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St Louis 1969 - the multiple pilot UFO sighting that never was

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posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 10:01 PM
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St Louis 1969 - the multiple pilot UFO sighting that never was

When it comes to UFO witnesses nothing beats a pilot, except perhaps an astronaut. I am not really sure. Never mind. A pilot is the number one reliable witness when comes to telling which is what up in the sky. We trust them with our lives when we go on vacation, one mistake and catastrophe is a fact. Of course they can tell a let's say meteor from an apparently intelligently controlled unidentified flying craft. Or can they? I recently stumbled across this 1969 case (that never was) when reading an article by Philip Klass. The reliability of UFO witnesses is always a hot topic and in my opinion a very important one so I bring this to your attention.


June 5, 1969 1600L UC 70 mi. S. Kansas City, Missouri

The reporter for this near-miss was James V. Beardsley, an FAA air traffic controller who was flying jump seat on American Airlines flight 112 from Phoenix, AZ to Washington, D.C. on a routine familiarization flight. The B-707 jet aircraft was at FL 390 heading ENE having just passed over the Missouri River (now under St. Louis Center control). The weather was calm and clear with excellent visibility. The FO was flying (while the captain was out of the cockpit temporarily) and was the first to sight the oncoming objects. Beardsley heard him cry out, "Damn. Look at this!" Beardsley looked straight ahead of the jet and saw "a flight of four - whatever they were - flying in a square formation." They were almost directly ahead at their 11:00 o'clock position and passed with about 300 feet of their aircraft within a period of three to five seconds little more than 1,000 feet above the jet.

The four objects consisted of one longer, smooth, "hydroplane-shaped" body about 18 to 20 feet long and 7 to 8 feet thick. Its estimated width was about 12 to 14 feet. It was located in the upper left-hand corner of a (vertically oriented) square with three smaller, identical missile- or dart-shaped objects one at the other three corners of the square. All had the color of burnished aluminum. The object in the lower right-hand corner "was on a collision course with us," said Beardsley. However, at the last instant the three smaller objects appeared to climb toward the larger object. As he turned to look back at the objects just after they passed Beardsley saw that they each had a bluish-green flame (like a gas stove burner) in their aft ends. The FO then radioed St. Louis Center and discovered that their radar had picked up their aircraft as well as two "paints" of unknown objects near the airliner. Nothing was said about why ATC didn’t alert the flight crew to the approaching objects.

Flying eight miles behind the B-707 was a United Airlines passenger jet at FL370 and four miles behind it at FL410 was an Air National Guard jet. Several seconds after the objects passed the first aircraft the pilot of the second radioed (on a common radio channel), "We see it too!" A few seconds later came yet a third radio comment, "Damn, they almost got me!" This statement was from the Air National Guard jet pilot. The radio chatter following this incident was intense, however, as the field report states, "All participants agreed they had seen a flight of UFOs but none seemed willing to pursue the matter further, at least officially," remembers Beardsley. Neither the FAA nor the airlines ever investigated these near-air misses.

Beardsley said that, "the lack of interest or follow-up in the sighting was not surprising considering the skepticism and caution expressed by most aviation people following the release of the Condon Report." (cf. Gillmor, 1968; UFO Investigator, pg. 2, NICAP, February 1972)

Source


This article below from UFO Investigator (1972) gives a more vivid and "playful" description of the event, it also has some drawings of the "craft" and the airplanes involved in the incident.

FAA Controller Recounts '69 Sighting

What do we have here? Well we have the eye-witness accounts from pilots (and an FAA Controller) of not one but three different aircraft saying they were involved in a near mid-air collision with a UFO. This case could have been perceived as one of the greats, it had the ingredients. It wasn't. Alan Harkrader, a photographer for the Peoria Journal Star, caught the "craft" in his camera.



It was a meteor breaking up. It was nowhere as near the aircraft as the witnesses estimated but some 125 miles north of them. These are some pretty large errors. The next time you read about pilots witnessing UFOs remember this incident, take it into account.

