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Fwd: The PIREP Corner by Paul Kinzelman - Unidentified Aerial Phenomena

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  • Frits Westra
    The PIREP Corner by Paul Kinzelman - Unidentified Aerial Phenomena http://www.merchantapps.com/Forums/?m=4902&f=26&p=1 There you are, at 35,000 ft, an hour
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2005
      The PIREP Corner by Paul Kinzelman - Unidentified Aerial Phenomena


      There you are, at 35,000 ft, an hour from your final destination and
      kicking back, because you are relying on your trusty autopilot. It's
      pitch dark out there, nothing to see but sky above and sky below.
      Suddenly, you see a brightly lit disk off your left wing. About the time
      you and your co-pilot begin mouthing "What-the...", your DC-10 flux gate
      compass commands your autopilot to turn your aircraft 45 degrees toward
      the light. To make things worse, ATC has even seen the deviation. The
      radio crackles with "United, where are you going?".

      A bad dream? A sadistic simulator instructor? Probably, unless you are
      Capt. Neil Daniels, the pilot of the DC-10 over Albany, NY, and the date
      is March 12, 1977. Then it's reality.

      After manually disconnecting the autopilot and exchanging a few "Did you
      see that?" comments, Capt. Daniels flew the plane back on course. A few
      minutes later, the light took off at a high rate of speed, and the
      avionics went back to normal. No residual effects were found. After an
      uneventful landing, Capt. Daniels mentioned the event to his boss. The
      response? "Bad things happen to pilots who see things".

      Capt. Daniels and his crew kept silent until contacted years later by Dr.
      Richard Haines, a retired Chief of the Space Human Factors Office, NASA,
      Ames Research Center.

      By that time, Capt. Daniels had retired and was willing to go public with
      the sighting, but the other two crew members (one of whom is also
      retired), will not, even now, publicly make any statement about their
      experience. Something is wrong with this picture.

      Understanding the Phenomena

      Dr. Haines initially became interested in phenomena affecting safety of
      flight (such as the occurrence above) because he was sure the sightings
      could all be explained. He believed that all the sightings resulted from
      conventional causes, and he could explain them all by using his knowledge
      of visual perception, optics, and physiological processes; in other
      words, he was a confirmed skeptic.

      Unlike many other skeptics however, he followed through by investigating
      a number of reports of sightings by very credible witnesses. Many of
      these sightings were more than just "lights in the sky"; they affected
      aircraft avionics and guidance systems, thus affecting safety of flight.
      He became convinced the phenomena could not be understood using
      conventional explanations, and more importantly, the phenomena were a
      significant potential threat to air safety.

      As a result, he and executive director Ted Roe founded an organization in
      2001 that focuses on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), called the
      National Aviation Reporting Center For Aerial Phenomena (NARCAP).

      NARCAP defines a UAP as a sighting of an unfamiliar object or light in
      the sky. The appearance and/or flight dynamics indicate that the sighting
      is not a known or conventional object. The UAP remains unidentified even
      after close scrutiny of all available evidence by technically capable

      NARCAP's Mission

      NARCAP's mission is focused on the study of UAP's that pose a potential
      threat to the safety of everyone who flys. Reports for the NARCAP
      database come from pilots and air traffic controllers.

      NARCAP is interested in the source of the phenomena only to the extent
      that the understanding contributes to increasing the safety of air

      There are many organizations that are interested in other types of
      sightings and aspects; none are devoted exclusively to the safety of air

      NARCAP's primary goal is to provide researchers with a source of reliable
      data for study, for instance, in quantifying threats to air travel, or
      what a pilot can expect from an encounter with a particular type of UAP.

      NARCAP has created a reporting system similar to the NASA-administered
      Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS - http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/), so
      that aviation professionals can anonymously report sightings and
      experiences without fear of reprisals against their livelihood. Reports
      received by NARCAP go into a database and are publicly accessible for

      UAP Database

      The NARCAP database contains over 3400 unexplained cases, some of which
      go back over 80 years to the 1920's. More than 30 of these cases pre-date
      the famous Kenneth Arnold sighting near Mt. Baker, in Washington State,
      on June 24, 1947. The newspapers coined the term 'flying saucer' while
      reporting what he described.

