Nonsense and fakes about UFOs

Nonsense and fakes about UFOs

Numerous photographs that have been published over a quarter of a century in support of UFO stories, quite naturally, have always been greatly questioned by various institutions, experts, as well as critical amateurs. In this very problematic area of research, only a part of the proposed photographic materials could be accepted without any doubt (or, at least, up to this day, all researchers have confirmed their authenticity). Here we would like to focus on the images recognized as fakes and justify the unskillfulness of some works so that readers will be able to critically evaluate future UFO reports.

It is possible, perhaps, to name two predominant motives that led to the publication of false UFO photos:

  • a) amateur photographers discovered defects in the film or other incomprehensible features on the film, interpreted them as UFOs and therefore trustfully passed them to the press;
  • b) clever reporters or pranksters deliberately misled the public with their photo files in order to play a joke or to make more money from it.

It would be very long and tedious to list here all the pseudo-photographs of UFOs that have appeared in the UFO literature. The set of typical cases is divided into three groups: optical errors — cloud images — fakes, this is quite enough to show which points of view led to the rejection of the mentioned photos as frivolous.

Optical errors

On November 21, 1959, Soviet researcher I. Murashov took a night picture over the Tiksi polar station, where a spindle-shaped luminous body is visible against a dark background, which was later repeatedly recognized as a "spaceship".

I. Murashov photographed a meteorological station near the polar city of Tiksi.

I. Murashov photographed a meteorological station near the polar city of Tiksi.

When he developed this night shot, he saw a strange "flying body". A more natural explanation for the appearance of the "phantom" in the picture as a result of the reverse reflection of contour light inside the camera appeared first in Pravda and Komsomolskaya Pravda, then in the German-language monthly magazine "Russian Digest" on May 5, 1961.

Alexander Mikirov, author of an article titled "Flying Saucer over Tiksi?" using the example of the pictures, he gave "instructions" how, by varying the intensity of light and the angle of its incidence, you can create these "light spindles" with the camera, and at the same time other illusions. "Weltraumbote" (# 62 for May 1961), which used the picture above Tiksi as the title, still remained in the opinion that this is a picture of a real UFO.

Experimental light spindles by Alexander Mikirov

Experimental light "spindles" by Alexander Mikirov


In his scientific work, Dr. Helmut Nauman cites the optical laws by which optical deceptions occur, in particular, when contour light hits an unenlightened lens. Nauman's work was published in the magazine "Monthly Phototechnical Messages" (MFM, July 1962). It tells about the relationship between the number of lenses, reflection, brightness of the photo and reflection with illuminated and unenlightened lenses.

The incident contour light is reflected by the film onto the back of the lens and from there is reflected back onto the film layer. This process is called catadioptry. The illustrations in "MFM" demonstrate similar light bodies as they look on some UFO image photo files.

So, in the book by K. Arnold and R. Palmer "The Advent of Plates", a photo with a glowing body was published, which was taken by Miss Bette Mals from Hawthorne, California, on March 11, 1950. For such light spots found on the film retroactively and interpreted as a flying machine, a suitable text is often compiled in order to present the case more reliably. Ms. Mals said she just wanted to take a picture of a small plane that was flying high on the right, and at that moment "I saw a light object." Such fantastic, but, in general, petty speculations rarely achieve their goal. Waltraumbote magazine #64 took Bette Mals' "giant spaceship" at face value and published it on the cover. A similar light phenomenon, interpreted as a "light engine", was used as an illustration in G. Van Tassel's book "I Flew on a flying saucer".

UFO fake

A similar picture was taken in July 1965 by Mr. William Van Horn, Director of Civil Defense in Hillsdale, Michigan. Photos from UFOs appeared among others in the magazine "Flying saucers" and "Onion", spec. issue, 1967. The axis of the luminous spindle in this frame points exactly at the sun, which is sparkling from behind the trees under the wind wheel and, in fact, is the cause of the reflection.

A reliable sign of all catadioptric illusions is that the axis of their luminous spindles points in the direction of the oncoming light — interference.

