- This article will cover the details of conducting a scientific
investigation of UFO and UFO- related phenomena.
- Parts of this report have been derived from the J. Hynek
UFO Classification System. Due to much advancement in the field of Ufology,
numerous changes have been made, which includes changing wording, and the
deletion and insertion of subject matter.
- I want to thank the crew at The J. Allen Hynek Center
for UFO Studies, especially John Timmerman, thanks guys for keeping this
important information open for the public,s use, the truth is so hard to
- UFOs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are only small
spots of light that move in strange patterns across the night sky. These
are called nocturnal lights (NLs) and are the most commonly reported type
of UFO. Nocturnal lights are not really very interesting because the witness
can see little detail; without details, ufologists cannot learn anything
new. Faraway objects, often disk- or saucer-shaped, seen in the daytime
are called daylight disks (DDs). When UFOs approach much nearer to witnesses
(within 500 feet), these sightings are called close encounters. There are
three types of close encounters, designated as CE-1, CE-2, and CE-3. (Abductions
are sometimes referred to as CE-4s.) During close encounters, witnesses
report seeing UFOs that are shaped like saucers, boomerangs, spheres, diamonds,
cigars, triangles, or other strange shapes. They have bright lights, sometimes
white or red, other times multicolored. The reported speed of UFOs varies
dramatically. UFOs can hover silently for a long time then instantaneously
fly off at great speeds--certainly much faster than conventional aircraft.
They can move slowly across the sky, or perform unbelievable maneuvers,
such as right angle turns, at incredibly high speeds. We do not know what
powers UFOs, or why they have such maneuverability.
- There are few unquestionably authentic pictures of UFOs.
Many so-called UFO photographs are really natural phenomena (such as strangely
shaped clouds) or are light leaks in the camera or flaws that were introduced
when the film was developed. Some photos are deliberate hoaxes made by
people who want you to believe they have seen UFOs; for any number of reasons,
such as fame, money, or to promote a religious or philosophical viewpoint.
Some of the best UFO photos were taken in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1950;
in Rouen, France, in 1954; off the coast of Brazil in 1958; and in Lubbock,
Texas, in 1951. There are also videotapes of UFOs taken in the Hudson Valley
region in New York, and in Belgium. These pictures can be seen in many
UFO books available in your local library. Photos are not sufficient proof
for the reality of UFOs because they are easily hoaxed.
- What is a UFO?
- UFOs are unidentified flying objects, but no one really
knows what they are. Many researchers (called "ufologists") have
theories about what UFOs might be, but because no one can examine a UFO
in a scientific laboratory, all of these ideas are really only educated
guesses. We can offer a definition of UFOs, however, that you may find
useful when you study the subject:
- A UFO is the reported sighting of an object or light
seen in the sky or on land, whose appearance, trajectory, actions, motions,
lights, and colors do not have a logical, conventional, or natural explanation,
and which cannot be explained, not only by the original witness, but by
scientists or technical experts who try to make a common sense identification
after examining the evidence.
- What is an IFO?
- An IFO is an Identified Flying Object. In essence, it
is a natural or man-made object that people reported as a UFO. About 90%-95%
of all UFO reports prove to be IFO,s, after an examination of the evidence
by a trained investigator. People report natural or conventional objects
as UFOs because they do not recognize them as such, due to unusual environmental
conditions, ignorance, or the rarity of a natural event. For example, people
have reported the planet Venus as a UFO, unaware of how bright the planet
can appear at certain times of the year. Stars near the horizon are sometimes
reported as UFOs because atmospheric turbulence and thermals (columns of
warm air) cause them to twinkle rapidly in red and blue colors. Stars may
also appear to dart back and forth because of auto kinesis. This is a psychological
phenomenon in which a person,s eye movements create the illusion that a
bright object seen in the dark without a frame of reference is moving.
- In order to distinguish between UFOs and IFO,s, an investigator
must find as much information about a sighting as possible, without leading
witnesses into giving false details. It is also important that UFO reports
are investigated soon after the sighting, so all-relevant information about
possible IFO explanations can be considered.
- Who sees UFOs?
- All kinds of people see UFOs. It does not matter whether
you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, young or old. In fact, many
people who report seeing UFOs were not even looking for them when they
had their sighting. The chances for seeing a UFO are greater for those
people who live in small towns or in the country and are outside late at
night. Although most of us at CUFOS have never seen a UFO personally, some
colleagues of ours say that their interest in UFOs was sparked by seeing
a UFO when they were children or young adults.
