Its UFO stuff...its in the news...and its official

First story. This one really got me…,2933,440945,00.html

Second one. Less “amazing” but none the less,,2933,440946,00.html
(yes the pic is just a sketch:rolleyes: )

A lot of pilots and air traffic controllers can probably tell stories about their encounters with UFOs.

While working in a tower at an isolated military base in the late 70s, my husband saw something he couldn’t identify. He contacted the radar person on duty to see if the object was being picked up on radar – it was. The object remained stationary for a while then flew off at a great speed.

Both men were advised to not report what they had seen unless they wanted to be buried in paperwork.

They saw a UFO. Does that mean it was an alien space ship? No, only that it was flying and it was nothing that they could identify. At the height of the cold war who knows what they saw…

In my days as an amateur astronomer, I stumbled across many satellites. Most are faint, but many of the larger ones, like Hubble, Mir, the Space Shuttle, are as bright or brighter than aircraft lights. Usually they move rather quickly making it difficult to keep up with them with a telescope. Space junk tends to tumble and can appear to blink irregularly as the different surfaces reflect light differently. Some amateur astronomers like to track satellites and make sort of a game out of it. NASA publishes orbital data for nearly everything that is up there, regular satellites as well as space junk so getting this data is fairly easy.

But I did have an interesting experience once.

I spotted one these tumbling satellites but this one was odd because it was moving so very slowly. It took more than a minute to drift from one edge of field of view to another which was very odd. Set up next to me were a couple of guys who actually worked for NASA so I called them over to have a look. They looked at it for a bit, noted the position in the sky then they started pouring through their satellite orbital data. They determined it was an old Soviet era booster in a very eccentric orbit (think of a very flat ellipse).

The one of them told me something very interesting. “Watch it very carefully. In about 10 minutes, something very cool will happen.”

So that is what I did. Sure enough about ten minutes later, something very cool and unexpected did happen. The satellite suddenly made a sharp turn, accelerated, and took off at high speed. Now I was even more curious. So I went back to the NASA guys and told them what I saw. Then they explained what happened.

The old booster’s orbit was taking it almost directly away from where I was looking. Essentially, it was moving almost directly away from me, like standing on a highway and watching a car from behind go down the road. Then it reached the apogee (hiest point) of it’s very eccentric orbit. As it continued in it’s orbit, it “rounded the bend” as it were and now was travelling almost perpendicular to my position. It’s speed did not really change. Now it was like standing on the highway and watching cars go by. The cars are not going any faster or slower, it is just the perspective of the viewer.

Remember, UFO mean *unidentified *flying objects. As a pilot I have seen plenty of aircraft that I have not been able to identify. Also, when it comes to seeing things in the sky, there are often few clues to actually determine how far away the object really is.

Thankfully, my son the pilot has not had a personal experience. But it is mentioned in passing with his other pilots.

I think that pilots and others seeing “UFOs” is akin to sailors seeing “islands.” Sometimes it is imagination; other times something else. They believe that what they see is real but somehow, like a mirage, the “island” or the “UFO” somehow just gets away, vanishes, etc. I am sure there are a lot of “unidentified flying objects,” but that doesn’t mean that they are extraterrestrial - it just means they aren’t identified.

But, hey, its a little spooky and a lot of fun, isn’t it? Think of the mileage writers have got out of Roswell New Mexico. Or how about those folks who have been spirited up in flying saucers and undergone intrusive physical examinations which always seem to involve the insertion of a chilly metal instrument in their hinder parts! Great Halloween stuff!

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