"To improve aviation safety and to enhance scientific knowledge"


  Date of Report: 10-15-2000


Aviation Safety in America
A Previously Neglected Factor (1)

Richard F. Haines (2)
Chief Scientist

National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena

October 15, 2000


(1) This paper was supported by a grant from the International Space Science Organization (ISSO).

(2) Sr. Research Scientist (ret.). NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA Former Chief, Space Human Factors Office. For other biographical information see current edition of Whoís Who in America.

This paper is deliberately not copyrighted to help facilitate its wide distribution. Unauthorized textual changes or significant omissions that change the meaning or intent of this reort are prohibited.


Executive Summary

This paper addresses the question of whether there is reliable data demonstrating a significant relationship between aviation safety in America today and unidentified aerial phenomena [UAP] (also called unidentified flying objects [UFO] or flying saucers). Three kinds of reported UAP dynamic behavior and reported consequences are addressed, each of which can affect air safety: (1) near-miss and other high speed maneuvers conducted by the UAP near the aircraft, (2) transient and permanent electromagnetic effects onboard the aircraft that affect navigation, guidance, and flight control systems, and (3) close encounter flight performance by the UAP that produces cockpit distractions which inhibit the flight crew from flying the airplane in a safe manner. 

More than one hundred documented close encounters between UAP and commercial, private, and military airplanes are reviewed relative to these three topics. These reports are drawn from several sources including the authorís personal files, aviation reports prepared by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration administered "Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS)." Interestingly, all of the U.S. government sources illustrate the fact either that pilots donít report their UAP sightings at all or, if they do, they almost never use the term UAP, UFO, or flying saucer when reporting their near-miss and/or in flight pacing encounters. 

I conclude that: (1) In order to avoid collisions with UAP some pilots have made control inputs that have resulted in passenger and flight crew injury. (2) Based upon a thorough review of pilot reports of UAP over the conterminous United States between 1950 and 2000 it is concluded that an immediate physical threat to aviation safety due to collision does not exist because of the reported high degree of maneuverability shown by the UAP. However, (a) should pilots make the wrong control input at the wrong time during an extremely close encounter the possibility of a mid-air collision with a UAP still exists, and (b) if pilots rely upon their instruments when anomalous electromagnetic effects are causing them to malfunction the possibility of an incident or accident exists. (3) Documented UAP phenomena have been seen and reported for at least fifty years by pilots but many of these reporters have been either ridiculed or instructed not to report their sighting publicly. (4) Responsible world aviation officials should take UAP phenomena seriously and issue clear procedures for reporting them without fearing ridicule, reprimand or other career impairment and in a manner that will support scientific research, (5) Airlines should implement instructional courses that teach pilots about optimal control procedures to carry out when flying near UAP and also what data to try to collect about them, if possible, and (6) A central clearing house should be identified to receive UAP reports (e.g., ASRS; Global Aviation Information Network (GAIN). This unclassified clearinghouse should collect, analyze, and report UAP sightings for the continuing benefit of aviation safety as well as scientific curiosity. Whatever UAP are they can pose a hazard to aviation safety and should be dealt with appropriately and without bias.




As most pilots realize, they will experience a wide range of visual phenomena over the course of their flying career. Most of these unusual visual sightings are soon explained to their satisfaction. However, some remain unexplained even after all known laws of science and natural phenomena have been considered. The witness of this residuum of cases is left with a lingering uncertainty, a doubt about the core identity of what was seen. 

If a pilot has experienced an unidentified visual phenomenon while flying and has suffered overt or covert ridicule or even persecution for submitting a report it is likely that he or she will never make another report should one be called for. I call this the "law of diminishing reports," a type of psychological negative feedback system that inhibits more and more people from simply telling the whole truth. 

The long-term and progressive effect of this "law" is that less and less reliable data is brought forth for serious study. The scientist, who rightly claims that he or she cannot study a phenomenon without data, is seemingly justified for not becoming interested in the phenomenon! The result is that an already rare "anomalous" phenomenon becomes even rarer, from the viewpoint of traditional science. 

Yet, since the objective phenomenon does not stop occurring it continues to yield a small residue of highly interesting cases that beg to be investigated. The present paper focuses on some of these cases of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), more commonly called unidentified flying objects (UFO), and their relationship to aviation safety in America today.

