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.
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.
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 IPTC Digest tag under the File tags. This is because some iPhones incorporate IPTC related information, a standard which defines the properties, fields, and structure of the metadata to facilitate the handling and access of images. The iPhone model used to take the control image did not have this functionality hence why it is missing. It does not at all mean that the image has been modified in Photoshop.
Unfortunately it is possible to alter metadata utilising either a specialist tool built for the purpose or programming code. If this were done, the most well-known and highly regarded tool which would be likely be utilised is Exif Tool. This is able to set the metadata back to how it should be prior to manipulation. However there are
Rob does not believe that the object was a balloon or other inflatable as it did not drift at all while stationary in the air. He feels it is likely that an inflatable would have moved position even in low wind conditions. Also surely it would have been ascending from the off, rather than remain stationary for at least ten minutes and then suddenly begin ascending? In addition to this the spinning it was performing was constant and seemed un-naturally fast, and the un-defined edges suggests that it may have been giving off some kind of energy. I have dealt with other cases before where similar observations have been made. I would agree with Rob’s reasoning – I feel there are too many anomalies regarding the appearance and movement of the object for it to have just been a rotating balloon.
Black Sphere Sighting
During the night of Thursday 5th October 2017 Rob had a dream in which he was standing in a grassy field and walking around a spherical UFO which was floating just off the ground. The following morning he set off for work like usual. Rob works in Huntingdon, 12 miles away from Chatteris. To travel to and from work he drives along the A141.
He left work at the usual time of 5.30pm. At around 5.50pm he was travelling North East along the A141 and had just passed the wind farm at Tick Fen. It was a bright and sunny evening. Something suddenly caught his eye in the distance ahead of him off to his left.
Glancing to the North, Rob saw what appeared to be a huge black flat circle in the sky! It was to the left of a farm house visible in the distance across the fields. Just as with the spinning disc, it seemed extremely dark with no visible markings. It appeared to be at low altitude but definitely off the ground. The object was massive in size. If it was as distant as it appeared to be it must have been at least 100 feet in diameter, perhaps larger.
To the right of the farmhouse Rob could see a bonfire and a tractor. In the field between the road and the farmhouse Rob also observed some people. He wonders to this day whether they could also see the object.
Rob exclaimed out loud “That’s not a balloon!” He continued to drive along the road at about 60 mph. He kept glancing back and forth between the UFO and the road. He did not stop as there was no lay-by and there were other cars behind him.
However he was aware that there was a lay-by on a bend in the road 1.5 miles ahead. After seeing the spinning black disc Rob had purchased a small camcorder which he had in his jacket pocket. As he drove along continuing to glance at the UFO he fully intended to park up and take a better look and get some video footage of it. However as he approached the bend he glanced again and found that the object had completely vanished from sight. Disappointingly he decided that as it had gone there was nothing left to do but continue his drive home.
This is a bizarre sighting due to the massive size of the object seen. It seems odd to me that no other drivers had also observed the UFO and stopped their cars ahead of Rob on the road. Due to how large it was it would surely have been quite obvious to other people in the vicinity from all directions around it. Why were there no reports of the object in the news?
Rob observed it for a period of time at different angles as he drove along the road, so it seems clear that it was actually there. Also its appearance did not change, suggesting that it was a sphere rather than a flat circular object. If it was flat then as he drove along he would have seen it get thinner and thinner. It was probably just the colour of it which made it appear flat to Rob.
The way in which it suddenly vanished from sight extremely fast despite the fact it was in a clear sky over flat farm fields suggests that it could not have been a spherical hot air balloon. These tend to remain visible for long periods of time due to the slow movement speed, it is very unlikely it would have disappeared into the distance in such a short space of time.
Rob informed me that as soon as he saw it, he thought about trying to film it, but there wasn't anywhere safe to stop until he reached the corner bend. He was going too fast to pull over into any of the roads on the left, and he didn't even think about stopping on the A141 as it has soft verges and was not safe to stop on the road. The driver behind him might have seen him looking at it whilst he was driving, but gave no indication that he had.
The fact that Rob had a dream about a spherical UFO the night before the incident may just be coincidence. The UFO in his dream was not black in colour, if it had been this may have been more significant. It is interesting that it happened but there is no evidence at present that the dream was in any way related to what was seen.
