"To improve aviation safety and to enhance scientific knowledge"

 


Table 5

Electromagnetic Effects Reported When UAP Was Nearby the Aircraft


Case No. 

 

Date 

Aircraft System or Sub-System Affected (and Radar contact)  

Transient (T) Permanent (P) 
Not known (N)


15 

21 

24 

39 

44 

47 

54 

60 

69 

71 

72 

80 

83  

92 

...

96 

98 


99 



100 

101 

...

...
102 

103 

...

...
104 


105 

November 7, 1950

July 11, 1952

Autumn 1952 

December 10, 1952

December 11, 1955

March 8, 1957   

June 3, 1957 

July 4, 1961 

January 1967 

February 14, 1973

October 18, 1973

October 19, 1973 

August 27, 1978 

September 28, 1980

November 17, 1986

...

November 23, 1953 

August 13, 1959 


June 29, 1967 



November 28, 1974 

March 12, 1977 

.....

...
November 18, 1977 

May 26, 1979 

...

...
April 8, 1981 


March 1, 1986 

Radio transmission failure (142.74 MHz) 

Airborne radar contact 

Ground radar contact 

Airborne radar contact (ARC-33) 

Ground radar contact 

Ground radar contact 

Ground radar contact 

Ground radar contact 

Ground radar contact 

Airborne radar contact 

Radio transmit/receive inoperative 

Ground radar contact 

Ground radar contact 

Radio became inoperative 

VHF radio interference 
Airborne (X band) weather radar contact 
Ground (USAF) radar contact 
...
Ground radar contact 

Magnesyn compass (slow rotation) 
Magnetic compass (spun "crazily") 

Compass began to spin 
Electrical system failed 
Circuit breaker panel shorted out 

Magnetic compass rotated slowly (4 rpm; CCW) 

Gyrocompasses pointing in wrong directions 
Auto-pilot (heading mode) commanding direction change (left) 
Magnetic compass pointing in wrong direction

Transponder failed (DME was OK) 

Magnetic compass spun Automatic Direction Finder spun 
Radio receiver experienced heavy static 
Engine ran rough 
Ground radar contact 

Radios (2) transmit/receive inoperative 
Distance Measuring Equipment failed 

Radio became inoperative with heavy static 

N

T

T

T

T

T

T

T

T

N

T

T

T

T

T
T
T

N

T
T

T
P
P

T

T
N

T

T

N
N
N
N

T
T

T


Total = 24 cases 

Total = 36 events  Total: T = 26 72.2%

P = 2 5.6%

N = 8 22.2%

D. Attention Distraction in the Cockpit

This section briefly considers the important matter of the focus of attention of the flight crew during an encounter with one or more UAP. One of the tenets of current Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) air crew training is that everyone must work with one another as an integrated team. Each member should back up the other during periods of high workload, high stress, complex decision-making, and difficult flight control. But when the crew is faced with an extremely bizarre, unexpected, and prolonged luminous and/or solid ‘phenomenon’ cavorting near their aircraft that could affect their safety it is possible for cockpit discipline to break down. To panic in the cockpit is to lose the capability to maintain full and safe control of one’s aircraft. If passengers should panic then it is equally difficult to maintain a completely safe flight. Fortunately most pilots are able to exercise exceptional self-control during these stressful encounters. And, it is also most fortunate that the Air Force no longer requests commercial pilots to chase UAP for them as they used to do. (e.g., Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo, NY, April 10, 1956; Hall, R.H., The UFO Evidence, Pg. 41, 1964)

These kinds of pilot reports are very hard to locate because they are seldom reported; they can be used against a pilot by aviation authorities. The air crews who reported here are to be congratulated on coming forward with these disclosures. Appendix 5 presents several such examples in addition to Case 28, 34, 45, 49, 50, 60, and 61 specifically and all of the others cited here generally.

It is interesting to note the wide range of pilot responses to these UAP encounters. Some pilots are curious about what they are seeing and try to fly nearer to the phenomenon. Some pilots fear for their lives and carry out immediate evasive maneuvers. And some pilots don’t do anything but watch the light show in awe and fear. In any case it can be argued that their attention has been captured by the other object(s) or light(s) so that they cannot concentrate as fully as before on normal cockpit duties.

