David McCune just wants to know what's in the digital photograph that he shot while flying at 37,000 feet over the southern region of the country on a hot July afternoon.

©Raul R. Rubiera
David McCune holds up a photo he took while flying at 37,000 feet from Atlanta to Kansas City, Mo. When he got home he found that one of the photos he took with his 10 mega-pixel camera had a UFO in the middle of the frame.

He's bewildered.

He can't help but wonder if it's a UFO. No matter how much skepticism he provokes

Even Peter Davenport, the director of the National UFO Reporting Center in Washington state, has doubts.

"I actually sent this to the UFO place," McCune said, "and he thought it was a fly. A fly! But I would like to know what it was from curiosity."

McCune, who is 53, owns McCune Technology, a steel fabrication business in the Cumberland County Industrial Center.

Tuesday morning, when a couple of visitors entered the business, McCune quipped, "This is an alien abduction."

And while acknowledging that he enjoys old episodes of "The Twilight Zone," McCune said he has never been one to dwell on science fiction.

"There's no crazy thought on this," he said, "because I took an image at 37,000 feet, and the spherical shape I saw in the image was in there."

On July 15, McCune was en route to Kansas City, Missouri, from Atlanta for the N.C. Commission on Workforce Development. While in the air, he randomly snapped 20-odd images of some cool-looking cumulus cloud formations with a 10 megapixel Canon digital camera.

McCune figures that he may have been flying over Arkansas at the time he clicked the picture that has left him scratching his head.

Later, his son, David McCune Jr., was bringing up the images on a computer for the first time when he noticed that his father had captured something unusual with that $1,000 camera.

"I never saw it when I was taking pictures," the elder McCune said. "I think what it is - something that the human eye could not see yet the camera could. It picked it up. So when you start looking at it, we see the shape. My son, who is real skeptical about stuff like this, was real amazed that some of it is in the cloud and some of it is out of the cloud. So it has volume."

David McCune Jr., who oversees the company's day-to-day operations, said, "I don't know what it is. It's something . If it wasn't something, it wouldn't go behind the cloud."

His father estimates that the disc-shaped - if very wispy - image, which has a dark center point, is maybe 1,000 feet in diameter. McCune's company laser cuts steel, so he knows a thing or two about measurements.

McCune has sent the picture to a friend who works for NASA. He hasn't heard back, he said.

"I'm curious to find out what it is," he said. "I'm not saying what it is."

But he can't help but wonder.