A Web of Flying Saucer lies and Video Footage

Nigel Watson
Magonia 96, October 2007

With the increasing popularity of such websites as YouTube, more and more UFO video clips and documentaries are being presented to the public without any critical filtering or restraint. That's great because we can all get easy access to material from the most obscure sources from anywhere in the world. The down side is that it attracts hoaxers and publicity seekers who want to manipulate and exploit the belief in UFOs.

A case in point is the amazing footage of a flying saucer hovering just above the ground, apparently produced by the Italian Air Force. Two versions of this short footage are presented on www.youtube.com. The first to be downloaded claims that it is a "UFO over a river in Italy" It has had nearly 100,000 views since being posted on February 16 2007. [1]

Another version, saying it was produced by the Italian Air Force has had nearly 3,000 views and a few comments. These are mainly sceptical. The most positive comment is that it looks real, though is probably man-made. "Detachment3" said its a "CGI hoax, old news, was debunked on AboveTopSecreLcom ages ago." 'ABSY' sums up the reaction as "Another bad old video, another hoax. Same 0, same 0 yawnnnn!" Google also carries the footage. This has attracted more than 40,000 viewers and the accompanying text says that: "This amazing UFO video footage was released by a source within the Italian Air Force. Probably not alien origin but this may show what technology the secret governments already have." The video sequence is not that new Italian UFO researcher and writer Paola Harris presented it in 2005 at the 36th Annual International MUFON Symposium held in Denver, Colorado. The fourth generation video tape was given to her and other UFO researchers by an• anonymous source. No details were given about who shot the video but it is her opinion that the craft is of terrestrial origin. She speculates that it is a military prototype. In an email sent out by her on 17 April 2007 she stated:

"To All No! This old Film Footage I have been showing for 3 years and It was given to Us (by NW) Italian Researchers ... Not By the Air force ... 1t is our Technology. I had the film analyzed in Hollywood. It is a real object in the film. It has been shown in my MUFON and Laughlin Presentations and someone put it on U-TUBE [sic] and Google! This all takes place in the Veneto region of Italy at a place called Ponte di Giulio .. Near Aviano NATO Base. It is a dry river bed where the military does Manuvers and the photographer was on a tripod waiting for the object to come out of the woods. I doubt aliens appeared there!"

One uncharitable contributor to a forum on abovetopsecret.corn "Vipassana", forgetting that Harris is Italian, thought this statement: "Seems like a fairly inarticulate letter by someone who is an important researcher. It honestly reads like a 5th grader slapped it together in 2 minutes. "2ndly (sic!), if Italy posesses (sic, again) technology like this, than it needs to be released immediately. Any device that can move like that has the potential to dramatically change the world, and perhaps even put a stop to global warming and poverty. "I smell a fake." Comments about the original You Tube posting range from outright wonder to dogged scepticism. It is either regarded as the best ever footage of a real flying saucer or a neat piece of CGI workmanship.

After covering these possibilities a contributor called "Star GateSG7" seemed to be on the right track: "This film is filmed in Quebec just north of the mil itary UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle NW) facility of Bombardier (they also make the Peanut UAV) It's based on a 1986 design called Hystar originally designed as a Lighter-than-air ship they added multiple lightweight Rotax engines and thrust vectoring (see pods and vents in videos) and expensive gyroscopes and control software ain't that hard to do though ... " In a later contribution he states: "Actually I have made a mistake ... This footage was taken in France OR Italy but the aircraft is still based upon a 1986 Canadian Design called Hystar. The Engines are indeed Bombardier Rotax turb i nes and the craft is a French Dassault/Italian Avroni Motobecane/Robert Bosch Germany and a Canadian Bombardier collaboration."

An early Hystar model was certainly flown at the Canadian pavilion during the Vancouver Expo in 1986. The 16ft diameter craft was driven by five rotors and kept aloft by helium gas. It was such a hit that the crowds often broke out with spontaneous applause after its regular performances. The Hystar Aerospace Corporation was granted a US Patent on August 11 1987.

