Upon further reflection, is this a UFO? (No.) (Updated – double paned)

Latest UFO sighting to buzz the weird news feeds is this taken from a passenger in a plane.

Published on Dec 23, 2012
The actual footage in its original content was sent to the FAA for further review. UFOlogist and investigators please be patient. Let FAA do their review in fairness to all.

It does not move. Looks like a reflection. Your ideas welcome.

Tip: Chew

This is a VERY good analysis of the video. Thanks to the comments below and this piece, I think it is safe to say this is not a UFO but an unidentified (at the time) internal reflection. Not something in the air outside the plane.

[…] airplane windows are different from ordinary house windows. For one thing, the panes are not flat but instead slightly curved, which can alter and distort images seen in them.

Furthermore, objects outside the cabin are viewed not through one pane but instead through at least two transparent panels of glass and plastic; this creates an overlaying double reflection of lights from inside the cabin.

The image is reflected once by the plastic near the seat, and once more by the thick laminated glass on the inside of the window itself, a few inches beyond. The result is a reflection that often appears as a duplicate image, depending on the angle of the viewer.

Indeed, this effect can be seen in the ‘UFO’ video.

  23 comments for “Upon further reflection, is this a UFO? (No.) (Updated – double paned)

  1. D.W.
    December 27, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    I’d guess a light in back of the camera man.

  2. jadawin
    December 27, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    Ordinarily, I would think this is a reflection. Normally, angle of reflection=angle of incidence, which would put the reflected object in front of and to the left of the camera. It appears that the photographer though of this, and attempted to block such a reflection with his hand. The image is still visible, which is perplexing.
    We have no idea where in the world this is, or at what altitude. It could be an advertising blimp at 2000 feet for all we can tell.

  3. Arthur M.
    December 27, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    I think the hand-waving in the video actually does show that the lights are not a reflection of lights from somewhere inside of the plane.

    On the other hand: what we do not have is the full context of what was going on. What I _suspect_ was happening was that the plane was descending, and that the lights are of some town or village or a large though remote facility (like an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico which would explain the lack of strings of lights over roads leading to it). On his YouTube page the poster says that he was flying from Baltimore to Houston (although he wrote that for some reason his flight flew over “the CHICAGO AREA” enroute, which I guess is possible if his flight had to avoid a large storm system or an unfavorable jet stream). While the Houston metro area is large there is a lot of mostly open countryside surrounding it some of which I think would be within the descent zones for either Bush Houston or Hobby Airports .

  4. Chew
    December 27, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    There are no non-stop Southwest flights from La Guardia to Houston. The Southwest flight schedule website offers stop overs at Chicago Midway (MDW) then on to Houston. The only night time flights into and out of MDW are 1186/3745. Flight 3745 departed MDW on 19 Dec at 9:10 PM CSTFlightAware ✈ Southwest (WN) #3745 Flight Tracker

    The uploader just left a comment that it was flight 3745 and he recorded it at around 8 PM. That doesn’t help. The Moon was off to the west-southwest during this flight so it should have been on the starboard side of the aircraft while this was recorded from the port side.

  5. Beau Henderson
    December 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    It’s obviously the light under the wing of the air craft.

  6. December 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    Huh? That is visible and pointed out.

  7. Chew
    December 27, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    You posted his short version. This longer version below shows him panning to the right to show the wing light then panning back to the left to the UFO.

  8. December 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Ah, I did watch the longer one. My bad.

  9. December 27, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    Which leads me to believe that the film was shot while the plane was ascending after takeoff, and the object is an ordinary building. The angle of objects in the first 30 seconds of film indicate an ascent, rather than a descent.

  10. Chew
    December 27, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    Yeah. The cabin lights are on. They normally turn them on for take off and turn them off after a while. But I would think more than just one lit up building would be visible around the Chicago area.

  11. December 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Agreed. One would think several buildings would be visible, or some hint of the Chicago skyline at night. I’ve never been to Chicago though, so I honestly have no clue about the geographic layout.

    Help me out with the time. I know I’m missing something here. His flight left Chicago at 9:10 PM. He took the video at 8 pm. Houston and Chicago are in the same time zone. How did he take the video at 8?

  12. December 27, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    Another thing that doesn’t sit right with me regarding this video is the apparent lack of reaction from the other passengers on the flight. Is the cameraman the only one that can see the UFO? Nobody else has looked through their window and spotted the UFO floating nearby?

  13. December 27, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    My first impression is that it seems stationary relative to the passenger and is likely a wing light.

  14. Chew
    December 28, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    He is grossly misremembering the time. He flew from La Guardia into Chicago so if his watch was set to New York time zone it should have read 10:10 PM when his flight took off.

  15. Arthur M.
    December 28, 2012 at 5:29 AM

    Please understand that I did base my first post here on the uploader’s earlier comment on YouTube saying that he flew from Baltimore. Perhaps he is a frequent flyer who at least sometimes flies out of Baltimore and got his flights confused for that post.

