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Ooops, Did We Just Close An Airport Over A Ufo Sighting?

Ooops, Did We Just Close An Airport Over A Ufo Sighting? 92

Picture this: it’s late in the evening on a freezing cold, dark, and windy December night in southern England, and an airport worker at Gatwick — London’s second international airport — sees something fly past in the gloom above the floodlights. The weather and darkness makes it difficult to see what the object was, but the report is phoned in to security. What was it? A flock of birds? A piece of plastic litter caught by the wind and blown through the night? In this case, the call is recorded as a drone. Because the magic D-word has been uttered, a security plan swings into action, the airport is put on a high state of readiness, and flights are suspended.

Ooops, Did We Just Close An Airport Over A Ufo Sighting? 93

Gatwick by night, on an evening far less inclement than last week. News Oresund [CC BY 2.0].

Thousands of people across the site are put on alert, watching for the drone. And of course, the drone reports roll in, and the story takes on a life of its own. People who have no idea what a drone looks like in the air are now expecting to see one, so of course when a flock of birds or a plastic bag caught by the wind crosses their peripheral vision they too are convinced that it is the drone. Night turns into day, there is a lull in the reports so the airport re-opens, only to be closed again following a fresh spate of sightings. Flights are diverted all across the country, and tens of thousands of passengers are stranded in the terminals.

Ooops, Did We Just Close An Airport Over A Ufo Sighting? 94

No, it’s not a speck of dirt on your screen, it’s a drone! BBC (Fair use)

There follows three days of airport closure drama. No photos emerge despite almost every one of the many thousands of people on the site having a camera phone from which they are Tweeting about the queues in the terminal. There is a grainy video, but it is indistinct, and crucially it doesn’t have anything in it that is identifiable as Gatwick. Meanwhile the police are frustrated in their search for the drone operators, who like their drone, prove difficult to pinpoint

During the third night a pair of arrests are announced, a local couple. The police have saved the day, the culprits are under lock and key. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, the airport re-opens, and that’s the end of that. Except of course it isn’t, because inconveniently the pair are found to be blameless and released. When pressed during an interview, a police spokesman then makes the embarrassing admission that there is a possibility that there may never have been a drone at all.

YOU COULDN’T MAKE IT UP

You might imagine that this was the fictional plot of a thriller novel, but sadly not. All of the above is a tale of the last few days of events in the British news, save for most of the first paragraph which is our guess at how the first drone sightings may have happened. At the time of writing there remains the possibility that there could have been a drone over Gatwick, but given the current dearth of evidence it is one that seems tenuous. There are reports of drone wreckage, but since readers with long memories will recall UK police once identified RepRap parts as a 3D printed gun we’ll wait until we see it before we call it that.

If there was indeed a drone then of course we would like to see its operators brought to justice forthwith. But what concerns us at Hackaday are the implications the episode could still have for those of our community with an interest in multirotors. The usual clamour was made for Government to do something about it, and we know that would have meant a fresh set of onerous regulations for responsible multirotor owners while doing nothing about the criminals, because of course criminals have little regard for laws.

So if we are to glean anything from this sorry mess, we must examine it from several angles. Why is there a lack of drone detection technology in place? How should drone reports initially be treated and investigated on the ground? How should they be dealt with in official inquiries, and how then should lawmakers see them? This will inevitably have a British flavour to it because of the incident in question, but the points are just as valid worldwide.

WHEN A DRONE REPORT COMES IN, WE NEED A RELIABLE WAY TO EVALUATE IT

When we are told something new, it passes a process of evaluation in our minds. We look at the source, and weigh up the story itself. If a guy with crazy hair in the street tells us that the aliens have landed and are controlling the Prime Minister with a ray gun, it will probably be discounted. But if Hackaday tells us that someone has hacked a VGA chipset to work as a software-defined radio we’re guessing most of you would be very interested indeed.

When a fresh drone incident is reported it appears that this evaluation process has historically been defective. We have previously discussed official incident reports that come with no physical evidence of a drone, but contain descriptions of drones with capabilities unmatched even by jet fighter aircraft. It seems like any eyewitness report in which the culprit is named as a drone is automatically taken at face value no matter how unlikely it may be. The fact that a report may have come from a pilot is sometimes mentioned as a boost to its credibility, but that is a false assumption. A pilot who is not familiar with either how drones appear from a distance or what the capabilities of a drone are in the air can only be considered an unreliable witness, because while they may know a lot about aircraft they lack the required expertise for this judgement. So what can be done to help boost the quality of reporting and to immediately highlight credible reports while requiring more for dubious ones?

