SyFy channel’s Ben Hanson provides detailed first-hand report of triangular-shaped UFO sighting in Huntington, Beach

// May 9th, 2013 // News

Ben Hanson's diagram showing two witness viewpoints of triangular UFO in Huntington Beach

Ben Hanson, from SyFy channel’s Fact or Fake: Paranormal Files television show, has reported seeing a triangular UFO on May 3, 2013 in Huntington Beach, California.  Hanson, a former FBI agent, had just finished exercising with a friend at a local Huntington Beach high school running track when he lay on the ground to wait for his friend to complete her laps around the track. As he lay there, he looked up and notice a triangular-shape UFO travelling very fast across the sky.

According to Hanson:

“From what I could see, I would estimate it to be a near perfect equilateral triangle. The spheres were large enough that they extended beyond the triangle’s points. In other words, it appeared that they were not contained within the inside of the triangle, but perhaps attached to the points. I was not able to determine if the middle area of the triangle was solid because the color was indistinguishable from the dark sky above. The spheres did not appear to be self-illuminated and there were no position marker, navigation, strobe, landing, beacon, or other lights visible.“

Once his friend completed her exercise run, Hanson told her what he had seen. She acknowledged that she had seen the same object flying across the sky. He suggested they document their sighting independently so as to not influence each other’s report of the sighting.

Hanson then notes another unusual aerial occurrence in the sky.

“At that point, I returned to where I had placed a backpack and I retrieved my cell phone. I called my father who lives in another state to tell him about the incredible sighting and see if he could assist in gathering current weather data from the Internet. My outgoing call was logged at 9:27 pm (0427 Zulu). About three minutes into the call, I looked into the sky at about the same point where I had first sighted the triangular object. Suddenly, I caught sight of two more objects traveling at about the same speed, but at a 180 degrees reverse heading from where the triangle was spotted. In effect, it appeared they were returning along the same vector (altitude, heading, and speed) as the first object, but they were shaped differently. Lacking a better way to describe them, they appeared to me to have the shape of fighter jets, but they were completely white in color and flying in such tight formation that they were almost touching each other (one slightly ahead of the other).”

His friend’s description of the object differs slightly and provides a unique perspective on a triangular UFO viewed from multiple angles.  She described the object in her own words as follows:

“I saw a strange object that caught my attention while running. It was in the formation of a triangle, but it seemed to have several objects that were forming that triangle. It wasn’t very high, definitely not a plane, it was not illuminated. Initially I thought it might be a flock of birds, but it was a triangle shape not a V shape and the objects were much bigger than birds and it would have taken several birds to make the triangle as big as it was. It was almost as if they looked like Styrofoam Dixie cups clustered inside the triangle. The object didn’t hover to a stop, but it was slow moving and then it disappeared completely out of sight. I looked beyond the clouds and there was nothing.”

Here is Hanson’s complete report of the sighting:

Triangular object with white spheres observed over Huntington Beach, CA on May 3, 2013

Event Description:

On Friday, May 3rd, 2013, at approximately 9:15 pm (0415 Zulu) I was outdoors exercising on the Huntington Beach High School track.  The high school is located in Huntington Beach, California at the GPS coordinates (N 33 40.678, W 118 00.179).  I had just finished my run and was sitting on the edge of the track while my friend finished her laps.  There were no other people present.  I was listening to my MP3 player with earbuds, but the music volume was not loud.  As I was stretching from my workout, I looked up to the sky.  Nearly directly above my head at about 70 degrees altitude from the southwestern horizon, I instantly focused on a triangular shaped object traveling at a very quick pace toward the northeast.  I quickly ascertained that the object was a craft of some sort and not birds flying in formation because at each point of the triangle was a large white sphere.  The spheres and craft traveled in perfect coordination as if it was part of one solid structure.  Its altitude was low enough that I could also see defined lines on the leading edges and also on what I would assume was the aft edge since its orientation was flying in the direction of one of the triangle’s converging points.

