Friday, May 11, 2018

Chasing Footnotes - Coyne Encounter, Update

To recap briefly, I noted that Richard Dolan and Jennie Randles suggested that Mansfield had said that there was no other traffic in the area the night of Coyne incident. That would suggest no air refueling aircraft had made the close approach.

The endnotes by both suggested that the information had come from Jennie Zeidman, but I haven’t been able to find that specific reference. To be fair, I have not consulted her book published by CUFOS about it, but then, in her later writings and lectures about the case, she didn’t seem to mention it. I have seen the information as supplied in the Flying Saucer Review article and looked at her 1989 MUFON Symposium paper. All that took me to a dead end.

However, on May 9, 2018, I spoke with Robert Yanascek, the crew chief on the helicopter, about the sighting and asked two relevant questions. First, I wanted to know what he had seen that night. He had reported it as an “unidentified object with light.” He told me that it was shaped something like a submarine silhouetted against the bright starry background with a bright red light at the front and a bright light at the rear. In other words, a cylindrically shaped object that didn’t look like any conventional aircraft. He also mentioned that the red and green lights didn’t look like the navigation lights seen on aircraft. His experience was extensive which included tours as a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam.

Second, I asked about attempts to learn what had been flying in the area that night. He told me that they checked with Mansfield and the FAA. They were told that there was nothing else flying in their area.

What this means here, is that I have been able to find a source who was involved that night and who said that they had been unable to verify any other aircraft in the area. I would still like to find any reference in which Jennie Zeidman said that Mansfield had said there was no other traffic around them. However, since I have a source who was there, at the time, and the statement is confirmed as having come from the participants, this seems to prove that nothing else was in the air. That includes the Air Force refueling aircraft and, at lease, one additional helicopter. There could have been more for a training mission like this, but there had to be one. Documentation confirming all this would be helpful, but frankly, not overly necessary, given what we now know.

Helicopters in formation in Vietnam. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
I worried about a question about why the craft didn’t show up on radar. My go to answer these days is “Stealth,” which could apply to an alien craft but certainly not to an Air Force Tanker in 1973. However, it seems that Parabunk has supplied that answer. He wrote, “I just found out that Mansfield didn't have a radar before 1982 (sources at the end of my blog post), so the closest one was probably at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, some 50 miles away.


What is also important here is that these flights were made under IFR, that is Instrument Flight Rules,” and because some of the flight would have been above 14,000 feet, a flight plan would have been required. Had a refueling aircraft been in the area, Mansfield would have had a record of it. When Coyne and his flight crew checked on other aircraft in the area, small, private planes flying VFR (visual flight rules) wouldn’t necessarily have a flight plan and there might not be a record of their flight. Military aircraft would have a flight plan. This seems to rule out any sort of Air Force refueling plane. I can say that with the confidence of someone who is still looking for records and data which might change that conclusion.

70 comments:

Larry said...

Kevin:

When you write "... these flights were made under IFR,..." could you please clarify? Are you saying that flights of aerial refueling aircraft would necessarily be made under IFR rules? Or are you saying that Army helicopter flights would be made under IFR? I have been assuming that Coyne's flight would have been made under night VFR.

Parabunk said...

I only just noticed this new post by you, and especially this:

"However, on May 9, 2018, I spoke with Robert Yanascek"

I was planning to ask if you know if any of the crew (or Zeidman) would be available to comment on this, and apparently the answer is yes.

Since you only mentioned those two questions, I suppose you didn't ask him directly if it could have been a tanker?

We now know that Mansfield didn't have a radar and it happened outside the coverage of any radars at the time, and also that there had been several near collisions in the area before 1982 when Mansfield finally got their radar. So we can hardly expect Mansfield could have been able to give accurate information on what was flying there, and I haven't seen any verified info that anyone would have even checked anything else than the whereabouts of those F-100 fighters or something else that could fit to Coyne's descriptions of extreme speeds.

I'm also not at all surprised if Yanacsek thought those lights looked different than normal navigation lights, as the circumstances and the distance they saw those from were not exactly typical. At the same time, we have various witness testimonies comparing those lights to being similar to navigation lights.

Yanacsek himself stated about the red light from distance that "We were too high, in my estimation, for it to be a radio tower, but it was either that or an aircraft. I figured it was an aircraft, since it wasn't flashing" and also "There was no question in my mind that it was manmade, whether it was a tower or a plane."

There's also the chance that they actually were brighter than usual. Tankers have switches for turning those either to bright or dim, and not all of them are equal to begin with.

As for the overall shape, Yanacsek seems to have just confirmed again that they only saw it as a silhouette against the stars through their (green tinted) windows, which hardly enables one to see a dark object accurately in the darkness.

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

Sorry I haven't been able to reply earlier to this excellent series of articles on this case (by you and Parabunk).

As a skeptic, I take issue with another skeptic claiming to have definitely solved a case using the kinds of evidence assembled by Parabunk. That kind of dogmatic claim is what the other side participates in ad nauseum.

What Parabunk did was offer an excellent possibility for the source of this classic case. Is his explanation definitive? No. Does the explanation have issues? Yes.

How much more likely is his explanation than a flying saucer? Even with the excellent points brought up against the explanation, it is still near infinity more likely than what UFO proponents would offer.

Your discussions with the witnesses at this late date (after years of living with and defending the tale) carry near zero weight without accompanying evidence. Witnesses frequently (and often immediately) take an advocate role for their case and it this often demonstrably clouds their memory and their accounts.

So do we now have a tenable explanation for the case? Maybe. Or maybe aspects of Parabunks ideas are part of another explanation that we don't have just yet.

One nitwitted commenter here lamented why anyone would even look into a old case, an unbelievavble argument for ignorance. Which is, for the most part, where UFO belief likes to stay.

Lance

Ron S. said...

I'm absolutely blown away by the fact that in the last 30+ years that I've read & watched documentaries about the Coyne case - that NOT ONCE is it mentioned that the roof of the UH-1 helicopter has GREEN SKYLIGHTS ON IT. So lets think for a minute; the main lights seen in this case are red & green (so wow, the aliens just coinidentaly use the same setup we use on all our aircraft - red light on the left wing, green light on the right wing. Then a white light - which is used on the refueling booms. Then the mention of the cockpit of the helicopter flooded with green light. I mean, c'mon. Look at the following pic and pretend instead of a jet that the boom is projecting a light on top of a helicopter that HAS A GREEN SKYLIGHT ON THE ROOF - https://www.google.com/search?biw=1097&bih=538&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=BGX4Wvn4McKq_QbV9JOoAw&q=kc+135+nighttime+inflight+refueling&oq=kc+135+nighttime+inflight+refueling&gs_l=img.3...25646.27403.0.27668.7.7.0.0.0.0.89.426.7.7.0....0...1c.1.64.img..0.0.0....0.lg-mkPk65YQ#imgrc=1qXTgiX6msG7HM:

KRandle said...

Larry -

What I wanted to say there was that the Air Force refueling aircraft would have filed a flight plan. Flight plans were required by regulation, and operating in airspace that was controlled by the FAA, a requirement. However, that flight plan could have been under visual flight rules. I'm not sure if the Air force required IFR on all flights, even in VFR conditions. So, to be more accurate, I should have merely said that they would have filed a flight plan and that they would have been in communication with the various flight following and flight service of the FAA. While they might not have been seen on radar, meaning here that there was no radar at Mansfield, they would have been seen on the other radar in operation, and the FAA air traffic controllers would have known they were in the area. That means that when Coyne attempted to learn what other traffice was in the area at the time of the sighting, the FAA would have had a record of it... especially in the day that followed.

So, let me amend this to say that they would have had an active flight plan and would have been in communication with the FAA during their flight in the area. When Coyne and the others made their report, had there been another aircraft near them, the FAA would have known it.

KRandle said...

Lance -

As usual, we seem to agree on most of this. I thought Parabunk's theory was interesting but took exception to his claim that it solved the case beyond a reasonable doubt and then said that he had nothing to show a refueling aircraft in the area. That, to me, raised a reasonable doubt.

And, I agree that a refueling aircraft is a much more likely explanation than an alien spacecraft... but because Parabunk offered a compelling theory, he is stuck with no documentation to support it. Anything that could be found would be helpful, but the evidence assembled, the testimony of those involved, argues against this explanation. Finding a refueling aircraft in the area would tend to prove his theory...

But his theory also requires a helicopter (or maybe two) who would have been in the area as well, searching (attempting a rendezvous) with the tanker, and no one has found those aircraft either. While it could be argued that the tanker crew was too embarrassed by the mistake and near collision to make a report, that helicopter crew (or crews) wouldn't be worried about that. They should have said something about it because they would have been in that area as well.

Witnesses on the ground only reported Coyne's helicopter and the other object, whatever it might have been. That is simply another argument against the refueling operation.

I would say we have a theory that might be the solution, but to solidify it, we need more evidence.

KRandle said...

Parabunk -

We did talk about the refueling aircraft explanation...

I will note that the navigation lights on the Huey would have a steady bright, steady dim, flashing bright and a flashing dim position, depending on the circumstances. In a combat environment, bright lights are not something you wish to fly around with at night... or in a formation.

You have to understand that these green tinted windows are directly above the pilot's heads. Yanascek saw the object out the cargo door before it stopped and hovered above them. Yanascek told me that at first he thought it was a student in a private plane until it got closer to him. It was then that he saw it silhouetted against the bright background of stars (Lance, his description matches what he said in the days after the incident, based on the recorded interviews at the time). He saw nothing that suggested this was a conventional aircraft, remembering that a refueling aircraft is a conventional aircraft except for the refueling equipment and the lighting at the rear.

When I get a transcript (leaving out the talk of helicopter operations in Vietnam), I'll see that you get a copy.

Parabunk said...

Lance:

Let's consider the options to see if we can simplify this.

Question 1: Was it a:
a) physical craft
b) something else

I guess we can all agree on option a here?

Question 2: Was it:
a) man-made
b) aliens

You seem to agree that option a is "near infinity more likely".

We could speculate if it was some foreign nation instead of US, but that would just cause difficult questions without answering any, so I don't think that makes sense.

Question 3: Did it originally approach the helicopter:
a) deliberately
b) accidentally

I believe it was quite clearly option a based on the witness testimonies on how it acted, even if it eventually turned out to be a wrong target.

So if it was a man-made craft, what are the options? Which aircraft would approach another like that and act like, well, a tanker?

I have been asking for people to give me a reason to doubt this explanation for more than a month now, and the only significant objection is the lack of records of it being there. But that objection is in no way specific to a tanker, and it just brings us back to those earlier questions, which I believe we already agree on.

It has been 44+ years, and the only explanations I'm aware of are:

1) Aliens, for which we can't really do any comparisons of details
2) Meteors (by Klass), which doesn't really match to any detail
3) Tanker, which basically fits to every detail

So give me some reason to doubt and name any other option that would make sense.

Could you also name any other objection besides the lack of information of those possible records that you think is a problem for this explanation?

And by the way, "beyond reasonable doubt" does not mean absolute certainty or dogmatism.

Parabunk said...

KRandle:

We also need to remember there are a whole lot of UFO cases where witnesses have been shown to describe something conventional as definitely not being something conventional.

In his original interview, Yanacsek described seeing the red light through his side window, and then the white light when it was close, which "lit up the tail a little bit and gave definite proof ... that it was something solid and metallic." He could only see the oval shape against the stars and at that point he seems to have been looking at it either through those roof panels or the windshield, while sitting in the back seat. That's hardly an ideal way to make sense of a dark object against dark background. And once again, Jezzi didn't even see it in the front seat, which really should tell a lot.

As for that other helicopter being there, no, it doesn't necessarily have to be there. As I have said, there's for example the possibility that one of the refueling participants was in wrong location or at wrong time. Or it could have refueled some and thought there was one more.

Btw: Mansfield seems to be surrounded with military training routes nowadays (including the area where the incident happened):
https://www.milais.org/flipdvd/1805/planningdocs/MTR/EASTERN%20CHART%20(NORTHERN%20AREA)%2029%20MAR%202018.pdf

They seem to be of this type:
"slow speed low altitude routes (SR) in which operations are conducted in VFR below 1500 ft at 250 knots or less, without prior notice"
http://aviation_dictionary.enacademic.com/4540/military_training_route

Don't know what the situation was in 1973, but it would hardly be a surprise if it was something similar.

purrlgurrl said...

Lance, not buyin' aliens, not buyin' astronomical/cosmological event, but not buyin' the equally far-fetched tanker explanation as well.

I believe there's a terrestrial explanation for this event, but there's still not enough information to conclusively identify what was encountered. Therefore, the case is not solved, and until more information can be uncovered will remain an unknown.

The problem skeptics have is that, exactly like believers, they also can't accept that something is simply an unknown. They must project an explanation on it to counter the believers, even when that explanation requires overly contorted logic and doesn't fit the documented facts.

The Coyne object is still an unknown (projecting no ET denotations on the word "unknown") until more information comes to light.

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

This is refreshingly fun to talk about and, as you say, we agree for the most part.

