A simple guide on how to hunt UAP’s ( Hint : the first step is realizing it might not be a UAP )

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Hi everyone. I’ve been a casual observer of this sub for quite a while, and like some of you, I’ve seen a recent influx of dubious at best self-reports of “UAPs”. And really, most of them aren’t UAP’s at all. I also see a lot of false positives on sites like nuforc.org that can be easily explained.

So, I hope to give you a guide on how to observe the skies and discern “normal and everyday” from actual “phenomena”.

Before we start, I just want to clarify. I am approaching this from the standpoint that I believe a lot of the valid sightings are advanced military technology. I’m not ex-military. And I’m not giving away any secrets here. But I imagine our friends in Eglin will hate this because it helps clear up some of the signal from the noise.

But what I am is an older, life long aviation & aerospace fanatic. I’ve observed a combined thousands of planes, satellites, and meteors at this point in my life. I’ve also worked for a branch of the military, come from a military family, and lived many years in a highly militarized part of the country. I never held a security clearance so I’m not breaking any NDA’s here. But this has also given me good insight into how our military operates from an aviation standpoint.

This is gonna be a long one, so get comfy, and let’s dig in.


First of all, if you’re hoping to see military flights, you need to know where they operate. Unfortunately for us, that’s often out over the ocean, so unless you have a very capable boat, you’re not going to see those. However, there’s plenty of other Military Operating Areas, known commonly as “MOAs” that are inland. These are areas that usually don’t see much commercial air traffic. They are known as ‘keep out’ areas so that military vehicles can fly around unimpeded. ATC routes most commercial traffic around them.

Fortunately for us, most of those are known and unclassified. The government even published this handy map of the country showing them ( https://www.denix.osd.mil/sri/denix-files/sites/52/2016/03/SRR2012-AppendixCFigures.pdf ). So if you live in one, or in between one and some air bases, good, you stand a higher chance of seeing something cool, even if it’s not a UAP.

Aerospace Contractors

Here’s a little exercise. Open up Google Maps, pan to any state of your choosing, and search for “Northrup Grumman”. You can find an office of theirs in almost any state. In fact just down the road from me, in a perfectly non-descript part of N. Maryland, they do hypersonic propulsion system development ( Hi guys, big fan, hope to see your stuff soon! ). If you live near an office of Lockheed, Northrup, or whoever, and they say they are working on cool stuff, and you live near a MOA, this should def raise your eyebrows.

ISR / Signals Intelligence & Hygiene

Next, I would highly recommend turning off and distancing yourself as much as possible from any electronic devices. Use a real, non-wifi enabled camera (not your phone), and ensure you turn off any “focus assist” features which may use something like infrared light.

Why? Because the military has something known as “ISR”, or “Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance”. And these capabilities are extraordinary. Do you remember early on the Ukraine war all those stories of dudes going over and getting wrecked after posting to social media? That’s because there’s lots of tech up there flying around, soaking up signals, and seeing who’s out there watching/broadcasting their location. And that was just Russian tech. Imagine what we have. If they are going to float a highly sensitive payload through the skies, you better well bet they are going to know what their risk profile is for it being observed.

When I’m observing, I often will ‘observe first, ask questions later’. That is, not break out the electronics until after the event has passed by to then go look it up to see if it was a plane, a satellite, or whatever.

Just Look Up and Stay Still

It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s actually a lot better to get comfy and just watch a single part of the sky. Lie down, or sit in a reclining chair. If you move your eyes or head around too much, you’re going to get ‘ghosting’ from stars, or floaters in your eyes, and think you saw something you didn’t. If you’re focused on an area of the sky and not moving, you’ll find it a lot easier to discern what’s moving up there vs whats moving around in your eyeballs. For someone like me with ADHD this is super hard to do. But when I exercise good technique and just look up in one place, I often spot something.

Time of Day

Time of day is very important if you want to remove the possibility of seeing more satellites. The best time for seeing satellites, and especially light blooms from them ( more on that later ), is the first couple of hours after sunset. So go out closer to midnight if you can. If not, just be aware you’re going to get a lot more ‘noise’ from plain old boring satellites reflecting the last of the sunlight. This leads me to my next point :

Starlink Really is the New Swamp Gas

Look, there’s a ton of stuff up there. In fact it’s becoming a huge problem that we’re now having to create tech to go up and remove all the space junk. And Elon isn’t helping the problem. So when you’re observing, you’re going to see a lot of satellites and space junk. Fortunately there’s some good tools to tell what it is you just saw.

