On the night of 21 April 1991, the term ‘close encounter’ took on an altogether more significant meaning for the crew and passengers of a London-bound airliner. At 9.00 pm Captain Achille Zaghetti, who was piloting a McDonnell MD-80 aircraft, was amazed to see an unidentified flying object pass his aircraft as it flew over the coast of Kent at a height of more than 22,000 feet.
As the UFO was no more than 1,000 feet above the airliner, and the incident therefore classed as a ‘near-miss’, an official inquiry was launched by the CAA.
Approximately two weeks later the following brief statement was issued:
“The pilot said the object was light brown, round, three meters long, and did not describe any means of propulsion, “The aircraft was under the control of London air traffic control center who had no other aircraft in the vicinity, but consistent with the pilot report, a faint radar trace was observed ten nautical miles behind the Alitalia aircraft.
“Extensive inquiries have failed to provide any indication of what the sighting may have been.” But more was to come. The next incident to occur took place on June 1, 1991, when a yellow-orange cylindrical object, ten feet long, was seen at close quarters by the crew of a Britannia Airways Boeing 737 en route to London from Dublin.
Sixteen days later, yet another cylindrical-shaped UFO was sighted, this time by one Walter Leiss, a German engineer aboard Dan Air flight DA 4700 as it headed toward Hamburg.
Air traffic controller: “was it an aircraft?”
January 6, 1995, Captain Roger Wills and copilot Mark Stuart were beginning their descent towards Manchester Airport in a Boeing 737 twin jet with 60 passengers on board. Seventeen minutes before touchdown, a mysterious, triangular-shaped UFO flashed past the right-hand side of the aircraft at a distance described as being “very close” – so close, in fact, that the crew instinctively “ducked” in their seats.
This is an extract from the conversation between crew of the B737 and the radar controller. B737:
“We just had something go down the RHS just above us very fast.” MANCHESTER: “Well, there’s nothing seen on the radar. Was it an aircraft?” B737: “Well, it had lights; it went down the starboard side very quick [and] just slightly above us, yeah.” MANCHESTER: “Keep an eye out for something, I can’t see anything at all at the moment so, must have been very fast or gone down very quickly after it passed you I think.” B737: “Okay. Well, there you go!”