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Old 5th Dec 2004, 11:32
  #1 (permalink)  
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Not sure if this is the right forum but I'll go for it anyway. Has any aircrew ever seen a UFO on their travels? I've always been interested in the subject and as a young copper on nights I spent many hours scanning the night sky hoping to see 'something' but without luck. I understand that this is supposed to be a bit of a taboo subject amongst professional aviators and so don't expect the replies to come thick and fast.

Many Thanks, Del
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Old 5th Dec 2004, 12:24
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Not seen too much that could be unexplained. BUt have several times seen lights in the sky that have suddenly changed direction without any noticeable turn. I did research one evening after such a viewing for any known or visible satellites etc and nothing had passed over my visible area for some time. So I am not sceptical or anything but have an open mind on most things.

If you eliminate the impossible, what ever is left, however improbable must be possible and probable.
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Old 5th Dec 2004, 13:59
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..... "couldn't catch the 2 targets as they increased speed to over Mach 4"

well if that's not a good UFO story I don't know what is?

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Old 5th Dec 2004, 15:32
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Yep.. been involved in several serious frighteners, including overseas and Heathrow.

Too much jazz on here when you mention UFO so email me direct if you want to hear moe..
Old 5th Dec 2004, 15:44
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Thanks HD, wilco, Del
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Old 5th Dec 2004, 21:36
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"Too much jazz on here"

thats certainly true HD ..... I don't know why everyone tries to turn the subject into a huge Joke whenever its mentioned ... it makes anyone who has really experienced the subject very wary of exposing himself to ridicule .... a great pity
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Old 5th Dec 2004, 22:14
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and as a young copper on nights I spent many hours scanning the night sky hoping to see 'something' but without luck.
Shouldn't you be scanning the streets for thieves and robbers, it's no wonder my car and household insurance keep going up!
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 00:09
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A couple of years back I was doing a "redeye" from LA to Miami and about halfway across the US, shortly before sunrise I noticed a bright light on the horizon in the eastern sky that appeared to be white but would change colors to blue or red, it also appeared to move and "bobble" slightly.

Our first reaction was that it was an aircraft approaching us head on at an altitude close to ours with it's landing lights on. A quick check of our TCAS followed by a query to an otherwise silent ATC showed no other aircraft in our vicinity.

After several minutes the light did not get any closer, nor did it go away, but a carefull check of it's assencion relative to the horizon showed that it was slowly rising. Clearly what we were seeing was a bright star or planet, the changes in color were probably caused by refraction in the atmosphere and the motion we witnessed was most likely an illusion caused by movements of our own eyes trying to focus on an otherwise empty sky.

I suspect that many supposed UFO encounters are in fact stars or planets. I'm still curious as to which planet or star it was.
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 02:44
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I think it is rather a pity that pilots are discouraged from reporting UFO experiences more openly and thoroughly, since they can shed light on two very important issues for aircrews: crew coordination and spatial disorientation.

I recently analysed the Campeche incident involving a Merlin on drug-interdiction duty. While the released video was fragmentary, the data strip on the FLIR images was revealing.

This experienced crew managed to capture excellent infrared images of the Campeche oil fields while ignoring radar targets about 120 degrees from the direction the FLIR was being pointed - clearly a crew coordination problem. Furthermore they managed to convince themselves that the FLIR targets were nearby and moving with the aircraft at about the same level - spatial disorientation with a high-tech component.

Finally, they managed to panic themselves into silliness as a result of believing that they were surrounded and outmaneuvered by what mostly turned out to be mundane surface features.

This incident was truly instructive - a total breakdown of normal crew functioning (with excellent data and voice recording) without the unfortunate consequences that might attend a similar situation involving the actual flying of the aircraft.

If only crews could be encouraged to disclose and dissect such incidents in which there were no unfortunate consequences, we could learn a great deal about recognizing and preventing disorientation and crew interaction problems.

(ed. for spelling)
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 05:28
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Probably one of the most fascinating reports was by an Imperial Airways captain. He his crew and some passengers sighted objects, I think over the Atlantic. He was able to keep the main object in sight for some time and described Ďa feeling of well-being' while near these UFOs.

I saw an old black and white filmed interview of this pilot, and have a report a somewhere about this flight. If no other information is available I'll try to find the copy, though it won't be for a week or so unless I happen across it tonight..
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 07:04
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Astra driver - Your star/planet would almost certainly have been Venus. That changes colour throughout the spectrum, especially when low on the horizon. It has been mistaken for a UFO by many people.
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 07:12
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Come on and tell us about your experiences-would be nice to hear-knowing that radar guys know more than pilots

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Old 6th Dec 2004, 07:26
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"...knowing that radar guys know more than pilots"

Did I say that?
Old 6th Dec 2004, 07:32
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Sorry did not mean that. I meant that normally atc(Radar)people see more whats happening in their airspace than the guys from the airplane-sorry about the confusion-my grammar

