Monday, October 17, 2016

No, a UFO did not hit an airliner




I saw a UFO headline last month and I got excited.

Then I found out what The Santa Monica Observer was.

The free tabloid published a story proclaiming "Paranormal Experts Say Rare 737 Engine Blowout Due to UFO Encounter." As with most of these things, it begins with the element of truth.

Back in August, Southwest Airlines Flight 3472 was en route from New Orleans to Orlando, Florida when one of the aircraft's two engines blew out. You can see the rather harrowing photograph of it at the link. The flight was diverted to Pensacola, Florida and the passengers arrived shaken but unharmed.

The Observer reported that at least one passenger tweeted about seeing unexplained lights moving in the distance just before the incident. Other tweets reported in the Observer claimed to speak of "missing time" as passenger watches were off by four minutes. Missing time is a common attribute of abduction claims. I checked Twitter for these alleged tweets and for anything in general regarding Flight 3472, but only one tweet had anything UFO-related. It was just a YouTube video reporting missing time claims with no new information. Interestingly enough, the Observer article adds an ominous note, quoting Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz as saying there was no explosion, even though the engine had blown apart.

So did a UFO hit the plane?

Well, the quote in the Observer runs contrary to accounts in CNN of a definite explosion. Might be a minor thing, but it counts. More to the point, the NTSB has already announced its findings on the matter and you may review them at leisure. Spoiler: it wasn't a UFO that caused the blowout.

I know, I know. Conspiracy "researchers" will no doubt rant and rave, "The NTSB is gubmint! You can't trust the gubmint!" Well, in this case I'm going to. I'm tired of these junk claims mucking up the signal-to-noise ratio. Why give attention to it then? Well, I don't mean to self-aggrandize myself as an "ace researcher" by any means, but just look what I did. Mere Internet access and a spin through Google are enough to bust this claim. Then again, facts and Occam's Razor will never be enough for the conspiracy theorist.

Sadly, this all distracts from actual claims from professional pilots.


Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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