top of page

20/08/2017 to 22/02/2018 - Chatteris – Black Disc Photograph, Black Sphere & Unidentified Lights

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Birmingham UFO Group Case Report

Author: Dave Hodrien

Release Date: 10/12/2019

Last Updated: 17/12/2019

In October 2019 I was invited to speak at East Anglia UFO Group. The talk was attended by a man named Rob who between 2017 and 2018 had a number of intriguing UFO encounters, some of which have also been witnessed by others. He had previously spoken with East Anglia UFO Group about these experiences, but with their permission I have now documented these incidents in depth.

Black Disc Sighting & Photograph

Rob lives on Huntingdon Road in Chatteris. During the summer months he regularly likes to hold BBQs in his back garden. On the 20th August 2017 he invited his next door neighbour Jo and her two children over for one. It was mid-afternoon and at first was grey and overcast but after a while the clouds separated and it got much clearer.

Aerial map of Huntingdon Road

Around 6.15pm a hot air balloon appeared in the sky. It got closer and closer and went right overhead. They could even see the pilots waving at them from the basket. They watched as it slowly moved away. About 15 minutes later Rob was standing at the BBQ and Jo was standing behind him. She suddenly asked him “Rob can you see that?” He looked up to see where she was pointing.

Off to the East of their location at an angle of about 70 degrees was what appeared to be a flattened disc-shaped object. It was jet black in colour and was rotating constantly like a spinning coin. Rob estimates it was initially about 500 feet up. It was hard to judge exactly how big it was but it looked at least 10 feet across, possibly much bigger. The object was locked in position and completely silent. It was spinning quite rapidly on its axis. Its edges appeared un-defined almost fuzzy, it seemed impossible to focus on the object.

Rob responded “Yeah.” Jo asked him “What is it?” He replied “It looks like a black disc spinning. It looks really black, like the blackest thing I’ve ever seen!” They stared at the object for a few minutes. Jo got out her i-Phone and aimed it at the sky. Rob assumed she was trying to video the UFO. She was cross as she could not seem to focus on it.

Photograph of the sighting location with UFO drawn on top

Drawings of the UFO highlighting its rotation

Rob began to weigh up the possibilities out loud. “It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane, it’s not a helicopter. Maybe it’s an optical illusion off the hot air balloon.” At this suggestion Jo laughed and replied “No Rob!” She then dragged him around to the side of the house by his shoulder to her neighbour’s front drive and pointed out the hot air balloon, which was now some distance away from them.

They then both ran back round to the garden. The object was still there. They continued to watch it with Jo’s children, barely saying a word to one another. After several minutes it suddenly began to move. It began to ascend vertically very slowly, still spinning at the same speed. Rob ran inside the house and grabbed his binoculars to get a closer look at it. Through these no further details could be observed, it was just black. Even under magnification it seemed impossible to focus on it, the edges were still fuzzy and un-defined.

After several minutes the object had ascended to quite a high altitude. It vanished into some wispy cloud and was lost from sight. In total Rob estimates they had been watching it for about 15 minutes, though at the time it felt much faster to him. Jo said to Rob "I'm glad it wasn't just me that saw it!" They all then headed back inside their houses. After a while the reality of what Rob had witnessed began to sink in. He felt really excited and also burst into tears.

The following day Rob sent Jo a phone text asking to see the footage she had taken of the object. However she had seemingly only been able to capture a single photograph. Even this was very un-impressive, with the object barely visible:

Unfortunately the picture is too low resolution to reveal any additional detail when the object is zoomed in on:

Later on he sent Jo a text again talking about the incident. She responded to him saying “It was surreal! I knew it couldn't be the hot air balloon but also knew you were looking for a logical explanation. I was glad for you to see the hot air balloon again to put things in perspective. I wish I could have zoomed in!!”

Rob decided it would be a good idea to try and get in touch with the pilots of the hot air balloon to see if they had also observed the UFO. On his way home from work he observed the same balloon being re-inflated, but by the time he had got home and parked it had taken off. Rob assumed he would never be able to find out who the pilots had been.

