A passenger airplane flying near London’s Heathrow Airport came in close contact with an unidentified flying object last year, according to the delayed publication of a pilot’s flight report.
The incident took place on July 13th, 2013, when the pilot was flying an Airbus A320 approximately 20 miles west of Heathrow airport.
Although UFOs are typically depicted in popular culture as alien-piloted flying saucers, it’s actually quite common for pilots to report near-misses with unidentified objects. Despite closing a Ministry of Defence government hotline for reporting UFO sightings in 2009 due to an influx of calls from paranoid public, among other concerns, the British government still takes reports of unidentified flying objects in its airspace seriously.
The UK Airprox Board investigates each pilot-reported UFO sighting to better understand why the object may have been in the airplane’s flight path. According to the board’s report, the pilot involved in this incident believed he was going to collide head-first with the object.
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“He was under the apprehension that they were on collision course with no time to react. His immediate reaction was to duck to the right and reach over to alert the FO (First Officer); there was no time to talk to alert him. The captain was fully expecting to experience some kind of impact with a conflicting aircraft,” the report reads, according to Yahoo News.
The pilot described the UFO as being silver, metallic and having a “rugby ball-like” shape.
According to The Telegraph, the UK Airprox Board was unable to determine the origin of the UFO, ruling out meteorological balloons, toy balloons and military radar operators as possibilities due to data records and the altitude at which the object was sighted. The report also suggests that the pilot may have believed he saw an object due to the reflection of the sun through the windows.
While the public may postulate the existence of alien species whenever a UFO sighting occurs, the more pressing issue is the fact that unidentified flying objects are potentially threatening the safety of passenger aircrafts.
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Dr. David Clarke, UFO consultant for the UK National Archives, explained the importance of passenger safety in investigating these reports.
“The aviation authorities obviously think this is something they should continue to look into and if you are a regular air traveller, you are likely to agree,” Clarke said.