The application states it is: "An air vehicle for lifting loads generates lift forces from helium gas within a torus-shaped envelope having a central passageway, and from a fan arrangement designed to direct air downwardly through the passageway. Lateral propulsion units are provided on the envelope. In one embodiment, the fan arrangement comprises two fans carried by a saddle supported on the envelope, while in another embodiment a single fan is carried by a gondola suspended from the envelope."

On the 25 January 1996 a larger, 18ft Hystar circled over Earls Court, West London, reaching heights of 400ft. This Hystar 101 was fitted with eight rotors that could propel it in all directions and even put it into a spin. Its Canadian inventor, George Nankovich, planned to produce more of these craft in Britain and claimed that he had a 140ft Hystar on his drawing boards that would carry 20 passengers at an altitude of 1O,000ft. The latter project doesn't seem to have come to fruition, after being used for exhibitions and shows the Hystar has found a more serious role. It is now being operated as a landmine detection vehicle by The Alliance Enterprise Corporation (TAE). It is described as a highly versatile LML vehicle that can detect mines more efficiently than most other methods:

"The LML Aircraft is an ideal platform to carry the landmine sensors because of its unusual flight capabilities. "The LML can fly forward, backwards, and sideways at extremely low altitudes and at continuously slow speeds as well as hover, fly vertically up and down, and rotate 360 degrees while flying in any direction. "In addition, the LML is a stable platform because the aircraft does not bank while turning, climbing or descending. Also, the LML has virtually minimal vibration." So was it a Hystar or LML as it is now called responsible for the Italian video? As Paola Harris noted the camera was on a tripod and the cameraman seems to know that something is about to happen. Before the UFO becomes visible the camera zooms in to the rough location where it comes into view. The craft seems to "perform" in front of the camera and then it shoots away as the camera zooms out. The position and zooming of the camera and its distance from the UFO gives the impression that this is something that suddenly came into view at an opportune moment, rather than being an official, professional recording of an aircraft test by the Italian Air Force.

Philip Mantle, who helped reveal the notorious 'Alien Autopsy' film footage to the public, and is the author of Alien Autopsy Inquest, notes: "There are two ways to look at this type of thing. One is to get the footage out in the open in order to stimulate debate, uncover more details etc. The other is to keep it under wraps until full analysis has been conducted. There is no right or wrong way, it is just a matter of opinion. In the days before the Internet it was common practice to look at photographs and film/video in detail before releasing them. Today's world is much different with more and more people having computer access around the world. For the record, I have looked at the video in question, and this is just my opinion and nothing more, but I would err on the side of caution as I think the footage is highly suspect. It has the 'feeling' of computer graphics to me."

Nick Pope is equally cautious about this film: "'Interesting if true', as they say in the world of intelligence analysis. Determining the film's provenance will be difficult if not impossible, given the mix of UFO researchers and anonymous sources. In my official UFO investigations I could call on technical specialists who could analyse and enhance photos and videos. The fact that this video was shot in daylight and that other features are visible means it should be possible to determine some characteristics of the object, including its diameter. It should also be possible to determine whether the film has been faked."

For an expert opinion I contacted Michael George, Senior Consultant, Forensic Video / Audio for BSB Forensic Ltd. He said: "Original footage must always be examined to give clear and precise expert witness evidence. "In this instance I assume access to original footage is a non-starter. The interesting point in this footage is at the end of the recording. The 'off' (where the imagery ends and then shows a fighter jet) point on this footage shows it has been edited already. It also shows that the two clips have been produced from two separate cameras and edited together. "All good fun though, haven't had much time to examine it." I should add here, that only the Google version shows the tape break up and then shows a fighter aircraft in-flight for a brief moment.

Nick Pope acknowledges that, "analysis of such footage is intriguing. Technology to create a realistic fake moves on, but so does the technology to spot one. Only industry insiders will be able to give you the current state of play and as in many fields, the experts may not all agree. It may not be possible to give a definitive answer on analysis alone, which is why I always recommend a holistic approach to such investigations: investigate not just the footage, but the story, the participants, the witness, etc."

