Little Piggy Balloon Footage: Not An Evidence of A Flat-Earth, Not Even Close

Little Piggy is the nickname of a helium balloon launched by IndianaCaver. It reached the altitude of almost 37 km, before it finally ruptured and fell to the Earth. Before that, it took several hours of video, and IndianaCaver made these video available on YouTube.

Then, some flat-Earthers cherry picked bits of video where the horizon looks flat and presented it as ‘proof’ of flat-Earth. These are widely circulated in various memes and forms, even years after the originals were published.

But, can we really use these videos as ‘proof’ of flat-Earth?

In the original videos, there are moments where the horizon looks flat as well as convex and concave. Surely this is because a fish-eye lens was being used. Apparently, the unscrupulous flat-Earthers who first mined these videos deliberately ignored the parts where the horizon doesn’t look flat.

Let’s analyze the videos using ‘the law of distortion’ discussed on another article:

A straight line will appear straight as long as it crosses the center point of the image.

We used the excellent curvature simulation tool by Walter Bislin in order to determine the expected curvature from the altitude and camera being used. To convert the resulting simulation from rectilinear to fish-eye, we used the ‘convert’ utility from ImageMagick.

We don’t know for certain the exact camera/lens used in the setup. For this purpose, we assume they used the ever popular GoPro with wide-angle setting.

The result? It turns out everything is in line with the expectations if the Earth is spherical. The Little Piggy footage is actually one of many evidence that the Earth is spherical. And no, it is not ‘proof’ of a flat-Earth, not even close.