the whole frame has been zoomed-in and the ghost signature appears twice as large, more blurred and with less contrast against an already confusing background, even though both have an almost identical level of signal degradation.


    As if all this weren´t enough, for well-established physical reasons current Thermal IR technology is simply not able to track objects under water. This was made very clear even by SCU on page 28 of its report: “Infrared radiation is easily blocked by water and about one millimeter of water absorbs virtually all of the IR generated by the object.” I couldn´t agree more with that and I am very happy the SCU team mentioned it, because in my paper I mentioned the possibility of the airplane skimming the belly of the cloud deck as a very realistic cause of the temporary fading of the UFO! But then… in order to justify something as incredible as the UFO becoming “ghostly” because it is now diving into the ocean, the SCU was forced to move towards a bizarre “explanation”, by adding: “When a solid object moves underwater… some of the water it displaces moves towards the surface which then manifests as a moving hump along the surface. Northrop Grumman is aware of this phenomenon as one possible method to detect submarines.”

    For what we´ve learned from the two side-by-side pictures above, if in some different parts of the IR video (with completely different backgrounds) two or more frames show identical ghost signals, then it is far more logical to attribute the origin of the degradation to a common cause. In fact, SCU used the “physical mask” single cause argument (trees in the first case and water in the second). By reason, in frames not too distant in time, identical masking effects should be expected to be subject to similar causation. But in this case, water and trees are erroneously considered an identical cause because with identical ghost images on completely different backgrounds, anyone could come up with the pointed questions: where is the “moving hump” of water in the picture where the ghost image is flying over a clearing in the forest? Or, why is the water masking identical to that of the trees? Or even more damaging: why is the water masking identical to that which is attenuating the object´s image, when it flies with NO trees in the foreground?

    About this particular detail Geoff Quick (IPACO) pointed out: “In the report in question a basic ignorance of IR imagery is manifest. I have never seen an IR target tracked underwater, for good scientific reasons”.

    Believe me, I am not only sorry to have to dig into this “surgical” exposé of the SCU rebuttal but also I feel sincerely sorry that people really knowledgeable in their field of technical competence, as Mr. Powell and his colleagues surely are, spent (as they stated in the original SCU report) more than 1000 hours and a year and a half, to conclude that the Aguadilla object was a single extraordinary UFO craft with the ability to fade behind non-existent trees, dive into the ocean, take off back to the air from below the waves and reproduce itself (by ultra-fast cell mitosis perhaps?), when a far more prosaic explanation exists for them: two heart-shaped wedding lanterns carried by the wind and temporarily masked from the airplane flying at an altitude resulting in skimming the belly of the cloud base.

    Such a long time analyzing this case might have resulted simply because to the unnecessary lengthy methodology used by SCU. In its rebuttal, SCU emphasizes more than once that “…the only way to do a proper analysis is by looking at the angular sizes of the object throughout the three minute video.” With such a statement, they seem to completely ignore the fact that for accurate measurements, not necessarily each and every frame is suitable. An IR image may only yield just a few frames positively interpretable (like the ones used by the IPACO team for angular size calculations, in my own report). Smartly choosing the proper frames to exploit different features is a principle that I have learned after years of flight test data processing which involved video and high speed film interpretation. Even in the best optical videos some frames come out motion blurred, out-of-focus blurred and some of them even show a combination of both (which is often the case for many UFO pictures). In an infrared video the non-exploitable frames are far more abundant than even on the case of the worst imaginable optical video! So what is the practical meaning of measuring angular sizes in all the frames? Surely SCU would have done a much better job by spending some extra time looking for suspect frames where the theory of the IR signature fading due to foreground trees would show some weakness (even though if those frames were, in turn, not quite suitable for proper angular size measurements). Choosing this or that suitable frame for this or that purpose of exploitation is just a matter of good judgment and common sense!

    It does not surprise to me that Powell et al, after writing a 159 page report, including 12 Appendices and more than 140 illustrations (some of them with colorful 3D views), still could not come out with a clear-cut type of explanation. I would suggest to the people of SCU to rethink their data exploitation method and even their writing philosophy, currently seemingly based on a philosophy of "the more pages, the better report." Data overabundance and a long investigation time must never be thought out as an automatic synonym of quality. The proof of what I am saying is that after 1000 hours looking at the Aguadilla video, SCU completely missed what frames 5990 through 6060 are showing: a fading UFO flying over open fields, which completely disproves the ill-considered statement about the UFO´s IR signature degrading due to being blocked by foreground trees.

