Mods, I know this is similar to the If you think you saw a UFO...
but my intent is slightly different. Please feel free to move this as you see fit.
I was thinking yesterday that one of the things that could improve the UFO community would be a basic course on how to be a good UFO spotter, and
overall a better witness.
These ideas are in no particular order despite numbering; consider them suggestions to choose from.
1. Practice by watching known aircraft
Learn what known aircraft look like, maneuver, and sound. In both daylight/night conditions.
1.1 Aircraft Spotting
This is a hobby unto itself. The objective is similar to bird watching, where one collects sightings and positive identification of known aircraft.
This includes using those spotting handbooks, flash cards that some might be familiar with. There are even some dedicated to light patterns for night
This is two-fold practice. It gets you used to seeing things in the sky and how to watch them, and it will help later on to eliminate false
sightings. One person’s UFO is another’s person kit airplane (I know from experience:-) !)
There are plenty of sites out there dedicated to the hobby. Check around on Google.
1.2 Aircraft Sounds
This is a little bit more complex and time consuming then normal spotting. You can learn while spotting what different aircraft sound like through
your own experience. You can also attend air shows where unusual aircraft like B2 bombers, etc will be present at. Through experience, you can
start to identify engine types similar to how certain mechanics know car engines from their sound.
1.3 Aircraft Maneuver
This is another one to learn through experience with Spotting. Watch how certain aircraft fly, how they turn, how they slow down. Read up on exactly
what it takes to land a plane, fly a pattern etc. Seeing it in the air is different then seeing it in movies/video games. There are a lot of
optical illusions that occur, especially with unusually shaped aircraft like the B2. Pilots are trained from day one in similar fashion in this so
they can tell in VFR conditions if a plane is coming at them or away from them.
1.4 Aircraft Lights
Learn what lights are on commercial aircraft, and military aircraft. There are standard locations dictated by the FAA( and other air orgs) and other
ones dictated by Army/Air force/Coast Guard/Navy. Learn them all. For example, the red/ blue lights on opposite sides of the wings are to
distinguish at night to other aircraft which direction the aircraft is flying. If you see red on the left and blue on the right, it’s coming at
you. Little tid-bits like that can go a long way.
2. Practice Filming/photographing Known aircraft
This is an iffy subject post 9/11. I would not recommend doing it in public, and definitely NOT NEAR PUBLIC AIRPORTS (you’ll get in some sort of
hassle I guarantee, if not arrested). I do however think this activity is excellent practice for filming/photographing UFOS.
2.1 Places where to Film/Photograph Part 1
I would suggest you do this in the same area that you are going to UFO watching. If it’s your own backyard, then practice there with local air
traffic. Just as with practicing for an exam in the same room you’ll take it improves your score, so will learning the intricacies of
filming/photographing in a specific area.
2.2 Places where to Film/Photograph Part 2
Air shows! This is a perfect place to practice against fast moving, semi-unpredictable maneuvering aircraft.