In SUNlite 7-6, I dedicated a significant amount of space reviewing the Scientific Coalition for UFOlogy’s (SCU) Puerto Rico video report. Shortly after the release of their report, a group of skeptics/UFO proponents, which we called the Puerto Rico Research Review (PRRR), had examined the data and determined that there was good reason to suspect the source was possibly a balloon. I summarized those findings, as well as my own observations, in that issue of SUNlite. I expected a lot of criticism from the SCU but there was no immediate response. Recently, some members of the SCU have begun to respond to my, and the PRRR’s, comments regarding the case.
SCU indirectly responds to SUNlite
Billy Cox wrote an article in early January that described his problems with acquiring the video via FOIA. However, it was not this section that caught my eye. In the comments section, Rich Hoffman, one of the authors of the SCU report, decided to comment about the SUNlite article. His response was that it was “unscientific” and “biased”. This mirrors some of the comments he made In another forum:
We looked at it and plan to respond, but based on what we saw was a bias towards a balloon, a lack of an objectivity and an attempt to bash our group of researchers. Many of the points made were not supported by data or knowledge gained by talking with experts in the camera, the infrared technology and even witness testimony. It was a poor attempt to appear scientific and failing to refute our study. It was also apparent that parts of the study were missed (e.g., the appendix on parallax). We did however see some points that will be “beefed up” in the report to make it more clearer why it is NOT a balloon.1
It seems that the SCU has taken the hard line they presented in their balloon explanation rebuttal. They aren’t going to publicly respond to any criticisms/explanations that have not been subject to “peer review”.
The pot and the kettle
One of the first items that needs to be addressed in Hoffman’s comments is that my article was biased towards the balloon ex- planation. This is true and I admit it. The reason that I spent my time on that explanation is because I felt the SCU did an awful job attempting to prove it was not a balloon. If their work was so poor, then I had to see if a balloon explanation was possible. Much to the SCU’s dismay, they were wrong and it was possible for a balloon to produce the motion seen in the video. As a skeptic/ debunker, I am always going to look at a case in terms of prosaic identification. The opposite seems to be the case in regards to the SCU. They went out of their way to eliminate the balloon explanation by making some incorrect assumptions and gross errors.
I found it fascinating that Hoffman, and others, have chosen not to demonstrate where I was wrong in my article. They used vague comments that did not specifically address the issues I raised or the errors I pointed out in their original paper. One could suggest that they were afraid to publicly admit that they made mistakes even after their paper was “peer reviewed”.
Contrary to what Hoffman states, the SCU report never used the word “parallax”. He is probably referring to appendix L, which is titled “Line of sight evaluation”. I did NOT miss it and addressed this section in the SUNlite article (pages 7-8). Everything in appendix L hinges on the measurements between frames 711 and 712. The SCU had incorrectly assumed that the camera was stationary and that the motion of the object in the video was due to the object itself. Instead, it was due to the motion of the object, the camera rotation, and the movement of the plane. I also addressed the SCU’s flawed rebuttal to the balloon explanation using line of sight (pages 8-13). Once again, the lack of any response that demonstrates where my observations were wrong indicates that my article was more accurate than they want to admit.
As best I can tell, the sections, and subsequent rebuttal report, regarding the balloon explanation were written by one or two indi- viduals. The remaining members of the group, when conducting their “peer review”, blindly accepted the work because they trusted the authors. The lack of proper review to eliminate such errors indicated the original report could not be classified as a “proper pa- per” or have been subject to “peer review” as implied by the SCU, So, the reader will have to forgive me when I laugh at members of the SCU, who state they will only respond to “proper papers” that have been subject to “peer review”.
Unlike the SCU, I never considered SUNlite a “scientific paper” or something that would pass for “peer review”. I like to think that SUNlite is more of a critique of claims made in UFOlogy as well as presenting alternate possibilities not considered. If those expla- nations/critiques are incorrect, then I am willing to admit those mistakes. In the past, I have published corrections or responses to those who found a certain explanation less than satisfactory. Can the SCU state the same?
As far as the criticism leveled towards SUNlite regarding the tone of the article, I fully accept responsibility for that. The SCU’s report and rebuttal gave people the impression that they were scientific and examined every possibility. However, as the PRRR dug into the report we discovered that the report was biased towards eliminating all explanations so that the remaining exotic explanation was the only one possible. Instead of scientific examination of the evidence, it appeared to be nothing more than the usual UFO- logical analysis disguised as science. I was disappointed and allowed that disappointment to leak into the article. On the other hand, the worst I referred to the SCU team was that they were hypocrites. This was in regard to their rebuttal paper, where they berated balloon proponents for not submitting proper scientific papers, which they continue to do. If this is what Hoffman refers to as “bash- ing” the SCU, he needs to look in the mirror.
