RAF Vulcan and a UFO

XH558 UFO1I came across this tiny gem of a UFO sighting via the Huffington Post, UK. According to the article, Elaine Costello, a resident in Sussex, England, was filming a RAF XH558 Vulcan bomber flying overhead. Upon reviewing the video, she noticed an oddly moving dot in the sky, after the bomber had passed out of frame.

The video is available on YouTube here, and is embedded below. Take a look—it’s only nine seconds long. The object is visible very briefly in the last second of the video.

Here are two more screen captures I grabbed from the video.

XH558 UFO 2 XH558 UFO 3

From watching the video and examining the screen caps, I’m reasonably convinced that this is simply an insect flying past, close to the camera. The speed that it appears to be moving, were we to assume it was at a similar distance as the bomber, would be quite high. If, instead, it is quite close to the camera, its speed would appear to be much more in line with more terrestrial phenomenon.

Ms. Costello states (from the article):

I have slowed the video down and the object goes behind cloud briefly. I took stills from the video and zoomed in. The results are interesting. At least one other person saw the object.

I’ve run through this video quite a few times and cannot find any frames in which the object is behind a cloud or anything else that would give us an idea as to its distance from the camera. Perhaps I missed it. If it does indeed go behind a cloud, that would discount the hypothesis that it is an insect or other small, close object. I am a bit curious as to her claim that another person saw the object. Was that with the naked eye? If so, where did it go? The video ends before we can see the object’s destination.

It was mentioned to me that The Sun also had a write up on this event. They have a version of the video where they have slowed it down and claim to have captured frames in which the object is obscured by clouds. I’ve viewed it and am not convinced. I believe the dimming shown (the object is never out of sight, just less or more distinct) is due to the object being in poor focus, moving quickly, and the phone’s camera being unable to keep up with it. It looks more like a motion blur than clouds. The video is in the article here.

I expect that this is a simple misunderstanding of the video and that the insect hypothesis is likely the correct one.  I invite you to judge for yourself.

Be well.

About Mike Weaver

Husband, father, skeptic, technologist, motorcyclist, hunter, outdoors-man, and evil genius. I am formally trained in computer science, physics, mathematics, and emergency medicine (paramedic, former).
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15 Responses to RAF Vulcan and a UFO

  1. mudguts says:

    Wow… That Vulcan was impressive!!!! Insane jealousy!!!

  2. Bill Kowalski says:

    The Vulcan is truly a super-cool aircraft.

    Although the tiny, briefly seen unidentified flying object is absolutely a UFO by strict definition, I would be willing to bet a very large sum of money that if it could be identified it would be a garden variety bug. I’m not willing to speculate on what specific type of bug it is, other than it is a bug that can fly. If we are to open up the possibilities to include more fantastical explanations, my second guess is it’s the Tooth Fairy. Or maybe a pixie.

  3. Vere Nekoninda says:

    When you analyze a video of this sort, do you download it, and view it frame by frame? I did for this one, and learned a few things not mentioned in the article. I think the most significant thing is that the object appears in exactly six frames of the video. That is a minuscule amount of data to base any analysis on. The video was shot at a resolution of 406 x 720 pixels, in the compressed format, H.264. The object occupies 12 pixels, which is insufficient to draw any conclusions about shape, size, and distance.

    The most interesting thing that I could see by looking at the video frame by frame relates to the focus. The creator of the video says the object goes behind a cloud. Mike suggests that it is motion blur. I think it is an artifact of the image stabilization that is built into the phone’s camera system. On the frame where the object is most blurred, the part of the sky and clouds surrounding the object change shape and scale. Much more noticeable is the distortion in the edge of the building and roof that is below the object in the lower half of the frame. In the first frame where the object can be seen, all the lines in the building are straight and parallel. In the frame with the blurred UFO, there is a pronounced curve in the lower two lines, almost directly under the UFO, and smaller curves in the other lines. They are neither straight nor parallel. The remaining frames show smaller curves and ripples in these lines and edges, and some position shifts. The whole roofline changes angle somewhat between adjacent frames.

    These kinds of visual distortions are consistent with the hardware and software of the camera’s image stabilization subsystem attempting to compensate for the movements of a hand-held camera.

  4. Graeme says:

    Who gives a damn about the ridiculous UFO hypothesis lets just admire one of the most beautiful planes to ever fly. And also the most accurate conventional bomber ever!

