Founded in 2000
Recently NARCAP received a report via postal mail from a former airman describing an
aviation safety-related encounter with an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UAP that he
had experienced as a crewman on an F111 while flying a mission over the North Sea in
the early 1980s. Along with a NARCAP pilot report form that he had completed in detail
and supplemented with pictures and drawings he included a small postit note with the
“Thank you for accepting this report that has been on my “Must do” list for 20+ years…”
This issue of pilots and air crews waiting until they are retired to make their reports of
UAP encounters is a disturbing trend. NARCAP and other organizations that have
examined aviation reports involving UAP have observed that many reporters are making
their reports after they retire. Sometimes immediately after retiring. NARCAP receives
many cases that are historical in nature, often over 20years old. This reporting bias
creates a lag in acquiring reports and results in a loss of aviation safety data for the
aviation system and a loss of general information about UAP for the research community.
It also demonstrates that even after twenty or more years aircrewmen are just waiting for
the chance to tell someone about their experience.
Bias is a matter of belief. If pilots believe that talking to their management or the Federal
Aviation Administration or FAA about an incident or observation involving something they
could not identify is a threat to their careers then they probably are not going to do it. Are
these beliefs warranted and what is the best way to get the important information
regarding an observation or incident involving UAP “into the system” without harming
their reputation and/or their career?
It is understandable that a pilot does not want to risk his reputation trying to describe
something he has never seen or experienced before that contributed to a safety related
report involving a loss of separation, or a near midair collision, or a sudden control input
to avoid a perceived hazard or some other safety factor. The system doesn’t seem
interested in such things and it is easy to question the competency of a pilot that
encountered something truly unusual. The FAA does not currently accept reports
involving unidentified aerial phenomena and refers reporters to civilian reporting centers
or private businesses.
The root of this problem developed in the Cold War with the initial attempts by the US
government to make sense of the UAP/UFO reports arising from its global military
presence as well as the need to detect any large formations of aircraft that might be
approaching.. Through a reporting regime called “JANAP 146” (Joint Army Navy Air
Force Publication 146), pilots were required to make reports involving any unusual
observations including large formations of aircraft, missiles and unidentified flying objects
or UFO to the military and to remain silent about their observations or face a fine and
imprisonment. With the advent of global satellite coverage in the late 1970s the JANAP
146 program was ended but the chilling effect on reporting continues to the present day.
NARCAP experience over the past fifteen years has revealed several interesting aspects
of this issue of pilot reporting bias. For commercial pilots and aircrews the issue of UAP
reporting does not carry an automatic stigma. Some airline cultures are far more
accepting of UAP issues and less likely to abuse their air crews over making reports
about UAP than others. NARCAP conducted a survey of pilots and aircrews regarding
their experiences with UAP and found that several airlines would absolutely not allow us
to conduct our surveys of their aircrews while others were open and willing to promote
our materials in their ready rooms. So it isn’t a matter that is controlled by the “dark
forces that are”, it depends on where you are working and who is involved in the
What a pilot or aviation professional should and should not do to report an observation
or encounter with Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UAP.
1.Make a report to NARCAP.org. Do NOT contact any other organizations or researchers
regarding your experience. This is critical if the case is very current. There is a limited
amount of time to make a FOIA request for specific audio and radar data. Also, if the
case is reported “publicly” or shared with other organizations there will often be a large
amount of pressure on facilities, airlines, individuals that will impede the investigation by
NARCAP and may interfere with the ability to interview witnesses and acquire important
2.Maintain silence until NARCAP has a chance to conduct an investigation and prepare a
report. Protect witnesses, airlines and facilities from un-necessary pressure from the
media and others. Allow NARCAP to conduct its investigation.
3.Make a careful and educated decision about public association with the case or
incident, acceptable conditions, if any.
NARCAP was founded by Dr. Richard Haines and myself, Ted Roe, in 2000 specifically to
support pilots, air traffic controllers and members of the aviation community that are
directly involved in encounters with Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UAP. The NARCAP
research team has fifteen years of experience in receiving, investigating, analyzing and
publishing data regarding aviation safety related encounters with unidentified aerial
phenomena. NARCAP has successfully accepted and engaged investigations while
protecting the identity of reporters. NARCAP encourages anyone that has had an
aviation-related observation or safety-related encounter with something they could not
identify to contact us with confidence and make a report.
Reporting Unidentified Aerial Phenomena