      More than 100 of these documented close encounters between UAP and
      commercial, private, and military airplanes were determined to be
      potentially hazardous to flight due to either a potential mid-air
      collision or failures of avionics or other flight control systems at the
      time of the UAP sighting.

      The reports are drawn from several sources including Dr. Haines's
      personal files. Other reports were prepared by the Federal Aviation
      Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and
      the NASA-ASRS program.

      To those of you who might be thinking that most UAPs are merely
      misunderstood normal or natural phenomena, or are otherwise not unusual,
      you are correct (but with emphasis on "most"). Studies indicate that from
      75% to 80% of UAPs are eventually explained. However, this leaves at
      least 20% of UAPs that do not resolve to a known phenomenon after close
      scrutiny by technically competent investigators. And it takes only one
      UAP to cause an incident or accident.

      Government Data

      Interestingly, a U.S. government source illustrates the fact that pilots
      either don't report their UAP sightings at all or, if they do, they
      almost never use the term UAP, UFO, or flying saucer when reporting their
      near-miss and/or in-flight pacing encounters. The Director of the NASA
      ASRS program, Linda Connell, has acknowledged that there are indeed cases
      in their database that fit the UAP profile and that she simply does not
      have the resources to examine them closely.

      Scientific Non-Interest

      Scientists and scientific journals are not officially interested in
      studying the phenomena, and often reject the idea that unknown phenomena
      might exist. However, Stanford University Professor Peter Sturrock
      surveyed astronomers in the 1970's, and found that 70% wanted to see
      serious studies of the phenomena funded and published in scientific
      journals. In other words, most scientists won't risk ridicule by publicly
      expressing an interest, but in private they are quite interested.

      In most fields, scientists have the luxury of designing an experiment and
      making measurements at their convenience, often by flipping a switch. In
      other fields, like in astronomy, scientists often must wait for a
      specific event to occur - such as an eclipse. The study of UAP falls into
      the latter category. The data exists, but can't be called up at will.
      Nevertheless, scientists can apply a range of scientific tools to the

      Pilot Reports

      Unfortunately, most pilots do not bother reporting weather pireps that
      could help their fellow aviation professionals, and filing a pirep is
      viewed as innocuous, not as potentially career-limiting. Thus, it is easy
      to understand how difficult it is for any serious researcher to get good
      UAP data.

      Arming our pilots with the best available information about the phenomena
      and how to deal with it requires collecting data and seriously studying
      the phenomena.

      The NARCAP web page contains two reporting forms: "Pilot Report Form" and
      "Air Traffic Controller/Radar Operator Report Form". Those without web
      access can call or write NARCAP for more information.

      NARCAP Paper

      NARCAP's web page (http://www.narcap.org) has, among other things, a paper
      by Dr. Haines titled "Aviation Safety in America - A Previously Neglected
      Factor". In this document, Dr. Haines describes these kinds of
      characteristics of UAPs:

      (1) Near-miss and other high speed maneuvers conducted by the UAP in
      close proximity of aircraft.

      (2) Transient and permanent electromagnetic effects that affect
      navigation, guidance, and flight control systems onboard the aircraft.

      (3) UAP flight performance that produces cockpit distractions that
      inhibit the flight crew from flying the airplane in a safe manner.

      (4) Circumstances in which passengers become very afraid or unruly.

      NARCAP International

      NARCAP has representatives in many foreign countries, where the host
      governments and mainstream press are far more open and interested in
      understanding the phenomena than their counterparts in the United States.

      The NARCAP web page has contact information for its representatives in
      foreign countries.

      How You Can Help

      You can assist NARCAP by getting the word out, and by contributing to the
      NARCAP database if you have a sighting.

      NARCAP is a non-profit organization, privately funded by members and
      founders, with official 501(c)3 status pending. Support and donations
      from foundations and individuals would be greatly appreciated. Checks may
      be made payable to "NARCAP".

      We also have members available for speaking to your organization.

      Contact Information

      Web: http://www.narcap.org
      Phone: 800-732-3666
      Address: NARCAP, 235 Louisiana St., Vallejo, CA 94590
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