Explained: Tic-Tac Shaped UFO Near Lake Michigan [Plane]

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPGmUF6R3CY


This was a relatively straightforward case. The object looked like a Tic-Tac shaped blob. Initially I thought it was fake, but then it quickly became apparent it was a real object (or at least a really good 3D fake).

The low resolution, sharpening, and digital zoom make bright white shapes turn into blobs. Here on the right there the buildings and the racetrack, with the object overlaid at the same resolution.
Four White Building comparison copy.jpg
Sharpening makes it worse at this scale, as it adds dark pixels which make it look bigger. See the gaps between the buildings.

Tracking down the plane was a simple matter as they gave the flight number, date, location, and view direction.

Article:
tic tac ufo seen (video recorded) from airplane while flying over lake michigan, over grand rapids area. Was on flight UA267 from Boston, MA to Denver, CO on Oct 17, 2021. I was seated in the window seat, looking north as we flew over Lake Michigan. At 8:50 am local time, I spotted below the plane and several miles away a tic tac ufo. The object was flying east and had no features. It had no wings, no windows, no tail, no exhaust, no flight surfaces. It was white and cylindrical. I recorded a video of it for about one minute before it disappeared from sight on its eastward cruising path. It did seem to change elevation or speed.


There's also a quite distinctive large pond right at the start.

Tic Tac Video Panorama at astart pond.jpg

Then it was just a case of finding the plane. Delta 2474.

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RTM

Member
And yet we are told that we need a better class of skeptic. Some of the replies on your twitter thread on this are also hilarious.
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
And yet we are told that we need a better class of skeptic. Some of the replies on your twitter thread on this are also hilarious.
Or on Reddit \ufos..
I don't even discuss over there anymore. Too hostile, and cult like behaviour.

In my view the "debunk" above is one of the nicest, cleanest. Thanks Mick.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The report was excellent, reasonably timely, and had all the data we would want (except maybe a weather report, which wasn't needed).
Well done by the person who submitted it! I wish all UFO reports were this detailed!
 

Jon Adams

Member
Fine job of sleuthing, Mr West. Why can't others do that few minutes of work to understand what they're seeing?
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
As a meta topic, I'd like to see an explanation of why wings keep disappearing such that we keep ending up with tic-tacs. I think there are several contributing factors. Just some back-of-a-fag-packet calculations showed that the amount of movement on its own, and consequent blurring of edges with the background, would not be enough, so I think it's as much a lighting (contrast) effect as anything else.

Edit: Oh - and great debunk Mick, nail absolutely hit on the head.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
As a meta topic, I'd like to see an explanation of why wings keep disappearing such that we keep ending up with tic-tacs. I think there are several contributing factors. Just some back-of-a-fag-packet calculations showed that the amount of movement on its own, and consequent blurring of edges with the background, would not be enough, so I think it's as much a lighting (contrast) effect as anything else.

There's a few reasons
  1. There are angles where the wings merge fully or mostly into the body.
  2. The wings can be much darker then the brightly lit upper fuselage when in shadow, phone post processing algorithms seemingly blend them into the background because a plane in a phone camera fov is tiny (a few pixels on the sensor)
  3. While the fuselage of most commercial airliners is white tails are of often painted in darker livery.
  4. Some tictac airliner shots show a pinch in the middle, this is likley from the wing connections / shadow cast from the engines depending on light direction


I have posted this before, this is a heavily cropped photo of a high flying airliner on a sunny day taken with a 560mm lens on a 45 megapixel mirrorless camera.

1636194757470.png

This is it at 6% reduced in LR still bigger than on a phone screen but you can see the port wing has vanished.


1636197947058.png
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
As a meta topic, I'd like to see an explanation of why wings keep disappearing such that we keep ending up with tic-tacs.
Some in-depth might be nice, yes.

I figure that we can often see the fuselage brightly lit, but the undersides of the wings are in shadow, so the wings blend with the sky more; they don't stand out much from a side view anyway. Add some diffraction and glare from the atmosphere (and a lack of sensor pixels) to obscure details like the vertical stabilizer, and a jet liner looks like an oblong blob.

Edit: crossed posts with jarlrmai, who says it better than I did
 

Ravi

Senior Member.
Don't forget the corrective algorithms of the camera used. Specially the smaller cameras (phones, etc) use a ton of corrections!
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Don't forget the corrective algorithms of the camera used. Specially the smaller cameras (phones, etc) use a ton of corrections!
Yeah mentioned them in my post, be nice to know exactly which algorithms were responsible to try and reproduce.
 