In the case of a near miss in open airspace there may be little effect on ground-based facilities, but at an airport such as Gatwick there can be no chances taken by the authorities. A drone collision on an aircraft on final approach could cause hundreds of fatalities, so upon receipt of a report they must have had little choice but to close the runways. There appears to have been a lack of drone detection technologies in place at Gatwick which means that the only source available to the airport would have been the eyewitnesses themselves, and since we have amply demonstrated the potential for eyewitness reports being unreliable then the current confusion becomes an inevitability. It is imperative that more reliable detection technologies be fitted or developed if necessary. This is especially true when precautionary shut-downs stretch past minutes or hours into world-news-making delays as happened in this instance.

COMPETENT POLICE INVESTIGATIONS AND RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM ON DRONE REPORTS

Ooops, Did We Just Close An Airport Over A Ufo Sighting? 95

The mass media tech story cycle. Our apologies to Gartner. Curve image: Jeremykemp [ CC BY-SA 3.0 ]

Once an incident has started and news of it emerges there is a consequent effect upon members of our community. Legitimate drone fliers away from the airport will find themselves under more scrutiny, and since it is already a common tale to hear of police being called when flying is under way that means they could face harassment and wrongful arrest. Indeed though we do not know all the details of the pair arrested near Gatwick it smacks of their being arrested in a round-up of convenient local drone enthusiasts rather than as a result of meaningful investigation. That the names of the pair were leaked and they became the subject of a media frenzy further shows the danger in which they were placed, as well as the irresponsibility of the reporters who covered their plight.

PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY: WE NEED ACCURATE OFFICIAL INCIDENT REPORTS

Whatever happens in a drone report, whether it be an arrest or an embarrassing debacle, there will inevitably be an official incident report from the Civil Aviation Authority, the regulator of British civilian airspace. This will form the official record of the event, and thus should strive to be as accurate as possible, but here the process falls short for the final time. There appears to be no evaluation step performed on the available evidence and no requirement for physical proof. So if an eyewitness reports behaviors about the drone that no drone ever built could possibly be capable of, it is solemnly recorded as fact. Our previous article on this subject highlights multiple such accounts, and this is an important point because as the official record these reports are what informs legislators. When they make laws pertaining to drones it is imperative that their decisions are based upon accurate evidence, and it is clear that this is not the case. Given that they will no doubt be reviewing drone legislation in the wake of this fiasco it is particularly important that the investigators consult people with specialist knowledge in the field, demand physical proof rather than heresay, and most importantly question accounts that stretch credibility.

It seems obvious that the multirotor hobbyist is caught in a perfect storm of incompetent authorities, deeply flawed investigations, shoddy journalism, and clueless legislators. This incident has laid bare some of the shortcomings, and it is to be hoped that a few lessons might be learned to produce less of a debacle surrounding future drone incidents. It is still a developing story so there may be a breakthrough and the whole narrative will change, and if that turns out to be the case then we hope they find the correct perpetrator this time and send them away at Her Majesty’s pleasure for a very long time. We’re guessing though that every effort will be made to push it as far under the carpet as possible to save red faces among officialdom. As multirotor enthusiasts we must keep the issue of poor investigation alive though, for if we let it be buried once more it will come back to trouble us again.

Source hackaday.com

Fact or fiction

Was an Angel filmed over a house extinguished by firefighters?

Was an Angel filmed over a house extinguished by firefighters? 108

Having appeared on the network, this photo caused a lot of comments – from the fact that it really was a Guardian Angel who guarded the firefighters during work, to those who assured that all this was just an illusion, no more complicated than a cloud in the shape of a lamb.

At the end of December 2020, while extinguishing a fire in the Polish village of Maldyty, an Angel hovered over the firemen, or at least something like an Angel. This photo appeared on the Facebook page of the Maldyta fire station and generated many comments.

“This is something that was formed during the last extinguishing of the fire from the ignition of soot in the chimney in Maldyty. Write in the comments your thoughts about it,” was written under the picture on their FB page.

Poles are known to be very religious and there are plenty of people willing to comment on the picture.

Many indeed believed that the Angel oversaw the work of the firemen and, perhaps, even helped them to extinguish the fire. But there were also enough of those who believed that it was all just a random silhouette between clouds in the sky and pareidolia (illusion). The photo was taken by an unspecified person sitting in the cab of a car parked next to the burning house.

“Christians have always believed in the existence of guardian spirits. Some call them Guardian Angels. The Bible confirms their existence,” Pastor Leszek Kozheniecki told reporters, commenting on this photo.

