# Michelle Reyes, LaGuardia UFO from Plane Window

#### Mick West

Staff member

Source: Michelle Reyes, Facebook

This video was shot on March 24th, 2024, but recently showed up on a NewsNation segment with an interview of Michelle. Ben Hansen was in the segment, persumable as a representative of Engima Labs who had done some analysis, determining it was not fake, probably outside the plane, and not that far away, but bigger than an insect.

I agree it's outside. It's much more in focus than the window

A glimpse of a "Howdy" on the wing shows it's Spirit airlines

Via Social media posts we know she was going from Myrtle Beach to LaGuardia, on March 25th. We can see they are descending near New York, and there's a distinctive bridge

Which we can find in Google Earth

The white line is the rough shadow direction, and using SunCalc it puts it roughly between 2 and 4PM.

Looking at flights, there's only one contender, Spirit NKS 3380 which was flying past at 2:30 PM (EDT, of 18:30 EDT). At that point it was going 240 mph.

The object traverse the field of view in five frames.

In a singe frame (1/30th of a second) it goes about4.3x its own length.

240 mph is 352 feet per second, or 11.7 feet in in 1/30th of a second.

So if we hypothesize it's a balloon, it goes 11.7 feet in the time it moves 4.3x it's length, so it's length is 11.7/4.3 or 2.7 feet (31 inches)

Consistent with a balloon, like, for example:

It seems not thrown off its meanderings by any turbulence from the plane itself, so must be at least a bit - but how much? - beyond the winglet. Do we know the size of the letters in the 'howdy' logo? If it's about one wing-length beyond the wing, it would be as long as several letters from the logo, which seems to agree with your calculation and suggested solution.

In a singe frame (1/30th of a second) it goes about4.3x its own length.

240 mph is 352 feet per second, or 11.7 feet in in 1/30th of a second.

So if we hypothesize it's a balloon, it goes 11.7 feet in the time it moves 4.3x it's length, so it's length is 11.7/4.3 or 2.7 feet (31 inches)

I dont understand this. how do you know the distance from the plane?

There was a thread last month discussing a lower quality version of this video, with less information:https://www.metabunk.org/threads/ufo-filmed-over-new-york-city-what-is-it.13406/

In particular there was discussion about it being a solar balloon. If the calculation of <3 feet is correct, I wonder it that's bit small for a solar balloon. Although it is about the size of a single black garbage bag.

If I understand correctly, on the assumption that the object is a balloon, its distance from the plane is almost irrelevant to the calculation of its size. We also need to assume that wind speed can be ignored (or that the plane's speed is measured relative to the air), and that the camera does not pan during the 'flyby' of the object, which appears to be verified by the video itself. But it might be desirable for Mick to cover this point!

I dont understand this. how do you know the distance from the plane?
We don't. We know:

1 - the plane is going 240 mph, or 352 feet per second
2 - the object's apparent speed is about 4.3 times its own length per 1/30th of a second

From just those two things, and assuming it's not moving under its own power and there's no significant wind we can estimate the length of the object. 2.7 feet.

The field of view appears to be approximately 28°. The object covers about 47/1080 of that, so about 1.22 degrees (ignoring distortion). Very simply distance ~= 2.7/tan(1.22 degrees) = 126 feet from the camera.

The plane is an Airbus A321, which has a wingspan of 112 feet.

So it's very roughly one wing length beyond the end of the wing, if it's a balloon.

We know:

1 - the plane is going 240 mph, or 352 feet per second
2 - the object's apparent speed is about 4.3 times its own length per 1/30th of a second

From just those two things, and assuming it's not moving under its own power and there's no significant wind we can estimate the length of the object. 2.7 feet.
yea you already said that.

so.. if the object were like 100 feet length and further away, it would not move 4.3 times its length per 1/30th of a second? it would stay in the window frame alot longer right?

assuming it's not moving under its own power and there's no significant wind

What evidence supports either assumption?

What evidence supports either assumption?
since it looks just like a balloon, i think the first part of your question would need one to provide evidence or at least a logical argument that it IS moving (to any significant amount) under it's own power.

the wind approximations you can look up for us.

