by Rich Hoffman
Alabama and Mississippi State Director
REPORT DATE: April 22, 2013
FI ID# 109876
LOCATION: Lat: 30.579406, Long: -89.760017
At approximately 3:30 p.m. CDT on April 13, 2013, I was piloting my airplane at 2,500 while approaching the Picayune, MS, VOR, heading north. Nearing the VOR, I glanced out of my right window and saw a small (approximately 10-12 foot wide), shiny metallic object just off the right wing.
What immediately caught my attention is that this object momentarily remained stationary with my aircraft, which was traveling at approximately 140-150 mph.
The object remained stationary long enough for me to clearly see its shape which resembled a circular or oval shaped object with what appeared to be a small, triangular shaped dorsal winglet in the center of structure.
It is not unusual to have close encounters with birds when flying and these, by comparison, are very fast, brief events where the bird is not much more than a flash as your plane passes.
On one flight years ago, I had a shiny metallic object shoot by my airplane. It took a few seconds for my brain to recognize that this was a small mylar balloon.
When I first saw this object off my wing, I immediately thought that this was another mylar balloon.
But when the object did not move and remained in a stationary position relative to my wing so that I was able to make out some detail of the object, I realized that this was not some object drifting through the atmosphere.
After briefly staying off the wing, the object drifted away as opposed to rapidly disappearing from view.
After the object was no longer in view, I was puzzled as to what I had just seen.
Since then, I have tried to understand how any object other than another aircraft could keep pace with my airplane and then drift out of view rather than appear as a flash of something near the aircraft.
After giving this experience considerable thought, I thought it best to provide some type of written record of my experience.
A couple of things I believe I failed to mention in my report was that the day of this flight was a windy day with occasional wind gusts.
Also, I was on a local VFR flight and had not filed a flight plan nor was I operating in controlled airspace where I had been assigned a discreet transponder squawk code.
The only other air traffic I recall hearing on the radio at this time was a skydiving jump plane over the Slidell, LA, airport, about 12 miles away.
I have to tell you that I am simply stumped to explain what I saw last Saturday.
For this object to have remained just off my wing long enough for me to see the details of its shape, color, etc., makes no sense.
The object resembled a mylar balloon but had a defined shape with no visible markings, seams or openings. As I look back on the event, it seems that this object was pacing my airplane.
And when it drifted away, it did so rather slowly.
As I indicated in my report, birds which pass off my wing would be a blur as we passed one another.
This object, by comparison, moved out of view relatively slowly.
Shiny, disc-shaped object, 10-12 feet wide with a triangular dorsal winglet in the center of the object.
The object resembled a mylar balloon but had a defined shape with no visible markings, seams or openings.
The body was much thicker, similar to a small, deflated, slightly oblong ball.
As I viewed the object, the dorsal-like appendage was facing me and in the center of the object.
The base of the dorsal-like protrusion was not angular but seemed to almost be sunken into the body, giving the base of the fin a rounded, sunken appearance.
On April 19, 2013, I sent an email to the witness concerning his sighting.
Witness states he was at 2,500 feet altitude and approaching the Picayune VOR.
He mentions that Slidell is approximately 12 miles away.
He did not file a flight plan and states he was out of controlled airspace. Based on his description, we are estimating he is located as follows. (see X on map)
The witness was completely cooperative and provided additional details associated with his observation.
“I was heading north at the time after leaving my home base of Slidell.
“I fly a modified Cessna 172 that performs on par with a Cessna 182.
“I had only been in the air about 5 - 6 minutes at the time of the sighting.”
Credibility is excellent.
This is an Unknown.
Case is still under investigation.