New information regarding a UFO incident that occurred over California and Oregon on October 25th of last year has been released through a Freedom of Information Act request, painting a picture of a highly-maneuverable, high speed craft that could be invisible to radar that was tracked by air traffic control and airliner pilots, that ultimately resulted in the scramble of USAF fighter jets tasked with intercepting the intruder. The incident left officials with the FAA scratching their heads as to what the craft was, where it went–and even on how to go about investigating such an incident.
After initially reporting on the story last fall, online defense magazine The Warzone filed an FOIA request with the FAA and USAF, with both organizations confirming that the incident did indeed take place. The FAA provided radar tracks and recordings of radio conversations and telephone calls that took place between air traffic controllers and airline pilots during the incident, and an official investigating the incident after the fact. The USAF was unable to offer any further information, other than confirming that the incident occurred.
The unidentified craft was first spotted by Oakland Center Sector 31 air traffic control at 4:30pm PST. At that time, it was traveling "very fast at 37,000 [feet]"; the craft failed to respond to attempts at communication and wasn’t broadcasting any transponder signals. The controller tracking the craft said that their radar "did pick up an intruder coming in at a high speed right toward the southwest… and then it did an abrupt maneuver and just took off northbound." The sudden reversal of direction surprised the air traffic controllers that were on duty–this was a maneuver that should be impossible for a conventional aircraft. The unidentified craft then merged with regular northbound air traffic, and suddenly disappeared from radar.
The strange craft was spotted visually by the flight crews of at least three separate airliners, although in each case it was too far away to to make out any features that could identify the craft. The pilot of Southwest Airlines flight 4712 managed to get the best look at it, describing the craft as "a white airplane, and it was big. And it was moving at a clip, too, because, we were keeping pace with it. It was probably moving a little faster than we were, but we weren’t converging with him, so it was kind of moving away… it was a large aircraft." The pilot said that they were able to observe the craft for around 15 minutes before they made their descent into Portland.
Two F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft were scrambled from McChord AFB in Washington–needless to say, an unidentified, unresponsive stealth aircraft that is not broadcasting transponder signals is taken very seriously–but the pilots were unable to find anything, either visually or on radar. The Southwest crew lost visual contact with the craft around 5:08pm PST, leaving the whereabouts of the mysterious craft unknown.
A representative of the FAA Quality Assurance Group said that the incident should be considered "potentially significant", as a large aircraft outpacing a Boeing 737 that could remain undetected on radar while cruising unchallenged through US airspace is a major cause for concern. The unidentified official also noted the lack of guidance on how to deal with such a scenario, noting that it was "a weird enough thing that there is not a set procedure… It’s not often we hear about an unknown guy up at that altitude."
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