I suppose, as is often the case, I put much less stock in witness accounts than you do. I operate (with considerable evidence supporting me) under the assumption that witnesses, particularly witnesses seeing something they perceive as unusual or dangerous, etc. are not particularly reliable. When the thing being seen is related to lights in the night sky... well, even more so.

Am I saying that witnesses are always wrong? Of course not: just that their accounts should serve only as suggestive. Many many UFO proponents pedantically take witness statements ("it was 40 feet around and 10,000 feet up in the dark sky!) as sacrosanct.

==

@Parbunk:

I loved your piece. But if we cannot agree on what constitutes good proof vs. a good theory, then that is unfortunate.

Yes, I agree that your excellent theory is near infinitely more likely than a flying saucer.

But I also would not be surprised if there is another prosaic possibility and it too, is near infinitely more likely than the mythical flying saucer.

Challenging a dumbass on the internet (referring to myself) to come up with a better explanation or counter-explanation is a textbook example of the Argument from Ignorance (perhaps the most treasured kind of thinking among UFO proponents): "I/you can't think of a better explanation for this thing therefore it must be the thing I propose without evidence."

It may well be that I am just too dumb/unimaginative to come up with the actual answer (if your theory isn't the actual one).

The explanations you are aware of may well just be a subset of the possible explanations.

So to call this idea as proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, I suggest you need more evidence.

==

@ Purrlgurrl:

I usually love and agree with most everything you say. In this case, perhaps you didn't take as much care as you usually do in your comments.

Anyone who thinks the tanker explanation EQUALLY far fetched as a flying saucer is sort of contributing to the worldview we unfortunately find ourselves in now: a place where we have all seemingly moved past the notion that facts have value. The two ideas are not equal, not even close.

"The problem skeptics have is that, exactly like believers, they also can't accept that something is simply an unknown. "

Really? Is that all skeptics?

I agree that some skeptics do come up with lousy explanations at all costs for paranormal claims. My experience is certainly that not all do this, that it is, in fact, somewhat rare, and that it is an unwarranted slur against Parabunk, who has carefully collected and considered his evidence.

Parabunk's error in my opinion was to unwisely claim PROOF when all he actually has presented is a good possibility.

And likewise NONE of the counterclaims against Parabunk's idea are fatal to it.

Best,

Lance









Unknown said...

Parabunk

3) Tanker, which basically fits to every detail

No it doesn't, It fits perfectly your "initial ideas"/ Confirmation bias

"So give me some reason to doubt and name any other option that would make sense"

How about you give us the "Proof" that such a refueling tanker was there?

Parabunk said...

"But if we cannot agree on what constitutes good proof vs. a good theory, then that is unfortunate."
"So to call this idea as proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, I suggest you need more evidence."
"Parabunk's error in my opinion was to unwisely claim PROOF when all he actually has presented is a good possibility."

Where did I claim proof? Or where did I call it "proven beyond a shadow of a doubt"? Are you distorting my words on purpose, or are you just one of those who answer to some imaginary texts instead of reading what I have actually written?

"Beyond "the shadow of a doubt" is sometimes used interchangeably with beyond reasonable doubt, but this extends beyond the latter, to the extent that it may be considered an impossible standard. The term "reasonable doubt" is therefore used."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_doubt

I have stated since day one I'm missing confirmation in the form of clear evidence of that tanker being there. But that might be an impossible standard of evidence in this case, since we already know there wasn't radar coverage or official investigations, and we don't even know if there are relevant records that still exist somewhere.

What you seem to miss is the logic and reasons behind my conclusions, which I just tried to illustrate with those few simple questions. This is not a matter of me just inventing a theory, but me noticing some things in the original witness reports. And the reason I happened to notice those was because I actually had access to them. Most haven't seen them, as they have been omitted from the popular accounts of the story. It's not just a question whether someone can invent a better theory, but more about whether anyone can deny what those original witness reports actually reveal, and what the logical conclusions are.

Pretty much everyone agrees there was an actual craft there, and the primary alternatives are either some sort of man-made aircraft or aliens. We have now reached a point where all the supposedly mysterious aspects of that story have mundane explanations, some several alternatives, so there's little actual need for the much more unlikely aliens. If we accept that, it's just a matter of explaining which man-made aircraft could have done something like that, quite clearly on purpose, right?

So does that need imagination, or just going through the types of aircraft we know of? Fighter jets can fly near others for identification purposes, but most (including the F-100) can't fly slow enough and do not really fit to the crew descriptions of large size. A helicopter wouldn't really fit to those either. A blimp or a balloon would hardly fly at plane speeds, do a U-turn and catch a helicopter. Some sort of classified craft we still haven't heard about in 44 years that just wanted to perform a strange show for getting to the headlines? Not too plausible. Could it be a regular cargo plane without a refueling pod? Sure, but that doesn't really change much, except for making it a lot harder to explain what it tried to do, and the descriptions of that white light are a better fit for a pod light than an aft light.

So again, this is not a matter of needing to invent some entirely new explanation, but just a matter of explaining what sort of craft that could have possibly be. And yes, I am wary of so called skeptics who cling on the prospects of some mysterious aircraft that nobody can describe to keep such cases "unexplained". That's not too far from the alien spacecraft alternative.

May I also remind you that you stated there were "excellent points brought up against the explanation", yet you couldn't name any. It shouldn't be that hard to name some.

Larry said...

Parabunk:

I have a question for you. Maybe this was already covered someplace else and I just haven't seen it; if so, maybe you could point me to it.

In your explanation, you reconstruct what you think the flight path of the object was and overlay it on a map. Basically, you claim that the object first passed the helicopter on an antiparallel track off to the left (port side) of the helicopter, executed a standard rate left turn (3 degree/min) somewhere behind the helicopter, and then proceeded to fly parallel to the helicopter's track, eventually overtaking and intercepting it.

How did you derive the conclusion that it was a standard rate turn? As you probably know, there is a simple equation that relates the three variables of flight speed, turn rate, and turn radius. If you measure any 2 of the 3 then the third variable is mathematically determined.

Briefly, which two of the three variables did you measure (or estimate)?

Thanks.

KRandle said...

All -

Here is some new information. The refueling units train in real world time, meaning that a unit needing refueling contacts them, coordinate the mission including rendezvous points, types of fuel and radio frequencies. Flight plans are filed, and there is coordination with the FAA. There are certain corridors that must be used so that these refueling operations are not attempted everywhere. I have seen maps of the corridors from as early as 1964 and as late as 2016. In those earlier maps, there is no corridor over northern Ohio.

The crucial points here is the mandatory coordination between the units and with the FAA. While there is no radar coverage in the area at the time, there would be FAA flight following so that the FAA would have been aware of a refueling aircraft in the area. Coyne talked with the FAA and as Yanascek said, the FAA said there was no other traffic in the area.

I am awaiting some additional details from the Air Force on this specific aspect of the sighting... including the lighting configuration at the rear of the aircraft.

purrlgurrl said...

Sorry, Lance, but without some documentation or additional testimony, the tanker explanation is just as much a fabrication as a spacecraft from Alpha Centauri. That's the basic flaw in your reasoning.

Unlike most UFO skeptics, I can live with something remaining unknown. I don't need to explain it. I don't believe it was ET. But, I also don't need to engage in extreme mental gymnastics to come up with an implausible "plausible" explanation that doesn't fit the known facts and available evidence.

Bring on some documentation that proves conclusively this was a tanker and I'll accept it. If nobody can do that, what you don't seem to realize, is the tanker explanation is as much a fairy tale as a flying saucer from across the galaxy.

Yes, this is exactly the same mental behavior as UFO believers, which is based on the bias of pre-existing beliefs. Maybe you're the kind of person who can't sleep at night unless everything is properly labeled and neatly tucked away in its correct box. But that's exactly the opposite of how I approach life (and by the way, I have a science degree). I can wait for more information before rushing to judgement.

There are infinitely more unknowns than knowns in the universe, which is what keeps human beings exploring. It's possible there's a natural, physical explanation for the Coyle event that has nothing to do with another craft, from this world or another. We simply don't have all the data we need to be certain of what happened.

Lance said...

Purrgurrl:

You write:

"Maybe you're the kind of person who can't sleep at night unless everything is properly labeled and neatly tucked away in its correct box."

Did you read my response? Since I also argue that Parabunk needs more evidence (and essentially say the exact same thing you do about his theory) I can hardly see how you might come to the above conclusion.

You write:

"It's possible there's a natural, physical explanation for the Coyle event that has nothing to do with another craft, from this world or another."

just BELOW where I wrote to Parabunk:

"But I also would not be surprised if there is another prosaic possibility..."

Perhaps you might understand my confusion with your reply?

Also, I know most UFO skeptics (those of us who write about the stuff) and you misrepresent us. List 10 skeptics who you think made ridiculous "solutions" without supporting them and I'll give you a thousand UFO idiocies to counter it.

Like you I am satisfied that somes cases simply cannot be solved and I don't think I represent the simplistic slur that you tossed my way. And I don't think Parabunk deserves it either. His theory is not ridiculous and hand waving doesn't make it so.

Even an unsupported theory that relies upon accepted scientific knowledge IS more likely to be true than an unsupported one that relies upon the low rent sci-fi mythology of UFO belief.

Always.

That is a key point that many UFO believers (from their insular and hilarious "community" just can't seem to understand.

===

Parabunk:

Have you heard the one about the gift horse?

I like your theory. I don't think any of the replies to it are fatal to the idea. Kevin has presented some excellent evidence that serves as disconfirming to theory and I should not need to list it out. But I think the theory still is viable. I just don't agree that you should present it as fait accompli.

And you clearly do that. Your blog says:

The version on the left reflects the eyewitness testimonies and how this story is typically told. The version on the right explains briefly what actually happened... (my emphasis).

Uh, perhaps I am missing the qualifier.

If you were referring to me as a "so-called" skeptic, I am sure the regulars are getting a kick out of that.

Lance

Adam S. said...

purrlgurrl:

"Unlike most UFO skeptics, I can live with something remaining unknown. I don't need to explain it. I don't believe it was ET. But, I also don't need to engage in extreme mental gymnastics to come up with an implausible "plausible" explanation that doesn't fit the known facts and available evidence."

This is the best statement I have seen in some time on this topic. Someone here actually understands what skepticism is. Kudos purrlgurrl!

Parabunk said...

Lance:

"If you were referring to me as a "so-called" skeptic, I am sure the regulars are getting a kick out of that."

Good for them then, as that's what I did.

You just once again evaded all my questions, including the one about you distorting my words. Apparently you now try to brush that off with quote mining. Your tactics are familiar, but not from discussions with skeptics.

"Kevin has presented some excellent evidence that serves as disconfirming to theory and I should not need to list it out."

Yes you should.

Parabunk said...

Larry:

"you reconstruct what you think the flight path of the object was and overlay it on a map. Basically, you claim that the object first passed the helicopter on an antiparallel track off to the left (port side) of the helicopter, executed a standard rate left turn (3 degree/min) somewhere behind the helicopter, and then proceeded to fly parallel to the helicopter's track, eventually overtaking and intercepting it.

How did you derive the conclusion that it was a standard rate turn?"

First, to be exact for the quote miners out there, this is what I wrote about that path and turn:

"the best guess path of the UFO is shown in orange"
"the UFO/plane probably began a more or less standard rate turn of 180+ degrees upon noticing them, and began to adjust it's speed and location for approaching the helicopter."

So I'm not actually claiming that is an exact path, the witness statements simply do not provide sufficient information for that. But the general shape should be about right, and by "actual path" I mean compared to that incorrect east-west path typical accounts have claimed. It could have been parallel, and the turn rate could have been higher or lower, but that hardly is a significant detail.

Standard rate turn is simply a good fit (lacking better data for more exact estimates) to what we would expect from airplanes in general, it matches current refueling procedures, and it is a good fit to the estimated elapsed time between the sightings of that red light on the opposite sides of that helicopter (one minute turn + chase time while adjusting the speed from around twice of that of the helicopter or so, which would be a sensible speed for the typical 250kn limitations of the airspace and such). The overall shape of turning to the opposite side, matching the speed on the side, and moving on top from the side is much more significant, and confirmed by witness testimonies, as long as we take into account the ground witness testimonies, which are typically just ignored, and the common visual misestimates the crew made about the movements of that light without proper reference points, which also contradict those ground witness statements.

Parabunk said...

KRandle:

"I have seen maps of the corridors from as early as 1964 and as late as 2016. In those earlier maps, there is no corridor over northern Ohio."

Have you found some map somewhere close to 1973? Can you provide a file or a link to one?

"Coyne talked with the FAA and as Yanascek said, the FAA said there was no other traffic in the area."

So was that second or third hand information or what? I still haven't seen any direct statements by Coyne, Vollmer or others claiming there wouldn't have been other traffic. And how would they even know without a radar, if planes with visual flight rules do not even need to file flight plans?

Let's say there was dozen helicopters and a tanker that flew there from Columbus or Wright-Patterson, for example. They wouldn't have appeared on Cleveland radar if they didn't fly north enough from Mansfield. When they flew in and out from there, they could have chosen to use visual flight rules with no requirement for flight plans, right?