    This is my last input on this IFO event. Not only in my view but also, most importantly, in those of my peer reviewers, this case has been solved beyond any reasonable doubt. Now it is the mainframe scientific audience who has to assess what is an acceptable theory of those proposed: two heart-shaped wedding lanterns carried by the wind and temporarily disappearing to the IR eyes of the camera due to an airplane´s altitude skimming the belly of the clouds (Lianza) or an unidentified flying object with the ability to fade behind non-existent trees, dive into the ocean, take off back to the air from below the waves and duplicate itself (Powell et al).


    As I mentioned above, the complete Counter-document will be released in about 7 to 10 days, but at least I hope these excerpts have been proof enough to give you a clear cut opinion on how hasty a conclusion that of Powell et all was.


    Last edited: Aug 20, 2017
    • Like Like x 3
  11. Christophe Isbert

    Christophe Isbert New Member

    Hi Ruben,

    I made those IR videos in order to have something to compare with since I am working on a few IR videos & cases.

    I think that your comparison with heart-shaped lanterns involves pareidolia and digital artifacts. If these were heart-shaped lanterns, it would be visible most of the time in this video, specially when filmed at the closest range. This is not the case at all and pretty much the opposite because this shape is visible towards the end of the video, when the aircraft is much further away.

    My videos show quiet the opposite of the Aguadilla video. They show that with a "cheap" IR system (compared to the MX-15) when two balloons are tied together, they are visible in most frames. In the Aguadilla video, one heat source is visible in the vast majority of frames. It's the exact opposite.

    On top of that, the foil balloons I used had a very small rope between them (very small gap between them, see photo below), in the Aguadilla footage when we see the split, the gap is much larger, this would mean that we would clearly see two heat sources most of the time and not the other way around. This is visible on many YT videos (non IR).

    I will do more testings with chinese lanterns this fall to see if they (heart-shaped and regular ones) can fly correctly with similar wind conditions.

    The good news is that I am now in touch with IR thermal imagery experts from Thales Aerospace, so I am still investigating this case.


    Attached Files:

  12. Ruben Lianza

    Ruben Lianza New Member

    Dear Chris: Thanks for your valuable opinions. I am glad you will dig in more deeeply about IR imagery since very few UFO cases have been recorded (so far) within this band of the spectrum.

    I found your video very valuable because (unlike you stated about it showing the opposite) your video proves that two baloons can be released together (there were some people thinking it was impossible to release two hot air baloons tied together arguing that they would burn each other). Your video actually shows that it is not the case. And also many pictures taken on tied Chinese lanterns are uploaded by heart baloons sellers on the Internet (see my initial report).

    Secondly, pareidolia is an evolutionary inheritance we got from our ancestors, who had to develop a very keen eye to "see" faces (specially predator´s faces) hidden in the forest, so that is why today many people (especially kids) see either human or animal "faces" up in the clouds. If my interpretation of the two separate heart-shaped baloons were contaminated by pareidolia, I would have immediately thought about the heads of "Mickey Mouse". In my last mosaic above (were I pasted two little heart-shaped Chinese lanterns) two baloons can distinctively be seen. I bet in that particular frame you and everybody else can imagine the upper lobes with hotter (darker) air accumulating, as though they were the two earlobes of Mickey´s head. Well... THAT is pareidolia!.

    The first thing a serious researchr has to take out of his head is pareidolia and the only way of managing it is by thinking of something else that not only conforms to the shape he is observing there, but also conforms to something that could BE there.... and in this case the only most similar thing that could be carried by the wind is, in fact, nothing else than a pair of hot air wedding lanterns with a similar shape.

    You keep saying that the pair of baloons should have been shown separate more often in the Aguadilla video. Well... in fact the two baloons can be seen more times than you imagine. You´ll find many cases where one of the baloons appears shyly peering behind the other much as they are shown in the mosaic above (right below your two IR frames). I know you have a keen eye and by coming back to and thoroughly reviewing the two frames I pasted there, you won´t have any doubt in your mind that it IS, in fact, a couple of baloons flying very close to each other, one behind the other.

    Besides, your video was recorded closer to the baloons while the Bombardier DHC 8 was flying miles away from the target, so do not expect that the Aguadilla IR record should necessarily be as good as the one you obtained from a more near location, without any realtive motions and without any cloud deck between you and your baloons. Video recording from the ground could yield completely different results than recording airborne, skimming the belly of the cloud deck (which in most cases is associated with turbulence), for which the Westcam camera had to be fighting (self adjusting) all the time.

    Nevertheles, like I said, your video was very valuable to prove the two principles I wanted to highlight:
    1) Two hot air baloons can, in fact, be released together with little or no possibility of burning each other... and
    2) No matter how long or short the thread is, its gentle pull down will keep both baloons together most of the time.

