Flying Car? Not Really

[UPDATE July 2009: Google updated the base aerial photography for this area and the "flying car" is no longer there. This rules out some of the theories in the comments that it was a permanent structure. You can see the original imagery by turning on the GE 5 "Historical Imagery" mode and then flying to the location below.]
flying car  in Google EarthThose guys at The Register have done it again. Someone sent them an interesting Google Earth placemark which shows a satellite photo of what appears to be a flying car near a parking lot in near Perth, Australia. The Register, in their usual sensational journalistic style, have written a story which hypes the idea this is a flying car, and doesn’t bother to speculate on alternatives.
There’s no question this satellite photo described with the “Flying Car” title certainly looks like a flying car. However, if I described the photo as “Black car parked next to white car in parking lot“, what do you see? Here’s the placemark of the location in Google Earth.
I have written about other visual anomalies before. Sometimes its just a matter of how you look at a picture.
Like this story? Digg it!

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was released. He worked in 3D graphics for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank left in 2009 to circumnavigate the earth by sailboat as part of the Tahina Expedition.



Comments

  1. It is certainly 2 cars, a white and a black …

  2. pincenin françois says:

    A balloon in a shape of a car to indicate the location of the car park ?

  3. Could it possibly be a roadside stand/shed? The black portion doesn’t look like a car to me, but rather the shadow of the roof. Just a thought.

  4. Good post! This reminds me of when I was young, on summer vacation, on Prince Edward Island in Canada. There was a race track that had a car hoisted up on a sign to advertise the races, and then I found it in google earth! Here’s a link to the kmz….. this may explain the flying car in your post:
    http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/godwept/anotherflyingcar.kmz

  5. Mike Mahaffie says:

    I’m thinking that its one of those “signs” used to indicate car sales or car mechanic’s shops in which an old car is mounted on a tall pole. I’ve not seen that for some years, but I have seen it. It would certainly look like a floating or flying car from a satellite or aerial photography perspective.

  6. Starcraper says:

    If you look at the angle of the shadows of the trees in the surroundings, you will tell that if the black shape were indeed the shadow of the car, it would not coincide with the angle of the surronding shadows. Logical thinking gets the answer.

  7. Justin Daining says:

    Dear Google Earth,
    When will you focus on the African continent and deliver us some high res photos of the major cities. The national geographic sites leave us all wanting more. Please focus on Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria for starters. Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    Justin.

  8. The black object certainly looks like a shadow – doesn’t have the structure that the other cars do. And it’s in the right direction from the light object to be a shadow of it judging by the angle of the other shadows. But as it’s so far from the white object then the white thing must be elevated.
    This Is Point Walter Reserve, a public park so I doubt it’s some kind of commercial sign for an auto business. Perhaps some kind of balloon or kite??

  9. But, it looks to me like two blurry cars are parked within rectangular white markers on the ground.
    I’m dull though ;-)

  10. You do know the article at The Register is a joke right?

  11. Mrs. Manick says:

    It’s definitely a flying car…..c’mon guys! Where’s your sense of adventure?

  12. I’d love to see someone show me how the angle is not right for it to be a shadow. It’s fine. Especially if you grant that the car is elevated.
    Also, it’s odd to me that this “black car” does not reflect any sunlight at all, unlike the black cars in the parking lot to the northeast.

  13. Clearly many of you are Muggles.
    It IS a flying car.
    Harry and Ron are on holiday.

  14. Surfer Dude says:

    Something in the Register is a joke? What??
    No!
    Really?

  15. There is only one problem I see with the two car theory. That is: If I look at all the cars in the parking lot, I can clearly make out a shadow area attached to each car. They ALL cast shadows.
    Why does the “flying” car show NO shadow attached to it like EVERY other car does???

  16. not 2 cars
    1. several other black car in the adjacent lot show curves by the bending of the sunlight and show light spots where light relects off the surface. The black object in question shows NO light reflection.
    2. Why are these two cars parked in this direction (angular) outside of a lot with many open spaces?

