I have been fortunate to see a number of UFOs, some quite remarkable, that were all eventually explained. Here is what I saw and why:
One evening my wife and I were returning to work after dinner. (That is what happens when you start your own company!) Off to the right I saw a multi-story building where none existed a couple of hours earlier! I asked my wife, "when did they build that!" to which she responded with a mild profanity. There it was - a tall, well lit building with bricks, windows, and lights along the roof line shining down on the sides. We turned right to investigate this miracle of construction. But, as we approached the structure, it began to move! Soon it literally took off into the air, flying out over highway 183. Keep in mind, this thing was not a blur of lights. It was a flying building. Realizing it was some sort of illusion, we gave chase and ended up heading west ("north") on 183. We pulled into a parking lot when we had a really good view of this hovering building and we jumped out to get a better look. There was no clearly visible bottom and it seemed to be several hundred feet up, but it was quite clear. If there had been a person standing in one of the dark windows we could have easily seen him. Now for the discovery... Directly below the flying building was another building. This structure was identical except that there were no roof lights. There were, however, lights mounted on the ground pointing UP at the sides of the building. We were looking at a high quality reflection off ice or some sort of boundary layer. We watched in amazement until it eventually broke up. When it broke up, there was a convincing illusion of movement. It appeared as though several pieces darted away at remarkable speed. Now that I have seen such a reflection, I am certain that it explains a large number of the more mysterious sightings. Next time you fly at night, look out the window and notice how many of the lights below look really odd and are hard to identify. Now imagine seeing one of those in the sky, flying around!
On another occasion a group of friends and I were sitting on the lawn when a VERY large UFO flew right up our street, covering the houses on both sides. It was a huge, silent disk with the leading edge lit by the orange city lights and a completely dark underside. Everyone in the group was stunned. It was no airplane, balloon, reflection, or anything else that we could think up. A few minutes later, it returned! Now this was exciting. I ran to my car, grabbed my glasses and ran down the street looking straight up, trying to make out any details. As I studied the object, I noticed a wavering in the leading edge and I also heard "quack - quack". Yep, it was ducks flying in formation. Suddenly, the entire disk disappeared and all that remained was the curved row of ducks heading south. My (and the others') brain filled in the black disk, including a black trailing edge - quite a lesson in perception. I am so glad another flock flew by! Otherwise, I would be a real nut case today: "Don't tell me they don't exist. I was practically abducted!"
One late afternoon I saw a hovering disk near the horizon. It was moving slowly and looked quite mysterious. I have a rather large pair of binoculars which I quickly grabbed. The strange, round object looked even more strange but it was clearly a bulging high altitude balloon. Apparently, they don't stay long and tear-shaped as when launched.
The other night we all went out to watch the space shuttle fly by on its way to a landing. This was a IO (Identified Object) but I cannot imagine what I might have thought if I wasn't expecting it! It was quite a show because its con trail was still in the sun even though it was quite dark outside. The speed was amazing and it really looked like an incoming ICBM! If you saw it in a movie you would think it was "fakey".
I have also seen some spectacular meteors. The most dramatic was in the late 1960s or early '70s. I was on a friend's sail boat when I suddenly saw the shadow of my arm flickering on the side of the boat. I spun around to determine the light source (I expected an oncoming boat) only to see a fireball flying along the horizon. A little piece broke off and dropped down at a steeper angle and the main piece disappeared over the horizon. This thing was big and dynamic - not just a point of light, very much like the fireball they show on all those UFO shows. I wonder if it was the same one?
I once saw another meteor break into two pieces but it was points of light, like something in a cloud chamber.
When I was quite young, on a walk with my dad around the neighborhood, I saw a blue flame-shaped flash. It looked just like the flame that our gas company was using in their ads on TV. I think it was a meteor viewed end on.
Satellites also have provided some interesting sights. They only look like points of light but there are a surprising number in north-south orbits. When my daughter was about four, she could look up and spot a moving point of light in seconds! She saw one of these north-south satellites on successive orbits without fail. It took about 15 or 20 minutes between orbits and the earth had turned a significant amount by the time it came back around. It sounds like a great way for a spy satellite to scan the whole earth.
Speaking of sky watching, my daughter and I spent a few afternoons in the back yard watching for whatever went by and I was amazed by how much "stuff" is up there (besides birds, planes, etc). We always saw something odd. I remember being surprised by a really high flying green trash bag just tumbling by! How did it get so high? There was a hurricane far to the south at the time so maybe there were some unusual wind patterns. Maybe it was one of those solar-powered hot air balloons.
Yes, I too have been temporarily fooled by Venus, landing lights, party balloons, the moon, unusual aircraft and a variety of flying creatures.
>to be continued....<