Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The FAA and FBI are Investigating Pilot's Report of Close Call with UFO

UFO Sighted By Pilot
UFO reported near Bush Airport

By abc13.com
5-26-08

     HOUSTON (KTRK) -- We have an update on a mysterious object seen by a Continental Airlines pilot on a flight from Bush Intercontinental Airport. That pilot called federal authorities, who launched an investigation.

Though federal officials don't know for sure what that mysterious object in the sky was, they think it could have been some sort of model rocket.

Continental flight 1544 was bound for Cleveland out of Bush airport. It had just taken off around 10:15am Monday, when according to the FBI, the pilot reported an object near the plane.

One-hundred-and-forty-eight passengers and 6 crew members were onboard the Boeing 737. Continental tells us the flight landed in Cleveland with no problem. No emergency was declared. But we do know the FBI is investigating this incident.

The FAA thinks the incident Monday involved a high powered model rocket. Some can fly as high as 10,000 feet. But you need FAA clearance to do so.

The FAA and the FBI are trying to find who was behind this flying object. An FBI spokeswoman says it was several miles from the plane, still close enough to prompt some serious safety concerns.

More . . .

See Also:

Continental jet has near miss with 'rocket'

By Jeremy Desel
Texas Cable News
5-26-08

      HOUSTON -- Jet pilots aren’t used to sharing their airspace, so you can bet a rocket will get some attention.

Continental Flight 1544 was flying at 5,000 feet about 11 miles east of Bush Intercontinental Airport after takeoff Monday morning when the pilot called the tower to report an object headed toward the plane. The pilot described seeing a fast moving object with a thick smoke trail nearing his airspace.

The FAA now says it thinks that object was some kind of model rocket. Both the FAA and the Houston Area Joint Terrorism Task Force continue to investigate the incident that KHOU.com first reported early this afternoon.

Neither said conclusively what the pilot saw was indeed a model rocket, but an FAA spokesperson told 11 News that it was likely a high-powered model rocket. It is a federal crime to launch a rocket of any sort without notifying the FAA.

The plane was at about 5,000 feet at the time of the sighting and the flight continued on to Cleveland.

Sources told 11 News that the flight was met by Continental officials and FAA investigators to interview the passengers and crew.

Part of that investigation included a FBI call to John Etgen, who is an officer with one of the local model rocket clubs in the area.

When the FBI told him what had been reported, the rocket enthusiast was shocked.

"This is completely outside of all of our safety codes and all of our practices. We actually behave a lot like visual flight rules pilots. This is if we can't see clear airspace and already have permission to be in that air space we are not allowed to launch and we don't,” said Etgen.

Etgen said it's certainly possible for a model rocket to get that high up, but he also said the description given by the pilot doesn't match up.

At that height, a model would have been coasting for quite some time and maybe emitting a small trail of white smoke and not the thick smoke like the pilot’s report.

He explained that while model rocketry is supposed to be fun, it is also highly regulated. Regulated by the same federal agency that has oversight of the airlines – the FAA.
The FAA confirmed that there were no requests to launch or notifications filed for the Houston area for Monday.

There are also no official launch sites within 50 miles of Bush airport.

The Boeing 737 with 148 passengers and six crewmembers aboard, took off from Terminal C at Bush IAH at 10:17 a.m. Monday and arrived at Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland at 2:13 p.m. – nine minutes later than scheduled.

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