October 8, 1981
Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
McRoberts is with her husband and their daughter on the
East coast of the Vancouver Island. They take a picture
of a mountain. Several days afterwards, when photographs
are developed, they notice on one of the photograph that
there is a discoidal object in the sky.
Gordon Creighton/Richard Haines
VANCOUVER ISLAND PHOTOGRAPH
by Gordon Creighton
Hannah McRoberts (aged 25) of Campbell River, BC, was
with her family at a rest area some thirty miles to the
north of Kelsey Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island,
from October 10 to 15, 1981. During this five-day period,
she says she took a number of pictures of her family and
of the local scenery, using her 35 mm Mamiya camera with
a 50-55 mm lens, 125 speed, and ASA 100 film. At one point
during the holiday, they observed that one of the mountain
peaks was surmounted by a cloud somewhat suggestive, as
they described it, of "a volcano issuing steam",
so Mrs. McRoberts snapped that as well. None of the party
noticed anything else in the air at the time, and the
presence of the UFO was therefore only discovered by them
when the prints and negatives came back to them after
resulting photograph shows an object to the right of and
above the peak and the plume of cloud. This photo came
to the attention of Mr. David A. C. Powell of Vancouver,
who is on the staff of the McMilllan Planetarium in that
city, who in turn contacted Bill Allan and provided him
with an enlargement, and also got in contact with APRO
of Tucson, Arizona, the respected American UFO investigation
group who claim now to be the oldest in the world.
the meantime, Mr. W. K. Allan was able to speak with Mrs.
Hannah McRoberts and to interview her on CKOV Kelowna
open line radio programme, in the course of which he formed
the opinion that her story was entirely genuine and that
what we have here is therefore a "legitimate classical
type UFO photo."
place where Mrs. McRoberts says she took her photograph
lies incidentally, some 450 kms or so to the north-west
of Mount Rainier in the US State of Washington, where,
as readers will recall, Kenneth Arnold claimed on June
24, 1947 to have seen his famous flight of nine saucers
moving in formation at 1,200 mph and at an altitude of
10,000 ft over the Cascade Range.)
EXAMINATION OF THE PRINTS IN UK AND USA
wisely indeed, in view of past experience (what a story
there is to be told, one day, about the interceptions
of UFO photos and UFO reports from the public mails -
and all over the world!) Mr. Allan had arranged that the
negative of this photograph should remain very firmly
in the hands of Mrs. McRoberts herself.
had meanwhile passed their prints of the picture to one
of their most eminent specialist consultants, Dr. James
Harder, who is the Professor of Engineering in the University
of California at Berkeley, and he and APRO agreed too
that the negative should remain where it was.
in Britain, we passed our copies of the prints to FSR's
photographic consultant Mr. Percy Hennell, who is generally
regarded as the leading expert in this country in all
matters where colour photography is concerned.
VERDICT ON THE PRINTS
careful scrutiny, Mr. Hennell informs us that he would
naturally have preferred to have the actual negative in
hand for, as he warns, all kinds of hoaxes are possible,
and do occur. Nevertheless, he says that he finds nothing
dubious or suspicious about the picture, though he does
warn us that, if the picture is indeed genuine, then the
disc must have been of enormous size - several hundreds
of feet wide - to have shown up so large at such a distance!
(There have indeed been frequent reports, over the years,
of discs estimated to be of such sizes- indeed in some
cases of discs believed to be as much as 1,000 ft in diameter,
as for example in the confidential report which APRO published
a good many years ago, and which they had received direct
from the pilot and co-pilot of an American troop-carrying
plane which, while en route from Tokyo to South Vietnam
with a party of American soldiers, encountered two enormous
metallic discs that flew on a parallel course with them
for half an hour.)
VERDICT OF DR. JAMES HARDER
now see, from APRO Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 12, that Dr.
James Harder submitted his report on the photo on November
4, 1982, and they give their own conclusion, which is
as follows:- "All this considered, the photo presented
here appears to be an excellent and probably genuine photo
of a classical disc photographed in daylight. Although
unlikely, if further information and clarification is
available, it will be presented in a future issue of the
view of the obviously very great interest which this photo
will evoke, I take the liberty of quoting in full Dr.
Harder's opinion as given in APRO Bulletin Vol. 30, No.
I feel that the best test of authenticity is in the good
reputation of the photographer, insofar as it is impossible
to prove a negative - in this case that there is no possibility
of a fraud. However, some of the indicators of an authentic
photograph can help establish likelihood of an authentic
photo. These are:
That the negative involved is one of a sequence of outdoor
pictures and that the frame in question is not an isolated
one. One way of producing a hoax is to re-photograph a
positive print onto which has pasted an addition. To do
a good job of hoaxing then one would have to re-photograph
an entire roll of negative film.
That there are no inconsistencies in the lighting of the
strange object and the rest of he scene. In the subject
photo, I note that the shadows in the lower left of the
scene indicate a Sun position nearly behind the camera.
There is a reflection on the forward face of the UFO that
is consistent with this Sun position. There also seems
to be a bright spot under the UFO not connected with external
lighting - maybe a light on the UFO.
With the right equipment, it is possible to make certain
measurements of negative density of the UFO image and
of other images of objects at estimated distances from
the lens. Here the object is to show that the unknown
is not nearby - and thus not a hubcap or other such object
thrown into the air. The idea is to measure, from the
image of the object at a known distance, the atmospheric
'extinction coefficient'. On a clear day, with a low value,
contrasts between dark shadowed areas and brightly lit
areas retain their distinction over greater distances.
On hazy days, the light and dark areas blend towards a
mid-range shade, giving the appearance that distant mountains
have of being one shade of grey. Nearby shadows can show
their true darkness, as opposed to the lighter shade of
distant shadows. But in this picture there are no nearby
shadows to serve as a standard, only shadows of trees
in the lower left bottom.
has been alleged that edges become fuzzy at greater distances
and that this can help distinguish nearby objects from
those far away. I know of no theoretical reason for this
based on the optical properties of the atmosphere, but
will ask Jim Lorenzen if we have a consultant who could
be more sure of this. After all, we do take remarkably
clear pictures from space with no trouble from edge-blurring
of objects on the ground, and that is through 14.7 lbs
per square inch of air in the path.
proving authenticity is likely to be elusive, insofar
as there is only the evidence of internal consistency
to go on. I wish I could be more positive, but then there
is so much evidence of other sorts for the reality of
UFOs that we shouldn't have to add to it excepting for
those who are beyond believing anyway."
a further letter from Mr. W. K. Allan, he comments on
Dr. Harder's reference to the fact that Mrs. McRoberts
photo is one of a sequence of outdoor pictures, and says:
"It is unfortunate that the importance of keeping
the individual exposures on the roll unseparated was not
fully realized, but when I saw the negative, it was still
unseparated from one of the family snaps."
regard to the lady who took the photograph of this UFO,
Mr. Allan goes on to say: "What is of great importance
to me is the fact that Hannah McRoberts is the niece of
one of Canada's leading nuclear engineers, a man in charge
of a multi-billion dollar electrical generating complex,
whom I have known continuously since his attendance in
my class at Western Canada High School in Calgary, Alberta."
further information and analysis of this photograph, see
the paper "A
Scientifically Based Analysis of an Alleged UFO Photograph"
by Richard F. Haines, Ph.D., in the MUFON 1986 UFO Symposium
Proceedings, pp. 111-129.