Calvine Photo Hoax Theories

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
The Calvine Photo has created a lot of posts. I propose this thread for specifically discussing how the photo might have been created so as not to make the others unreadable.

The main Calvine discussion thread is here:

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/claim-original-calvine-ufo-photo.12571/

The reflection theory could fit under this heading, but has a thread of its own already here:

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/calvine-ufo-photo-reflection-in-water-hypothesis.12572/

I thought it would be good to brainstorm some ideas.

Edit: Forgot to include a version of the original:
1661198288112.png
Source: https://twitter.com/disclosureteam_/status/1558783731250483200?t=4TPCCnFlxt-jeAO2CoN6Ew&s=19


I had a failed thought experiment about an in camera double exposure using a cutout of a plane. My thought was that, if the UFO is a model and the plane is little more than fuzzy silhouette, than perhaps the plane has been added. This means there is no need to find a missing Harrier flight or have the model hanging in an area that planes train in and waiting.

@Z.W. Wolf and others suggested something on glass in front of the camera. Something I had also thought about. This time I decided to do a quick attempt at a proof of concept.

This took me about 15 minutes. I drew a small plane on a 14"x 10" piece of glass and held it up in front of me between my iPhone 13 Pro and my "UFO", a yellow jacket trap that happened to be hanging near my shop. The only digital manipulation, after cropping, was to strip out most of the color and soften the image to reflect the original print a little better. Most of it is still way too sharp, but maybe I"ll work on it some more time permitting.


IMG_3305.jpeg

Now obviously this is not sunset in Scotland. It's 9:30am PST in the foothills of Northern California. So, I had a bright cloudless sky and a large depth of field to contend with. Working alone, I could only get the glass so far from the camera phone while holding everything and squatting down. And the phone would often want to focus on the glass. Also, my scale is off compared to the original, but again, this was just to see what I could get in a quick experiment. But giving a little more time and maybe a helper, I'm thinking it's a maybe. If it's conceivable, I suppose the next step would to be find someone that's still into film photography and see what could be done and if a plane added this way can be detected.

Here is the original:

IMG_3305.jpeg

Here is the hanging trap by it's self:

IMG_3308.jpeg

Here is the glass with the little drawing. I smudged it a bit to help with the de-focusing. I also tried with a tiny pice of black tape down the middle to make it a bit more opaque, but the sun had shifted by then:

IMG_3306.jpeg

Here's what one gets when the glass is in focus:
IMG_3303.jpeg

What other ideas are out there?
 
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JMartJr

Senior Member
I am a fan of simplicity and traditional methods: Things on strings.


ufo calvine on string.jpg

I am still unconvinced that the distant mountains beyond the fence are actually what they appear, but that is not critical to the technique, I don't think. As for what the UFO might be, gabelewis's post at https://www.metabunk.org/threads/claim-original-calvine-ufo-photo.12571/page-13#post-277603 seems a darned good match. though something purpose made would always be possible. The world is well-supplied with toy planes.
Does not require toting sheets of glass around, can be set up and struck anywhere in moments. If the overhead treebranch is not in the right place, there is always the Long Fishing Pole or analogous item, though that requires toting more gear. Keep it simple, find a spot with overhead wires, branches or something and go to work.

NOTE ADDED IN EDIT: If one has a spot where planes are known to fly past semi-regularly, you can just hang a UFO and wait for a plane, but you can save waiting time in the field by bringing your plane with you, especially if you are trying to recreate something similar to another picture, as has been mentioned as possible in one of the several other threads about this picture.
Hopefully final add in edit: I now notice that Rory posted the possible UFO model at https://www.metabunk.org/threads/claim-original-calvine-ufo-photo.12571/page-13#post-277588
To give credit where due.
 
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NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
Here's another try. The sun had moved so I had to shoot in the other direction. Only digital manipulation is addition of the "FILM" filter in MS photos and lowering the color saturation to approximate the original.

The important thing here is the model is IN FRONT of the foliage which is out of focus. It appears that Robinson has doubled down on the fact that the craft can ONLY be between the trees and the plane. I don't get that. If the depth of field is short enough, one can focus on the model and the rest goes fuzzy.

To do this with and iPhone while trying to hold the piece of glass, while the model is blowing around, I used "cinematic" mode that lets me mimic changing the depth of field and selectively focusing. I then took a screen grab. Obviously, I had to put my plane on the other side because of the way the tree is, but again, I'm trying to see if this is plausible.


modeldof1film.PNG

Here is the original screen grab. I'd post the video, but it might cause motion sickness:

IMG_3320.PNG

Here is the set up. The hanging limbs are around 6-8' from the trap. The arrow indicates the direction the picture was taken:
1661213156558.png
 

Rory

Senior Member.
The list of possible hoax theories that were posted earlier in the main discussion:

1) A kite
2) Hill or mountaintop above a sea of fog
3) Reflection of: i) a rock or stone; ii) an island iii) a sinking box (all with either real plane(s) or "man in boat")
4) Model(s) hung on fishing line
5) Balloon
6) Double exposure
7) Cutout on glass in front of the camera

Were there any others?