You are now saying they should have coordinated with the FAA at least for the refueling part, but I'm not too sure if that has to happen in all cases, especially for low altitude helicopter refueling in an area that nowadays seems to be surrounded with (slow speed, low altitude) military training routes.

Then there's this. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has published the following air crash risk estimate for their area in Tennessee:
https://web.archive.org/web/20170207214536/http://web.ornl.gov/info/reports/1992/3445603687295.pdf

Here are the most interesting parts:

"The cities of Oak Ridge, Knoxville, and Rockwood lie beneath AR-633, a volume of airspace used by the 134th Tennessee Air National Guard Air Refueling Group for practicing air refueling (Sect. 2.2). Although under military jurisdiction, this designated airspace is equivalent to an FAA holding pattern. AR-633 has an airspace volume of approximately 97 statute miles x 41 statute miles x 1 statute mile in depth. Refueling operations take place within this box of airspace. Because the military has jurisdiction over this volume of airspace and operations may be considered sensitive, it is impossible to determine whether refueling operations by the 134th Air Refueling Group occur directly over the Oak Ridge reservation."

"the military air traffic in airspace AR-633 has no set widths or patterns to fly within the airspace. They only are confined to the 4,000 square mile refueling area"

"The 134ARG is the scheduling agency for all military users of 633 refueling area. The above data is only for missions in which the 134ARG was a participant. I cannot provide real data for missions flown that did not include a 134ARG aircraft as we do not archive this information."

Question is, did the 160th Air Refueling Group from Columbus have a similar training area somewhere?

Lance said...

LOL Kevin, I am out. I guess skeptics can be as pedantically hilarious as believers. It's not a good look but not all skeptics fortunately are so impaired, I don't think.

Perhaps Purrl is more right that I care to admit!

I sort of see where Parabunk is coming from. Knee-jerk silly defensiveness is a human reaction.

A while ago I wrote an explanation for the famous Kelly Johnson case. I think my explanation fits all of the known facts. But I don't have the hubris to insist that my explanation is the ONLY one. Still it sort of stung when folks offered disconfirming takes on my work. It was hard not to lash back.

Parabunk, if your position is not that your theory is THE answer then I must apologize. Your writing does not make that clear.

Larry said...

Parabunk, you wrote:

"Question 2: Was it:
a) man-made
b) aliens

…. option a is "near infinity more likely".

You are setting up a strawman here. You are comparing an event which has a knowable probability of occurrence (aerial refueling flight) with an unknowable one (aliens). If you presented a strawman argument unwittingly, then you weren't very smart. If you presented a strawman argument deliberately, then you weren't very intellectually honest.

The more reasonable question, and one that is answerable is:

"Which is more likely, that it was an aerial refueling flight, or a true UFO?" Here, I am using the customary definition of UFO as a flying object that remains unidentified even after experts in various fields cannot identify it as belonging in their field of knowledge.

Let's just do a little back of the envelope calculation. The first year in which the Air Force started collecting and analyzing UFO reports they collected (in rough numbers) about a thousand, out of a US population of roughly 150 million. Now, it is well known that not all UFO reports remain unidentified after experts get to work on them. The fraction of reports remaining unidentified varies depending on who you talk to, but I use an approximate value of 10%. So that's roughly 100 true UFO reports per year per 150 million people.

From a few minutes of Google research, I find that the number of aerial refueling flights that the US conducts per year varies. During a year of intense military operations (invasion of Iraq, for example) it's typically a few tens of thousands. During a calm year, it's a few hundreds. An average number of refueling flights per year, averaged over a few decades might be about a thousand. Like UFO reports, some fraction of civilian sightings of aerial refueling operations also get misidentified; shall we say 10%? So, we have a situation where there may be on the order of 100 aerial refueling flights per year out of a population of about 300 million that would be misidentified, if anyone saw them. Of course, a lot of aerial refueling flights take place far out over the oceans, where no one is around to see them, but let's ignore that for now.

With these kinds of numbers in mind, it can be seen that it may be slightly MORE likely to see a true UFO than it is to see a misidentified aerial refueling operation. The two probabilities are, at least, pretty comparable.

KRandle said...

Lance -

This is what Parabunk said, ""While I regard this case to be solved beyond reasonable doubt, it would be nice to have clear evidence of such tanker having been there, and it's identity. That I'm still missing."

That comment has since been removed from his blog. However, if he is suggesting that he never said anything like that (though your words said essentially the same thing, they weren't a direct quote), then he is being disingenuous. The only reason that I objected to his analysis was his claim that the case had been "solved beyond a reasonable doubt," and then his qualifier, "...it would be nice to have clear evidence of such tanker having been there, and it's identity. That I'm still missing." That to me was reasonable doubt.

However, for him to request a quote that has now been removed from his blog as proof that he said something, is, as I say, disingenuous.

Lance said...

Too funny!

--So-called skeptic, Lance

Parabunk said...

KRandle:

This is getting really ridiculous.

"That comment has since been removed from his blog"

What comment? That part you just quoted? It's there, with those exact words! It's there even though I added new stuff about that radar and such.

You do not really seem to read what I write here or there, like what "beyond reasonable doubt" means, which explains a lot.

Lance made false claims and distorted my words, continued with quote mining, evaded all the questions, and apparently ran away with some sort of attempt of insults, that really sounded like psychological projection after what he just did.

I have tried to ask some simple questions, like those under the sentence "Let's consider the options to see if we can simplify this" in one of my messages above. That logic really shouldn't be that difficult to follow, and those questions really shouldn't be that difficult, but it seems people are just much more interested in inventing whatever excuses for not needing to accept how this case has lost it's mystery.

It seems you don't really have much to say about the actual explanation, if you feel the need to make this a discussion about me or some words I happened to use, instead of the stuff that matters.

Since you are now trying to claim there wasn't any other traffic there, if that was so, what then would be the implication or likely explanation? That there wasn't any craft of any kind, since there's no actual evidence of one? Or that it would be aliens, instead of FAA having just incomplete information?

Let me guess, you don't want to answer?

KRandle said...

Parabunk -

First, let me point out that I had looked at your blog and you restructured the ending of it, adding the new information. I missed the quote, and it is still there. The problem for me is that you seem to believe you have solved the sighting without a shred of evidence that your solution is accurate. If you can't put a refueling aircraft in the area, then your theory fails. I could suggest another theory but if I don't have any evidence it fails.

I have communicated with various individuals involved and provided the quotes. You reject Yanascek's statement about no other traffic in the area, suggesting it is second or third hand, but then Yanascek got the information from Coyne.

I would suggest, logically, that there was some sort of observation made by the crew that is currently unidentified. I say this because you have presented no evidence of a tanker in the area and all that I can find about these sorts of operations show that they are not as haphazard as you imply. They are coordinated in advance with the FAA and while there was no radar at Mansfield, the aircraft would have been in contact with flight following services. Since we have information suggesting no other traffic in the area, then we are not obligated to accept your theory as true beyond a reasonable doubt.

So, no, I have no explanation and freely admit that your theory is interesting but lacks supporting evidence. Aliens is certainly an explanation as well, but then the evidence we have concerned the description of the object and its performance as described by multiple witnesses. Does that prove alien visitation? Of course not. It just moves the sighting from a conventional explanation to what would be "unidentified." We have no current solution.

erickson said...

In my profession (criminal law) "beyond a reasonable doubt" is notoriously hard to define. Judges get into trouble when they deviate from the standard script. In my state, "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you with an abiding conviction that the charge is true. The evidence need not eliminate all possible doubt because everything in life is open to some possible or imaginary doubt."

Different people apply that standard in different ways, which is why there are 12 people on a jury who must reach a unanimous verdict - and they still can get it wrong. Parabunk can argue that his explanation meets that standard, but consensus is an important part of its application.

I don't think the standard necessarily translates out of its context or should be applied to a theory that falls short of a conclusive explanation. There are some events that offer no current solution, as Kevin states, even if there is a possible explanation - and see no need to go beyond that latter category.

There are things that I see no reason to either believe or disbelieve.

Parabunk said...

KRandle:

"I missed the quote, and it is still there."

At least you admitted that. I'm just getting tired of people trying to invent all sorts of personal attacks against me instead of responding to arguments like adults. I just saw one hilariously nonsensical attempt today elsewhere, and those are only revealing of the persons who write them, and I don't really understand why people bother to waste their time on those if they can't respond to arguments, or even read or truthfully report what I have written.

"The problem for me is that you seem to believe you have solved the sighting without a shred of evidence that your solution is accurate. If you can't put a refueling aircraft in the area, then your theory fails. I could suggest another theory but if I don't have any evidence it fails."

Again, with those same standards, there's no "shred of evidence" there was anything there. Does the theory of aliens fail if there's no evidence of them being there?

"You reject Yanascek's statement about no other traffic in the area, suggesting it is second or third hand, but then Yanascek got the information from Coyne."

I'm not rejecting that, just questioning the accuracy. And that doesn't mean questioning Yanacsek's integrity, but noting a whole host of possibilities how the message could have changed. Coyne initially tried to ask if Mansfield had "any high-performance aircraft flying in this area at a speed of 600 knots?" If he later asked something similar, even if Mansfield would have known there was some C-130 with e.g. last known anchor point on the other side of Mansfield, they could have just answered that nothing matching that description. And that in turn would easily change to "no traffic" when retold.

"I would suggest, logically, that there was some sort of observation made by the crew that is currently unidentified."

If they had only seen some light in darkness, there could be a ton of alternative explanations to choose from. But now we all seem to agree they saw a real physical craft that came close. That already restricts the alternatives to aliens or man-made craft. I don't think there are that many aircraft types to consider from 1970s, especially if we trust witness estimates of large size. Even most of the secret ones should be known by now, if one believes someone would want to put some secret craft to headlines with a pointless stunt like that.

That really is the crux of the matter. The alternatives are already limited enough that it's basically just a matter of making a choice from a limited set. I have shown a tanker is compatible with all the witness testimonies, and nobody has been able to choose anything else, apart from aliens. I believe we can also agree that a conventional craft has much better odds, since those are known to be present on this planet for a fact, every aspect of the story can be explained by one, and e.g. standard navigation light colors are a pretty good hint towards one. So a tanker is really a pretty safe bet, especially if others can't even choose anything else from that limited set. It seems to be pretty much the only competitor, evidence or not.

"its performance as described by multiple witnesses."

What performance? Those multiple witnesses (on the ground) revealed the performance wasn't what the crew claimed. They told it came from north, and wasn't that fast.

Here's an interesting fact I only noticed some time after writing that explanation. Zeidman actually drew a picture showing that a conventional aircraft would have to fly sideways to explain that configuration of (navigation) lights. I believe she could have been very close to figuring it out, if only she had combined that idea with the correct flight direction as reported by the ground witnesses. She might have been just too familiar with the crew accounts to notice that.

Lance said...

"Does the theory of aliens fail if there's no evidence of them being there?"

Yes.

But your theory doesn't fail. It's a good one. It just isn't supported by enough evidence for most folks to consider that it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That is all I have been saying (and Kevin and I had the same reaction). I don't think your theory fails.

And I don't think the good info that Kevin has provided is fatal to your theory either. He relies more on regulations and info that suggest that no refueling flights were happening in the area. I know that sometimes these things don't go according to the regulations (flights sometimes get off track etc. and you provided that odd cases where an accident occurred due to misidentification during an attempted refueling run). Weird things happen.

"But now we all seem to agree they saw a real physical craft that came close. "

No we don't. Knowing what I know about witnesses and their possible perception errors, I can easily see how a craft that wasn't close at all was perceived as such.

Ok, sorry, I said I was out...



Anthony Mugan said...

Good morning all.

I've been looking at the extent to which Parabunk's hypothesis could be tested in terms of the actual physics and in terms of documentary evidence.

In this first comment I'll look at the possible movement of a helicopter in a wing vortex.

A critical point here is that we are dealing with a rotating air mass with wind velocities that need to be described in three dimensions (x, y and z where x is parallel to the generating aircraft's flight path, y is horizontal and at right angles to the flight path and z is vertical. Wind velocities in a wing vortex can be considerable, up to around 100m/s for a short time period but vary significantly spatially and decay relatively rapidly (usually within two to three minutes for large, powerful vortices) (See the FAA guidance I referenced in the earlier thread).

In this discussion I will speak as if Parabunk's hypothesis was happening...

Coyne noted an altitude of 1700 feet (above sea level, about 600 - 700 feet above the ground). At this time he had the collective set to a 500 feet / min (2.5 m/s) descent. In other words gravity was pulling the helicopter down, offset partially by upward thrust from the rotors. This gives the helicopter some momentum where:

momentum = mass x velocity

The gross weight of the helicopter (according to Wikipedia) is 4100kg which gives momentum of 10,250 Kg/m. It has kinetic energy of 0.5M(V-squared) = 12,812.5J. This kinetic energy would need to be 'worked' off by the upward airflow and an additional acceleration applied above the ongoing effect of gravity to produce an uplift,

The force applied by a airflow can be given by
(0.5*(rho*C*A))(V squared)
Where Rho is the air density, C is the drag coefficient, A is the surface area and V is the airflow velocity.