What evidence supports either assumption?
It's an assumption to test the question: "is this consistent with a balloon".

If it can be shown to be moving under its own power then that would invalidate the balloon hypothesis.

But what we can say is that there is nothing inconsistent with it being a balloon.

yea you already said that.

so.. if the object were like 100 feet length and further away, it would not move 4.3 times its length per 1/30th of a second? it would stay in the window frame alot longer right?
Everything not moving in the view (assuming the camera does not rotate) is moving relative to the plane at 352 feet per second, or 11.7 feet per frame.

If it were 100 feet long it would move 0.117 times its length (11.7/100) per frame.

The distance is irrelevant because things look smaller, as they appear slower, so it all balances out

Example, consider the base of the tower.

It takes 13 frames to go its own length. So in theory it would be 13*11.7 or 152 feet long.

Close enough (166 feet) as these are very rough estimates. But within 20%. Fine for characterizing the size (2-3 feet for a balloon)

What evidence supports either assumption?
In addition to Mike's fairly neutral answer, as a hardcore Bayesian I have to add that we do know that the majority of things that are identified by pilots as near annoyances are balloons nowadays, so that's the maximally likely prior.

What specifically about its behaviour did you consider non-balloon-like?

Everything not moving in the view (assuming the camera does not rotate) is moving relative to the plane at 352 feet per second, or 11.7 feet per frame.

If it were 100 feet long it would move 0.117 times its length (11.7/100) per frame.

The distance is irrelevant because things look smaller, as they appear slower, so it all balances out

Example, consider the base of the tower.
View attachment 67898

It takes 13 frames to go its own length. So in theory it would be 13*11.7 or 152 feet long.
View attachment 67899

Close enough (166 feet) as these are very rough estimates. But within 20%. Fine for characterizing the size (2-3 feet for a balloon)
Yup - 9%, it's irrelevant. Even more irrelevant is the fact that we are slightly banking, which would cause you to overestimate the size (count too many frames), but the point about which we are rotating is so far in the distance (it's beyond a white skyscraper that's not quite stationary in the far field during the important part of the clip - that skyscraper moves backwards as we bank more towards the end of the clip) that it's just a tiny fraction of error (the relative error scales like theta^2). H0 remains firmly favoured.

Photo of a "7" black balloon (34 inches long) at 200 feet away (measured with a rangefinder).

Photo of a "7" black balloon (34 inches long) at 200 feet away (measured with a rangefinder).

can we see a close up of your balloon, so we can see what shape it was?

Here ya go. When the line is given slack, the balloon wants to go horizontal (depending on wind).

When the line is given slack, the balloon wants to go horizontal (depending on wind).
thanks! i was wondering if it was a small "d" or something (the NY ufo) due to the highlight bulge at teh end, but wasnt sure about floating orientation.

The 'balloon' appears to be cylindrical and featureless, unlike most letter balloons, which tend to have some detail at each end suggesting a 'serif' of some sort. However a circular balloon - a letter O or a number 0 - could look both cylindrical and featureless if the balloon is tilted so we are viewing it sideways on.
When the line is given slack, the balloon wants to go horizontal (depending on wind).
If I am interpreting this correctly, a letter O or number 0 would look like a featureless cylinder when horizontal.

If I am interpreting this correctly, a letter O or number 0 would look like a featureless cylinder when horizontal.
But only if you are more or less in the plane of the balloon. If you were higher, or lower, you'd see at least some of the "O"ness.

Yes.
I suggest this because those two letters have a wide range of angles where they would not display any other features - most of the other letters and numbers are only featureless when seen from a very limited range of angles. Also the number 0 is a very common celebratory balloon. But this is just guesswork.

@Kenny Biddle's letter L looks quite convincing, now I come to think of it.

Last edited:
A lot of people on Twitter/X try to counter Mick's analysis by asking 'how do you know the object is static'?

The short answer is that we don't know this, but Mick doesn't claim otherwise. The point is that if the object is a balloon, or something else just drifting with the wind, certain consequences would follow, which enable us to make an estimate for its size.

