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UFO-Forschung - NARCAP report #201:Monterrey, Mexico,

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Another NARCAP Challenge?

On June 1, Ted Roe released his NARCAP report #201, which describes an incident involving an aircraft flying from Queretaro International Airport, Mexico to Memphis, Tennessee on March 19th. 

The incident

According to Roe, the flight left at 8:05 PM and was 50 minutes behind schedule. While the plane was at 37,000 feet and traveling North (actually North-Northeast) at 490 knots. About 150 miles south of Monterrey, Mexico, the first officer looked over towards the left side of the cockpit and saw a yellow light descend into view from above. At first he thought it was a meteor but it stopped and then projected a bright beam towards the aircraft. It was feared the object was going to collide with the aircraft. However, the object stopped projecting a beam and then simply paced the aircraft. 

The object was described as “tear-dropped shaped” and there were no navigation lights. Videos were taken and there was no indication that the object appeared on the aircraft’s radar. As the aircraft approached the US border, the light changed color from yellowish-white to Pinkish-purple. It also began to flicker. It then took a path directly away from the aircraft towards the west and disappeared. 

Ted Roe added that the incident lasted 32 minutes. 

Evaluation

Mr. Roe evaluated the incident by giving a long winded discussion about how this UAP is like all the other cases that have been documented over the years. The implication is that, because the UAP is similar to all other reports classified as unknown, this UAP cannot be explained as something conventional.

Not once in the report do we have any particulars associated with the event. We don’t have the exact time the incident started and ended. We don’t have any azimuth values/relative bearing/elevation values either. Another thing that should have been asked is if the plane was in level flight during the initial part of the sighting or was it coming out of a bank? What about the recording equipment? What kind of “camera” was used to record the event? Were any telephoto lenses used? One would think that expert witnesses would have been able to provide this and Roe would have demanded such information for a “technical report”. I e-mailed Ted Roe asking for specific information but he did not respond. Either Roe does not regularly answer the e-mail for NARCAP or he ignored my e-mail.

The Video evidence

The video presented by Roe really does not help. We see, what appears to be, a digital camera/phone trying to focus on a bright point source. It keeps coming in and out of focus, which the first officer interpreted as a “pulsating UFO”. More important is the commentary while the UFO is being recorded. The first officer stated, “...they (UFOS) tend to congregate around Monterrey..” . He also seemed pleased that others saw the UFO with him (“I can finally say I saw one”). This all indicates he felt he was familiar about UFO folklore and was willing to believe what he was seeing was something exotic. 

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Analysis

Since Roe seemed uninterested in providing this data, we will have to see if we can figure things out based on the data we do have. As best we can tell from the graphic on the report, the heading of the aircraft was approximately 25 degrees true azimuth at the time of the incident. Since the first officer, was looking towards the left when he first saw the object, we can make an assumption that this was 270 degrees relative bearing (90 degrees CCW from the aircraft’s front). This would mean the UAP was observed at an azimuth of about 295 degrees. Other than the initial observations, the UAP remained at this azimuth for the entire 32 minutes of the sighting. 

This brings us to when was the sighting. Luckily, the initial report was filed with MUFON and the individual listed the time as 1100 PM CDT.2 This equates to 0400 UTC and indicates the event ended sometime around 0432 UTC. We don’t know how accurate these times are since the MUFON report was filed nine days after the event. We have to assume they are approximate values that have a range of +/-15 minutes. 

Is there a possible source for this UFO report? Remember, the pilot and first officer claim that the UAP was the dominant object outside their cockpit and they made no comparison with any nearby astronomical objects. This is important to note since there is one object they should have noticed but did not mention. Can you guess what it was?

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At 0400 UTC, the azimuth of the bright planet Venus was 290 degrees (Using Monterrey as the location). Venus would set at approximately 0420 UTC at an azimuth of 292 degrees. Since the plane was at 37,000 feet, the set time would have been later by about seven minutes (one minute for every 5000 feet). Remember, we assumed the times are approximate. I would consider 0427 UTC close enough to 0432 UTC (estimated) to be a reasonable match.

Was it Venus?

It seems odd that they would confuse Venus as UFO but the historical data has shown that pilots do this frequently enough that it is possible. Still we need to address the arguments against it being Venus. 

One of the first things that concerned me with the explanation was that nobody noticed it during the first part of the flight. It is possible that only the pilot would have been able to see it since the fuselage could obscure it from the first officer’s view. The pilot may have noted it but really did not concern himself with it until the first officer reported it had moved downward. It is also possible that the plane was still climbing in altitude and the weather may have obscured the planet from view.

That brings us to the observation of the object “descending” to the plane’s altitude. This is why I had to wonder what the plane’s attitude was at the beginning of the sighting. If the plane had banked to port and then leveled out, Venus would appear to descend to an observer inside the aircraft, who was using the windows as a frame of reference. We don’t know exactly what transpired leading up to the “descent” but it seems to me that it possible that “descent” was a case of it appearing to descend and not actually descending. 

The “shining a beam” effect is easier to explain. Venus was a little over a month from greatest brilliancy (magnitude -4.5) and was around magnitude -4.3. Venus is bright enough to cast faint shadows under the right conditions and Allan Hendry notes that witnesses have described that Venus was “too bright to look at” as if the light was blinding. The perception that a spotlight was directed at the aircraft may have just been the pilot/first officer being alarmed at a object much brighter than the dark sky suddenly appearing to port. It seems plausible that once they began to look at it, it did not seem as bright as initially determined and gave the false impression that the spotlight had turned off. 

Finally, the “tear drop shape” is apparently based on the videos/still images taken of the object by the crew. A hand-held video/still shot of a point source can produce such shapes. Additionally, they were photographing through an airplane window, which is a curved surface, which would distort the image. Lastly, Venus was about 54% illuminated during this time period. It is possible that this shape could have also played a role in the appearance of the object in the video/still as well. 

While the Venus explanation has some problems, I have to wonder why the pilot/first officer never mentioned seeing or comparing the object to Venus. Assuming my computations of azimuth are correct, both were in the same direction and should have appeared in the video before they zoomed in to see the UFO. The aircrew could have stated, “It was as bright/brighter than the planet Venus, which was also visible”. The lack of mentioning Venus nearby is an indicator that Venus was possibly, if not probably, the UFO. 

My conclusion for this case, based on the information presented, is that it should be classified as possibly Venus.

Quelle: SUNlite 4/2020

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