II. Abbreviated Review of Official U.S. Government
Incident Reports

This section presents a small collection of official U.S. government aviation incident reports which contain interesting and potentially valuable data on the present subject. These incident reports are sadly but understandably lacking in any clearly identified references to UAP. Reasons for this are many and are discussed elsewhere in this paper.

IIA. Review of Federal Aviation Administration’s
Near Midair Collisions System Search Database

The first set of intriguing reports is from the Federal Aviation Administration’s "Aviation Safety Data" Near Midair Collisions System Search" <http://nasdac.faa.gov/lib/vtopic.exe> This database contains reports only from 1992 to the present. A near midair collision (NMAC) is defined as "an incident associated with the operation of an aircraft in which a possibility of a collision occurs as a result of proximity of less than 500 feet to another aircraft..." (Ibid., pg. 9) (italics mine) Of course, according to this restricted definition a NMAC with a UAP or a bird, etc. cannot be counted. Nevertheless, a relatively large number of such reports (5,053) are included in this database. Clearly, the door is open for the inclusion of UAP sightings in the future when government policy is established that encourages pilots to report such encounters and when pilots become courageous enough to do so.

One problem that continues to stand in the way of achieving this important objective is the subtle, almost unconscious prejudice many have against the very idea of UAP. This attitude seems to be reinforced at most levels within the aviation community, particularly at the highest levels. The current law requires that "all NMAC reports are thoroughly investigated by FAA inspectors in coordination with air traffic controllers." (Ibid., pg. 9) However, if there is any amount of covertly held prejudice about the subject of UAP, all UAP-related NMAC reports are likely either to be redefined in terms of conventional aircraft or dismissed completely in some other acceptable means. Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure whether any past NMAC reports involved UAP. Nevertheless, as the following selected entries suggest, pilots may have used other more acceptable words for UAP such as "(conflicting) traffic," "unidentified aircraft," "balloon," etc. The more likely event is that pilots simply don’t report NMAC events at all when the other vehicle is not clearly identified as being an airplane or other conventional object. This view is supported by data that is presented below.

It is interesting to note in the FAA’s Near Midair Collisions System Search database that: (1) Pilots never used the term "flying saucer," "UFO," "disk," or other such description of the "other" aerial vehicle. Several possible reasons why this is the case are given in the discussion section. (2) Other possible synonyms for UAP were found in this database. They included:

"Unidentified aircraft which passed closely off FLT 452’s left wing. Traffic had not been observed..." (e.g., Rept. No. NCERICT98003, GMT Date: 12-15-98).

"Other aircraft" (e.g., Rept. No. NSWROKC97001, GMT Date: 9-12-97).

"Unknown aircraft made a 180 degree turn and came back towards (the reporting aircraft), at which time (reporting aircraft) took evasive action."

(e.g., Rept. No. NWPRSCT97015, GMT Date: 9-5-97)

 

None of these reports gave any information about the identity of the "other aircraft." No explanation is given for the lack of this very important information. Appendix 6 presents several representative NMAC reports found in this database. In a non-trivial number of the reports I reviewed none of the pilots of aircraft involved in near-miss incidents ever returned telephone calls from official investigators trying to obtain further details, perhaps for obvious reasons (one example is Rept. No. NSWROKC97001, GMT Date: 9-12-97).

In summary, how many near-miss events were actually due to UAP but which were labeled "traffic," "unidentified aircraft," "unknown object" or even "balloon" (e.g., Rept. No. NCECZKC96001, Date: 4-25-96) to avoid embarrassment, paperwork, or possible career impairment? There is no way to answer this vital question at this time. Future reporting requirements for all such near-miss incidents should permit the pilots and air crew to use whatever words they deem necessary without fear of reprimand or ridicule.

 

IIB. National Transportation Safety Board’s
Aviation Accident/Incident Database

 The second source of possibly relevant data to this study came from the files of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent Federal agency that is charged by Congress to investigate and document "every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in the other modes of transportation...". <http://nasdac.faa.gov/safety_data> An aviation accident basically involves death or serious injury or substantial aircraft damage. A preliminary NTSB form (6120.19A) must be filed within 5 working days of the event and a factual report (form 6120.4) within a few months. The NTSB Aviation Accident/Incident database includes events that took place between 1983 and the present. A recent review showed that there were 44,580 such reports currently on file. Appendix 7 presents three interesting relatively current cases from this database which were selected to illustrate the fact that near misses with unidentified flying objects continue to occur in our skies.

