The role of Canopy reflections in Pilot Accounts of UFOs

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
With UFO cases like the Nimitz encounter pilots report seeing a white featureless oval. I was wondering if it's possible that this might, in some cases, be explained by reflections off the jet canopy. Consider this quick example:
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LIZTiwadWE


Metabunk 2018-06-25 18-55-19.jpg

Like most F18 videos on YouTube this one has a lot of movement. But what if the plane was mostly in level flight on one direction. A reflection of a light spot in the cockpit might be visible for a while in one position, seemingly flying ahead of the plane. Then would turn with the plane, maybe even seeming to "mirror" the movement.

The obvious objection to this is that a "highly trained pilot" would not make such a mistake. But what if they did?

Can we find some cockpit video that in anyway resembles something that might be mistaken for a UFO?

Are there cases of this happening?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It would be very useful if the eyewitnesses could say how big the Tic-Tac appeared. I'd encourage any of the eyewitnesses to draw a diagram, or at least add a scaled overlay to a cockpit image that matches where they sat, and what they saw.

Metabunk 2018-06-26 09-59-53.jpg
 
It could be a plausible explanation if it was only one pilot who saw it. But in the Nimitz case they were two pilots (and two WSOs) who supposedly saw it. I don't think they all would have mistaken a reflection for another aircraft, especially since they were also in different jets and looking at it from different vantage points.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It could be a plausible explanation if it was only one pilot who saw it. But in the Nimitz case they were two pilots (and two WSOs) who supposedly saw it. I don't think they all would have mistaken a reflection for another aircraft, especially since they were also in different jets and looking at it from different vantage points.
I'm not saying they both saw it. I'm saying it's possible one of them saw a reflection, and the other one saw something else. Remember one of them was a new pilot who was rather excited with a constantly changing interpretation of what they were doing.

Verbal descriptions are far easier to match than drawings. "Did you see that white oval thing?" could cover a whole bunch of possibilities.

Drawings please.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
every fighter jet cockpit vid I watch has tic tacs all over the place. (including bird and boats that look like tic tacs)
ex:
tt.PNG


but so far your video at about 7:36-7:45 is the only one I see white blobs that look anything like "ping ponging", of course most videos you lose the tic tac because the terrain becomes too light. But look how tiny those boats* are and that guy doesn't seem to be very high. can you guesstimate an altitude of this pic:
t1.PNG

*I'm assuming those are boats WITH wake?
 
When we watch videos it’s in 2D and the pilots would be experiencing the reflections in 3D so they may look less confusing when you have depth perception.

It was suggested one of the original famous UFO sightings by Kenneth Arnold was caused by reflections from the cabin windows but the pilot claimed to have opened the windows to check:

“He opened his window in case they were reflections and still saw the objects.”

http://www.eastoregonian.com/eo/loc...asive-70-years-after-pilots-touchstone-report
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It was suggested one of the original famous UFO sightings by Kenneth Arnold was caused by reflections from the cabin windows but the pilot claimed to have opened the windows to check:

“He opened his window in case they were reflections and still saw the objects.”

That does at least suggest that a pilot in the past has thought that reflections were a plausible source of an actual UFO sighting ˆ even if they turned out not to be.

There have been many UFO sightings which turned out to be window reflections where the person was adamant it was not, often insisting they were outside (even after see the reflection of curtains). Most of those were based on photos though, where the person noticed the "UFO" later. But here's one example which is clearly the reflection of passing car headlights - but they insist the window was down.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEmNLadC144&feature=youtu.be

(to see the cars, skip forward to 2:20)
https://mufoncms.com/cgi-bin/report...=f1_submitted_datetime+DESC&case_number=90328

