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Experts chime in on Puerto Rico UFO video

Since the release of a report analyzing a UFO video allegedly captured by a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) aircraft using a thermal imaging camera, online UFO researchers have shared a lot of opinions. Several have come up with alternate theories. However, the few experts that have shared an opinion support the findings in the report.

The report was authored by a group of UFO researchers with backgrounds in science and technology who have posted their findings on a website called the Scientific Coalition for Ufology (SCU). You can read more about their findings in a previous story on OpenMinds.tv and in the video below.

Robert Powell, one of the authors of the report, who is also the Director of Research for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), says they have heard from a French organization called The Aeronautical and Astronautical Association of France (3AF). They are an important mainstream organization in Europe, similar to the United State’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Powell says they have been impressed with the SCU’s findings, and they also do not have an explanation for the object in the video.

Another expert who has offered an opinion on the report is Dr. Richard Haines, a former research scientist for NASA. He told Billy Cox of the Sarasota Herald Tribune, “For a number of reasons, I don’t believe it is a hoax. It does deserve a lot more serious study for what it may tell us about small volume, generally globular (i.e., contained), dynamic, heat-emitting resources.”

Dr. Richard Haines
Dr. Richard Haines

Haines is the founder of a non-profit organization called the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP). NARCAP examines UFO encounters from an air safety perspective.

Haines told Cox they received a copy of the video from a witness in 2013. However, NARCAP decided not to investigate due to questions about how the video was acquired.

“[Restricted access] has still not been determined by anyone as far as I know,” states Haines, “and that is one of the reasons we (NARCAP) did not proceed with any more than a cursory examination of the video long ago when we first learned of it. We wanted to (and still want to) play by the rules, so to speak, in this regard considering that it might have been classified information.”

Morgan Beall, another member of the SCU team, told Cox something similar to what he told OpenMinds.tv in a recent interview on Open Minds UFO Radio interview.

Cox wrote: “According to our witness,” says Beall, the Florida State MUFON director who coordinated the investigation, “Air Force intelligence kicked it back down, said ‘We don’t know what it is,’ and said to call the 800 number of a civilian research organization. Actually there are two to three witnesses, and when there didn’t appear to be any interest from the upper echelon, their attitude was, well, does that mean we’re free to talk about it? And that’s when the leaks started.”

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Bombardier DHC-8Q200. (Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Bombardier DHC-8Q200. (Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

The expert with the most experience with the exact type of thermal imaging system used to capture the video has asked that his full name and the company he works for not be printed. OpenMinds.tv did have access to his name and personal information, and we were able to confirm his identity and experience. However, he says he still works on government contracts and did not want to jeopardize his career, but he and his colleagues do find the video fascinating, so they wanted to share their expertise.

This expert’s name is Dave, and he says he is a “Infrared Specialist that is quite familiar with government FLIR systems, including the one in question.” He says, “I have 10 years of experience with infrared systems and I have viewed thousands of hours of combined live and recorded video.”

He says, “The absence of any obvious propulsion system and the heat it generates is quite fascinating. The object’s movement is atypical to what I generally see in infrared video; it moves more like a projectile.”

Dave also doesn’t believe the video is fake. He writes: “It’s my opinion that the video is legitimate, it would be quite difficult to fake. The video is consistent to the manual tracking of an airborne object.”

Dave says he and his colleagues, who all have an interest in the video, don’t know what the object is.

The Wescam MX-15 thermal imaging system. The same system used to capture the video. (Credit: Wescam)
The Wescam MX-15 thermal imaging system. The same system used to capture the video. (Credit: Wescam)

Marc D’Antonio, MUFON’s photo and video analyst says he thinks the object might be a balloon. One of the main arguments the SCU researchers make that they believe rules this out is the speed the object is moving. However, D’Antonio says they got the speed wrong. He says the object is closer than it looks, and when the object appears to go behind trees and other objects, it is actually a system “anomaly.”

D’Antonio says he works with thermal imaging systems and has seen these sort of video anomalies before.

Dave disagrees. “I’ve watched balloons in the sky with IR before and they act differently than what is presented in the video. They tend to “ride the thermals” and either rise – or fall – in a haphazard fashion. Of course, this is all determined by the winds at the time, the lift the balloon still has, and its size. This object seems to have a determined path and it is almost linear in the nature of its travel. Granted the plane is moving, along with the FLIR rotating continuously left, and it can be easy to lose orientation. But what is interesting to me is the apparent speed of the object and heat.”

Dave says compared to the other heat sources in the video, such as the cars and the planes on the tarmac, this object is much too hot to be a balloon.

A still from the video in which the unknown objects appears to be flying through trees.
A still from the video in which the unknown objects appears to be flying through trees.

