Airline Pilots Report UFO over Arizona

(Image credit: NBC News 12)

(Image credit: NBC News 12)

A radio broadcast released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and posted to the YouTube channel of NBC affiliate News 12 in Phoenix, Arizona, contains a conversation between two airline pilots and an air traffic controller that took place while the pilots were witnessing an unknown object flying overhead.

The witnesses, a Learjet pilot and an American Airlines pilot, saw the strange object over southeastern Arizona--near Tucson and Davis-Montham Air Force Base--at around 3:30 p.m. on February 24th. 

The Learjet was flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet at the time of the sighting.

The recorded conversation is the communication between the pilots and Albuquerque Air Traffic Center in New Mexico.

The Learjet pilot radioed ground control to ask if there was any reported air traffic above him, but was told by air traffic control that there was not; to which the pilot replied that he had seen something pass overhead.

"I don't know what it was," the pilot said.  "It wasn't an airplane but it was--the path was going in the opposite direction."

Air traffic control was not receiving radar returns of the object, and contacted American Airlines flight 1095 to confirm that an unidentified flying object was present in the area.  The pilot of that flight responded that something had, in fact, passed over them.

"Something just passed us," the American Airlines flight confirmed.  "Like a--I don't know what it was, but it was at least 2-3,000 feet above us.  Yeah, it passed right over the top of us."

“It was just really beaming light or could have had a big reflection and was several thousand feet above us going the opposite direction,” he said.

While the object did appear well-lit or highly reflective, the pilots did not believe it to be a balloon.

 FAA mid-states public affairs manager Lynn Lunsford released a statement saying that the FAA regularly corresponds with military and civilian organizations to ensure all aerial objects are accounted for; although in this instance they did not appear to have any information regarding other aircraft in the area.

"Other than the brief conversation between two aircraft, the controller was unable to verify that any other aircraft was in the area," Lunsford said.  "We have a close working relationship with a number of other agencies and safely handle military aircraft and civilian aircraft of all types in that area every day, including high-altitude weather balloons."

The sighting has raised concerns about the safety of commercial airlines, given the object's proximity to commercial aircraft and the FAA's seeming ignorance of its presence. 

Tobias Wayland