Published: 6:05 PM 7/2/2015
Intense white light moving down the Grande Ronde River Canyon...
La Grande, Oregon - 06-23-15
Shape: Light - Duration: 1-2 minutes
As I was traveling eastbound on I-84, just west of La Grande, Oregon, I observed an intense white light traveling slowly down the Grande Ronde River canyon in a NNW direction toward Pendleton, Oregon.
It was approximately 1000-1500ft AGL. I was able to determine that it was airborne, and not on the ridgeline above the canyon.
As it came towards me, I was watching it intently and I thought it was actually a series of 4 closely spaced intense white lights, as if it were mounted on a light bar, but as it approached, the beam became so intense, while directed toward the ground, that I reflexively looked away to shield my eyes from the light.
As I looked back up, it passed above the roofline of the cab and I lost sight of it.
If this was an aircraft, it was operating in violation of FAA regulations, as it had no navigation lights visible. I would estimate the speed to be comparable to a helicopter, which it may well have been.
The Army reserve has a helicopter unit in Pendleton, I believe, but they are required to fly with navigational lights on at night. It's possible it was a utility company helicopter working on a powerline or something, but why no navigation lights?
((NUFORC Note: All aircraft are required, under the Federal Aviation Regulations, to have red and green navigation lights, and they may have other red or white lights, either solid or intermittent. PD))