UFO Investigations- Choose Your Equipment
One of the first considerations new investigators have is what equipment they will need. There are certain things that simply go without saying you will need for all investigations. We'll simply list them here first; the only qualification is to use good quality models where applicable. A cheap flashlight that falls apart the first time it is used does no one any good! That said, all investigators should carry:
- A good, bright flashlight ("D" Cell type, for extended use.)
- Notepad and two or three sharpened pencils.
- Cellphone or two-way radio to keep in touch.
- Basic First Aid kit, just in case.
- Small folding knife.
- Tape measure.
- Spare Batteries for whatever other equipment you use. (including your flashlight)
- Plaster of Paris - Taking any impressions of tracks or imprints.
- Clean/Sealable containers - Collecting samples if any exist.
- Latex surgical gloves - Collecting and handling samples
- Camera - (We'll discuss this in detail shortly)
- Audio Recorder - (We'll also cover more on the recorder later.)
- Forms - (It is helpful to have report forms printed up and ready to go.)
- Professional Contacts - Experts in various fields you may consult as needed.
That will get you going on a basic UFO investigation. A little preparation ahead of time keeping all your equipment in one place will save a lot of time. Generally UFO or alien sighting reports come in with no advance notice. Unlike ghost hunts which people plan and go out looking, UFO reports come to you. It is helpful to be able to respond quickly should you receive one, since many times evidence may be lost or conditions change. If you can be on the scene promptly sometimes you can obtain additional data that may be lost by the next day.
Related to that, there is the occasional UFO skywatch, but those are generally ineffective aside from an opportunity to stargaze. Ghost hunters plan weekend investigations to see what they can capture, UFO investigators respond, generally after the fact. Consequently any evidence obtained are often simply witness statements and related observations you may make of where the UFO was, but seldom does the UFO investigator ever see an object himself. Once in a while you may get imprints of where something allegedly was seen, but even these are infrequent. The lack of physical evidence is the largest controlling factor in determining what specialized equipment you may need.
Well take a look at still cameras first. It should be noted that many of the same requirements also apply to video as well. There are two ways the camera can be expected to be used. By far the most common is to record the scene of a sighting after the fact. Generally this is done in daylight with the witness present at the time of the initial interview. The witness simply takes you to the area where the object was seen and relates the sighting to you. The camera is used to take photos of the area.
The purpose of these photos is to attempt to relate the sighting to fixed objects on the ground. For this a zoom lens is useful. You want to capture anything which possibly could have been misidentified earlier. Often towers, street lights, or other such objects can be shown to be responsible for the sighting. So it is obvious that the ability of a camera in this application does not have to have good low light performance. In fact a slower film speed (ASA rating) will generally give a more detailed picture and may actually be better in this application.
Flash is also not generally a concern here. Most photography of this nature is done at some distance; probably well beyond the range of any flash unit.
It is also possible that you may encounter a case where a landing is reported. Even in these cases it will generally be daylight before you get on the scene so low light photography is often not a factor. What may change here is the need for flash. But even then it is likely you will be fairly close to any impressions or other evidence you may encounter. Plus, unlike ghost photography, orbs caused by dust are generally not a problem so flash placement on the camera body is not an issue. Thus a small digital with built in flash is acceptable.
The second, although much more rare use of the camera, is to actually capture a UFO. Generally the investigator is not in a position to be so lucky. It is more frequently a witness who just happens to be in the right place at the right time. For these rare cases you want to be using a camera with good low light capabilities. Depending on the distance a zoom lens may be beneficial. One of the most important requirements based on the multitude of blurred poor quality pictures submitted is to have the ability to manually adjust the exposure settings. Often a UFO is seen as a bright light against a black sky. What you get is a bright spot with no apparent detail.
This problem may be minimized by taking multiple pictures, intentionally underexposing some of them to varying degrees. Later in the analysis process these underexposed photos may be used in conjunction with the normal ones to provide detail which might otherwise be washed out if the auto exposure setting was used.
One more problem often occurs, that of motion blur. Any time a zoom function is used it becomes very important to hold the camera extremely stable. That requires a tripod or at the very least hlding camera against a fixed object to prevent movement. Doing so will prevent the common problem of capturing the object only to have it appear as a streak across the frame.
All of the above will also apply to video cameras. One additional advantage of video is its ability to pan an area or show motion. In the case of using the video camera as an investigative tool, it is possible to take a panorama shot of an entire area where an object was seen. This includes the horizon which should be shown as a point of reference. The same applies if the video camera is used to record evidence of a landing or impact. You can include the surrounding area to provide additional information.