In 1947, photographer Bert Roof filmed the Armco Steel Corporation blast furnace in Hamilton, Ohio. Three spindly light objects have been mistaken for real UFOs for many years. But even here the axes of the spindles, intersecting, pointed to the sources of the contour light in the foreground… The photo of the blast furnace appeared in the publication of G. T. Wilkins in the book "Flying Saucers on the Moon", in the magazine Weltraumbote # 22, as well as in other publications. Already identified as "Lensflyer", the photo was printed in the "FSR" (January 1965) and in the special issue of "Onion" for 1967. Bert Roof admitted at the age of 20 that he had already recognized light reflections, but for the sake of a joke he kept silent about this fact.

Shortly before the publication of this work in "Flying Saucers" (# 91, March — May 1976), an essay by the director of the ICUFON, Coleman von Kevitsky, appeared on the study of the "lensflair" effect. It particularly emphasizes the identity of the photo belonging to an anonymous photographer — "A cluster of UFOs over the Capitol in Washington" — to the phenomenon of "Lance flight". If several photographs appear simultaneously in both works, this is due to the similarity of the main theme; the manuscripts appeared independently of each other and without the knowledge of parallel work.

So far, these cases belong to the general catadioptry, which causes "ghosts" in the form of spindles and balls due to the intense and surface light reflection on the film. This phenomenon can also be observed on the TV screen.

If you remove dot-like light sources in the background, then light arcs will appear in the photo, transmitting swaying movements. If there were many light sources, the photo would reflect the same number of light arcs parallel to each other; they all have the same kinetic program.

The sketch is obtained either by direct optical means, or, which is less common, by reverse reflection of lenses. The first method includes two images that were mistakenly interpreted as UFO maneuvers.

UFO fake

John Hopf, an APRO expert, wanted to photograph the traces of the Geminid meteor shower on the night of December 13, 1966 and installed four open-aperture cameras on the roof of his house for this purpose. After a ten-minute exposure, one of the images revealed a lot of identical light arcs, which was published in the APRO bulletin as UFO cluster maneuvers. Mr. Hoff says the cameras were pointing south. But he himself was looking north, that is, with his back to the cameras, and therefore could not see the UFO.

It can be assumed that at the same time, without catching up, he stepped on the tripod with his foot, which caused the camera to shake. The origin of these nocturnal luminous dots (perhaps they were illuminated windows on the roofs on the horizon) cannot be determined for sure, but this is by no means a UFO, since the trajectory of the light lines indicates that the sources of the matchmaker were powered by AC power.

The second example of the night shooting of imaginary aerial maneuvers of UFOs was given in "UFO Nachrichten" (# 221, February 1975). The photo shows intricate plexuses of dotted light lines on a black background, which, however, when viewed in more detail, lie in groups of three or five curves of the same structure. The sender of the picture, Stefan Horvath from London, indicates that on November 10, 1969, in Victoria Park, he saw an approaching light in the night sky. He put his open-shutter Self-image camera in a bucket to protect it from the surrounding light glare. A lot of pictures were taken in ten minutes.

The editorial board of "UFO Nachrichten" has made a verbose analysis and speaks about mass demonstrations of nocturnal UFOs in the history of "flying saucers" that we are tracing. When seriously considering the image and the data related to it, the judgment about the origin of the image should be perceived more realistically. At first we are talking about a 10-minute exposure, but then it is said that "a lot of pictures were taken within 10 minutes."

If the camera with the shutter open was put in a bucket and then removed from there in the same way, then the numerous light rays of the night city should have marked all the vibrations, all the oscillatory movements on the film. The frequency of the alternating current of the city's power grid led to intermittent illumination of all lamps, which is why all the lines in the picture are dotted. At the same time, thin lines and long strokes correspond to very fast, and thick light lines correspond to slow camera oscillation.

The editorial board of the UFA Nachrichten rejected the explanation of the curves by oscillatory movements as a "substitution" and immediately admitted that indeed the camera with the shutter open was put in a bucket. Careful comparison of individual curves using an amplifying screen (as the following example shows) allows you to connect segments of curves into several large lines that capture the insertion and extraction of an open camera as a whole movement.

These examples of directly generated curves are followed by those that appeared as a result of reflection on the film. When light points on a dark hair dryer are photographed with a hand-held camera, in some cases far-reaching light curves appear, although there were only minor fluctuations in the camera position. During this process, which I would call "point light" or "dotted light-catadioptry", the light point reflected by the film is strongly deflected by the reverse sides of the lenses, falls back on the film, so that an enlarged image of the oscillatory motion curve appears on it.

