Pilot reports near hit over Berkshire, U.K. – Evidence? None.

This was reported in the Mirror (a UK tabloid) but I have this feeling it will be picked up by other UFO news sites. Is it evidence of UFOs? Hardly. In fact, a cursory look suggests just a misperception.

Pilot DUCKS as he sees UFO heading straight to cockpit – Mirror Online

A terrified airline pilot ducked to avoid a UFO he feared was going to smash into his plane at 34,000ft.

The captain of the packed Airbus A320 spotted the silver object heading straight for the cockpit as his plane flew above Berkshire.

He was looking out of the left window a split second before the bizarre incident.

The captain was so spooked by the incident in July that he reported the sighting to safety watchdogs at the UK Airprox Board, which investigates near-misses in British airspace.

The first officer didn’t see anything. The radar saw nothing. And the investigation of the incident also was inconclusive. There was NO corroborating data, just one witness.

You can read the report here [PDF], starting at page 87.

An A320 pilot, in Northbound level cruise at FL340, perceived an object through the LH DV window which he assessed as travelling towards him at the same level, slightly above the flight deck windscreen. There were no aircraft in the vicinity indicated on TCAS or on radar. There were no recorded releases of meteorological balloons in the area.

The Board established that there did not appear to be any conflicting traffic on radar and that no TCAS alerts or advisories had been issued. The involvement of a meteorological balloon was ruled out and it was calculated that a helium filled envelope would have to be of the order of 1m in diameter to reach FL340, hence ruling out commercially available toy balloons. Nevertheless, the A320 pilot was subject to a powerful impression of immediate danger, caused by his perception of an object closing rapidly on his aircraft. Although only supposition, members opined that this may have been due to a combination of a possible reflection from the low sun off one of the aircraft to the West, and of the pilot’s head movement as he looked forward. After some discussion it was decided that, although the reflection theory held some merit, the overall dearth of information relating to the event rendered a meaningful finding impossible.

This incident sounds quite a bit like this one from May 2013 over Glasgow. That investigation was also inconclusive but it possibly could have been a remotely controlled flying balloon where it was NOT supposed to be. This one is a bit different but, once again, it is NOT a safe assumption to say that pilots never make observational mistakes. It’s not far fetched to think that a glint from the sun or some other stimulus prompted him to react as if something was coming towards them – a typical reaction and quite normal for a pilot. This does not mean that anything actually was coming towards them. In fact, the lack of any supporting evidence suggest that it is most likely the case of misperception. Or, a super speedy manueverable UFO is buzzing planes. Sorry, your case is really weak with the latter.

UPDATE (6-Jan-2014) This story was picked up by major media. Jet in 'near miss' with UFO – Telegraph. “There was obviously something there” (?) No, not obvious. No other evidence than one persons testimony. I don’t find this as impressive as some others.

  1 comment for “Pilot reports near hit over Berkshire, U.K. – Evidence? None.

  1. Blargh
    December 23, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Given the number of times pilots have tried to dodge an apparently oncoming Venus, I’m quite happy to ascribe this incident to “nothing” or “possible glint”.

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