This week, I was listening to an engaging interview between Micah Hanks and Ted Roe of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Aerial Phenomena (NARCAP). Among several interesting topics, the gentlemen discussed NARCAP’s investigation of the famous O’Hare International Airport UFO sighting of November 7, 2006.
While the sighting itself is a fascinating subject in its own right, one aspect of the story reminded me of a repeating pattern that should be of interest to the entire ufology community. Multiple witnesses, including flight controllers, pilots, travelers, and ground crew, reported seeing a disc-shaped object hovering in the sky. It then shot upward, punching a hole through the clouds as it went.
But researchers looking to investigate the event, including NARCAP, were left on their own when it came to the Federal Aviation Administration. Within days, if not hours, the FAA announced that the hole in the clouds was a common weather phenomenon and had nothing else to say about it. The phenomenon, known as a fallstreak hole or a “hole-punch cloud” was later deemed to be extremely unlikely because the weather conditions at the time were not conducive to such cloud formations. And the FAA never even acknowledged the reported presence of “an object” above the airport.
They stuck to their story and everyone was warned not to talk about it further.
That didn’t deter the FAA. They stuck to their story and everyone involved in the event was warned not to talk about it further. What was clear was that nobody at the FAA wanted anyone saying anything about “flying saucers” or UFOs. But that was far from the only time the agency has acted in this fashion.
Quite recently, radio traffic between an FAA tower and an American Airlines jet flying over New Mexico was recorded where a pilot reported seeing something “resembling a cruise missile” flying over his plane. When questioned, the FAA would only say that the recording was authentic and that they did not detect any other traffic in the area on radar. Any and all additional questions were answered with instructions to contact the FBI. The FAA had nothing else to say on the matter.
These examples are not exceptions. They are the rule. Commercial pilots are probably the most likely people on the planet to witness and experience UAP events, but ironically, the FAA squelches any discussion of such things. Pilots who persist in talking about unexplained sightings tend to lose their wings. Bizarrely, despite the obvious dangers posed by unknown craft zooming around near airliners, the FAA does not even have a system in place for reporting and recording such encounters. It’s true that they record accident and incident data for crashes and in-air emergencies for use by the NTSB, but those are all perfectly mundane, terrestrial incidents.
If you are a pilot and you see something inexplicable in your airspace, the only option you have is to report the encounter to NASA. They run the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS). And even there, they strip the names of pilots and other information that could reveal anyone’s identity out of their files so pilots won’t be afraid to submit a report. Their motto, appearing right at the top of their website, is “Confidential, Voluntary, Non-Punitive.”
Micah Hanks is one of the researchers who has pored through the archives of ASRS reports looking for UFO incidents. (And they have some doozies.) But they aren’t as useful as they might be for ufology researchers because of the anonymity of the records. This frequently prevents follow-up investigations, interviews or the collection of additional data from the scene.
Why the FAA is so incredibly hostile to the subject of UFOs or UAP?
The question we should be asking is why the FAA is so incredibly hostile to the subject of UFOs or UAP. The Pentagon and the US Navy are now open enough to the topic that an entire task force has been formed to study it at the federal level. And yet the Federal Aviation Administration still treats the subject of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena as if it’s all “little green men” and a sign of mental or emotional instability if anyone dares to breathe a word about it.
Imagine how much investigative progress could have been made by now if the FAA kept full records of all such incidents, made them available to the public and didn’t take punitive action against trained professionals who simply wanted to report something that could have constituted an aviation hazard. Wouldn’t you imagine that air safety would be near the top of the FAA’s list of things they need to keep an eye on?
The #EndUAPSecrecy movement has made tremendous strides in the past few years. The subject has come almost entirely out of the closet and is showing up in a serious fashion in major, traditional news outlets. Members of Congress are receiving classified briefings about UAP and commissioning studies to determine if any potential threats exist.
But despite all of this progress, the FAA is still acting like a nagging grandparent, screaming at people to stop talking about crazy alien conspiracy theories and to get off their lawn. They are not only failing to help the cause of ending UAP secrecy, they are actively thwarting it. The FAA is still a government agency funded by taxpayer dollars and they need to be held accountable for their actions. We deserve better. And we should consider petitioning our elected representatives to hold hearings about the FAA’s policies in terms of reporting and recording anomalous and potentially dangerous in-flight encounters, while not punishing pilots who wish to do so. And those records should be made public.