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At 9:00:31 pm Cornet begins a 31 second time exposure (# 14) of UFO6 as it makes its approach towards the cameras. Up until that point in the performance, UFO6 had been moving very slowly upwards and towards the west (Figure 9, 6d-6f). As the craft traveled in a northwest direction, the pilot increased the intensity of the right white light by at least an order of magnitude, causing ionization of the surrounding air to occur (Figure 15). Evidence for this ionization can be seen in the photographs as an orange-brown glow that becomes less intense as the gas being generated dissipated into the air. The color of this gas is significant, because there are very few gases that give off an orange brown color. One gas that does is nitrous oxide or laughing gas used by dentists. This gas is formed by the ionization of nitrogen and oxygen, which recombine to form NO2. And nitrogen and oxygen make up 60% and 30% respectively of the Earth's atmosphere. The flaring of this light began in time exposure #14, and ended in time exposure #16 with no apparent change in orientation or yaw of the craft. Had there been a change in yaw, the increase in intensity (but not the orange-brown glow) might have been caused by that light being pointed directly at the camera. The color of the gas being formed is not the same color as flares, which give off a much more pinkish red hue and smoke that does not glow. The ionization of the air around the light when it intensified indicates that it is not a lamp, but a high temperature plasma. To my knowledge no aircraft built by humans use plasma lights instead of lamps. And it is highly unlikely that anyone in the military would install plasma generators on an aircraft for the purpose of producing a special effect. That is a property of Hollywood, not the Air Force.
In order to show graphically what we saw happen, I constructed Figure 16. UFO6 seemed to move only a short distance while waiting for its turn to perform, creating a pair of wide orange light traces on the photos. But how does one demonstrate that photos #8, #9, and #11 are not an optical illusion due to perspective and angle of observation? If you examine the images that were used to construct this graph (cf. Figure 15), you will notice that the central strobe produced a series of white dots in each time exposure (photos # 9, 11, 14-19), and that these dots are spaced relative to the speed of the craft. When the length of each paired light trace is measured, divided by the number of strobe flashes within it, and the results graphed, one gets a visual gauge of the relative changes in the airspeed of this object. If this had been a conventional jetliner making a turn for an approach to the main runway at Stewart airport 8.9 miles away, the slopes for each line should have been nearly identical. Figure 16 shows that for photos #9 and #11 the object was moving at a different speed than in subsequent photos. When compared to the abrupt change in slope of the curve after photo #11, perspective and distance can be ruled out as the primary cause for the short apparent lengths of the first light traces. The spacing between strobes should not have changed so dramatically if airspeed was uniform. Between photos #14 and #15 the graph indicates that the object picked up speed as it began its run towards our observation station. This is what we observed happen, and what was recorded on video. Between photos #15 and #16 the object increased its speed again, and continued to accelerate as it approached the position just to our north where it began to bank south for a pass in front of our location. The fact that UFO6 waited so long before increasing its speed and making its pass strongly indicates that this was a deliberate performance for us and our cameras.
UFO6 began its approach traveling west northwest. As it crossed the field in front of us at an altitude well below 1,000 feet (closer to 500 feet), it pitched slightly to the north as if widening its approach. Figure 17 graphically illustrates its flight path. As it approached us it also rose in altitude, presumably to gain altitude for a safe turn in front of us. About two thirds the way across the field, it began to bank to the south, increasing its bank angle until it reached a critically high angle of bank. As it reached this high bank angle, which was at least 70 degrees, it suddenly dropped more than its width as if it had stalled. The pilot stopped its rapid descent without changing its attack or bank angle significantly. It then passed in front of us in what appeared to be a nearly vertical orientation (Figure 15). As it passed it continued its climb, reaching the highest altitude for its performance. It then began to descend, forming a gentle arc. As it descended, UFO6 rotated slowly back towards a horizontal orientation as it slowly moved away from us. It made another turn towards the east just south of our location, still over the narrow field that separated us from the adjoining forest, and then disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. From the time it began to bank in front of us to the time it reached the forest 90 seconds had elapsed! A conservative calculation of its average speed, based on the maximum estimated distance it could have traveled (3 miles in 6 minutes), is an incredible 30 mph!
During its performance, the pilot broke FAA regulation 91.303 regarding aerobatic flight and FAA regulation 91.515 regarding flight altitude rules. The craft also broke laws of aerodynamics in making a turn at greater than 60 degrees bank angle at a speed well under the stall speed for all passenger-carrying fixed-wing aircraft. We felt no breeze or air movement, which would have been produced by the vectored nozzles of a Harrier jump jet making such a maneuver. We also smelled no burnt aviation fuel, which we would have smelled coming from a Harrier jump jet, or any other jet-powered aircraft making such a low pass over us.
