UFO spotted February 27 in Miami Florida [Drone?]

CeruleanBlu

Senior Member.

A few of the forums I frequent have just started the discussion on this video and a few others like it that have appeared online recently. It was pretty roundly discounted as being something more mundane than an other worldly visitor, but as a first attempt at debunking on this site I thought I would give this rather simple one a go. (Hope I've included it in the right spot!)

Spotted high in the skies of Miami on the night of February 27th this caused a bit of a stir for some. Having done a precursory search online I found a number of things that make this seem far less unusual.

In 2008 Reuters ran an article describing that Miami was one of the first Law Enforcement agencies to start looking into the future use of UAV equipment in their ongoing battle against crime.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/03/26/us-usa-security-drones-idUSN1929797920080326

In the years since that announcement it seems that approval has come through, and a newer design has been spotted patrolling above the streets at some events.


http://gizmodo.com/5920746/miami dade-police-drone-spotted-over-memorial-day-weekend-partiers




The model pictured online in this Gizmodo report and in the accompanying video features a very familiar red and green blinking LED formation as the one from the original UFO video post. While I first was under the impression that this could be a Miami-Dade Police drone I'm now not so sure. What was seen in the skies above Miami in my opinion was most likely a UAV of some sort, but most likely not one flown by the police department.


Thanks!
:)
 
Last edited:

Balance

Senior Member.
As I own one, I can confirm it is very, very likely a radio controlled multi-rotor, the one in the video specifically what we call a quadcopter as it has four motors, like the pic you posted. The flight behaviour is very typical.

As it happens, there's a planned global "UFO" night scheduled for April 5th when many owners will fly their multi's, led's flashing for a laugh. It was originally scheduled for April 1st but was criticised for "giving an obvious clue" it would be a hoax, so ssshhh, don't tell anyone for now. It's a secret lol.

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/-alien-inv...wing-drones-piloted-by-hoaxers-084204169.html

Some examples



 
Last edited:

Eden

New Member
I was going to create a thread with the intention of discussing sightings of this nature and to highlight some of the recent advances in related technology. In the interest of preventing duplicity, I'll add my 2 cents here.

There has been a recent surge in reports of UFO sightings accompanied by videos which show an object which is clearly not very large and is located within reasonable distance of the camera capturing it. If one wishes to effectively debunk such reports, one needs to keep abreast of the kind of technology available to mere mortals such as ourselves (as opposed to military and government only), technology which has and will continue to contribute to these so-called UFO sightings.

Available for less than $1000, I'd like to draw your attention to the Phantom 2 from DJI Ltd.



Although remote-controlled aircraft are nothing new, particularly in the hobbyist sector, the Phantom 2 is aimed at the aerial photography market and has features which set it aside from the usual array of remote controlled helicopters and aircraft. The Phantom 2 and other products from DJI are designed for ease of use and as such, can be operated effectively without extensive prior experience in operating devices of this class. They have a 1Km operating range, have a low decibel output during operation, can hover steadily for long periods of time and can even be instructed to automatically return to base and land on their own. It's not hard to see why these are flying (pun intended) off the retailers shelves.

The fact that this device (and other devices manufactured by DJI) is offered in a highly modular and open design means that the potential number of end-user modifications is practically endless. Put differently, it would be very easy to add additional lighting to the unit if someone wanted to create something which more closely identified with the "flying disc with lights" UFO cliche.

Just as a side note: I am in no way affiliated with DJI, nor should this be construed as an endorsement of any kind for either DJI or their products.

As debunkers, it is important that we do not use these sorts of products as a crutch or a go-to of sorts, when attempting to debunk claims of UFO sightings. In particular, if the evidence presented by the person or party claiming to have seen a UFO does not enable us to effectively identify the actual source conclusively, we should be careful not to just turn around and say, "Oh, it must be one of those flying cameras that everyone is rushing out to buy". There will be times when they are the culprit -- for the want of a better way of putting it -- but unless we can be absolutely certain it is less than ideal to make assumptions and doing so only serves to further muddy the proverbial waters of conspiracy.
 

Balance

Senior Member.
As stated, experience helps tremendously. Flight behaviour, craft shape, lighting etc all lend to getting an approximation of size and speed as well as identification. That Phantom is a lot smaller than the OP's pic of the police UAV which is around three times the weight. The three videos I posted would be varied in between those sizes - bigger than the phantom but smaller than the police one.