Air density in a standard atmosphere at 1700 feet is around 0.95. We don't know the drag coefficient or the surface area of the base of the helicopter exactly (or I don't, to more precise). We can expect the drag coefficient to be quite high, perhaps around 0.35 - 0.4, similar to, for example, a SUV, as it isn't streamlined from the underside. Surface area of the base plus rotors looks to me to be in the region of 15 to 20 square meters as a rough estimate.

Plugging those numbers in a wind velocity in the z direction of around 60m/s could be enough to offset the kinetic energy and begin to apply a degree of lift. That is possible for a short time and a short distance, as wind speeds can be as high as 100m/s

The problem comes if we allow the helicopter to begin to ascend, as very quickly the z component falls away as you move into the upper half of the vortex and the y component (horizontal) increases (we are in a rotating air mass). The helicopter would reach a momentary 'balance point' in terms of height and be pushed sideways with the z component falling to zero and becoming negative. The helicopter would then descend. At this point we need to be aware that the thrust of the rotors is less than the force of gravity so the descent phase would accelerate faster than the deceleration on the ascent. The helicopter would therefore move lower in the vortex on the descent phase than the initial point of entry (or, more likely, completely out of the vortex as these are typically about 30-40 m diameter, but obviously do vary.

TBC

Anthony Mugan said...

part 2

During this time wind velocities would be reducing anyway as the vortex decays and it seems unlikely that the helicopter would stay in the vortex for a second rotation around the core as wind speeds will also be lower towards the edge of the vortex. It is therefore very unlikely that it would get into air with a positive velocity in the z axis high enough to offset the descent at this time.

The total scale of these vortices is far too small even for any initial uplift to account for more than a few tens of feet relative to the vortex, which is itself descending at 200 to 300 ft / min.

In reality therefore the overall effect would be that a minute or two after the initial entry to the vortex the helicopter would be a lot lower than it started, having never ascended by more than a few tens of feet at most during this time.

If this had actually happened the helicopter would probably have crashed or at best been dangerously low by the time Coyne was noting an altimeter reading of 3500 feet above sea level.

The above is very consistent with experimental data I referenced near the beginning of this conversation.

In its current form the hypothesis is falsified at this point. I will next go on to summarise the effects of pressure. This will be a bit later in the day or possibly tomorrow

Lance said...

My dear friend, Parabunk, only presents the vortex as a possibility. He also offers good evidence that the climb didn't require anything fancy and wasn't considered unusual.

I don't know if Anthony's data above is correct or not but saying that it falsifies Parabunk's hypothesis as a whole is unhelpful.

KRandle said...

All –

I’m not sure why Parabunk is annoyed with our questions. He made a rather bold statement that, by his own words, was not backed up by any evidence other than the track of the UFO and red and green lights that seemed to suggest that this was a refueling operation.
However, no one in the helicopter thought that it was a refueling aircraft and all of them described something that was oval or cigar shaped. True, Jezzi also said that he saw only a bright light, but that still doesn’t get us to a tanker.

Parabunk talked to no Army aviators about this. He talked to none of the crew. He didn’t communicate with Jennie Zeidman. He didn’t approach any of the various organizations that might have some knowledge of this, he didn’t talk with anyone directly involved with Air Force refueling operations, he didn’t search for records. He speculated, not necessarily without good reason, that a refueling aircraft is a good match for the facts but seemed to take none of the steps necessary to prove the case until prodded by us.

Since he first appeared here with his explanation, we have learned that refueling operations are carefully controlled, that they are restricted to specific airways, none of which seemed to be in northern Ohio at the time. We learned that the aircraft involved with refueling do not take off without coordination with the unit requiring the refueling, that the rendezvous points are predetermined, that the radio frequencies are coordinated, and that the FAA is alerted. None of that seemed to have happened here. There is no indication that the refueling aircraft had contacted the Airport Traffic Control Tower at Mansfield as required by FAA regulations (because it was operating in their area of control), which means when the Mansfield FAA personnel said there was no other traffic in the area, they spoke with some authority.

There seems to be a suggestion that Coyne had inadvertently signaled the refueling aircraft of a desire to take on fuel. The idea is reinforced by the nearly dry tanks on the helicopter when they landed in Cleveland… except the UH-1H had no way for air refueling and tankers are not just flying around like some sort of aerial gas station… as mentioned, the operation is coordinated prior to any aircraft taking off.

The facts seem to line up against a refueling aircraft but all this could be reversed if there was some documentation, some witnesses such as the crew of the refueling aircraft or something other than speculation about the color of the lights and the looping around that seemed to mirror a tanker approach to the helicopter.

Here’s where we are on this. The refueling aircraft theory is unproven and seems unlikely as the explanation.

Alien visitation is unproven and given all that we know is even more unlikely.

To me, the case is the very definition of “unidentified.”

KRandle said...

All -

Since we keep hearing about the accident that involved a refueling operation, I thought everyone interested might like o read the accident report. You can find it here:

http://libraryonline.erau.edu/online-full-text/ntsb/aircraft-accident-reports/AAR75-12.pdf

Parabunk said...

"Here’s where we are on this. The refueling aircraft theory is unproven and seems unlikely as the explanation."

Here's where we really are on this: There's a limited set of possible aircraft to choose from. Nobody has been able to choose anything except a tanker, which is compatible with all the witness accounts. It's not just a matter of evidence, which might not even exist, and which the case has never had to begin with. It's a matter of not even having other serious alternatives.

"I’m not sure why Parabunk is annoyed with our questions."

You just can't deal with this like a grown up, can you? OK, let's have that talk then.

What questions I'm "annoyed with"? If you look at the comments, there are very few questions to me compared to false claims that attempt to discredit me or my explanation, or compared to questions I have tried to ask from you, with few answers.

I'm annoyed with false claims you and others make about me and what I have written. You just claimed I had deleted something I didn't, and accused me being disingenuous. Did you apologize? Nope.

Now you are again accusing me of not making the effort of trying to find records that may not even exist, yet you didn't even bother to do a simple text search on a single page before making baseless accusations. Neither did Lance, who basically laughed at me based on your claim.

Also, why exactly should I e.g. "talk to Army aviators"? Because of your continuous accusations I wouldn't understand how helicopters function? Which one of us has been trying to discredit or ignore such descriptions by Army aviators, including one who was in that very helicopter?

You have also continuously tried to claim I'm ignoring some witness statements, ignored my replies on why I haven't done that, and obviously you have repeatedly done that yourself. What for example was that "performance as described by multiple witnesses" in your previous post? I reminded how those multiple witnesses contradicted such claims, you didn't reply. So do you now accept that fact, or do you just continue to ignore them?

You have repeatedly labeled my explanation "speculation based on nothing at all", yet you haven't been able to show any part of it wrong, and you have evaded questions how it seems to be the only viable option from the rather limited set of alternatives. At the same time, what's your track record? E.g.

"There is no way for the aircraft to climb with the collective fully down, other than to pull back on the cyclic" - shown to be false
"It also mentions a near midair collision which seem to require an investigation by the FAA" - shown to be false

Now you are trying to make the case that Mansfield would have known all traffic (without a radar), wouldn't have coordinated some refueling operation (just a guess), and told Coyne there was none (ignoring possibilities of miscommunication). You haven't been able to find any support for those in primary sources, which in fact repeatedly mention only questions of high performance aircraft. So, I should have been able to FOIA all the possible military bases and organizations that could have flown a tanker or have some of it's records now, and wait some years for the possible results before publishing anything, yet it's OK for you to discredit my work based on speculation, without bothering to read the primary sources, at least most of which can be found from a single book?

"The facts seem to line up against a refueling aircraft"

There's not a single such fact you have shown, just "speculation based on nothing at all".

Should we continue with your numerous misrepresentations of my work and original witness reports, or would this be more fruitful if you wouldn't just ignore my arguments and questions and actually tried to answer those, instead of inventing claims out of thin air or repeating them ad nauseam?

Anthony Mugan said...


Hello again

(Lance - I can understand where you are coming from to some extent - I dislike the emotional and deeply personal attacks that go on all too often in these discussions. I am certainly not trying to offend anyone. I thought the refuelling tanker idea was a clever one and well worth looking at. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to work and there seems no point leaving it 'out there' as a possibility. To me this is the same as saying the Chilles - Whitted case wasn't a bright fireball when that explanation adds up very well, just because some features of it fit a hypothesis based on a nuclear powered craft utilising the Prandtl theory of lift as per SIGN's initial take on the incident. For example my own thought that pressure differences might square the circle with this idea is not correct...).

In a way a detailed discussion on pressure effects on the altimeter is superfluous as it seems reasonably clear that the helicopter would have descended below a wake vortex by the time Coyne noted the 3500 foot reading (even allowing for some margin of error on the time estimates for the duration of the incident - the light source was moving well away from the helicopter and in the refuelling tanker idea the differences in speed would not have been all that enormous).

A second factor is that I do not think a simple calculation from the Bernoulli principle is adequate to model the quite complex pressure effects going on. It may serve to give a rough estimate of the order of magnitude of the wind speeds needed, but that is about it. From Bernoulli we can derive the following relationship:

final pressure = initial pressure + ((rho/2)(initial velocity squared - final velocity squared))

(haven't figured out how to get subscripts and power functions to show properly in these comment boxes - hope that makes sense!) Pressure measured in Pa, rho is air density in N/m-sq and V is air speed in m/s

In this we have to further simplify and assume a standard atmosphere but from 1700 feet you would need something in the order of a 103m/s increase in air speed and from 1500ft around a 109 m/s increase.

As noted above it is hard to arrive at an actual altitude above 1500ft at most for the time when the altimeter read 3500 but that doesn't really matter as the helicopter wouldn't have been in the vortex and even if it had these are unrealistically high speeds for a wing tip vortex that is a minute or so old.

TBC

Anthony Mugan said...


To conclude

In addition to not working physically, the AAR hypothesis also falls down as it appears reasonably clear that such an operation would not have been taking place in 1973, at night and with a helicopter.

Parabunk is correct to note that tests on night time refuelling of helicopters were done in the 1960s, but, as the following history of air to air refuelling of helicopters makes clear, night time refuelling was not used on a regular operational basis until the mid 1980's, until night vision equipment had progressed sufficiently.

Major T. W. Colburn, 1997., Running on Empty: The Development of Helicopter Aerial Refuelling and Implications for Future USAF Combat Rescue Capabilities’, Air Command and Staff College Thesis.

https://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/docs/97-0412.pdf

Kevin has also pointed out quite a range of other reasons why such an operation is not really a credible option.

So..what do we have...As Kevin notes it is at the moment unidentified but has the following key features
1.Red, green and white lights, possibly including a beam of light (not certain of the extent to which that was actually green).
2.A rotating magnetic field (spinning compass).
3.An unusual altimeter reading, which might indicate an actual force being applied to the helicopter or might indicate an effect on the mechanism of the altimeter.
4. Possible radio interference (but possibly a coincidence).

There are NO other examples I'm aware of of such a large uplift being created by a UFO (there are some indications of force being applied to objects in the locality in some cases but we just don't get examples of objects flying off in all directions). We do have a lot of EM effect cases, including some rather strong ones such as Levelland.

There are other possible lines of enquiry in addition to a technological device, including some of the less well understood atmospheric plasma phenomena, which I suspect account for quite a few of the harder cases, although I also suspect not all. See for example:

Teodorani,. M, 2014, ‘Instrumented Monitoring of Aerial Anomalies: A Scientific Approach to the Investigation On Anomalous Atmospheric Light Phenomena’, CAIPAN 2014 Workshop – CNES-GEIPAN (Paris, France), 8-9 July 2014.
http://www.ufodata.net/resources/24_TEODORANI_full.pdf

or (for what may or may not be a related phenomena, earthquake lights)...

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140106-earthquake-lights-earthquake-prediction-geology-science/


Anyway - it's too early to form any firm conclusions on those ideas yet, but they might be part of the answer to this whole thing.

I'll leave it at that.

Lance said...

Anthony,

You need to read Parabunk’s presentation, it is clear that you have not. The updraft idea is merely presented as an interesting aside. There are other more mundane reasons for the altitude gain and Parabunk presents at least one more likely one offered by a a member of the actual crew.

You have not proven that Parabunk’s idea is physically impossible and claiming so is unhelpful.

Also the evidence for UFO claptrap about magnetic effects is so poor that your apparent acceptance of that while improperly claiming to have disproven Parabunk’s case shows what we are actually dealing with.

Parabunk said...

I don't even know what Anthony believes he is calculating, but I guess I need to point out that the basic principle regarding winds is pretty simple.

There's an object in the air, doesn't matter if it's a helicopter, balloon or a flying pig. It has a vector velocity (direction+magnitude) within the air that contains it. Additionally that containing air mass itself can be moving relative to the ground. The total velocity of the object relative to the ground is then simply the sum of those. If we are only interested in the horizontal or vertical components, we can sum only those.