From Smith (1992), The illustrated guide to aerodynamics: "Most everyone knows that a boat is turned in the water by use of a rudder; hence, it is natural to believe that the airplane is also turned by its rudder; however, an airplane, operating in a three-dimensional medium, is a bit different. Banking of the airplane actually causes it to turn. Because this action is caused by the ailerons, they are the primary turning controls. The rudder is there to provide for a coordinated turn." The mathematical expression R = V^2 / 32.2TAN A "simply says that the radius of the turn is equal to the velocity squared, divided by the acceleration of gravity which is a constant term of approximately 32.2 ft/sec^2 at lower altitudes, and the tangent of the bank angle [A]. Because the tangent is proportional to the angle, this means that higher bank angle results in smaller radius of turn (because it is in the denominator). Higher velocity on the other hand, means larger radius (actually very much larger because it is squared); hence, the smallest radius turn is made at the lowest velocity and the steepest angle of bank." A high bank angle, short radius turn such as the one the Manta Ray made before our cameras (Figure 17) was possible because of its slow speed. However, the speed required to make such a turn is below that of all known fixed wing aircraft using aerodynamic principles for lift. The fact that the pilot used aerodynamic properties for making such a turn (i.e. low velocity combined with high bank angle) indicates that whatever this craft was, it did not operate completely outside the physics of aerodynamic flight. In other words, it was a hybrid type aircraft using some additional method of lift other than wings and/or jet thrust (Figure 18).
"I mean a C-5 isn't going to bank like that!"
As UFO6 began its approach we heard no sound. Crystall commented, "You know this is awfully big not to hear sound now." Pascarella added, "And this low to the ground." When listening to Wav15a, all you will hear after these comments are crickets in the background. When the craft was about halfway across the field, just before it began to bank towards us, Crystall said, "Now we've got a sound." One can hear a very faint hum develop into a rumble combined with the high pitched whine of a turbine engine (Wav15b). Crystall said, "Oh boy. Yah, this is ship. I mean a C-5 isn't going to bank like that! The hell! Oh look at this," as additional lights were turned on in front, outlining an unusually deep as well as wide body (see embossed images from video in figures 7 and 15). Crystall continued, "The hell!" Pascarella added, "Holy shit!" Crystall asked, "What the hell is that?" Nobody there was prepared to see what passed in front of us. As it passed the turbine-like whine became much louder, and then increased in pitch as two rows of additional small lights were turned on along its belly. Then Crystall commented, "That's solid underneath," referring to the deltoid shape of its leading edge and the absence of any obvious wings separate from the body (Wav17). It had the shape of a marine manta ray, a member of the shark family (Figure 15). The configuration of small lights on its belly seemed to add an additional resemblance to gill slits, mouth, and eyes. As it slowly moved away from us, the pilot began turning out lights, group by group, on the belly of the craft. The sound coming from the Manta Ray began to change to a low pitch whining drone (Wav18). Then Crystall commented, (Wav 19) "Listen to the noise it's making." Pascarella replied, "That ain't the sound of a jet." Crystall said, "No! Well, not even a C-5. A C-5 we could still, we would still be able to see wings and fuselage." The time was 9:03 pm. There was still some twilight remaining in the sky after sunset. Pascarella returned, "I remember we seen C-5s, and you hear 'em five miles away." These comments are important, because they were made on the scene as the event was unfolding, and as the sound was being made.
At the Seventh Annual Ozark UFO Conference on 7-9 April 1995 I presented some of this information in a talk, and played the segment of Crystall's video showing this maneuver. After my talk, a pilot came up to me and said that he had flown C-5s in the military for many years. To him this craft resembled a C-5, but one that was much further away. Without reference points on the video, and without having been there, that was an easy mistake to make. Above 1,500 feet a C-5 would appear the same size, and appear to be moving as slowly as UFO6 appeared to move on the video. But what surprised me the most was his comment about the lights. He said that those were the landing gear lights, which come on as two rows of landing gear are deployed. I questioned his statement, asking why a competent pilot would drop his landing gear while making a slow sharp turn? He did not give me an answer. I also puzzled over the fact that the pilot turned out those "landing gear lights" soon after the Manta Ray passed us. If the landing gear lights come on automatically as the landing gear are deployed on a C-5, as this C-5 pilot contended, then the landing gear had to have been withdrawn back into the belly of the aircraft to make the lights go out. So, why would a pilot drop his wheels, which would have created wind resistance and acted as an airbrake, during a critical turn, and then retract them? The pilot would need all the power he had to make such a sharp turn (Smith, 1992). We have seen C-5s on practice flights over the valley many times, and they have never been witnessed by any of us making such a sharp turn as depicted in Figure 17. That is why Crystall made the comment, "I mean a C-5 isn't going to bank like that."
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