Several members of the PRRR tried to discuss the case with the SCU on Facebook. From what I have read of the exchange, the SCU eventually resorted to referring to certain individuals as “liars”. This kind of accusation indicates the person believes that the other is intentionally deceiving everyone. Such a claim needs to be supported. When the PRRR members asked for where they had “lied”, the SCU refused to clarify or demonstrate where the deception occurred. They seem to ignore the possibility that people can be honestly mistaken, or misunderstood, instead of lying. It seems the SCU sees everything in either black or white. Either you are accepting their analysis as correct or you are an individual, whose opinion is unworthy of consideration.
Hoffman, and others, continue to state that they trust their experts when it comes to this video. I might too but these experts are “unnamed” technicians and engineers. One can not challenge their conclusions because their backgrounds and actual opin- ions are not a matter of public record. As far as I am concerned such “expert opinions” are the same thing as saying, “I know some guy and he says.....”
Lance Moody and I attempted to discuss the problem with some renowned experts in the thermal imaging field. They did not share the SCU’s experts enthusiasm for what was seen in the video. However, they were very busy and did not desire to spend a lot of time discussing the video. They indicated that they weren’t going to do an analysis of the video for us “pro bono”. Had I won the powerball, I would have employed them but my meager funds could not pay for such an analysis. As a result, I never quoted them and had to “go it alone” when I wrote my article for SUNlite.
The point of having an expert is that others can hear/read their opinion directly and can examine their qualifications. They will also be able to cross-examine that expert to see if there is something that they missed or counter that opinion with a different expert’s opinion. That is what having an “expert” is all about. Anything else is, as Mark Twain put it, “just some guy from out of town”.
Like the unnamed experts, the SCU relies heavily on testimony from anonymous individuals, who were supposedly in the plane. Eyewitness testimony is a subjective measure that can be influenced by the individuals own beliefs. One has to consider the possibility that the witness might interpret the events they experienced towards what they wanted to believe and not what was actually seen. Putting excessive weight towards eyewitness testimony can affect one’s conclusions.
This became evident when Billy Cox publicly asked Rich Hoffman about my analysis of the delay of the FedEx flight. Hoffman’s response was:
Certainly, the delay could be due to many plausible explanations 1. The plane was just late for departure. 2. The CBP delayed the flight. 3 The object that was observed by the Control Tower and the CBP plane observed to be heading towards the airport delayed the flight. This is why we have pushed to get a response from the owners of the Control Tower staff (Robinson Aviation) to come forward. Without that piece we cannot say for certian, but it stands to reason that while the CBP plane was heading away from the airport at a sufficient altitude that would allow for a takeoff, it would not have been the cause of the delayed departure. The object which was an unknown was only hundreds of feet without a transponder and now heading towards the airport is logically the most likely hypothesis in my opinion.2
Hoffman’s interpretation is based on the statement made by his sole witness and ignores the facts, as documented in the SCU report and in the video:
• The FedEx plane was scheduled to depart at 9:10PM
• The CBP plane took off at 9:16 PM, it circled the airport twice, and did not depart the area unit 9:24 PM.
• According to the witness, the UAP was not seen until after the CBP plane became airborne
• The CBP began to depart the region of the airport at 9:24:00.
• The UAP was last recorded by the CBP around 9:25:02
• The FedEx plane was taxiing down the runway in preparation for takeoff at 9:25:21 PM
• The FedEx plane departed at 9:26 PM.
Since the FedEx plane was scheduled to depart at 9:10PM and the UAP had not been seen prior to 9:16PM, then it was already expe- riencing a delay waiting for the CBP plane to take off. Shortly after departing the region of the airport, one can see the FedEx plane taxiing down the runway. Had the UAP been the threat implied by the SCU, and their witness, then the CBP plane would probably never had departed the area at the request of the tower to monitor the intruder’s position and intentions. Instead the CBP plane was allowed to depart and, shortly after, the Fed EX flight left without knowing the intention or true location of this potential threat. This indicates that the air traffic controllers were not concerned about the UAP but, instead, were concerned about the CBP plane circling the airport as a reason to delay the FedEx plane. As I stated in SUNlite 7-6, it is very probable that, had the CBP ignored the UAP and departed the area promptly, the FedEx plane would have taken off as soon as it was ready. Any other conclusion is not “the most likely hypothesis”.
