Wild theories have emerged online after a plane passenger spotted a “dementor” shaped object from the window.
Zoë Montoya, a Ph.D. student, was flying from Nevada to Oklahoma, on Southwest airlines flight 3442 on Saturday, when she claimed to see the bizarre sight.
Montoya posted the clip to her TikTok page, @zoeemontoya, where it’s been seen nearly 8 million times, and can be seen here.
“Ummm what’s going on,” she captioned it, while the on-screen text said: “Saw this on my flight from Vegas to Tulsa today.”
Her video quickly caused a stir online, as numerous people shared theories, with many comparing the sight to the infamous dementors, from the Harry Potter movies.
Johnathan Francis joked: “Um y’all getting a bit too close to Azkaban.”
“Like the demons from Harry Potter,” G thought.
Great Wolf Lodge asked: “Dementors didn’t get the six more weeks of winter memo?”
SpaceTok wrote: “That’s a dementor! No worries I got you… expecto patronum.”
Jen Auschwitz said: “I saw this on several flights last year and I was always really confused so I contacted the FAA and they were able to give me the answer: dementors.”
Sarah Lee Bread also confirmed: “So I actually go to school for this kind of stuff and I can confirm that this is a dementor.”
While Santa Claus confirmed: “I checked… it wasn’t me.”
And Fiffysheets quipped: “Someone’s mother in law is coming to visit.”
In response to accusations the clip was faked, stolen or simply a smudge on the window, Montoya shared a follow-up on Monday.
“Yeah bestie this is definitely my own video I took yesterday,” she captioned it. She filmed her phone screen, showing her camera roll filled with photos and footage of the sight, as she expanded various thumbnails.
Speaking to Newsweek, Montoya, from Texas, shared her own thoughts: “It honestly looked like it could have been an airplane but it was literally going straight up and down and upside down.”
She explained the passenger next to her noticed it first, as she continued: “I haven’t seen anything like that. I lived in Germany for 6 years and am an avid traveller so I’m constantly flying. We flew by pretty quickly.
“It kinda looked like it could be an airplane but like I mentioned previously the way it was flying was so odd to me.”
In the comment others shared more plausible explanations, while admitting they’d seen similar sights.
Travis Lee reckoned: “It’s another plane but the sun is casting a shadow on it’s exhaust.”
MATT (derogatory) commented: “No bc I saw this too when flying to Florida and I FREAKED out but my mother who was sitting next to me and is a pilot herself told me it’s—a condensation trail from a smaller plane, but I continued to freak bc why is it dark and she said it’s the goddamn shadow.”
Alex said: “Same I’ve seen it too and as soon as the sun changed it became white again so it’s just the plane trail.”
Cami Radu said: “I was flying from Florida to Chicago and actually saw the same thing multiple times during the flight I still don’t know what it is.”
“It’s another plane. Probably a jet,” Bongi said.
Numerous people mentioned trails, otherwise referred to as contrails, short for condensation trails, or vapor trails.
This is the visible, usually white, plume which follows aircraft as they fly, as the United States Environmental Protection Agency explains: “Contrails are line-shaped clouds sometimes produced by aircraft engine exhaust, typically at aircraft cruise altitudes several miles above the Earth’s surface.
“The combination of water vapor in aircraft engine exhaust and the low ambient temperatures that often exists at these high altitudes allows the formation of contrails.
“Contrails are composed primarily of water (in the form of ice crystals) and do not pose health risks to humans.”
They said they are often visible at “cruise altitudes,” with some persistent contrails visible along flight paths.
Others pointed a little further out for the explanation, as Chardai Love wrote: “They did say aliens were real I mean. Let’s just say it’s a UFO and…and…I’d like to leave this planet now lol.”
The graph below, provided by Statista, shows the number of UFO sightings since 1990.
While the true origin of the dark shape in the video hasn’t been confirmed, according to Statista, citing statistics from the National UFO Reporting Center, UFO sightings have been on the rise in the last few years.
Published last year, Statista stated: “While there was a dip in 2018, there were more than 6,000 in 2019 and over 7,000 last year. So far in 2021, there have been close to a thousand up to the middle of May.”
The figures came as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence submitted a preliminary report to Congress in June 2021.
A release on the ODNI’s website claimed the preliminary report was “regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) that relays the progress the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force has made in understanding UAP.”
A Gallup poll conducted in July 2021 showed four in 10 Americans believe some UFOs that people have spotted have been alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies.