Index of UFO Types

David Calvert. 

UFOs come in many different shapes and sizes, from the traditional saucer-shaped to the more exotic. They have been witnessed throughout human history and have been photographed, sketched, painted, written about,  filmed, and categorised, yet we are still none the wiser as to their true origins.

The images and brief histories below are just a sampling of what the fledgling UFO investigator might come across in his early studies of the phenomenon. He would, therefore, do well to familiarise himself with the following. 


Saucer-Shaped UFO

saucer ufoThe term ‘flying saucer’ was first coined in 1947 by an anonymous Hearst copy editor, following the sighting of nine UFOs over Mount Rainier on June 24th of that year by Kenneth Arnold. In reality Arnold never described them as flying saucers but was misquoted when he said that they flew like a saucer would when thrown across the water. He wasn’t alluding to their shape but their motion. 

kenneth-arnold-ufoThis picture shows Kenneth Arnold holding up a depiction of what he actually saw. Clearly, it is more boomerang-shaped than saucer-shaped.


Cylindrical/Cigar Shaped UFO  

Mt washington ufoDepending on the source, this image was shot either in 1870, 1880, or 1896. It was supposedly taken in New Hampshire looking at Mt. Washington. It bears the classic cigar shape seen in the USA during the latter years of the 1880s. A more accurate term to use when describing such objects would be ‘Cylindrical’. 

‘Mystery airships’ or ‘phantom airships’ as they became known were reported world-wide in the late 19th century and are a class of unidentified flying object. They are seen as a cultural predecessor to modern UFOs. Some ufologists believe the airships were human-built dirigibles witnessed during test flights. However, no records of any successful flights have ever been discovered from the  period. Cigar and dirigible type craft share many of the same characteristics. It is therefore difficult to separate the two types, although generally the cigar is the larger of the two.  



The triangular UFO, aka ‘flying triangle’ (FT) has  reportedly been witnessed from the 1940s to the present day. However, phenomena consistent with modern-day sightings have also been reported throughout recorded history, using the language of the times. FTs are generally described as enormous, silent, black triangular objects. They are frequently seen at night, hovering or slowly cruising overtly at low altitudes over cities and highways. On each corner of the triangle there are “running lights”. They can be  bright white or pulsing coloured lights. A single light is situated at the centre of the aeroform. This class of UFO is reported as being visible to radar, as in the famous Belgium UFO wave of the 1980s. 

Boomerang/Chevron-Shaped UFO.

This picture was taken in Calgary, Canada, on April 8, 2007. The witness described it Calgary ufoas a ‘boomerang-shaped craft’ with ‘discernible structural elements’. It was silent and without a contrail.   On May, 2007, a similar craft was seen in Germany, described as being approximately 80 ft wide and 75 ft high, silver coloured and highly reflective. It had an orange glow at the front and a dome at the rear, along with lights at the bottom. As the witnesses watched, it ‘cloaked’ then uncloaked in a matter of seconds.

More UFO Types

Bell Craft. This is a rare craft and not enough data has been accumulated to give its general configuration. 

Bell ufo

Box Craft. This is a rare craft. Box-like appearance, no lights, and silent.

box ufo 2

Conical Hat. This is a comparatively rare craft. One of these UFOs was reliably estimated to be in the region of  200 metres in diameter. Colour is metallic silver, both dull and polished. They appear to vibrate heavily. When moving slowly they seem to jerk or jitter

  conical ufo

Cross Craft. These craft are incredibly rare. Their dimensions seem to vary from jet-fighter size to extremely large. Colours for this UFO vary, but several have been seen with white lights at the cross extremities and red or bright red at the centre, occasionally pulsating. On several occasions smaller, bright orange or green, craft have been seen to join and leave the main craft. The main craft also has the ability to ‘fade’ in its appearance. Electrical disturbances have also been reported with this UFO.


 Diamond-Shaped UFO. The exterior of this craft can be as polished and as dazzling as a mirror in bright sunlight. The range of colours reported for this UFO are from white to black, and just about every colour of the spectrum in-between. Its size range can vary, but the general estimate for it is about 18 ft across and 8 to 10 ft high. There is seldom any noise associated with this craft. Electrical disturbances are connected with it. 

diamond ufo

Domed Saucer. Of all UFOs this is the most instantly recognisable. The dome disc shaped craft has a relatively low profiled cupola, and they are generally flat or convex on the bottom. Their size can range from 10-15 ft in diameter, to several hundred or more, and they are generally one of the most common UFOs reported. Colour ranges from a brightly polished metallic silver to a dull aluminium. The flat-bottomed versions of this craft are often darker underneath in a center circular area. Grounded craft have been seen to have retractable landing gear. A characteristic of the domed saucer is that it is surrounded by an ionized atmosphere which gives them a mist shrouded appearance. Their speeds have been confirmed by radar at up to 9,000 mph.