I was waiting in the car while my buddy went into the store. I noticed about 9 to 10 brights dots in the sky that looked like stars. The dots were in a line on approx 45 degree angle. All of a sudden they started to move upward on that same angle. Then a lot more of the dots started moving downward at the same angle and it looked like they were attacking each other. There were many bursts with at least one big burst. It lasted for about 20 seconds. I took the video with my iPhone and it was not retouched in any way, no Photoshop or anything. It is raw footage. I do not know what it was or what happened, but it happened. The proof is in the video. I had my car window down so I know it was not a reflection. I am still shocked at what I saw, but I feel that it is important enough for MUFON to see.
Content from External Source
Original video with audio: https://www.mufoncms.com/files_jeud8334j/90328_submitter_file1__IMG4334.mp4

Interesting that this is obviously a reflection of the car headlights, and yet the comments on YouTube seem filled with believers.
90328_submitter_file1__IMG4334.gif
Of course the situation in a fighter jet is different. The observe is a trained pilot and not some guy out on a beer run. The pilot is not going to open their canopy, nor are they going to make such an obvious mistake as seen there.

But they are not immune to mistakes, and they might still briefly mistake a more subtle reflection as some kind of flying object.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Even Leslie Kean (a writer that gives a lot of credence to UFO stories) mentions cockpit reflections:
https://goop.com/wellness/spirituality/an-investigative-journalist-on-the-issue-of-ufos/
90-95 percent (of UFO reports) in Kean’s estimation, can be explained to be one of the following: “weather balloons, flares, sky lanterns, secret military aircraft, birds reflecting the sun, planes reflecting the sun, blimps, helicopters, planes in formation, the planets Venus or Mars, meteors or meteorites, space junk, satellites, swamp gas, spinning eddies, sundogs, ball lightning, ice crystals, reflected light off clouds, lights on the ground or lights reflected on a cockpit window.
Content from External Source
She might be referring to the more mundane reflections though, in commercial planes, like this reflection of a cluster of reading lights.
 

DeepSpace41

New Member
I believe some UFO investigating groups routinely ask for drawings, that can definitely be valuable.
Maybe. Whenever memory is required, there's risk of error. Excerpts from Julia Shaw's "The Memory Illusion":

...[W]e'll look at some of the ways in which perception and memory interact, and the possible flaws that can therefore be built into a memory right from the moment of its creation.

When we then place this information into seemingly appropriate contexts, such as a retelling of an early life event, we can unintentionally fill in our memory gaps, and make up details. Our brains piece together information fragments in ways that make sense to us and which can therefore feel like real memories. This is not a conscious decision by the ‘rememberer’, rather something that happens automatically. Two of the main processes during which this occurs are known as confabulation and source confusion.

Due to our psychological and physiological configuration all of us can come to confidently and vividly remember entire events that never actually took place.

Any event, no matter how important, emotional or traumatic it may seem, can be forgotten, misremembered, or even be entirely fictitious.

Similarly, false memories – recollections that feel like memories but which are not based on any real occurrence – are experienced all the time. And the consequences of such false memories can be very real. Believing inherently fictitious representations of reality can affect anything in our lives, potentially causing real joy, real upset, and even real trauma.

...[O]ur memories are subject to an enormous array of errors, distortions and modifications.

Over the course of my years of research on memory, I have come to realise that we see the world in deeply imperfect ways.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
It could be a plausible explanation if it was only one pilot who saw it. But in the Nimitz case they were two pilots (and two WSOs) who supposedly saw it. I don't think they all would have mistaken a reflection for another aircraft, especially since they were also in different jets and looking at it from different vantage points.
two jets flying in formation have the same heading and the same altitude, so they'd see the same reflections

and the first observer is likely to psychologically prime the second observer to see the same thing when he talks about it

cases where the second observer recognizes the reflection for what it is won't get reported because they'd explain it to the first observer
 

DavidB66

Active Member
two jets flying in formation have the same heading and the same altitude, so they'd see the same reflections

In the Nimitz case Alex Dietrich was flying 'high cover' at around 20,000 feet, and I think she stayed at that level. Fravor went down much lower to observe the object. I'm not sure how low he went, but at least down to 12,000 feet. Difficult to see how they could see the same reflections from such different altitudes (unless it was the sun). But we don't really know what they saw, and Dietrich may have interpreted and described something she saw - whether an object or a reflection - to make it as consistent as possible with what Fravor reported.
 
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