The two pilots were on a flight from Texas to Las Vegas with a full cabin of passengers when they spotted the mysterious strobe lights and ‘eerie’ looking dark object that couldn’t be identified
Image: Smithsonian Channel)
An intriguing UFO sighting has been put down to ‘celestial bodies’ by astronomers.
The mysterious incident happened back in 1995, when two pilots were on American West flight 564 from Dallas, Texas, to Las Vegas said they had a close encounter with a ‘ UFO ‘.
New analysis claims to have shed light on what happened.
At cruising altitude with a full cabin of passengers, Captain Eugene Tollefson was with his co-pilot John Waller when a flight attendant saw something odd in the sky ahead of them.
Although there was no interaction between the plane and the UFO, the crew reported seeing strange lights in the distance that were among a scattering of clouds, reports The Express.
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At the time, Mr Waller reported the odd object to Air Traffic Control in Albuquerque, New Mexico to find get more information on the lights.
In a transcript of the exchange, Mr Waller said: “Off to our three o’clock, got some strobes out there. Could you tell us what it is?”
When he was asked what he could see, the co-pilot replied: “There’s a strobe and starts… um, going on counter-clockwise, and uh… the length is unbelievable.”
As there was no detection of the mysterious aircraft on the radar systems, Air Traffic Control decided to see if any military aircraft were in the sky and contacted the control tower at the nearby Cannon Air Force Base.
Air Traffic Control called the pilots back, saying: “Cactus 564… we checked with Cannon and they don’t have any, uh, weather balloons or anything up tonight.
“Nobody up front knows any idea about that. Do you still see it?”
They replied: “Negative… back where we initially spotted it was between the weather and us and when there’s lightning you could see a dark object… and, uh, it was pretty eerie looking.”
Although the odd incident remains a mystery, astronomers have attempted to explain what the pilots witnessed in the 2015 Smithsonian Channel documentary ‘UFOs Declassified: Pilot Eyewitness’.
In the documentary, lead astronomer at the SETI Institute Seth Shostak said: “The kinds of things that can fool even, I think, trained pilots are, for example, bright planets.
“For people who are not paying attention to the night sky very much it’s a little startling.”
The narrator in the documentary explained that it could have been ‘celestial bodies’ that played a part in America West flight 564’s bizarre experience.
He explained: “From 30,000 feet, a distant planet or star can appear to strobe, giving the illusion of the UFO.”
However, professor of Astronomy at York University in Toronto Dr Michael De Robertis stated that the odd sighting wasn’t as exciting as it could have been.
He said: “There are extensive records of military pilots and commercial pilots seeing things in the sky that are unidentified.
“Some of the brightest stars can give an illusion that they’re strobing, that they’re changing brightness really rapidly.”
He continued: “As much as we respect our commercial and military pilots, part of their training does not include courses in astronomy and astrophysics.
“The sky is filled with apparitions and mystery, but not all of them are UFOs.”
In 2021, Space.com reports that there was an upsurge of UFO sightings with more expected this year along with UAPs which stands for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.
Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of the Centre for UFO Studies in Chicago, said: “The effort to detect, track and measure the UFO phenomenon in the field, in real time, has recently entered a new phase.
The technology has gotten better, software tools have improved and the current interest in UFOs has attracted new, qualified professionals.
“While one can’t predict how soon we will gain new, fundamental knowledge about UAP/UFOs, I believe that these efforts are very likely to succeed and set UFO research onto a new foundation of reliable, physical data.
“And as a consequence, we will have even more evidence — as if it was needed — that the UFO phenomenon is real and can be studied scientifically.”