For the horizontal component:

"Ground speed can be determined by the vector sum of the aircraft's true airspeed and the current wind speed and direction; a headwind subtracts from the ground speed, while a tailwind adds to it. Winds at other angles to the heading will have components of either headwind or tailwind as well as a crosswind component."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_speed

For the vertical component:

Vertical Velocity = Vertical Airspeed + [Vertical] Wind Speed
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/move4.html

If that object is e.g. descending at 1000fpm=5m/s, but the air itself has an updraft of 10m/s, then the object will actually ascend at 1000fpm relative to the ground.

I have already quoted some real-life helicopter pilot experiences how they have been in updrafts within which their helicopters have been climbing collective full down. AFAIK 5m/s thermal is already classified strong and 10m/s is pretty extreme.

I shouldn't need to remind anymore that wingtip vortexes can be really strong and the conditions on that incident were more or less ideal for strong vortexes: large heavy slow aircraft with little wind to dissipate them.

According to current NATO instructions, the plane should have climbed at least 1000 feet before initiating any turns, which means it would have basically created an escalator in the sky, a rising vortex path in front of the helicopter. Since it obviously takes time for it to gain speed, especially while climbing, it would probably be generating vortexes at most one minute in front of the helicopter during that couple of minutes it was climbing. And those are known to last several times longer and have dropped planes from the sky from several times longer distances. A fixed wing plane will be in deep trouble if the vortex for example lifts one wing more, but helicopters are not that prone to such effect.

As for the rest of Anthony's claims, there's hardly any point to refute them once again, since he seems to just ignore it.

Remember also that nobody has ever given any sensible explanation how aliens would have caused that climb, let alone why they would have performed such a pointless stunt. With their wingtip vortexes? Or anti-gravitic pixie dust that fell off after a couple of minutes?

As for the supposed "EM effects", whatever that is supposed to mean here, and especially the Levelland case, I might make another post about that case alongside some others, reminding what sort of fairy tales the typical accounts with omitted key details tend to be. Suffice to say, there's no real evidence of any "EM effects" there.

Adam S. said...

Lance,

I don't believe this encounter was aliens but nor do I believe Parabunk's theory.

Frankly, I'm surprised and a little disappointed that no one has talked about other possibilities to explain this case. For instance, what about a psychological testing exercise for the pilots? Maybe to see how they would react if their aircraft came in close contact with their helicopter. Kevin, I'm sure, could provide some input on this due to his background.

KRandle said...

Well, let’s see is we can unpack this and come to some sort of reasonable understanding here.

I said, "Here’s where we are on this. The refueling aircraft theory is unproven and seems unlikely as the explanation."

You said, “Here's where we really are on this: There's a limited set of possible aircraft to choose from. Nobody has been able to choose anything except a tanker, which is compatible with all the witness accounts. It's not just a matter of evidence, which might not even exist, and which the case has never had to begin with. It's a matter of not even having other serious alternatives.”

I say, That is, of course, assuming that a terrestrial aircraft was responsible for the sighting. This hasn’t been established, and that there is no evidence of a tanker in the area makes it problematic. Besides, the witness statements do not conform to the tanker explanation, unless you force them into that pattern. There could be some sort of natural phenomenon that we haven’t even considered… or we could just agree that the tanker scenario suffers from a lack of evidence putting such an aircraft in the area. Not to mention the idea that a tanker is the only aircraft from which to choose (or to be accurate, of the limited number of aircraft) because it presupposes that an aircraft is the culprit here.

I said, "I’m not sure why Parabunk is annoyed with our questions."

You said, somewhat snappish, “You just can't deal with this like a grown up, can you? OK, let's have that talk then.

“What questions I'm "annoyed with"? If you look at the comments, there are very few questions to me compared to false claims that attempt to discredit me or my explanation, or compared to questions I have tried to ask from you, with few answers.

“I'm annoyed with false claims you and others make about me and what I have written. You just claimed I had deleted something I didn't, and accused me being disingenuous. Did you apologize? Nope.

I say, But this is splitting a fine hair. You asked Lance to provide the point where you had said that the tanker solution was solved to a shadow of a doubt… not your words, but an interpretation of them. Those words suggest a higher level of confidence and possibly not what you meant but by the same token, you knew very well you had said something very similar. As soon as I found that the quote had not been deleted, I noted it as well (in a matter of hours).

KRandle said...

You said, “Now you are again accusing me of not making the effort of trying to find records that may not even exist, yet you didn't even bother to do a simple text search on a single page before making baseless accusations. Neither did Lance, who basically laughed at me based on your claim.”

I say, You have repeatedly said that trying to nail this down would have taken too long. You said, “I don't live in Ohio and I'm not familiar with all those military bases, their organizational structures, record keeping practices, FOIA processes and so on. So I'm not really in the best of positions to try to acquire that information and it would take me a lot of work to familiarize myself with all that would be needed, and I have no reason to expect any financial or other significant gains for all that work. I also don't have any emotional attachments to the Coyne Incident, and it has never been among my favorites. So why would I be so interested in using my time on it?...

You said, “Of course I would like to find it, and I have tried to get closer to it, but there's just a limit how much searching and work I'm willing to do for it with little or no return, instead of using my time on something else.”

I say “I’ll let your own words speak for your position… but it does seem that you didn’t pursue this as far as you might. In just a few days I have communicated with one of the crewmen in the helicopter, Jennie Zeidman, officers of the 121st Air Refueling Wing, and found documents and information on the refueling procedures that are relevant to the discussion.”

You said, “Also, why exactly should I e.g. "talk to Army aviators"? Because of your continuous accusations I wouldn't understand how helicopters function? Which one of us has been trying to discredit or ignore such descriptions by Army aviators, including one who was in that very helicopter?”

I say, I was suggesting that a conversation with an Army Aviator or two might help you understand the training they receive and the procedures in place. I just thought that some discussion with an Army Aviator might provide some insight. I said nothing about you not understanding how helicopters function. I believed that some of that insight might prove helpful.

You said, “You have also continuously tried to claim I'm ignoring some witness statements, ignored my replies on why I haven't done that, and obviously you have repeatedly done that yourself. What for example was that "performance as described by multiple witnesses" in your previous post? I reminded how those multiple witnesses contradicted such claims, you didn't reply. So do you now accept that fact, or do you just continue to ignore them?”

I say, Oh, I don’t know. How about Yanascek saying he watched the red light flying parallel to them but then turned toward them, which should have revealed the green navigation light, if it was an aircraft? Coyne saying that he thought it was coming at them at 600 miles per hour, stopping directly over them (hovering as they claimed, which meant, basically, it was in formation with them, not moving relative to them and not actually hovering), a maneuver outside the operating envelop of any known aircraft.

KRandle said...

You said, “You have repeatedly labeled my explanation "speculation based on nothing at all", yet you haven't been able to show any part of it wrong, and you have evaded questions how it seems to be the only viable option from the rather limited set of alternatives. At the same time, what's your track record? E.g.”

I say, Lack of documentation and witness statements from the crew of the tanker, no evidence that a tanker was in the air that night, that there was no air refueling route in northern Ohio at the time (at least as far as we know today… I’m still searching for a better map). Without evidence that there was a tanker in the sky, flying way below the required altitude and failing to communicate with the flight following service as required by FAA regulations, I’m thinking that this casts a “reasonable doubt” on your scenario.

You said about my comment, "There is no way for the aircraft to climb with the collective fully down, other than to pull back on the cyclic" - shown to be false.”
I say, “But my statement was about this event has not been shown to be false. In that circumstance, in that aircraft, there is no way for the aircraft to begin a climb unless the cyclic was pulled back. You cite Jezzi, who said, ‘There are thermals that are so bad that you put your collective down and you're still climbing. I've had it happen to me.’
But this isn’t the same situation as Coyne found himself in during his flight. His collective was already fully down, but Jezzi is saying that once he encountered the thermal and lowered the collective, the ascent wasn’t immediately arrested. The situation as described by Jezzi (or situations if you prefer) do not match the situation in October 1973, so, my statement was not false.

You said, "It also mentions a near midair collision which seem to require an investigation by the FAA" - shown to be false.”

But a look at the documentation does suggest that there was an investigation, if only to determine if they should investigate further. When it was determined that there was no damage to the aircraft and that no one had been injured, they concluded that nothing further need to be done. So, my statement wasn’t false. There is a report by the Army dated June 9, 1976, which said that a report had been filed with a higher headquarters that said no investigation was required, but, of course, that related to the military. Still, a report had been forwarded up the chain of command. But it seems, based on documentation that I have just found, that reporting of near misses, in 1973, were voluntary, which means, of course, that there was no requirement for an investigation. The little that was done, was all that was required then.

KRandle said...

You said, “Now you are trying to make the case that Mansfield would have known all traffic (without a radar), wouldn't have coordinated some refueling operation (just a guess), and told Coyne there was none (ignoring possibilities of miscommunication). You haven't been able to find any support for those in primary sources, which in fact repeatedly mention only questions of high performance aircraft. So, I should have been able to FOIA all the possible military bases and organizations that could have flown a tanker or have some of it's records now, and wait some years for the possible results before publishing anything, yet it's OK for you to discredit my work based on speculation, without bothering to read the primary sources, at least most of which can be found from a single book?”

I say, Well, let’s see. Having radar or not is irrelevant in this case. In an FAA document dated July 15, 1976, we see, “… although the helicopter pilot claimed to be only four miles from the Mansfield Airport, he never contacted the Airport Traffic Control Tower as required by Federal Air Regulations” Since the intercept by the alleged tanker would have occurred in the same location, the tanker crew was required by Federal Air Regulations to have contacted the tower as well, but there is no record of that happening.
But to take it a step farther, in the Accident Report from Utah, we read about the various rules, regulations and operations for airborne refueling, which requires an IFR flight plan. I point you to pages 2 – 4, and this portion of the report that affects our discussion:

“The Airman's Information Manual (AIM), Part 4, dated October 1974,

“Military aircraft conduct refueling operations throughout the continental United States normally between 12,000 feet MSL and FL 330 on an IFR flight plan at assigned altitude(s). Refueling aircraft have right-of-way over aircraft in accordance with FAR 91.67(c). USN/USMC aircraft may operate green anticollision light(s) identifying aircraft involved in aerial refueling operations. When displayed, these light(s) will be used in conjunction light(s) identifying aircraft involved in aerial refueling opera- with standard position lights.”

As you can see, these operations are well coordinated before any aircraft leave the ground. They aren’t flying around at 2500 feet, they are in communication with the aircraft to be refueled, as that document shows, and they are accomplished on a prescribed refueling track. All this suggests that a tanker was not in the area and not the cause of the sighting.

KRandle said...


I said, "The facts seem to line up against a refueling aircraft"

You said, “There's not a single such fact you have shown, just "speculation based on nothing at all".

But you’ve had access to all this information prior to me entering the discussion but haven’t understood the implications for your scenario. It would seem that the various documentation available to us suggests that a tanker is not the cause of the sighting.
You asked, “Should we continue with your numerous misrepresentations of my work and original witness reports, or would this be more fruitful if you wouldn't just ignore my arguments and questions and actually tried to answer those, instead of inventing claims out of thin air or repeating them ad nauseam?”

I say, “Your response doesn’t seem to be conducive to prolonged discussion since you have been unable to place a tanker in the area, the rules and regulations suggest there was none there, the FAA indirectly suggest that none was there, and descriptions by Coyne and the crew, of a cigar-shaped craft with a bright red light on the front doesn’t sound like a refueling aircraft.”

Here’s the thing that has been missed in this sometimes less than diplomatic discussion. It is the responsibility of the person advocating a position to prove that his or her theories are based on fact. Here we are missing the essential fact and that is that we have no evidence of a refueling aircraft in the area at the proper time, at the proper altitude to have caused the sighting.

purrlgurrl said...

Haven't looked at this for days and, lo and behold, it's still going around in circles!!!

Maybe it's time everyone agrees to disagree and move on.

KRandle said...

purrlgurrl -

Yeah, we do seem to be going around in circles. However, in the last week, we have learned quite a bit about the regulations under which aerial refueling takes place and that there are specified areas for those sorts of activities. Provides an interesting look at this whole thing... but then, you can say that we have resolved nothing.

KRandle said...

All -

Here's another tidbit that relates to this conversation. I found a quote by Coyne about their position relative to Mansfield. He said, "We always keep to the right of the NDB so as to keep away from the Mansfield control zone..."

We have a document suggesting that he had penetrated that control zone which would have required his reporting to Mansfield, but we now have his testimony that they were outside that control zone. If he, at no time penetrated the control zone, then that could mean that the object (the refueling aircraft?) might not have penetrated it either so there would be no requirement for them (the tanker crew) to contact Mansfield.

This is one of those annoying things that pop up. At this point, I don't know if the tanker did penetrate the Mansfield control zone, which means that even had it been in the area, they wouldn't have known about it. Seems we are back to square one on this point...

Parabunk said...

"There could be some sort of natural phenomenon that we haven’t even considered…"

You have argued them seeing some cigar shaped clear craft in the darkness (you just did that too), and now you are not even sure there was a craft at all?

"You asked Lance to provide the point where you had said that the tanker solution was solved to a shadow of a doubt… not your words, but an interpretation of them. Those words suggest a higher level of confidence and possibly not what you meant but by the same token, you knew very well you had said something very similar. As soon as I found that the quote had not been deleted, I noted it as well (in a matter of hours)."