The following night shot has nothing to do with the problem of unknown flying objects, but is a good proof of the occurrence of catadioptric light curves.

Dr. F. I wanted to capture the atmosphere of the night city of Heidelberg on September 12, 1973. He placed his camera on the parapet of the terrace, held it with both hands as motionless as possible and exposed it for five minutes. The finished color shot with a tangle of reddish and pale green dotted light lines presented a difficult-to-solve riddle. But when I drew individual segments of curves on transparent foil and combined them into a single curve that went far beyond the limits of the picture, everything came in order. All lines are closed using a template. The solution to the riddle: next to the camera, ten nocturnal insects hung relatively motionless in the air, which were well illuminated by the searchlights located below. Weak oscillatory movements of the camera for five minutes, significantly magnified by light bodies, were noted in the picture; the frequency of alternating current of the lamps led to the appearance of dotted lines. The second night shot, which was taken after the first one, shows many light curves with the same motion structure.

The latest example of optical errors taken for UFOs should be called "light spirals" from Wolfsburg, taken on February 26, 1962 by the Studien director Karl Meyer, who lives in Wolfsburg (now in Keltern-Seiler). Mr. Meyer wanted to take pictures from the balcony of some trees that had fallen during the storm, which lay behind the garden fence. At the last moment he saw something flash, but then he forgot about it. When almost spiral-shaped light lines were later found in the image, Mr. Meyer decided that they had originated on the surface of a rotating telemetry disk.

The photo was published in "UFO Nachrichten" # 60 for May 1962. Only a few years later I came to the assumption of the correct guess. Thanks to the coniferous trees, which had no branches closer to the ground, it became possible that the low rays of the evening sun fell between the trunks on the optical device as reflected light. Minor movements when shooting with a hand-held camera turned out to be enlarged on the film due to the action of catadioptry.

The shape of the set of curves excludes the possibility of their appearance on the surface of a rotating flying body as a result of the action of kinematics.

Cloud shapes mistaken for "spaceships"

Since reports of cigar-shaped "carrier ships" have appeared, some observers often mistake elongated clouds of the correct shape for "spaceships". The main reason for this should be sought in the fact that phenolic (dry) clouds in the form of lenses and "altostratus lenticularis" located at a high altitude, despite strong wind currents, remain in one place for a long time. Of course, the stagnation does not concern individual particles of clouds — they are in constant motion. Lens-shaped clouds form all the time at the top of the vertical wave-like motion: they are fed by constantly condensing water vapor, where the temperature drops to the dew point. On the leeward side of the cloud, it decreases as a result of the constant evaporation of water droplets, as they fall back into warm zones below the condensation level.

The most well-known in gliding circles is a stationary fen (dry) cloud, called "Moatsagotl", shows athletes north of the crest of the Gigantic Mountains that the conditions for flying are favorable.

Numerous photographs of this kind rest in the archives of amateur UFO groups or are jokingly betrayed by unfriendly publicists to ridicule the problems of UFO research. It often gives the impression that unscrupulous ufologists use such formations as a basis for deception. Of the photographs of clouds, which at one time were cited in the UFO literature as images of spacecraft, we will give only two examples. In both cases, light and dark cigar-shaped clouds stand out unusually.

Miss Ella Fortune took a color photo on October 16, 1957 near the Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, USA, which was shown in the press around the world.

It was estimated that the "spaceship" had a length of 1,360 meters. Even then, APRO had similar images, which were taken for lenticular clouds ("lentcularis"). But Miss Fortune thought it wasn't a cloud. (FSR, July-August, 1958).

And yet, what Miss Fortune took to be the ejection of the "carrier ship" is a dry cloud evaporation zone.

UFO fake

Mr. Gunther Finsky from Obergarz brought a color photograph from Benidorm (Spain), which he took on November 23, 1966 in Costa Brava. He claims that the UFO was moving towards the sun at high speed, which, apparently, is pure fantasy, since in this case it was a real cloud.

The only difference between light and dark lenticular clouds, as the examples show, is that they are illuminated differently by the sun. Mr. Finsky saw the opposite side of the cloud from the sun, since the latter was located at a flat angle with respect to the camera, as in the case in Holloman.