 

IIC. Federal Aviation Administration’s
Incident Data System

The third source of aviation safety-related information is the FAA’s "Incident Data System." This database contains aviation incident data records for all categories of civil aviation where the events are not serious enough to meet the (above) personal injury or aircraft damage thresholds. Data is only available between 1978 and the present. As before, no reports in which the terms "flying saucer," "UFO," "disk," etc. could be found in any of the reports that were reviewed.

However, many reporters used terms that might have masked an actual UAP encounter. These terms included:

"unknown object" which struck the tail and damaged a Braniff Airways DC-8-51 aircraft flying at cruise altitude. (Rept. No. 19790627017539C, Local Date: 6-27-79).

"Cessna CE-310-D was struck by an "unknown object" on VOR final approach to landing. (Rept. No. 19790327011749G Dated: 3-27-79)

"Cessna CE-172-P received a dent in the leading edge of a wingtip on approach to landing from an "unidentified object." (Rept. No.19841129074319G, Dated: 11-29-84).

"Cessna CE-177-B incurred a bump (and simultaneous noise) inflight by an "unidentified object" that "damaged various parts of aircraft."

[Note: The FAA analysts typically explained the cause of such incidents as bird strikes although no supporting data for this explanation was ever reported. Of particular interest in this paper are alleged "bird strikes" at very high cruise altitudes. ]

 

IID. NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System

A fourth source of official and intriguing aviation incident reports is found in the FAA funded and NASA administered "Aviation Safety Reporting System" (ASRS). This system is a volun-tary, confidential, anonymous incident reporting program established under FAA Advisory Circular 00-46D. Anyone working in the aviation industry is encouraged to use the ASRS procedures to "identify hazards and safety discrepancies in the National Airspace System (NAS)" and to help "formulate policy and to strengthen the foundation of aviation human factors safety research." <http:// nasdac.faa.gov/safety_data, pg. 8> The exact time, flight number, pilot name(s), and other identifying information are purposely deleted to help maintain the reporter’s anonymity. I did not review all 332,290 currently available reports. I did, however, carry out many scores of selected database searches using the following key search words [number of total "hits" or "reports" found are given in parentheses for each word(s)]:

"near miss, unknown aircraft, unknown object" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(5,098 reports)

"near miss, unknown aircraft, unknown object and

‘primary problem area’ "Flight crew human factors" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  (973 reports)

"in-fight encounter/other and ‘primary problem area’

"Aircraft and Their Subsystems" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  (125 reports)

"unidentified object" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (9 reports)

"unidentified traffic" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(3 reports)

"UFO" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1 report)

"flying saucer, flying disk" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0 reports)

"unidentified aerial phenomena" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  (0 reports)

The only report found in which the term UFO was used was Report No. 82260 (1988/02) but it did not appear to implicate UAP or impact air safety and therefore is not reviewed here. When the terms "unidentified object" and "unidentified traffic" were reviewed none of them were related specifically to "UAP" encounters. Seven provocative ASRS reports were found and are included in Appendix 8.


Discussion

This discussion will focus on two subjects, the safety-related issue of UAP and pilot reporting dynamics which are closely related both to safety and to scientific study of UAP.

Aviation Safety and UAP. It can be argued that, since almost all of the reports presented in this paper eventually were submitted to some person or agency, the reporters lived to tell about their unusual encounters and aviation safety was not seriously impacted. However it is important to realize that in many of the present UAP reports from project AIRCAT files it was the UAP and not the pilot who avoided a collision at the last moment. Only in case 2 did something actually strike the aircraft (propeller) without doing any discernable damage. In only one case (No. 53) did the Air Force admit that,"the UFO presented a hazard to aircraft operating in the area." (Blue Book file WDO-INT 11-WC23)

Considering the many kinds of UAP flight maneuvers which have been reported (cf. Table 1 and 2) it is clear that whatever the phenomenon is it appears to be able to outperform high performance aircraft in every respect. The diagrams of UAP flight paths presented in Table 1 and 2 do not adequately convey this fact.