For me, at this stage, #4 is pretty much the only one that has any legs left in it.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Applaud your efforts @NorCal Dave. I think for me at the moment the main issue is the 'UFO' always looks like it's very close to the camera and therefore small. But definitely shows promise.

PS What's that in the top left?

1661222912380.png
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
I am a fan of simplicity and traditional methods: Things on strings.
Agreed, trying to keep it as simple as possible. The potential problem with the model plane, is that it would need to be very tiny and close to the camera to be out of focus, which can be done with glass, or way out past the tree limbs to be more out of focus than they are. If I had more time right now, I'd give it a try.

I think for me at the moment the main issue is the 'UFO' always looks like it's very close to the camera and therefore small
I assume you mean my "UFO"? Yes, it has too much detail on it, including dead yellowjackts, allowing one to estimate its actual size. Once you know the size, you know how close it is. In the Calvine photo the "craft" is pretty non-descript, thus aiding in the illusion.

I'll be back in town in a couple of weeks, and if nothing new happens while I'm gone, I'm going to work on this some more with a triangular model, a helper and a tripod. As I noted on the main thread, I think this photo is to composed to be a point and shoot as is claimed.
For me, at this stage, #4 is pretty much the only one that has any legs left in it.
I still wouldn't rule out a double exposure and/or dark room manipulation or compositing. These are ruled out by Robinson, but I'm wondering about that. He doesn't seem to even entertain the idea of a closer in model. As discussed on our thread on the Patterson-Gimlin film, it is nearly impossible to determine the 3D location of objects in a 2D photo. And the PG film had a lot of visual cluse to work with, unlike this photo. Instead, he's endorsing, roundaboutly, the notion of a super-secret, to this day, anti-gravity craft farting around in Scotland.


1661271197411.png
It is asserted that the film subject's course of travel in Figure 6 of the NASI report and the standard included in the figure (an individual at the film site) occupy the intended reference plane. The report does not specify how the coincidence of film subject and standard in this plane is verified. The calibration standard was scaled by superimposing dead trees from the background of the 1972 photograph onto the 1967 film. There may be errors associated with this superimposition, but their magnitude is not known. In any case, this alignment, however precise, docs not establish that the standard and the film subject are coplanar. The likelihood exists that there are out-of-plane errors in Glickman's calculations.
Content from External Source
https://skepticalinquirer.org/1999/05/bigfoots-screen-test/

Edit: Reworded something that sounded snarky and wasn't meant to be.
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
I still wouldn't rule out a double exposure and/or dark room manipulation or compositing.

Interesting - I think "double exposure" was one of my first suggestions but no one took up on it so I let it slide. Though personally I feel like I've let that go too, given there were six photos and we've heard from people who say they saw them. Accidental double exposure at least.

I should also have edited it to say that I consider #7 (cutouts on glass) to still have legs; I added that in after following more thread searching but missed the edit window for the final sentence.

Should also have edited #3 (reflection) since "man in boat" can only apply to "island".

These are ruled out by Robinson, but I'm beginning to wonder about him.

Remember to be nice. I wouldn't be surprised if he and/or other members of - let's face it - the "real investigation team" (we're just feeding on their scraps) are reading these speculations and theorisings of ours.

As discussed on our thread on the Patterson-Gimlin film, it is nearly impossible to determine the 3D location of objects in a 2D photo.

True. But also Robinson gives a "range" rather than a set figure.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
These are ruled out by Robinson, but I'm beginning to wonder about him. Photography Professor or not, he wont even entertain the idea of a closer in model.
is he the one who keeps saying the ufo is in focus...when it obviously is not in focus?

I wouldn't be surprised if he and/or other members of - let's face it - the "real investigation team" (we're just feeding on their scraps) are reading these speculations and theorisings of ours.
yea one of the guys theorized a blimp but i just linked to my years old blimp theory again several days ago. (not that he couldnt figure that out on his own since it looks mostly like a blimp./or a kite if we believe it is a thing in the sky.)
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Interesting - I think "double exposure" was one of my first suggestions but no one took up on it so I let it slide. Though personally I feel like I've let that go too, given there were six photos and we've heard from people who say they saw them. Accidental double exposure at least.

This was a negative film, so if there was double-exposure in-camera any dark object would be bleached out by the sky/cloud that was there in its object's absence. Double-exposure in-enlarger is another matter, of course, but by the time you're discussing that, you have a whole host of image manipulation techniques to hand trivially.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Is he the one who keeps saying the ufo is in focus?

