Who Forted? Magazine

Air Traffic Controller’s “Tense” UFO Experience Shows Why So Few are Reported

In a recent AMA (Ask Me Anything) post on Reddit, a father-son team of air traffic controllers going by the handle alexinedh, shared a fascinating first hand account of what it’s like handling a pilot’s UFO sighting. This particular incident, which was reported several pilots occurred in the 90′s and, surprise surprise, ended with the tapes of the radio chatter confiscated by the government.

The thread began simply enough, as a way to talk about what it was like working at a RADAR facility on 9/11. When user “ThisIsTheHoneyBadger” asked if either of them had seen something on radar that they couldn’t explain, the floodgates opened. The following is the response from alexinedh:

I’ll go ahead and answer this one since it’s directed towards me. UFOs are a common occurrence in a RADAR facility. Before you start telling your friends “I TOLD YOU SO!” remember that a UFO is defined Unidentified Flying Object. In ATC, a lot of the UFOs you would encounter aren’t even flying. How RADAR works, is a radio wave is sent out from our transmitter, hits a target, reflects the radio wave back towards the transmitter, and identifies that something is there. Now, every aircraft has a transponder, a computer that identifies what it is. Almost all transponders these days are equipped with MODE-C, meaning it transmits altitude. This may seem like a necessity for aircraft today, and it is. The only aircraft not required to have MODE-C are VFR (visual flight rules) aircraft who don’t enter class B airspace (busy airspace around high volume airports). So, all you need to have a UFO is the radio waves being returned from an object without a transponder. This happens all the times as trucks are climbing mountain passes. They return the radio waves, but since they are trucks, they return a signal which is shown on our RADAR, with no information. A controller knows their airspace enough to know where highways and interstates are, and rule these out immediately as a nonfactor.

He has also experience what he and many pilots out there believe to be a true UFO, i’ll save that story for another person who asks, and when my dad is here. I’d hate to get the story wrong. But I’ll let you know, both my dad and I believe there is life in the universe other than us. They might not be among us, but we are believers.

Clearly, no one is going to just leave a tease about a “true UFO” alone, and after dozens of responses to elaborate on the story, alexinedh spills the beans on the event that made him a believer in alien spacecraft. The details are an interesting insight into why so many pilots have a fear of formally reporting unidentified flying objects, leading to so few records of their interaction with consumer airlines. Though it would seem that reporting the sightings doesn’t matter much anyway, when the National Transportation Safety Board just confiscates the tapes.

This was in the late 90′s, during the Clinton administration. I was working at Oakland Center, around 4pm in the afternoon. Conditions were clear, with visibility 10+ statue miles. Bill Clinton had just flown through our airspace in Air Force One, leaving from a trip he had made to San Francisco. Now, when special aircraft such as Air Force One travel through our airspace, they’re given special treatment. This mainly means that we aren’t allowed to give them delays, or vector them around other traffic. Bill Clinton had traveled through our airspace, and we had handed him off to the next controlling agency.

Now, since we had been controlling Air Force One, Secret Service had visited our facility to ensure everything was running smoothly, and there was no interruption of service. I get a situation report from an aircraft saying he had close proximity traffic. I check his position and see no traffic around him for at least 10 mines, despite his announcement saying unknown type aircraft, same altitude, 3 miles, speed greater than 400 knots. Again, nothing was showing on the scope. I ask other aircraft in the area to make position reports on the UFO. We get various reports of UFOs traveling faster, and making wild climb/descents within a close proximity of the aircraft. I call my supervisor over, as protocol. All the other controllers start shifting eyes towards my area to see what is going on. We continue to get reports of unknown aircraft (never described as flying saucers or even having wings). 10 minutes later, we have every off duty controller around my scope, and have my frequency playing out the speaker. I don’t know what to do, because my scope isn’t showing anything moving like the numerous pilots are reporting. We have pilots start asking for lower/higher altitudes to stay away from the traffic. I approve their requests, and they state the traffic is following. We aren’t clear how many UFOs are spotted, but there were more than 4. At this point, all radio etiquette is out the door. We have pilots talking to other pilots (which NEVER happens, EVER) trying to verify the number of UFOs. The secret service checks with all military bases to verify they aren’t running missions outside of MOAs (Military operating areas) thinking they were stealth aircraft. There were no stealth aircraft in the skies of California that day, as most military aircraft were dealing with the President and maintaining TFRs (temporary flight restriction radiuses around important events, such as presidential visits, the super bowl, etc.)