But it occurs to me that there is a reasonable argument that it is probably something static or slow-moving. The video itself shows that it appears to move backwards and approximately parallel to the direction of motion of the plane. (In fact, it appears to move with a slight upward slant, but this is due to the orientation of the camera, as is shown by the slant of the skyline when this is visible.)

This is just what we would expect if the object is approximately static. If on the other hand it has significant independent motion, with a speed comparable to that of the plane, there is no reason why it should have any particular apparent motion. It could appear to be going forward, backwards, up, down, or in any number of slanting directions. The most we could expect is that a general backward direction relative to the plane would be somewhat more common than forward ones, since the plane itself is moving forwards. It would be an unlikely coincidence if it just happens to be moving backwards and parallel to the plane, and we don't like the unlikely.

Against the horizon, it appears to be at the angle of a quadcopter moving in the opposite direction of the plane.

There is also a noticeable reflection of sunlight off what appears to be a somewhat matte black finish of the object. A balloon is a more likely explanation, but I can't help thinking it's some sort of FPV drone/quad with the angle it's tilted against the horizon.

Even if it's a restricted airspace, it can be a rush for FPV pilots to fly near forbidden objects. Think defunct nuclear cooling towers, abandoned buildings, etc. So flying in restricted airspace shouldn't be ruled out as a possibility.

Also, it seems like the object has yet to encounter the turbulence from the passing airline.

I love that the news report refers to this as a "possible UFO", as though there was some possibility that either a. Michelle actually did identify it, b. it was not flying (which I guess if it's a balloon then it's technically an unidentified floating object), or c. it isn't an object.

I love that the news report refers to this as a "possible UFO", as though there was some possibility that either a. Michelle actually did identify it, b. it was not flying (which I guess if it's a balloon then it's technically an unidentified floating object), or c. it isn't an object.
Agreed, but I suspect that the news report uses UFO to mean the equivalent of "little green men in a powered extraterrestrial craft". Unfortunately news people often tend to cater to the spectacular to get attention.

I'm amused because I immediately thought of a birthday balloon when I saw this report. It strongly resembles my own video of a "UFO", which can only be a birthday balloon in the shape of a 9.
It was driven by a strong wind in front of a storm front. It is interesting that the object rotates stably around its vertical axis and does not wobble. My viewing angle was upwards; if I had been at the same height with the camera, the object would only have been recognizable as black and elongated - pretty much exactly like the object on the video in question.

I'm posting a still image as a preview and the video link from my home forum:

https://www.allmystery.de/dateien/55lzi1yqt2bp_IMG_0002_-_Kopie.mov

(I hope the media link is okay. It does not come from one of the authorized domains, but it is a trustworthy link).

If I understand correctly, on the assumption that the object is a balloon, its distance from the plane is almost irrelevant to the calculation of its size. We also need to assume that wind speed can be ignored (or that the plane's speed is measured relative to the air), and that the camera does not pan during the 'flyby' of the object, which appears to be verified by the video itself. But it might be desirable for Mick to cover this point!
I was part of a Team that made things fly. To continue that: I ppl personally create UFOs to send across the Sky by night or day.
The Vehicle is Always Helium Powered
I enjoy going to the \$ store and get my COTS. Use youre imagination. Day Time Mylar Foil is Highly Reflective. Not to give it away but i am living outside Roswell, merely by chance. When the wind is right you can sail interesting UFO over the largest UFO Mecca. Its fun to see them show up in photos or on the news.... Cheap Thrills but a child one night sees these Objects Flying By and Asks, Who and Why and How and What??????
Like planting seeds of Thought

since it looks just like a balloon, i think the first part of your question would need one to provide evidence or at least a logical argument that it IS moving (to any significant amount) under it's own power.

the wind approximations you can look up for us.
I fly ufo balloons on the Regular...with added foil as a reflection source also generates a heat signature warming the Helium and expanding the object....would the elevation eventually become equal do to the warming and cooling of the internal gasses.....
Would that have an Effect on The Speed In which the Balloon would consistently travel by just wind alone ?

Replies
217
Views
8K
J
Replies
23
Views
4K
johne1618
J
Replies
23
Views
5K
Replies
34
Views
7K
Replies
4
Views
4K