UAP are Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.
Forwarded by: fwestra@...
Original Date: Fri, 4 Jan 2002 01:28:15 +0100
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Why Some Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers Dont See UAP
Air Traffic Control Specialist (ret.) NARCAP Technical Specialist
NARCAP headquarters received an interesting report concerning a
UAP sighting on August 1, 2001 near Chicago's O'Hare airport at
2015 local time. A cylindrically shaped self-luminous,
orange/gold colored object without wings or tail was seen
between O'Hare and Midway airports and appeared to fly faster
than other jet aircraft seen at the same time but at similar
altitudes. It allegedly slowed down as a B-757 commercial
aircraft took off to the west from Midway and then accelerated
out of sight to the NE. Both past the witnesses location in
clear view. Since this part of the nation handles some of the
highest air traffic density in the country there is extensive
radar coverage available to help maintain traffic separation.
The airport control towers at these airports also afford
excellent 360 degree visibility for tens of miles in good
visibility conditions. We asked our ATC specialist, Jim
McClenahen to comment on this interesting case. Here are his
Nice to hear from you. My first take on this is that it would
be like finding a needle in the haystack but would be worth a
try. The reason I say this, the controllers and cockpit crews
in the Chicago terminal area are extremely busy. There is so
much information being passed between controllers and cockpit
crews due to traffic volume which requires everyone to really
pay attention to all details, so, when something like this
happens the chances of the controllers or cockpit crews
experiencing it are slim.
I will try to find a contact source in the tower, but we have
somewhat of a blind spot, because of the complexity of the
airspace. Example, the report made reference of a B 757
departing Midway, the cockpit crew of this flight was in the
middle of departing, climbing, cleaning up the aircraft for
initial climb, and making a radio change to departure control
(Chicago TRACON). My point is, this crew is busy and on top of
that they are listening for any traffic and watching their TCAS
for traffic too!
The B727 mentioned was probably on Chicago Approach talking to
either a feeder controller or the final controller, being set
up for the runway complex the flight to land on. The report
indicates the weather was VFR and it is a good possibility the
approaches in use were ILS and Visuals. This means the cockpit
crew was also extremely busy. Not only were they setting up the
aircraft for landing, they were probably looking for traffic
they were following so they could conduct the visual approach.
They were also watching for other traffic and monitoring their
TCAS equipment while expecting a frequency change to the tower
once they completed setting up for the visual.
In addition, the approach controller would not really have time
to observe anything unusual on the radar (ASR-9, which is a
digital presentation). If that controller was busy, he would be
watching only the aircraft he was working. This holds true for
the tower controllers as well. When they get more traffic to
handle, they concentrate on the aircraft they are working. They
focus out surrounding items that are not important to them.
I hope this makes sense to you and please ask questions or if
you want. I can call you and discuss this further on the
phone. I would guess if anyone saw anything from the tower, it
would be someone not directly working aircraft such as a
supervisor, a coordinator, or traffic management specialist,
maybe even a person working flight data/clearance delivery.
Of course this is just a guess based on my experience.
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