Double Hat UFO. Dimensions for this craft vary in size from 1 to 30 metres. They have a brightly polished silver colour to a dull aluminium appearance. Flat bottomed saucers are often darker underneath. When seen at night they are solidly lit in red, orange, amber, yellow, blue or blue-violet, and brilliant white, combinations. At night the edges of the craft are indistinct, due to the halo that surrounds them, obscuring their edges. Like the conical hat UFO they can display a jittery or jerky movement. At close quarters these craft can be heard to give off a buzz, hum, or whine. 

double hat ufo

Egg Shaped UFO. This type of craft has been witnessed flying with its long axis vertical. Its configurations ordinarily range in the 1-30 meter range. It is also equipped with retractable landing gear. Their sound can be anything from a roar to a hum, buzz, whine or whirr at close quarters. When flying it may have a light swish-of-air sound, or may run silently. It has been witnessed in multitude of colours. The Socorro Landing is perhaps the most famous case of an egg-shaped UFO encounter.

egg shaped ufo 

Horseshoe Craft. The terminology used by witnesses when describing this UFO ranges from ‘horseshoe’, ‘magnet’, and ‘U-shaped’, for obvious reasons. What we know of this craft is that its size varies from that of a large airplane to several times larger than a jumbo jet. Its body often appears black and is highly reflective. Its perimeter lighting has been seen to be yellow, yellow-orange and non-blinking. Despite its habit of low-level flight, no sound has been heard emanating from it. This craft does not appear to bank when turning, but rotates, as is common of vehicles of this size.

horseshoe shaped ufo 

This is by no means a comprehensive view of UFO types, but merely a sampling of the many types the fledgling UFO student will encounter in their study of this fascinating subject. Omitions from this list include: 

Oval Shaped UFOs, Winged UFOs, Flat Top UFOs, Orb/Spherical UFOs, Saturn Craft, Teardrop UFOs, Split UFOs, Morphing UFOs, Pyramid Shaped UFOs, Square UFOs, Train UFOs, and Ring Shaped UFOs, to few.

© David Calvert 2011

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Classifying UFOs


David Calvert

The Hynek UFO Classification System (HCS)

The first serious attempt at classifying UFOs came from the most influential figure in ufology, J Allen HynekJoseph Allen Hynek. A professor of Astronomy at North-western University, US, Hynek was employed in 1948 by the US Air Force to investigate UFO reports. As former head of Project Blue Book, he devised the following classification system, which has long been the ‘industry standard’. He initially divided UFO reports according to the distance from the observer – greater or less than 150 m. (500 ft.) – and then further subdivided these two sections into a total of six categories.


Nocturnal lights:

Light or lights seen at a distance. These may display various fluctuations in intensity, changes in colour and/or rapid acceleration, and sudden turns or directional changes. They frequently turn out to be no more than misidentifications of planets such as Venus or Jupiter, high altitude aircraft or meteors. Daylight (diurnal) discs: Often seen at a distance, and varying considerably in shape and size, may be disc, cigar or cylinder shaped, egg or acorn shaped (the former usually seen on a horizontal axis, the latter on a vertical axis). They may be spherical, ovate, irregular shapes or (as of late) large black triangles. They may or may not exhibit similar patterns of behaviour to nocturnal lights. Often the result of misidentified weather balloons, blimps, aircraft or even hoaxes.


Witnessed as a radar reflection and as a visual sighting by an independent observer. Stand-alone radar sightings are often written off due to the nature of false traces caused by natural phenomena such as flocks of birds, ground scatter (a reflected signal from high cloud), cloud banks and temperature inversions. Relatively rare, but important, they may provide instrumental evidence to support the visual aspect of the sighting.


CE I  (Close encounters of the first kind): Observations of phenomena with no interaction between UFO and witness or environment.

CE II (Close encounter of the second kind): The witnessing of physical effects on organic and non-organic, animate or inanimate objects. Such effects may include the disruption of car engines or other radio or electrical interference (due to the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effect on the electrical circuits, diesel engines are not usually effected), broken tree limbs, scorched or flattened vegetation, imprints in the ground, scorched or newly exposed earth, and increased radiation levels or localised time anomalies.

CE III (Close encounters of the third kind): The witnessing of occupants in or around the UFO. There is a bone of contention concerning these so-called ‘contactee cases’. Hynek himself believed that such reports invariably came from pseudoreligious fanatics, and sceptics to add weight to these arguments often quote cases such as those of George Adamski, et al. To fully qualify for CE III status, the occupants of the UFO should either be witnessed or have verbal or some other communication with the witness. There may be displays of hostility by or towards the extraterrestrial biological entity (EBE) or by remote devices.