I don't think so. In his analysis he says the UFO is most likely what the camera was focusing on, and therefore the "sharpest" part of the image:

The sharpest point in the image is the unidentified object in the sky with both foreground and background details appearing out of focus in comparison. Due to the sharpness of the central object, the blurring of other areas of the image would seem to be a result of focus and the depth of field used rather than due to camera movement during the capturing of the image.

https://www.metabunk.org/attachments/analysis-redacted-v2-pdf.53447/

But I don't recall him saying it was "in focus".

("Due to the sharpness" there means relatively rather than objectively.)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I don't think so. In his analysis he says the UFO is most likely what the camera was focusing on, and therefore the "sharpest" part of the image:



But I don't recall him saying it was "in focus".

("Due to the sharpness" there means relatively rather than objectively.)
yea he thinks the ufo is more in focus than the trees? that's weird. (and if so then it definitely aint metal)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Yeah, I would agree with that. I think that the object is lacking detail but I don't think it's as noticeably out of focus as the trees are.

1661278221352.png
but leaves are like an inch or two that object is supposed to be like 100feet. i guess it's semantics...but if i agree the ufo is "sharpest" then it is a spear head, pen nib or paper star hanging from a tree. :)
 

Rory

Senior Member.
So being good scientists the first thing we must do with our hoax theories is seek to disprove them and point out the potential flaws. So here's a summary of the most commonly mentioned theories and their drawbacks:

Common to all
a) Contradicts David Clarke's Defence Intelligence source​
b) Apparently fooled the MoD (for a certain period of time)​
c) Not obviously apparent​

1. Kite

a) Is anyone actually still entertaining this?​

2. Hill or mountaintop above a sea of fog

a) Seems that we can see clouds and sky throughout the photo​
b) Plane visible when probably lower than hypothesised countryside that isn't​
c) No strikingly similar images produced so far (from anywhere in the world)​
d) Peak looking like that perhaps feasible, but bottom triangle seems weird/unlikely​
e) Weather records don't show thick fog (location/date uncertain though)​
3. Reflection theories

a) No visible ripples or distortions or disturbance of water surface anywhere in the picture (some say possible "wavelets" in bottom left - hypothetical "shoreline" - but not clear that's what it is)​
b) No rock or island matching the image has been found​
c) "Man in a boat" seems highly unlikely (no disturbance)​
d) No successful physical reproduction as yet (though computer recreations show it's possible)​
e) Dismissed by Stu Little, who apparently saw much more detailed versions of all six photos​
f) Apparently barbed wire fences directly next to water are rare (but of course we only need one)​
g) If plane is a reflection then plane is flying upside down (unless photo has been horizontally flipped)​

4. Model(s) on a line

a) The trees, fence and 'craft' would all be more or less the same distance from the camera yet show different levels of focus​
b) If the plane is a model, same applies there​
c) If the plane isn't a model, implication of huge amount of patience/luck on the photographer's part (unless taken somewhere jets were known to flyover and circle and schedule somehow known)​
d) Were the trees tall enough/the branches long enough to hang the models from and appear as they do in the picture?​

5. Balloon

a) No images presented of balloons that look like the object​
b) No sign of a tether​
c) Difficult to imagine six pictures showing same view (ie, a balloon would probably rotate and otherwise move in the breeze/wind)​
6. Unintentional double exposure

a) No obvious signs​
b) Would have required someone to have taken several unremarkable shots of aeroplanes that coincided with an unremarkable shot of a rock/island that just so happened to be the only thing that 'transfered over'​
c) One double exposure maybe, but six?​

7. Cutout on glass in front of the camera
a) No obvious signs of glass​
b) Potential issues with focus​
c) How big would the sheet of glass have to be?​
8. Computer manipulation
a) Photoshop didn't come out until February 1990​
b) Program and equipment relatively expensive (PS $895, Mac ~$2-3000)​
c) Very basic by today's standards (Photoshop 1.0 video)​
d) Quantel Paintbox incredibly expensive commercial product​
e) Not believed to be digitally manipulated (ie, "it's a genuine photo) by MoD and Andrew Robinson​
9. Darkroom manipulation
a) Not believed to be manipulated by MoD and Andrew Robinson​
b) Probably other reasons I'm not aware of​
So that's a brief summary. What have I missed? What have I got wrong?

