By: E&P Staff and The Associated Press
Federal officials say it was probably just some weird weather phenomenon, but a group of United Airline employees swear they saw a mysterious, saucer-shaped craft hovering over O’Hare Airport last fall.
The workers, some of them pilots, said the object didn’t have lights and hovered over an airport terminal before shooting up through the clouds, according to a report in Monday’s Chicago Tribune.
The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged that a United supervisor had called the control tower at O’Hare, asking if anyone had spotted a spinning disc-shaped object. But the controllers didn’t see anything, and a preliminary check of radar found nothing out of the ordinary, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
“Our theory on this is that it was a weather phenomenon,” Cory said. “That night was a perfect atmospheric condition in terms of low (cloud) ceiling and a lot of airport lights. When the lights shine up into the clouds, sometimes you can see funny things.”
The FAA is not investigating, Cory said.
United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said company officials don’t recall discussing any such incident from Nov. 7.
At least one O’Hare controller, union official Craig Burzych, was amused by it all.
“To fly 7 million light years to O’Hare and then have to turn around and go home because your gate was occupied is simply unacceptable,” he said.
The Tribune account, however, struck a more serious nerve. An excerpt follows.
Some of the witnesses, interviewed by the Tribune, said they are upset that neither the government nor the airline is probing the incident.
Whatever the object was, it could have interfered with O’Hare’s radar and other equipment, and even created a collision risk, they said.
The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (the term that extraterrestrial-watchers nowadays prefer over Unidentified Flying Object) was first seen by a United ramp worker who was directing back a United plane at Gate C17, according to an account the worker provided to the National UFO Reporting Center.
The sighting occurred during daylight, about 4:30 p.m., just before sunset.
All the witnesses said the object was dark gray and well defined in the overcast skies. They said the craft, estimated by different accounts to be 6 feet to 24 feet in diameter, did not display any lights.
Some said it looked like a rotating Frisbee, while others said it did not appear to be spinning. All agreed the object made no noise and it was at a fixed position in the sky, just below the 1,900-foot cloud deck, until shooting off into the clouds.
“I tend to be scientific by nature, and I don’t understand why aliens would hover over a busy airport,” said a United mechanic who was in the cockpit of a Boeing 777 that he was taxiing to a maintenance hangar when he observed the metallic-looking object above Gate C17.
“But I know that what I saw and what a lot of other people saw stood out very clearly, and it definitely was not an [Earth] aircraft,” the mechanic said.
One United employee appeared emotionally shaken by the sighting and “experienced some religious issues” over it, one co-worker said.
A United manager said he ran outside his office in Concourse B after hearing the report about the sighting on an internal airline radio frequency.
“I stood outside in the gate area not knowing what to think, just trying to figure out what it was,” he said. “I knew no one would make a false call like that. But if somebody was bouncing a weather balloon or something else over O’Hare, we had to stop it because it was in very close proximity to our flight operations.”