Friday, March 27, 2009


There have been over 3,500 documented sightings of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena by military, civilian and commercial airline pilots. These observations span the entire history of powered flight. Many of these cases come from declassified US government reports and investigations, international reports from official sources and the direct testimony of military and commercial pilots, air traffic controllers, anPILOTS & AVIATION EXPERTS
If UFOs had not been reported by pilots of scheduled airliners, and military pilots in operation all over the globe, there might be some justification in writing off reports of ground observers as mistaken observations. For, if unknown objects are maneuvering in our skies, pilots would be among the most likely to see them. (Others whose professions cause them to spend many hours watching the skies, such as General Mills Corporation balloon trackers, also have reported numerous UFOs. [1])
Airline and military pilots are among the most experienced observers of the sky. Their profession requires them to spend hundreds of hours per year in the air. Few, if any, occupations require more practical knowledge of weather, other aircraft, and unusual activity such as missile tests. Undoubtedly, few groups of observers have seen more meteors or watched planets under a wider variety of sky conditions. In addition, professional pilots normally are trained in rapid identification of anything which may endanger a flight. Therefore, it is significant that airline and military pilots have reported a large number of totally unexplained UFO sightings.
Recognizing that airline pilots have special training and are in a unique position for observation, the Defense Department includes them in the military system of reporting vital intelligence sightings (CIRVIS), as detailed in the Joint Chiefs regulation JANAP-146(D). [See Section IX.] In 1954, the groundwork for CIRVIS reports was laid by meetings between representatives of the airlines and Military Air Transport Service (MATS) intelligence branch. The reason? "The nation's 8,500 commercial airline pilots have been seeing a lot of unusual objects while flying at night, here and overseas," Scripps-Howard reported. "But," the report continued, "there hasn't been much of an organized system of reporting to military authorities. . . [the airlines and MATS] agreed to organize a speedy reporting system so that a commercial pilot spotting strange objects could send the word to the Air Force in a hurry. The Air Force could then send jet fighters to investigate." [2]
With a few exceptions, most UFO reports on record from military pilots have come from the World War II and Korean War eras, or from recently retired officers. Military pilots, naturally, are restricted from discussing the sightings freely while they are on active duty. But airline pilots (although in recent years some times under pressure from their companies not to discuss sightings) have contributed some of the best reports on record.
There had been scattered reports by airline pilots previously but "In the Spring of 1950," the former Chief of the Air Force UFO project reported, "the airline pilots began to make more and more reports - - good reports. . . In April, May, and June of 1950 there were over thirty-five good reports from airline crews." [3] That June, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker said in an interview:
"Flying saucers are real. Too many good men have seen them, that don't have hallucinations." Flying magazine, July 1950, published a roundup report on pilot sightings, giving them very serious treatment (as did other aviation journals in later years; for example, see RAF Flying Review, July 1957).
When NICAP was formed in 1956, four airline pilots (two of whom had personally sighted UFOs) joined the NICAP Panel of Special Advisers. Federal Aviation Agency personnel, aviation industry engineers, and other aviation experts also related their sightings and offered their services. Why are UFOs taken so seriously by professional pilots and aviation experts?
Pages 33 - 38: What The Pilots Have Seen - (Charts)THE PATTERNS
What professional and private pilots have seen is readily classifiable into three general types of UFO phenomena (corresponding very well with the Air Force Project Grudge Report; see Section XII):
* Geometrical objects, generally circular (disc, oval, ellipse)* Maneuvering or gyrating lights* Cigar-shaped or rocket-like objects (Since military pilot sightings are covered in previous sections, they will not be detailed here. In general, they correspond to nonmilitary reports, so the latter are discussed in this section as typical pilot sightings.)
Geometrical Objects
The earliest recorded UFO sighting by an airline pilot, during the initial flurry of sightings in the United States, was the report by Capt. E. J. Smith, United Airlines, July 4, 1947. Flying a DC-3 from Boise, Idaho, to Portland, Oregon, Captain Smith and his crew observed two separate groups of flat round objects ahead, silhouetted against the sunset. The UFOs were visible for about 10 minutes over a distance of about 45 miles, opening and closing formation. In the second group of UFOs, three operated close together, and a fourth was off to one side by itself. [31]
Since that date, dozens of pilots on all the major airlines have reported UFOs.