    There is the problem that according to the flight info for both parts of his flight that he was on the ground at 8 pm _local_ time: on Dec. 19 SWA1186 departed 6:10 pm EST, arrived 7:16 pm CST; SWA3745 departed 9:10 pm CST, arrived 11:38 pm CST according to FlightTracker. On the other hand his reported time of around 8 pm makes sense if you assume that he forgot to recall the time change from EST (for LaGuardia/NYC) to CST (for Midway/Chicago). At around 8 pm _E_ST his flight would have been buttoning things up for landing at Midway (which probably explains why the cabin lights were on so the attendants could collect trash and check that passengers were properly seated).

    Regardless of whether or not his flight was ascending (and probably making a turn to the right) or descending, I think that had this video been taken in mid-June instead of mid-December there would have been nothing to record because it would have been clear that source of the lights was on the ground and not assumed to be at the same altitude of a plane in mid-flight.

  16. Brian
    December 28, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Actually, I think it’s an overhead light, and it’s reflecting behind/ to the side into the window (pretty much behind his head. I went about as well as one can frame by frame- and finally got lucky. The one frame shows what looks like the light is on, and it’s reflecting the other lights in the cabin. I did a Google search on airplane reading lights. Depending on the airplane model, they can be several diff designs. This one is the ball socket one with a protruding lamp assembly, probably reflective plastic (since there’s reflections on it, and the light underneath it is on). There’s little grip knurls around the lit end, so one can manipulate it, or annoy people with it. 😀

    How do I know this crap? I once was trying to gather parts for an R2D2. I began with the dome- and I found out that the sensor knobs on the dome are actually cabin/ reading lights from a plane. Having a small scale model of R2, and having a good, tough look at his knobs (no funny remarks:P), and a frame-grab ( http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a104/wylekat/ScreenShot2012-12-28at91606AM_zpsbb25ef6b.png ), ad just having to make an educated guess as to the lighting in the plane, I’d say someone either doesn’t know the laws of reflection, or they decided to upload and call it a UFO for grins and giggles.

    As for a wing light… I think those blink and come in red/ green.

  17. December 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    I love this comment: “Let FAA do their review in fairness to all.”

    Yeah, the FAA has nothing better to do than devote their top experts to looking at your home video, dude. As if it’s the FAA’s public responsibility to make sure that all airline passengers are able to identify any lights seen out a window during a commercial flight.

  18. December 28, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    LOL. I posted a comment last night suggesting (very politely, mind you) that he had filmed a building on the ground as his plane was ascending after takeoff. My comment was promptly removed, and the owner of the video banned me from making further comments. That pretty much tells me everything I need to know about the credibility of the uploader.

  19. Chew
    December 28, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    FAA regulations state if you want to report a UFO to report it to one of the UFO reporting centers, like Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies or the National UFO Reporting Center.

  20. Brian
    December 28, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    I hope that was not ground lights… The light is so far up in the window frame, the pilot would have to be doing stunts.

    That said, I have no doubt of fakery. Interesting of him to do what he did, tho. Methinks someone’s looking for YouTube hits…

  21. Chew
    December 29, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I think it’s the Moon at about 11:20 ~ 11:25 PM CST during descent to Houston. Here is the track log of the flight: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/SWA3745/history/20121220/0250Z/KMDW/KHOU/tracklog (all times of flights on this website are EST to avoid confusion; subtract one hour to get CST). In this time span the aircraft was on a course of 232~235°. The Moon was at azimuth 267° and 12° above the horizon as seen from Houston. He is sitting on the right side of the aircraft (contrary to my earlier comment) so the Moon would be about 32~35° from the right side of the nose of the aircraft, which matches the video. In the longer version of the video I posted 4 pages up he looks at the wing light then pans to the left. If the aircraft were on some course other than what I described the Moon would be seen during the pan shot but it is not.

    This is what the Moon looked like at the time: http://i.imgur.com/3Fdu8.png

    It was overcast in Houston that night. That would account for the lack of visible lights on the ground. High scattered clouds in front of the Moon could give it the weird appearance we see. As the aircraft descends the clouds obscure more of the Moon. Near the end of the longer version it is a thin horizontal line. As the aircraft descends further the object disappears entirely.

    I don’t think it is a reflection of an interior light. If you watch the long version of the video at 1:30 the object moves behind the outside hull (e.g. the external rim of the window) of the aircraft. If it were a reflection it should still be visible.

    OK gang, rip my theory apart.

  22. December 29, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    “I think the hand-waving in the video actually does show that the lights are not a reflection of lights from somewhere inside of the plane.”

    Arthur, I don’t think so; the hand-waving can only be seen as a reflection in the plastic pane closest to the passenger. But I suspect the light is mostly being reflected in the laminated glass a few inches beyond that, and from behind the cameraman. If the hand had gone above and to the right of the image (instead of below and to the left), I’d be more inclined to think it’s outside the plane.

  23. December 30, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I believe it’s a reflection of an overhead reading light. I posted a comparison picture at the bottom of my post here: http://tinyurl.com/cr5obf5

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