  17. I’m not saying it’s a flying car … but the “white car – black car” idea fails scrutiny.
    As most have mentioned.
    1. If it’s a black car, where’s the white car’s shadow? All the other cars have shadows.
    2. If it’s a black car, where’s the reflected glints of sunlight present in other cars? I know … it’s a STEALTH car that is SO black it absorbs ALL of the light, so you don’t so much see the car, as NOT see anything.
    3. The direction of the “black car” is correct to be the shadow of the white car, if you compare it to other objects casting shadows in the area.
    I don’t have a plausible explanation, but the “Flying car” theory is improbable, and the “white car / black car” theory is problematic.
    I’m inclined to beleive there’s some photographic anomaly in play here. We need an expert in satellite photography to chip in to get to the bottom of this.

  18. The shadow of the white car is very much present, and it is consistent with the white car being on the ground. GE texture maps the photo to a 3D sphere model of the Earth, so there is just a touch of distortion. If you scale up the Google Local version of this picture the shadow of the white car is quite clear.
    The black car is at a different angle, so the sun doesn’t glint off the windows. Also, I believe the black car is actually a small pickup, so there is no back window visible from this angle. Also, the black “truck” has a shadow as well, which alters it’s shape a little making it look different.

  19. jolly roger says:

    Everyone else is probably bored with this but I’ve only just seen it. As someone who lives about 5km away, here’s my two cents worth…unlikely that cars are parked there; there’s plenty of parking in the actual carpark.(You could park there if you didn’t mind a bit of rough ground, but why would you bother?) Best theory I’ve heard, though I’m not 100%, is that it’s a kite surfer; this area is used a lot by kitesurfers.

  20. if you look right beside the shadow you can see the faint white line of the sign that is casting it..

  21. it doesn’t match with al the other shadows.. just check really close .. picture yourself where the sun would be of the shadow from the ‘flying car’ and then check the shadows of the trees.. it is not the same direction!

  22. Zimmermann says:

    Hi!
    The kite surf idea really makes sense. If you look north in the sand strip you will see other kite surfs in the shore. Maybe the guy was oppening his Kite surf in the parking lot…

  23. omg wat is that did anyone c that image as a flyin car i think it is a flyin car

  24. It’s a billboard people

  25. Hey guys!
    I know what this flying car is:
    It is just a advertising board on two very small
    bars, and the bars are to small, that you can see them. All in all it looks like a flying car.
    Additionally the pictures are maybe 1 or 2 years old, and the advertising board could be removed yet. In my country (Germany) there was a big diskusion about the “flying car”, with like 400 peoples and maybe 100 professors!
    I hope that you all could understand my english….
    Greets from germany!
    jisc

  26. This is clearly just another hoax on the part of the MIB to distract us from the really important research of the high-def 2006 Digital Globe images of Area 51!

  27. It looks a lot like a portable water tank that’s used on construction sites.

  28. it is NOT 2 cars parked next to each other, it is one of those things where people can sit down and wait for the bus… i know someone that lives by there, and that is what he told me it was

  29. i found more “flying cars”in baghdad its just 2 cars with black cars next to it, just zoom to the baghdad former republican palace and go to the left until you see a parking lot there are alot of flying cars for the mob:P

  30. Great now its one of those “things where people can sit and wait for the bus”…. a flying bus maybe…I am surprised no one said it was a UFO. (oh thats only in the USA)
    Actually I think the flying thingie (balloon) makes sense

  31. This picture makes me question again, “how can educated people be so simple-minded?”
    The angle of shadow says its from the white car, yet the proximity of the shadow says the car is elevated…. so that means there’s an anomaly??? and that we need an expert in satellite photos??? Shake your frikkin’ heads.
    The guy who vacationed in P.E.I., Canada has it right, it’s a car elevated as a display…now stop making everything so damn complicated!!!

  32. I live near there. I’m going to clear this up right now. It’s actually this flying car. I can’t belive no one figured it out.

  33. It could be a car on a pole! Wow what a concept. There is a “flying car” a couple hours from my house. It is infact, a car on a pole. I would show you on GE but It’s noon so you see no shadow.

  34. It is actually a “kite” from a kite surfer. In perth (where I live) this is a common spot for them to rig up and head out onto the river. Not sure why this person is in the carpark though, maybe learning to fly the kite ?