The first one I turn to is https://www.heavens-above.com/. This is a no-nonsense site that tells you what’s overhead, where it’s heading to and from, and at what time. The other tool I like is “Stellarium” for giving you a map of the stars and some common satellites.

So how do you know if it’s a satellite? There’s a couple tells :

They often are a single point of light, moving in a straight line, that appears to light up from one side of the sky, travel to the other, and then fade away. Some are often “light blooms” from space junk or getting hit by the sun at just the right angle. These ones can be deceptive because they often have shorter durations, and get a lot brighter than the average Starlink satellite. They will usually appear in the middle of the sky, get real bright and fade rapidly, sometimes a couple times in a row. But if you observe closely, you will see they are still moving in a straight line. These are seen most often 1-2hrs after sunset, when they are transiting from the lit side of the earth to the dark side. They can really throw you sometimes and make you think you saw something. So really important to be aware of.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

How do you know if it’s a plane? I like to use “ADSBExchange” (https://globe.adsbexchange.com/) over the other sites. This is because it A. Doesn’t filter out private flights, and B. shows planes operating under ‘temporary hexes’. That is, an identifier that’s used temporarily to report its position for air safety reasons, but to hide its identity. If you open up the map on ADSBExchange and see something with a code like “~2ACECE”, it’s probably just a plane/helicopter trying to obscure it’s identity. This could still lead to cool ‘ish like fighter planes and what not. But hypersonic missile tests aren’t going to be broadcasting on ADSBExchange.

What about rockets?

Good question, voice in my head as I’m writing this. This is something really important. With the rise of commercial space travel, we are getting lots and lots more rocket launches from groups that are not NASA. And thus, lots of false positives. If you live on the east coast, there’s a good chance you can catch a Starlink launch from Florida even if you live as far as New York. Especially in the winter when it’s darker and clearer. There’s also a NASA launch site in Chincoteague, VA that does regular launches often visible to the entire mid-atlantic region. Know and look up the schedules when you can.

Texas also sees a lot of SpaceX traffic now too, and rockets launching out of Vandenberg AFB in California are almost a weekly occurrence these days.

Ok, I Think I Saw Something

Great, first question is, how did it move?

Was it mostly in a straight line? If so, it’s probably something boring. Did it make a slow, gradual turn over the entirety of the sky? It probably was a plane. Especially if… Was it blinking? Often times planes high up and from a distance don’t appear to blink until they get closer to you. Sometimes you’ll see something moving, even see it start to turn towards you, it’s not blinking, and then it gets to you and you see the obvious signs of aircraft beacons. Disappointing, I know.

So what don’t satellites, planes , or meteors do?

They don’t make fast, extrememly hard and fast turns. A plane going supersonic at high altitude will need a turn radius of over 10 miles to not crush it’s pilot with g-forces. If it’s fast really high up, or even down low, and it suddenly makes a complete about face and goes the other way? You got something interesting. If it makes a hard sharp right turn and zooms off the other way, you got something. This is my biggest question I ask myself when I see a light in the sky. Does it change direction at all. If not, its probably something “boring”. They don’t have odd unexplained light patterns. Plane’s beacon lights seem random, but observe one for a while and you will see there is a pattern to it. As mentioned before, satellites make brilliant light blooms, but they are often fleeting. If you see something that’s changing colors, or expelling light in weird patterns, or anything other than being a solid light or blinking, you -might- have something.

A Word of Caution

Finally, I think this just needs to be said. If you are out there, and you photograph a legit genuine phenomenon, it’s possible you just captured an image of something highly, highly classified. And you need to think really long and hard about if this is worth publishing under your own name for the sake of ‘internet cool points’. I would consider abstracting your identity as much as possible. Sure, in this connected era, they can still find you. But make it as hard as you can. Throw-aways through a known trustworthy VPN are going to be your best bet.

These people don’t F’ around. And here is where I’m going to drop a truth bomb of an extraordinary claim that for my own personal safety, I’m not going to elaborate further on. I feel nervous even typing this. But using the techniques I’ve described above, and other “OSINT” techniques, I have personally verified that a certain whistleblower out there has indeed been harrassed and discredited by our friends in the intelligence community. And no, I’m not talking about David G. Take this statement for whatever you feel its worth. If you want to think I’m full of BS, go for it. But I know for an absolute fact that I can prove harrassment of somebody who is now labeled as “crazy”, and the “community” has already “discredited” them because of it. They will harass you to the point of self-fulfilling insanity.

Be safe, and keep looking up.

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