He continued, “As far as the object fading in and out, I don’t quite get what the gentlemen is referring to. There is a hot object that is moving through the sky, with all sorts of fluctuating background heat scenes. There seems to be little to none of auto-gain or auto-level in which the IR camera will make subtle adjustments in gain/level to enhance the picture. It appears to be fairly consistent. Thus, I would think it would be safe to assume that if the object was to fade in and out, it was behind trees, fog, buildings, etc.”

Another argument has been that the object is actually a bird. The most thorough argument to this theory has come from a paranormal investigator by the name of Chriss Pagani. She posted her analysis on her website U Debunked It.

Similar to D’Antonio, she feels the SCU group got the speeds wrong. She believes the object is closer, moving more slowly, and she also believes that wings can be seen in the video. Her theory also explains a strange part in the video where the object appears to split in two. She says the bird most likely landed on the water and the water on the wings caused it to cool down and not be seen on the video. At that point two birds took off, making it appear as the object split in two.

An American White Pelican. Paranomral researcher Chriss Pagani believes the object was most likely a pelican. (Credit: Manjith Kainickara/Wikimedia Commons)
An American White Pelican. Paranormal researcher Chriss Pagani believes the object was most likely a pelican. (Credit: Manjith Kainickara/Wikimedia Commons)

Dave disagrees with this theory also. However, he does think Pagani makes some valid points.

Dave wrote: “First, let me say that Chriss does point out that the FLIR is not tracking the object in question. That’s true. She says that it’s tracking the distance to the ground instead, with the distance at the bottom mid-right (in nautical miles). That’s true too. Even if the object was being tracked by the FLIR, I highly doubt [the object] would give a return to the laser rangefinder, which is used to compute the triangulation. A ship – yes. A plane – yes. This small of an object, moving at a different angle – no way. There really is no way to determine the speed of the object in this video, IMHO.  To me, it really doesn’t matter how fast it’s traveling – that’s not relevant to what’s odd with this object.”

As for the wings, Pagani argues, “Some people have objected that you can’t see wings, but you can – only at certain points. You have to remember that this is infrared video; it’s reading heat signatures. Since wings are thin and have low vascularization, they have a very low heat signature. To infrared, they are almost invisible.”

Thermal image of birds using a system similar to one used by the CBP. Image provided by Dave.
Thermal image of birds using a system similar to one used by the CBP. Image provided by Dave.

“No. Here, she is wrong,” says Dave. “But, let’s say she was right. Wouldn’t the cool wings then in effect be blocking the heat of the body? How can she justify the circular appearance of the object if the big cool wings are in the way? This cool wing theory is just speculation on her part. The truth is that the wings of a large bird are clearly visible to an IR camera. I know this for a fact, because I see vultures, heron, osprey, and all sorts of birds in flight at work all of the time. The next time we run a system outside, I’ll see about getting some video for you. You can watch them riding the thermals, changing directions and body position accordingly. Knowing that the wings are indeed visible, this object would show them if it were a bird. Even if it was gliding the whole way, it then would not be circular in appearance, given the long wingspans of pelicans.”

Dave adds, “The first thing that pops out is the linear nature of the travel of the object. That’s not normal to any bird I’ve seen. There doesn’t seem to be any fluctuation in elevation, as most birds do while flapping wings. There’s no real change in direction. That’s the weirdest part of it. Then there’s the heat signature itself. What is circular, travels in a linear direction, and has no obvious moving parts or wings? At that heat – which is around the same heat as a jet engine or car exhaust? Not a bird.”

Another suggestion has been that the object is some sort of drone, but Dave has ruled that out also. He says, “I doubt the object is a human-made drone, due to the speed at which is moving and the lack of tilt. Not to mention that it’s being flown at night and the distance it’s covering.”

Dave says he and his buddies in “the shop” don’t know what the object in the video is. He says, ” Nobody knows FLIRs like we do and it’s nothing we’ve seen before.”

Alejandro Rojas

Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

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    September 3, 2015

    To whom it May concern:

    As many have already tried to find an answer on the origin of the strange object that flew over the Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla (former Ramey AFB) and was recorded by a thermal or infrared camera from an aircraft of the Federal government of the United States, we would issue an opinion and make some comments on it.

    From the first time we saw this video, we were very impressed by what was seen on it. For us, Ufologists, aware of the reality of the UFO Phenomenon, it filled us with joy. Finally we had found a case with a very strong evidence. The Holy Grail of Ufology. The undisputed evidence of life on other Worlds and proof of the cover-up by the authorities.

    We dedicated our time an efforts to assess and study this video, frame by frame, second by second. We analyzed all the data that you see on the screen. We consulted with other experts. We went back to check it again and again. We saw it hundreds of times trying to analyze what was that object.

    But then we realized something important was going unnoticed …

    Sometimes we focus so much on trying to explain something that we find so mysterious, that we fail to underestimate the obvious and clear right under our noses.

    If you want to solve the mystery of this video, you just have to think about this …

    The situation was one of a RED ALERT and a potential danger to the whole place.