    • Mudguts says:

      Too true!

      This UFO business gets very boring. You can spot a dullard when shots of a great plane are asked to be ignored for a dismal speck of nothing!!!

      • Bill Kowalski says:

        Well said. This plane is the pinnacle of military aviation. Chasing after a housefly in the foreground of this stirring footage seems silly indeed. And if the unidentified flying whatever is not a fly but an actual alien spacecraft, it begs the question: if alien spacecraft are so inconsequential and elusive as to be seen only in such puny snatches of video, why even care? A common moth would make a better showing of itself.

        • Mudguts says:

          We’ll find out when the conspiracy set works out how to describe one landing…

          In the mean time… I have my own private view of war birds and crates from here… We have a aviation history museum and strip very near by.. so we get a hell of a good view of the now unusuals..

          The military strip to the south has the modern war birds giving us a nice fly by a few times a year..

  5. Elaine Costello says:

    Hi . I’m the person who filmed this . I have zoomed -in stills of the object if anybody would care to look before passing comment . It doesn’t have wings or legs . A few web-sites / newspapers have published the story without showing the zoomed-in stills of the object thus not allowing readers the full facts . The object DOES go behind cloud and the video was in same focus all the way through . Remember I was videoing the XH558 – NOT trying to video anything else . Why on earth would Gary Hesletine and Malcolm Robinson state that it is an UFO if they thought it might be a flying insect ? UFO means unidentified flying object by the way . It doesn’t mean a spaceship from another planet . I think some of your comments are quite unkind as are some of the comments of the writer of the article . Why produce the article at all ? It would appear that some of you are experts on just about everything . If you would like to view the zoomed in stills you can see a short video of them on my youtube channel: misswobblywombat

    • mudguts says:

      Thats nice Elaine..

    • Vere Nekoninda says:

      Hi, Elaine. I’ve looked at your video carefully, and at your video of stills from your video, that you mention in your post above. Here is the link to your zoomed in stills video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vuu4vpIUKI8&feature=youtu.be It looks to me like this stills video takes one of the frames from your original video, and shows it at six different magnification levels. Is that correct? Can you tell us how you did the magnification?

      • Bill Kowalski says:

        May I say I feel my personal comments have been in the spirit of slightly snarky, heavily fact-based humor. I do not mean to offend anyone, even those who are determined to believe a tiny unidentified dot whizzing around in a video is something special. Personally, I would LOVE to see evidence of anything previously unproven which turns out to be special and wonderful. When I was a kid I sent many hours staring at the sky, particularly at night, hoping to see something interesting. That quest to see something in the sky hasn’t left my mind. However, having worked for the United States government for some years, and being not only trained in investigations but also in the skeptical conduct of science, I believe we need a strict level of scrutiny of any evidence, rather than a rush to conclude it is something fantastical. Even if that process sucks all the fun out of whatever we hoped we had seen.

        Thank you, Elaine, for the UFO video. I will certify I consider it to truly be a genuine UFO, and it will always be one unless some new evidence is found which will illuminate its identity. If you want to speculate as to what it might be, my first guess is “musca domestica”, the common housefly, but nobody would be happier than I would to find it was something better than a bug.

        • Graeme Nitz says:

          I am sorry Elaine if you feel offended but the this is not a UFO other than being a bug or similar. The fact that you cannot see wings or legs doesn’t mean that they are not there. Video cameras are not good for high definition and lots of small details do not show up.

        • mudguts says:

          BETTER THAN A BUG??? Have we become evolutionary snobs???

          Definitely not something outside of everyday nature tho..

          But the Vulcan… Magic magic…

          I was dragged around an air museum for my birthday last week.. Have not had a more fun experience for years..

          • Bill Kowalski says:

            Better than certain lower class bugs which are beneath our station, I meant to say. Some years back I was assigned to duty on a USAF base in Wichita, Kansas which was dedicated to the B-1 bomber, a similar craft to the Vulcan. Along with getting to witness many take-offs, landings and a few exciting incidents such as a landing of a B-1 with an engine on fire, my biggest treat as civilian was to be turned loose inside one of the planes to sit in all the seats, pretending to steer while pulling levers and flipping switches with fun labels such as “ARM NUKE”. The Vulcan is on my bucket list!

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