In the majority of these pilot reports the aircraft appears to be the focus of ‘attention’ of the phenomenon, as if the UAP either was trying to communicate with humans in some way or was performing surveillance of the current state of aeronautical development. This observation has been supported by many hundreds of high quality foreign pilot reports as well (Weinstein, 2000).

Considering the time of day (and ambient illumination) during which the present UAP were reported it is clear that they tend to approach aircraft during hours of darkness. At the same time UAP radiate colors that are readily discriminated either within relatively small, localized regions (similar to individual light sources) and/or more diffusely over the entire surface of their surfaces. The appearance of the UAP’s lighting patterns take many different forms; they might be interpreted as some type of aircraft anti-collision or navigation lights, even though intense blue lights are reported in some cases (their use is against the law in America).

Considering the distribution of UAP sighting reports over the years it is clear that the present cases tend to occur in bunches with periods of several years in between them for some unknown reason. This finding tends to argue in favor of a pilot reporting bias effect where one pilot will read about the sighting of another pilot (or ground witness) and thereby be more predisposed to misinterpret an otherwise ambiguous visual stimulus as being a UAP. Arguing against this possibility is the fact that pilots tend not to report their sightings, as will be discussed in the following paragraphs. If this "law of mimicking," as I call it, is occurring one might expect a much greater degree of reported similarity of appearance and flight behavior of UAP within a group of reports on the same phenomenon. Such is clearly not the case.

The most reasonable conclusion to come to at this time with regard to whether UAP represent a threat to America’s aviation safety is:

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 does not exist. However, should pilots make the wrong control input at the wrong time the possibility of a mid-air collision with a UAP does exist. Likewise, if pilots depend upon erroneous instrument readouts safety may be compromised.

Reluctance to Report UAP Sightings. There is little doubt that pilots and others involved in aviation continue to be reluctant to report their sightings of highly unusual visual phenomena. The present review found 11 cases out of 105 total (10.5%) in which the pilots clearly did not report their sighting to authorities and two more cases where they reported them well after the event. Table 6 lists these cases with aircraft classification and the reason given for not reporting.

Here are several other instances for not reporting UAP sightings. They were found in the author’s AIRCAT files (in sighting reports not directly related to aviation safety). We can gain a further understanding of what has contributed to the climate of fear in the minds of many pilots to this day concerning UAP sightings. A UAP sighting on November 18, 1953 by two Air Force pilots over Ohio led to threats of their court martial if they talked to the press or public about what they had seen. (Hall, The UFO Evidence. NICAP, pg. 306, 1964) What was our Air Force trying to hide from the public by this threat?

In April 1954 Air Force Captain Dan Holland saw a UAP descend vertically and come to a sudden halt some 3,000 feet above his Marine jet aircraft. He quickly reported it to his superior officers. Later he was quoted as saying, "I’d never have reported it if I didn’t believe there was something in the sky... because I knew I’d be in for a big ribbing... Two pilots have told me that on another occasion they saw what they thought was a saucer but didn’t report it because of the razzing they knew would come."

Following Captain Peter Kilian’s (American Airlines) widely publicized 45 minute-long pacing on February 24, 1959 by three UAP over central Pennsylvania and the U.S. Air Force’s poorly conducted investigation of the matter (Maney, The New UFO Policy of the U.S. Air Force. Flying Saucer Review, Vol. 6, No. 5, Pp. 7-8, Sept-Oct. 1960), Kilian issued a press statement to the Long Island Daily Press (March 24, 1959) stating (in part), "If the Air Force wants to believe that (viz., their explanation that what he and his FO saw was a KC-97 mid-air refueling operation with a B-47)... it can. But I know what (these aircraft look like) in operation at night. And that’s not what I saw." Captain Kilian stopped discussing his sighting because American Airlines, "through Air Force insistence, was forced to silence Kilian, their attitude being that good relations with officialdom must be maintained at all costs. Consequently, he was requested not to publicize "so controversial a subject." Later he stated, "I feel very deeply concerned with this loss of my own personal freedom." (Flying Saucer Review, pg. 8, 1960)

 

Table 6
Listing of Unreported Cases
with Claimed Reasons Why


Case No.  Classification           Claimed Reason for Not Reporting


21 

42 

43 

57 

61 

64 

65 
...