The primary objective of this paper is to determine if reliable data exists to show a significant relationship between aviation safety in the United States of America today and so-called Unidentified Aerial Phenomena reportedly flying near aircraft. What is considered to be a significant relationship? A significant relationship exists if the presence of one or more UAP near an aircraft leads to some deviation in normal cockpit procedures, flight path, and/or onboard or ground equipment function that could have contributed to an incident or accident had the flight crew and/or ground personnel not taken appropriate action(s) or the UAP had not taken appropriate action.

The term UAP is defined as follows:

An unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP) is the visual stimulus that provokes a sighting report of an object or light seen in the sky, the appearance and/or flight dynamics of which do not suggest a logical, conventional flying object and which remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making both a full technical identification as well as a common-sense identification, if one is possible. (Haines, Pp. 13-22, 1980)

This definition clearly excludes most of the prosaic explanations one hears about to explain UAP including rare atmospheric phenomena (e.g., sprites; sheet and ball lightning; mirages, sub-suns, etc.). The residual of cases that remain after all known physical phenomena are considered and rejected truly confront the scientific mind with mysteries and challenges in spite of the fact that up to now science has shown no genuine or lasting interest in them. (McDonald, 1968)

I do not presume here that UAP are extraterrestrial nor do I presume that they are not. The data must be permitted to "speak" for themselves. I have, however, collected and analyzed hundreds of UAP reports over the years which appear to suggest that they are associated with a very high degree of intelligence, deliberate flight control, and advanced energy management (cf. Haines, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1994, 1999). Others have done the same (Good, 1988; Hall, 1964; Hall, 2001; Ruppelt, 1956; Hynek, 1972).

Aviation Safety. Air safety is the second subject of concern in this paper and is of central concern to more and more people around the world. For as prosperity in general increases so does the number of people who can afford to fly. Indeed, the term "safety" embodies a large and very complex concept composed of hundreds of independent and interacting parameters; it is this complexity that makes it so difficult a subject to study. 

An ongoing NASA-sponsored analysis of U.S. aviation accidents has subdivided government aviation statistics into scores of categories (Turnbull and Ford, 1999). This Langley Research Center activity is known as the "Aviation Safety Analysis and Functional Evaluation" (ASAFE). These researchers found that between 1990 and 1996 private pilots (a category called "general aviation") accounted for 12,407 fatal aviation accidents (almost 85% of the total) and 4,374 fatalities (77% of all fatalities). 

Commercial aviation (a category called "Large Air Carriers") account for 143 accidents which is under one percent of the total and 300 fatalities (0.3% of all known U.S. fatalities). U.S. military aviation operations were not considered in ASAFE.

UAP as Possible Causal Agents in Accidents. Since there are no specific categories in which UAP may be considered as a causal factor in aircraft accidents or incidents on the FAA, NTSB, or ASRS data recording forms no such events are found in Turnbull and Fordís otherwise excellent and comprehensive work. Of course, such reports may perhaps be found under a different rubric. 

I suggest four possible conclusions for this lack of a reporting category for UAP: (1) the incidence of such (UAP) events is so low that they donít warrant inclusion or serious statistical consideration, (2) pilots cannot or will not use the term UAP or UFO officially when relating an aerial encounter that results in an accident, (3) pilots do not report such aerial encounters at all, and/or (4) this class of causal agents are deliberately deleted from official databases. In my experience I believe possibilities 2 and 3 are most likely to account for this effect.

Let us take a further look at current U.S. aviation accident statistics presented in Turnbull and Ford (Ibid.) to see if other insights may be gained concerning UAP/UFO sightings. I will concentrate on two types of aviation operations, general aviation (private) and large air carriers (commercial) since together, they account for the largest number of accidents. 

Statistical analyses of aviation accidents show that skill-based errors by the flight crew "...are responsible for an overwhelming number of civil aviation accidents... (and is)... the top causal factor (in every category of air operation) ... accounting for 20-25% of the total number of causal factors." (pg. 7) In other words, a breakdown in pilot judgment and/or flying skills are thought to play a central role in contributing to aviation accidents. If a UAP is maneuvering erratically at high speed nearby an airliner and the pilot is trying to avoid it great skill and judgment are called for. Unless that pilot actually reports seeing the unidentifiable UAP the encounter will not be logged at all and therefore will not be reflected in official aviation statistics.

