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Harry Belfrage Picken, B.Sc.
Registered Professional Engineer Province of Ontario
Associate Fellow Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute
Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Member American Helicopter Society
On the night of April 9th, 1975, at about 9.30 pm, the writer was awakened by his wife, who was quite excited by the fact that she had been watching three unidentified flying objects which appeared to hover out over the lake.
We live on Front Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, right at the junction of the Niagara River where it enters Lake Ontario. In front of our house is a park so we are able to have an unobstructed view of Lake Ontario. The only thing limiting the view is the shoreline of the river on the Canadian side and the headland where Fort Niagara is located on the U.S. side.
As I came out of our driveway, I was amazed to see three objects in the heavens through the branches of the trees. They were hovering in a fixed position, the pattern they made being slightly triangular with one UFO at the top of the apex. It is always difficult to estimate height of objects such as aircraft at night.
The sky was reasonably clear of all clouds with stars plainly visible in the background. If there had been any cirrus clouds, it would have been reasonably easy to obtain an estimate of the altitude. There were none, but on the basis of the angle of inclination and the fact that we were able to see the lights of Toronto in the background, I feel that they had to be at an altitude of 40,000 to 50,000 feet.
The colour was predominantly yellow to orange, similar to that seen in a sodium vapour lamp. Periodically they would grow extremely bright and then fade to almost nothing and then grow bright again. Whatever the source of this energy, there was indeed hundreds of candle power being dissipated to create this kind of brilliance. It was almost as if someone was controlling the intensity by means of a rheostat.
With the naked eye, each light appeared as one, the size being about that of a pea held at arm's length. However, when viewed through binoculars, it was at once apparent that each light was made up of two lights in a horizontal plane, separated by a space. Not knowing the altitude or the distance from these UFOs it was difficult to say exactly how far each pair of lights was apart.
When the light would go out and one happened to be observing a particular one of the three with binoculars, there appeared to be a number of smaller lights flickering, of various colours arranged in a haphazard fashion. This was very difficult to see because of the altitude of the UFOs.
During the observation, which lasted for approximately half an hour, the UFOs stayed in precisely the same position and kept the same distance apart. I left to phone several other people to come and view them. However, when I returned they were gone. My wife, who had remained, said that they simply faded out.
In regard to the effect of the three UFOs on myself, I can only say that I experienced a feeling of awe and amazement.
Dated 28th April 1975
Taken by Peter Werner between 9pm and 10pm, April 8th from the foot of Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
Peter Werner is a student at the Niagara District Secondary School, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
Between 9pm and 10pm he observed some UFOs. His 35mm camera was equipped with a 50mm lens. He opened the lens up to F2.8. With the camera on a tripod, he made an exposure of between 5 and 6 minutes.
The photograph, in addition to showing the tracking of the UFOs, shows the north shore of Lake Ontario. This includes the Toronto skyline which shows the lights from the Toronto Dominion Building and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, with the new CN Tower (slightly more than 1800 feet high) to the left of these two buildings. Toronto International Airport could be a relatively short distance to the left of this point again, and back in from the shoreline. (Ed note: Lake shore to centre of Pearson International Airport runways is approximately 9 miles.)
Oakville, Ontario can be recognised on the horizon by the glow towards the left of the picture.
The bank of Lake Ontario is shown in the foreground and was illuminated by the continual parade of car headlights going around the corner. A branch of a tree is shown in the lower right hand corner. The depth of field of this photograph is very good and, as a result, we have good terms of reference. The lake at this point is approximately 28 - 30 miles wide and we are looking in a slightly north westerly direction.
In regard to my qualifications to evaluate this picture, in addition to being a graduate aeronautical engineer and a registered professional engineer, I am also a photo engraver and have been working with telescopes, microscopes and cameras most of adult life, in addition to taking several courses in photography while attending University.
Although I have not seen the negative, I would say, at the outset, that I believe the photograph to be completely bona fide. The darkroom technique is poor in as much as there appear to be a number of specks and scratches on the film. However, I do not think these marks detract from the content.
In examining the picture with a watchmaker's loupe, I believe there are four UFOs in this photograph. It will be noticed that on the right side of the picture there appear three bright spots. These spots are the result of "halation" caused by the UFO making a turn and approaching in a straight line either towards or away from the camera lens. Because of this manoeuvre the light seems to be standing still, and consequently this point of the path of the UFO receives considerably more exposure than the line left on the film as the object passes either to the left or right.
Because the sizes of the three dots are almost identical it is likely that turning procedure for each one was almost identical.
Reviewing the paths of each UFO, starting from the top and progressing towards the bottom, I would like to make the following propositions:
The path of the UFO on the top of the page would indicate that the object has come from the west. The fact that the path is getting brighter would imply that the "flaring" up situation was developing as the object moved. The travel of this particular UFO to the east is terminated by a bright dot. Two tracks of UFOs below the first path at the top indicate that the turns were practically made at right angles. The dot examined by the watchmaker's loupe indicates the typical film halation effect showing tiny "spurs" emanating from the light source. This further serves to indicate that the turning procedure is similar to that shown by the other two UFOs (#2 and #3.) After the turns, which consist of two 90-degree turns, it retraces its path to the west in the same plane, and parallel to its original flight path to the east. The light terminates about half-way along the retrace caused by closing the camera shutter. Because UFO #1 has not made a third turn it is presumed that it is probably following UFOs #2 and #3.
The track of the second UFO begins "under" UFO #1 in the picture and it also starts from the west. It is not very bright but the halation effect from the concentration of the light at the turning point is evident as in the case of UFO #1. In turning to the west it can be seen that its path to the west is slightly curved, until it makes a sharp turn, at which time the track, which is about 3/32" long, appears to become broader and brighter. Because we are looking at the end view of the track which is foreshortened, considerable light falls on the film for the distance travelled. It will be noticed that UFO #2 has travelled further west before making a turn, than any of the others, and there is a small "burst" of light before it makes what appears to be a 90-degree turn. Because of the tracks made by UFO #2 and UFO #3 indicating that the tracks meet at a vanishing point on the horizon, it would appear that UFO #2 is going north at the time its track is terminated by the closing of the camera shutter.
UFO #3 is seen coming in from the east going west. Its track is slightly wavy, and is certainly not as steady as the tracks left in the sky by our jet fighters. It also makes a right-angle turn. The track, because of foreshortening of the line, appears heavier. Because of the fact that the ends of the track of UFO #2 and UFO #3 are about the same height above the horizon (when the camera shutter closed) and again, considering perspective and the vanishing point, it would appear that UFO #3 is also going north and that it is "neck and neck" with UFO #2. The length of the terminating position after turn is longer than UFO #2 indicating that its track from east to west is probably closer to us than the track of UFO #2.
UFO #4 has approached from the west as there is very little light from its track from the west prior to making two 90-degree turns. It is safe to assume that it was beginning to flare up. This is borne out by the fact that the track left on the film is wider than any other shown. At the most westerly end of its travel there is slight enlarging at the end of the path indicating either a flare up or the beginning of a turn just as the camera shutter closed.
As one who has done considerable flying in various aircraft including helicopters, I am convinced that the flight paths of these UFOs were not made by any aircraft with with we are presently familiar.
Also, from the flight paths, the light would appear to radiate from the objects in all directions. This is not normal for aircraft navigation lights.
As an exercise, and making an assumption that these objects were approximately half-way across the lake, knowing the distance between Toronto and Oakville, the position of the observer, and the time that the shutter was open, it might be possible using simple geometry to come up with estimated speed of the objects. Personally I believe they were travelling rather slowly.
Harry B. Picken,