    If this was a true unidentified flying object, either a missile. A drone, or lets say of extraterrestrial origin, that was approaching a major Airport, full of commercial and military aircraft and entering a RESTRICTED AIRSPACE, was tracked by the control tower, an aircraft was sent to intercept it, has visual contact with it, followed it with its thermal or infrared camera while it circled the airport and crosses the MAIN RUNWAY, endangering air traffic coming in and out of the place.

    It is logical to think that whatever it was, It had to have been IMMEDIATELY INTERCEPTED because it was a high risk for the lives and for all the commercial and military equipment.

    But suddenly, the plane leaves the persecution and starts to leave the area and fly south, AWAY FROM THE OBJECT.

    Don’t you think it’s kind of strange?

    It is not logical right?

    Unless they found that the object was NOT REALLY IMPORTANT.

    According to this thinking, we have come to a conclusion …

    Definitely, what you see in the video IS NOT AN ARTIFACT FROM ANOTHER WORLD.

    It is MY PERSONAL OPINION (Jose Perez), since for the poor quality of the video I can not be 100% sure, that it seem to be a couple (or more) of sea birds flying in unison. (Possibly Seagulls).

    We would like to clarify, that when we realize this, we felt very disappointed. We confess that at all times, we thought that we had a strong evidence of the existence of beings from other worlds. But it turned out to be otherwise.

    Although we could have stayed silent about our findings, our conscience tells us that we should always go hand in hand with the TRUTH and you can be assured, that we will never try to fool any of you. We prefer to publicly say, that we were wrong in our original perception before lying about it and propagate something that we know is not what it seems.

    Soon we will be bringing you a more complete report with all the details and findings that led us to this conclusion. But I advance, that once that we reached this conclusion, the technical details of the incident, including the type of aircraft involved, the type of camera used, the identification of the object and other details, go to the background as a secondary matter.

    The most important information of the video is to the left side of the screen where it shows the coordinates of the aircraft that took the video and the altimeter where you can see how it ascends and continued on as it FLEW SOUTH AWAY FROM THE TARGET. In other words, they did not care, it was NOT IMPORTANT.

    Sorry if somehow some are disillusioned with our conclusions. The same thing happened to us.

    Meanwhile we would like to hear from you.

    If you have any questions please let us know and we will gladly try to answer. if it is within our reach.


    Jose D. Perez Lopez

    UFO PRUFON Puerto Rico UFO Network.

    PS: We have attached a copy of the video in slow motion so you can appreciate all the details and map showing the route followed by the aircraft showing it flew away from the target to the south.


  2. And that’s why it’s a UFO: Even aeronautical experts can’t say what this thing exactly is……

  3. Great article Alejandro! I have been following your podcast for a long time. You do great research buddy. Looking forward to the next podcast. I would like for you to get Travis Walton back on. I always enjoy his talks. I hope one day you can get Bob Lazar.. Lol. But i know he would be a long shot. Anyways.. Keep doing what your doing Alejandro. I know alot of listeners appreciate your work!!

  4. Any chance that the ‘splitting’ effect over the water is a reflection of the heat given off by the object and reflecting off the water? I’ve used thermal imaging cameras (in construction) and I know you can see peoples reflections on white boards and water.

  5. IFO….Identified Flying Object! Just like the others stated, its a bird/birds. Trick of the light and or camera, you can barely see wing movement at times. If this was anything substantial, we would not be viewing it! Ohhhh its leak? ….sure it is…..sure it is

  6. It’s relaxing and convenient to have simple explanations to this video. Balloon, birds, drone, etc. I might consider them if it weren’t for the detailed thermal signatures of the other background objects such as cars, buildings, tarmac, streetlights, a jet, trees, ocean waves, etc. Everything else in this video looks quite…. recognizable. We can make out what they are. Cars driving around. Jet on the Tarmac. Yet, for some reason this object defies the infrared sensor and plays tricks. Not likely. This object is closer to the FLIR than the background objects and it remains mysterious.

  7. After some debate with a friend we came to the conclusion that this must be a flying penguin. It explains everything, including this “bird” not having any wings.

    Personally I believe in the bird theory, it makes sense, I think the path of flight resembles that of a big bird and it also explains the water, and two other birds taking off is not far fetched.

    If it truly had been a UFO, flying straight across an airfield, how come it wasn’t noticed and reported from the airport. It was noticed, some say. OK, as what? A UFO? Causing planes to be grounded? And no one thought anyting of this occurence of a UFO, no report to anyone, business as usual? Hardly. If it was noticed, it was concluded as something normal, lika a bird, and no one thought more of that.

  8. Ok, it’s not two birds taking off, it’s one bird taking off, and the lower of the two is the heat reflection seen in the water surface. It is a good fit with a bird taking off, the reflection seen from that bird compared to the camera angle.

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