UFO fake

Non-critical circles themselves take clouds of the correct shape for real spaceships. Representatives of UFO research groups in such cases state that "the carrier ship is in a state of dematerialization."


When Captain Ruppelt published in the book "The Project for the study of unidentified flying objects" (1956) the results of the research of the project "Blue Book", in his digital material only 1.6% of all correspondence about UFOs were designated as "falsifications".

Today, a lot of new and new UFO reports should be called deliberate falsifications. In recent years, it seems that more and more jokers, excited by the ever-growing number of publications about UFOs, come to the idea of deceiving people with their falsifications. In this regard, it is necessary first of all to mention such cases that are associated with deliberately forged photographs.

Determined authors tend to believe that the fundamental possibility of falsification is so great that UFO images can no longer be considered evidence at all. Those who consider the issue so simplistically, however, bypass all the difficulties in their path.

Nevertheless, the possibilities of simulating UFO images are quite large. Hardly anyone will come up with the idea to perform such manipulation on the negative directly, since it immediately manifests itself quite clearly under a magnifying glass. However, it is possible to make a model whose photograph, with deliberately fuzzy camera guidance, acts more convincingly than clear photographs. You can simulate a "free flight" in which the subject is thrown high or suspended on thin threads. Or you can take pictures of paintings or collages and get a uniform granulation of the film during secondary shooting.

So it happens that fake UFO images were often taken seriously by experts for years, until finally it came to exposure or the culprit did not make a confession.

If, in addition to the pictures, an interesting description of the allegedly seen phenomenon was also offered, the gullible easily succumb to the bait. The motivation for such testimonies is not difficult to find in the relevant books. The shorter the oral testimony of such a photoaferist, the sooner the victims get into a mess. Here's how to present a motley palette of such tricks:

  • a) At the Orly airfield in Paris on the night of February 20, 1956, a huge UFO followed all the planes taking off and landing for three hours. Pilots and technicians saw directly and on the screen a reddish flashing fireball. However, this report, quite reliable, published in the magazine "Quick" on March 17, 1956, did not have a photograph. And so one resourceful person used black cardboard with white spots and lines; fried eggs served as a UFO. It was all photographed.
  • b) The radio operator of the ship "Ramzai" T. Fogl said that while sailing through the Panama Canal in 1957, he saw and photographed a low-flying UFO. His photo — a disk with a dome and three antennas — was printed in the "FSR" in 1959 and was chosen by the NIKAP as photo # 5 in a series of authentic UFO images.

UFO fake

After 8 years, caught by the English research group of BUFOR in deception, Fogle confessed to his machinations: two glued plastic pins with diameters of 10 cm, small shape changes, silver with bronze, fuzzy camera guidance provided the photos with the proper look. (FSR, September 1966).

  • c) Howard Menger demonstrates in his book about UFOs various images of Adamsky—type UFOs - mostly night shots, silhouettes with glowing edges. One of these pictures, a photograph of a landed "scout ship", is easily identified as a fake: if various parts of the contours of the ellipses, the flange of the pins and the dome are transferred to a transparent foil (in the FSR, July 1958, this is especially good) and the inverted foil is applied again, then you can see that there is nowhere in the "ship" symmetry. This is, therefore, an artificial drawing, which was then reproduced.
  • d) Giuseppe Grasso in 1954 fabricated a sensational picture on the island of Sicily. Four spectators are looking at the landscape from the platform, and two "flying objects" that look like lids from a mustard jar (on the left) are hovering over them, swaying.

The photo appeared in a book by Frank Edwards about UFOs, and in various magazines.

But it's not authentic. Professor Donald Menzel has already declared the photo from Taormina to be fake, since the shadows of both flying objects are opposite to each other, and the audience, moreover, is looking in a completely opposite direction.

UFO fake

  • e) On the cover of "Weltraumbote" # 8, July 1956, a photograph of a UFO was placed, which turned out to be ... a woman's mouth. Reporters L. Alons and D. Eits retouched on one photo — a female portrait — the nose, and the mouth, along with a colorful description of fictional UFO maneuvers, were given to readers in the Marseille magazine "Match" in September 1954 as a documentary photograph.
  • f) A photograph of a "terrible" flying body with several hatches and onboard stabilizers was taken by August K. Roberts from Jersey City in February 1955 and published in the Chicago American without much detail. The picture also appeared in the magazine "UFO" by Max Miller, and in # 12 of the magazine "Veltraumbote".