74 


82 

86 

101 

 

20 

69 

UC 

UC 

UC 

UC 

UP 

UC 

UC 


UC 


UP 

UC 

UC 

 

UP 

UC 

Fear of the existing climate of ridicule

They’ll think you’re nuts

I am seeking no publicity

I didn’t feel it was a near-miss - and because of ridicule

afraid of losing our (pilot’s) licenses

we wanted to avoid the paperwork

fear of skepticism by others and caution expressed by most aviation personnel following publication of Condon report

Captain had reported previous UAP and received harassment from his company and others and swore never to report another

since event didn’t qualify as a near-miss pilot didn’t report it

wanted to avoid paperwork and ridicule

wanted to avoid paperwork and ridicule

Delayed Reporting

feared ridicule

reason not given, but changed their minds one month later


Private pilot Jim Mulgannon of Del Rio, Texas had a prolonged close encounter on October 27, 1968 and said afterward, "Everyone thinks you’re some sort of a nut when you say you see these things and I hesitated a while about reporting it."

Lt. Col. W. M. and his copilot encountered a UFO during a night combat mission in early February 1969 in S.E. Asia. After it departed he wrote in a report, "Then we looked at each other and made remarks to the effect that "I didn’t see anything. Did you?" We both agreed that we didn’t see a thing. Not that we really hadn’t seen anything, just that we both knew about all the paperwork involved and the grilling we would have to undergo if we reported such a sighting. Discretion is the better part of valor, or so the saying goes. Thus we never reported this sighting of a UFO and merely retained the knowledge to ourselves." Apparently, this is a commonly held view among military, private, and commercial pilots even today.

More than fifty commercial airline pilots who have seen UAP and reported them to the U.S. Air Force (as was then required by law) issued a group statement to the press in December 1958 which blasted as "bordering on the absolute ridiculous" the Air Force’s policy of tight censorship, brush-off and denial in regard to unidentified flying objects - flying saucers." An article by Lester (1958) stated, "All (pilots) have been interrogated by the Air Force and most expressed disgust and frustration at Air Force methods and conclusions... "We are ordered to report all UFO sightings," one said, "but when we do we are usually treated like incompetents and told to keep quiet." ... This is no fun, especially after many hours of questioning - sometimes all night long.... Another pilot said he was certain many pilots "forget" to report them, at Air Force insistence to say nothing for publication."

Many of the close encounter events reviewed here involved pilot radio communication with radar control centers during the sighting asking for radar confirmation of the other object. But if the UAP do not appear on ground radar then it is somewhat embarrassing for controllers to have to admit that they couldn’t detect what the pilot was clearly seeing. In such instances some controllers may be inclined to drop the subject altogether unless the pilot makes a point of it by filing a written report (e.g., FAA incident/accident report or Near Midair Collision report). And if a written report is submitted radar controllers know that an inquiry may well ensue and that they may be called to testify. The current climate of fear surrounding UAP reporting should be eliminated to help improve the chances that data collection related to aviation safety will be improved.

Considering the following official statements made by the U.S. Air Force during the "early" years of UAP study it is no wonder that pilots were so squeamish about reporting UAP.

June 27, 1947 "We have no idea what the objects are, if they actually exist."

July 5, 1947 "No investigation is needed. The saucers are only hallucinations."

December 27, 1949 "The Air Force has discontinued its special project investigating and evaluating reported ‘flying saucers’ . . . The reports are the result of misinterpretation of various conventional objects, a mild form of mass hysteria, or hoaxes, and continuance of the project is unwarranted."

March 18, 1950 "The saucers are misinterpretations of ordinary objects, aberrations, meteorological phenomena or hoaxes."

January 1951 "We have no evidence that such objects exist; in general, such reports are hallucinations, mistakes, hoaxes or natural phenomena."

June 24, 1952 "The only conclusion we have come to so far is that ‘flying saucers’ are not an immediate and direct threat to the United States.... If the saucers turn out to be natural phenomena, we’ll drop out and turn it over to the scientists. But if they turn out to be hostile vehicles, we will keep after them."

