Air rods, also called "flying rods" and "sky fish," are something like crop circles in that even the skeptics admit they exist. The only question is what they really are. Invisible to the eye, they are picked up by cameras all over the world. Are they living creatures, alien probes, or some sort of 3D electromagnetic smudge? To believers in the cryptozoology-based theory of air rods, air rods are probably living creatures, and they are possibly related to older stories of atmospheric beasts. To skeptics, air rods are bits of flying debris, insects or birds filmed under unusual conditions, or blips on film that are due to errors in film processing.
Air rods were discovered in the 1990s. People found that some films of all types, ranging from home videos to movies seen in theaters, had odd disturbances that looked something like blurry rods that were mostly transparent, occasionally whitish in color. Most of these disturbances were fast-moving and barely visible to the eye. These rods showed up best against large areas of the same color, such as the sky.
The people who examined films for anomalies of this sort started calling what they did "sky fishing" because they usually started by looking at the areas of sky that were visible in films. They found that these rods were widespread. Countless films had them lurking almost imperceptibly in the corners, including old television shows, movies, films of sporting events, almost everything imaginable. There were simply too many examples to study them all, running into the thousands or tens of thousands. There were also air rods visible in photographs, but these were hardly studied at all for reasons that will become clear below.
Close study of air rod films revealed a number of very interesting features. As these rods zoomed about, they displayed all the features of three-dimensional objects. In other words, they were not two-dimensional blotches on the camera lens or on the film itself, but something out there in the environment that was actually being filmed by accident. This three-dimensional nature of air rods has been proven without a doubt by the types of measurements and tests that only professionals can do. Careful measurements showed that most rods were between four inches and three feet long. They seemed like uniform cylinders without any difference between the head end and tail end, with pairs of appendages along the length of this cylinder.
In some air rods, these appendages look like fins that vibrate rapidly along the entire length of the cylinder in undulating waves. Other rods have appendages that look more like very rapidly beating bee wings. Most of the time, rods are blurry and transparent in color, making them inconspicuous. A rare few are more white in color, sometimes an even, solid white. The cylinder part often resembles an out-of-focus hair on the camera lens, but the appendages along with the three-dimensional turnings and motions mean that genuine air rods cannot possibly be hairs on the camera lens.
In addition to their three-dimensional character, these rods seemed to act in intelligent ways. Sometimes several rods followed each other and seemed to play with each other in the manner that butterflies might play. Rods sometimes followed people. They never went through other objects, they always went around them, even when this meant deviating from the path they had been on before. This seemed to indicate that they could not pass through solid objects and that they might be alive.
However, if they were living creatures, why had people never seen them? Why did they only show up on film? And what could they possibly be made of?
People were scared and shocked when they realized that rods might be living creatures, so the first thing they did was try to disprove this by showing that air rods were something normal that simply showed up on film in an odd way. They already had solid proof that rods were not two-dimensional blotches on the film. This meant that rods could be insects, birds, or something else that was somehow blurred weirdly as it was being filmed. However, all attempts to deliberately create air rod footage by filming insects and birds in odd ways failed to produce anything that matched the features of rods. Airborne debris, such as bits of straw, also failed to duplicate air rods. The most studied air rod films showed air rods swooping within a dozen feet of the camera, coming close to the ground and going between objects with nearby trees and bushes visible behind the air rods, so that they couldn't be long, thin birds or precise lines of insects seen in the distance, as some skeptics claimed.
However, when people tried to duplicate air rods using fake models that were thrown or pulled rapidly through the air, they got much closer. It is absurdly easy to hoax air rod photographs using models or computer generated images. Hoaxing air rod films is harder, because it is much more difficult to make your models move and behave like air rods. However, hauling them about skillfully enough on fine wires can do the trick. You just need some skill in puppetry. Faked air rod photographs or films differ from the genuine air rod footage in that the faked items are generally easier to see and more whitish in color. It is harder to create the glass-clear and blurry air rods that are more typical.
However, these fakes prove nothing. It is obvious from the sheer number of air rods that hoaxers could not have pulled off even one percent of the pre-discovery air rod footage. How many movie studios do you think let air rod hoaxers run around pulling their models through the air in the background of films decades ago? And how did so many air rods get into normal home videos from all over the world? Not only is a hoax of this scale completely absurd, but it would have been uncovered years ago if it had existed. Air rod models, unlike genuine air rods, are perfectly visible to the naked eye. People would have been aware of what was happening, even if you could somehow coordinate that many hoaxers for a whole century!