However, if this picture is turned over, then a gas burner of the kitchen stove will appear in place of the pseudo-UFO.

And the on—board stabilizer is a support thread for screwing the burner.

UFO fake

  • g) Two young Danes published in July 1959 three photographs of "UFOs over Amager Island".

According to them, it was big, round and black, and they merged a whistling sound. But, stunned by the wave of interest in the fake caused by them, after a few days they confessed that they had glued plastic plates and halves of tennis balls and the object thus obtained was hung between trees with thin threads in order to get a picture…

However, since the very fact of self-exposure is far from being known all over the world, then to this day, in the USA, for example, the "Copenhagen UFO" is considered a genuine photograph. ("Onion", special edition, 1967).

UFO fake

  • h) Two color photo series, each with eight photographs depicting round flying bodies with clear details, were fabricated by A. P. Villa from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The first series appeared on June 16, 1963, the second on April 18, 1964. At the same time, Paul Villa talked about his "numerous conversations with aliens" and promised to release a new photo series soon. The excellent location of objects between trees and trucks gives the impression that the photos are "staged".

They appeared in the "UFA International" in January 1964 and in April 1965, later in the "UFA Nachrichten", # 93 and 113.

  • i) Alan Smith, a 14-year-old newspaper delivery boy from Tulsa, Oklahoma, photographed, according to him, on August 2, 1965, a red-green UFO in the night sky, which appeared in Life in April 1966 and in the Onion. If this "UFO" is turned into the correct position, it will turn out to be an ordinary wide-brimmed hat with a red fruit on the brim.

UFO fake

However, there is one specific point here: like the case in the Orly, in Tulsa, genuine reports of UFO sightings were connected to a photo file. On August 1, 1965, the entire Smith family observed an obscurely glowing UFO. The next evening Alan was alone, he made a picture to confirm the message of the previous day.

The recently discovered falsification of UFO images originates from Alex Birch from Mobright, Sheffield, who in February 1962, 14 years old, together with other boys, embarked on a deception. Their "UFOs" were painted on the window glass. Through this glass they then photographed the landscape. At all interviews with authorities and experts, the boys stubbornly said: "UFOs were silent and motionless," which, of course, could correspond to the truth.

UFO fake

English television and the magazine "FSR" in September 1962 showed these pictures.

It was only ten years later that the young people confessed to their prank, wanting to attract attention to their persons again (see "Bild-Zeitung" of October 7, 1972 and the FSR, November 1972).

k) Photography can be associated with literature about UFOs and without UFOs, so it makes sense to talk about Templeton's picture as an example of a skillful photo forgery.

James Templeton, a firefighter from Carlyle in the north of England, provided the press with a strange photograph taken during a vacation — it appeared on June 13, 1964 in the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror and attracted huge attention.

In the photo, Mr. Templeton's five—year-old daughter is sitting in a meadow - this is the foreground of the photo. Behind the child's head, the upper part of some creature in a white spacesuit is visible, as if an alien suddenly surfaced during the shooting. The police and security service were interested in this picture, experts claimed that there could not be a double exposure.

Biologist Ivan T. Sanderson found the picture so important that he included it in his book "Mysterious Visitors" as the only photo.

UFO fake

And yet there is a deliberate forgery here. The magazine "Nus" in September 1965 printed a photo of Templeton in such magnification that in some places it was possible to notice the following: two different pictures were pasted one on top of the other and then photographed again. From the picture on page 23 in Nus, you can clearly see the collage seam on the horizon to the right of the child, as well as above the curl on the child's head. The arrow in the picture indicates, so to speak, the "treacherous" places discovered by the Nus magazine.

  • l) In conclusion of this collection of UFO monsters, we can say about the sensation that dulled the vigilance of readers on the eve of the publication of this book. We are talking about Danish photographs of Screws from Odense (Denmark).

Jaorma Vinta is originally from Finland, he lives in Denmark. On February 15, 1974, he allegedly took three black-and-white pictures of a steep object flying at an altitude of one hundred meters near Odense at sunset. The photos were sent to the UFO research Center of Finland. "The diameter of the UFO was 20-30 meters," says Vinta. He himself had severe headaches two weeks after what he saw. (Skylook # 84). On June 22, 1974, Vinta reported, he again took two UFO photos, this time in color. He named three people as witnesses.