Additionally, there are variances on frame configuration available, ranging from tri's, to quads, to hex's to octo's. Pro's and semi-pro's often go for big heavy lift frames, hex and octo's. Having said that, new improved designs are hitting the shelves fast so expect them evolve quite markedly. (And let's not forget conventional radio control aircraft (planes and heli's) which can also be flown at night with all manner of lighting).

While the phantom can return to launch or land autonomously, mine can also take off, fly a pre-determined route and land all by itself (for far less money). You can change it's waypoints on the fly or even set it to "follow me" The newer flight controllers being produced will most likely be capable of collision avoidance and who-knows what else next. Skynet much? lol
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
As I own one, I can confirm it is very, very likely a radio controlled
@Balance, I've been looking into getting one of these quad copters. From my limited research, the smaller ones tend to be sensitive to the wind and the radio controllers have a limited range. In the OP video, how big would guess the thing to be? It seems to be flying at a respectable altitude.
 
Last edited:

Eden

New Member
Just to clarify -- for the sake of brevity I simply used the Phantom 2 as an example of remote-controlled aircraft technology of this class. I did not state nor even imply that the object shown in the video posted by the OP is a Phantom 2.

As I own one, I can confirm it is very, very likely a radio controlled multi-rotor, the one in the video specifically what we call a quadcopter as it has four motors, like the pic you posted. The flight behaviour is very typical.
This is precisely the sort of thing that we need to be wary of and is an example of what I mentioned in the final paragraph of my previous post.

Whilst I agree (since it's right there in front of you) that the aircraft shown in the Miami Memorial Day Weekend video is a quad-bladed copter identical to the one shown in the photo at the bottom of the OP's initial post, the video provided by the OP does not provide sufficient evidence for confirmation of the same.

To define the word "confirm":

To define the word "likely":

You can either confirm something to be true or you can assert that it's very likely -- you can't have both. The video in the OP, even at 720p, lacks the necessary detail for us to postively identify the object shown as being anything other than a bright object in the sky -- no rotors are visible, nor are any other distinguishing features that would allow us to conclusively identify it as the aircraft you describe. Flight behaviour alone is too big a variable quantity -- at least in this case -- to draw conclusions from.
 

CeruleanBlu

Senior Member.
You can either confirm something to be true or you can assert that it's very likely -- you can't have both.

I agree with this, so in that light I would ask that the admins remove the "Debunked" from the title if more are in agreement with this.

I found a better look at the UAV from the Memorial Day video and would like others to help identify this to see if we can find whether or not it would more likely be a privately owned example or one used by police. I've found some examples online of a model flown by the Miami-Dade Police and I admit, it looks nothing like this.

 
Last edited:

Eden

New Member
It's important to recognize the fact that you took the time and effort to initiate the debunk, also! :)
 

Balance

Senior Member.
@Balance, I've been looking into getting one of these quad copters. From my limited research, the smaller ones tend to be sensitive to the wind and the radio controllers have a limited range. In the OP video, how big would guess the thing to be? It seems to be flying at a respectable altitude.
I don't have enough experience of various-sized craft flying in winds to make a solid judgement, but these things are not streamlined (yet) so the larger surface area (which includes the prop size) usually translates to larger destabilisations of pitch and roll while the more mass makes it harder to be pushed off course, if that makes sense? ie, I've flown alongside a phantom in wind and my larger heavier quad was pitching and rolling more. The weight difference was maybe 5%.

Yes, transmitter/reciever range (in the 2.4Ghz) is commonly from a few hundred meters (poor) to a km or two (excellent) and that can be extended well beyond that with the right kit/modifications and/or change of frequency. With automated flight, the range is limited only by the battery(s) carried on-board.

Common quad sizes are around 35-65cm diameter though there's micro's and larger up to 80cm. From the visual cues I see, I'd put it in the 45cm range. It is harder to judge it's altitude but I would guess 200m. Though I do appreciate the "you can't tell the size of a flying craft nor it's distance" argument so it is an educated guess.

@Eden You are right, and I apologise to all for my poor choice of phrase
. I hope you are able to determine my true meaning. As I mention above, it is an educated guess only and I certainly am not claiming it debunked, let alone actually ID the very model.