When I asked Paola Harris for more details about the analysis and origin of the footage, she told me: "The People who did it are record executives who had the money to do it in Hollywood. (The) ... 7th generation (video) cassette tape (was) given to me by researcher Paolo Pasqualini who got it from others. It was just disseminated to us Researchers ... And Since it is a real object in a recognizable place, we all showed it. It is a mystery! IT IS NOT A VIDEOGAME! "I will continue to show it as (an example of NW) Back-engineered Technology. Since Ponte Di Giulio (Veneto region) is near a NATO Base A VIANO .. It would be American Technology ... What the object was., Who Knows?? I thought initially it was created ... But It was filmed!"

Henry "Aviation Jedi" Eckstein (aka 'Star GateSG7) in a long email to me, with the provision that his "Speculation is based upon reasonable study of common autonomous flight control systems and modern UAV aircraft design" notes: "The craft in the Italian video was possibly (but NOT absolutely confirmed) filmed in the foothills of or around the vicinity of the Italian Dolomite Mountains possibly even near Cortina. The other possible location is in the French Alps near Chamonix. One reason I said Quebec in an earlier comment was the design of the bridge and and some of the background buildings suggest a North American location for this video and the Bombardier UAV facilities are fairly close by to what could be a region near Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada (home of Bombardier).

"For the technical specs, I do remember reading an article somewhere in the 1995 to 1998 issues of Aviation Leak [Aviation Week] magazine which detailed a secret UA V aircraft based upon the 1986 Hystar design. (I cannot remember the exact dates or issues) The 1986 Hystar was originally intended to be a heavy lift craft for logging operations and industrial transportation use. The original design called for a series of thrust vectored craft between 200 ft (60 meters) to 600 feet (200 meters) in diameter designed to lift up to 100 metric tonnes or 100,000 kilos (250,000 lbs), The company went bankrupt due to lack of marketplace acceptance and flight control issues during heavy weather operations. The small-form-factor prototypes would crash into trees during testing because the radio control operator wasn't fast enough to respond to the wind gusts.

"Modern autonomous flight control software is now miles ahead of the original 1986 design and can now easily take the place of a slow human operator. The biggest problem to solve is cost and time of software development. As a serious programmer with large amounts of experience creating autonomous vehicle control software, I can assure you that getting a large vehicle to move such as that shown in the Italian River video is no small feat. I also remember A W magazine mentioning multiple countries including Canada (which makes Rotax Engines), Italy (makes the body of the craft), France (which makes Computer Aided Design Machining! Finite Element Analysis Software) and Germany (Robert Bosch Company which makes flight control software for commercial airliners) cooperating on a UAV development effort.

"I also remember that the article said that the craft would look something like the 1950's era Avro Aerocar which is very similar to the design of the Hystar and the Italian River aircraft. The Avro Aerocar was Canadian built but funded by the US Air Force. With no flight control software the Avro was a complete failure because it was so unstable a flight design. If someone had the foresight to add a rubber skirt to it the modern hovercraft would have been invented ten years earlier than it was.

"Having Bombardier, Motebecane, Dassault and Bosch makes perfect sense for creating such a UAV craft because these are world leaders in engine systems, lightweight metal vehicle structure engineering, design software and flight control systems. I can tell it's a thrust vectored vehicle because of the flaps that deploy about halfway through the video on the bottom and top sides of the craft .... and I also notice a slight heat vapour trail that was highlighted in the video compression artifacts just as the craft was passing by the camera operator. The heat vapour trail indicates a combustion engine probably a turbine called a Rotax which can be found in many Skidoo Snowmobiles or Jet Ski personal water craft. (Bombardier is the world's largest maker of High Thrust Rotax Engines) The way the aircraft also bobbed and spun about quite quickly indicates auto-adjustment software that is redirecting air-blasts through ducts in the sides of the craft (duct openings are near the upper and lower flaps) in reaction to gusts of wind and aerodynamic forces.

