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Practice Makes Perfect

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posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 11:38 AM
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 time identification.

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.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 11:39 AM
2.3 Learning your Camera/Video capabilities
Regardless of where you practice, part of what you need to learn is how to use your camera. What it can, and can not do. Does it get blurry if you move fast following a mach 1 fighter? How much time should you lead a shot with a still picture? Flash or no flash? These are all things that are going to be specific to what equipment you own, and only you can learn how to use it.

I encourage you to experiment with what methods work best. For example, most folks don’t understand how the IR vision works on cameras. IR mode receives IR light, and the camera itself produces an IR flashlight to illuminate objects for the camera. This IR flashlight beam does NOT go far distance wise. Just like a normal flashlight, don’t expect to illuminate something 500 feet in the air.

3. Know your environment
This can be very simple, or very in depth depending on how far you want to go. In general, knowing cardinal directions and localities (like stadiums/airports) in your UFO spotting location should be known.

3.1 Cardinal Directions
I would expect everybody to learn and know in their own backyard which way North/South, and East/West are. This is useful for describing what direction something came from, and what heading it took on it way out. Later you can compare against known air routes, air shows, laser shows, stadium lights etc.

3.2 Know the Localities
Know what is around you UFO spotting location to eliminate false sightings. Is your backyard within 10 miles of an airport? Which direction from your UFO spotting location is that airport? As seen in another thread, the same goes with ground facilities that throw up light pollution such as stadiums, laser shows concerts etc.

3.3 Line of Sight
Be aware of trees, buildings, and other obstructions that will get in your way while filming/photographing. Learning where these are can prepare you to get the maximum amount of pictures/video for your time. In simple terms, learn the view from your UFO spotting location like memorizing a painting. Know where the edges of the frame are, how much visibility do you have. This will come in handy later when trying to calculate size, shape, and speed of an UFO.

3.4 In depth Knowledge
This is where you can get complicated. In general, I don’t expect the average UFO spotter to be carrying around or invest in such things, but I add it here for completeness.
As with the ghost phenomena, you can measure things such as temperature, Electro-magnetic fields, radiation, sound waves, etc. Measuring such things in your UFO spotting location before seeing the UFO can provide a baseline. Measuring during the sighting can see what changed in comparison.

4. Equipment
This is basics. Some simple stuff I would expect a dedicated UFO spotter to have on them.

4.1 Camera and or Video camera.
I would go as far to say that something should be on one’s possession at all times. It should be something that you know how to use and have practiced with (see section 3). Today’s day an age, camera phones are everywhere, and small cheap digital cameras are in the checkout line at Wal-mart. Get some, put one in you car, on your bike kit, etc. You may have stalked out a great UFO spot, but that doesn’t mean the UFO’s are going to come to you and when you want them to be there.

Keep your big toys reasonably available as well. UFO sightings can be very short, so going for the camera in the other room it might be over. If you are outside working in your garden, bring the camera out with you and put it somewhere safe like a deck or on a rock. No harm in being prepared, worse that happens is it just sits there.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 11:39 AM
4.2 Tripod
Tripods are readily available and reasonably cheap as well. You can pick up a collapsible one at Ocean State for example around 20 bucks with a universal fitting. It’s a great tool for steadying video, and providing stable photographs. Buy one that fits your equipment, and then practice, practice, practice with it. How to assemble it fast, and how to swing it around to follow shots in the sky etc.

4.3 Notepad/recorder
It should be something to take notes on that’s easy to use, in day or night. Seriously, being a good witness means recording thoughts, impressions, emotions, and everything you can recall fast after the incident. Just like there’s a golden hour in trauma patients, there are golden minutes in witness recollection! Psychology shows time and time again the longer amount of time from an incident, the poorer the testimony gets in accuracy.

4.4 Illumination device (NOT A LASER)
Here’s another iffy one for you, but one of those handheld mega lights might be useful. I’m not sure the legality of shining it into the air at an unknown flying object. But I know for my one single good sighting I would have killed for it. Most UFO’s at night are only seen due to their self illumination. IE, their own lights are all you see, and what those lights reflect off the UFO itself. It is a pretty poor way of knowing what the general shape of a UFO was. One of these hand held units can toss a wide beam up into the sky for at least 1000ft (1 million foot candles was the unit I saw so perhaps further). Plus, they can be pretty cheap. I saw rechargeable one for 20 bucks similar to a power drill the other day.
For covering my arse sake, I’ll say this too. DO NOT SHINE LASERS INTO THE SKY. I don’t see the use of it, other then to be an idiot trying to blind somebody. It won’t work well as a rangefinder, nor an illumination source. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

5. Simple Stuff!
This is just to cover some basic stuff.

5.1 Don’t Drink Alcohol, Don’t do drugs
I know, I know, this ruins some of the fun for some folks. But don’t do it while UFO spotting. Even one beer will completely kill your credibility with other less open minded folks. Like the media, police etc. Worse, it could be used to erode all credibility of a good incident.