1953 (CIA sponsored) Robertson Panel concluded that UFOs constitute a threat to the "orderly function of the protective units of the body politic because of an unwarranted mass of irrelevant information could clog vital channels of communication and continued false reports could hide indications of a genuine hostile attack."

November 5, 1957 "After ten years of investigation and analysis...the Air Force was unable to discover any evidence for the existence of "Flying Saucers."

Nonetheless, after his spectacular sighting of a disc-shaped object on the night of March 20, 1950 Captain Jack Adams of Chicago and Southern Airlines summed up the matter well when he said, "We’ve heard a read a lot about flying saucers and were as skeptical as anyone else. But when you see something with your own eyes, you have to believe it."

Official Orders to Pilots not to Divulge Their Sightings. There are numerous examples of official and unofficial "requests" of pilots not to tell their sighting experiences to anyone, including family members. During the early years (i.e., up to about 1954) commercial pilots had far more freedom to report their sightings than afterward. This was due to the results of a meeting between various airline representatives and the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) held in Los Angeles on February 17, 1954. (Fowler, 1981) Suddenly airline pilots were subject to the same severe penalties that Air Force pilots were for publicly disclosing their UAP sightings! Prepared by the Joint Communications-Electronics Committee, an official reporting requirement called "Communication Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings" (CIRVIS), also referred to as Joint Army-Navy-Air Force Publication (JANAP) 146 was established. It was officially endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Now any pilot could be fined up to $ 10,000 and liable to a jail term of up to ten years if convicted of telling the press or the public what they had seen. When one reads the fine print of JANAP 146 one finds a reference to "unidentified flying objects" which are listed separately from aircraft, missiles, etc. Fortunately, JANAP 146 was officially terminated in December 1969 when the Air Force ceased its involvement with UFO.

There also were examples of airlines which do not officially suppress reports of UAP sightings. One example was that of Continental Airlines (at least as of September 22, 1977) I have spoken with many commercial pilots who fly for many of the nation’s major air carriers about this matter and have found that none said they knew of current company requirements to keep one’s UAP sighting quiet. But the fact remains that U.S. airlines steadfastly avoid any association with the subject of UAP.

Aviation Officials Don’t Know What to do About UFO Reports. In an interesting report submitted anonymously to a computer bulletin board (CNI, approx. 1998), an air traffic controller at Los Angeles International Airport claimed that he had "personally been part of three bizarre encounters, non-military and non-civilian. "I’m just one of 15,000 controllers, too, so there have to be many more that go unreported," he said. "We used to have a specific (telephone) number to report ‘UFO’ sightings, he wrote, but in the late 80s the directive was replaced by an official ‘advisory’ to tell pilots, if requested, that they should contact a university or research institution, and no further paperwork was required (unless it was a near mid-air [collision])."

"On one occasion, this (alleged) controller saw another controller discuss a UFO incident with his supervisor. The controller told the supe (sic) about the encounter, and after both determined there was nothing on radar, they just kind of shook their heads and rubbed their chins, and that was that.... This I believe is what typically happens, he says. Nobody knows what to do, really." Let us hope that we won’t have to wait for a mid-air collision to occur between an aircraft and a UAP before aviation authorities will act more rationally toward UAP encounters and their reporting.

As was briefly discussed in the Japan Airlines flight 1628 case of November 17, 1986, the FAA was clearly caught between a rock and a hard place in deciding what to say publicly about the large lighted object(s) that Capt. Kenju Terauchi and his crew had reported. The FAA didn’t want to encourage public hysteria by releasing information "whose meaning it could not ascertain. It also did not want to cast aspersions on the crew - it had no reason to - or create the impression that it had anything to cover up, because it didn’t. The FAA just didn’t know. It was a lose-lose situation." (Del Giudice, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 1987).

Another interesting quote was made by FAA’s air traffic manager in Anchorage, a Mr. Elias, concerning the November 17, 1986 JAL flight 1628 close encounter and alleged ground radar traces. "We come to the conclusion... that, uh, you know... we can’t confirm nor deny. If the [crew] had never said anything, we would have said, "We see that every day." " It (the UFO’s radar return) would have been passed off as a split beacon or "uncorrelated target." (italics mine) This is an interesting admission indeed. It suggests that there may be more UAP related radar traces than the FAA is willing to admit.