Might as well add the main drawbacks to the non-hoax theories:

1. Stealth craft
  • No known technology that can hover for ten minutes and then fly vertically up at great speed
  • No obvious signs of a means of propulsion
  • Nothing known that can hover/fly without making a sound
  • Top secret aircraft hovering in daylight near a Scottish village seems unlikely
  • No records of anyone else noticing it
  • Apparently denied by both the US and the UK
2, Military balloon
  • Military apparently have no record of it
  • No sign of tether
  • Doesn't match any known military balloon
  • Peculiar to tether it near a main road rather than on a base or at sea
3. ETs
  • No evidence that ETs have ever visited Earth
  • Statistically unlikely that ETs will visit Earth during humankind's existence
  • No known records from the pilots of the planes
  • Not noticed by anyone else (as far as we know)
  • Photographer didn't pursue publishing photos after being turned down by the Daily Record (and questioned by the MoD)
Though I suppose if we want to discuss these three we'll have to do it in some other thread.
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
3. Reflection theories
  • No visible ripples or distortions or disturbance of water surface anywhere in the picture
  • No rock or island matching the image has been found
  • "Man in a boat" seems highly unlikely (no disturbance)
  • No successful physical reproduction as yet
  • Dismissed by Stu Little, who apparently saw much more detailed versions of all six photos
3 a. At the very bottom there's a possible "tiny wavelets lapping on shore" image. The poor quality of the photo and the overall cloudiness of the sky reflection don't permit us to rule them out, but bodies of water do exist without waves, of course.

3 b. Given the large number of shoreline miles in the area, the number of possible locations, the unknown size of the object, the possibility of three decades of vegetation growth to change the appearance, and the unknown water level on that particular day, would you expect to find it? "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence", so that has always seemed a very weak argument to me.

3 c. It's already been noted somewhere in these voluminous comments that the lower part of that image is significantly less clear. That's consistent with ripples on a rowboat reflection, ripples over a plane reflection, or even movement of feathers on a bird's wing.

3 d and e. Meh.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Is anyone actually still entertaining this?
sure. why not.

No rock or island matching the image has been found
3b i found one that is a dead on match. and about 6 others that could be but google car too far away to be sure.
Triangle rocks are not that impossible, i know- i collected them all through my 20s and 30s, and the ones i collected the full rock was a triangle, this would just be a tip of a rock.

"Man in a boat" seems highly unlikely (no disturbance)
3c. you wouldnt see a disturbance in that quality photo. Although i dont see a man in the boat.

I would add, unless photo is upside down the plane is flying upside down if it's a reflection. (plane tails face down in reflections)

No successful physical reproduction as yet
3d. the Blender recreations and pool recreations Ruan did were fine.

Dismissed by Stu Little, who apparently saw much more detailed versions of all six photos
3e. his story needs to be dismissed. if he saw copies of negatives and they were 70% clearer then what we have, But Lindsay has the first ever photo made from the actual photographers negatives (as per Lindsays verbal interview), then the negatives Stu saw were not 70% (or even 10%) clearer.


The trees, fence and 'craft' would all be more or less the same distance from
4a. no

If the plane isn't a model, implication of huge amount of patience/luck on the photographer's part
4c. unless the date and/or location is a lie. and he went were the military jets routinely do their practice runs.

Were the trees tall enough/the branches long enough to hang the models from and appear as they do in the picture?
4d. what trees? I dont understand why you are blindly believing everything these guys tell you, even though their testimony contradicts themselves and each other and Lindsay at times.

5. Balloon
  • Does it look like a balloon?
does it look like a stealth aircraft? from the pic we have it looks as much like a balloon as a stealth fantasy aircraft.
 

Space_Raider

New Member
Apparently very few places in Scotland - and none suitable yet identified - where barbed wire fences directly abut water

I live in Scotland and I want to reiterate that scenes like these are very common when there is heavy rainfall. Fields can become flooded and you will see images like these where fence posts run parallel to the water or even into it. These are from Google and Brave image search "scotland flooded field". If the reflection theory is true we could be simply looking at a rock or tuft of grass and a stick poking out of a large puddle.

ScotlandFloodedFields.jpg


That being said I am leaning more towards this as an explanation now. The shape is a very strong match imo.
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Thanks for those Deirdre, I've made some modifications.

Can you post the "dead-on" rock again please? Looked but didn't find.

Also can you elaborate on this?

4. Model(s) on a line

a) The trees, fence and 'craft' would all be more or less the same distance from the camera

In my mind if the model(s) are hanging from the tree then they're more or less the same distance from the camera as the tree, and the fence is more or less the same distance as the tree also.

4d. what trees?

Well there's a tree in the picture and if they're models they have to be hanging from something.

4c. unless the date and/or location is a lie. and he went were the military jets routinely do their practice runs.

A caveat here would be that while jets do "practice runs" to get them when they're circling (if we buy that) would be difficult to plan.

from the pic we have it looks as much like a balloon as a stealth fantasy aircraft.

No balloon I've ever seen. ;)

I live in Scotland and I want to reiterate that scenes like these are very common when there is heavy rainfall. Fields can become flooded and you will see images like these where fence posts run parallel to the water or even into it.