5.2 Don’t trespass
Just don’t. It will ruin a fun night of UFO spotting. It may be a fun night to some to run from cops, but I don’t suggest it.

5.3 Bring Other People!
The more the merrier, and the more witness’s, the more cameras, the more shots, and more details you have are worth the weight in gold. It will lead a lot of credence to an incident.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:25 PM
Leibolmai Thanks for the tips!
This thread belongs up at the top of this forum next to "How to Report a UFO Sighting" because it's got the kind of information that all of us skywatchers need to review over every once in a while just to remind ourselves on those skills we need to hone to be good at that.
Thanks again! Learned some things I didn't know before... very informative thread!
I'm flagging this one for easy reference!

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:28 PM
Some very good points, OP. And we all need to keep them in mind. Those of us seeking to spot UFOs, actually looking for the buggers, need to get as much information as we can in the time we have.

Sadly though, real life is messy. You're on your way to Aunt Flossie's new home in Burning Mattress, Montana from Cold Camp, Colorado when it happens. You've gotten lost three times on back roads because, while she is a sweet old soul, she gives directions in the Mumble dialect.

Now it's five-thirty on a cold day just before Christmas, the sun is hidden with clouds and you're on an unfamiliar dirt road that is so rutted it looks like a place the Army uses for training tank drivers, when you have a flat tire.

After moving half the items in your SUV to find the spare, lugwrench, and jack, you're on your knees in cold mud/snow trying to get your numb fingers to thread the lugnuts back on when you hear a "whooshing" sound and look up to spot classic saucer shape flitting over the trees at 6000 MPH.

Tearing both knees loose from the frozen muck, and loosing some jean material and skin doing it, you race for the passenger side of your vehicle to get the camera where it stays on the seat for handy use.Unfortunately, Cold Camp, Colorado has been having a winter meeting of the Hell's Angels Ski Club the past week and as a good citizen you've made it a practice to keep all your vehicle doors locked at all times. And the passenger side is still locked.

Racing back around the front of the SUV and keeping one eye on the UFO, which has slowed and is now circling the clearing, you trip in the calf deep ruts and sprawl half under the car. Ever the intrepid UFO spotter, you scramble up without thought to these woes, but because of the new winch you installed the week before, in anticipation of the trip to Auntie's, you cold cock yourself on a pointy steel corner of the mounting plate.

Bleeding from a nasty scalp wound, and now only able to see out of one eye, you still manage to reach the drivers door and open it, only skinning a couple of knuckles in the process. There you find a clutter of road maps, a flashlight, your GPS unit, a CD case, McKiller drive thru boxes, and various articles of clothing that you moved from the rear compartment area in your search for the damn lugwrench. The wonderful $2699.99 video recorder that you bought on the advice of some guy on a forum, who swore it was perfect for capturing excellent footage of UFOs, is under all of this mess with the strap wrapped around the seat adjusting lever.

Valiantly, mumbling a few curses and prayers, you manage to break the strap, and the seat adjusting lever, both of which you will later find to be expensive to replace, and emerge with your camera. After getting dizzy spinning in circles trying to relocate the UFO, you eventually spot it just clearing the trees only a couple hundred feet away.

Drawing a deep breath to steady your nerves, and wiping the blood out of your good eye with the tail of your $90.00 dress shirt, you start filming. And how lucky you are. The occupants can be plainly seen through the large portals, two greys and a reptilian, all smiling and waving like tourist at Mount Fiji.

After a full two minutes of camera time that you know will put you on the cover of Life Magazine, or at least get you four minutes on the Conan O'Brian Show, the UFO makes a last pass over your spot and sails off into the frozen gray clouds. Smiling through your wounds, secure in the knowledge that your place in history is assured, you lovingly return the camera to the passenger seat.

That's when you notice that you forgot to remove the lens cap.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:39 PM
All good points Leibolmai,and you should add training people to behave as police/pilots/military-by that I mean learning the techniques these professionals learn in the science of observation.
Learning about angle of elevation,distance estimates and the like.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 12:44 PM
reply to post by NGC2736

LOL, waaayy too funny for this place, NGC!!! THAT, would be my luck as well. All you needed to throw in there was a chronic case of monster hiccups and conjoined uninterruptable sneeezes and being pestered by a country hooker looking for a light for a smoke....good one..