White Lights & Flashes
On 7th December 2017 Rob had just arrived home when he noticed a white point of light moving in the sky. He went and stood outside the back door to observe it. It was about 6pm and a very clear evening, with the stars fully visible. The star-like light was moving but changing course as it travelled so was clearly not a satellite. It was directly overhead in the sky. Rob got his camcorder out and tried to film the light but it was too dark.
Rob could see Jo in her kitchen next door. He went and knocked on the window and got her to come outside to take a look. He pointed the light out to her. As they continued to watch a second light was also seen travelling on a different trajectory. They also observed brief flashes of light to the South East.
Unfortunately the lights were not picked up by the camcorder, only the audio can be heard for a period of 5 minutes and 50 seconds.
Below is the transcript of the video:
R: Can’t see jack shit!
(Walks and knocks on Jo’s kitchen window and she comes outside)
R: I’ve just saw another one…
R: It was a moving star…
J: You’re joking!
R: It wasn’t a satellite ‘cause it was wiggling.
R: It’s up here, it was a star and I thought it’s a satellite, look here. See this one here? It’s moving look…
J: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
R: If you look it keeps stopping and er moving round, see it?
J: Ok. Yeah, I’m watching.
R: Can you see it moving?
R: You see there, you see it moving?
J: I saw. Yeah, I’m watching.
R: You see it moving?
R: That’s not the space station, it’s not a plane ‘cause it’s blinking, and the way it was moving wasn’t straight.
R: You see that?
R: You see that? I’m trying to film it, it looks just like a little dot but it’s not a star and it’s not a plane.
J: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
R: I doubt it’s a helicopter.
J: Are you going to get your equipment out?
R: I was trying to film it.
J: You’ve got that yeah.
R: I was trying to film it but it wouldn’t come out.
R: Cause I could see it…
J: Well done, yeah.
R: I could see it, it’s like a satellite, before that it looked like a satellite.
R: And, oh there’s another one there!
J: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
R: And that is wiggling, can you see it? It’s not straight. Can you see this one here?
J: Yeah, I can see it, yeah.
R: Moving this way.
J: It’s going quite fast isn’t it?
R: It doesn’t look like it’s going straight to me.
J: Oh I saw that!
R: And there’s a beep then, did you see that?
R: Oh maybe it’s because I’m pointing.
J: Oh don’t! Don’t, you’re making me flip!
R: Did you see it beep, that one there, it flashed!
R: Yeah. It could be satellites but that one I don’t think it was a satellite.
(Jo’s son appears at the door of their house)
S: Hello Rob!
R: Hello! Look, there’s a star moving!
J: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
S: That’s a shooting star!
R: Umm it’s not a shooting star.
R: I think it could be a satellite but the one we saw a minute ago it wasn’t even moving straight.
S: Wait a minute, I need to go and get my shoes on.
J: Cause that flashed twice that one.
R: You see that one flash?
J: Yeah yeah.
R: Yeah that…
J: Ooh what’s that doing, it’s coming down.
J: That…it’s disappearing. That’s disappearing that.
S: I just got my shoes on! (Laughing)
J: I can barely see it.
S: Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!
J: It’s so far away.
R: When I was driving home I could see a red light, and it wasn’t beeping, it was moving, it’s made maybe let’s say a helicopter, and I was walking back I could see it moving.
J: That’s it.
R: See you in a bit! Hello Dee Dee. I thought I’d give you a knock…
J: Yeah thanks!
R: I definitely wasn’t imagining it.
R: I thought that wasn’t a satellite, if it was a satellite it’s one that can move by itself.
J: Yeah, yeah. I wouldn’t know but yeah.
R: You know that erm it could be a plane, but even planes don’t move like that.
R: And they don’t have beeping lights so I thought I’d give you a knock.
J: Yeah thanks.
R: See you saw it as well.
J: Yeah, yeah.
R: Not just me is it?
J: Stop being silly (Talking to son)
R: See you later!
J: See you later.