Nice. That's a really good suggestion. Though I guess the counter to the flood idea would be that it was apparently quite a droughty summer

That being said I am leaning more towards this as an explanation now. The shape is a very strong match imo.

Agreed.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Can you post the "dead-on" rock again please?
i havent done measurements and Blender recreation of distances, heights to see if plausible from the opposite hill. just saying the rock matches if you scootch to your right a bit (the google car doesnt do this of course)

Screenshot 2022-08-16 004756.png
1661444707880.png


and the May 1990 view


view 1990 may.png

In my mind if the model(s) are hanging from the tree then they're more or less the same distance from the camera as the tree, and the fence is more or less the same distance as the tree also.
only because you are trusting their location. but even that guy says trees come and go (which is true based on the A1 river shots and changing the street view years). you are assuming the thing is hanging from the alleged tree in upper section?

A caveat here would be that while jets do "practice runs" to get them when they're circling (if we buy that) would be difficult to plan.
would it? i imagine they would turn round to fly home in the same general area each time.

No balloon I've ever seen. ;)
and no stealth aircraft i've ever seen ;)
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
The trees, fence and 'craft' would all be more or less the same distance from the camera yet show different levels of focus
I think that assumes the model is hanging from a tree. It might be dangled from a fishing rod (or similar) closer than the trees, of course with the rod out of shot. The difficulty would be to get the 'thread' invisible against the sky. I just tried stretching a piece of white cotton thread against a background of overcast sky ( in London at 17.00 today). To the naked eye (or in my case through standard strength glasses) it was conspicuous at a distance of 1 meter, and still noticeable at 3 meters. But with my phone camera (Samsung Galaxy with default settings) it was barely noticeable at 1 meter and invisible at 3 meters. (I also tried it at 2 meters and found part but not all of it invisible.) When I zoomed in on the 3 meter photo the thread became visible, but only at a high magnification. Other objects at the same distance (e.g. a clothes drying frame I had tied the thread to) seemed in reasonable focus, though no doubt a bit of blurring would help conceal the thread.

That is just my eyes, my thread, and my camera, so I would urge other people to try it. [Maybe with spider silk instead of cotton.] I am not wedded to the 'hoax' hypothesis, but I think it should be given a fair run. Experts may be too dismissive of 'hoax' hypotheses just because they can't see how it could be done, and if they can't do it neither can anyone else, because they are very clever. Just look at all the letters after their names!
 

Rory

Senior Member.
only because you are trusting their location

Not really. I'm mainly going by the fact that there's a fence and (I think we can correctly assume) at least one tree in the photo.

you are assuming the thing is hanging from the alleged tree in upper section?

Either that or, like David, maybe from a fishing rod (a pretty long one I would imagine). Could also be hanging beneath a helium balloon if we're considering all options.

would it? i imagine they would turn round to fly home in the same general area each time.

I've stayed atop a valley where military jets came through. I have no idea how people know how to plan for those things. But in my experience they zip past and they're gone before you know it. Never seen one circle and as for turning around, how would one know when the turning around point would be (assuming they weren't flying a triangular/circular route, etc)?

and no stealth aircraft i've ever seen ;)

For sure. :)

and real life pics

Aye, but considerable visible disturbance on the water.

Thanks for the rock pics! Very interesting.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Either that or, like David, maybe from a fishing rod (a pretty long one I would imagine). Could also be hanging beneath a helium balloon if we're considering all options.
or a different tree that isnt in the picture.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Aye, but considerable visible disturbance on the water.
because it's a lake. if it is a stagnant spillway or puddle then the plane would be clearer. (and although that pic i posted is a different angle, you can see that planes wing gets all weirdly distorted like what appears to be case in the calvine photo.

(note: still very plausible it is a model ufo (a moldy ravioli hanging from a tree) "OVER" a puddle that is reflecting the plane and fence and tree.

add: dont forget how stagnant water (like a canal or puddle) gives clearer reflections
Screenshot 2022-08-23 171315.png
 
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JMartJr

Senior Member
My stupid phone made it look like the post from Rory started a new thread, rather than being a much-discussed post in an existing thread. So I answered it without looking at all the intervening posts while crafting this answer. Letting it stand since the answers still reflect my thinking on this...

Let's talk about the various hoax theories and their drawbacks.

Common to all

a) Contradicts witness testimony as told to Craig Lindsay and recorded in the incident report​
Other than the names Craig and Lindsay, that is true of every hoax. The potential hoxers not reporting it as a hoax does not seem a strong objection.
c) Apparently fooled the MoD (for a certain period of time)​
Again, other than the specificity of MoD it is not super uncommon for military/government investigators to at least seem to be fooled by UFO reports that have mundane explanations.