HA! Edit to say that the OP post was spot on as well, good points all.

[edit on 17-8-2007 by Lost_Mind]

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 01:02 PM
First off, before I hurt anyone's feelings, I want the OP and everyone else to know that I was in NO WAY making light of this thread. I think that the OP has some excellent ideas.

I sometimes wake up with my funny bone acting up.

So please, don't take me to task over this. As we speak, I am writing "I will not try to be funny anymore, or any less." a thousand times on my blackboard.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 01:10 PM
Heck no NGC2736, I was LMAO here at work :-)

Good points by others on calculating distance etc like experts. I need to learn that as well, so I welcome those who know to add that info. There's prolly alot more like this to cover.

Also I didn't check my facts on the aircraft light example, so don't take that verbatim yet, met to do that before posting, hehe opps
I'll re-edit it later if I got it wrong.



posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 01:47 PM
NGC2736-I was Lmao too.The lens cap problem-everyones had it,hehe

And Leibolmai-I know this would be expensive and very hard to do in a moment of "sighting panic" but if at all possible it would be advantageous to have a camera system which records in different wavelengths,I.R.,Thermal,E.M.,Radio Freq,X-ray.

If a UFO was captured by a system of multi wave length cameras,at the same time a lot of important information could be gleaned and it may for once rule out the damned curse of CGI.
Maybe one day we will get a "full spectrum"camera,which records simultaneously in all of the above.Heck,the secret black ops dudes must have those by now,surely.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 02:30 PM
NGC --- great story!
That was hilarious and as I was reading it I was also visualizing everything as if I was watching movie! Lol, all that fuss for noth'n.... what a shame!

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 04:40 PM
Thanks to those who said they got a chuckle from my post. I'm a firm believer in a sense of humor being needed in these trying times.

But my post, while intended to amuse, had a serious side. All the preparation in the world won't help if the observer is not mentally ready to see the unbelievable, and to do his self appointed job of getting as much evidence as he can.

My addition to this fine thread is only that no amount of equipment and preparation will overcome awe unless that too is taken into consideration beforehand. Be ready on an emotional level to see whatever you see, and don't let it overwhelm you.

There will be plenty of time later to get the shakes.

Edit for spelling--I can too spell "preparation", even if I do live in Arkansas.

[edit on 17-8-2007 by NGC2736]

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 05:09 PM
One thing I can think to add to
an otherwise excellent OP :

When watching the night sky,
make note of the stars.

Watch not for extra lights, but
absence of normal stars.

IE : Something passing overhead
without lights.

I hope that made sense.


posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 07:28 PM
reply to post by Lexion

Watching clouds passing overhead will be good practice.

Note the edges of the cloud blot out the stars, and even though with clouds it will not be a sudden as with a solid object, it will help you learn to notice them.

Very good point Lex, as always.

posted on Aug, 17 2007 @ 10:12 PM
Great article.
That's a step in the right direction.

Only aspect I don't agree with the OP is about the laser.

ETVs have been reacting to lasers and High powered lights in the past.
That's a fact, I have seen in last weekend.
The important aspect of using a laser is to not point it towards airplanes.
It is safe to use to signal object, but you have to do it by circling it, not by pointing it directly.

It is also an excellent way to teach constellations and the stars the are composed of to the people with you.

Knowing the constellations, how many stars are part of them and the brightness can help you point ETVs or other unusual objects that don't belong there.

Hope this helps.


[edit on 17-8-2007 by ETDisclosure]

[edit on 17-8-2007 by ETDisclosure]

posted on Aug, 18 2007 @ 06:25 AM
Leibolmai, excellent ideas. You must have done this for a hobby, huh? I say this because it seems as though you're rather experienced with sky-watching and filming in general. Again, good ideas all the way through.

NGC, that was some classic stuff there. You should write comedy for a comedian, or do some stand-up. Was all of that improved?


posted on Aug, 18 2007 @ 08:47 AM
Lens cap...


That would happen to me, even if I bought a camera that didn't have one to start with, hum, how'd THAT happen.

Granted i've yet to see one of these, and if I did I'd bet I wouldn't have a camera on me to document it.

I have that kind of luck.

- W -
* I have luck, all of it bad, but it's still luck

posted on Aug, 18 2007 @ 10:34 AM
Great thread.

Remember, if you are a sky watcher while driving, the tire noise bumps on the side of the road are your friends! When you hear them, don't make drastic over corrections.

Seriously, it's happened to me a few times while looking up while driving. Not trying to make fun of the OP.

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