More




posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 10:09 PM
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When it comes to UFO witnesses nothing beats a pilot

You seem to have destroyed your point in the first sentence my friend.
edit on 1-8-2012 by Ryanssuperman because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-8-2012 by Ryanssuperman because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-8-2012 by Ryanssuperman because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 10:37 PM
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reply to post by Ryanssuperman
 


Sorry, your point is..............?



posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 10:47 PM
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I've noticed this is a common theme in threads lately.

Lets all agree that

a) witness testimony is useless, too unreliable so it should just be thrown out regardless of the number of witnesses

b) video and photographic evidence is useless, too easy to fake

c) radar data is useless, those things malfunction all the time

That just leaves audio recordings. Anyone got a good sound recording of a UFO? Preferably on wax cylinder cuz it would have been too expensive and too hard fake back then.



posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 11:06 PM
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Anyone who trusts a word of what Klass ever said about UFOs, at face value, is the biggest fool of all.
edit on 1-8-2012 by FireMoon because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 11:37 PM
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reply to post by cripmeister
 


I think your thread doesn't make the point you'd like to make very well. If anything, it only makes Klass look as silly as he actually was.

Here's the poor guy's "reasoning":
1) three aircraft approximately in a line near St. Louis each report basically the same thing: the 'UFO' "seemed to be headed directly for his aircraft until, at the last moment, the strange object abruptly changed course and climbed out of his path...."
+
2) "a careful analysis by the Smithsonian Institution based on many ground observer reports, indicated that the Iowa Fireball's flight path was at least 125 miles north of St. Louis"
+
3) "Federal Aviation Administration experts produced evidence that even in broad daylight, an experienced pilot on the ground can misjudge the distance of an unfamiliar, fleeting object by more than one hundred miles."
-----------------
=**Conclusion**: the pilots all thought that a meteor >125 miles away was actually in a state of near miss with their aircraft.

Right.... Brilliant job again, Phil!

Why did Klass not elaborate on that evidence, or show how it was applicable in this situation, or state the probabilities of a single pilot making such a mistake across various settings? If you're in the pilot's seat and something that was directly in front of you is now suddenly above you or to your left left, that looks a lot different than something that ends up >125 miles to the left of you.... What would be the odds of 3 pilots in a row making the same mistake?



posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 11:42 PM
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Obviously the pilots knew perfectly well what was in front of them and changing angles, and it certainly wasn't an object over 100 miles away.



posted on Aug, 1 2012 @ 11:52 PM
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Not a bad thread, cripmeister. In situations like this one, in which an unusual visual stimulus suddenly appears and is gone within just a few seconds, your average pilot probably has little observational advantage over anyone else. Typically, if a "UFO" sighting lasts for three to five seconds and the objects are moving basically in a straight line, it's best to just move on to the next one, even if the witness is a pilot.

Not sure I'd so readily accept the "meteor" though, without a little more detail.



edit on 1-8-2012 by Orkojoker because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 2 2012 @ 12:20 AM
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While we're on the topic of pilot sightings, here are a few compiled in NICAP's The UFO Evidence, which is a must-read for anyone interested in this topic.








posted on Aug, 2 2012 @ 12:35 AM
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reply to post by Orkojoker
 


Brilliant! Great read.

They definitely must All be hallucinating ....all of them.

Just a joke.

I'm a commy pilot.



posted on Aug, 2 2012 @ 12:38 AM
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reply to post by Orkojoker
 


Also, just one other thing. I'm not big on this but.......

The freedom of information act? Are we able to request the photographs made by these pilots as we now have the dates? Is that something that is likely to be allowed or not?



posted on Aug, 2 2012 @ 04:32 AM
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reply to post by cripmeister
 
Pilot credibility has been taking hits from critics since the late '40s. In the '50s, the USAF even suggested that pilots who reported UFO sightings had been drinking. Klass took a similar approach to pilot intelligence and credibility and, I feel, divided pilots into two types - those who saw UFOs (bad) and those who didn't (good).

The tradition has been continued and upheld by associates of CSI/CSICOP to the point where pilots apparently duck when they see a full moon and gasp in slack-jawed wonder at the Belt of Orion.