In investigating aviation safety its definition must be broad enough to encompass every possible causal event, otherwise investigators are liable to overlook subtle and low probability of occurrence events that can have disastrous consequences. As will become clear in this paper, one sub-set of events that has been largely left out of official reporting forms and protocols to date is the presence of UAP operating near aircraft. This is true, by the way, for almost every nation on earth. 

When pilots, airport operators, and Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel encounter UAP in the course of their routine operations the consequences can be not only unexpectedly stressful but can lead to unanticipated and potentially dangerous situations. They do not need or deserve other aviation officials acting toward them in an adversarial, demeaning, or threatening manner.

The definition of increased aviation safety that results from the above discussion and which is used in this paper is qualitative rather than quantitative:

Increased aviation safety results from the continual conduct of ground and air operations in a manner such that no personnel are killed or injured, no aircraft or ground support vehicles or equipment are damaged, and the potential and/or actual impact of all conceivable causal events upon the successful operation of all aircraft are taken into account.

Of course, decreased aviation safety might be defined as the opposite of the above conditions where people are injured or killed and aircraft (and ground equipment) are damaged and the impact of all conceivable causal events are not taken into account, including UAP. In the words from a recent Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine article (Pg. 54, August 14, 2000), "Insurers prefer to leave CAT (clear air turbulence) in the "act-of-God" category, which tends to keep liability to a minimum." The same thing might be said of UAP!

UAP and an Accident Taxonomy. A comprehensive consideration of U.S. aviation safety must incorporate recognition and use of a taxonomy (an organizational scheme) that includes all conceivable factors related to aviation safety, including UAP. The modified ASAFE taxonomy proposed in Turnbull and Ford (Pp. 184-188, 1999) represents an important step in this direction for it includes the Human Factor Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) (Anon., 2000). 

The earlier ASAFE taxonomy failed to include the kinds of errors that were being made, why they occurred, and what were the preconditions that contributed to making these errors. The HFACS was added to ASAFEís taxonomy primarily because approximately 70% of all causal factors of aviation accidents are human error-related in some way

Indeed, the "human element" is found in virtually every phase of aviation operations and can be viewed as both an interconnected series of strong and weak links in the causal chain of an accident or incident. It is well known that humans possess perceptual limitations under certain circumstances (e.g., faulty hearing, visual illusions, vertigo), physical limitations (e.g., anoxic effects, stress-coping, g-load tolerance), and mental/cognitive limitations (e.g., sustained alertness, memory encoding and retrieval). But humans also possess extraordinary capabilities (e.g., systematic, logical decision making, excellent vision under most conditions, good eye-hand coordination, and many others) (cf., Haines and Flatau, Chapters 2 - 6, 1992).

The modified ASAFE accident taxonomy contains eight basic coding categories and a total of 229 possible causal factors for aviation accidents. Thirty one causal factors found in their list

were identified as possibly related in some way to a UAP close encounter. They are listed in Appendix 1. Of course at the present time there is no way to know how many incident and accident reports involving one or more of the above 31 causal factors actually involved UAP. It is true that scientists cannot investigate a new phenomenon unless it has reliable data to study.

Potential UAP Eye Witnesses. There are a great many potential eye witnesses to UAP in America and indeed, around the world. In America today there are about 68,500 commercially rated pilots [58,000 Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) members; 10,500 Allied Pilot Association (APA) members]. There are about 12,295 active U.S. Air Force (USAF) pilots. The number of pilots flying for the U. S. Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Forestry Service, [National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)] is not known but must number in the tens of thousands combined. In addition there are about 600,000 FAA certified pilots holding a current medical rating, some of which may be represented in the ALPA and APA figures above. These numbers represent an extremely large number of eyewitnesses to atmospheric visual phenomena of all kinds as seen from the air. It is reasonable to suggest that the longer one flies aircraft the greater is the likelihood that one will see something that cannot be identified.

