Sphere, Acorn, Metallic Blimp - Three iPhone Photos From an F-18 via Mystery Wire


Active Member
The "has to be" aspect for me is the specular highlight on the left hand side - that (and the absense of other such highlights) gives us a fairly good indication of the 3D shape of the object, not just its cookie-cutter outline, and with that it's a dead ringer for the batman balloon.


Active Member
its everything in combination. the orange hinting pixels and the "print pattern" even confirm its not just the same 3d shape.


Active Member

uhm.. well the FA18 has propulsion and is intelligently controlled, while the balloon lacks both.. so.. i would argue... wind doesnt effect both "airborne objects" the same lol, even more if the fa18 flies against the wind while the balloon gets pushed by it (so the fa18 could - depending on windspeed - essentially holding its position and wait for the balloon. airspeed =! groundspeed)
What the ground does is irrelevant. Wind affects both objects equally.

I don't think this an accurate method of measuring colour. You are letting photoshop's dehaze algorithm (what does it do exactly?) manipulate the pixels to increase contrast and colour. I would stick to the original raw image.

And distinguishing the original colour reliably would be pretty hard (maybe impossible?).


Active Member
i expect it to flatten / get fatter when the helium expands at altitude
I would expect the opposite.

The material is not very elastic. So it would inflate by "pushing" towards the seams and filling them out fully until it would burst (if that makes sense).

The result would be that the overall shape appears flatter.

For sure you wouldn't have a complete "aspect reversal" where something that looks "thin and tall" becomes "low and fat".

Mick West

Staff member
What the ground does is irrelevant. Wind affects both objects equally.
Not strictly true as wind affects a balloon a lot more than a plane. What the wind provides is a fixed frame of reference. Airspeed is measured relative to the air moving, and if both objects are in the same general air mass then their movements relative to the air both have the same offset to their speed relative to the ground - which means that offset makes no difference, and we can ignore it (unless we really need their ground speeds)

A balloon has an airspeed of about zero. So the closing speed in a head-on encounter is going to be the airspeed of the plane.

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