The Global Aviation Information Network (GAIN). The FAA has only recently (May 2000) proposed the establishment of "a voluntary, privately owned and operated network of systems that collect and use aviation safety information about flight operations, air traffic control operations, and maintenance to improve aviation safety worldwide." <http://www.gainweb.org> Both Congress and the President have recently endorsed the concept of using information proactively to improve aviation safety. This new activity was fostered as a result of the statistical fact that "after declining significantly for about 30 years to a commendably low rate, the worldwide commercial aviation fatality rate has been stubbornly constant since 1980-85." <http://nasdac.faa.gov/gain/>

Following the GAIN approach, nations would share information about aviation problems before those problems result in accidents or incidents. As a recent FAA paper stated, "The challenge is to get the information that "we all knew about" - not only from pilots, but also from flight attendants, air traffic controllers, mechanics, dispatchers, manufacturers, designers, airport operators, the people on the ramp who close the cargo doors, and others - and do something about it before people are injured or metal is bent." (Ibid., pg. 2) In the present context, will aviation officials be open minded and brave enough to acknowledge the existence of UAP and actively include them in an appropriately designed program? Will officials at the highest levels of our government support such information gathering and sharing? Will pilots of all kinds of aircraft come forth with timely sighting reports of UAP? The answer to these questions remains to be seen.

 

 Conclusions and Recommendations

This review of intriguing pilot reports has led to the following three conclusions:

Conclusion 1. In order to avoid collisions with UAP some pilots have made control inputs that have resulted in passenger and flight crew injury. However, because of the extremely good maneuverability of most of these UAP as well as the relatively small number of actual mid-air collisions that have been reported with UAP over the years, there appears to be relatively little concern for mid-air collisions with UAP unless the pilot makes an incorrect control input at the last moment or loses control due to air turbulence that is sometimes associated with the UAP.

Conclusion 2. Pilots have reported instances where their cockpit instruments (compass system, navigation and guidance systems, transponders, etc.) have been affected when a UAP flew relatively nearby their aircraft. In most instances their instruments returned to normal operation after the phenomenon departed. Such electromagnetic interference can seriously affect aviation safety if the pilot does not realize that these displays and controls are malfunctioning and particularly if the systems are permanently affected.

Conclusion 3. Official U.S. government databases contain few if any UAP reports for one or more reasons which have been discussed above. As the government data reporting, collecting, and analysis procedures and policies are now configured, our aviation incident reporting system is closed and self-governing against reporting UAP sightings. If this situation continues scientists who should be involved in the study of these anomalous phenomena will be increasingly discouraged from doing so due to a paucity of reliable data.

Several recommendations are offered:

(1) Responsible aviation officials should take UAP phenomena seriously and issue clear procedures that encourage all pilots to report them without fear of ridicule, reprimand or other career impairment and also in a manner that may support scientific research. The low probability of occurrence of a UAP encounter is not sufficient reason to ignore the subject.

(2) Airlines should implement carefully planned instructional courses that teach their pilots about optimal operational procedures when flying near UAP and, when it safe and feasible to do so, what kinds of data pilots should collect. The specific nature of the flight control procedures that should be taught depend upon such factors as: separation distance and closure rate of the UAP with the aircraft, likelihood of collision with the UAP if any flight path change is made, number of UAP present, occurrence of E-M effects, and others to be defined. This instruction also should provide a general historical background on prior close encounters and near misses by different types of aircraft and the kinds of maneuvers that worked effectively. Airlines don’t want to upset their customers by admitting that the skies may not actually be so friendly.

It is to the airlines’ benefit to take a quiet yet proactive stance toward UAP.

(3) A central clearing house to receive UAP reports should be identified. Perhaps an existing system such as NASA’s ‘Aviation Safety Reporting System’ or the FAA’s ‘Global Aviation Information Network’ would suffice. If this is not feasible then an independent reporting and data analysis center should be established. This unclassified, public access, clearing house should collect, analyze, and report all such sightings for the continuing benefit of aviation safety as well as scientific investigations. Airlines pay dearly for surprise encounters with UAP no matter how infrequently they seem to occur. Passenger and flight crew injuries that already have resulted from past UAP encounters only emphasize the need for a clearer understanding of what UAP are and how to protect against their natural or deliberate effects.

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