- Obtaining Reports of UFO Sightings and Events
- The first step in the scientific method is to collect
data. The data on phenomena is not only collected, but is organized by
a system of classification. UFO sighting data comes from individuals who
- In order to make a report a witness must have a line
of communication available to him or her. In a lot of cases most witnesses
do not know where to make a report or who to call so they usually call
the police. It is best for groups to set-up a local number for witnesses
to call then let the police and local radio and television stations record
the number for referral. From time to time local media will carry a story
on a sighting or encounter and this is a good source to follow up on.
For the most part reports will come from establishing a network of sky-watchers
who will phone the contact number and report a sighting or encounter.
An investigator should follow up on these reports as soon as possible while
the experience is fresh in the mind of the witness.
- It is important to obtain
- 1) A narrative description of the event and record this
by any media available. Then a detailed report should be filled out so
specific descriptive information can be captured for future analysis. 2)
The witness should draw a sketch. The sketch should show date, time, and
compass directions. It can show other detail and colors can be marked
on the sketch.
- This is the basic classification system used by Dr. Allen
J. Hynek for UFO reports:
- UFO / ENCOUNTER / ALIEN CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM BASIC UFO
CLASSIFICATION NOCTURNAL LIGHTS
- Strangely behaving lights in the night sky are the most
commonly reported sightings and are called, "Nocturnal Lights."
This does not include any light that puzzles the observer, but that which
the experts find puzzling, because the behavior of the light does not fit
the pattern of a light from known sources. An object is known as unidentified
when it is unidentified to all, not just to the witnesses.
- DAYLIGHT DISCS
- UFOs sighted in the daytime are usually called, "Daylight
Discs." This is because most of those sighted in the daytime have
an oval (disc) shape. The appearance is often reported as metallic looking.
A majority of daytime UFO photographs show such disc shaped objects. Nocturnal
Lights observed in the daytime could appear, as Daylight Discs, but it
- RADAR & RADAR-VISUAL SIGHTINGS
- This category is for radar indicated UFOs. An important
subdivision in this category is radar findings that are supported by visual
observations. If it can be established with reasonable assurance that a
radar sighting confirms a visual sighting, or vice versa, then obviously
this sighting is of major importance.
- CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
- There is an important broad category, which consists
of those UFO sightings, that occur within a few hundred feet, or at a distance
where the witness is able to use his unaided vision (glasses and contacts
permissible), and be able to distinguish details. This type of sighting
becomes a personal UFO experience.
- This broad category of UFOs is called "Close Encounters."
There are at least three kinds of Close Encounters. They are defined separately.
The distinction is in what is observed rather than in any certain fundamental
- CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FIRST KIND (CE-I)
- This is a close encounter with a UFO, where there is
no interaction of the UFO with either the observer or the environment.
The object must be close enough so that it is in the observer's own frame
of reference. Details of the object must be seen. This will help to eliminate
identifying Venus or an aircraft as a UFO. Further elimination of a false
sighting is when the object is seen by several persons who are of the same
conclusion, providing again, that the object is questionable even to the
- CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SECOND KIND (CE-II)
- A UFO that is seen interacting with the environment and
frequently with the witness as well, is known as a CE II. Such interaction
can be with inanimate matter, as when holes, rings, burn marks, or depressions
are made on the ground, or even tree limbs that appeared to have been broken
off or away by contact with the object. Interaction can be with animate
matter, such as when animals are affected. Animals can become aware of
the UFO before humans. (It would appear that cattle mutilations would fit
into this category of encounter, but perhaps at a higher level, somewhere
between a CE II and CE III. This is, as the other evidence is caused by
the craft, cattle mutilation seems to be performed by those in the craft.
Therefore, we have a closer encounter.)
- People can be affected by a close encounter. There have
been cases reported of burns (including radioactive in nature), temporary
paralysis, nausea, conjunctivitis, memory loss, and other maladies. For
a CE II to have occurred, the UFO must be shown to have been at the same
location where the physical effects are noted. If a burnt ring on the ground
is noted, it must be at the exact place where the UFO was sighted hovering.
If a vehicle's ignition system is interfered with, such interference must
have occurred at the time and place of the UFO sighting.
- Observed physical effects in these cases are usually
called "Physical Trace Cases" and which cannot be explainable
in another obvious way. For example, if landing marks are found, they must
be unique and not like marks found elsewhere in the vicinity.