Getting ridiculous again. So now twisting my words and making false claims based on that is just interpretation... Do you even realize that "I regard this case to be solved beyond reasonable doubt" is a statement of personal opinion? I guess you also didn't read that message by erickson either? And yes, I stand behind that statement, and no, you still haven't given me reason for doubt, just the need to repeat same old stuff over and over again.

And again, instead of apologizing your false accusations, you just try to accuse me again.

"In just a few days I have communicated with one of the crewmen in the helicopter, Jennie Zeidman"

I don't even have their contact info, nor knowledge if they have any interest to talk about it.

"officers of the 121st Air Refueling Wing, and found documents and information on the refueling procedures that are relevant to the discussion."

I have found documents as well. But since when this is some competition who's doing what?

"How about Yanascek saying he watched the red light flying parallel to them but then turned toward them, which should have revealed the green navigation light, if it was an aircraft?"

It didn't "turn" toward them. Have you read my texts at all, or those ground witness testimonies? They saw that green light, just like the ground witnesses. It was visible when the plane was more or less on top of them, not when it was on the side or in front of them, just like navigation lights work.

"Coyne saying that he thought it was coming at them at 600 miles per hour, stopping directly over them (hovering as they claimed, which meant, basically, it was in formation with them, not moving relative to them and not actually hovering), a maneuver outside the operating envelop of any known aircraft."

And once again you proved my point by ignoring ground witness testimonies that made it clear those speeds were just a misperception.

"there was no air refueling route in northern Ohio at the time"

There probably wasn't. I'm currently trying to find out more info what the situation was back then, but nowadays Mansfield is surrounded with slow speed low altitude (SR) training routes, as I have mentioned before, including the area where the incident happened. While there are current high altitude refueling tracks, there probably can't be those at that location on low altitude, as it would conflict with those routes, but those routes themselves might be used for low altitude refueling as well.

Those routes are at right altitudes for where Coyne flew, typically flown by the right kinds of aircraft (C-130 type, helicopters), VFR, no requirement for atc clearance, pilots are responsible for avoiding other traffic. So if the situation was similar back then, there could have been a bunch of planes and helicopters without the FAA/atc even knowing it.

As I have said since the beginning, a specific helicopter refueling track is just one possibility among others. Those are also refueled in other training areas and en route on a more random basis as needed. Since helicopters can be refueled below 1500ft AGL, the rules are different from high altitude refueling of planes.

Parabunk said...

"In that circumstance, in that aircraft, there is no way for the aircraft to begin a climb unless the cyclic was pulled back."

OK then, explain why a strong wingtip vortex causing updraft can't lift a helicopter? I have already provided links why it can, so it's your turn to refute them.

"a look at the documentation does suggest that there was an investigation, if only to determine if they should investigate further."

So for the FAA, that suffices for your definition of investigation, whereas all I have done is just "speculation based on nothing at all".

"Having radar or not is irrelevant in this case."

It's e.g. irrelevant they can't see VFR traffic or verify if reported or expected locations are correct?

"In an FAA document dated July 15, 1976"

What document?

"we see, “… although the helicopter pilot claimed to be only four miles from the Mansfield Airport, he never contacted the Airport Traffic Control Tower as required by Federal Air Regulations”"

If you provide that document, I can check if he was e.g. in restricted airport airspace. Whereas that tanker could have been in SR training route, which doesn't require such contact.

"As you can see, these operations are well coordinated before any aircraft leave the ground. They aren’t flying around at 2500 feet, they are in communication with the aircraft to be refueled, as that document shows, and they are accomplished on a prescribed refueling track. All this suggests that a tanker was not in the area and not the cause of the sighting."

You should probably talk to a couple more Army aviators. Planes and helicopters are not refueled at the same altitude or (at least typically not) on same refueling tracks, and not necessarily in refueling tracks at all.

"But you’ve had access to all this information prior to me entering the discussion but haven’t understood the implications for your scenario. It would seem that the various documentation available to us suggests that a tanker is not the cause of the sighting."

No it doesn't. I you didn't ignore so much that I have already written, we wouldn't need to run in circles here. I have for example already stated how there are current helicopter refueling tracks elsewhere that extend lower than Coyne was flying, and those are not the only places where refueling is done.

"It is the responsibility of the person advocating a position to prove that his or her theories are based on fact."

Did Peter Higgs and others for example prove the existence of the Higgs boson in the 60s? Should they have kept their theories to themselves if they couldn't, and instead build particle collider by themselves to prove that first?

And do I have to list your claims that were not based on facts?

"Here we are missing the essential fact and that is that we have no evidence of a refueling aircraft in the area at the proper time, at the proper altitude to have caused the sighting."

And there's a chance we will miss that forever, since such evidence might not even exist. With or without that, I still have an explanation without serious competition. And more importantly, the case has clearly lost its significance as UFO evidence since the question isn't anymore whether a common plane can explain it, just if we can find the culprit. Which is more likely, a plane in an unexpected place, or aliens acting like a plane?

Parabunk said...

"This is one of those annoying things that pop up. At this point, I don't know if the tanker did penetrate the Mansfield control zone, which means that even had it been in the area, they wouldn't have known about it. Seems we are back to square one on this point..."

This is how the 179th Airlift Wing from Mansfield Lahm operates nowadays on those SR tracks that surround Mansfield, including the area of the incident:

"LOW-LEVEL ROUTES: These routes are the most DANGEROUS scenarios for midair
collisions for several reasons:
•We’re usually not under an ATC clearance
•Our aircraft are sometimes hard to see
•We frequently operate at night
Normal day altitudes are 300’ to 500’ AGL and 1000’ AGL for night routes. Our airspeeds are between 180 to 250 KIAS."

https://web.archive.org/web/20151005132417/https://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Operations/Aviation/Documents/MACAPamphlet%202013.pdf

BUT, since the military training route system was modified and got stricter rules some years after the incident, and that airlift wing was a fighter group before 1976, it's unclear if the routes/training areas were similar in 1973 around Mansfield.

Worse yet, many of the training routes and areas are only charted in DoD charts (AP/1B, which I only have for 2008 and 2016), not civilian, and some are not charted at all. And if they had some operational requirements, like refueling something en route due to that airlift operation, they could do it where they wanted and needed, regardless of established areas and routes, and Mansfield wouldn't have necessarily even heard about it.

KRandle said...

It seems that it has come around to me again, but I'm not going to take my turn. As purrgurrl noted, it is becoming redundant. I will ask one simple question: To how many Army Aviators do you suggest I speak?"

Parabunk said...

"It seems that it has come around to me again, but I'm not going to take my turn. As purrgurrl noted, it is becoming redundant."

Try to count how many times you have simply ignored my responses and questions and instead just repeated your already refuted arguments, and it should be pretty clear why this has been so repetitive.

"I will ask one simple question: To how many Army Aviators do you suggest I speak?"

You seem to have missed the irony. That was a response for your bragging about who you have talked to and suggestions to me to talk to those aviator. Yet you seem to be oblivious of the differences of high altitude plane refueling vs. low altitude helicopter refueling, trying to use procedures of the former to refute an event of the latter, despite the fact that I have pointed out such differences numerous times. So it seems to me you have to find enough army aviators as providers of all such info, since you certainly don't seem to accept my comments or sources on pretty much anything.

But since you picked your one question, let me do the same. I would really like to hear your response to the question I made about this baffling statement of yours:

"There could be some sort of natural phenomenon that we haven’t even considered…"

You have argued them seeing some cigar shaped clear craft in the darkness (you just did that too), and now you are not even sure there was a craft at all?

Larry said...

Part 1

On May 17 ParaBunk wrote:

"I don't even know what Anthony believes he is calculating, but I guess I need to point out that the basic principle regarding winds is pretty simple. ……

For the vertical component:

Vertical Velocity = Vertical Airspeed + [Vertical] Wind Speed
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/move4.html

If that object is e.g. descending at 1000fpm=5m/s, but the air itself has an updraft of 10m/s, then the object will actually ascend at 1000fpm relative to the ground."

Followed by:

"AFAIK 5m/s thermal is already classified strong and 10m/s is pretty extreme.

I shouldn't need to remind anymore that wingtip vortexes can be really strong and the conditions on that incident were more or less ideal for strong vortexes: large heavy slow aircraft with little wind to dissipate them.

According to current NATO instructions, the plane should have climbed at least 1000 feet before initiating any turns, which means it would have basically created an escalator in the sky, a rising vortex path in front of the helicopter. Since it obviously takes time for it to gain speed, especially while climbing, it would probably be generating vortexes at most one minute in front of the helicopter during that couple of minutes it was climbing. And those are known to last several times longer and have dropped planes from the sky from several times longer distances. A fixed wing plane will be in deep trouble if the vortex for example lifts one wing more, but helicopters are not that prone to such effect."

And then on May 20:

"OK then, explain why a strong wingtip vortex causing updraft can't lift a helicopter? I have already provided links why it can, so it's your turn to refute them."

To answer your initial question first, Anthony is trying to address the same issue that you are and that I am-namely, how feasible is it that the altitude gain that the Coyne helicopter crew reported was due to the effects of flying in close proximity to e.g., a C-130 aircraft. It looks to me that neither Anthony nor you are equipped with the requisite knowledge to answer that question.

I have no idea what your educational/experience background is, but it is clearly NOT Aeronautics.

Personally, I am a private pilot with 500 hours total time, including about 100 hours flying high performance, complex aircraft. I'm also a professional aerospace engineer having earned a Doctorate-equivalent degree from the Stanford University Aeronautics and Astronautics department. I recently retired from a 35 year career with NASA Ames Research Center. For the first two years of my NASA career I conducted computer analyses of the aerodynamic performance of advanced rotor systems (i.e., helicopters). During the remainder, I designed, built, and tested several specialized UAVs for NASA. I served as a Subject Matter Expert for DARPA on a classified, advanced UAV program. Since retiring, I am currently on a small team designing, building, and testing another advanced UAV for a classified customer. Everywhere except on UFO blog sites, I am actually considered an expert on this stuff.

It is from that perspective that I need to point out you are making some rather elementary errors in your thinking about updrafts and trailing wingtip vortices. Where to start?

Larry said...

Part 2

First, you quote the Glenn Research Center website that deals with the simple superposition of vertical velocity of an aircraft that is descending in the middle of a large, ascending airmass (which might be caused, for instance by a thermal updraft). You correctly point out that the absolute rate of climb (ROC) in such a situation is simply the vector sum of the two different vertical velocity vectors. If the airmass is ascending faster than the aircraft embedded in it is descending, then the aircraft will actually experience a net positive ROC.

Before going any further, I suppose I should point out that thermal updrafts (as the name implies) are created by the large scale heating of the air by the Sun. When the Sun goes down, there are no more thermals. The Coyne encounter occurred near midnight hence, no possibility of actual thermal updrafts.

So that leaves wingtip vortices as your mechanism of choice for your "escalator in the sky". The fundamental problem is that even though that NASA Glenn mathematical model is correct for the physical conditions in which it applies, those physical conditions have virtually nothing to do with an aircraft flying in the wake of a wingtip vortex. Wingtip vortices do NOT create a large, ascending airmass of the type that might be associated with a thermal. Instead, they create a highly localized and complex velocity field in the immediate vicinity of the wing that rapidly decays in both structure and intensity with both time and distance from the wing. It's basically a standing wave attached to the wing that can have significant effects in the vicinity of the wing, but which quickly decay to zero after the wing passes.

Here is a link to an image that shows the vertical velocity components of airflow in the immediate vicinity of a lifting wing.

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?p=span+wise+vortex+velocity+diagram&fr=yfp-t-s&imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aerospaceweb.org%2Fquestion%2Faerodynamics%2Fvortex%2Ftrailing-vortex.jpg#id=0&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aerospaceweb.org%2Fquestion%2Faerodynamics%2Fvortex%2Ftrailing-vortex.jpg&action=click

In analyzing the interaction of a lifting wing with the surrounding air, it is customary to divide the analysis between what happens at distances that are comparable to the wingspan of the aircraft (the near field) and at distances that are much larger than the wingspan (the far field). The velocity field that is illustrated in the link above is the near field that would be experienced by, for example, an aircraft or helicopter that was flying behind and overtaking the leading aircraft.

There are two things worth noting in this near field velocity field. First, the dominant airflow is downwash. That's necessary, because the purpose of a wing is to generate lift. It does that by pushing more air downward than upward. By conservation of momentum, the downward airflow results in an upward force on the wing. That means that if you were flying at a fixed distance behind and below a lift-generating wing in the near field (such as the Coyne helicopter was, relative to the unknown object), you would actually be pushed downward by the down wash. Second, the only place that you would experience significant upwash is approximately in the horizontal plane of the wing, outboard of the wingtip, and trailing it (approximately on a line intersecting the wingtip at a 45 degree angle relative to the forward flight velocity of the aircraft). This is exactly why birds that migrate in flocks, such as ducks and geese, fly in V-shaped formations. Each one is maintaining position in the location of maximum upwash coming off the wing of the bird in front of it.

Larry said...