When the large (mean) number of hours of flight time per pilot per year is considered along with the relatively large visual field available from the cockpit, the long slant range visibility (particularly in Visual Meteorological Conditions), and the large surface area beneath their aircraft are taken into account there exists a truly significant chance that if there is something unusual and interesting to be seen from the air it will be seen, particularly after dark when self-luminous phenomena become more conspicuous.

Flight Time and Distance Statistics. Current Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) activity data for U.S. domestic and international operations air carriers provides the number of aircraft departures, hours flown, and miles flown for each of 117 airlines. http://nasdac.faa.gov/bts Considering only the 16 airlines listed that operated more than 100,000 departures in 1998 collectively, they made 7.486 million departures, flew 12.357 million hours and 4,815.81 million miles (TD c). 

If statistics for the nationís two largest air cargo airlines (Federal Express Corp.; United Parcel Service) are added these numbers swell to 7.957 million departures, 13.139 million hours, and 5,147.46 million miles (TD t) flown. Assuming two and a half flight crewmembers in each cockpit and an average of four departures per aircraft (per day) yields 4,678,656 potential air crew witnesses for all these passenger aircraft and 4,973,032 potential cockpit eye witnesses for passenger and cargo aircraft. 

To these statistics must be added all of the flight crews, departures, and miles flown by the other 101 U.S. air carriers, the thousands of private pilots who fly fewer miles and hours per year, and even the passengers who fly on these commercial flights. Of course aircraft flight tract also must be considered since high altitude operations across continental USA typically follows pre-established routes. These statistics can be used as normalizing factors in subsequent statistical analyses.

Commercial Airline Flight Routes
. The preceding statistics imply that these flight miles cover the U.S.A. homogeneously but, of course, they do not. Commercial aircraft, for instance, donít fly everywhere above the continental USA for reasons of safety and air traffic control effectiveness. (Hopkin, 1995) Indeed, airlines follow highways in the sky called "airways" or "jetways" that are carefully marked by radio navigation beacons. Aircraft flying on different magnetic headings also fly at different altitudes to help separate them. 

Because of these facts the above statistics for number of hours and miles flown do not represent an accurate picture of the geographic coverage of the continental USA by commercial aircraft. If the conterminous U.S.A. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) consists of 3,022,387 square miles and a pilot above 25,000 feet altitude can see (in clear weather during daylight hours) a high contrast reflecting object (larger than his or her distance acuity limit) at a slant range of at least thirty miles to each side of the flight path, then each air mile represents a sixty mile wide swath of potential object visibility (V). When V is multiplied by TD this gives some idea of the total ground area covered by these 16 commercial airlines for 1998:

16 Major Commercial Airlines . . . . . 288,948.6 million square miles . . . 9.6% of land area

Plus two largest Air Cargo Airlines . . 308,847.6 million square miles . . . 10.2% of land area

The above values must also be reduced by a factor that represents the geographic lateral spacing of the airways and jetways. This complex calculation has not been attempted here. Suffice it to say that pilots have a unique vantage from which to sight anomalous aerial phenomena both during the day and nighttime.

Review of Pilot Reports from the Authorís AIRCAT Files

This section presents the results of a thorough fifty year review of the authorís Air Catalog (AIRCAT) UAP database from 1950 to 2000. AIRCAT currently contains well over 3,400 sighting reports from foreign and domestic pilots of most of the nations of the world. 

Cases were selected because they appeared to impact aviation safety in at least one of three primary safety areas: A. Near-miss and nearby pacing incidents with UAP reported by U.S. (and some foreign) aircraft while flying over the United States of America and its continental waters. Mid-air Collisions and Missing Aircraft cases are also discussed. B. Electromagnetic (E-M) effects which occur onboard an aircraft flying over the United States of America when the UAP is seen to be (relatively) nearby. If the E-M system(s) either returns to normal function after the UAP departs or is permanently damaged is considered, and C. Situations, apparently produced by the presence of UAP, which cause confusion, panic, attentional capture, or other dangerous conditions aboard U.S. or foreign aircraft flying over the United States of America or its continental waters. Case report abstracts are presented in Appendices 2 through 5.

