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UFO 'Buzzed' Airliner at Manchester Airport
By Harvey Elliott, Air Correspondent
A BRITISH Airways passenger jet had a close encounter with an unidentified flying object while landing at Manchester airport, an official report disclosed last night.
The Boeing 737, with 60 people on board, was overtaken at high speed by a wedge-shaped craft as the plane descended through 4,000ft on the final stages of a journey from Milan. Captain Roger Wills reported that the UFO, which was emblazoned with small white lights and possibly a black stripe down its side, flashed silently down the side of the jet so close that his co-pilot, First Officer Mark Stuart, involuntarily ducked as it went by.
There was no sound and no wake but both pilots were so concerned that they filed a formal "airmiss" report. The Civil Aviation Authority launched an investigation, the fourth such incident since 1987, and after a year-long inquiry concluded yesterday that they could find no likely explanation. The three previous reported sightings also baffled the CAA experts.
The incident happened at 6.48pm on January 6 last year with the aircraft just above the clouds and visibility at least ten miles. Then air traffic controllers had the following conversation with Flight 5061:
B737: "We just had something go down the right-hand side, just above us very fast."
Manchester: "Well there's nothing seen on radar. Was it an aircraft?"
B737: "Well, it had lights, it went down the starboard side very quick."
Captain Wills and First Officer Stuart are certain that the object was solid and not a balloon, a model aircraft or even a military Stealth aircraft which the captain had seen before and would have recognised.
Both pilots should be commended for their courage in submitting a report, the investigators said.