By the way, Kozhenetskiy is a well-known Polish pastor who believes in the existence of supernatural beings.

Three years ago, he told the press that he had driven out the evil spirit that settled in his house in Turza Wielka. One of the firefighters who worked on the extinguishing of the house that night said:

“If we have this kind of protection watching over us, I am pretty calm about safety during work.”

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Fact or fiction

The skeleton of a mysterious “prehistoric beast” found in Antarctica?

The skeleton of a mysterious "prehistoric beast" found in Antarctica? 109
Photo: © thesun.co.uk/Google Earth

Blogger MrMBB333 shared an image of a “mysterious creature.” It was discovered 80 kilometers off the coast of Antarctica in a remote region of Antarctica, according to the Sun.

According to the blogger, the pictures are screenshots from the Google Earth service, which were sent to him by his subscriber and conspiracy theorist under the nickname BONKERS.

They estimate the length of the remains at 3.6-6 meters.I don’t know if it was frozen for thousands of years or appeared recently,- the blogger said.

MrMBB333 believes the skeleton belonged to a dinosaur. He came to this conclusion by examining the front and hind limbs of the creature. His subscribers are sure that these are the remains of a seal.

The skeleton of a mysterious "prehistoric beast" found in Antarctica? 110
© thesun.co.uk/Google Earth

A google search for seal skeleton images shows a pretty good match,- one of them wrote.

Other subscribers call the skeleton “suspicious”. They explain that “seals have no hind legs.” Another wrote that the remains belonged to an alligator or some other reptile.

In the comments, conspiracy theorists also expressed their opinion that “Antarctica is full of unexplained phenomena that may be related to ancient aliens.”

It is also believed that most of the “discoveries” made by users of Google Earth can be explained by the unusual shape of ice or other natural phenomena.

MrMBB333 uploaded his investigation video to YouTube on January 5. Since then, the video has been watched more than 200,000 times.

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Fact or fiction

150 thousand years old Metal pipes in Tibet, contradict the official history

150 thousand years old Metal pipes in Tibet, contradict the official history 111

It is said that there is a mountain in Tibet that contains a network of special formations that extend to the nearest lake. Many researchers believe that this is an artificial pipeline system. But, strangely enough, its origin dates back to the era of the Neanderthals.

Photo from open source
Photo: open sources

This mountain rises about 40 km from the city of Dalingha in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. It is called Baigongshan (White Mountain). In the world, it is better known for the wonderful formations that are in its heart and wide surroundings – they are called the Baigong pipes.

Photo from open source
Photo: open sources

This miracle has been the subject of controversial discussions for many years. Some believe they are a natural formation, but there are many who are sure that someone built them in the distant past to drain the lake. They base their arguments on research results, but there is a catch; the mysterious aqueduct should have appeared 150 thousand years ago. Traces of settlements around the mountain are not even older than 30 thousand years. So who could build metal pipes inside an uninhabited mountain?

There are three caves at the foot of Mount Baigongshan, two of them have already collapsed and are inaccessible, but the largest of them has since been the target of many tourists who come to the area.

Photo from open source
Photo: open sources

The cave looks like it was artificially created by someone. Visibility is enhanced by a massive pipe about forty centimeters in diameter that sticks out of the stone.

Photo from open source
Photo: open sources

Another apparently hollow pipe of the same diameter ran into the cave from the top of the mountain. Another one came from the bottom of the cave somewhere below.

Photo from open source
Photo: open sources

At the entrance to the cave, you can see several other pipes with a diameter of 10 to 40 cm. All this gives the impression of the remains of some ancient system or mechanism. About 80 meters from the cave, Lake Toson sparkles with a large number of scattered pipes on the beach.

Photo from open source
Photo: open sources

They stretch from east to west and have a diameter of 2 to 4.5 cm, these archaeological finds are described by the Chinese scientist Liu-Shaolin:

The unmistakable rust color indicates that they are made of metal. And their craftsmanship showcases advanced attachment techniques. Who could have built such a complex pipe system? Only one who knew well what he was doing and why.

The version that such an engineering miracle was created by the Chinese disappears immediately. The inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom could not build something like that 150 thousand years ago. As the authors of many amazing inventions, bureaucracy became one of them. Therefore, it is simply impossible to imagine that such a large-scale and, without exaggeration, a great construction project was reflected in any ancient Chinese source. Any emperor, during whose reign this happened, would make sure that his great deed was not forgotten by descendants.

Baigong tubes are another unsolved mystery in human history. This find once again refutes the facts of the official history. Where is the true and where is the misconception? Maybe there will be people among the readers who will logically explain the origin of the ancient aqueduct.

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