J: Don’t be silly. (Talking to son)
R: Ah there we go. There’s another one! There’s another one there! You see that moving as well? I don’t think it’s a satellite as it’s not moving in a straight line. Up there, it was quite faint. I can just see it there. It's err...you can barely see it.
J: I can’t see that one yeah.
R: Can’t see it now. It was another one though. Yeah I mean if it was a satellite how come we just saw three?
J: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
R: And another one flashed at us.
J: Flashed twice.
R: Oh I only saw it flash once, it was bright wasn’t it? That could have been the flash of a satellite moving but, yeah. I don’t think satellites wiggle round, they go in a straight line don’t they?
J: Yeah, yeah.
J: Come in I’m cold (Talking to son)
R: See you later!
J: See you soon.
R: See you soon! It’s Saturday in a couple of days. See you in a bit!
(Jo heads back inside. Rob spots her pet cat)
R: I’ve got something for you, here you go! I was going to give it to you yesterday. Here you go. (Talking to cat)
R: Oh my god, another one, another one!
Later in the evening Rob spoke with Jo about the incident via text message. She responded with the following:
“Yes, was really interesting and I liked the flashes! The first one happened before the one you saw - I presumed you'd seen it and tbh, it hadn't registered in my brain as unusual - happened so fast it hadn't had time to filter through my thoughts properly I guess”
The following day he spoke with her directly. When he went outside he found her chatting with her other neighbour, but she had not mentioned it to him so they discussed it.
As the lights did not come out on camera it’s impossible to say whether they were anomalous or not. The lights moving on a straight path and the flashes observed can be explained as satellites. Sometimes these roll and catch the sunlight creating sudden bright flashes. It’s possible that the wavy course the initial light was taking was caused by some kind of atmospheric optical illusion, but I have not come across anything online which would adequately explain this effect. Therefore at least some of the sighting remains anomalous.
Red Lights Intercept
On the evening of 22nd February 2018 at 6.45pm Rob had returned home and was washing up in the kitchen. He suddenly heard the loud roar of a jet engine coming from outside. It seemed louder than normal so he stepped outside the back door to see if he could spot it. It was a cloudy and cold evening but was quite still. Off to the West of his location he saw a white light in the sky which he assumed was the jet. It appeared to be moving away from him.
He then noticed four red lights in the sky between his location and the jet. The lights were clumped together in a rough diamond shape and completely motionless. They were a distinct dark red in shade and very clearly defined. They were at an angle of about 70 degrees and appeared to be at a higher altitude than the jet, perhaps 1000 feet.
Rob got the impression that all the red lights were attached to a single object. Intrigued at what it could be he rushed inside and grabbed his camcorder and tripod. When he returned outside the lights were still present but unfortunately his camera could not pick them up.
However he then noticed that the jet had changed course. He watched as it turned in the sky performing a wide arc until it was heading directly for the red lights, slowly ascending as it went! As it got to within half a mile of where they were situated they suddenly all vanished at once. The jet continued on its course, passing through where the lights had been and moved off into the distance. Rob wondered if the red lights had been attached to a craft and whether the jet had been sent to intercept this craft. He went back indoors and sent a text message to his mother telling her about what he had just witnessed.
Rob has informed me that at some point during the sighting he ran back inside and got his camcorder and tripod and tried to film the lights. However he has checked his camcorder and can find no recorded footage of the event, so it looks like he either didn’t start it properly or it was accidentally deleted on a later date.
It is hard to say whether Rob was correct in his assumptions. It does not appear that the lights were Chinese lanterns. They were red in colour rather than an amber orange. They maintained their position and did not drift, and they all vanished at the same moment as the jet appeared to be approaching their location. If the lights were on a helicopter it would have been possible to hear the rotor blades and there would have been no reason for them to suddenly disappear. It remains an intriguing sighting.
Rob has had some interesting UFO sightings. It is intriguing that they all occurred within the space of less than a year. This may be significant, or could just be a coincidence. The similarities between his first two sightings are also clear. Both objects were jet black in colour, although their shape appears to have been different. We will likely never know if the two incidents were related in any way. His later sightings of unusual lights in the sky are less impressive, but still have some very unusual aspects to them which are hard to explain. Hopefully if Rob has any further sightings they will be added to this report.
Copyright Dave Hodrien 2019