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Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy June 30, 2022

No proof viral Facebook image of pilot spotting UFO is authentic

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  • There’s no evidence an image viral on Facebook depicts a pilot spotting a UFO in 2014. 

  • The image is an iteration of a years-old meme, which has been edited in numerous ways since at least 2008 to depict the same pilot flying beside different objects in the sky.

A viral Facebook post falsely claims to show an image of a U.S. military fighter pilot looking out the cockpit window at UFO — all in broad daylight.

"UFO photographed on June 21, 2014 by the pilot from the cockpit of an F-16 military plane flying near Lackland Air Force Base of the United States located in San Antonio, Texas," said one June 28 Facebook post. An identical post from a different account went viral in March.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

There’s no evidence the image shows an authentic photo of an Air Force pilot flying beside a real UFO, as the Facebook caption claims. PolitiFact found no reports in Google or the Nexis news database about any such sighting near San Antonio.

Rather, the image is just one iteration of a years-old meme, edited in each instance with different art to depict various objects flying in the sky outside the pilot’s cockpit window. 

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Reverse image searches turned up several other variations of the meme, including versions from as early as 2008 that depict the same pilot looking out the window at a giant cat riding atop a fighter jet. That’s six years before the date the Facebook post claimed the photo was taken.

The earliest version of the image PolitiFact found featuring the supposed UFO was from 2016.

Multiple commenters under the Facebook posts sharing the image depicting the pilot alongside a UFO claimed the UFO resembled the fictional UFOs from the 1970s British TV show "UFO." 

PolitiFact reached out to the show’s producer, Gerry Anderson, but we did not hear back. The Lackland Air Force Base also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

We rate these Facebook posts False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, June 28, 2022

Facebook post, March 5, 2022

Reverse image searches on TinEye, Google and Yandex, accessed June 30, 2022

Searches on Google and Nexis, accessed June 30, 2022

Gerry Anderson on YouTube, "Gerry Anderson Primer: UFO," July 20, 2019

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No proof viral Facebook image of pilot spotting UFO is authentic

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