1. Kite

a) Is anyone actually still entertaining this?​
Can't speak for anybody else, but in my case, no.

2. Hill or mountaintop above a sea of fog
b) Plane visible​
The plane also being above low cloud bank/fog does not seem surprising.

3. Reflection theories
c) "Man in a boat" seems highly unlikely (no disturbance)​
The more insubstantial looking, blurry left/lower wing might be due to disturbed water around the boat/oar.
f) Apparently very few lochs in Scotland - and none suitable yet identified - where barbed wire fences directly abut water (though could be some other body of water, including puddle)​
Did I miss this being established? Who did a survey of loch-adjacent fences of the 90s? Phrased jokingly, but I don't think we do or can know that. Besides, "few" is not an objection as one is sufficient.

4. Model(s) on a line

a) The trees, fence and 'craft' would all be more or less the same distance from the camera yet show different levels of focus​
I'm not sure how compelling that is with the one grainy bad photo that we have. (The trope of the Bad UFO Picture I Can Show You, There Are Much Better Ones That I Can't Show You is getting tiresome. Does not mean it cant possibly be true in this case of course. But stil...)
c) If the plane isn't a model, implication of huge amount of patience/luck on the photographer's part (unless taken somewhere jets were known to flyover and circle​
Noting that objection kinda unobjections itself.

Thing On a String is my preferred hoax theory to this point.

5. Balloon​

a) Does it look like a balloon?​
It looks like a balloon made to look like that. There is a Non Round Balloon thread here, illustrating nicely part of the range of potential balloon shapes and appearances.

By the way, should small close balloon tethered from below be a subset of "Model on a String?"

Is anyone really suggesting this?​
I think the distant balloon used in radar test or something theory covers what we know pretty well. Would not ba a hoax, though, the witnesses would have been sincere. It is my preferred Not Hoax theory at this point.
6. Double exposure
c) One double exposure maybe, but six?​
IF it was an intentional hoax, doing it more than once seems reasonable to me. Six accidental double exposures would not.
Might as well add the main drawbacks to the non-hoax theories:

1. Stealth craft
  • No known technology that can hover for ten minutes and then fly vertically up at great speed
Depending on how great a speed you mean, a tethered balloon could do that if the tether broke or was released.
  • No obvious signs of a means of propulsion
  • Noknown that can hover/fly without making a sound
Not a problem for a balloon.

My $0.02
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
does not seem a strong objection.

I didn't write "strong objection", I wrote "drawbacks". ;)

The plane also being above low cloud bank/fog does not seem surprising.

Fair point. Though I think the plane is probably lower than some of the other hills/countryside that aren't visible. I will clarify that one.

Did I miss this being established? Who did a survey of loch-adjacent fences of the 90s? Phrased jokingly, but I don't think we do or can know that. Besides, "few" is not an objection as one is sufficient.

True. But I think it's voiced often enough to be a "drawback" - especially until such a loch is observed. (I must remember to ask Giles Stevens about him saying there are "very few" that match that criterion because, yes, as you point out, it only takes one.)

It looks like a balloon made to look like that. There is a Non Round Balloon thread here, illustrating nicely part of the range of potential balloon shapes and appearances.

So some people do think balloon might be viable. Perhaps yourself and Deirdre could post what the potential drawbacks of that are so I can add to the list while I still have an edit window.

Will also add military balloon to the non-hoax theories (potential drawbacks welcome since I don't know that subject very well).
 

DavidB66

Senior Member
As a variant on the idea of a balloon designed to model relevant features of a secret aircraft, without using the aircraft itself, how about a drogue, towed behind another aircraft? There are at least two obvious objections to this:

1. a drogue wouldn't hover, still less shoot up at high speed
2. where is the towing aircraft? (it doesn't seem to be the visible 'Harrier', which is going in the opposite direction)

Two small points in favour:

a. some accounts mention a second aircraft 'escorting' the object, and the MoD reports suggest that in at least one photo a second aircraft is visible. Might this be the towing aircraft?
b. the small 'bobble' on one end of the object might be a housing for a towing attachment.

This idea is just offered as a 'long shot'. I recall that in some other famous case (Westall?) a drogue has been suggested as a candidate for a UFO sighting. The object might also be a hybrid of balloon and drogue: an object with buoyancy to support it, but towed by an aircraft.

Incidentally, as in 1990 the RAF base on the Mull of Kintyre was effectively a US Navy experimental base, is it possible that US Marine Corps Harriers were using it? And as different branches of the military (US or otherwise) are notoriously reluctant to co-operate with each other, could a secret US Navy experiment explain why other branches of the military back in Washington didn't know about it, and/or went ballistic, when they found out about the incident? (and by some accounts were apologetic later when they knew what it was).