In the case of a flying object caught in motion, like the still camera, the video camera should be intentionally underexposed at times while keeping the object in the field of view. By following these guidelines you will likely obtain more useful photographic or video data. When choosing a camera get something that allows this flexibility in its set up.
Back to Top of Page
The type of audio recorder used for UFO research is not a major concern. Unlike some other forms of investigation it generally does not record actual evidence, rather it is used to either keep a log of the investigator's observations or to take a witness statement. For this purpose almost any reasonable quality digital voice recorder is fine.
The primary concern is its ease of use. Since it is probable the recorder may be used to take witness statements, it is likely you may want to transcribe the testimony onto paper at a later time. The recorder should have a means of starting and stopping playback that takes this into consideration. Plus a time stamp may be beneficial, although not a necessity.
Overall quality should also be taken into account. Since your recorder will probably get tossed around with your other supplies it should be durable enough to withstand such handling and not be damaged. It does little good to show up to do an interview with a recorder that is a piece of junk. While it certainly doesn't have to be expensive, at least take one step above the bottom of the line and get something dependable.
Now we enter the area of specialty equipment. The common EMF meter has not been shown to be useful since they detect an alternating field. Only if the UFO is present at the time would such a field also be present. Under those conditions an EMF monitor may be useful. Otherwise the only thing left behind could be a residual magnetic field which would not be detected by such an EMF monitor. A Magnetometer or Static Field Monitor might be useful in these cases, however there has not been any confirmed case where a UFO has left behind any residual magnetism except a few instances where vehicles were involved. In those cases a slight residual magnetism was detected, but it could not be shown that this came from the UFO. It may well have resulted from exposure to the earth's background magnetic field.
As mentioned above, One area where magnetic characteristics have been observed is in active, occurring UFO sightings. I personally have such a case on file involving a magnetic anomaly detector. In this instance a magnetic anomaly detector was activated. Observations were made yet nothing was visibly seen. Almost two weeks later a second report came in from an eyewitness to a doughnut shaped object following along a power line. He had seen this object two weeks earlier following the power line. This same power line is also within 1000 feet of the magnetic anomaly detector. When dates and times were compared, allowing for the distance between where he observed it and the time of the detection, a match could be made. Very strong circumstantial evidence the magnetic disturbance and the sighting were related.
Another area where some disruptions have been reported is to electronic systems. These reports go back almost 50 years involving radio interference and car engines being disabled. This is the logic behind using a Magnetic Anomaly Detector, my intent was any nearby UFO might cause a disturbance which could be measured. This in fact may have happened in the above case, but otherwise the system has run for almost 10 years with only two activations; the one unknown reported above, and another which was traced to a man made source nearby. If this is any indication, attempting to actually detect a UFO in real time is a time consuming venture, but it might be worth constantly monitoring these fields, just in case.
You may want to consider a dynamic EMF monitor for your tool kit. This could be useful should you get the recurring UFO or other such anomaly reported. It might be helpful at resolving a case which is not a UFO, rather something caused by some man made source. Often radio transmitters and power distribution systems can cause strange effects which could be misidentified as paranormal events.
While some early reports have connected ionizing radiation to UFOs, there have been no confirmed cases that have been verified by a second source. The benefit of such a device for UFO research is still open to debate. The expense of these devices tends to be prohibitive, but on the other hand should you get a report of an object on the ground or other case of close encounter, it may be helpful to be able to at least check the area for residual radiation. if you can pick up a Geiger counter or radiation meter online cheap, go ahead and buy one. But it's not essential.
Thermal Imaging Systems
Another expensive system that has not been shown to be of any real benefit when it comes to UFOs. Some have made claims that using third and fourth generation thermal imaging allows them to see UFOs in the sky constantly, I suspect they more likely are detecting high altitude aircraft or possibly even satellites. I have viewed video related to some of these claims and have determined some are simply anomalies related to the imager itself. More work may eventually provide a more definite explanation, but until then, unless you are doing a very specific experiment where such a device is required, I would pass on the Thermal Imaging System
Ultrasonics and Infrasonics
Some sounds have been associated with a few UFO sightings. Most have been in the audio spectrum, however it could be that since most witnesses do not have equipment present which would detect these extremes, the sounds simply went unheard. There have been some very low frequency characteristics detected. It could be that something in the Infrasonic or Ultrasonic region is associated with UFOs, but I would have to say that aspect is unknown at this time. However equipment such as this is expensive and likely would not be cost effective to most investigators unless you were doing specific work in this area. It is beyond the scope of most investigations of a sighting.