From what I could see, I would estimate it to be a near perfect equilateral triangle.  The spheres were large enough that they extended beyond the triangle’s points.  In other words, it appeared that they were not contained within the inside of the triangle, but perhaps attached to the points.  I was not able to determine if the middle area of the triangle was solid because the color was indistinguishable from the dark sky above.  The spheres did not appear to be self-illuminated and there were no position marker, navigation, strobe, landing, beacon, or other lights visible. The stadium lights were not in operation around the football field.  Consequently, the area where we were located in the stadium was quite dark.  If it were not for the mercury lights of the parking lot at the Seacliff Shopping Center across the street to the north and the baseball fields to the south, I’m not sure I could have seen the object as clearly as I did.  I felt as if any illumination I was seeing was coming from the lights across the street.  Our location was shadowed from the direct lights in the parking lot because of the bleachers.  However, it seemed that the craft was low enough, yet still well above the height of the stadium that the underside of the spheres were reflecting the parking lot lights.

As noted previously, I did have my MP3 playing, but the volume was very low and I could not hear any sounds from the craft as it passed overhead.  One thought that occurred to me was if it were possible that this craft were constructed of some sort of lighter-than-air balloon, perhaps three weather balloons attached to a rigid frame to hold them in perfect formation.  I very quickly dismissed this theory however when the object tracked from where I was sitting, to an area to the northeast I estimate to be between 3/4 mile to just over 1 mile away.  It covered this distance in under 5 seconds.  Conservative calculations place it traveling somewhere between 500-800 mph.  There was no perceptible wind so I would dismiss any light object simply floating in the air and carried by the current, especially at such an incredible rate of speed.  I also estimate the altitude to be 700 ft. MSL or lower (calculations explained below).  There were no visible clouds in the sky except for a faint, marine haze in the northeast section of my view.  As are most high school stadiums, the bleacher structures are built on both sides of the field, but there is no seating at the end zones.  There is a sizable wall and gates around the whole stadium.  However, I was far enough away from the wall where I was sitting that I had a fairly unobstructed view of the horizon just to the right of the northern bleachers.  At this angle, when the craft passed overhead, I saw it briefly pass through part of a hazy cloud.  It was such a thin and wispy cloud that I could see it move around the form of the craft, but not obstruct it from view completely.  This was about three seconds after first viewing the object.  The object continued along a straight trajectory, not descending or climbing from what I could determine.  At approximately 5 seconds, the triangle had traveled far enough away that it faded from view.  More than likely, it did not accelerate or actually disappear, but the fade was the result of the same marine haze and excessive ambient lighting from the commercial lighting described above.

Approximately one and a half minutes after the sighting, my friend had rounded the track to where I was sitting and I excitedly told her that I thought I had just witnessed a UFO.  She quickly replied that she had seen the object as well.  She began to tell me what she had witnessed.  Even though we were both wanted to share details, I asked her to wait until she could write down her account, so as to try and avoid contaminating either one of our memories.  At that point, I returned to where I had placed a backpack and I retrieved my cell phone.  I called my father who lives in another state to tell him about the incredible sighting and see if he could assist in gathering current weather data from the Internet.  My outgoing call was logged at 9:27 pm (0427 Zulu).  About three minutes into the call, I looked into the sky at about the same point where I had first sighted the triangular object.  Suddenly, I caught sight of two more objects traveling at about the same speed, but at a 180 degrees reverse heading from where the triangle was spotted.  In effect, it appeared they were returning along the same vector (altitude, heading, and speed) as the first object, but they were shaped differently.  Lacking a better way to describe them, they appeared to me to have the shape of fighter jets, but they were completely white in color and flying in such tight formation that they were almost touching each other (one slightly ahead of the other).  I assumed they were either slightly smaller in size than the triangular object or higher in altitude.  It was difficult to estimate, but the two of them combined were about 2/3 the size of the triangle.  I would best describe them as having a defined nose section (such as a fighter jet) and then swept-back, short wings with a broader tail section (where the horizontal stabilizer would be on a conventional plane).  To be accurate, I am not quite sure about the overall silhouette as this was only one quick impression and they were more difficult to see than the first object.  They most certainly did however appear to have wings of some sort and a defined nose section.  I again quickly dismissed the possibility of birds or objects carried by the wind because of their speed and lack of wing motion. As with the triangle, there were no lights observed on either one of the craft and they did not appear to be illuminated, but perhaps reflecting city lights on their undersides.  Unlike the triangle, I did note that they appeared to be uniformly solid in color (white) and not transparent or colored the same as the sky.  They disappeared over the tops of the high school buildings to the southwest, in the direction of the ocean.  Because of the time of the phone call, I estimated this sighting took place at approximately 9:30 pm with a duration of less than 4 seconds.