On the general issue of hoax v. secret project, I still think the evidence of Baldwin and Spiers is important. I was disappointed to see from David Clarke's recent accounts that their positive reasons for calling it a hoax were weak or vague, but it is surely still significant that these two senior figures, one of them directly involved in discussions with the US authorities, did not believe the object was a secret US vehicle at the time (up to 1992), and apparently have not changed their minds since then. At least one of them (I forget which) was still alive recently enough for Clarke to discuss it with him.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
I didn't write "strong objection", I wrote "drawbacks". ;)
Fair enough. I'd modify my statement to a stronger "does not seem an objection at all." IF it is a hoax, the hoaxers' story being made up is almost a requirement of the theory, not an objection. That's my thought on it, your mileage may vary of course.:)

So some people do think balloon might be viable. Perhaps yourself and Deirdre could post what the potential drawbacks of that are so I can add to the list while I still have an edit window.

Will also add military balloon to the non-hoax theories (potential drawbacks welcome since I don't know that subject very well).
I'd be happy to give that some thought, however I am packing kite bags today for a trip next week to the Middle East for an event (first event for me overseas since COVID showed up so I am pretty pumped and some what obsessive about it!) Will be home in two weeks, airlines allowing and able to think about something other than baggage weight allowances, visas, and the like. By that point the case may have been solved, of course!

The first difficulty that occurs for a tethered large balloon is the need for a tether out in the middle of Scotland that would need to be kept secret for a secret test -- brought in the the spot, used, and carried back out in at least some secrecy. That would all seem simpler to do on a military base or an outlying island, or using a naval vessel.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Perhaps yourself and Deirdre could post what the potential drawbacks of that are so I can add to the list while I still have an edit window.
i dont know if i believe it's a balloon, more mentioning it because it still could be. and it's less ridiculous than an American antigrav stealth aircraft being tested on British soil.
helium balloons, not up on a mountain side, can "hover" then go up fast when you let go the rope.

any drawbacks would include believing the story as told. (which i don't).
i dont know anything about radar blimps (and blimps usually have fins for stability) so i'm personally dismissing that one. not claiming i am right.

to me if its a balloon, its like this direction. like a star balloon. and it would be floating over a reflection
highresolution.jpg

you need some imagination to overcome my incredible inability to draw perspective :)

1661460831698.png

draw backs would be IF there really were 6 pics with no change in shape it would have to be balloon on a stick to avoid rotating.
but mostly i have a hard time picturing a couple of 18 year old figuring out to use a 3d star sideways to look like a diamond. easier to use a necklace bobble or an earring, wind chime dangly bit etc.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
f) Apparently very few lochs in Scotland - and none suitable yet identified - where barbed wire fences directly abut water (though could be some other body of water, including puddle)
Here's the twelve miles between Pitlochry (bottom right) and Calvine (red X), from Google maps. There is a LOT of water very near the area, from a large loch to reservoirs to a number of rivers, and not including all the smaller bits that may not show up on the map. Remember, we are not really trying to ascertain if there is a fence there; we are trying to determine if there was a fence there in 1990. Add to that the pictures someone recently posted of flooding in (fenced) farmers' fields (I apologize, but this thread being broken up into sub threads makes it harder to find the right place, not easier, so I can't credit the proper person). Is it any wonder that a particular place hasn't been pinpointed?

Edit to add, that's @Space_Raider , flooded fields in post number 17. Thanks, @Rory.

Once again, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

F639A9CF-B722-4B9C-82A5-A61FF6C84F9D.jpeg
 
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Rory

Senior Member.
draw backs would be IF there really were 6 pics with no change in shape it would have to be balloon on a stick to avoid rotating.
but mostly i have a hard time picturing a couple of 18 year old figuring out to use a 3d star sideways to look like a diamond.

Good points, thanks for that. And also thanks for making me realise what I've been missing in my life: Deirdre's drawings!

Add to that the pictures someone recently posted of flooding in (fenced) farmers' fields (I apologize, but this thread being broken up into sub threads makes it harder to find the right place, not easier, so I can't credit the proper person).

