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Split Decision on Chilean UFO Case

Earlier this year I mentioned a new UFO case from Chile, based on footage taken at an air show over a military base in 2010. The footage was subsequently reported and handed over to CEFAA, the Chilean government agency in charge of investigating anomalous aerial phenomena. UFO researcher Leslie Kean was taking the lead in reporting on this case, and this is what she noted when it first came to light:

CEFAA officials collected seven videos of the El Bosque UFO taken from different vantage points. Bermúdez commissioned scientists from many disciplines, aeronautical experts, and air force and army photogrametric technicians to subject the videos to intense scrutiny. They all came to the same conclusions.

Each video included three different, mainly horizontal loops flown by the UFO within seconds of each other. The object made elliptical passes either near or around each of three sets of performing jets. It flew past the Halcones, F5s and F16s at speeds so fast it was not noticed by the pilots or anyone on the ground below.

In my original post I noted that I thought – with no further information, and speaking as a layman – that it looked like bugs not far from the camera. But given the talk that the objects had been caught from multiple angles, on multiple cameras, I said “we might just have something here” that would allow definitive analysis (and placement of the object in space), and I looked forward to that taking place.

Well, the analysis has happened, but it isn’t definitive. Two reports have recently been released, analysing the footage, but they disagree in their findings. Each was done by a well-respected, long-time UFO researcher: Richard Haines, chief scientist for the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP), and retired Navy physicist Bruce Maccabee, an expert on photographic analysis of UFOs.

In his report (downloadable in .doc or .pdf from his website), Maccabee pointed out the approach taken in trying to map the location of the objects in space, and why he found this an impossible task:

The way to determine whether or not the object is nearby and small or distant and large is to perform a triangulation, but this requires that the object be videoed from two locations at the same time. This investigation was carried out with the hope that at least two videos would provide image data that would allow for a triangulation and subsequent calculation of distance and size. Unfortunately, the two most promising videos did not show the same object at the same time from two locations.

In his estimation, the lack of proof (by triangulation) that the object was distant and large, and the fact that there is no evidence suggesting that flying insects couldn’t be to blame, “one may conclude that the ‘anomalous phenomena’ images were, in fact, images of insects.” Maccabee did note that this was a provisional conclusion, and with the benefit of further evidence could be changed or reversed. But, based on the evidence before him, he says a bug is to blame (and not the Starship Troopers kind).

On the other hand, Richard Haines – who writes very much from an air safety position, and the need to analyse UFO/UAP reports in that framework – disagreed completely with Maccabee’s conclusion in his own report (available from the NARCAP website). According to Haines, analysis of video images taken from two cameras actually shows that “at least one of these UAP was not a flying insect near the cameras”:

Both reports are detailed, and include plenty of complex analysis, but I highly recommend taking a look at them if this case interests you at all. You might also want to take a look at Leslie Kean’s own thoughts on the matter at the Huffington Post. Personally, on the balance, given the objects at times ‘changed shape and colour’, and given Maccabee’s thoughts, I’m happy (for now) to go with the bug explanation as it seems the best (and most parsimonious fit), but as always am open to further evidence.

Regardless of your own conclusions, I think we can all agree it’s great to see these sorts of in-depth analyses of UFO cases, rather than point-blank statements based on YouTube videos.

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