CE IV (Close encounter of the fourth kind):  Although this is not one of Hynek’s classifications per se, it is included as a later addition to the above and implies actual abduction by EBEs, in its literal sense of being abducted without the witness’s consent and/or knowledge. These encounters frequently begin with a CE II and the abductee may have no knowledge of the event until such time as regression therapy becomes necessary due to subsequent emotional or psychological disturbances.

The Valée Anomaly Classification System

Jacques ValleeDevised by Dr. Jacques Valée, a French-American graduate of Hynek’s astronomy course at North-western University, this system is now more widely used than Hynek’s system, as it is more specific for analytical purposes and narrows things down somewhat. Valée divided UFO reports into the various sections detailed below.

AN ratings are used to classify anomalous behaviour.

AN 1: Anomalies which have no lasting physical effects, such as amorphous or flashing lights, and unexplained explosions.

AN 2: Anomalies that do have lasting physical effects, such as poltergeists, materialised objects, areas of flattened grass, scorched ground, broken or damaged trees, crop circles, etc.

A 3: Anomalies that have entities associated with them, such as big foot, ghosts, yetis, spirits, elves, goblins, or other such mythical or legendary entities.

A 4:  Witness interaction with the AN 3 entities, including near-death experiences, religious miracles and visions, out-of-body experiences (OOBEs).

A 5: Reports of anomalies in which there are injuries and deaths, including spontaneous human combustion (SHC), unexplained wounds, or even ‘supernatural’ healing that may result from such an experience.

MA ratings are used to describe the behaviour of a UFO and are comparable with the Nocturnal Light, Daylight Disc, and Radar-Visual Hynek classifications.

MA 1: A UFO has been observed which travels in a discontinuous trajectory – rapid acceleration/deceleration, vertical climbs or drops, manoeuvres or loops.

MA 2: MA 1 plus any physical effects caused by the UFO as per AN 1 or AN 2.

MA 3: MA 1 plus any entities observed on board, e.g., the airship cases of the late 19th century.

MA 4: Manoeuvres that are accompanied by a sense of reality transformation for the witness.

MA 5: Manoeuvres resulting in the permanent injury of death of the witness.

FB ratings are used to describe the fly-by of an anomalous craft or object.

FB 1: A straightforward sighting of a UFO travelling in a straight line across the sky.

FB 2: FB 1 accompanied by other physical evidence.

FB 3: A fly-by where crew, pilots or other entities are observed on board.

FB 4: A fly-by whereby the witness has experienced a transformation of reality into the object or its occupants.

FB 5: A fly-by in which the witness suffers permanent injuries or even death.

CE ratings are used to describe close encounters, and are very similar to the Hynek close encounter classifications.

CE 1: UFO comes to within 150 m. of the witness, but the witness or the surrounding area suffers no after-effects.

CE 2: CE 1 that leaves landing traces, or temporary injuries to the witness.

CE 3: Entities have been observed on or within the UFO.

CE 4: The witness has undergone abduction.

CE 5: CE 3 that results in permanent psychological injuries to, or death of, the witness.


The SVP rating system is an important rating of credibility. ‘Marks’ out of four are awarded for the three categories of reliability (first number), site visit (second number), and possible explanations (third number). For example, if a rating of 330 was awarded, it would imply that the witness was at first-hand and reliable, the site was visited by a reliable investigator, but the sighting could be explained by natural or mundane causes, thus:

Source reliability rating: 

  •  Unknown or unreliable source = 0
  •  Report attributed to a source of unknown or unmeasured reliability = 1
  •  Reliable source – second-hand = 2
  •  Reliable source – first hand = 3
  •  First hand personal interview with the witness by a source of proven reliability = 4

Site visit rating:

  • No site visits, or answer unknown =
  • Site visit by a person not familiar with the phenomena =
  • Site visit by a person or persons familiar with the phenomena =
  • Site visit by a reliable investigator (s) with some experience =
  • Site visit by skilled analyst (s) = 4

Possible explanations rating:

  • Data consistent with one or more natural or mundane causes =0
  • Natural explanation requires only slight modification of the data = 1
  • Natural explanation requires major alteration of one parameter = 
  • Natural explanation requires major alteration of several parameters =
  • No natural explanation possible, given the evidence =4

© David Calvert 2011

 Please note that at the bottom of each blog page there is a “Comments” box and a “Like” button, should you feel inclined to use them. Thank you.