However @CeruleanBlu also raises another valid question about the pictured quad that accompanies the Gizmodo news story of the police using "drones" (I dislike this term for hobby/radio control use). I would suspect the photo is not the one used by the police. I also suspect the (yet to be identified) craft in the video is neither the photo featured quad nor a police quad. I base this suspicion again on personal experience and a quick search also found this news story which give more detail.

http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/05/09/unmanned-drones-now-patrolling-south-florida-skies/

More news to consider why the video is not likely to be a police "drone" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/08/florida-police-drones_n_2837408.html
 
Last edited:

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Some people in Miami fly their quadcopters off their apartment balconies at night

And there are plenty of other people doing it in Miami at night.
 

Eden

New Member
Based on the information given in the articles from the Huffington and CBS Local, unless the Miami Police are now operating under a different set of rules, it is unlikely that we are looking at a police drone in the OP video.

The video has no active timestamp, so whether or not one would consider the time that the video was recorded to be late afternoon/earlier evening is a matter for the viewer to decide. The person recording the video is not situated at ground level, so when you factor in the apparent distance from which the airborne object is from the camera operator, it would not be unreasonable to put it at an altitude over the 300 foot limit mentioned in the article.

Contrary to what is stated above by Miami-Dade police, the FAA had -- prior to that article being published -- issued Miami-Dade police with authority to operate drones up to an altitude of 400 feet but not within city limits.

https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/20120416_FAA_Drones_COA_0.pdf

The situation is being so poorly managed that it's hardly surprising that not even the police know what they are and are not authorized to do with respect to drone operation, as is highlighted in this article published 4 days ago.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/federal-aviation-administration-faa-drones-103800.html

In the event that there was some sort of situation that required Miami-Dade to bring out a drone, it may have been covered by news outlets local to Miami on the day or in days following. The media sometimes mention the deployment of additional police services (dogs, drones, SWAT) in such coverage, so that could be a good place to look if anyone is still under the impression that a police drone is involved.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I agree with this, so in that light I would ask that the admins remove the "Debunked" from the title if more are in agreement with this.

I found a better look at the UAV from the Memorial Day video and would like others to help identify this to see if we can find whether or not it would more likely be a privately owned example or one used by police. I've found some examples online of a model flown by the Miami-Dade Police and I admit, it looks nothing like this.

The red and white coloration seems to be a common thing in hobby quadcopters. It seems to just be a way of indicating what the "front" of the quad is. With the colors just mimicking headlight and tail lights colors (although it's obviously optional, and individual use varies as to what is the "front", red actually seeming a bit more popular).





Point being it's not red/white like police lights. It's just standard hobbyist red/white
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I had a similar "UFO" sighting in Venice Beach, California, Dec 15, 2013:






It was a quadcopter. I could see it and hear it. Only about 40 feet up
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Why isn't it a simple matter of the police showing the drone models they will be using so the public knows what they are when and if they see them?
Police activity is (supposedly) designed to be highly visible not covert.
 

Balance

Senior Member.
The red and white coloration seems to be a common thing in hobby quadcopters. It seems to just be a way of indicating what the "front" of the quad is. With the colors just mimicking headlight and tail lights colors (although it's obviously optional, and individual use varies as to what is the "front", red actually seeming a bit more popular).

Point being it's not red/white like police lights. It's just standard hobbyist red/white
Off-the-shelf Ready To Fly (RTF) invariably come with such led configurations. They serve to indicate initial starting sequences and then as orientation aids as the symetry and size of these crafts makes it really easy to confuse which way it will go when give it some forward stick! It is a very common and serious problem for all but the most experienced multi flyers.

However, many of us like to build our own and are free to configure lighting as we see fit. These BYOD's often end up configured with standard port/starboard lighting (red left, green right) as opposed to forward and rear and some might also fit forward "headlights" and/or under strobes as well. Others go all out for the Close Encounters look.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
I was thinking their own public relations would have information on them - aren't police departments usually proud of showing off their new tech? Do they have a website?
I guess a local news story counts. (sorry vid didn't load for me, could be because of noscript or wrong country to view)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Comments in the Gizmodo story identify the Memorial Day drone:

http://gizmodo.com/5920746/miami dade-police-drone-spotted-over-memorial-day-weekend-partiers
The above image just illustrates the Alware landing gear. The Gaui 500x is


With something like this:
 
Last edited:

Balance

Senior Member.
I was thinking their own public relations would have information on them - aren't police departments usually proud of showing off their new tech? Do they have a website?
I guess a local news story counts.
The lack of PR could be for a very good reason according to this http://nypost.com/2013/10/09/feds-waste-1-2m-on-drones/