Mr Oberg repeatedly pulls out the 'Hynek Study' (that claims pilots are the worst observers) or the '89 pilot misperception of booster re-entry to cast major doubts on anything a pilot claims. A problem with this is that the 'Hynek Study' has no provenance, no peer review and only exists in the pages of his book (The Hynek UFO Report p271). It could be accurate, but we don't know that until someone gets to look at the methodology, researchers and participants. If it originated from a department of the USAF that was prone to accusing pilots of alcoholic hallucination, well, personally I'd want to see another study. Likewise, it was based on BB stats that we now know to be inaccurate. The '89 pilot misperception was accurate in the details and timings to identify a rocket stage - accurate description, poor interpretation.


I'm not claiming that aircrews are perfect observers, but I would argue that they are generally better-trained observers than Klass or the Hynek Study would have us believe.

In many ways, I feel Klass is the skeptical equivalent of someone like Linda Moulton-Howe. He was allied to his belief that UFO reports were garbage in the same way she's allied to the belief that all UFO reports are aliens. This makes each of them unreliable reporters. The FBI thought Klass was unreliable too and didn't trust him at all, if you read his file he comes across like the type of person that would have thrived in McArthyist America. How could anyone hate UFO reports so much that they'd report claimants to the FBI or contact employers to have them fired? He even tried to prevent Stan Friedman from moving to Canada by reporting him to the Canadian authorities. Weird guy.



posted on Aug, 2 2012 @ 07:24 AM
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I love the intro to this thread...about pilot reports.

Then he posts a report submitted by an air traffic controller who was riding on the jumpseat. So based on what I've seen, all of the sizes and distances in this report were supplied by a guy who spends his days studying a radar screen, not the horizon of the earth at FL 390. (Okay, I am a pilot, retired USAF and now flying for a major airline...32 yrs experience. I get touchy when folks start picking on us.). The reported incident happened at 1600L, 4 pm for you non-military types. Does the very grainy photo look like a meteor at night to anyone else but me?

I've commented on some of Mr Oberg's threads accepting the fact that we pilots can be subject to perceptual errors just as any other human. But our area of expertise lies in recognizing a distant object as either a 747, Airbus, or "what the heck is that?".

I get REALLY interested when a fellow pilot tells me a "what the heck was that" story.



posted on Aug, 2 2012 @ 10:18 AM
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Originally posted by Kandinsky

I'm not claiming that aircrews are perfect observers, but I would argue that they are generally better-trained observers than Klass or the Hynek Study would have us believe.


I take the Hynek route here and say they are trained observers of familiar objects. They are human and therefore subject to trickery by their own senses. As witnesses of UFOs we are all equally unreliable in my opinion.

reply to post by JoeBarna
 


I see your point but according to the FAA guy who filed the report the witnesses all agreed on that it was a UFO. He claimed the pilots never reported it because of fear of ridicule. Should we write this off as a misunderstanding maybe? Also, had this incident not been explained as a meteor how do you think the UFO proponents would have treated it?



posted on Aug, 5 2012 @ 01:09 PM
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Originally posted by CaptainBeno
reply to post by Ryanssuperman
 


Sorry, your point is..............?


"When it comes to UFO witnesses nothing beats a pilot" is a false statement, purposely put into this discussion to add some sort of credit to the story. It's not a true statement, and therefor the OP's intent with this post is invalid. Good story, but his point is not valid just because he says so.



posted on Aug, 5 2012 @ 02:08 PM
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Originally posted by Ryanssuperman

Originally posted by CaptainBeno
reply to post by Ryanssuperman
 


Sorry, your point is..............?


"When it comes to UFO witnesses nothing beats a pilot" is a false statement, purposely put into this discussion to add some sort of credit to the story. It's not a true statement, and therefor the OP's intent with this post is invalid. Good story, but his point is not valid just because he says so.


I'm pretty sure the OP meant "nothing beats a pilot" facetiously, as his thread specifically addresses the fallibility of pilot testimony. I guess it might not be evident to you if you're unfamiliar with his other posts and his general thoughts on the topic.
edit on 5-8-2012 by Orkojoker because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 5 2012 @ 02:39 PM
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Originally posted by cripmeister
I take the Hynek route here and say they are trained observers of familiar objects. They are human and therefore subject to trickery by their own senses. As witnesses of UFOs we are all equally unreliable in my opinion.