Passenger-carrying commercial and military flights make up the majority of the following cases with a small number of private pilot sightings. These reports strongly suggest that air safety could have been compromised in some way. It is acknowledged that near-miss incidents are a common occurrence in America even today due to many factors. (Turnbull and Ford, 1999) Do such incidents include UAP encounters? When a pilot cannot honestly identify the other vehicle and resorts to using the term unidentified flying object or other related term I do not believe that they necessarily mean anything other than just that. The term UFO is likely used as a convenience and does not necessarily mean the witness believes the other object was extraterrestrial as is often imputed by the press or aviation officials.

A. Near-Miss and Nearby Pacing Incidents with UAP Reported by U.S. (and some foreign) Aircraft

Table 1 summarizes 56 cases identified in this AIRCAT review in which the pilot(s) reported a near-miss and 38 more involving aircraft pacing by a UAP with particular emphasis upon the kind of UAP approach flight maneuver(s) that was made relative to the aircraft. There were twenty four different maneuvers found from the perspective of a plan view (i.e., looking down from above). Each is represented here by a simple diagram.


Table 1

Reported UAP Flight Maneuvers Performed
Near the Aircraft From a Plan View Perspective

Flight Maneuver Diagram Case Number and Aircraft Classification


When the pilot report emphasized the vertical motions of the UAP it was possible to classify some UAP approach maneuvers from a side view (elevation) point of view. Those cases, associated with sixteen different maneuvers, are presented in Table 2. Of course some pilot reports described three-dimensional motions, particularly when the UAP flew in highly Ďexotic,í i.e., non-inertial, non-aerodynamic fashion. These cases are included in both Table 1 and 2 in the single dimension that most clearly describes them.

Number of Eye Witnesses. A total of 229 pilot and passenger witnesses were involved in the cases presented in Tables 1 and 2. This represents an average of 2.4 witnesses per aircraft. It simply is not true that people see UAP only when they are alone. The presence of a second, third, or fourth witness onboard an aircraft is an important factor in motivating the air crew to follow company or U.S. Government agency reporting procedures rather than merely forgetting about the encounter. Nevertheless, in 11 of these cases representing 32 eye witnesses (Mean = 3.4 witnesses per aircraft) no one reported their sighting officially.

Passenger Injury Cases. Passengers were injured in the following cases (aircraft classification follows each hyphen) when the pilot executed an abrupt avoidance maneuver, fearing a collision with the UAP: 28-UC; 31-UC; 45-UC; 49-UC; and 50-UC. Aviation safety is clearly implicated when passengers are injured during flight.

Hourly Distribution of Cases. Table 3 presents a summary of the local times for each of the 94 cases reviewed here for which time of occurrence was reported. Note that the majority occurred after dark, a finding that corresponds to findings of numerous other UAP studies (e.g., Hall, 1964; Hatch, 1999; Vallee, 1965). Note that there is also a skew in this time-of-day curve well into the full daylight hours which is reasonable considering that most commercial aircraft fly during the daytime. Of the twelve E-M cases (Nos. 71, 83, 92, 98 - 105) four (33%) took place during daylight hours.



Table 2 

Reported Approximate UAP Flight Maneuvers Near the Aircraft
From a Side Elevation Perspective
(Aircraft flight path dashed)

(U = US aircraft; F = foreign; C = Commercial; M = military; P = private)

Flight Maneuver Diagram Case Number and Aircraft Classification


Table 3

Hourly Distribution of Near-Miss
and Pacing Incidents in 30 minute increments

Local Time Case Number(s)



















































28-UC; 63(a)-UP; 88-UP





16-UC; 61-UP

17-UC; 45-UC
















48-UP; 97-UM




79-UP; 82-UP

5-UM; 78-UP; 80-UP



30-UM; 59-UP; 83-UP

9-UM; 19-UM; 81-UP

65-UC; 91-UP






1-UM; 3-UM; 24-UM; 68-UP; 76-UP


6-UP; 14-UM; 51-UC; 64-UC; 75-UC; 89-UC 

4-UC; 23-UM; 25-UM; 46-UM; 58-UP; 72-UP,UC

32-UM; 33-UC; 34-UC; 36-UM; 39-UC,UM; 53-UM

44-UC; 47-UC; 66-UP; 84-UP

2-UP; 18-UP; 21-UC; 43-UC; 50-UC; 54-UP; 62-UP; 94-FC

70-UP; 85-UP

38-UC; 40-UM; 42-UC; 71-UM

55-UP; 74-UC


            "Day" 93-UC; "Afternoon" 29-UM; "Dusk" 57-UC; "Late Evening" 31-UC;

