UFO with navigation lights, Drone or aircraft? [Low Flying FedEx 777]

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I saw a flying object yesterday November 25, 2016 that I could not identify, hence the thread's title. No, I do not think it was an alien craft, it certainly was something of earthly origin: an aircraft, or a drone, equipped with navigation lights. These were the only things that I could see and record on video, as it was quite dark (after 18:15 UTC). I was on my way home after work, when I spotted a few lights in the sky that looked brighter than Venus. They looked like aircraft landing lights to me, but I did not hear the sound of engines. I pulled out my camera and with some difficulty managed to focus on and then to zoom into one of the approaching lights. It resolved into a set of fixed lights in a square arrangement, some white and steady, other coloured and flashing.
Screen Shot 2016-11-26 at 21.16.42.png
These can be seen in the first part of a short video I made:
Source: https://youtu.be/gNxHcbyz34w


The two other parts show my attempts to zoom into more lights, that were more distant, but nevertheless, were resolved into sets of steady white and flashing colour (red) lights. These, however, appear to look differently from the aircraft navigation lights. Their arrangement suggests it may be some kind of drone.

Does anybody have a better idea or information on what it may be?
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Let's establish the angular size (not absolute size and absolute distance). How many full moons or fractions of a full moon would cover it as you saw it?

And altitude above the horizon: How many degrees above the horizon?

In other words, at each point, what was the angular size and elevation in degrees above the horizon?

What direction were you facing and what direction was it going?


Where were you exactly? Best to show us a map.
 
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Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Let's establish the angular size (not absolute size and absolute distance). How many full moons or fractions of a full moon would cover it as you saw it?

And altitude above the horizon: How many degrees above the horizon?

How far away from an airport were you? Best to show us a map.
At full optical zoom (x65), the horizontal FOV is 1.5° (a bit less than that for the full HD video).
At least 60° about 40° above the horizon.
It definitely was not heading to our local airport 2 miles away.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
At full optical zoom (x65), the horizontal FOV is 1.5° (a bit less than that for the full HD video).
At least 60° above the horizon.
It definitely was not heading to our local airport 2 miles away.

Assuming you were looking south towards Trumpington, FDX2 would have appeared to be barely moving at first, then moved to your right, viewed side on, with lighting to match what you see in the video, then some lights would be obscured as it flew away.
20161126-135837-8e6qe.jpg
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
I edited my post, as I am wont to do, and you replied to my original crummy post.

At each point, what was the angular size to the naked eye and elevation in degrees above the horizon?

What direction were you facing and what direction was it going?


Where were you exactly? Best to show us a map.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
At full optical zoom (x65), the horizontal FOV is 1.5° (a bit less than that for the full HD video).
At least 60° above the horizon.

The largest image seems to be one quarter of the frame wide so very roughly about 0.4 degrees. About the size of a full moon. So if it were a plane that size it would be distant enough that you wouldn't necessarily hear throttled back jet engines.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
I edited my post, as I am wont to do, and you replied to original crummy post.

At each point, what was the angular size to the naked eye and elevation in degrees above the horizon?

What direction were you facing and what direction was it going?


Where were you exactly? Best to show us a map.

I picked the light in the camera, zoomed in and followed it until it disappeared behind the wall.
I probably overestimated the elevation.
I prefer not to reveal my exact location at the time.

Anyway, @Mick West has identified the culprit. All my UFOs appeared to be the planes on hold to the Stansted airport. There is no fixed holding area for it, or for the Luton Airport, therefore I did not envisage this opportunity. Normally, the planes bound to one or the other airport fly over this area perpendicular to my viewing direction.
Should have checked the FR24 playback, however :oops:.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here's the 777 lights
20161126-144643-vao5s.jpg
The illuminated areas match, also the tail is illuminated, which lets you see in the video first the red "Ex" of the logo,

20161126-142645-0ijup.jpg
With a bit the the "d"


and then it's all obscured, and then there's the white "Fed"
20161126-142715-p045w.jpg
 
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Trailspotter

Senior Member.
To add to my embarrassment, I have a previous video of a heavy aircraft (Boeing 747) on hold in essentially the same location. It was filmed in daytime and from a different, more distant location, but paying attention to the relative positions of navigation lights on a banking aircraft could give me a clue:
Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 08.46.22.png
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It's easy at night for your brain to get the wrong idea about how something is moving, and how big and high it is. I've been confused by planes coming in for landing before - they seem to just hover hardly moving for quite a long time. So your brain gets "stuck" on it being a closer nearby object.

"Hovering then flying off" is a common "UFO" behavior.
 
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