Mechanik

Active Member
Aircraft fuselages also tend to be shiny and cylindrical while the other surfaces are not. When viewed from the sunny side, the fuselage is much brighter than the wings and tail and much more likely to reflect light back at you.

As in the @jarlrmai photo, the white body is much easier to see, even in the small photo.
 

MapperGuy

New Member
People are expecting far too much from their cameras. "no windows"? "no exhaust"? Would you really expect to see windows or exhaust when the whatever-it-is just appears as a fuzzy blob? Judging the distance to an object seen out of an airplane window is difficult, anything far out beyond the wingtip is just "far away" to your stereo vision. People can only judge the distance based on how big they assume the object to be. Tough to do for a fuzzy blob.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
People are expecting far too much from their cameras. "no windows"? "no exhaust"? Would you really expect to see windows or exhaust when the whatever-it-is just appears as a fuzzy blob? Judging the distance to an object seen out of an airplane window is difficult, anything far out beyond the wingtip is just "far away" to your stereo vision. People can only judge the distance based on how big they assume the object to be. Tough to do for a fuzzy blob.

Usually when these descriptions are given along side a photo or a video they are from the eyewitness point of view not a description of the video/photo, uncharitably you could say it makes the video into a "lazy hoax" but it's hard to tell from the video if a person looking at the same scene should be able to clearly see those features of a plane and are saying they couldn't to enhance the mystery. If that makes sense.,

Generally when someone posts a video there are certain phrases in the description that generally indicate they are a "UFO believer."
 

Vattic

New Member
In fairness it can be an honest mistake too. On my walks home from work I saw a few planes flying perpendicular to my route that looked like tic-tacs (cigars at the time) to the naked eye. With some the wings became visible before I got home. Might just be a coincidence, but it was usually on bright, cold, sunny mornings.
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Had a very vaguely similar experience just last night, while relaxing in the hot tub and saw something huge and silent and fast flying over the trees in the backyard, dark and oblong... and then it landed on a lower branch if one of the trees. It was much closer and lower than I'd assumed in the first second or two, and was one of our friendly neighborhood barred owls. If he had not perched where I could see him, I like to think I'd have figured it out anyway, but maybe not, the illusion of something volkswagon sized high above the trees was very strong.
 

Jon Adams

Member
I have a fine perch on a hillside in Phoenix. I have an ADS-B receiver on the roof. The flight approaches for all A/C landing to the east at KPHX are all in front of me and my window. Nonetheless, this whole morning I haven't been able to spot one of the over 100 inbound flights that fly over the house. Clear day with high cirrus. Does that mean the planes aren't there?

And when I (usually) do see them, their appearance morphs depending on sun angle, position/attitude of the a/c, color of the a/c, sky color/brightness/extinction, etc. All sorts of shapes.

People who don't pay attention to their surroundings see things that to them are sometimes for them unexplainable. Combined with, like in the X-Files, "I want to believe".

And then there are the bats...

Sheesh.
 

Mauro

Active Member
Had a very vaguely similar experience just last night, while relaxing in the hot tub and saw something huge and silent and fast flying over the trees in the backyard, dark and oblong... and then it landed on a lower branch if one of the trees. It was much closer and lower than I'd assumed in the first second or two, and was one of our friendly neighborhood barred owls.
Just to add (off-topic, excuse me): owls are indeed a common source of spooky sightings, ie. the Mothman was probably an owl (also a famous 'encounter of the 3rd kind' was an owl, I'm sorry but I don't remember which one).
 
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Jon Adams

Member
Usually when these descriptions are given along side a photo or a video they are from the eyewitness point of view not a description of the video/photo, uncharitably you could say it makes the video into a "lazy hoax" but it's hard to tell from the video if a person looking at the same scene should be able to clearly see those features of a plane and are saying they couldn't to enhance the mystery. If that makes sense.,

Generally when someone posts a video there are certain phrases in the description that generally indicate they are a "UFO
People are expecting far too much from their cameras. "no windows"? "no exhaust"? Would you really expect to see windows or exhaust when the whatever-it-is just appears as a fuzzy blob? Judging the distance to an object seen out of an airplane window is difficult, anything far out beyond the wingtip is just "far away" to your stereo vision. People can only judge the distance based on how big they assume the object to be. Tough to do for a
But, but, my camera can zoom in a zillion times! I saw it on CSI!

Yeah, that speck of whatever is just 6 pixels (at sharpest focus) across, and the autofocus (another concept nearly no one understands) is dancing wildly trying to make sense of the image. Hey, maybe that's the proof - the autofocus can't focus on the "object", so not only is the object for reelz but also the sophisticated radar ^H^H^H camera electronics can't figure it out either...
 
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