When the pilots start breaking the chat etiquette, people start to freak out, and start making humor of the situation to ease some of the tension. We had a couple pilots ask me to tell their wifes they love them, should something happen, although they wouldn’t identify themselves. One man said “You are now entering a world of imagination, next stop: the Twilight Zone.” 35 minutes after the first UFO appeared, the reports stopped coming in. Every pilot lost sight of their aircraft and reported no problems. Not one of the pilots, when asked, wanted to file a report.

Now, when a pilot makes a call for a UFO, the controller has to check for traffic, and verify whether it is or isn’t a controlled aircraft. If it is confirmed as a UFO, the pilot has the right to either make a report, or not make a report. When you make a report, it has the obvious implications that all UFO reports have; it makes you look crazy. For a pilot, the exceptional consequence to making a report, is you have to file paperwork with the FAA, and subject yourself to hours or even days of interviews. Everything you say on the radio is recorded on the controllers side. This brings scrutiny to every move you made while flying your aircraft. If you did something against FAA regulations, by bending a rule even the slightest, such as not reading back a clearance correctly or descending/climbing 100 feet past your assigned altitude, you’ll be interrogated by it. Your flight license can be revoked or suspended, and you can lose your job. There is so much risk in pilots filing UFO reports that they are so very uncommon.

While I wasn’t interviewed for this event, my supervisor made me sign a paper the next day verifying that I was told the tapes were being submitted to the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) for investigation. I wish I was able to get a copy of those tapes, this event made me a believer. It truly would take a UFO to make so many adult pilots, who have nothing in common, act frightened the way they were. I wish I had proof to show you guys, but part of my job is that I can’t access some information. I hope this story was worth the wait.

For more eyewitness accounts from air traffic controllers, pilots, astronauts, and even presidents, check out this amazingly detailed response from “OtherWordly”.

Greg Newkirk

Greg Newkirk

Senior Editor at Who Forted
Documentary film-maker, professional monster chaser, and mystery monger, Greg is the senior editor for Who Forted? 'Zine. When he's not occupied by writing about the wide world of the weird, he's busy directing and editing documentary films like The Bigfoot Hunter: Still Searching or writing about offbeat travel for Roadtrippers. He's currently in production on his new project: an original documentary web series titled Planet Weird. He currently lives in Cincinnati.
Greg Newkirk
Greg Newkirk

10 Comments

  1. Chew

    01/05/2013 at 9:58 PM

    There is a very big difference between “confiscated by the government.” and “being submitted to the NTSB…”.

    • Carl

      01/07/2013 at 5:54 PM

      Yeah, and on top of it all it all bears an striking resemblance to the numerous ATC stories about pilots requesting FL changes to avoid collision with incoming aircraft not spotted on the scope. Usually bright celestial bodies are the culprit. Sounds strange? Not really, head over to the Professional Pilots Rumour Network and gasp in awe at the incompetence of aircrews when it comes to identifying things like Venus, Sirius, Canopus etc. Even the moon has been an issue…

      • Greg Newkirk

        01/07/2013 at 5:56 PM

        You, sir, have just made my next flight a sure-fire nightmare.

        • Carl

          01/07/2013 at 6:37 PM

          I’m sorry. You should be fine, after all regular airline flight is one of the safest means of transportation statistically speaking. Just make sure that there aren’t any tall buildings in the approach path that might be mistaken for runways:
          http://www.aaiu.ie/sites/default/files/upload/general/9702-0.PDF

          ;)

      • reconone

        01/12/2013 at 10:18 PM

        Carl, as a lic. pilot with over 30 yrs 1st chair experience, WE who transport individuals around the skies, safely I might add, know the difference between Venus,Sirius, Canopus, THE FRIKG MOON and an object that does not belong in our air space, no matter what you think you know, since I would surmise, YOU probably see these celestial objects more than most from the tone of your post.

  2. Flucksy

    02/14/2013 at 10:03 AM

    Are we using Reddit as a source? What’s next? 4chan? I spoke to a person on that site that actually /WAS/ an alien!