However several weeks later the same balloon turned up on the news. The online article claimed that the balloon had crash landed with the gas still on and no one in the basket (but the pilots were unharmed). Rob seaarched for the ballon online and managed to find the name of one of the pilots, then messaged him on Facebook. He informed him that they had not seen the black disc, and that the crash was un-related to what he and Jo had seen. Despite this, Rob wonders if there are other witnesses yet to come forward due to the fact that it was hovering in a clear sky for quite a period of time.

News article about the balloon crash:

Video uploaded by the pilot of the hot air balloon talking about the crash:

During the investigation I contacted Jo and asked her to provide a written statement of what she recalls regarding the incident. Here is her account.

“I'm not sure what made me look up at the point that I did...We (Me, Rob and my two boys) had seen a hot air balloon not too long prior and been enjoying that excitement, however, time had moved on and there was nothing in my peripheral vision at that time. I was stood outside Rob’s back door and next thing I knew I was looking straight at a black minstrel shaped floating thing that appeared to be rocking/slowly seesawing/hovering in mid-air. I asked Rob "Can you see that?" He was able to locate what I was talking about swiftly and then one of us asked my young lads (aged 2 and 4) whether they could see it to. Both said they could and they described it as a black dot.

I'm not sure in what order this occurred but Rob was questioning what we were seeing and was almost looking to explain it logically, whereas I felt certain of what I was seeing immediately. I knew 100% it wasn't the hot air balloon we had seen earlier and I remember taking him over to my other neighbours back garden driveway to gain a different perspective.

We went back to where we were stood and could still see it and it was still there. Rob dismissed his earlier hot air balloon thoughts and we stood watching some more before I thought it a good idea to try and capture a picture on my phone. It was tiny on my inadequate phone. I zoomed in as much as I could and it looked tiny in comparison to the naked eye. You couldn't see its shape/form, and to anyone else I knew it wouldn't be worth anything. Yet I was pleased to have captured an image all the same! We were a bit blown away as the next thing that happened was that it gradually rose upwards and totally disappeared amidst the clouds that had formed to the right of the houses we were amongst.”

As you can see Jo’s recollection of events is extremely similar to Rob’s other than the fact that she described the object as rocking back and forth rather than continuously rotating. This is likely down to individual interpretation of the motion observed.

Analysis of the photograph's metadata confirms that it is a genuine un-modified image. Metadata is a wealth of information attached to photographs taken on smartphones or digital cameras. I have a detailed knowledge of how metadata changes when images are modified in editing software. Although there is no reason to assume that the photograph is anything but genuine it is worth checking the metadata to categorically confirm this.

Below are three image comparisons obtained from a detailed online metadata viewer. The first on the left is of a control image taken on an iPhone. The second one is of that same image after it has been modified in Paintshop Pro. The third image on the right is of the UFO photograph. On each page I have highlighted significant tags in yellow, and under each explain why they are significant.

Basic Image Information

- In original iPhone images there is no embedded color profile. This leads to a warning message appear alongside Color Encoding tag. When the image is modified a color profile will then be embedded, usually sRGB. The UFO photograph has no embedded color profile.

- In modified iPhone images a thumbnail version of the image is generated, leading to a thumbnail copy appearing under Basic Image Information section. In original images this does not exist. It is not present on the UFO photograph.

EXIF, Photoshop, JFIF, File & Composite

- On modified iPhone images Compression appears under EXIF tags. In original images this does not exist. It is not present on the UFO photograph.

- Original iPhone images have Exif Image Size under EXIF tags. When modified this tag changes to Image Size. On the UFO photograph it is named Exif Image Size.

- Modified iPhone images have Resolution tag under EXIF. This is missing from the UFO photograph.

- In modified iPhone images a Software tag appears under EXIF detailing the name of the software used to edit the image. This tag does not exist in the UFO photograph.

- When iPhone images are modified a thumbnail version of the image is generated which leads to Thumbnail Length and Thumbnail Image EXIF tags appearing. These do not exist in the UFO photograph.

- The UFO photograph has Photoshop section with IPTC Digest tag and a Current I