Up above in this one, Post #17.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
f) Apparently very few lochs in Scotland - and none suitable yet identified - where barbed wire fences directly abut water (though could be some other body of water, including puddle, as well as outside Scotland)
they dont have to be super close either. depends on your height.
ex: from perth road
Screenshot 2022-08-22 224424.png

Screenshot 2022-08-22 224735.png
 

Duke

Active Member
So being good scientists the first thing we must do with our hoax theories is seek to disprove them and point out the potential flaws. So here's a summary of the most commonly mentioned theories and their drawbacks:

Common to all
a) Contradicts David Clarke's Defence Intelligence source​
b) Apparently fooled the MoD (for a certain period of time)​
c) Not obviously apparent​

1. Kite

a) Is anyone actually still entertaining this?​

2. Hill or mountaintop above a sea of fog

a) Seems that we can see clouds and sky throughout the photo​
b) Plane visible when probably lower than hypothesised countryside that isn't​
c) No strikingly similar images produced so far (from anywhere in the world)​
d) Peak looking like that perhaps feasible, but bottom triangle seems weird/unlikely​
e) Weather records don't show thick fog (location/date uncertain though)​
3. Reflection theories

a) No visible ripples or distortions or disturbance of water surface anywhere in the picture (some say possible "wavelets" in bottom left - hypothetical "shoreline" - but not clear that's what it is)​
b) No rock or island matching the image has been found​
c) "Man in a boat" seems highly unlikely (no disturbance)​
d) No successful physical reproduction as yet (though computer recreations show it's possible)​
e) Dismissed by Stu Little, who apparently saw much more detailed versions of all six photos​
f) Apparently very few lochs in Scotland - and none suitable yet identified - where barbed wire fences directly abut water (though could be some other body of water, including puddle, as well as outside Scotland)​
g) If plane is a reflection then plane is flying upside down (unless photo has been horizontally flipped)​

4. Model(s) on a line

a) The trees, fence and 'craft' would all be more or less the same distance from the camera yet show different levels of focus​
b) If the plane is a model, same applies there​
c) If the plane isn't a model, implication of huge amount of patience/luck on the photographer's part (unless taken somewhere jets were known to flyover and circle and schedule somehow known)​
d) Were the trees tall enough/the branches long enough to hang the models from and appear as they do in the picture?​

5. Balloon

a) No images presented of balloons that look like the object​
b) No sign of a tether​
c) Difficult to imagine six pictures showing same view (ie, a balloon would probably rotate and otherwise move in the breeze/wind)​
6. Unintentional double exposure

a) No obvious signs​
b) Would have required someone to have taken several unremarkable shots of aeroplanes that coincided with a shot of an unremarkable shot of a rock/island that just so happened to be the only thing that 'transfered over'​
c) One double exposure maybe, but six?​

7. Cutout on glass in front of the camera
a) No obvious signs of glass​
b) Potential issues with focus​
c) How big would the sheet of glass have to be?​
8. Computer manipulation
a) Photoshop didn't come out until February 1990​
b) Program and equipment relatively expensive (PS $895, Mac ~$2-3000)​
c) Very basic by today's standards (Photoshop 1.0 video)​
d) Quantel Paintbox incredibly expensive commercial product​
e) Not believed to be digitally manipulated (ie, "it's a genuine photo) by MoD and Andrew Robinson​
9. Darkroom manipulation
a) Not believed to be manipulated by MoD and Andrew Robinson​
b) Probably other reasons I'm not aware of​
So that's a brief summary. What have I missed? What have I got wrong?

Might as well add the main drawbacks to the non-hoax theories:

1. Stealth craft
  • No known technology that can hover for ten minutes and then fly vertically up at great speed
  • No obvious signs of a means of propulsion
  • Nothing known that can hover/fly without making a sound
  • Top secret aircraft hovering in daylight near a Scottish village seems unlikely
  • No records of anyone else noticing it
  • Apparently denied by both the US and the UK
2, Military balloon
  • Military apparently have no record of it
  • No sign of tether
  • Doesn't match any known military balloon
  • Peculiar to tether it near a main road rather than on a base or at sea
3. ETs
  • No evidence that ETs have ever visited Earth
  • Statistically unlikely that ETs will visit Earth during humankind's existence
  • No known records from the pilots of the planes
  • Not noticed by anyone else (as far as we know)
  • Photographer didn't pursue publishing photos after being turned down by the Daily Record (and questioned by the MoD)
Though I suppose if we want to discuss these three we'll have to do it in some other thread.
Shouldn't you consider if the photographer was in on/part of a hoax or an innocent victim of a hoax perpetrated by someone unknown to him?
 

Rory

Senior Member.
Shouldn't you consider if the photographer was in on/part of a hoax or an innocent victim of a hoax perpetrated by someone unknown to him?

You mean like someone "flying" a UFO model and getting the photographer to scramble and take a picture?

I suppose that's a possibility.

PS If you want to keep your posts shorter just highlight the first sentence and click reply (assuming you're replying generally).
 
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Duke

Active Member
You mean like someone "flying" a UFO model and getting them to scramble and take a picture?

I suppose that's a possibility.

PS If you want to keep your comments shorter just highlight the first sentence and click reply (assuming you're replying generally).
I mean either the photographer was in on a hoax (however it was done) and had a camera set up to get the photos, or the photographer knew nothing of the hoax but happened to be at the right place at the right time to get the photos.
 
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