  3. alice

    03/19/2013 at 2:18 PM

    there is another alternative to life in the universe. I believe it …the fallen angels who are referred to as ‘aliens’. And…they are alien. they are not human but can appear as humans and do walk among us. I have seen them. Jesus also walks among us. He is God, can’t He do what He wills? He is not dead but alive! He rose from the dead. the other religious leaders are still in the ground. If ‘aliens’ deny the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ ,act ignorant? they are enemies of man, and God Almighty, Jesus Christ, His Son. Lucifer, who is worshiped by Satanist and ‘secret clubs’ think Lucifer is the god, yet Jesus created Lucifer in the first place. No technology…is bigger than God and His power. he has the power to send us to heaven or hell. Jesus will send Lucifer and his followers to hell when He destroys earth and the heavens at the end of Jesus 1000 year reign. He sends them to hell now when they die. The ones not written in the book of life. God gives all a chance but already knows who are His enemies. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”. Bigger than the universe, other dimensions or anything else. ” the beginning of Wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” after God destroys the heavens and the earth, He will create a new heaven and earth. Completely different statement by God than His enemies, the alien angels, demons and fallen beings. liars. ” Satan is the father of lies.” God is the I AM. The God of All, hates to be called a liar, so we must be careful…read the Bible yourself, don’t trust anyone…and ask God to show if it is true. Jesus said, ” I am the way the Truth and the Life and no man comes to the Father but by me.” Truth is found only in the Bible. The book of Enoch, to me talks like the God of the Bible. shows what the wicked angels did and some are in hell in chains. Jesus died for our sins, “saved by grace and not of works lest we boast.” turn to Him for truth, Knowledge, wisdom and Salvation for an eternity with Him in heaven. new age religions are nothing more than old pagan religions. As King Solomon said, ” there is nothing new under the sun.” technology has been here before and been lost. be careful of the ‘angel of light’. The light at the end of the tunnel has been seen as hell,by some, it was not God, but an ‘angel of light’ leading them to hell. God spared some from hell, and brought them back, sparing them and to let them give the true testimony. Satan deceives even the very elect. ufo’s can be of fallen beings or our wicked shadow government that is working toward the New World Order for the wicked one to rule and destroy man. It seems that our government sold our nation to the devil for technology, and Operation Paper Clip…gave us technology from Germany before the end of the war. Jesus now sits on the Right Hand of God until He makes his enemies his footstool. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, no matter who they are. Many are in hell now and will be going there for the evils that they have done, and for never repenting for their sins and acknowledging Jesus , the Savior of the World. Those who turn to Him and believe in His name with repentance for their sins, by the blood of the Lamb of God, once and for all.” will be saved. God is a merciful God…And Satan loves to kill and destroy like his followers, secret clubs etc. Why did the huge triangle ufo immediately disappear when I told it to go away in the Name of Jesus? Because God did it and I believed and knew it was evil.” greater is He in me than he that is in the world.” he, being the devil… I could feel the hair rise up on me…and knew that monster triangle ufo was pure evil, maybe to destroy me and my husband? Don’t know…but I knew it was up to know good, it was almost over us. we were out on that walk one night…not far from our house. God is good. ps. I do believe this government and maybe others…have had ufo’s for years. They can’t fight God and win though…is hell worth it forever? I also think devils through the fall…lost some of their powers and also use ufo’s. to scare the shit out of us, the Bible is coming true in the book of Revelation and other books told by Daniel.

  4. montra--trimek--pig--thailand

    05/25/2013 at 2:24 AM

    good–night—-u f o

  5. montra--trimek--pig--thailand

    05/25/2013 at 2:25 AM

    how–are–you–citizen–world

  6. Cary A Bailey

    12/08/2013 at 7:24 AM

    Bio-mechanical flying machines attracted to human consciousness. Constructed by herbivores that have no concept of aggression. Controlled by telepathy, all that is required to make them land is simply tell them to. At the moment they are just been shooed away like flies because we fear them. Come from a world with greater atmospheric & gravitational conditions, hence explaining their incredible aeronautical manoeuvring, speed & structural strength. Think Yogis, martial artists & anyone who uses mind over matter, these are powerful machines because of the psychic ingredient.

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