Just as Harvard scientists weigh in on that massive thingamajig that zipped past the sun last year — the flat, elongated ‘Oumuamua’ was possibly a probe sent to Earth by “an alien civilization,” they said — British pilots flying home from Montreal have reported other UFOs off the coast of Ireland.
This time, the unidentified objects were bright lights, heading north, at “Mach 2” speed, they told air-traffic controllers.
But they might also have been extra-terrestrial vehicles, says Don Donderi, a retired McGill professor who has studied UFOs since 1965.
It wouldn’t be the first sighting, Donderi said. Some pilots have seen them up close.
“There are cases going back 50 years of pilots seeing what we call nocturnal lights,” Donderi said. “They provide some evidence that some of what people see in the sky and call UFOs are extra-terrestrial vehicles.”
In this most recent case, two sets of pilots, from British Airways and Virgin Airlines, both flying over the Atlantic last Friday, reported the sightings to air-traffic control, inquiring about any military exercises in the area.
“It was moving so fast,” the BA pilot said of the object that appeared along the left side of the aircraft “then rapidly veered to the north.”
It was “a very bright light,” she continued, that “disappeared at very high speed.”
The Virgin Airlines pilot, flying from Orlando to Manchester, reported the same thing, but described it as a “meteor or another object making some kind of re-entry.”
Whatever is was, it was enough for the Irish Aviation Authority to open an investigation under the “normal confidential occurrence investigation process.”
It was also enough for the Twittersphere, if not the stratosphere, to light up.
The news, including audio of the pilots’ conversation with Irish air traffic control, travelled across the globe, at Mach internet speed, while others turned to mockery.
“As a skeptic, I think it’s probably nothing stranger than flying leprechauns up to their usual mischief again,” said one commenter.
It was the same attitude taken by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a renowned American astrophysicist and author, when asked to comment on the existence of extra-terrestrial UFOs. “Call me when you have a dinner invite from an alien,” he said.
But Donderi, who was a professor of psychology but now teaches a class called “UFOs: History and Reality,” says some sightings have been unnervingly detailed — and harder to dismiss.
“People have close encounters of the second kind,” Donderi said. “Pilots have reported seeing vehicles within 100 yards of them. They see an actual shape, an object suspended in the sky, hovering over them, with windows, surrounded by a luminous glow — and then it moves off abruptly.”
Some of the reports, by qualified individuals, backed up by instruments (like radar) turn out to be things humans can’t make, Donderi said.
“Machines that fly faster and manoeuvre more abruptly than (vehicles) we can make.”
He situates himself somewhere between the DeGrasse Tyson “establishment,” which denies there is any evidence of extra-terrestrial contact with Earth, and those who see in UFOs proof of the second coming.
The revelation in December of the U.S. Department of Defence’s now-defunct Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, along with footage of pilots seemingly chasing UFOs, have bolstered Donderi’s beliefs.
Luis Elizondo, one of two Pentagon officials who resigned at the time because he felt the program was too secretive, described the objects they researched: “These aircraft — we’ll call them aircraft — are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the U.S. inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of,” he told CNN.
“Those who study it say that some of the UFOs are extra-terrestrial vehicles,” Donderi said Tuesday. “They’re here. And sometimes there’s interaction between aliens and people. There is evidence. But what it means and where we go from here, I don’t know.”
Donderi says humans find it easier to convince themselves there is no evidence, and prefer to see those affirming the existence of ETs as crazy, or seeking adventure or profit.
“If everyone realizes we’re being surveilled by extra-terrestrials who have better machinery than we do, we have a potential problem,” he said. “But any sensible person will say the first step in dealing with any problem is admitting it exists.”