The captain of an A320 Airbus reported an intense encounter with what, according to the pilot, looked like a metallic, unidentified flying object (UFO). The pilot reported the object as a cigar-shaped/ball like metallic object that passed within a few feet of the passenger jet while flying near Healthrow airport in London, England in the summer of 2013. The official report however, was just released to the public by British Aviation authorities, and you can take a look at it in full here. (1)
Here is a brief summary of the incident taken from the report:
“The A320 PILOT reports transiting in level cruise at FL340, just to the west of Heathrow. The First Officer (FO) in the RH seat, was looking down at the PLOG. The Captain, in the LH seat, looked to the west out of the flight deck “Direct Vision” window. As he turned to look ahead, he perceived an object traveling towards them, at what appeared to be the same level, slightly above the flight deck windscreen. Having very little time to focus, he was under the apprehension that they were on a collision course with no time to react. His immediate reaction was to duck to the right and reach over to alert the FO; there was no time to talk to alert him. The captain perceived an object pass within a few feet above the aircraft, it could best be described as cigar/rugby ball like in shape, bright silver, and metallic like in construction.” (1)
British Aviation authorities were brought in to investigate the incident, and the report was issued by the UK Airprox board, which investigates any aircraft near-misses in British airspace.
“The Ministry of Defense has been investigating UFOs since the 1950’s, and has about 12,000 reports in its case files. When I was doing the job in the 90’s, I received about 200-300 reports each year. It is clear to me, given that these things are seen by police officers, pilots, military personnel, given that they are sometimes tracked on radar, it is clear to me that whatever the UFO phenomenon involves there are serious defence, national security and air safety issues at stake.” – Nick Pope, Former UK Ministry of Defense, 21 year veteran.
It’s a similar process in North America. In the United States for example , the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has a high interest in UFOs. In section 8 of their air traffic control manual, it states that:
“Persons wanting to report UFO/unexplained phenomenon activity should contact a UFO/unexplained phenomenon data collection center, such as Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS).” (1)
When Mike Gold, the Director of Operations for Bigelow Aerospace was asked about their involvement with UFO reports, he said that “he cannot comment on what they do with UFO reports,” he was also glad that somebody is taking the reports because it’s an “important issue that deserves serious attention .” (2)
The investigation by British aviation authorities who have investigated the incident have not been able to establish any identity, or explanation for the mysterious object. The incident occurred at 34,000 feet approximately 20 miles west of the airport.
The official report states that “the pilot was subject to a powerful impression of the immediate danger, caused by his perception of an object closing rapidly on his aircraft.” After much discussion, again, it was determined that with the amount of information available relating to the event, a meaningful and conclusive finding was impossible.
In this particular case, there was no UFO tracked on radar. In dozens of other cases, UFO’s have been tracked on ground radar, air radar, and have ground and air visual confirmation. This isn’t the first time a pilot has reported a UFO, it’s a common occurrence, although many are still reluctant to do so.
“Anecdotal evidence suggests aircrew are reluctant to file air-miss reports, but in this case, the pilot did because he believed the risk of a collision was high. In the absence of any Ministry of Defence interest in UFO reports, the Airprox Board is the only remaining official body in the UK with a remit to conduct detailed investigations of puzzling incidents like this one.” – David Clark, Sheffield Hallman academic and National Archives Consultant
Here is an interview with John Callahan, a retired Federal Aviation Administration Senior Division Chief. This is a remarkable story of another incident known as the “Anchorage” incident, where the UFO was seen by pilots as well as tracked on radar, and directly involved one of the highest ranking members of the FAA at the time.
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