Aug 17, 2018 I Micah Hanks

Was This a “Mystery Aircraft” Filmed Over a North Carolina Lake?

A video appearing online recently purports to show a "mystery aircraft" in the distance as it passes over Lake Norman near Charlotte, North Carolina.

The footage, which is at times unreasonably shaky, seems to show a large, dark form moving slowly above Lake Norman in the distance. Unfortunately, the viewer is given a better perspective of the parking lot adjacent to the boat ramp than of the object, which only makes fleeting appearances--despite moving slowly--due to the poor camerawork.

Nonetheless, the footage has managed to gain traction online, after being picked up and featured on Drudge Report and The Daily Star, in addition to several YouTube channels. The footage as it originally appeared online can be seen below:

The footage was obtained by Jason Swing, who allegedly filmed the object with his Smartphone on May 29, according to Mark Price at the Charlotte Observer

"Hey, this is a spacecraft," a man who appears to be Swing can be heard saying at the beginning of the video, before it shakily turns in the direction of what appears to be an object moving slowly over Lake Norman. Little can be discerned about the shape or size of the object, or the actual distance it might have been from the parking lot where Swing stood while filming it. At one point in the footage, Swing appears to call to someone nearby, seeking acknowledgment that they were able to see the object as well.

It is unclear if the footage was a hoax, or if it was merely intended as a prank (Swing is suspiciously nonchalant as he advises viewers about the "spacecraft" they are about to see at the video's outset). However, one commenter identified as MrBoomer13 pointed out that Swing's YouTube channel has featured videos of drones in the past, which might suggest that the object over Lake Norman--if real at all--had simply been a drone.

drone 640x463
Still from Swain's footage, purporting to show a large object moving slowly over Lake Norman, NC (Jason Swain, YouTube).

Others felt there was an even simpler explanation. Joe Browder commented that the object might have simply been a passenger plane:

"Nope. Just a passenger jet coming out of Charlotte Douglas Airport. Flying low (below the cloud deck) on northbound track from airport. See this all the time up there. Look at the tops of the trees and bushes each time the video shows the plane and you see that it is steadily moving left to right. Going to look like hovering and slow movement since it is about 4 miles away."

The Linville Gorge Wilderness, just two hours away near Linville, North Carolina, is home to purported earthlights that often appear after rainstorms. Known as the Brown Mountain Lights, on many occasions, the lights of distant aircraft flying out of Charlotte Douglas and other airports in the region can be mistaken for lights hovering over adjacent mountain ridges.

It remains unclear what, precisely (if anything) appears in Swain's video. Had the camera remained still for longer than short bursts of two-second intervals, perhaps more about the object could be discerned. Or for all we know, perhaps there was a legitimate object in the distance, which Swain either wasn't taking seriously enough to try and do a good job filming, or perhaps was just too excited to keep in-frame.

If you observe something unusual in the sky, some helpful tips that will improve the quality of your footage are as follows:

  1. 1) Attempt to orient the object you are filming in the center of the frame, rather than the parking lot pavement nearby. It may help to try and fit other objects in the frame with the anomaly, as this can help judge size, distance, the rate of speed, etc.
  2. 2) Steady your arm by resting it against a fixture nearby (such as one of the signs in the parking lot you're standing in). If no such fixture exists, try kneeling and resting your elbow against your knee as your film the object.
  3. 3) Try to remain calm, and breath normally (rather than shouting at others nearby), as this will also help you maintain a steady shot.
  4. 4) Film the unidentified object for as long as you can (instead of cutting away while the object is still plainly visible and proclaiming "I gotta go").

Sadly, if there actually were anything of interest in this footage, it's too shaky to be able to discern anything about it. Granted, it is worth noting that the engine noise of what appears to be a conventional commercial airliner can be plainly heard as the object passes over the lake. Hence, while our money would probably have to go with YouTuber Joe Browder and the "passenger jet" theory, the footage above nonetheless offers us a few great examples of what not to do while attempting to film what might be a UFO.

UPDATE: Inside Edition reports that the Goodyear Blimp company has stated that this was one of their aircraft operating in the area. According to a Goodyear spokesperson, "We don't want to get in the way of a good story, but that's definitely us." The company says it was covering a NASCAR race in the region at the time.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

Join MU Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions & much more! Subscribe Today!