Updated: Jun 2
Birmingham UFO Group Case Report
Author: Dave Hodrien
Release Date: 03/05/2023
Last Updated: 03/06/2023
In early April 2023 79 year old witness Trevor got in touch with BUFOG via our website’s sighting report form to inform us about an incident which occurred on 19th February. He described both observing and photographing a spherical shaped UFO. I got in touch with him via phone to go over the experience in depth. This report covers the incident and provides a detailed analysis of the photographs which were taken.
From his house on Stone Bridge in Newport, Trevor has a clear view to the South West and the range of hills known as The Wreckin can easily be seen in the distance. Trevor enjoys this view and regularly enjoys taking photographs of it.
At 11.20am on 19th February 2023 he was standing at the first floor back window of his house and doing precisely this. It was a cloudy day, but was quite still and dry. There was a low mist around The Wrekin which gave the impression of islands emerging from the sea.
Glancing upward he noticed that there were several holes in the cloud layer through which light was pouring. Here’s a direct statement from Trevor’s testimony regarding what happened next.
“One of the holes was becoming a sort of vortex delineated by the cloud which appeared to be moving around the hole. At this point an indistinct round mass formed within the hole and appeared to fall out of it.”
This mass looked very similar to the colour of the cloud around it, but appeared artificial and spherical in shape. Trevor estimates that the hole was roughly half way between his location and The Wrekin, which would have made it approximately 4 miles away. The sky was covered in cloud, and the usual height for low lying cloud is 6500 feet. The spherical “object” appeared to descend downwards, appearing to be independent from the cloud around it.
It impressed Trevor enough to get him to attempt to take a photograph of it on his iPhone 6s Plus mobile phone camera. However when he checked the image he found that the sphere was almost off the top of the photo:
By now it had stopped moving roughly 150 feet below the cloud layer. He once again raised his smartphone and took four images of the sphere (just right of the middle):
He then decided it would be good to attempt to zoom in on it to get a closer view. For about 30 seconds he lost sight of the sphere as he attempted to locate it on his zoomed in phone camera. Unfortunately he was unable to find it. When he looked back up the sphere, and the hole it had seemingly come from had both completely vanished.
Post Sighting Actions
Trevor was fascinated by what he had just witnessed. He felt sure that the sphere had been something physical rather than just a strange patch of cloud. He says that later in the day he contacted a nearby military establishment. Virgin sometimes fly balloons in the area and he wanted to confirm that this was not what he had seen.
According to him they confirmed the presence of the object and told him that they had detected it on their digital radar system. They stated that it was between 40-60 feet in diameter. They also confirmed that there were no logged balloon flights in the area. However they did not comment on what they object may or may not have been. They apparently asked him not to disclose to anyone their name.
Over the following days he informed numerous people about the incident including his wife, daughter and friends. He also kept an eye on the news to see if anyone else had reported seeing it, but did not find any articles relating to it.
It is great that Trevor managed to capture the sphere on camera over numerous photographs. Here is the initial photo that he took, with the potential object ringed:
Here is the first photograph in the sequence that Trevor took following the initial one, with the sphere once again ringed:
Zoomed view of the sphere:
Zoomed negative and enhanced view of the sphere making its shape clearer to see:
Assessing the photographs on their own they do not appear particularly impressive. As Trevor stated, it is clear that the sphere is the same colour as the cloud around it, although this does not necessarily mean that it was cloud, which will be discussed later in this report. The hole it apparently dropped down out of is not very visible in the images.
While I have no reason to doubt that the photos are genuine, and Trevor certainly came across as trustworthy, it is important to rule this possibility out. One of the best ways of doing so is to examine the metadata.
This is a large amount of hidden information stored when the photograph is taken. It varies by camera make, and needs to be extracted from an original image, but it can be used to determine whether or not it has been tampered with after being taken. When a photograph is manipulated on computer, some of the metadata changes. While it is possible to manually manipulate the metadata to hide this fact, it requires a large amount of expertise to do so, and there are particular pieces of metadata which are extremely hard to fix once they have changed.
In order to perform metadata analysis, I asked Trevor (without prior warning) to E-Mail me a previous picture he had taken on his smartphone. Below is the image he decided to immediately send me:
This can be used as a control image to show how the metadata on his phone camera looks prior to any manipulation. I then purposely modified this image to compare against and see differences which appear:
While differences can vary a little depending on the software used to perform the manipulation, the pattern is generally the same. For this analysis I modified the image on Paintshop Pro, one of the more commonly pieces of software which can be used to modify images.
With the control image and a purposely modified image, it is possible to compare the metadata from these against the metadata from one of the original images. I have chosen to do this with the first from the sequence of images which was taken.
