Updated: May 24, 2021
Birmingham UFO Group Case Report
Author: Dave Hodrien
Release Date: 23/05/2021
Last Updated: 24/05/2021
In April 2021 I got in touch with Simon after he mentioned having a UFO sighting which he recorded on video while commenting on Facebook. We had an extended messenger call to discuss the experience. The following month he sent me the video footage, the analysis of which can be found in this report.
At 6.40pm on 14th March 2019 Simon had just left Tesco superstore on Ordnance Road in Buckshaw, Lancashire. It was partially cloudy but due to the time of year the sun was already setting and a number of stars were visible. It was also quite a still evening. He was just about to get into his car when he happened to look into the sky to the South.
It was now that he noticed a white light travelling in his direction. It was at an elevation of 30-45 degrees in the sky, and appeared to be within half a mile to a mile away, on the far side of the nearby railway line. He estimates it was between 1000-2000 feet up within the cloud layer. With a previous career as an Air Frame Mechanic for the RAF, Simon was well aware of how aircraft looked at different distances and in different lighting conditions. This light didn’t look right for a distant aircraft, it looked too large and no other navigation lights were visible.
Simon jumped into the front seat of the car, grabbed his mobile phone and began to film the light through the front window. The object began to change direction slightly towards the East, and then quickly vanished into some cloud. Unfortunately there was no break in the cloud from that point, so it did not re-appear.
Simon says that there were a number of other people in the car park at the time, but they may not have seen it due to the short length of the sighting.
Below is the video that Simon took of the object:
Here is a still from the video taken at 3 seconds, with the object ringed:
Zoomed still of the object:
As you can see, the glowing white light is clearly visible moving at a steady speed and course. The other erratic white light at 2 seconds in is a reflection in the camera, likely from one of the lights of the car park. After 5 seconds of filming the object you can see it vanish gradually, seemingly vanishing into cloud as the witness reports.
The change of direction reported by the witness is not really noticeable in the footage, it is possible that while the witness is attempting to stabilize the camera it is heading in a North East direction, but by the time he has stabilized it this change in course has already happened.
Metadata is a wealth of information which is automatically stored against photographs and videos. The amount of information stored and exactly what information can be extracted varies from camera to camera. Below is the first page of metadata extracted from the video file, which confirms the date and time it was taken at:
Like Simon I agree that this does not look like a normal aircraft at first glance. Because of his background in the RAF, if it was a distant plane or helicopter it is likely he would have treated it as such and not bothered filming it in the first place. However it can be seen from 360 Radar that Buckshaw Village does lie inside an airway (orange area):
I indirectly spoke with an ex-RAF Flight Officer who has access to historic flight data. They responded with the following:
"Sadly [the incident happened] too long ago, the system doesn't have the data. I looked at the location and the report. From Buckshaw looking south. This places the viewer about 20 Miles North of both the departure track from Manchester airport and the Arrivals track into Liverpool airport. It would therefore seem to be reasonable to consider the sighting to be either a departing or arriving aircraft into one of those two airports, 20 miles is perfectly viewable for an aircraft with its landing lights on and in the stated weather conditions this is entirely plausible. I checked the Manchester departure logs for March 2019 but they are incomplete and some dates are missing including 14/03 however if the flight was scheduled it is highly likely that it would be the same on the same days days in the preceding and following weeks i.e., 7 days before and after as airlines only change their schedules twice yearly. The closest I can find is the same day of the week two weeks prior to the report. This shows 5 airline departures in the slot from 18:35 to 18:45 - the sighting time has to allow to for the flight to climb to an altitude where it would be seen. It also gives a margin for the witness to mis-report the time slightly...If I saw what is seen in the video I would assume it was an airliner nose on at long distance, something which I have seen many times when I lived up North. We could easily see aircraft approaching Manchester from distances of between 20 and 30 miles."
Simon's response to these comments are as follows:
"The light was a lot closer than that. I have never seen aircraft arriving or departing from Manchester airport. The horizon at sea level is 6 to 8 miles. If the ground between me and Manchester airport was flat aircraft would be below the horizon until several thousand feet. The light turned towards the cloud and disappeared. Unfortunately this is not clear in the video. I know with my background what I saw."
The International Space Station can appear as a bright white orb of light which can look unusually close. I have actually observed this on a sky watch directly. However because we have the precice date and time it is possible to determine exactly where the ISS was. Below is a map showning its position at the time, confirming this was not the explanation.
A satellite would not appear this bright or large, and the change in direction removes this as a possibility. From the video footage it is clear that it is within the atmosphere rather than out in orbit. It is also the wrong colour for a Chinese lantern, which tend to be amber orange.
However, because of the appearance of the object, its distance from the camera, the relatively short length of the sighting and lack of any advanced manoeuvres, there are a number of mundane explanations which cannot be entirely ruled out. Perhaps it was an LED balloon or other lit inflatable drifting on an air current. Simon thinks not because if it was a helium balloon, it would likely have ascended as it moved. While this may be true, it was only observed for a few seconds, there was not long enough to really see if its flight path was entirely level.
Another possibility is that it was a drone of some kind. In recent years drones have become widely available. They can move rapidly and at a distance look like bright points of light, often white in colour.
It is hard to say much more about this brief sighting, but it is great that Simon managed to capture it on camera.
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2021