    And if you have any objection to these two points I would much like to see what the fundamentals are. Perhaps after you run the tests next fall your doubts will completely dissipate, especially about the second point.

    Thanks again for your valuable contributions.. and stay in touch!



    PS. If you are more interested in our Committee´s activities, here is the link (in Spanish) to the latest interview the PROFILE magazine did in our office:
  13. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    Hi Reuben and Chris,

    I have to agree with Reuben that there are factors that are getting left out of the various layperson IR tests:

    1. Great distance (up to 5 miles distance).
    2. Esoteric Optics (very large focal lengths).
    3. Atmospheric Effects (such that might interfere with the imager).
    4. Specifics of the imager.

    To name some that come to mind.

    Reuben is correct that at least some of the SCU rebuttal is demonstrated to be in error.

    Hey Reuben! I sent you a Facebook friend request, I hope we can talk more!

  14. Christophe Isbert

    Christophe Isbert New Member

    Hi again Ruben,

    Thank you, I am fluent in spanish so I'll review your link with pleasure without the use of a translating tool.

    First of all, I never launched two lanterns tied together, only foil balloons. I would guess that it is possible without problems but what I want to test in the near future is launching lanterns both tied together and untied with similar wind conditions (same as the Aguadilla video). Since most manufacturers do not recommend launching them with surface winds > 5 mph (8 km/h), I want to see how they behave with stronger winds knowing that I've seen a few videos on YT that showed that lanterns can lose altitude or won't take off at all with windy conditions.

    The reason is simple, colder air fills the lantern, making it crash.

    Now, I fully disagree with your interpretation of the shape of the lanterns (heart) since and also because other probable digital artifacts can be seen earlier in the video right after the operator switched to a different focal length (from 675 to 2024):

    Capture d’écran 2017-08-23 à 16.03.54.

    Does it still look like a heart shaped lantern or two next to each other? This specific shape above is visible during many frames in that sequence of a few seconds and does not change much, therefore, it cannot be related to the shape of a lighter than air (not spinning, tumbling on any axis) but is most likely a digital artifact of some sort.

    Now regarding the fact that in most frames, one heat source is visible, imo this disqualifies the possibility that they are two objects tied together with a rope, specially in your scenario (wide gap between the two lanterns) since and like I explained earlier, we should see the opposite (two heat sources/targets most of the time) even if the distance is greater than in my videos and the perspective different, the EO/IR system used by the CBP is much much better and cannot even be compared at all levels.

    I respect your opinion but I only see it as a working hypothesis and not a final explanation.

    I will make other videos with lanterns and keep you updated in this topic.

    I do have one question for you though, a scientific hypothesis should be refutable, how can you test your hypothesis?

  15. Ruben Lianza

    Ruben Lianza New Member

    Hi Lance!

    As soon as I make it home I will open Facebook (here at the office, youtube videos and blogs are not allowed in the Intranet).

    I was reviewing your 3 D Simulation and I found it awesome!. Thanks for you supporting my counter-rebuttal. I am at ease with it, because as one of my peer reviewers wisely said: "Science is on our side".

    The problem is that some people always think first of the most complicated (bizarre) scenario, instead of going from simpler to more complex, just as Wilhelm of Ockham taught us. For as long as there are "believers", we may find that scenario many times, all over the world. I just follow the Aristotheles balance, a happy medium "Neither believe nor deny".

    I am now working in the resolution of Lake Cote case (Costa Rica 1971). I already visited the 2nd Aerial Brigade which is host to the Aerophotography Squadron, and the good news is that they have a Photogrametric Camera identical to the one used in Lake Cote in 1971!. If you pass me your e-mail address I can keep you updated on my progress, and send you pictures.

    You can also find me in Linked In.


    • Like Like x 1
  16. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    Hi Chris,

    You write:
    "I do have one question for you though, a scientific hypothesis should be refutable, how can you test your hypothesis?"

    With one time events, it's sort of hard to consider them as testable experiments. In reality, we may just be left with probabilities. It should be noted that what the SCU provides is essentially a "magic happens here" explanation. Reasonable prosaic explanations SHOULD be seen as more probable (and I think they are for the most part except in the world of "scientific" ufology).
  17. Ruben Lianza

    Ruben Lianza New Member

    Dear Chris:

    First: It will be valuable if you can test launching the lanterns from a sheltered place (as it is the case from the patios in the Mansions from Puerto Rico) and then see how they behave at higher altitudes with winds of 5 knots or even faster.