I'm modifying my assessment of what the Hynek report means about how 'good' a pilot is at observing.

It really doesn't even address that question.

We just don't know how LIKELY a pilot is to misperceive an unusual prosaic stimulus, compared to how likely people with other experience and training would also misperceive.

BUT -- what I think the Hynek report REALLY indicates, as my own investigations indicate, is that WHEN a pilot does misinterpret a visual stimulus such as a fireball or satellite reentry, he/she does so based on his/her long experience in the flight environment and interprets sketchy cues in terms of familiar perceptions in the past. He/she 'sees' what he/she has been taught to EXPECT to see in the sky -- other vehicles.

HERE we still are helpless in the face of potential UNKNOWN prosaic stimuli such as fireballs, because one can only theorize that a fireball MIGHT have caused such-and-such a report based on past experiences with such apparitions. But that remains hypothetical because the actual stimulus -- say, the fireball -- left no other records or reports to establish that it even did happen.

But now we have a KEY out of the impasse.

SPACEFLIGHT creates stimuli for such apparitions from time to time, for short periods, over limited areas. For bright reentries, it is so rarely that no person can ever expect to see such a second occurrence. Launches are more common in specific regions, but they still are not frequent events in front of the same witnesses.

Yet reentries and launches are documented. We can look back on when and more-or-less where they occurred and the direction they were traveling.

When we do so -- and I've got to point out that top-grade pro-UFO researchers have RARELY bothered to do so -- we can see patterns of similarities of eyewitness reports from witnesses, including pilots. And repeatable patterns of misinterpretation.

Example: Yukon giant mothership in 1996. It's impossible to believe, in one case, that witnesses would misinterpret enough to create accounts as they did. But when it can be shown that it ISN'T one case, or two, or five, but DOZENS of occurrences in the past decades where swarms of parallel-flying fiery fragments of a reentry have appeared to startled witnesses as lights on a humongous structured object -- then you gain new insight into the human perceptual process, and even the pilot's perceptual process.

I sincerely believe this is a major advance in understanding UFO reports. I am saddened by the closed-minded refusal of belief, of ridicule, of denial, that most [not all] posters have reacted with.

It's really the first time we've EVER had experimental calibration of real-world witness [including pilot] reactions to specific types of apparitions.

And it ought to shake modern ufology to its foundations.

Perhaps that explains the widespread 'it-can't-be-therefore-it-isn't' deliberate blindness to the theory and the evidence on which it is based.



posted on Aug, 5 2012 @ 03:02 PM
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reply to post by JimOberg
 
It's good that you've revised your views on the Hynek study and I agree with you that what a pilot or aircrew *think* they are seeing isn't always going to be what they *are* seeing. In that light, I think pilot/air-crew sightings reports should be respected, but not to the point whereby they're considered gospel.

I can think of three UFO encounters where the pilots don't want to put their sighting down to UFO. They go through different possibilities like constellations, fireballs or approaching aircraft. None of them even suggest inter-planetary aliens and seem reluctantly resigned to classing their sighting as just 'unknowns.'

The rest of the interpretations (or noise) are made in the difference of opinions between folk like you, me and anyone else. Your choice of the word 'apparitions' will likely irritate a few people and yet it's as good a term as UFO in our attempts to discuss something that falls short of (or deferred) identification.



posted on Aug, 5 2012 @ 03:19 PM
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Originally posted by Kandinsky
The rest of the interpretations (or noise) are made in the difference of opinions between folk like you, me and anyone else. Your choice of the word 'apparitions' will likely irritate a few people and yet it's as good a term as UFO in our attempts to discuss something that falls short of (or deferred) identification.


Thanks for your constructive critique. I intend no pejorative implications through use of the term 'apparition', which I had intended merely to imply something that 'appears' in front of one's eyes. 'Raw visual perception' might be a more neutral-sounding phrase, but I'm open to suggestions.



posted on Aug, 5 2012 @ 03:30 PM
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Here's the actual description of the St Louis incident, so the re-entering junk passed within 300 feet of the aircraft?

www.nicap.org...

This is one of those cases you either take the word of a known liar Klass,, against that of someone who probably does know what they're talking about.




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