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Old 6th Dec 2004, 07:39
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Flew with a capt some years back who had an uncle on stratocruisers.I think they were
en route jfk gander when they witnessed one of those cigars with other attendant whatever.It was reported,photographed,not detected by any radar such as it was then,
witnessed by passengers etc. It flew in parallel with the stratocruiser until fighters were sent to investigate,wherupon the scout vehicles disappeared into the cigar and
it disappeared at high speed. What was more intersesting was the crew being met at gander by some form of security (us l think) ,had the flight log confiscated,and sworn to keep quiet about what they had seen.
Als had another friend on a CL44 cargo flight (tradewinds?) over the mediterranean
in the region of majorca at night having to take evasive action from something huge in the sky. Aircraft in front and behind also witnessed it ,including a US hecules
that stated that whatever it was looked like and appeared to be the size of a nuclear submarine!
This friend was not a crank and was as cynical as most people. Probably shrugged his shoulders and carried on reading the sun..This thing was not a ballon etc cos it manouevred at a great rate and moved awy at high speed.
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 09:07
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Fascinating stuff Chaps. Undoubtedly a huge percentage of 'lights' in the sky are stars and planets, especially when viewed near the horizon 'cos of the 'slant angle' effect through the atmosphere which magnifies and distorts things as when the slant angle through haze makes viz poorer than when looking straight above you. The reports which really intrigue me are multiple sights of 'mother ships' such as cigar shaped objects. Surely these can't be optical illusions or mass hysteria? Where these objects come from is, of course, another question.

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Old 6th Dec 2004, 12:28
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What a pleasant surprise to find this subject being debated seriously on Prpune.

I was riding the jump seat on a CO DC10-30 LAX-IAH back in the early '80s, and I listened in on a 2 hour conversation about UFOs between the three operating crew - two of whom were ex-military. Believe me, they weren't talking about mis-idents of Venus! Enough material for a book...

Think worm-holes......
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 12:45
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To those who emailed me privately.. I will respond but with the lead up to Christmas it's difficult to find time to write everything down. Please be patient and I'll get back as soon as I can.
Old 6th Dec 2004, 13:36
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As a youth fascinated by the idea that some of these stories might just be true, I spent countless hours on cold, windy hilltops watching the UFO 'believers' and hoping to see what they saw. This effort was completely successful: I witnessed many 'sightings'.

Of all the witnesses, two west country policeman are perhaps the most memorable: they had become quite famous after spending most of an evening chasing a mystery object that hovered in front of their patrol car, darting from side to side and sometimes approaching very close as they hurtled along at 90mph. I remember them being distinctly disenchanted when shown astronomical tables that placed Venus right in front of them on the straight bits of road.

These fine officers, and most other witnesses had fallen foul of two properties of the human eye:

Firstly, it's extreme sensitivity - the ability to easily see a 3W torch bulb suspended on a hill top 6 mi away for instance. Unfortunately, the eye is not calibrated, and a pin point source has an apparent brightness linked to the surrounding environment. That is how Venus can be described by witnesses as 'dazzling' and so on.

Secondly, once denied normal visual cues in low light situations, the eye can begin rapid involuntary movements. This makes distant light sources (eg stars, planets, satellites and aircraft) appear to 'dart' about the sky.

Just note how many UFO stories involve 'dazzling' objects that 'dart' about!

I am not suggesting that all sightings can be explained in this way. But very many can. And there are important lessons for professional observers like Pilots and Policemen. The eye can certainly deceive and the more 'expert' the witness, the more extreme the mis-interpretation of visual cues can become. That's just because we all share the same physiology and no amount of training can change that, whatever any given individual might think.


I never really gave up on the UFO idea. The astonishing and continuing discovery of hundreds of extra-solar planets in the last few years gives the whole subject new momentum. But 'investigating' the anecdotes of witnesses is a hard road that rapidly becomes impassible if any kind of objective test is applied to the data. The subject was IMHO best discussed many years ago by Prof RV Jones, the man who 'discovered' the V2 rocket. His account is here.
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Old 6th Dec 2004, 16:49
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Very good to see the subject being discussed seriously.

I used to live in Pembrokeshire as a teenager and there was a rash of sightings (1990-91) when they were building this "over the horizon radar" near Brawdy and St. Davids. My Dad spotted "our" UFO first- Our kitchen window looked out across the valley towards Haverfordwest and he called me to witness what he saw. Let me say that it cured any scepticism I may have had instantly. Time of day was mid to late afternoon, scattered fairweather Cu approx 2500' and this thing went over LOW and Slow. It was an orange sphere with the luminescence of a zebra crossing light except not flashing. It was difficult to estimate size, except to say that it looked BIG! (maybe between 50-100yds across?) Orbiting it were a number of different coloured lights. This thing proceeded across the valley and hung there on the opposite hillside for about 2-3 minutes (which, believe me, seemed like a lot longer!) before literally vanishing.

Both myself and my father agreed that we had not seen anything like it before, but we were not going to report it. I think there was a couple of column inches in the local paper a few days later, but very little else.

What was very wierd (i don't know if it was related) was that only 2 or 3 nights later, we had BALL LIGHTNING in the house. Blew every bulb and tripped all the fuses on the box.

All in all, very wierd.
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