Electromagnetic Effects Reported When UAP Was Nearby the
Aircraft System or Sub-System Affected
(and Radar contact)
Transient (T) Permanent (P)
Not known (N)
| November 7, 1950
July 11, 1952
December 10, 1952
December 11, 1955
March 8, 1957
June 3, 1957
July 4, 1961
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;
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
Total = 24 cases
| Total = 36 events
|| Total: T = 26 72.2%
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
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
"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
(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
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:
"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
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.
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
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
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
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
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)
Listing of Unreported Cases
with Claimed Reasons Why
Case No. Classification
Claimed Reason for Not Reporting
| 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
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
wanted to avoid paperwork and ridicule
wanted to avoid paperwork and ridicule
reason not given, but changed their minds one month
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
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
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
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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