The Moody video
Lance Moody had been trying to work on his video for some time. Like many professionals, he wanted it to be correct and thought about performing some additional narration on how the video was created. Unfortunately, his work and personal life has been more important. He continues to work on the video and has shared it with some members of the SCU. In my opinion, Lance’s vid- eo clearly demonstrates that a “lighter than air” target is the most likely source for what was recorded by the CBP plane. Without bogging the viewer down with speculation and mind-numbing calculations, they can look at the simulation and see if the balloon explanation is possible. Lance’s latest versions of the video and how it was done can be found at the following links:
After Robert Powell’s presentation at the International UFO congress, Robert Sheaffer approached him and was able to obtain a high quality copy of the video for examination. This was better than the one that was made available previously and got the PRRR talking about possible explanations for the object splitting up near the end of the video.
Roger Glassel was the first individual in our group, who proposed that the object might be two separate balloons that were tied to- gether. I dismissed this because it did not seem that this was pair was not really visible prior to the actual separation late in the video. The new video seems to indicate Roger’s initial observations may be correct. Two balloons tied together would oscillate about each other and appear as two objects close together or appear to split prior the later event. There are several examples in the new video that seem to support this hypothesis.
The possibility that this was a pair of lighter than air objects seems a distinct possibility based on these images. As time passed, the two objects became untied/untangled and then appeared as two distinct objects. With a possible explanation offered for the splitting of the object, one of the major criticisms of the lighter than air hypothesis may have been answered.
In late December, the SCU changed their web site and stated the following:
Based on information gleaned from various inputs to SCU we are in the process of updating the report. A full update is planned to be available by Feb. 1, 2016 and will be posted on the SCU website. This update will address various issues raised as well as inputs from individuals who have contacted us since the report was released. Although this is always subject to change, we have not received any information that changes our conclusion that the object in the video cannot be explained as a balloon, bird, aircraft, drone, or other known object.3
It is apparent that, despite their claims that they would not respond to SUNlite, they recognized that SUNlite, and others, had identi- fied some serious errors in their original report and subsequent rebuttal. As a result, they would have to rewrite their original report with new measurements that would, in their opinion, falsify the balloon hypothesis.
February 1 came and went and no update occurred. It may have been a case of the SCU not desiring to release anything until Rob- ert Powell spoke at the International UFO Congress in mid-February. The PRRR continued to wait but nothing has appeared at the time I published SUNlite 8-2 (March 1). Is this because they are too busy or is it because they can not find a way to prove it can not be a balloon? If, and when, the SCU does complete a report, I will provide the usual commentary/criticism in the following SUNlite.
Nothing new to see
Based on their web site’s statement, the SCU’s new report appears to be an attempt to repackage their conclusions. This leaves us with two competing hypothesis. The first requires a vehicle that nobody can prove exists and the other involves a lighter than air device of some kind, which does exist. Unless the SCU can generate new improved evidence, the video is just like any UFO report. It is a mystery with a potential prosaic explanation. No matter how much the SCU preaches from the mountain top, this video can not be considered proof of anything.
The Scientific Coalition for UFOlogy (SCU) stated they were going to release an updated report to address issues raised in SUN- lite and elsewhere on February 1. Five months have passed and the SCU team has spent a lot of time on air and in conferences discussing the case but they still have yet to get around to addressing the questions raised. The SCU still won’t even publicly admit that certain mistakes were made in their original paper or address Lance Moody’s simulation of a balloon matching what was seen in the video. This brings into question the SCU’s version of “peer review”. The mistakes in the paper (specifically the frames 711 and 712 analysis) should have been caught. This indicates that the peer review was probably done by the authors themselves, which is not what “peer review” is. It is almost as embarrassing as the Roswell slides being deblurred. The promoters of that event also proclaimed that “due diligence” had been performed. It is amazing how confirmation bias can convince people that they are always right and others are just “naysayers”, who don’t know what they are talking about.
In June, the PRRR became aware of a report by Mr. Bob Bixler, which was written six months ago. He concluded that a balloon is a plausible explanation, which is in agreement with what I had published in SUNlite 7-6. Thanks to Lance Moody, I was able to talk to Bixler via E-mail and the resultant discussion was interesting. He stated that Robert Powell had asked him to look at the case last December and he responded with this report. This was about a month after SUNlite had published the PRRR’s work to date on the video. Was this a coincidence or was there a motive for Powell to ask for somebody with Bixler’s qualifications to examine the video? Only Powell knows for sure. I appreciate Mr. Bixler’s willingness to share this information and his report.