Part 3

There are several mathematical models of wingtip vortices that are commonly used for computing the near field flow around lifting wings. The most common is the Lamb-Oseen model that is discussed in the Wikipedia entry:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb-Oseen_vortex#cite_note-3
When I plug the parameters for a C-130 aircraft flying at 100 kts into the Lamb-Oseen model, I get an estimate for the maximum upwash velocity about 3.75 meters outboard of the wingtip of about 12 m/sec. However, I think that if the Coyne helicopter had flown within 4 meters of the wingtip of a C-130, they would have been able to clearly identify it as such. I never saw an estimate of how close the crew thought they were to the object when they were flying in formation below and behind it, but I don't think it would be closer than maybe 20 meters. Due to the viscosity of the air, the peak intensity of the updraft due to the wingtip vortex decays proportional to 1/r, where r is the distance from the vortex axis. At a distance of 10 meters away from the axis, the upwash would be about 4 m/sec; at 20 meters it would be about 2 m/s, and so on. Also, I have never seen any testimony that indicated that they flew in formation with the object in the same horizontal plane as the presumed wings of a conventional aircraft. As I wrote above, if they were always strictly below and behind the object in the near field they never would have experienced any upwash.

Be that as it may, it is worth discussing what a trailing aircraft would experience if it were flying in formation with a leading aircraft right in the point of maximum upwash trailing off one of the wingtips. This is not a condition where the air mass that the trailing aircraft is flying in has a large volume compared to the size of the trailing aircraft. The trailing aircraft is not engulfed in an infinite volume of upwelling air, it is basically flying along the crest of a very sharply peaked wave. It is essentially surfing along on the standing wave trailing back from the leading aircraft's wingtip. In this condition, any added lift that the trailing aircraft is experiencing does NOT come from the simple vector addition of the upwash velocity and the sink rate of the trailing aircraft (as illustrated on the NASA Glenn website). The flight dynamics of this condition are analogous to flying into a gust. When an aircraft flies into a sudden, unexpected upward gust of air, the upward displacement the aircraft experiences is not primarily due to the gust directly imparting upward momentum to the aircraft. It is primarily due to the fact that the upward velocity vector changes the instantaneous angle of attack of the wing which creates an instantaneous increase in lift over the entire wing. The gust response of a wing is proportional to the product of the forward flight speed and the vertical velocity component. At a forward flight speed of 50 m/sec (100 kts) and a vertical velocity component of 5 m/sec, the instantaneous angle of attack would change by about 6 degrees. When a trailing aircraft flies into and surfs along on the wingtip vortex of a leading aircraft, the trailing aircraft has to make control inputs in order to stay in that position. Specifically, the trailing aircraft has to pitch forward and reduce its wing angle of attack to account for the upwash velocity increase and then reduce its power to avoid overshooting. If the trailing aircraft was flying at 50 m/sec and was located in a spot where the upwash velocity was 2.5 m/sec, the aircraft would have to pitch forward by about 3 degrees.

Larry said...

Part 4

And that's really the main point. To get into and stay in a sweet spot of upwash, the trailing pilot has to actively fly his aircraft at all times. The sweet spot is not a point of stability. If the lead aircraft changes its control settings and therefore changes its flight path, the trailing aircraft does not just automatically get dragged along; it has to also change its power and angle of attack accordingly. Specifically, if a trailing aircraft was flying in the sweet spot and the leading aircraft decided to initiate a climb, the trailing aircraft would NOT just automatically be pulled up to higher altitudes; it would be left behind unless its pilot took active measures to fly in formation with the lead aircraft. Clearly, the Coyne helicopter crew did not make a decision to fly in formation with anything. Your "escalator in the sky" is a pleasant fiction that you just made up.

Bottom line: no thermals, no "escalator in the sky".

rfdes said...


"Game, set, match"
Now on to a new topic!

Parabunk said...

Larry (Part 1/2):

"Wingtip vortices do NOT create a large, ascending airmass of the type that might be associated with a thermal. Instead, they create a highly localized and complex velocity field in the immediate vicinity of the wing that rapidly decays in both structure and intensity with both time and distance from the wing. It's basically a standing wave attached to the wing that can have significant effects in the vicinity of the wing, but which quickly decay to zero after the wing passes."

"I get an estimate for the maximum upwash velocity about 3.75 meters outboard of the wingtip of about 12 m/sec. However, I think that if the Coyne helicopter had flown within 4 meters of the wingtip of a C-130, they would have been able to clearly identify it as such. I never saw an estimate of how close the crew thought they were to the object when they were flying in formation below and behind it, but I don't think it would be closer than maybe 20 meters. Due to the viscosity of the air, the peak intensity of the updraft due to the wingtip vortex decays proportional to 1/r, where r is the distance from the vortex axis. At a distance of 10 meters away from the axis, the upwash would be about 4 m/sec; at 20 meters it would be about 2 m/s, and so on."

You seem to be describing the weakening as the distance from the core increases, but the core itself can be dangerously powerful for several miles and minutes behind a plane (longer than the event/climb lasted). So why would they need to fly within meters of the actual wingtip?

"That means that if you were flying at a fixed distance behind and below a lift-generating wing in the near field (such as the Coyne helicopter was, relative to the unknown object), you would actually be pushed downward by the down wash. Second, the only place that you would experience significant upwash is approximately in the horizontal plane of the wing, outboard of the wingtip, and trailing it (approximately on a line intersecting the wingtip at a 45 degree angle relative to the forward flight velocity of the aircraft). This is exactly why birds that migrate in flocks, such as ducks and geese, fly in V-shaped formations. Each one is maintaining position in the location of maximum upwash coming off the wing of the bird in front of it."

They weren't flying "at a fixed distance behind" if the plane had just began accelerating in front of them. Their descriptions also indicate they saw the white light (probably right-side refueling pod light) on their west/left side, indicating they would have been in an upwash area to the right of right wing. And a tanker would have tried to put them to an area that would reduce their required power, since otherwise refueling would not be even possible.

Parabunk said...

Larry (Part 2/2):

"Be that as it may, it is worth discussing what a trailing aircraft would experience if it were flying in formation with a leading aircraft right in the point of maximum upwash trailing off one of the wingtips. This is not a condition where the air mass that the trailing aircraft is flying in has a large volume compared to the size of the trailing aircraft. The trailing aircraft is not engulfed in an infinite volume of upwelling air, it is basically flying along the crest of a very sharply peaked wave. It is essentially surfing along on the standing wave trailing back from the leading aircraft's wingtip. In this condition, any added lift that the trailing aircraft is experiencing does NOT come from the simple vector addition of the upwash velocity and the sink rate of the trailing aircraft (as illustrated on the NASA Glenn website). The flight dynamics of this condition are analogous to flying into a gust. When an aircraft flies into a sudden, unexpected upward gust of air, the upward displacement the aircraft experiences is not primarily due to the gust directly imparting upward momentum to the aircraft. It is primarily due to the fact that the upward velocity vector changes the instantaneous angle of attack of the wing which creates an instantaneous increase in lift over the entire wing. The gust response of a wing is proportional to the product of the forward flight speed and the vertical velocity component. At a forward flight speed of 50 m/sec (100 kts) and a vertical velocity component of 5 m/sec, the instantaneous angle of attack would change by about 6 degrees."

You seem to be describing the conditions right behind the wingtip, but:

"The key to airplane drafting is not to be as close as possible—what Erbschloe calls "fingertip formations . . . white-knuckle, hard flying." Instead, the trailing C-17 was spaced in sweet spots 2000 to 6000 feet behind the lead airplane, places where the vortices are fully formed and pushing air upward. (If a plane flies in a spot where the vortex is pushing down, it uses more fuel.) This updraft provides lift with no extra fuel."
https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a9257/vortex-surfing-formation-flying-could-save-the-air-force-millions-on-fuel-15703217/

So if there was some distance, and they were flying inside that "escalator" path, and the vortex from that distance was stable and large enough compared to their aircraft, wouldn't it basically be that vector addition?

"When a trailing aircraft flies into and surfs along on the wingtip vortex of a leading aircraft, the trailing aircraft has to make control inputs in order to stay in that position. Specifically, the trailing aircraft has to pitch forward and reduce its wing angle of attack to account for the upwash velocity increase and then reduce its power to avoid overshooting. If the trailing aircraft was flying at 50 m/sec and was located in a spot where the upwash velocity was 2.5 m/sec, the aircraft would have to pitch forward by about 3 degrees."

And if it did overshoot, it would raise above the sweet spot, and began falling back to it? (ignoring the complications of possible horizontal movement)

"And that's really the main point. To get into and stay in a sweet spot of upwash, the trailing pilot has to actively fly his aircraft at all times. The sweet spot is not a point of stability."

Coyne claimed he didn't touch the collective during the climb, but I don't remember him mentioning anything about the other controls. So if the vortex caused e.g. sideways movements similar to gusts of wind, he may have made some lucky corrections that kept them in the vortex long enough.

KRandle said...

Parabunk -

From page 8 of Zeidman's report on the case, "...And we went down to 500 feet per minute, okay? And we're maintaining 90 kts, so then I took the cyclic and I pushed it forward. About 20 degrees lower than the horizon."

KRandle said...

Parabunk -

Overlooking the hostile nature of your response, I will note that I was not bragging about having interviewed one of the crewmen and communicating with Jennie Zeidman, only pointing out that in only a couple of days I had been successful in finding and communicating with them. I will note that I have failed to find Jezzi or Healey.

And if you want to talk about being oblivious... You talk of the 179th Airlift Wing, but an airlift wing is not an air refueling wing. Airlifters need to practice low level flight because their mission (or one of them) is the delivery of critical equipment to combat units engaged with the enemy. They practice dropping palletized equipment and supplies at low levels, around 300 feet AGL.

Finally, since you asked so nicely, I'll point out that it seemed that you focused on aircraft to explain the Coyne case without searching for other alternative answers. Chiles-Whitted reported a cigar-shaped object with square windows, but it seems that they saw a bolide... True, the meteor explanation, as offered by Philip Klass, has been debunked and doesn't fit this case, I just wondered if you had looked at anything as a possible solution other than aircraft.

Oh, and I do look at your sources and noticed a reliance on Jezzi who is at odds with the others in the aircraft, at the accident report that you suggested had some relevance to this case though the circumstances don't match but do provide insight into refueling operations, and that some of your answers don't fit the facts (should I mention the airlift wing here?). The point is that I look at the stuff, but can find no evidence of a refueling aircraft in the area at the time and you have provided nothing to refute that major problem.

Larry said...

Part 1

Parabunk, you stated:

"You seem to be describing the weakening as the distance from the core increases, but the core itself can be dangerously powerful for several miles and minutes behind a plane (longer than the event/climb lasted). So why would they need to fly within meters of the actual wingtip?"

They wouldn't need to fly within meters of the wingtip. I mentioned that the vortex strength decays BOTH as you move radially away from the vortex core AND as you move backwards along the axis away from the trailing edge of the wing; it is at its maximum strength right on the core surface, close behind the wing. Moving radially away from the vortex axis reduces the updraft effect because velocity falls off like 1/r, as I mentioned (that's actually one of the mathematical definitions of a vortex). Moving backwards on the vortex axis at a fixed radial distance reduces the updraft because the vortex at that location has been hanging in the air longer and has had more time to dissipate its strength through viscosity.

I used the example of flying close to the wingtip to illustrate where the effect would be greatest; anywhere else the updraft would be weaker. As an example, I was recently reading a NASA research report (which I unfortunately cannot lay my hands on at the moment) that reported on measurements of vortex strength taken at an airport in the wake of a departing 747. The upwash velocity right behind the wingtip was on the order of 10 m/sec, as models would predict. The upwash velocity a half mile behind the departing 747 was a few meters per MINUTE. So, the vortex core was still there a half mile or so from the trailing edge, but it had been reduced in amplitude by a factor of 60. In your discussion of "escalators in the sky" you were looking for rates of climb in the 5 meters per second range in order to explain the Coyne helicopter encounter; the only place that upwash velocities of that magnitude occur are in the near field.

"They weren't flying "at a fixed distance behind" if the plane had just began accelerating in front of them. Their descriptions also indicate they saw the white light (probably right-side refueling pod light) on their west/left side, indicating they would have been in an upwash area to the right of right wing. And a tanker would have tried to put them to an area that would reduce their required power, since otherwise refueling would not be even possible."

First, if they were not flying at a fixed distance behind the leading plane because the leading plane was accelerating away from them, then they would have experienced a steadily decreasing upwash velocity for the reason I discussed above: the vortex strength decreases monotonically with distance from the trailing edge of the leading aircraft. So, if the lead aircraft moves a little further ahead of the trailing aircraft, the velocity assist due to the upwash decreases and causes the trailing aircraft to trail even further, which causes the upwash to decrease even more, and so on. The same thing would happen if the lead aircraft suddenly pulled up into a climb. As I mentioned, flying within the upwash region is not self-stable; the pilot has to continually make control adjustments (power, angle of attack, etc.) in order to stay in the sweet spot, even if that sweet spot is a half mile behind the lead aircraft. The upwash does not just automatically pull the trailing aircraft along to do what the lead aircraft is doing. This is the "escalator in the sky that you just made up; it doesn't exist.