            "Twilight" 7-UM; "Night" 15-UM; 20-UP; 60-UP; 67-UC; 95-UC; 96-UM;

            "Not specified" 27-UM; 49-UC

Distribution of Cases by Year and Aircraft Classification. Table 4 presents the distribution of all cases by year, aircraft classification, and local time. Note that the great majority of the military pilot reports occurred between 1950 and 1958 while commercial and private pilots reported their sightings relatively consistently over the entire fifty year period.


Table 4

Case Distribution by Year, Aircraft Classification,
and Local Time (in 2400 hr format)

Aircraft Classification


Private Commercial  Military









































case no. hour


6-2000; 8-1250

18-2200; 20-night;














58-2052; 59-1515

60-night; 61-0300

62-2220; 63(a)-0031; 63(b)-0040





70-2230; 72-2035 





76-1910; 78-1330;
79-1315; 80-1340


82-1315; 83-1500; 84-2130

85-2240; 87-0010; 88-0030









10-1430; 13-0227;
16-0300; 17-0330


31-late evening; 33-2104; 34-2104

38-2300; 39-2100 

41-0145; 42-2300; 43-2210

44-2145; 45-0345; 47-2135; 50-2215; 51-2015




















75-2000; 77-0934








89-2000; 90-1731







5-1340; 7-twilight;

9-155312-1834; 14-2026; 15-night;19-1540; 23-2046;

24-191525-2030; 26-1700; 27-n/a; 96-night

29-afternoon; 30-1520; 32-2100

35-0544; 36-2107; 37:0655

40-2305; 97-1140


52-1017; 53-2103
















Totals 32  36 27                Grand Total = 95

There does not appear to be any trend in local time of a UAP sighting over this span of years.


B. Mid-air Collisions and Missing Aircraft

There is no doubt that a single mid-air collision has a significant impact on the publicís consciousness of aviation safety. The primary question here is what did the aircraft collide with? Or in the case of a missing aircraft, what caused the event? In both cases there seldom are eye witnesses. Only secondary, circumstantial evidence may be available (cf. Berlitz, 1977; Haines, 1987).

In their comprehensive review of "Aviation Accident Analysis," Turnbull and Ford (1999) discuss mid-air collisions for six operational classes within current U.S. aviation, viz., general aviation, rotary wing (helicopter), cargo flights, air taxis, commuter air carriers, and large air carriers. They analyzed the assumed series of causal sequence events leading up to mid-air collisions using six causal factors (AF: aircraft failure; ATE: air traffic environment; USO: unsafe supervision/organizational influences; HF-G: human failure-ground personnel; HF-F: human failure-flight personnel; and W: weather). Their Figure 229 presents the array of causal sequences of mid-air collisions involving the "See-and-be-seen" principle of flight for all six operational classes as a function of these six causal factors. Only the general aviation (GA) data is reviewed here because only it has sufficient data for statistical analysis (except rotary wing). Interestingly, HF-F is the overwhelming causal factor in GA mid-air collisions during see-and-be-seen flight. It accounts for almost 90% of the causal factors in each of the five defined sequence events. Since the pilots are killed in the majority of mid-air collision accidents definite causative data must be obtained from other sources including eye witness testimony; the fact remains that these pilots cannot defend themselves or otherwise clear their record. USO and ATE also contribute a minor amount to most of the five sequences. If a UAP actually had been involved in any of these mid-air collisions only ground radar and the pilotís recorded voice transmissions would be available to implicate it. Two such possible cases (No. 96, 97) are presented in Appendix 3 from Air Force and other records. According to researcher Leonard Stringfield who used to work for the Air Defense Command, General Benjamin Chidlaw, former Chief of the nationís Continental Air Defense Command in the 1950s allegedly admitted, "We have lost many men and planes trying to intercept them" (UFO).