    Secondly: when you say: "... it cannot be related to the shape of a lighter than air (not spinning, tumbling on any axis) but is most likely a digital artifact of some sort", regardless that you left all of us in awe trying to interpret what you meant by "digital artifact of some sort", I will show you in the same picture that you included above, that in fact, both hearts are not only one showing before the other (one larger, the other smaller), but they are tumbling on any axis, to the point where the nearest one is in such a steep bank that it was captured in an almost top view. Please take your time to review this enlargement I did for you, and you will esily SEE four ball like elements, two smaller and identical (farther heart, partially masked by the one on the foreground) and two big ones, seen from the top (lantern severely banked by the wind).

    Thirdly: of course anybody can refute whatever he wants. For questions like: Does it still look like a heart shaped lantern or two next to each other?. The answer is YES, and here is the same frame you just posted, but this time you´ll look at it with different eyes.

    Look forward to hearing about the results of your baloon tests next fall. Till then.. good luck!


  18. Christophe Isbert

    Christophe Isbert New Member

    Dear Rubén, holà!

    Long time no see, sorry for getting back so late but I took a break from my investigations.

    First of all, we still have forest fires in my region because it did not really rain since March, this means that I still have to wait before doing any experiments with flying lanterns. I will follow your advice and launch them from a sheltered place, which will also make things easier for me.

    Now, let me clarify what I meant by "digital artifacts of some sort". What I meant is compression artifacts (staircase noise along curving edges to be even more precise) both possibly coming from the footage being compressed when it was copied and when it was uploaded on YT but also because such artifacts appear when the focal length is switched from 675 to 2024. You can also see that the background (sea surface) is pixelated when the operator used a different focal length. Similar artifacts can be seen in these 4 frames I selected below. Does it still look like heart shaped lanterns? It could or it could not depending on our imagination and our propensity to bias confirmation.

    I'll look at the rest of your message and get back to you because I am not sure that I perfectly understood what you meant.

    Hi Lance,

    I agree, sometimes it is impossible to test the refutability of a given hypothesis but we may find a way to do it, this is why I want to launch 2 heart shaped lanterns with "similar" wind conditions.

    Cheers yall.

    Attached Files:

  19. Riccardo

    Riccardo New Member


    I have recently come across this "accident" and I became intrigued by the case. I'd like to share my opinions about this and see what you think.

    1) To start with, the temperature of this object is estimated to be close to that of the cows that appear in frame 1251. If the report is accurate, the scale is calibrated frame-by-frame by the camera. My interpretation is that if the object's temperature was e.g. 200 F, the UAP would set the high-end of the scale, and the cows would be somewhere in between. As it is clearly not the case, I tend to conclude that its temperature is not much higher than the 105 F quoted in the report. My point is that while I do not know the average temperature of a Chinese lantern or similar floating object, I do believe it can be easily assessed in a controlled environment. Has anyone tried to measure that with an IR camera?

    2) Prior to the incident, the radar picked up 50 tracks of what appeared to be a single object, which is also *assumed* to be associated with the UAP that appears in the video (perhaps the very same). Was it, really? For the sake of the argument, let's picture the following scenario. A boat is stationed NW of the airport. A wedding party is ongoing and a number of lanterns are released. As they get at an altitude that is high enough, the radar picks up a signal, but because of wheater conditions, etc. the lanterns fall down or explode or whatever can happen and disappear one by one. So each track is associated with a different, transient object. How can you prove that this scenario is incorrect? 1) Can a radar actually pick up a signal bounced from a lantern? 2) I understand the beacon is not just bounced back, but its polarity also carries information about the surface properties of the object, so the return signal from a flock of geese is different from metallic objects. I don't think this information is included in Appendix F of the report.

    3) In the above discussion, it is implicitly assumed that this kind of wedding parties is very common, and the resort east of the airport has been here for quite some time. Which means that, on a purely statistical basis, people working at the airport must have seen lanterns floating close to the runaway several times. Similarly, they must have been aware of possible radar signals associated with this kind of objects. If not them directly, it must be known in the literature. Did you check?

    4) Above all, I believe it's pretty evident that the object moves at a considerable speed. The report claims it approaches 100 mph, which is as high as a car (not a jet airplane, just to set the scale). But let's assume this estimation if off by a factor 2 because of a systematic error, so that it's more in the range of 50 mph. Weather report says the wind was blowing at about 10 mph. How do you explain this discrepancy if the object was not self-propelled? You have to point out where the error is in the calculation shown in the report. Otherwise, it's just wishful thinking.

    5) As for the camera following the object while invisible/underwater, I think the camera operator was simply "interpolating" its trajectory. Btw, why are you sure that it went underwater? Can it be that its temperature simply matched that of the water, so it was "camouflaged" but not submerged? Just asking out of ignorance.