  35. All of you who say its a car on a pole, explain why would you have a car on a pole on this location…. those of you who say it

  36. It is a water supply tank used to fill our dust control tanker. We were working on the south end of the road.

  37. The guy

  38. Although I am from Sydney, I have been to this location. Sadly, this is NOT a flying car (I wish! You’re all so funny!), and no this is NOT a large sign with a ballon (these are almost no existant in Perth) even a marketing student would not place one anywhere near this low volume location.
    You can see the black image has no detail and it has no shadow, it is flat. It is consistant with all the shadows and it IS actually the shadow of the white car.
    You have to understand the lack of restraint in Perth drivers as you do with the incredible timing of Googles snap shot.
    If you look at the roadway, it’s pretty clear this is a car that has come round the northly corner (travelling south) way too fast, lost it, corrected it and lost it again sliding sideways before flipping the car as it hit the grass which is like a gutter on this spot.
    This is a common thing, specially with P plate drivers (provisional 1st year licence holders). Perth drivers are amoung the worst in the western world and most get their licence from the mornings ceral box.
    If you can ident the date of the photo & cross reference it with a local newspaper I belt you find out whose in the drivers seat. All from a Google image! Coooool!!!

  39. I think that it is the car of “return to the futur 2″! Certainly, why not!

  40. So Hereward, you are actually stating that it is indeed a flying Car?(although for a brief moment) And it is in fact a recent driver who ran off the road? Well then fortunate for him the trees had been cut down in that exact location. I suppose other bad drivers meet frequently over there. Hope to here from you soon

  41. I think it’s a square shaped billboard which the car is parked next to…
    The shadow is from the billboard, and the reason that you don’t see it in the updated version is because either there was no sun or it was taken at a different time of the day…

  42. Shockerz says:

    Come on people. Ok all you European/North American etc etc. Listen to the people who live there!!! There is no billboard/structure there.
    The guy who said it is a mobile tank for refilling dust suppression trucks has nailed it.
    Or the Harry and Ron theory. But their car is blue…..
    One of the two!

  43. Fernando Jose says:

    PEOPLE its a JOKE!!!!!

  44. Kry-Chan says:

    Oh god. Already the Harry Potter Fans are attacking.
    Anyways, when I first saw this I thought that a pole or something could be underneath the car to rise it off the ground to cast a shadow like that. But the “black car being parked next to the white” is pretty logical too.

  45. Look here
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/25/flying_car_launch_site/
    for real photo’s of the spot.
    I went there to look, and the curb is to low to ‘flip’ a crashing car into the air, and there are no skid marks, damaged trees or any other tell-tales of a road crash.
    To me, in the Google photo, it looks like a fuel storage tank (you know, a horizontal cylinder on a stand), but no, nothing like that was ever there.
    Harry Potter may have painted his car white?
    Go figure!

  46. I dunno. Somehow I doubt it’s really a flying car, but it certainly looks like it. It definitely doesn’t look like two cars next to each other. They’re too perfectly aligned with each other, and the ‘black car’ doesn’t have enough detail on it to be ‘just another car.’ Hell, someone probably just hacked into Google. That must have been one damn good hacker, though.

  47. It’s a car next to a tar pit!

  48. Some cars can fly.
    http://www.gearfactor.com.hk

  49. Very funny. I can solve this mystery. Go to http://www.gearfactor.com.hk
    We have flown a Opel Astra Flying Object outside for fun and by coincidence the google satellite shot it. You can see a VDO of this action from earth perspective on the website. Keep guessing!!

  50. Tasty Bananas says:

    It’s a Kite for Kite Surfing. We kite surf THERE all the time.
    As a matter of fact, sometimes we see other deploying the kite there before going beachside to examine the kite and remove any tether tangles. My examination of the angle of the edges of the kite (upper and lower parts in the picture), reveals it was filmed right as the kite was catching the wind and was almost fully expanded. At this point to ends are very much rolled under.
    Tasty B.

  51. where is that place? Anybody can go there and find out what is placed there?
    Regards,
    Carry from Cargo Liner

  52. As Harry potter I also want to fly with flying car,oh! God provide me this opportunity.

  53. LOL! nice one~ looks kinda real.

  54. Great stuff! But I doubt GIS will ever be replaced by google earth.

  55. Evelyn Germaine says:

    This is hilarious! I’ve never heard about anything like this before. When cars fly, pigs will probably be too. Or we’ll have developed a completely different source of energy independent of fossil fuels. Cars won’t have running boards and the Jetsons will have come to life. That’ll be the day!

  56. Most definetly on of the top ten optical illusions on Google Earth. Is this how Chris Angel does it? :)

  57. That is really weird. Need some serious zoom capabilities tosee what the deal is.

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