Larry said...

Part 2
Second, if they looked to their left and were able to see an underwing refueling pod light, then they were probably below and behind the horizontal plane of the wing of the aircraft that was supposedly carrying that pod. I believe that the lights on a refueling pod are directional and intended to be seen by the pilot of the trailing aircraft when that aircraft is in proper refueling position. In any case, all air to air refueling contacts (whether probe and drogue or boom) take place BELOW and inside the wingspan of the lead aircraft. Take a look at that diagram of the flow field that I gave the pointer to yesterday; when a tanker aircraft and a receiving aircraft are properly connected, the trailing aircraft never experiences upwash. The reduction in drag that a trailing aircraft experiences when in proximity to a tanker aircraft is not due to riding the upwash, it is due to slipstreaming, just like in stock car racing.

Third, the tanker aircraft in a refueling flight does not "try to put" the receiving aircraft anywhere. They can't, because they can't see the trailing aircraft well enough to make the control adjustments that would be necessary. It is the job of the tanker to fly as straight and level as humanly possible. It is the job of the refueling aircraft to maneuver to make contact with the drogue or to get within range of the boom.

"You seem to be describing the conditions right behind the wingtip, but:

"The key to airplane drafting is not to be as close as possible-what Erbschloe calls "fingertip formations . . . white-knuckle, hard flying." Instead, the trailing C-17 was spaced in sweet spots 2000 to 6000 feet behind the lead airplane, places where the vortices are fully formed and pushing air upward. (If a plane flies in a spot where the vortex is pushing down, it uses more fuel.) This updraft provides lift with no extra fuel."
https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a9257/vortex-surfing-formation-flying-could-save-the-air-force-millions-on-fuel-15703217/"

Remember that vortex strength starts decaying, with time, immediately after the vortex is shed from the wing. C-17s cruise at 450 knots, a vortex located 6000 feet behind a C-17 has been hanging in the air for about 8 seconds. The speed of the Coyne encounter was 4.5 times slower. Therefore the distance behind a leading aircraft at which the helicopter would have encountered 8 seconds of vortex decay would have been only about 22% as far, or between about 660 to 1320 ft. (about 1/8 to ¼ mile).

"So if there was some distance, and they were flying inside that "escalator" path, and the vortex from that distance was stable and large enough compared to their aircraft, wouldn't it basically be that vector addition?"

There is no "escalator path". When a trailing aircraft is surfing along in the sweet spot, it is maintaining a relatively constant distance from the vortex axis. If the vortex axis happens to be horizontal then the trailing aircraft will also be flying horizontal. If the vortex axis itself happens to be inclined upward (because the leading aircraft was climbing) the trailing aircraft would have to apply some climb power to continue to fly within the sweet spot.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Larry

I am so pleased that someone with your specialist expertise has been able to contribute. I think that, combined with all the historical information and info on regulations and procedures, probably is the end of this particular discussion.

Cheers

Parabunk said...

KRandle:

"Oh, and I do look at your sources and noticed a reliance on Jezzi who is at odds with the others in the aircraft, at the accident report that you suggested had some relevance to this case though the circumstances don't match but do provide insight into refueling operations, and that some of your answers don't fit the facts (should I mention the airlift wing here?). The point is that I look at the stuff"

And yet you are once again trying to use that airlift wing against me, after I had just said:

"BUT, since the military training route system was modified and got stricter rules some years after the incident, and that airlift wing was a fighter group before 1976, it's unclear if the routes/training areas were similar in 1973 around Mansfield."

So no, I wasn't saying a non-existing airlift wing would have refueled anything, the point was that even today groups like that can operate without atc clearance.

"but can find no evidence of a refueling aircraft in the area at the time and you have provided nothing to refute that major problem."

And because of the above, and what you also acknowledged earlier:

"If he, at no time penetrated the control zone, then that could mean that the object (the refueling aircraft?) might not have penetrated it either so there would be no requirement for them (the tanker crew) to contact Mansfield."

Such evidence might not even exist, which means the lack of it doesn't make it a problem for the explanation, just missing confirmation. There could have been a number of aircraft without Mansfield even knowing about them, even if everyone followed all the rules, and hence it wouldn't be that significant even if Mansfield had claimed there wasn't other traffic.

And in any case, missing records of a common plane is by far a smaller problem than missing all evidence of aliens that may not even exist anywhere.

But even that point doesn't seem that important anymore, since you now tried to propose it wouldn't necessarily even be a craft of any kind. I hardly need to explain how they could have taken the wings of a dark plane as a cigar, if you think something like a bolide should have been considered too.

I can imagine the kind of responses I would have received here for proposing something like that, but since you did it, I don't expect anyone to object.

Parabunk said...

Larry:

"The reduction in drag that a trailing aircraft experiences when in proximity to a tanker aircraft is not due to riding the upwash, it is due to slipstreaming, just like in stock car racing."

"It was this discovery that made helicopter aerial refueling possible. Originally it was thought that the power reduction was a result of a decrease in dynamic pressure, much like race cars use when drafting off of each other. However, Eastman later proved in a graduate school thesis that this power reduction was a result of the vortex effect from the C-130’s flaps reducing the helicopter’s induced power requirement. The upwash from the flaps increased the helicopter’s effective angle of attack, reducing the induced drag and requiring less power to maintain the speed needed to keep up with the C-130."
http://www.justhelicopters.com/ArticlesNews/CommunityArticles/tabid/433/Article/67520/Helicopter-In-Flight-Refueling.aspx

"Third, the tanker aircraft in a refueling flight does not "try to put" the receiving aircraft anywhere."

Yes they do when refueling a slow helicopter. Since the maximum speed of the helicopter can be less than the minimum/stall speed of the tanker, the tanker needs to maneuver into a position that enables the helicopter to fly fast enough to follow the plane. The tanker makes the major moves, and the helicopter those for the eventual contact with the drogue. Part of that process is coordinated dive when the aircraft meet, to initially increase the speed of the helo, which also happened in that case.

"Remember that vortex strength starts decaying, with time, immediately after the vortex is shed from the wing. C-17s cruise at 450 knots, a vortex located 6000 feet behind a C-17 has been hanging in the air for about 8 seconds. The speed of the Coyne encounter was 4.5 times slower. Therefore the distance behind a leading aircraft at which the helicopter would have encountered 8 seconds of vortex decay would have been only about 22% as far, or between about 660 to 1320 ft. (about 1/8 to ¼ mile)."

Those vortexes can last dangerously powerful for several minutes, especially on calm weather, as it reportedly was during the incident. This Learjet for example fell from the sky after hitting the vortexes of a plane 4.1 nautical miles in front that flew at 185 knots:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Mexico_City_Learjet_crash

You should know this stuff with your claimed expertise.

"There is no "escalator path". When a trailing aircraft is surfing along in the sweet spot, it is maintaining a relatively constant distance from the vortex axis. If the vortex axis happens to be horizontal then the trailing aircraft will also be flying horizontal. If the vortex axis itself happens to be inclined upward (because the leading aircraft was climbing) the trailing aircraft would have to apply some climb power to continue to fly within the sweet spot."

Again, why would it need to stay in the "sweet spot"? You mentioned earlier it could overshoot above the sweet spot. If it does, the lift just decreases, and it falls back closer to the sweet spot. That would balance the effect automatically. In effect, the path can be even more like an escalator, climbing in steps, instead of smoothly, but the eventual result is the same.

Since power, speed and lift are connected, and Coyne claimed they kept the power and speed, reduced needs for power would logically result in lift. Jezzi stated "it was about 100 feet above us and maybe 500 feet to our front." So there goes the typical story of it moving above them in east-west direction. During the ~2 mins the climb lasted, it would have hardly gained even a minute of distance while accelerating in front of them, meaning strong vortexes during all that time. Even the initial position would have helped to generate additional lift, and because vortexes also sink over time, they could have easily ended up to the sweet spot and above it.

Larry said...

Parabunk, this will be my last post on this subject. You asked:

"Again, why would it need to stay in the "sweet spot"? You mentioned earlier it could overshoot above the sweet spot. If it does, the lift just decreases, and it falls back closer to the sweet spot. That would balance the effect automatically."

First, in my previous post, I pointed out that when an aircraft is flying as stably as possible in a chosen spot in a vortex, all 4 control axes are involved-power, pitch, roll, and yaw. I guess you are not understanding the implications of that fact. What it means is that all the stability axes of the aircraft (or helicopter) are cross coupled. What that means is that if you perturb the aircraft off of its initial condition in any one of the axes (by overshooting, for example), the aircraft responds by making excursions in ALL of the axes. Since a vortex is a very nonlinear and time-varying flow field, that means that the aircraft does NOT automatically return to its initial, unperturbed conditions.

Your use of the term "automatically" implies that you are looking for a mechanism that is self-stable. In normal control system theory, that means that when you perturb a system off of its nominal condition, it experiences some set of forces that tends to push it back to its original condition. Ideally, those restoring forces should increase in magnitude as you get further away from the initial condition. There are no such set of restoring forces while flying in a vortex flow. In the radial direction from the vortex axis, the tangential velocity is very sharply peaked, with a single inflection point right at the core radius. The velocity falls off very steeply on either side of the critical radius. Perturbation in the radial direction causes the position of the aircraft to diverge, not converge. It's unstable. Velocity increases and declines exponentially with motion in the axial direction. There is no island of stability there, either. This is why a pilot has to actively fly the aircraft to stay in a region where the upwash can be exploited.

You then wrote:
"In effect, the path can be even more like an escalator, climbing in steps, instead of smoothly, but the eventual result is the same."

I don't know if you realize it, but your statement here is self-contradictory with your previous statement. If--as you fantasize--an overshoot results in the aircraft simply "automatically" returning to its initial condition, then it has done no net climbing; it is simply oscillating around an average altitude. Somehow, you sneaked in the idea that that oscillation results in the effect of "escalation", or climbing in steps. You can't claim an aircraft is oscillating around an average altitude and simultaneously claim it is climbing in steps. Choose one or the other. If you claim it is climbing in steps, then you are claiming it is extracting kinetic energy from the vortex and turning that into potential energy (i.e., altitude). If you claim that that process can proceed without limit, then you have just proposed a perpetual motion machine.

Dammit, Parabunk, if you don't believe me then go find an aeronautics expert you do trust. In any case, you need to stop just doing 5 minutes of internet "research" and/or making crap up and then thinking you're an expert.

Parabunk said...

Larry:

"Parabunk, this will be my last post on this subject."

So apparently there's not much point answering, but I'll do it for others anyway.

"I pointed out that when an aircraft is flying as stably as possible in a chosen spot in a vortex, all 4 control axes are involved-power, pitch, roll, and yaw."

And apparently you still don't understand it doesn't need to fly in a "chosen spot".

"I don't know if you realize it, but your statement here is self-contradictory with your previous statement."

Your lack of understanding doesn't make my statements contradictory.

"If--as you fantasize--an overshoot results in the aircraft simply "automatically" returning to its initial condition, then it has done no net climbing; it is simply oscillating around an average altitude. Somehow, you sneaked in the idea that that oscillation results in the effect of "escalation", or climbing in steps. You can't claim an aircraft is oscillating around an average altitude and simultaneously claim it is climbing in steps. Choose one or the other."

How hard can it be to understand that an ascending plane will generate an ascending vortex? If a helicopter follows that path, and stays, say, above the center of the vortex, it ascends as well.

Here's an illustration of an ascending plane and vortex:
https://studentpilotnews.com/files/2016/04/AC_90-23G-2.jpg

Basically the helicopter would have needed to stay within the general vicinity of the top-right part of the vortex on the right. Upwash makes it climb and gravity makes it fall if it overshoots, self-balancing that axis, with the area of maximum upwash (or the next "step") always being a bit higher on the ascending vortex. The vortex tries to steer it left, so basically it just needs a more or less coincidental opposing force to prevent it going too much there during that couple of minutes, be it due to a suitably different heading, pilot responding to apparent wind from the side, or something like that. Or maybe they did some circles around the core, experiencing temporary downwash as well, but ended back to the upwash region. As long as they stayed within the vortex, the overall path would be ascending, even if fluctuating.

"If you claim it is climbing in steps, then you are claiming it is extracting kinetic energy from the vortex and turning that into potential energy (i.e., altitude). If you claim that that process can proceed without limit, then you have just proposed a perpetual motion machine."

Wow, you are quite a physicist! So the generation of that vortex is free energy then? Does a windmill also qualify for a perpetual motion machine?

"Dammit, Parabunk, if you don't believe me then go find an aeronautics expert you do trust."

Yes, I will rather find one who doesn't think it's necessary to fly within 4 meters from the wing to experience significant effects. Same if I ever need a private pilot, I rather pick one who seems to be aware of the fact that those vortexes can last dangerously powerful for several minutes, and the corresponding safety intervals pilots should know. You know, to stay alive.

"In any case, you need to stop just doing 5 minutes of internet "research" and/or making crap up and then thinking you're an expert."

Ditto.

Let me know when you manage to find an alternative explanation, since you don't accept those based on known lift generating phenomena.