Thursday, May 3, 2012

Airline pilots on the UFO danger

What better place to spot a UFO than up in the air?

Given that their job takes them into the air quite often, airline pilots have a better-than-average shot at sighting a UFO.  As you might imagine, cases of commercial flights encountering UFOs is far from unheard of.  Whether these cases truly are incidents of alien spacecraft, something even more bizarre, or something altogether prosaic, the fact remains.  An unknown flying object entered airspace in near proximity to a commercial airliner.  That, in the opinion of many airline pilots, constitutes a safety hazard.

From the link above:

" "It's beyond dispute that airline personnel see them and see them a lot," said professional pilot David McDonald, who runs a school for pilots and aircraft dispatchers and owns charter company Flamingo Air in Cincinnati. "However, to the best of all of our knowledge, there has never been an incident where an airplane ran into one or was attacked by one."
"[Pilots] have done evasive maneuvers to get out of the way, but that's what we're trained to do," McDonald, the new international director of the Mutual UFO Network, told The Huffington Post. "Whether [the UFO] would have veered off, it's really hard to say if they are a hazard to flight or not." "

 A few other immediate observations from that Huffington Post link.  For one, please read and watch the details about John Callahan, former FAA official.  He was involved in the infamous JAL flight over Alaska case.  Callahan is about as credible a witness as you can come across and his Press Club testimony should help familiarize you with the nuances of UFO sightings in the aviation industry.  Along those same lines, please note that although the airline culture is improving, it wasn't too long ago that a pilot reporting a UFO was guaranteed a dismissal on medical grounds.

While I never claim numen over "all things UFO," I do happen to have a bit of an inside track on this matter.  A friend of mine is a pilot.  Has been for many years.  I talked to them but I hope you'll excuse my cop-out of an "unnamed source."  But given the professional risks with going on the record about UFOs, I hope you can appreciate why I wish to keep their identity confidential. 
This friend confirmed that it is indeed true that reporting a UFO is a good way for a pilot to garner a mental health suspension.  This individual does not report having heard any pilot scuttlebutt as to concerns of UFOs in their airspace.  However, a few pilots, including this said individual, have reported to one another having seen objects in the sky that they could not explain.  By definition, those are true UFOs.

There are other pilots and aviation officials who are a bit more concerned.  A special issue of U.S. News and World Report focuses on Mysteries in Space (with no sign of Adam Strange by the way.  Sorry.  Couldn't resist.)  One of the questions that the issue asks is "Are UFOs Dangerous?"  A former NASA official and now a senior scientist at The National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena is concerned that the mere presence of an unidentified aircraft in proximity to the airliner could cause "cockpit distraction" for the flight crew.  Anything that does that, alien or not, isn't exactly a good thing.

Honestly, the point that these pilots and aviation officials make is not without merit.  If there is other traffic in our airspace, then they need to know about it.  What happens if, by the extreme off chance, a commercial airliner collides with a UFO?  I'm sure that the resultant crash will be written off as "Airbus in midair collision with weather balloon" or another such breed of poppycock but that won't change the damage done.   My pilot friend, however, expressed far greater concern over another form of flying object.

"I'm not near as worried about UFOs as I am these UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles]," they said.  "They are using them over our airspace now and I'm worried about hitting one of these things because we don't realize they are there as they're flown at a video game console by some Air Force puke just out of the academy who's never been in an actual cockpit before."

Sobering concerns indeed.

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