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After reading through the witness testimonies and examining the details of their descriptions, the NIDS staff physicist came to the conclusion that there was not enough ancillary information to develop a firm hypothesis that could describe the physics of the craft that was observed. Early morning darkness, the element of surprise, lack of physical effects upon witnesses and their surrounding environment, lack of trace physical evidence and lack of instrumentation conspired to prevent the witnesses from quantifying a variety of measures that could develop useful physics information. However, a consensus emerged from the testimonies that are helpful in forming a description of the craft and its aerial performance characteristics, which leads to a tentative hypothesis for the physics while eliminating conventional technology as an explanation.

The overall witness consensus is that of an arrowhead or triangular shaped craft of immense size in comparison with Air Force C-5 or Boeing 747 airline transports – approximately 400-600 feet (122-183 meters) – based on the distance between the lights and the dark craft blocking out the background night sky. There was one description that the craft was larger than the alleged “stealth blimp.” The craft also appeared to be 2-3 stories (40-60 feet or 12-18 meters) thick. It appears directly above or at slant range from the witnesses while flying at altitudes within the characteristic traffic pattern altitude for civil aviation within the Lambert Int’l Airport and Scott AFB positive control airspace. The craft had mounted on its underside three downward pointing bright white lights located near its corners, a red light near the center, possible additional red lights spaced at intervals across the bottom and near the perimeter, and a row of multicolored lights along one side between two of the corner white lights. There also appeared to be large windows with light emanating through them, but these could have possibly been openings or light sources. The bright white lights were described as blinding to the eye and lighting up the sky below the craft. An estimate given by one witness was that these lights were much brighter than a police cruiser’s spotlight (several 105-106 candlepower per manufacturer specifications).  Spotlight manufacturer specifications listing candlepower output are not useable here because the term refers only to the light intensity in a particular direction and by itself does not give an indication of the total light emitted. Candlepower is an unfortunate (old misnomer) photometric unit quantifying luminous intensity of a source of light. It is not a measure of power, but is only a measurement that depends upon the response of the eye that is influenced considerably by the color of the light source.

Witnesses observed the craft to be hovering, slowly rotating about a vertical axis, a combination of the first two followed by slow linear motion, slow linear motion, and slow linear motion or hovering followed by sudden linear accelerations sending the craft across the sky to the witness’s apparent horizon. In addition, most of the witnesses reported hearing no noise coming from the craft while one witness heard a low-pitched buzz.  Overall, the witnesses did not experience any physiological, psychological, electromagnetic or any other anomalous effects. Animals or pets were not present with the witnesses. Taken together, all but two features of these performance and structural characteristics would tend to support a potential hypothesis that the UFO was a black program aircraft that was based on a facsimile of the Aereon lifting-body/inflatable hybrid design (see: The Aereon Hypothesis).

The two essential features that would contradict this are the array of bright white, red and multicolored lights, and the rapid linear accelerations of the craft from slow/hovering flight. In the case of the array of lights on the craft, advisors experienced in black program aircraft development have stated that: 1) black program aircraft R&D does not take place over civilian populations within civil airspace in order to maintain security, safety and closeness to test flight/engineering monitors, 2) black program aircraft operating in applications mode will not visually advertise itself by flying below civil air traffic pattern altitudes and turning on arrays of bright lights since this would severely compromise operational security. In the case of the craft’s accelerations, a gross estimate can be determined from witness information. Given that the craft was slowly moving or nearly motionless followed by rapid movement to the witness’s apparent horizon in a near-instant, and later appearing over the next town a few miles away within a few seconds, imply that accelerations were tens-hundreds of g’s (1 g = 9.81 m/sec2 or 32 feet/sec2). This is beyond the performance of any very large aircraft or potential Aereon-type (black program) aircraft. In fact, several g’s of acceleration would be beyond the structural tolerance of any lifting-body/inflatable hybrid aircraft possessing large-scale internal spars, truss supports and beams, etc.

A stronger alternative hypothesis describing the nature of the Illinois UFO is the following. The craft’s rapid acceleration is typical of many other reported UFO maneuvers that were earlier analyzed by Hill (1995) while at NASA.  Hill reported that such rapid accelerations do not violate the laws of physics or principles of aerodynamics. They can best be explained by the application of localized, directed acceleration fields, which serve to both propel the craft and modify the airstream surrounding it in order to eliminate aerodynamic friction. Such acceleration fields are just a manifestation of spacetime metric engineering. Puthoff (1999) has provided a spacetime metric engineering scheme based on a polarizable-vacuum (PV) representation of general relativity derived from a model by Dicke and related to the "THem" formalism used in comparative studies of gravitational theories.  In this scheme, one modifies or varies the local PV constant using some unknown technology thus inducing the acceleration fields Hill said were necessary to produce such unusual aerodynamic performances. All other hypotheses, such as multidimensional craft, wormhole propulsion or time travel, are untenable within the context of witness testimonies.


Hill, P. R. (1995), Unconventional Flying Objects, Charlottesville, VA, Hampton Roads Publ. Co.

Puthoff, H. E. (1999), “Polarizable-Vacuum (PV) Representation of General Relativity,” LANL e-prints,

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