- Close Encounters of the Second Kind are of particular
interest to some scientists, especially those who are becoming interested
in the field of Ufology. That is due in part to scientific principals that
can be called into play. Samples of burnt grass and of disturbed soil can
be tested in an attempt to determine what caused the burn, what pressures
were necessary to cause imprints on the ground, to find what chemical changes
occurred, and even more.
- CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (CE-III)
- This is an encounter, that is not only with the UFO,
but with its apparent "occupants." A CE III encounter brings
us more into the presence of intelligence other than our own.
- UFOs seem to demonstrate intelligent action that appears
to be planned, not just random actions. UFOs have buzzed airplanes and
cars. UFOs seem to prefer the lonely hours of the night. They usually,
but do not exclusively avoid crowds and urban areas. They make singularly
"local" appearances rather than moving about a wide area of the
- In CE III, where the occupants make their presence known,
or are discovered, we find creatures reported to resemble humans, robots,
or reptiles. There have been reports of abductions of humans, apparently
for "testing purposes." Abductions have usually been recalled
through regressive hypnosis. This is because the abduction experience has
usually been so traumatic to the witness, that the conscious memory retains
only a portion of the experience. The details must generally be obtained
from the subconscious. Aliens have been reported to appear in a room and
to go through walls. This leads to a belief by some of interdimensional
- Note: Close Encounters of the: Fourth Kind ----- Abduction
Fifth Kind ------ Communication
- Jacques Vallee has proposed another classification system
of four groups with five categories in each group. This forms a matrix
that could possibly be combined with the Hynek system.
- The four groups are:
- AN Anomaly
- FB Fly-By
- MA Maneuver
- CE Close Encounter
- Within these four groupings are five categories:
- 1) Sighting
- 2) Physical Effects
- 3) Living Entities
- 4) Reality Transformation
- 5) Lasting injury
- An example would be FB1, which is a simple sighting of
a UFO "flying by" in the sky, the category most frequently reported.
- There are other strange events that may or may not be
associated with a UFO sighting, but nonetheless are targets of UFO research.
There are categories of cases that may not fall neatly into the above
systems of classification. In the future as we gather more data, these
systems of classification may be extended or new systems of classification
may come into use.
- Other, possibly related, phenomena are:
- 1) Animal mutilations
- 2) Crop formations
- 3) Paranormal or psychic phenomena
- In most cases one is collecting eyewitness testimony.
In addition to eyewitness testimony, data gathered from reports may lead
to researching corroborative data such as weather conditions or the phase
of the moon on the night of sighting. This background research helps in
evaluating a case in question. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FOURTH KIND (IV)
- Eyewitnesses have reported encounters with non-terrestrial
life forms that we simply call aliens.
- CONDUCTING A FIELD INVESTIGATION
- You should be prepared not only to interview eyewitnesses,
but to do an on-site investigation. As MUFON suggests, you should carry
a field kit.
- Pen and pencil and paper
- Containers for samples
- Measuring devices
- And other desirable equipment as you might need to conduct
- INTERVIEWING THE WITNESS
- This is one of the most important aspects of field investigation.
It is a formal way of asking questions when someone makes a report to
you. In this case, you want to faithfully record all the details without
leading the witness. That takes an objective approach. One has to be
aware of many factors, but foremost is gaining the trust and confidence
of the witness. A course in psychology would help, but one can also ask
policemen or reporters to demonstrate how they conduct interviews and how
you can maintain sensitivity to the witnesses, experience. We have the
added dimension of a witness who has possibly experienced something extraordinary.
The field investigator must also see to it that he schedules the interview
as soon as possible after the occurrence of the event while it is still
fresh in the witnesses' mind.
- My good friend Chris O'Brien has gained a lot of experience
working with witnesses in the field who report strange aerial lights and
objects as well as unusual animal deaths. He has submitted the following
as a guideline to interviewing witnesses:
- Have you ever seen/experienced anything you couldn't
- Has anyone in your family seen/experienced anything they
- Did you believe in the existence of UFOs prior to your
- Has this (current) sighting/experience changed your beliefs
in regards to UFOs? How?
- Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?
- Has this (current) sighting/experience changed your beliefs
in regards to extraterrestrials? How?
- A short section to ascertain the witnesses' immediate
environment and the extent of the dissemination of their experience:
- Who have you told about your sighting/experience?
- How many LOCAL articles or LOCAL TV segments on UFOs
(or the phenomenon they experienced) have you seen in the past year? -1
- -3 to 5
- -5 to 10
- -10 or more
- Did you notice any animal reactions before, during or
after your sighting/experience? Describe
- -Did you notice any sounds or sub-audible noises or sensations
before, during, or after your sighting/experience? Describe -Buzzing?