They seemed to point him at the UFO above, while the engine of their car stalled. ("Skylook" #85). The woman in the car allegedly vomited.

On October 20, 1974, Jaorma Vinta photographed other UFOs, which made a dazzling impression on everyone. At the bottom, you can see the "H" signs with an additional vertical element in the middle (that is, the Russian letter "Z"), known from messages from Aluche — Madrid — San Jose de Valderas. The first examinations were curious: along with the story about the observation, which made a great impression on the audience, the experts swallowed the photo: they said that the pictures were authentic. However, in Skylook #84, doubt has already been expressed that one person is able to take such a number of snapshots. To clarify these issues, color photos from June 22, 1974 in the form of copies from transparencies were sent to the right address, namely to the organization "Ground Sousers Watch of Phoenix", Arizona, where completely new, modern research methods were applied. Here are excerpts from the conclusion of its director William H. Spaulding and photographer Fred Andren (cited in Skylook #100):

— The analysis of the edges of the object in the photographs reveals a sensitivity profile that cannot be inherent in metal surfaces; it is most likely plastic or lacquered wood;

— studies of colored contours and profiles showed that the object was smaller and was closer to the camera than it was named in the Screw readings (the object was less than 30 cm);

— both photos were taken on different films, as significant differences in the granulation of the film were revealed;

— both color photos did not appear one after the other for two seconds, they were separated by at least an hour of time, as evidenced by the various shades of gray in the background.

Since all these statements undermine the credibility of the message of the Screw from Odense about UFOs, the search for three witnesses, whom he called the Screw, ended in nothing. "A couple of Germans living in Paris" turned up, as well as "a Japanese man who was on vacation in Europe." The addresses remained unknown, and further searches were unsuccessful. From all this scam, we can draw the conclusion that too good observation facts arouse suspicion that we are dealing with a figment of fantasy, matured on the basis of reading books about UFOs.

I would just like to wish that such a thorough analysis as the above was also applied to many other UFO photographs — in each case it would be worth 25 reports.

Final reflection on the topic of photo files

The selection of misinterpreted or deliberately forged photographs given here indicates that it is rare to find a genuine photograph in the field of UFO research. The facts show that even persistent and persistent surveys and conversations often do not lead to the truth and even experienced experts are deceived. Sometimes even children manage to deceive specialists with their pictures, and for ten years, as it was in the case given here. So far, we do not have the necessary scientific institutions and sufficient financial resources to conduct solid research, we can only not forget about vigilance and a critical position regarding new UFO reports. There are criteria by which it is important to evaluate the purity of the photo, they are complemented by a general characteristic of the personality of the manufacturer of the picture. Only someone who knows the nature of financial relations, inclinations and the surrounding environment of this person can confidently say that this person is not able to mislead. Such an extremely subjective statement is naturally possible for every particular case for a few individuals.

We would like to note that the author of these lines can demonstrate with confidence in the authenticity of only UFO images taken by Rudy Nagora, because the above criteria are quite applicable to his former student. There should also be named individuals caught cheating, although not in photographs, but in connection with the topic of UFOs. In May 1958, a proclamation was received from Santiago, Chile, by a certain Michalek, who called himself the president of the upcoming government of Venus on Earth. In the newspaper "Noyes Europa", which was the mouthpiece for Karl Michalek, there were announcements about the "landing of the Venus space fleet", which sounded very, very menacing and aggressive. Many readers, unfortunately, donated money, hoping for a career under the new world government. When they found out about the deception, Franz Weber-Richter (Michalek's real name) disappeared in Rome. His "employee" Karl Mekis was sentenced to five years in prison for deception in September 1962 in Vienna.

About author:

Ufologist, PhD, blogger, I go on my own expeditions for UFOs. I use scientific methods to investigate the UAP phenomenon

Serg Toporkov

Ufologist, Ph.D., blogger, I go on my own expeditions for UFOs. I use scientific methods to investigate the UAP phenomenon. Write to me

Related tags:

fakes  ufo  analysis  UFOs  photo  ufo  famous cases

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