I have become convinced over thirty years of personal study that since UAP encounters may potentially influence one or more of the above causal factors it is incumbent upon aviation safety planners and decision-makers to not prohibit the inclusion of these often unusual, bizarre data in the data collection and analysis process and thereby help us better understand how to reduce unsafe air crew and ATC behavior in their presence as well as help us understand better the true nature of UAP.

There are several reports of actual impacts with unidentified aerial objects during aircraft flight. Of course the primary issue is what actually collided with the airplane? (cf. Crain, 1987) In many cases the impact is with birds that fly at very low as well as relatively high altitudes [e.g., FAA Incident Report No. 19890213009059G; Local Time: 02/13/1989 In this instance the pilot reported a "noise and bump inflight... Unidentified object had damaged various parts of aircraft."]. Bird strikes involve all classes of aircraft, however, the higher the altitude at which a unexplainable mid-air collision occurs the less likely it was caused by a bird strike. In case 2 below a strange looking aerial phenomenon approached and struck the propeller of a light aircraft, exploding like a bomb. Fortunately, no damage to the propeller or any other part of the fuselage or wings could be found upon landing.


C. Transient and Permanent Electromagnetic (E-M) effects

Associated with UAP

This section reviews 24 pilot reports where one or more instruments and/or displays were affected when the UAP was seen nearby the airplane. Case abstracts are found in Appendix 4. It seems reasonable to suggest that aviation safety can be compromised if the flight displays, controls, navigation system, and/or other electromagnetically controlled equipment fail to operate normally during flight. This is precisely what has been reported on numerous occasions involving UAP as the following review makes clear.

Fortunately, in most of these instances the electromagnetically sensitive equipment returned to normal function after the phenomenon or object departed! This finding in itself raises important and puzzling questions about the nature of UAP. In some cases the flight crew lost confidence in the reliability of the system(s) and ignored readings altogether. In most instances tests conducted after landing showed that the instruments were operating normally again. Clearly, such events pose potential hazards to air navigation, radio communications, flight path control, flight crew distraction, and cockpit discipline in general, to name but a few. Of course, one important implication of the occurrence of such transient EM effects is that the UAP are radiating energy of one or more kinds.

Interested readers should consult (Anon., 1978) for a particularly interesting and detailed transcript of conversations between several commercial aircraft and various ground controllers on the night of June 24, 1978 involving simultaneous radar-visual contact with a fascinatingly beautiful UAP seen in Wisconsin airspace. Soon after this prolonged charter aircraft encounter had ended ground controllers vectored a second (North Central flight 577) commercial aircraft with a passenger on board to deviate off his original course "in order to get a closer look at it."

The literature contains a number of scholarly articles on various electromagnetic effects, allegedly originating from UAP, on a variety of man-made objects such as automobile engines and lights, aircraft cockpit instruments, radar and radio equipment, and other devices. (Falla, 1979; Haines, 1992; Johnson, 1983; Johnson, 1988; Rodeghier, 1981)

A total of 24 cases with 36 different EM events were found in this review of AIRCAT files in which one or more onboard cockpit displays or controls were adversely affected on U.S. aircraft when the UAP was flying near the aircraft and/or the UAP was registered on ground and/or airborne radar. Of course many other similar foreign cases also exist. If the phenomenon was registered on cockpit instruments or influenced the functioning of cockpit instruments only during the encounter it is marked as transient. If the aircraft systems were damaged permanently, allegedly as a result of the encounter, it is marked as permanent. Table 5 summarizes these findings.

The data presented in Table 5 raise genuine concerns about aviation safety when one is flying near some UAP. The 24 cases listed here represent 23% of the total 105 UAP reports. Since four of these cases involved airborne radar and 11 cases involved ground radar contact with the UAP these cases may be considered, in general, as contributing to aviation safety because of the detection capability provided by radar contact. It is the remaining 12 cases (11.4% of 105 cases) involving 21 different detrimental E-M events that should be of interest to scientists and of concern to aviation officials. About one in ten close UAP encounter reports include a reference to one or more failures of onboard displays and/or controls, or radio communications. It is fair to say that these EM cases offer the scientist a rich field for further study.



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