- Do you consider yourself, or any family members, to be
"sensitive" or psychic? Have you noticed any unusual occurrences
since your sighting/experience? -Describe
- Where is the closest military facility to your sighting
- How often do you see military flight activity in your
- DOCUMENTING THE REPORT AND HANDLING THE EVIDENCE INFORMATION
ON MAKING A REPORT
- The Field Investigator should (ideally) prepare a package
of information, which generally includes:
- a) A narrative of the investigation
- b) Sketches done by the witness(s)
- c) Any photos or videotape with a completed description
of the camera
- d) Any field measurements on a separate sheet
- The following is information that can be used in the
case of detailed sightings: How to Calculate Altitude and Speed
- USING TRIGONOMETRY TO CALCULATE APPROXIMATE ALTITUDE
- With your position as the base, estimate the angle by
pointing one arm at the area underneath the object and the other arm pointing
at the object (for example: 35 degrees). Using a scientific calculator,
enter 35 (for degrees) and depress the "tan" (tangent) button.
The tangent is displayed (0.7002075382097). Estimate the distance from
you to the area directly below the object. We will use 300 feet. Now
times the distance by the tangent and you will have the estimated altitude.
The result is 210 feet.
- 35 DEGREES TANGENT = 0.7002075382097
- 0.7002075382097 x 300 = approx. 210 feet
- HOW TO CALCULATE TRAVELED SPEED
- To calculate the speed an object is traveling, first
find the distance. For example, an object travels from point A to point
B, a distance of 120 miles. Then the time of travel is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The time is converted into minutes, providing a result of 105 minutes.
Distance is divided by time and the result is multiplied by 60 (60 is
used because it is the minutes in an hour), which gives the speed as about
- 120 (miles) divided by 105 (minutes) = 1.142857142857
- 1.142857142857 x 60 = 68.57142857143 mph
- When time is in seconds and distance is in partial miles,
the miles are converted using the decimal system. An example would be that
a distance of 1 & 1/2 miles becomes 1.50. A travel time of 3 seconds
is divided by 60, which equals 0.05.
- 1.50 divided by 0.05 = 30. 60 mph x 30 = 1800 mph.
- UFO REPORTS
- The report should include time, date, location, weather
conditions, direction/orientation, distance, and size. Make note of any
symbols, markings, lights, and sounds. Photos or a video are a plus.
The report should be made right away to keep evidence and memory fresh.
Recent reports may be the most valuable, but older ones, which have possible
value, are welcomed. Strange lights in the sky usually do not make a good
report unless accompanied by video, and/or having moved in ways inconsistent
or impossible for known phenomenon or objects.
- ABDUCTION REPORTS
- In case of abduction, please seek out professional help
if you feel the need. But please be aware that there are mental health
professionals who will not consider the extra-terrestrial possibility.
- CROP CIRCLE AND CATTLE MUTILATION REPORTS
- Crop Circle reports and Cattle Mutilations should be
reported as soon as possible to assure a fresh situation for scientific
study. Photos and observations of the site are crucial to a good report.
Cattle mutilations should be reported as soon as found. Please do not
handle animal remains for health reasons. Please do not walk inside the
circumference of a crop circle.
- Of prime importance is the collecting of corroborative
evidence for an event. This might involve the collection and analysis
of physical evidence such as ground traces, photographic evidence and analysis,
videotape evidence and analysis or the photographing of injuries or strange
- How can you recognize a UFO hoax?
- A faked ufo photo
- Although tens of thousands of UFOs have been reported
over the past forty years, less than 1% has been shown to be hoaxes. For
the most part, competent UFO investigators have been able to recognize
hoaxes almost immediately. The most common type of UFO hoax is a prank
balloon, which involves tying a flare or candle to a helium-filled balloon.
On rare occasions elaborate hoaxes have been perpetrated, necessitating
a more extensive investigation.
- To eliminate the possibility that a UFO report is a hoax,
one must examine the credibility of the witnesses, the details of the report,
and any physical evidence, especially photographs. The reliability and
validity of these factors must be ascertained before a researcher can have
confidence in the data. A witness's reliability can be checked by interviewing
neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, and other associates. In particular,
an investigator is interested in determining whether the individual has
a reputation as a sincere, responsible person, or as a practical joker,
prankster, or hoaxer.