Private pilots, also, have witnessed typical geometrical UFOs. During July 1948, in Pasco, Washington, Don Newman (former Air Force pilot) watched a disc-shaped UFO with a dome on top maneuvering over the city at 1:00 p.m. "The exterior finish appeared to be spun or brushed aluminum," Newman said in his report to NICAP. The UFO alternately slowed and accelerated rapidly, diving, and climbing over the area. [32]
On March 18, 1950, Robert Fisher was flying his family from Chicago to Keokuk, Iowa. Near Bradford, Illinois, at 8:40 a.m., he spotted an oval, metallic-appearing disc ahead and slightly to the left of his Bonanza NC 505B. The UFO was moving on a course of about 120 degrees true. (Fisher was flying a southwesterly course, approximately 225 degrees.) The UFO shone in the sunlight, but when it flew below an overcast continued to glow, indicating that it was self-illuminated. It quickly moved off into the distance, at a speed estimated to be 600 to 1,000 mph. [33]
Near Goshen, Indiana, April 27, 1950, a bright orange-red disc paced a Trans World Airways DC-3, which was piloted by Capts. Robert Adickes and Robert F. Manning. As the crew and many passengers watched, the UFO pulled alongside the plane. It looked "like a big red wheel rolling along." Each time the pilot moved toward the object, it moved away as if controlled by repulse radar. When the pilot turned, the disc dove (presenting an edge-on view) and sped off to the north toward South Bend. [34]
A month later (May 29), an American Airlines plane departed Washington, D. C., enroute south over Virginia. About 9:30 p.m., First Officer Bill Gates noticed a light approaching the airliner head-on and notified Capt. Willis T. Sperry. Flight Engineer Robert Arnholt also witnessed what followed. An unidentified object with a brilliant bluish light on the leading edge neared, and seemed to stop. Suddenly it darted to the left of the plane, stopped for a few seconds, then circled around to the right. There it was silhouetted against the moon, revealing a torpedo-shaped or narrow elliptical body. Finally the UFO sped away to the east. Captain Sperry called the speed "fantastic," and said it was "without a doubt beyond the limits of any known aircraft speeds." [35]
A "perfectly round disc" hovering above the Hanford atomic plant, Richland, Washington, was observed by four veteran pilots July 5, 1952. The four Conner Airlines pilots were interviewed by United Press when they landed in Denver, Colorado, and their story was put on the newswires that day.
Capt. John Baldwin (former Air Force pilot, with 7000 hours airline pilot experience at the time) said he was flying near the Hanford atomic plant at about 9000 feet. The UFO was noticed above the plane about 6:00 a.m. It was "just below a deck of wispy clouds about 10,000 to 15,000 feet directly above us," Baldwin said. He described it as "a perfectly round disc, white in color and almost transparent with small vapor trails off it like the tentacles of an octopus." [cf., September 24, 1959 FAA case below]
Capt. George Robertson, D. Shenkel (both former Air Force pilots) and Steven Summers confirmed Baldwin's report. "All of us have been flying a number of years," Baldwin said, "and we've seen all kinds of clouds and formations, but none of us had ever seen anything like this before."
At first, the UFO was hovering. Then it "seemed to back away" and tilt edge-on. "It became flat, gained speed and then disappeared quickly," Baldwin reported.
On the evening of July 14, 1952, a Pan American Airways DC-4 airliner, flying at 8,000 feet, was approaching the Norfolk, Virginia, area enroute to Miami. The senior Captain was back in the cabin and Capt. William B. Nash, temporarily acting as First Officer, was at the controls. In the right hand cockpit seat was Second Officer William Fortenberry. The night was clear and visibility unlimited. Norfolk lay about 20 miles ahead, on the plane's course of 200 degrees magnetic. Off to the right were the lights of Newport News.
About 8:10 p.m. EST, both men noticed a red brilliance in the sky, apparently beyond and to the east of Newport News. The light quickly resolved itself into six bright objects streaking toward the plane, at lower altitude. The UFOs were fiery red. "Their shape was clearly outlined and evidently circular," Captain Nash stated. "The edges were well-defined, not phosphorescent or fuzzy in the least." The upper surfaces were glowing red-orange.
Within seconds, "we could observe that they were holding a narrow echelon formation--a stepped-up line tilted slightly to our right, with the leader at the lowest point and each following craft slightly higher," Captain Nash said.
Abruptly, the leader seemed to slow. The second and third objects wavered slightly and almost overran the leader. The pilots estimated that the UFOs were a little more than a mile below them, at about 2,000 feet, and about 100 feet in diameter.
When the line of discs was almost directly underneath the plane and slightly to the right front, the UFOs abruptly flipped up on edge in unison and reversed direction. (See diagram.) Captain Nash described the maneuver: " . . . they flipped on edge, the sides to the left of us going up and the glowing surfaces facing right. Though the bottom surfaces did not become clearly visible, we had the impression that they were unlighted. The exposed edges, also unlighted, appeared to be about 15 feet thick, and the top surface, at least seemed flat. In shape and proportion, they were much like coins.
"While all were in the edgewise position, the last five slid over and past the leader so that the echelon was now tail foremost, so to speak, the top or last craft now being nearest to our position. Then, without any arc or swerve at all, they all flipped back together to the flat attitude and darted off in a direction that formed a sharp angle with their first course, holding their new formation.
"Immediately after these six lined away, two more objects just like them darted out from behind and under our airplane at the same altitude as the others."
As the two additional discs joined the formation, the lights of all eight blinked out, then came back on again. Still in line, the eight discs sped westward north of Newport News, climbed in a graceful arc above the altitude of the airliner. Then the lights blinked out one by one, though not in sequence.
Captain Nash also noted that the original six discs had dimmed slightly before their angular turn, and brightened considerably after making the turn. The two discs speeding to join the formation were brightest of all. Captain Nash and Third Officer Fortenberry radioed a report of the sighting to be forwarded to the Air Force. d radar operators. (Ted Roe, NARCAP)

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