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Encyclopedia Brown, the fictional boy detective, has a knack for solving cases both big and small. So when his father, Idaville’s chief of police, was anonymously emailed a mysterious video from the French Open he knew immediately whose help to enlist.

The video appears to show the shadow of an backwards-flying plane crossing the clay court at Roland Garros during the Serena Williams-Sloan Stephens tennis match. Chief Brown wasn’t alone in his wonderment over the perplexing clip.


The first thing Encyclopedia did was share the video with his sleuthing partner, Sally Kimball. Next, he zoomed in on the stadium on Google Maps and identified all surrounding airports. By consulting flight logs, he quickly ascertained that no plane was in the vicinity of Roland Garros at the time the video was shot.

Encyclopedia ruled out the involvement of any of The Tigers — Bugs Meany, Duke Kelly, Rocky Graham, and the usual cast of mischief makers — by triangulating the GPS signatures from their social media posts.

Encyclopedia was just beginning to investigate the possibility of a drone being outfitted with an airplane-shaped shell, when Sally instant messaged him. “I enhanced a frame from the video and was able to determine the silhouette matches a wide-body aircraft from Emirates airline.”

On a hunch, Encyclopedia conducted an image search for Emirate airline on Twitter and voila… case solved.

It turns out a Fly Emirates advertising campaign has been in effect for several years, with cable-mounted model planes supporting cameras for aerial shots at both the Australian and French Opens.

This isn’t the first time Encyclopedia has tackled a sports-related case. While he can’t take credit for busting up the FIFA cartel, he does investigate football in Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme.