Guest Commentary

UFO Recognition Part III - Features

By Bill Hamilton


Aircraft are usually recognized in daylight skies as having a tubular fuselage and projecting wings.  If the aircraft is flying at high altitudes, it is sometimes difficult to determine the aircraft’s shape as it subtends such a small viewing angle and may reflect light off various surfaces.  The recognition of aircraft, balloons, blimps, and helicopters must be studied to distinguish them from unidentified flying and aerial objects.

Reported UFO shapes vary across a much larger spectrum of geometry than conventional aircraft shapes, and many do not have aerodynamic shapes.

Boomerangs:  These started appearing in the 1980s.  Sometimes asymmetrical in shape.  They seem to move low and slowly.  Some reported as the size of three football fields.

In the 1940-1960 era large cigar-shaped UFOs were sighted, sometimes disgorging disk-shaped objects.  I remember than one sighting in 1949 from two separate points estimated one cigar to be approximately 1 mile in length!   The large cigars are not seen often in this current era. (Note:  Roy Neary in the film “Close Encounters” described UFOs in terms of food.  Here the UFO looked like a giant cigar)

Many varieties of cone-shaped UFOs have been spotted.  Some appear to be inverted cones.  In 1959 I saw what appeared to be a double cone joined at the base.

These are usually small compared to the cigars.

Disks and Domed Disks:
Commonly called a “flying saucer” and seen more frequently in the early era, but still spotted from time to time in the current era. These may be sighted with certain structural features:  windows, landing gear, rings, ports, etc.

Looks like two spheres with a connecting rod.

Combination of dome and stem.

A flying pyramid like you see in the StarGate TV series!

Believe it or not some UFO appear to be completely rectangular in shape.

Large spheres with engirdling ring.

These have shown up with greater frequency in the current era and outnumber the number of disk sightings reported.

Orbs, octagons, and other miscellaneous shapes have been reported.


For the most part UFOs seem to pass through the air soundlessly.  Witnesses have strained to hear sounds from low-flying UFOs and report they could not, and yet various sounds have been heard coming from UFOs.  In the early era witnesses having a close encounter of the second or third kind would sometimes report hearing a “humming” noise emanating from a disk or domed disk.  This humming has been variously described as sounding like a swarm of bees, a generator, or a vacuum cleaner.

Occasionally other sounds have been reported such as a thunderous roar.


Structures are varied, but a few common features have appeared on some of the close encounter reports.  The reports of seamless outer hull structures suggest an advanced materials technology.  Windows and doors have been seen in disks both open and closing, and when closed, the closing appears seamless.

Domed disks with three or four spheres on the underside have been seen and photographed.  These spheres have been seen to rotate.  Ring-like structures have been seen.  What seem like antennas sprout from the domes on the disks.

Triangles with rectangular panels on the underbody have been observed.

Lights, ports, windows, panels, and various raised surfaces have been seen on all shapes of UFOs.  Sightings involving structures convince witnesses that they are looking at a craft or vehicle from some other world.


UFOs have been seen both in daylight and nightlight with atmospheric effects.  These effects include glowing opaque body, glowing translucent body, coronas, sparks, smoke, and trails of smoke or sparks.  The surrounding glow or UFO aura changes color as the UFO moves and some have reported it goes through spectral changes with increasing velocity.  Since our known aircraft do not normal produce surrounds of this type, this is a good indicator of an unknown.  These surrounds have been conjectured to be byproducts of UFO propulsion.  This, of course, implies the UFO seen is a vehicle.

If the UFO-vehicle is propelled by electrogravitic or magnetogravitic technology as some think, then these byproducts of the technology are explicable.  Evidently, the UFO can charge or ionize the surrounding atmosphere, producing a glow.  These layers of ionization become a plasma with certain distinct colors depending on the field and the composition of the air.

This three-part exposition is brief and an entire book going into much further detail could be written on this subject.

For further study I recommend:

TITLE:           Observing UFOs
By:              Richard F. Haines, Ph.D
Published by:    Nelson-Hall, Chicago
Year:            1980
                 Library of Congress in Publication Data
                 Haines, Richard F 1937-  Observing UFOs.
                 1. Unidentified Flying Objects.  I. Title.
                 TL789.H34   001.9'42    79-13418

TITLE:           Ufology
By:              McCampbell, James M.
Published by:    Celestial Arts, CA
Year:            1976
                 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-93488

TITLE:           The UFO Handbook
                 A Guide To Investigating, Evaluating And Reporting
                 UFO Sightings
By:              Allan Hendry
Foreword By:     Dr. J. Allen Hynek
Published By:    Doubleday & Company, Inc.  Garden City, NY
Year:            1979
                 Library Of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-8211

TITLE:           The UFO Experience-A Scientific Inquiry
By:              Dr. J. Allen Hynek
Published by:    Henry Regnery, IL,
Year:            1972
                 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 76-183827

TITLE:           Physical Traces Associated With UFO Sightings.
Compiled By:     Ted Phillips
Edited By:       Mimi Hynek
Foreword By:     Dr J. Allen Hynek
Published By:    The Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS)
Year:            1975
Reprinted:       April, 1982 by Arcturus Books Service with
                 permission of the Center For UFO Studies (CUFOS)
TITLE:           UFO Reports Involving Vehicle Interference.
                 A Catalogue and Data Analysis
By:              Mark Rodeghier
Edited By:       Mimi Hynek and Sanna Hans Longden
Published By:    Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS)
                 P.O. Box 1402 Evanston, IL 60204
Year:            1981
Available:       Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS)
                 2457 W. Peterson Ave.
                 Chicago, IL 60659

TITLE:           Project Identification: The First Scientific Field
                 Study of UFO Phenomena
By:              Harley D. Rutledge, Ph.D
Published By:    Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Year:            1981
                 Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
                 Rutledge, Harley D.  Project Identification
                 Includes index. 1. Unidentified flying objects.
                 I. Title.
                 TL789.R83     001.9'42     81-5076
                 ISBN 0-13-730713-6         AACR2
                 ISBN 0-13-730705-5 (pbk.)


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