Below is the metadata comparison between the control image (left), modified image (centre) and sphere image (right). I have highlighted a number of specific details which relate to the differences discovered:
Differences between un-modified and modified iPhone 6s Plus image metadata:
- The File Size of modified images is generally smaller as the compression using editing software is usually better than that from the phone camera software
- Exif Byte Order changes in modified images
- JFIF related metadata appears in modified images
- ICC related metadata appears in modified images
- In modified images Software changes to show the name and version of the editing software
- In modified images the value for Y Cb Cr Sub Sampling is lost and displays Unknown (1)
- In modified images Offset Time, Offset Time Original and Offset Time Digitized disappear
- In modified images GPSH Positioning Error disappears
- The Thumbnail Offset. Thumbnail Length and Thumbnail Image number values change in modified images
- Maker Notes related metadata disappears in modified images
- XMP related metadata appears in modified images
- In modified images Run Time Since Power Up disappears
- In modified images Flash appears
- In modified images GPS Latitude Ref and GPS Longitude Ref appear
- The order of Exif and Composite related metadata changes in modified images
As you can see from the above metadata comparison, the sphere photograph matches the control image not the modified image, greatly implying that it is a legitimate non-modified image.
This is an unusual sighting with some interesting aspects to it. Regarding the photographs, it seems very likely that they are genuine, however they do not appear particularly impressive. There is a spherical shape visible in them but it cannot really be confirmed as a solid object. If it were just the photographs provided with no testimonial evidence, I would immediately consider it just to be an unusual patch of cloud which happened to have formed a spherical shape temporarily.
However there are numerous testimonial quotes which point away from this. Firstly Trevor stated that he actually saw the sphere descend over a couple of seconds and separate itself from the rest of the cloud layer. This does not really sound like usual behaviour – clouds generally slowly change shape and tend to drift the same direction across the sky. This manoeuvre certainly impressed him enough to focus on it and photograph it numerous times.
There is also the fact that he claims that he contacted a military establishment after the incident was over, and they confirmed to him that there had been an object in that area of sky at that time. They apparently stated that it was not a tracked balloon, and even went as far as confirming its size and informing him that it had been detected on radar.
The issue with this is of course that this communication took place over the phone rather than a written E-Mail, and according to Trevor he was asked not to pass on the name of the establishment to anyone. I have no reason to doubt that this call did indeed take place, but until I receive a response it is impossible to verify this aspect of the case.
There are two RAF bases in the vicinity of Newport, RAF Cosford 7 miles to the South East, and RAF Shawbury, 10 miles to the West:
It is likely that it was one of these bases. As they are both a roughly equal distance from the location the sphere was supposedly situated, it is very likely they both would have detected it on radar. What is unlikely is that they would answer my questions about the incident directly over the phone months after it took place. I instead raised a Freedom Of Information Request to see if I could obtain confirmation on the presence of the object.
On 3rd June 2023 I received an official response to this request:
Unfortunately, as you can see, radar and telecommunication information is only required to be held for 30 days, so they had no data available when the request was made which could have helped prove or disprove Trevor's claims.
Could he have been mistaken regarding the manoeuvre it was seen to perform? Perhaps the sphere was just a patch of cloud which happened to get caught in an air current and suddenly separate from the rest of the cloud layer. This separate patch of cloud could then have dissipated while he was attempting to zoom in on it. Maybe the military establishment he contacted was referring to an entirely different object hidden from view by the clouds, there is nothing definite linking what they stated with with what is shown on the photos.
If we assume that the witness was not mistaken, and there really was a spherical object present in the sky which was captured on camera, then what could it have been? It was clearly not an aircraft or helicopter. Flight Radar 24 confirms that there were no tracked aircraft in the vicinity at the time of the sighting:
360 Radar confirms that the area does not lie within an airway, and also that the area falls within controlled airspace, making an untracked aircraft also unlikely:
The most likely alternative mundane explanation would be some kind of large inflatable. The military establishment stated that there were no planned balloon launches over the weekend of the incident, however this does not rule out a private untracked launch. That said, I would expect more of a noticeable difference between the object and the surrounding cloud, even if it was white or highly reflective silver. I have seen many photographs of distant balloons over the years and they tend to be more clearly defined.
Could this have been a genuine sighting of something more unusual? If so then perhaps it was an advanced craft which was using some kind of stealth technology, purposely making itself appear similar to the cloud it was surrounded by. While you may feel that this explanation is improbable, it is still something worth considering.
At the end of the day, the strength of this case currently rests not only on the numerous photographs which were taken, but also on the testimonial evidence provided by the single witness. He clearly does not have any personal gain in mind as he did not want his full name or contact details added to the report. He also came across as very believable in the extensive conversation I had with him.
Is the witness's testimony, supported by the photos he managed to take, enough to confirm that this was a genuine anomalous object? That’s entirely up to you to decide…
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2023