2013 Aguadilla Puerto Rico analysis of an Infrared video showing Unidentified Anoma-
lous Phenomenon captured by the Department of Homeland Security
by Bob Bixler Johnstown, CO January 9, 2016 rev. June 16, 2016
This video is a good example of inaccurate visual perception leading to false conclusions. What appears to be an aerial object moving rapidly from right to left throughout the video turns out to most likely be a small object simply slowly drifting with the wind. This misperception is due to the plane (and camera) circling around this object causing the background in the video to move rapidly in relation to the object being tracked.
This report shows that the object was about 1-2 ft. in size and remained over land throughout the video while descending from 1,000 ft. to 700 ft. in elevation over several minutes while drifting with the wind. Combining this with the IR signature characteristics suggest that this is a container of hot air that is cooling but a drone or bird are also possibilities.
Discerning moving object detail from a moving plane through a highly refractive atmosphere is quite difficult when the object size is 1-2 ft. and a mile or more away. This situation could help explain the double images, shape changes and loss of heat signature of the object in sections of the video.
This is a problem in 4 dimensional geometry. The plane mounted infrared camera is moving in 3D space over time and changing directions while taking video of an unknown object moving in different directions in 3D space over time. Not only is the plane moving but the camera is moving in its mounts on the plane.
The camera constantly displays and records time (UTC+1)/date and plane heading, altitude and coordinates. Also it records a ground track identified by the central crosshairs and shows plane to ground distance, crosshair azimuth in relation to the plane’s coordinates, crosshair altitude at ground level and crosshair coordinates. Camera zoom factor is also shown.
The problem is that nothing other than infrared signature or image is displayed for the unknown object (hereafter referred to as “object”). This means that object location, size and speed cannot be directly measured but must be inferred by the relationship of object screen size and object screen position to that of background objects while all these parameters are changing with time.
As the crosshairs generally tracked the object the crosshair ground coordinates and crosshair ground distance were the key to solving this problem. This information was combined with the plane’s position to construct sight lines from the plane (camera) to the crosshair ground position. This was done at multiple times throughout the video using Google Earth and is shown in the attachments.
OBJECT POSITION AND SPEED
The actual position of the object at a point in time must be somewhere on the sight line between the crosshair ground track and the plane. If the object was stationary or moving very slowly or drifting with the wind then these sight lines would intersect at about the same ground coordinates over a short period of time. This is what occurred as shown in the attachments. The attach- ments have color coded sight lines with the early sight lines in yellow, the mid-time sight lines in blue, and the latter ones in red. The area around the intersections of same colored sight lines would be the general ground position of the object.
The intersection of the 2 latest sight lines is 0.8 miles from the 2 earliest sight lines. The time difference between these latest and earliest sight lines plotted is about 2.5 minutes. Combining these results gives an object speed of 19 mph moving southwesterly.
Furthermore, the upper winds were reported to be 12-18 mph out of the ENE. There can be significant wind variability depending on location, altitude and time since last report. The conclusion is that the object’s movement is consistent with wind drift.
Note: This sight line method allows for other possible object paths that all involve more complicated curving paths and an object propulsion system. The simplest explanation is wind drift.
OBJECT ALTITUDE AND SIZE
The first 2 sight lines shown in the attachments show a plane altitude of 1,900 ft. and intersect a fractional distance of 0.51 from the ground crosshair to the plane. Thus the object altitude would be 1,900 * 0.51 = 970 ft. altitude. The same procedure for the last 2 sight lines is 3,300 * 0.21 = 690 ft. altitude. Thus the object has descended.
Object size was computed based upon the size of the white building directly in back of the object at 1:23:31. This building was correctly identified on a satellite photo by Florent Michaud of Paris. Then a correction was made due to the plane-object distance being less than the plane-building distance. The screen scale was computed as follows:
1:23:30 - 1:23:33 time point used white building = 83 ft (+- 3 ft) across front (Google Earth) white building = 8.5 cm (+-0.2 cm) across front (my direct screen measurement) screen scale = 83 ft / 8.5 cm = 9.8 ft/cm
white building = 2.2 nm (nautical miles) from plane (Google Earth)
At 1:22:38 the plane to object distance at the point of the early intersecting sight lines was 1.4 nm (nautical miles) and the object screen size was 0.25+-0.05 cm. The actual object size would be 0.25 cm * (1.4nm / 2.2nm) * 9.8 ft/ cm = 1.6 ft. Error is 1.6 * (.05/. 25+.05/1.4+.05/2.2+.6/9.8) = 0.5 ft. The same exercise at the 1:22:48 point is 0.30 cm * (1.2nm / 2.2nm) * 9.8 ft/cm = 1.6 ft. Error here is 1.6 * (.05/.30 + .05/1.2 + .05/2.2 + .6/9.8) = 0.5 ft.