"That the craft is quite level in flight indicates a twin-fan setup in the middle of the aircraft in which each turbo-fan is counter rotating in order to create a stable vortex. You can see some heavy video compression-artifacting at the bottom of the video frame which indicates to me that dust is being swirled up by downward thrust engines. Video compression can't handle small fast-moving objects so we get extra blockiness in the bottom on the video frame which indicates a possible dust cloud caused by a turbofan. I also suggest that the end of the video was added later in post production as an internal attempt to show future possibilities to audiences such as the defence departments of purchasing countries.

"I estimate a 300 Horsepower Rotax engine could do a l0kmh to 300kmh acceleration as what was demonstrated in the video. Remember that the craft in the video was no bigger than about 12 ft (4 meters) to (i 6 feet) 5 meters in diameter and would have been built of lightweight aluminium in the body and carbon composites for the fan blades with a total weight of no more than 120 to 150 kilos. So performance of what was seen at the end of the video is not totally out of the question but as per the rest of the video, it suggests that the engine produced about 150 to 200 horsepower. I also estimate it's flight range to be about 25 to 50 km because of fuel capacity issues. And based upon the vapour trail I say it takes a high-temperature fuel to make it out of the thrust ducts so I think they are using something like super-vaporised kerosene, Jet-A or possibly even something hydrazine based (i.e. monohydrazine).

"On a commercial scale, I would estimate ten million US dollars in total development and final build costs and of that 10 million, [ would say that seven million US dollars would be for the design and flight control software and about 5000 thousand man-hours over two to three years of carefully calculated development time. For me to duplicate this, [ could do it for about $25,000 for a Kevlar or Zylon-based fibre body, about $10,000 for Rotax Engines and about 1000 hours of design and build time (I have a three axis CNC machine and top-notch carbon fibre composite build experience)

"The reason I can do it cheaper, faster and better is because [ estimate this film to be about seven to 1 ten years old because of the craft's 1990's era design and since it's now 2007 and [ have a four processor, three gigahertz design workstation with sixteen gigabytes of RAM and three terabytes of disk space, [ can definitely do it faster that what the original designers did who only had access to vastly slower computer design hardware.

"I'd also do a few more changes on the thrust vectoring such as adding computer-controlled variable diameter thrust vector nozzles and ceramic/carbon composites for BOTH the turbine blades and internal engine components. Since Zylon/Kevlar is lighter and stronger than the equivalent aluminium I would build it out of these high-tech fibres. Internal Engines parts I'd make out of Aluminium Oxide Ceramic which could withstand 2000 degrees Celsius and higher pressures and modern software could supervaporize the fuel and shape the combustion cycle for optimal fuel efficiency and maximum thrust. This means [ could up the horsepower to around 800 hp to 1000 hp and reduce weight using simple and inexpensive Jet-A fuel.

"For slower but more long distance recon versions, I'd use a turbo diesel engine with low-speed, wide-bladed and wide aperture turbofans and pressurised fuel tanks to give me about 300 km of range. Although I don't have much other info on this aircraft I think we can safely say this is not an Alien UFO and is definitely not out-of-this-world technology. The design is too mainstream and even some modern toys can emulate what was seen on the video. The problem part of the footage is the sudden burst of acceleration at the end of the footage which to me is an editing/post-production effect intended to show future possibilities rather than show an actual performance envelope. I still have misgivings about the location of the film because the bridge design seems too North American Utilitarian in look and the buildings in the background also seem too North American in design. So I will suggest somewhere near Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada rather than in Italy or France.

"Please also notice the F117 stealth fighter at the very last few frames of the video? It also suggests a North American location, but I do remember that FII7's were stationed in Aviano, Italy in the mid 90's so that river could be located near Aviano, Italy."

Until we get any further substantial information about the circumstances of where, how and why this footage was recorded we can only speculate about the real origin of this craft. For the time being the footage makes us consider what constitutes UFO video evidence when computer software •and models can be easily manipulated and constructed. In addition, the proliferation of Internet sites that allow you to anonymously post your work for worldwide attention means that faking UFO footage is a rich field of endeavour for pranksters and hoaxers. Such videos can only be taken seriously if they are backed-up by reliable independent witnesses. Plus, documentation recording the full details of how the images came to be captured, should also be included, otherwise these Internet videos are only of entertainment value.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdyQu5Zx8xw