 

Balance

Senior Member.
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/06/25/did-party-goers-spot-a-miami-dade-police-drone-spying-on-a-beach-party/

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/06/no_that_wasnt_a_police_drone_p.php

 

Balance

Senior Member.
The video in the OP, even at 720p, lacks the necessary detail for us to postively identify the object shown as being anything other than a bright object in the sky -- no rotors are visible, nor are any other distinguishing features that would allow us to conclusively identify it as the aircraft you describe. Flight behaviour alone is too big a variable quantity -- at least in this case -- to draw conclusions from.
The more times I watch this the more certain I am it's a quadcopter. Other than the obvious (like the owner coming forward with proof for instance) what standard of evidence should I try to bring to this thread in order for the claime of UFO to be debunked?

I disagree you cannot distinguish the four symetrical 2x2 coloured lights, typically fitted to a quad's arms. I can see one set (which look green though somtimes pale to white in the vid) flash in sync with each other, while the reds appear to be always on. Like previously mentioned, this lighting arrangement is typical of a quadcopter for an aid to orientation.

Taking those cues, you see it pitch forward as it accelerates, you can see it yaw and the forward motion is seen to follow the direction of this yaw. It hovers like a quad, it spins like a quad. I'm new to this debunking, sorry.
 

Eden

New Member
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/06/25/did-party-goers-spot-a-miami-dade-police-drone-spying-on-a-beach-party/

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/06/no_that_wasnt_a_police_drone_p.php

Of course it wasn't -- like I pointed out earlier, the police are bound by certain restrictions when operating drones. For one, it has to be at a crime scene, someone's life has to be in danger or they need a warrant. That venue doesn't look like it meets the "outside city limits" criteria either.
 

Eden

New Member
But as Mick pointed out, Miami residents themselves are often seen flying their drones off of their balconies and what not. I'm definitely not disputing that, since the FAA have admitted that they are finding almost impossible to police the ever-increasing use of drones by the public, but I stand by my assertion that the video simply doesn't have enough detail for us to definitively conclude whether it's a drone or not -- regardless of who owns it. Attempting to do so reeks of guesswork and assumption.

If we found evidence that enabled us to identify the object without the aid of the video -- for example, a local news source, then and only then could we safely arrive at a conclusion as to what the object is without relying on flippant speculation.
 

Eden

New Member
Taking those cues, you see it pitch forward as it accelerates, you can see it yaw and the forward motion is seen to follow the direction of this yaw. It hovers like a quad, it spins like a quad. I'm new to this debunking, sorry.
There's no need to apologize -- I am hardly a veteran debunker, having only joined the forum myself recently. A good starting point (and this applies to problem solving in general and not just debunking) is to not make hasty assumptions based on what things could or appear to be. I'm about to post an excellent example of this in another thread which may give you a better idea as to what I mean by this.
 

Balance

Senior Member.
I stand by my assertion that the video simply doesn't have enough detail for us to definitively conclude whether it's a drone or not -- regardless of who owns it. Attempting to do so reeks of guesswork and assumption.
Yes, I understand your position completely but I'm trying to convey I'm not guessing nor assuming. I'm working from real-life experience of owning, flying, seeing nightime flying, knowing other owners nighttime habits etc. How do I convey those experiences to you so you're no longer guessing or assuming? Although some detail is missing, it is identifiable as previously stated. Obviously, I have no idea what the youtube's UFO is supposed to mean in this context.

EDIT: OK, assuming is probably correct. We see things everyday we cannot conform individually - very distant vehicles travelling along busy roads, we assume it is normal traffic, right? So, if I challenged you to debunk my claim the next truck passing was in fact a transformer (because I've seen the film), you cannot do so.
 
Last edited:

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This quadcopter:


Seen in this video:

Was shot by fecrusty:

As can be seen from a side by side comparison of the videos around the time the quadcopter shows up in in the MiamiEarl video



(You can also see Miami Earl in the quadcopter footage, and see the flash as he takes the photo)

And I think it's fairly likely that this is fecrusty in the OP video.
 
Last edited:

highlander733

New Member
The footage I have seen appears as if it is just drifting along...like a balloon...or perhaps a few large helium filled beach balls with remote controlled LED lighting...similar to...THIS!





debunk3.JPG
 
Top