    6) I find quite bizarre that the object is referred to as AUP in the titles, but as UFO in most of the plots in the report. To me, this clearly sheds a light on the bias of the person who compiled the report. Be more careful about this. In the scientific community, we tend to use what's referred to as "blind analysis" techniques. For example, one would generate a number of fake images, overlay them one by one to the real video, and carry out the very same analysis. How many times the fake image is indistinguishable from an alleged UAP? That would give you a measure of how robust your method is. Only then you start looking at the real video and draw some conclusion. It's lots of work, but that's how you prove your credibility.

  20. Riccardo

    Riccardo New Member

    Btw, did you actually try to contact the resort and ask whether a wedding party was going on that very same day?
  21. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    While it may be "evident" that the object is moving fast to you, our PRRR group PROVED without a shadow of a doubt that a small object moving at that night's wind speed matches IN EVERY WAY to what was seen in the video. And unlike what empty assertions and hand waving the UFO believers offer, we built a 3D simulation that uses highly accurate topology data to prove it.

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dNOd8QDG5c
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2019
  22. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    Before I address that issue, please indicate whether you understand your error in regards to speed.
  23. Riccardo

    Riccardo New Member

    Hi Lance,

    the link to the dropbox file is broken. Anyhow, that's exactly what I was referring to above: it takes lots of work to analyze a video like this. You created a 3D model that proves that one's (e.g. of mine!) intuition can go wrong. Kudos! I'm not sure I can say the same about the report itself, that is very lengthy, but IMHO fails to provide decisive proof of some of the key ingredients - e.g. it assumes the many radar's returns come from the same object, etc.
  24. Riccardo

    Riccardo New Member

    Anyway, regarding your animation: I can't extract much quantitative information just by looking at the video. Yes, they look very similar. Of course, you can appeal to Occam's razor, but that's kind of obvious (at least to me). What I recommend you to do is to define an algorithm (e.g. the triangulation described in the report) that gives a numerical estimation of the speed e.g. as a function of the frame, and apply the same to both sequences. What I suspect you would find is, in fact, a family of curves parametrized as (velocity, distance wrt camera) that match the original video. If you could assign a likelihood to each curve, bang! you would be able to extract the best fit. In order to do that you might have to assess how the picture of the object is blurred or distorted as a function of its intrinsic size and distance from the camera. I don't know how to do that. I guess the closer and larger it is, the sharper the image. Maybe someone else can comment.
  25. Riccardo

    Riccardo New Member

    Here's a simple test you can do: change the parameters of your simulation so that the object matches the kinematics that is claimed in the report, i.e. speed ~ 100 mph and the inferred trajectory that appears in Appendix G (there are 3 of them actually). Then run the simulation: if the object does *not* show in up in the frames, then *you* have made a VERY good point. If it's otherwise, while I still tend to agree with your conclusions, I don't think you can claim the case is closed.

    Also, what I would expect in any serious rebuttal, is that SCU gets a copy of your simulation, changes the parameters along the lines of what I just wrote in the previous paragraph, and does and independent cross-check. This would support their claim. Do you agree with that?
  26. Lance Moody

    Lance Moody New Member

    Hi Riccardo,

    So I presented this to the SCU's Rich Hoffmann's MUFON group and offered to give the simulation to anyone who wanted it (one of his members did ask for and was given a copy). The SCU's entire approach is to just pretend that no one has challenged them, which is simply not true. They have not asked me any questions about it because I submit that if it ain't flying saucers, they aren't interested.

    Here's a link to how our simulation was made:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/o1cfxw2ycn6xmdo/How the Simulation was Made.mp4?dl=0

    Note that I think you have to download it to see the whole thing--Dropbox has a preview time limit.

    Their paper offers several points of data for several different potential tracks. but nowhere near enough to easily figure out the speeds and full path. At least one of their paths is flatly impossible. The rest certainly require speed ups and slow downs, while our little balloon-like object just floats along at wind speed. They don't present enough data to create a path (and with all the speeding up and slowing down, it's all sort of cheating anyway).


    Last edited: Mar 29, 2019
  27. Riccardo

    Riccardo New Member

    Hi Lance,

    thanks a lot for your reply. The video you created is extremely instructive and I really enjoyed watching it. It definitely goes towards the direction *any* serious inquiry into this sort of events should follow to be credible. There's so much information one could extract from a simulation like this - besides this one, think of the famous Phoenix lights...one could recreate the event with the same method and investigate its dynamics with relative ease and probably debunk the whole shebang if only people listened.

    • Like Like x 1