by Robbie Graham September 27, 2018 (mysteriousuniverse.org)
• Cases of pilot encounters with UFOs stand among the most credible and dramatic ever recorded. Here are five of the most compelling:
1. Japan Airlines – On November 17, 1986, daytime, at 35,000 feet over northeastern Alaska, Japanese Airlines Boeing 747 cargo plane en route from Paris to Tokyo suddenly found itself facing two pairs of squarish arrays of pulsating “amber and whitish” lights each the size of a commercial jet, side-by-side, hovering directly in front of the aircraft. The objects lit up the cockpit where Captain Kenju Terauchi could feel heat on his face. Then the pilot noticed a third much larger “mothership” UFO eight miles away, toward which the two bright UFOs were heading. All of this was confirmed by radar at Anchorage flight control and a nearby Air Force base. After a half hour, the UFOs were gone. Years later, an FAA investigator publicly testified to a CIA cover-up of flight data relating to this event.
2. Frederick Valentich – On October 21, 1978, at 7:12 pm, 20-year-old Frederick Valentich vanished while was flying a Cessna 182L light aircraft over Australia’s Bass Strait. Just before his disappearance, Valentich had advised Melbourne air traffic control that he was being orbited by a large shiny craft with a green light 300 meters above him. Then he made is final statement, “[the] strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. It is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.” This was followed by a metallic scraping sound. No trace of Valentich or his aircraft was ever found.
3. Thomas Mantell – On January 7, 1948, 25 year old WWII vet Captain Thomas Mantell of the Kentucky Air National died while in pursuit of a UFO. The UFO was 300 ft. in diameter, white with a red border at the bottom. Against orders to break off pursuit, Mantell chased the UFO and got close enough to it to radio that the object was “metallic,” and of “tremendous size.” Then he lost consciousness, and his plane spiraled to the ground and crashed.
4. The ‘Tic Tac’ UFO – On November 14, 2004, (over the Pacific Ocean, off of the coast of San Diego), around noon on a clear day, the USS Princeton of the US Navy’s Nimitz carrier battle group instructed a pair of unarmed FA-18F Navy jets to intercept a radar blip. When pilots David Fravor and Jim Slaight reached the position, they noticed a disturbance in the ocean water below them, and then an object hovering 50 feet above the disturbance. The pilots described the UFO as resembling a large bright white “Tic Tac” (the breath mint) between 30 and 46 feet in length, with no visible engine or exhaust. As Fravor descended toward the object, it began to ascend, mirroring the Navy jet’s maneuvers. Then the UFO accelerated and was gone in two seconds.
5. Alderney, England – On 23 April 2007, Captain Ray Bowyer was flying a routine passenger plane from Southampton, England, to Alderney in the Channel Islands. For fifteen minutes, he and his passengers watched two very large, cigar-shaped UFOs, each a mile in length and emitting a brilliant yellow light, hovering stationary about 55 miles away. Peering through binoculars, Bowyer could distinguish their solid form. The plane flew to within 12 miles of the objects before the pilot flew away and landed. Another aircraft also confirmed the sighting.
If you’ve never done any research on the UFO topic, you might be forgiven for thinking that the only people who see them are hicks with worrying family trees; certainly this is the stereotype that has been perpetuated by Hollywood. In reality, however, UFOs are reported by men and women from all walks of life, and from all social and economic backgrounds: from burger-flippers to bankers, sex-workers to surgeons, pot-washers to politicians. With this in mind, it should come as little surprise that those who spend their working days in the skies above us also see their fair share of anomalous aerial phenomena. Indeed, cases of pilot encounters with UFOs stand among the most credible and dramatic ever recorded in the history of this enduring enigma.
Here are five of the most compelling…
#5. Alderney Sighting, 2007
Captain Ray Bowyer got the fright of his life on 23 April 2007 while piloting a routine passenger flight from Southampton, England, to Alderney in the Channel Islands. Over a 15 minute period, he and his passengers witnessed two UFOs so large and imposing that Bowyer–a pilot with 18 years of flying experience–wanted nothing more than to land his aircraft as soon as humanly possible “and have a cup of tea.” Typical Brit.
Bowyer’s aircraft gradually converged on two stationary, cigar-shaped craft, each emitting a brilliant yellow light. To the naked eye, the objects appeared unnervingly large, despite initially being some 55 miles away, and Bowyer would later estimate that the two mystery craft were each up to a mile across. Bowyer also viewed the objects through 10X magnification binoculars, through which he could distinguish their seemingly solid form, which grew clearer still as his aircraft drew nearer to them.
Bowyer would later recall: “I found myself astounded but curious, but at 12 miles’ distance these objects were becoming uncomfortably large, and I was glad to descend and land the aircraft. Many of my passengers saw the objects as did the pilots of another aircraft, 25 miles further south [a plane near Sark, which confirmed the presence, general position and altitude of the first object from the opposite direction].”
The encounter was thoroughly investigated but remains unexplained. Bowyer conservatively maintains that what he and his passengers witnessed was “definitely nothing from around these parts.”
#4. USS Nimitz Radar/Visual Encounter, 2004
At around 12:30 EST on November 14, 2004, an operations officer aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Princeton contacted two airborne US Navy jet fighters from USS Nimitz, instructing the pilots to change their course and investigate an unidentified blip that was showing up on the Princeton’s radar. The first fighter aircraft was piloted by Commander David Fravor, with his weapon systems officer in the back seat. The second jet was piloted by Commander Jim Slaight.
The weather conditions that day were near perfect: blue sky, no cloud cover, calm sea. When the jet fighters–both FA-18F Super Hornets–arrived at the site of the radar blip, the crew of four could see nothing untoward in the air. Below them, however, on the surface of the sea, they noticed an area “the size of a Boeing 737 airplane with a smoother area of lighter color at the center,” as if the waves were breaking over a large object just under the surface. Moments later, the crew noticed a strange object hovering erratically some 50 feet above the disturbance in the water. Both pilots later described the unidentified object as resembling a large bright white “Tic Tac” between 30 and 46 feet in length, with no visible engine or exhaust plume.
As Commander Fravor started a circular descent towards the object, it began ascending along a curved path, keeping a safe distance from the F-18 and mirroring its trajectory. Fravor then attempted to plunge his fighter below the object. No chance. The UFO accelerated “like a bullet from a gun” and was lost from his sight in less than two seconds. The nature and origin of the object remain a mystery (at least officially).
In 2017, Fravor spoke publicly about his “Tic Tac” encounter as part of a broader and ongoing public initiative to draw attention to the Pentagon’s shadowy UFO study program (now allegedly shut down), officially titled the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).
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