These results indicate that the object is about 1 to 2 ft. in size.
INFRARED SIGNATURE VARIABILITY
This video is set to “black hot” meaning that the display shows hot/warm objects as dark. The “halo” effect of a white border around a black hot body is a common artifact in IR imaging and is only mentioned in passing.
What needs to be addressed are: 1. double images seen at 1:22:41, 1:22:46 and 1:24:42-51 2. variation in image shape in many sections of the video 3. loss of heat signature (very light colored or no image) at 1:23:57 -1:24:01 and 1:24:18-30 and 1:25:06-on A possible explanation is provided by the combination of these factors: 1. atmospheric inhomogeneity in density and humidity due to:
a. ocean / land heating and cooling differentials b. early evening heating and cooling differentials after the sun sets c. warm surface temperature (79 deg. F) d. wind (12-18 mph @ ENE)
high humidity (74% at ground), scattered clouds and possible fog
a small object far away (approaching a point source of IR radiation)
rapidly moving plane and camera
high refractive index of infrared radiation in many materials
changing nature of heat source (such as candles burning up or hot gas cooling)
changing nature of object due to breakup or burnup
9. greater refraction of shorter wave radiation (warmer object) compared to longer wave radiation (cooler ground, background objects and water)
The basic problem is attempting to discern moving object detail from a moving plane through a highly refractive atmosphere when the object size is 1 to 2 ft. and it is a mile or more away. The camera used has a cost of around $1,000,000 with the laser range finder. It appears that the limiting factor in observing the object in this case is atmospheric refraction and not the camera. This may cause the image horizontal size to be slightly larger than the image vertical size. On the other hand this asymmetry may be representative of the actual object.
Some or all of the 9 factors above could lead to image shimmering and signal variability, mirages (double mirages) and signal loss. Clouds and fog attenuate infrared to some degree and if significant enough could possibly cause complete signal loss. Complete signal loss through otherwise transparent materials is demonstrated in principle here:
As both the object and plane are both moving through changing air densities and humidities so does the sight line between them. This greatly compounds the changing refractive effect of the atmosphere compared to a fixed observer and fixed object such as starlight. Due to the speed of the plane the changes in object appearance could be quite sudden as different air characteristics are rapidly encountered along the sight line from plane to object.
A suspected cause of IR signal loss in this case would also be cooling of the hot air inside the container which is providing lift. This hot air could have been injected prior to lift off of the object or could be generated in flight by candles or other heat sources which may burn out in flight. It’s possible that the object burned up toward the end of the video or just cooled.
Other possibilities are that the object is a drone or bird but the balloon explanation seems more likely due to object flight path which is explained by wind drift and the gradual descent of the object.
Quelle: SUNlite 4/2016
We keep telling you, it is NOT a balloon
In an attempt to rebut the hypothesis that the Puerto Rico video shows a balloon, the Scientific Coalition for UFOlogy (SCU) turned to their expert (actually a technician named “Dave”) on the camera to produce a video that shows a balloon filmed with the same system. The video shows a balloon with a dark underside and a white topside. According to the SCU, the balloon is black on the bottom because it was reflecting heat from the ground and the top is white because the air above was cool.
There are problems with their little test. The major problem is it does not replicate the conditions of the video. Any person wanting to conduct a scientific experiment would want to duplicate the conditions of the video as much as possible. When asked, Robert Powell states the object was recorded in the daytime. The Puerto Rico video was recorded at night under the light of the nearly full moon. Other items that did not replicate the video include
The distance involved does not look like it was recorded from a mile or more.
The camera was not looking at the target from above but from the same level.
Only one type of balloon was used. Another type of balloon might produce different results.
The fact remains that there is a significant number of individuals outside the SCU that have concluded that the object is probably a balloon. While the Puerto Rico Research Review (PRRR) team feels the path that Lance Moody and Florent Michaud have produced is the most likely, members of the SCU continue to insist that a balloon is impossible. They have steadfastly held the opinion that the UAP disappeared behind objects, making the Moody/Michaud path impossible. They also insisted that it submerged into the ocean. There is no conclusive evidence that prove either of these claims are correct.
As the SCU continues to talk about the video at UFO conferences, one wonders why they can not release their updated report, which they stated they were going to complete over six months ago.