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Sunday, January 10, 2010

UFO Misidentifications

The other evening I was out driving and I glanced up and saw an airplane flying by.  This is not unusual.  People see airplanes fly by all the time.  And aircraft is very common in the skies around here, considering there is a regional airport and two military bases here.

But for some reason, I glanced up at that airplane again, and it occurred to me that all I could really see was two white lights next to each other moving slowly across the sky.  I couldn't actually make out a fuselage, wings, or a tail.

Most serious UFOlogists will tell you that the majority of UFO sightings are misidentifications of conventional aircraft, the International Space Station, bizarre weather phenomena, or Venus.  You may hear someone suggest misidentifications account for anywhere from 80% to 99% of UFO sightings, and I'm inclined to agree that the majority are misidentifications.

However, as I was looking at the two white lights the second time, I also thought about how ironic it would be if those two white lights were a real UFO and I had just assumed it was an airplane and looked away.  I'm sure what I saw was an airplane, but if some odd reason someone was skeptical that there was airplane flying through the sky that night and questioned me as to whether or not I could clearly see the fuselage, wings, or tail of the airplane, I would have to answer that I could not.

So, in spite of the fact that most UFO reports are probably misidentifications of something conventional, I wondered if there had ever been any instances where a legitimate UFO sighting was not reported because the observer just assumed they were looking at an airplane or helicopter and looked away from it without giving it a second thought.  How ironic would it be if a UFO was misidentified as an airplane?

I don't know if there has ever been any instances where someone saw a UFO and misidentified it as something conventional.  I don't suppose you can really get any good statistics on how many UFO sightings go unreported, since, you know, they're unreported.  You can come up with statistics on reports you do have, but you can't really come up with statistics on reports you don't have.  Any statistical percentage you come up with on reports you don't have would just be a guess.

Nevertheless, I'm still pretty sure those two white lights I saw the other evening were lights from an airplane.  J


  1. Good point. I admit I've seen planes in the setting sun that looked totally weird. It took me a while of studying them to realize they were planes, but with the light hitting them oddly, they looked liked glowing orange lights. I run into the same thing with ghost hunting. I had a family tell me once when I was in their house and heard strange banging under the kitchen floor that they figured it was the pipes in the crawlspace. I said, "have you gone in there to secure them?" They said, no, it was nailed shut since the day they moved in. So, we went down and popped it open and I crawled in with a flashlight to find nothing but dirt. No pipes. Nothing at all. So, that was a case of thinking the sounds were explainable when they weren't. I'm sure it happens a lot. I once saw something I will never forget for the rest of my life. Still gives me chills, but I told myself over and over again it must have been explainable because I so no reports online about it. I figured it must have been some kind of weird blimp or something. I was driving on the freeway, took the offramp up to the freeway overpass. Up above at the streetlight, I awaited and looked down the freeway below and into the distance where I saw a giant floating billboard shaped huge object. It moved steadily across the sky. It had no colors or advertisement on it. The cars on the freeway below started to zig zag, a couple pulled over, an ambulance and police car with sirens spread forward. I looked at the people in the car beside me as of to say "tell me you see this?" They were mouths open studying it too. I was a few blocks from home. I raced home to get my camera and raced out to chase where it went behind the mountain. It took so long to get around the mountain, it was gone. I put it within the context of it was heading towards a stadium where a football game was going on and I figured it might be a blimp. We get a lot around here, but I've seen blimps my whole life and this had no under hanging carrier and was perfectly rectangular. I still think about how weird it was, but I tell myself it couldn't have been paranormal because it would have been all over the news. It did scare a lot of folks on the road, though. So, I can see how something like that could happen (or the phoenix lights) and people would just explain it away.

  2. I would have loved to see the looks on the family's faces when they found out there were no pipes under the kitchen floor!

    And that's a cool story about the flying billboard. It's different from what the most common UFO sightings are (disks, triangles, and cigar shaped).

  3. I've never looked at it from that perspective before...quite eye opening actually. I would definitely say it happens from time to time and it's a shame we can't figure out a numbers estimate on it. Cool stuff though.

  4. Yeah, its hard to even guess a number, because if someone actually misidentified a UFO as an airplane, they wouldn't even realize they had seen something worth reporting!