Therefore, any successful attempt to show that air rods are not real would have to bring forth some phenomena that could be accidentally filmed, something that the skeptics have so far failed to do. This hasn't stopped skeptics from putting forth many ideas that don't even come close to explaining air rod footage. Skeptics still rely on the ideas of insects, birds and windblown debris fairly frequently.
Also, since it is hard to disprove the historical air rod footage, many skeptics have chosen to concentrate their energies on the most tender and vulnerable area of the air rod phenomena. This is the fad that gained momentum after the initial discoveries. The idea of air rods attracted all sorts of weirdos and kooks. Also, since it is so easy to hoax air rod photographs, many hoaxes began showing up to complicate the issue. It is fairly easy to attack these hoaxes, so that is what skeptics did. In fact, all post-discovery air rod footage is suspect unless it can be solidly proven that the filmmaker was not trying to get air rod footage. A true professional hoaxer could skillfully use puppetry and/or computer generated images to produce fake films that would be quite hard to detect.
This fad has produced a mountain of recent photos and films. Suspiciously, the whitish air rods that are easy to see are showing up much more frequently in these pictures. Also, since rods are blurry, a great number of rather ordinary things that probably are random anomalies of film developing or hairs on the camera lens have been identified as air rods by amateurs. It is easy for skeptics to demolish such pictures. However, if something has never been taken seriously by serious air rod researchers, skeptics don't prove anything by debunking it.
It has become popular among the faddish air rod supporters to claim that air rods can be seen with the naked eye, something that serious researchers have never suggested. It has also become popular to claim that air rods are not living creatures, instead they are UFO probes sent by aliens. There is no particular evidence connecting aliens and air rods, people just think that it seems like a good idea. This idea is so popular that many believers have started calling air rods "Roswell rods" after Roswell, New Mexico, a town with a famous history of UFOs. Also, this is because the famous "cave footage" (one of the clearest known films of air rods) was filmed in New Mexico, but not in Roswell.
Apart from the fad and the people this fad has attracted, serious researchers are still trying to find a solution to the air rod mystery. The biggest part of this mystery focuses on what air rods might be made of. How can something be visible on film (even if it is inconspicuous) but never to the naked eye? There is no known material substance that has this property. Faddists like to claim that air rods move too fast for people to see them. This is simply not true. Although air rods are fast, many films show them taking several seconds to circle a person. Anything going at such a speed ought to be visible.
Air rods do look as if they vibrate at a high rate, lending them a blurry character, but this phenomena is like that of quickly rotating blades in a fan. As the blades speed up, they become a blur and then gradually become almost transparent, but you can still see them. It might be possible for air rods to be nearly invisible if they are made of a small number of thin, transparent surfaces that vibrate or beat the air very quickly. If this is what air rods are made of, they are probably insects of some kind. They would be a new species, since nobody has ever reported invisible insects before. Even so, it does seem suspicious that people cannot see them but the camera can. Even if they are transparent, quick-moving and blurry, it seems like people ought to be able to see them without the use of cameras.
These facts lead some investigators to speculate that air rods might not be made of matter. Perhaps they are made of electromagnetic fluxes or some other form of energy. It is possible that an electromagnetic flux of the right sort would affect film but not be visible to humans. If this is true and air rods are alive, they would be the first living creatures of that sort we have ever discovered. If air rods are made of some sort of electromagnetic flux and are not alive, they should still be studied because they represent a weird phenomena that science could probably learn a lot from.
Another suggestion is that air rods are made of some undiscovered, fifth phase of matter (other than solid, gas, liquid and plasma). If that were true, confirming their existence would be doubly exciting. A totally new life form and a new phase of matter all in one!
The total lack of dead air rod bodies also leads some researchers to consider that they might be made out of something other than conventional matter. If they are made of conventional matter, their bodies must disintegrate into tiny particles at death, or their bodies might not be recognizable as air rods after death. Perhaps they just look like a loose collection of broken fly wings or other parts that people assume must have broken off from known insects.
Whatever air rods are, they are exciting and deserve scientific research, whether they are living creatures or just some sort of anomaly that happens to fly around as if it is alive. Sadly, these have been debunked as a problem with cameras that shows an insect's several wing beats instead of one, creating a rod effect (see picture above).