On April 7, 2004, I received an e-mail from one of my Canadian colleagues informing me he had been contacted by a UFO witness who works in an air traffic control tower at a major Canadian airport. He was told that three tower operators had visually observed a puzzling UFO while monitoring local flight activity, and provided some preliminary details. While the witnesses wished to remain anonymous, I made some inquiries and eventually was able to speak with all three witnesses.
The case is as follows: On March 29, 2004 at about 0345 GMT (during the evening of March 28 local time), three Transport Canada employees in the main tower at a major Canadian airport were performing their usual duties when one of them noticed a bright light low in the southwest.
He brought it to the attention of his co-workers, who also observed the object. Each described it as a red light, similar to an aircraft light, but with no green or white navigational lights in evidence. It was also likened to a collision avoidance light on a radio tower, with respect to is brightness. The object was first seen bearing 240 magnetic from the tower, an estimated two degrees above the visible horizon. When pressed on the angular height, the witnesses reiterated that the altitude was only about two or three degrees above the level horizon. It was on an estimated heading of 130, moving right to left (west to east), with a constant brightness, and flying level to the horizon. It was in view for approximately 30 seconds, although one witness thought that the observation duration was only about 20 seconds. It was last seen on a bearing of 210 from the tower, disappearing slowly upward into the thick cloud ceiling at 2,700 feet. Based on their experience in judging distance and altitude, and comparing the object with another aircraft, they estimated the object was between five and eight miles in distance.
During the visual observation, the witnesses checked tower radar and found there was no radar paint nor aircraft transponder contact. The observers agreed that the object looked about twice as "big" as obstruction lights on a nearby Air Canada hanger as seen from the tower. The object left no trail and witnesses agreed it was "not a meteor," each having seen many meteors and fireballs on their shifts. One witness used a pair of binoculars and said no structure was visible behind the object. He watched the object disappear "like a plane going up through the clouds."
The witnesses also asked the crew of a 737 in the area to check their radar and attempted to vector them visually to the object, but the 737 was above the cloud deck. There was no other aircraft in the area at the time. The object had the same apparent track as a later 737 which was below the clouds and came within the control area about 30 minutes later.
One witness said the object slightly resembled a "road flare" or "fireworks," but said the light would have to have been at least five times brighter than a typical flare to have been seen at the estimated distance of two miles. Another witness disagreed, suggesting the object was "the wrong colour" of a flare and also did not behave as a flare would at the time. He said he is experienced in working with and observing flares and that this was definitely not a flare. It had perfectly level flight and was a strong and steady light source. The witnesses are certain that others must have seen the object, although there have been no other reports received.
The witnesses inquired of a nearby Canadian Forces Base Wing and were told there was no military traffic in the area at the time.
In checking the UFOROM database, however, I found that there had been several other UFO sightings that night and within a day or so, although none were close to the location of the tower personnel sighting. Converting them all to Greenwich time to compensate for the large number of time zones in Canada, a review of the reports chronologically reveals some interesting things.
At 0130Z (GMT) on March 28 (during the evening of March 27), two witnesses near Rigaud, Quebec, saw "une grosse boule lumineuse qui cachait quelque chose en arrire. On aurrait dit que le cercle tait une sorte de gaz." They watched the object with "something" behind it for about four hours, including some time with binoculars, and there is no question that they were observing a bright planet.
At 0345Z on March 28, however, another witness in Montreal was observing the planetary procession and was startled to see two red balls of light flying together and crossing the sky from northwest to the southwest.
In the wee hours of the morning of March 28, at 0926Z, witnesses in Prince George, BC, saw "two fiery orange balls hovering in the sky above us, seemingly floating along. We watched the balls move for approximately a block and a half before one separated down towards the horizon. It was then we quickly got into the car to chase the other one, only to lose it."
Later on during the day, a skywatcher took some photos of "chemtrails" over Newbury, Ontario, at about 2:00 pm (1900Z). The photos show only what appears to be regular jet contrails, which the photographer considered unusual.
Five hours later, at 0010Z on March 29, 2004 (the evening of March 28), three witnesses were golfing in Calgary when they saw two daylight discs. One witness said: "I was looking into the sky at the Confederation driving range watching a ball when I saw the first object moving across the sky at a high rate of speed. I was able to point it out to two friends I had there and they tracked it with me. As we watched it move across the sky, we noticed a second one in front of it. They were moving at such an incredible rate of speed that they simply vanished into the distance. The two objects were circular in shape and had a silver metallic color to them."
Only ten minutes later, at 0020Z, another Montreal witness saw a light flashing red, blue, green and yellow colours, moving slowly during the five minutes of its observation. "It was to the right of the moon and [faded out] to the left of the moon." It made no noise and had a very smooth trajectory. This object was very likely an aircraft.
Three hours later, the air traffic controllers had their sighting. A hour later on, at 0445Z, a witness in Victoria, BC, reported "a strange object between Venus and the Moon." He felt it had an "odd pattern of flight" and seemed to be a bright white light that faded after ten seconds of observation.
Finally, at 1030Z (about 4:30 am local time March 29), a witness in Regina, Saskatchewan, reported "a light about the size of Venus moving from north to south. I initially thought it was a satellite on a polar orbit as I believe the altitude was that high. It then maneuvered into a long "S" shaped arc with the initial turn to the west and continued this arc until it had turned 180 degrees to the east and then once again turned to the west and then once again turned this time leaving my field of vision to the southeast. It seems to me it descended with this maneuver as it seemed at a lower altitude at the end of the "S" maneuver. No sound was heard by me at anytime. It was not an airplane. I have been an aviation enthusiast all my life and know what to look for and none of it wasn't there."
So, in the timespan of about 48 hours there were nine separate UFO sightings reported, from almost sea to sea. None were identical in description, and it does not appear as if any of the witnesses saw the same objects. Some have possible explanations, while at least one may qualify as a high-quality unknown.
A further note: the air traffic controllers insisted on anonymity, so the geographical location of their sighting is not listed. What is also interesting is that I asked them if they were going to file an official report with Transport Canada, and replied that they would not be doing so. This begs the question of how many other sightings by ATC operators go unreported. Although some sighting reports find their way to UFOROM from Transport Canada, the reporting mechanism is still susceptible to witnesses' reluctance to make an official statement.
Ufology Research of Manitoba (UFOROM)
8 April 2004
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