While on approach to Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport in the early morning of November 14, the crew of a Porter Airlines Dash 8-400 turboprop encountered an unknown object that required them to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid colliding with it. At first assumed to be a balloon, the encounter was later blamed on a rogue UAV. However, as details of the incident are uncovered, it seems less likely that the strange object was a conventional aircraft.
The airliner’s flight crew first noticed the strange object at approximately 7:20 AM, roughly 30 nautical miles (55 kilometers) from the airport. According to The Aviation Herald, the crew "noticed a solid object, about 5-8 feet in diameter and shaped like an upright doughnut, directly ahead. It appeared there was no relative movement and the object came rapidly closer to the aircraft."
The captain disengaged the autopilot and performed an emergency dive to avoid hitting the object; the craft’s two flight attendants sustained minor injuries in the maneuver, however none of the 54 passengers on board were hurt during the incident. The crew safely landed the plane at the airport roughly 11 minutes later.
While the crew initially assumed that the object was a balloon, Canada’s Transportation Safety Board reported that it was likely a rogue unmanned aerial vehicle. However, the location of the object, at an altitude of roughly 9,000 feet and 23 kilometers (12 miles) offshore, prompted investigators to reconsider this assessment.
Attempts to identify what type of UAV the object was only confused the matter. TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski explains, "that the description and size of the object does not match any known commercial or consumer unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. The occurrence location, which is 10 miles [16 km] from the shore at 8,300 feet is beyond the range capabilities of most commercial and consumer level UAVs."
"We weren’t able to positively identify the object, so for now it’s a closed event," Krepski concludes — meaning the object remains a bona fide unidentified flying object.
While there is still the possibility that the strange object could have a mundane explanation, it is notable that this encounter took place roughly 35 km (22 miles) southeast of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, one of the world’s largest nuclear facilities. Historically, nuclear power plants have been known to attract the attention of UFOs.