Tools of the trade
When it comes to collecting data having the right tools makes all the difference
UFO investigations are all about the data. The tools below will help you with collecting the data that truly makes the difference. You will be armed and educated able to impress your friends and coworkers by being able to identify objects in the sky. You will impress your assigned Field Investigator when you present them with the data collected that will aide them in researching your report.
The best part of the list of tools below is the fact that most are either free or very low cost. You can have a great set of tools without breaking the bank.
If you find you are truly interested in getting to the bottom of the UFO phenomena, you may want to check out our Get Involved pages and consider joining a team working together working to determine the reality of the phenomena and educating the public.
Mobile Star Charts
With stars, planets and other celestial bodies being the types of objects most often mistakenly reported as a UFO, an app on your smartphone for identifying these objects will be absolutely indispensable. They are also fun learning these often stunning illuminated bodies in the night sky.
Air traffic is commonly mistaken as a UFO. If you find yourself watching something going across the sky there is a good chance it is a plane or a satellite. Using the app FightRadar24, you can likely determine if what you are seeing is a plane or not. FlightRadar24 uses multiple data sources for tracking aircraft. Information can be found at the flightradar24.com website. In addition to real-time tracking, the app and website both enable researching historical air traffic 7 days back. With a paid subscription you can search 6 months of historical data.
Satellites are probably the next most common object in the sky mistakenly reported as a UFO. Orbitron is a program that utilizes satellite data provided by U.S. Air Force NORAD to provide a graphical representation of satellite positions. It is important to remember that a large portion (perhaps upto 50%) are classified and unable to be identified.
American Meteor Society (AMS)
Fireballs or meteors account for a medium percentage of reported UFOs. Learning to identify meteors and fireballs will help you to eliminate these often amazing and dazzling natural phenomena. If you watch the sky often enough you are bound to be rewarded by one of these celestial objects putting on a show of fiery and exploding gases and rock.
When investigating a report submitted of a UFO, directions make all of the difference. The direction the witness is facing and the directions where they saw the object first and last are all vital.
Learning to use a compass and to also be able to read maps combined are both vital during an investigation. The ability to use a compass is also very useful during extra curricular activities outdoors. It can also be very handy during unexpected emergency conditions.
Roof pitch gauge
As important as it is to know the direction of an object, knowing the the angle of altitude is equally important. These can be found at your local hardware store on the cheap.
With the combined information of direction and angle of altitude, you are armed with the information to identify potential stars, planets and other celestial bodies as well as airplanes and unclassified satellites.
For a Field Investigator a decent audio recorder is one of the most useful tools in the “Go Bag”. When speaking with a witness or giving a verbal account of a sighting in progress, the ability to replay the account is indispensable.
With a majority of the population having a cell phone, many would be surprised to learn the price did not include a quality camera. Camera phones are great for taking pictures of the family and depending on the conditions, pictures of the outdoors.
When trying to zoom in on the picture taken of the distant object, you will be glad for the quality you get from even a decent digital camera. Even the mid-range cameras come with features you may come to appreciate.
Analog (film) camera
If you are lucky enough to have that close encounter experience you may find yourself very thankful you included this in your Go bag. Many witnesses have experienced electronics failure including digital cameras and phones. There is also just something nostalgic about taking pictures with one of these classics.
There are many other tools used by an FI including rulers, 100′ tape measure, string, marking flags and so on but for most witnesses this is a good list to start. If your planning to become an FI this is a good start for your kit. Your field kit will grow over time as you hone your skills and who knows, perhaps you will build a kit even Fox Mulder would be envious of.