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Fact-Checkers Debunk “Groundbreaking” Chilean UFO Footage

After the Chilean Navy released the footage from its two-year investigation of a strange UFO caught on camera by one of its helicopters, the internet lost its mind for a few days. The Huffington Post’s UFO investigator and conspiracy watcher Leslie Kean first broke the story, which soon went viral. While many not-so-skeptical outlets have been hailing the footage as the first definitive footage of an alien spacecraft, others aren’t so convinced.

The mysterious object left two separate plumes behind it, sparking chemtrail claims.

The mysterious object left two separate plumes behind it, sparking the usual chemtrail claims.

Naturally, many reddit discussions sprung up to examine the footage, with many users claiming that the object resembles a U.S. military helicopter or even the thermal signature of a commercial jet. According to the Chilean Navy’s investigation, however, there were no other known aircraft in the vicinity its helicopter’s location which could have been misidentified as the UFO in the footage. Furthermore, according to the investigation reports, the Chilean Navy’s radar picked up no aircraft in the area. Some outlets have claimed the footage to be a hoax, as Leslie Kean and the Chilean Navy have been known in the past to over-hype some rather dubious UFO claims.

To complicate the conversation surrounding the UFO claims further, fact-checking site Metabunk.org has published a comprehensive examination of the Chilean Navy’s footage along with flight traffic data from the area on the date of the sighting and comparisons of other infrared heat signatures.

Flight data from a nearby airliner on the date of the sighting. Image credit: Metabunk.org.

Flight data from a nearby airliner on the date of the sighting. Image credit: Metabunk.org.

According to the post, written by Metabunk administrator Mick West, the object in the footage can be explained away as simply the aerodynamic contrails left by one of two possible commercial airliners:

Based on analysis by @Trailblazer, @Trailspotter, myself, and others, There are likely TWO planes involved IB6830 and LA330. The plane that initially seems to fit best is LA330, a two engined A320, which was reported to be climbing through 20,000 feet at that exact visual position at 14:01:39.

The post includes flight path data of the two flights, showing that they were approximately 65 miles (100 km) away from the helicopter, and West claims the distance could be the reason the object did not appear on the helicopter’s radar. The post goes on to compare images of normal jet thermal signatures against those in the footage, and the resemblance is indeed quite apparent.

Comparison of a commercial jet's thermal signature with that of the object in the video. Image credit: Metabunk.org

Comparison of a commercial jet’s thermal signature with that of the object in the video. Image credit: Metabunk.org

West’s final conclusion is that the helicopter’s infrared footage is merely picking up on the temperature fluctuations of the aerodynamic contrail left by a commercial aircraft out of range of the helicopter’s radar. According to their website, Metabunk.org is “dedicated to the art and pastime of honest, polite, scientific investigating and debunking.” The site is mainly concerned with debunking contrail claims and 9/11 conspiracy accusations, but will occasionally report on UFO matters. 

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  • BW

    I don’t think I would call the Chilean Navy video ‘debunked’. What this group has offered is a possible explanation.

  • Knowles222

    Funny how all there photos are off concorde, a aeroplane that never flew into Chile, which isn’t the worse error in this article, that the fact the plane hasn’t flown since 2003, this sighting happen in 2014 is.

    You also ignore details in Chilean reports, one of those is that two seperate radars on the ground, both with a range larger than 50 miles fail to detect the aircraft.

  • Knowles222

    Whilst ignoring key details of the case which doesn’t fit their explanation.

  • Phil

    99.9% of UFO footage is fake anyway.