At the time of this second sighting, I no longer had my MP3 playing, nor did I have the earbuds in my ears.  There was no perceptible sound detected from the two craft or anywhere in the sky.  I pointed out the objects to my friend who was now standing about 20 feet or so away.  She confirmed my description of the craft.  I promptly ended the phone call and attempted to turn on my smartphone’s video recorder.  I had the recorder ready in case anything else should appear, but knowing the low-light filming capabilities of my phone, I was certain it was pointless to hope to capture such dim images on the device.  Shortly after, I took a compass reading from an application on my phone.  We then quickly packed up our belongings in order to get to a computer where I could gather more information.

My friend’s description of the first object differed slightly from mine.  She first spotted the craft as she was rounding the track on the northeast side.  The track is oriented lengthwise from east to west.  Consequently, she looked up just in the last few seconds as it was fading from view.  Yet she perhaps was able to see it longer than I did before it completely faded.  Her perspective of apparent motion and speed were also different because it already had passed overhead and was distancing itself when she caught sight of it.  As recorded in her own words:

“I saw a strange object that caught my attention while running.  It was in the formation of a triangle, but it seemed to have several objects that were forming that triangle.  It wasn’t very high, definitely not a plane, it was not illuminated.  Initially I thought it might be a flock of birds, but it was a triangle shape not a V shape and the objects were much bigger than birds and it would have taken several birds to make the triangle as big as it was.  It was almost as if they looked like Styrofoam Dixie cups clustered inside the triangle.  The object didn’t hover to a stop, but it was slow moving and then it disappeared completely out of sight.  I looked beyond the clouds and there was nothing.”

Witnesses:

At this time, there are only two known witnesses to this event- myself and the female friend who was running with me at the track.

Regarding my background, I am a 35 year old television host and producer living in Orange County, California.  I host a popular reality and investigation-based cable television show.  Among other phenomena, we do explore reports of UFO activity.  I have spoken on the UFO subject at several UFO conferences and am known for taking a neutral and skeptical approach to investigating UFO events.  In the 20-plus years of researching the UFO phenomenon, in addition to the several years of working on our show, I have become quite familiar with most misidentifications of birds, balloons, conventional aircraft, remote control craft, and hoaxes.  I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with certifications in Criminology and Corrections.  My previous careers include working for several years in criminal and national security investigations at both the state level and as a federal law enforcement agent.  I formerly held a Top Secret security level clearance which is eligible for reactivation.  I have held a FAA Private Pilot’s license since 1995 and have piloted small single engine planes in the general vicinity of the sighting.  Consequently, I’m familiar with FAA Federal Air Regulations regarding aircraft lighting requirements and the use of airspace within the Huntington Beach area.  I’m familiar with the basic capabilities of commercial and military aircraft known to the public.

My friend is a 32 year old female also living in Orange County, California.  She formerly was employed in banking compliance where her duties required monitoring and investigating reports of fraud.  She stated she has never before seen unexplained objects such as were witnessed.  Although she has a passing interest in the UFO phenomenon, she has not studied it and considers herself skeptical in regards to unexplained events.

Weather Conditions:

I obtained current weather information from aviationweather.gov.  The nearest airports to my location are John Wayne Orange County (KSNA) and Los Alamitos Army Airfield (KSLI).  Los Alamitos was exactly 8.3 miles to the northwest from my location and SNA was 7.65 miles to the east.  Accepting that there would be slight differences in the temperatures and winds between the two airports, I still wanted a good average.  Fountain Valley, which is 3 miles to the northeast also had reported information, but not the detailed cloud heights contained in aviation reports.

At 9:29 pm (0427 Zulu), Fountain Valley was reporting a temperature of 64 deg. F. with a dewpoint of 56 deg.  Relative humidity was 75% with winds out the south-southwest at 8 mph. The barometric pressure was 29.83 inches and visibility was greater than 10 miles.

Orange County Airport (SNA) reported in a Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) at 0453 Zulu (a little over 30 minutes after the event) that the wind was out of 250 degrees at 3 knots.  The visibility was greater than 10 statute miles.  The temperature was 67 deg. F. with a dewpoint of 50 deg. and a relative humidity of 55%.  The barometric pressure measured 29.82 inches.  The cloud ceiling was broken at 25,000 feet AGL.  Within the next 4 hours at 0900 Zulu, the forecast was expecting a few clouds at 700 feet AGL.

At Los Alamitos, the conditions were relatively the same.  It was forecast that starting at 0400 Zulu (9:00 pm) the winds were variable at 6 knots with 6 or more miles visibility and clear skies.

