Alabama & Mississippi State Director
and William Puckett
Montana State Director
In the July issue of the MUFON Journal, I wrote about CMS Case #46835. This case involved a private pilot who was flying northward out of Slidell, MS, and encountered a shiny object near his wing this past April at approximately 3:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time. After a few seconds of pacing his Cessna 172, the object dropped back from his plane and out of his view. The pilot is a very credible businessman and has been very cooperative in the investigation of this incident.
At the time this article came out, I was attending the annual MUFON Symposium in Las Vegas and facilitating the State Directors meeting. It was there that I learned from William Puckett, the State Director for Montana, that he took an interest in my case and had made a request of Hill Air Force Base radar data for the date and time of this sighting. After recovering from the shock that he was assisting me in securing this data and conducting many hours of analysis, we learned that on one of the radars located in Alabama, we could see the UFO and the pilot’s aircraft converge around the Picayune, MS, area where the pilot stated he saw this object and within the time window he reported. This return provided even more credence to the pilot’s story because indeed, it showed up despite many instances where objects are not tracked.
Radar Sites Evaluated
William stated he requested the radar data from Hill AFB, near Ogden, UT. The Air Force shares data with the FAA as a part of the Joint Surveillance System (JSS). The radar data is archived there and stored for long periods of time. He obtained data in the beginning of August and started working through it immediately.
Seven radar units were included in the data he received from the Air Force. These locations can be seen in Figure 1.
Pilot and UFO Track
From 3:21 p.m. to the 3:24 p.m. timeframe, the airplane and the object started to come nearer to each other. The object has moved to a position more northwest of the city and is located near the small airport and where the original appearance of the object was located. This is seen in Figure 3.
William Puckett asks the question, “So why could these returns be a UFO?” It is a great question, but as we all know semantics gets in the way with the term UFO. It is a UFO because the witness and the collective “we” who looked at the case could not identify a logical explanation for the object. One hypothesis suggested it was a drone, but when we look at the proximity to an aircraft, flight safety is jeopardized. Richard Haines, the Director of NARCAP, has documented many instances of pacing Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) next to aircraft, some of which play havoc with internal engines and other electrical equipment onboard the aircraft. In this case, the pilot noted no such issues. He cites flight safety as a major concern with UAP and planes.
The object radar returns were not consistent with each rotation of the radar. The radar makes a sweep every 12 seconds or the equivalent of five sweeps/minute. The object in some instances was detected at two minute intervals. What is the reason for this? Various possibilities arise:
The object could have vanished or changed position so as not having enough cross sectional area for radar detection.
The object could have changed its altitude and may have been below the radar for Citronelle, AL, to detect. (Given the Earth’s curvature, anything below 570 feet would not be detected.
The object could have hovered periodically. Radar detects objects that move at some minimal speed (e.g., 20 to 30 mph).
It is also possible that the object, if close to the airplane, may not be discerned as a distinct object.
Could the object have been “radar angels” anomalous propagation or a weather phenomenon? This is not likely considering the object moved progressively at each sweep or in multiple sweeps in an ascending time progression (12 seconds or multiples of 12 seconds).
The pilot only saw the object for a few seconds at around 3:30 p.m. The radar showed unusual returns between 3:17 and 3:26 p.m.
The integrity of the pilot coupled with the radar return of an object maneuvering in the skies along his flight path makes this an excellent case. The case is still being reviewed and evaluated. The pilot continues to cooperate with MUFON and this is much appreciated. He wishes to remain anonymous and we have taken every precaution in protecting his identity.
While the radar is not completely consistent with the pilot’s description of being only 8 feet away from his wing while the object is tracked at being more like 3 to 5 miles distant, we are still questioning the radar track. The pilot’s reference to angular size is consistent with an object being 3 to 4 footballs in width. An object being the size of a baseball and 3 to 5 miles away when calculated using trigonometry makes the object very huge. The fact that we have no reports from people over a city like Picayune on a nice afternoon makes the radar distance questionable.
The sighting remains an unknown as we continue to evaluate what the object could have been. We continue seeking additional witnesses and opinions. As the lead Field Investigator for the case, I am deeply appreciative of the efforts made by my colleague and co author, William Puckett. I also appreciate the cooperation I received from Robert Powell on this. I also applaud my witness for having the guts to report the case and his continued cooperation in helping us add yet another remarkable case to the scientific record.