According to the US Naval Observatory, the Moon was in the waning crescent phase (36% visible) but it was not seen in the sky at my location.  The moonrise was not to take place until 2:46 am on Saturday.  This eliminated the Moon as a possible light source for the reflected light which seemed to come off the spheres.

Trajectory, Altitude, and Size Estimates:

I measured the trajectory heading to be 39 or 40 degrees from magnetic north.  Using aeronautical sectional charts, the plotted course placed the object traveling nearly perpendicular to the Pacific Coastline.  The beach is less than a mile from the sighting location.  Every indication from its speed made me believe that it had entered over land from the ocean.  If the heading is extended in both directions, it crosses directly over Catalina Island and continues down a corridor between two sides of a National Defense Operating Area where aircraft are warned of military training.  If the heading is followed to the northeast, it continues directly over Corona and then Riverside Airport, which is in the general vicinity of March Air Force Base.

​As I’m familiar with the marine layer that often passes over the area when I fly planes, I judged the height of the object to be less than 1,000 feet.  This was supported by the fact that the haze was clearly detailed and visible when it obscured part of the craft as it sped by.  The weather forecast in the nearby area had also expected a few clouds at 700 feet.  Using the assumed altitude and comparing the angular size of a known object, I was able to arrive at a rough estimate.  The known object I compared size to was the Moon.  Because the Moon was not visible in the sky, I measured it at a later time and used its known distance and size to arrive at the unknown object’s size.  My best estimate is that the object was no larger than 25 feet in length from the front point to the aft edge.

Conclusions and Speculations:

I feel comfortable categorizing this event as a UFO sighting in the literal sense of the term- the craft is still an Unidentified Flying Object.  As with most UFO cases, I find it easier to determine what it was not, rather than what it was.  As stated previously, I feel I have satisfactorily eliminated any possibility that the craft was a lighter-than-air balloon or floating object carried by the wind.  Weather reports indicated that at most, winds were no more than 8 mph and generally from the west or southwest.  Wind direction corresponded to roughly the same direction the triangular object was heading, but not at all to the direction the two smaller objects were traveling.  If any relationship exists between the two sightings, which would seem logical, then the second sighting has objects flying directly into the wind and would therefore imply self-propulsion.  Any discussion of wind driven objects is quite ridiculous in my opinion, once the relative speed of the craft is taken into account.  Nothing short of the most severe hurricane or tornado could push an object to travel even half the speed of what we observed.

The objects were not birds.  As discussed previously, both my friend and I were certain we witnessed a triangular object.  In my case, I saw 3 spheres as part of a rigid triangle with defined edges.  She also saw a triangle with a defined outline and states that she saw several more spheres within the shape.  I also know a little more about birds and flight behavior than the average observer as I’m a licensed falconer and typically can identify larger birds by their silhouettes.

The craft was not a hang glider, nor was it an object towed by another aircraft.  Banner towing companies will often fly banner advertisements over the beach during the day, but there were no aircraft in the immediate area and no sounds of a plane.  I’m also hang gliding certified and I know of no hang gliding operations in the area.  Again, the speed of the craft also precludes either one of theses explanations.

Finally, the possibility it could be some type of remote controlled plane or multi-rotor copter was considered.  Although some remote controlled craft can reach extreme speeds, I find it very unlikely that anything hobby or law enforcement related could travel at such a rate.  Additionally, as I know from filming with an aerial remote control copter, anyone flying such a device farther than line-of-site would require doing so by onboard cameras and video transmission or via completely autonomous flight.  The equipment needed to fly POV in the dark, is tremendously expensive.  Similarly, it’s an extremely costly and dangerous maneuver to fly by programmed waypoints without visual reference.  Doing so over a very populated area known to have police helicopters and other aircraft does not make sense.  The military is likely the only organization with drone capability even remotely close to what we witnessed.  However, at 700 feet altitude and at such a tremendous speed, I would expect to hear significant sounds indicating a jet propulsion system.  The craft in both sightings were completely silent.

I have no way of confirming whether the craft were piloted or remotely operated.  It seems appropriate to declare however that their propulsion system is unconventional as belonging to any publicly known commercial or military aircraft.  Although delta wing planes have been manufactured by the military, the lack of noise at the observed speed and altitude is unexplainable by conventional means.

(*Drawing attached)

Sources: Ben Hanson website, MUFON

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