By: Bill Knell
On November 7, 2006, several United Airlines employees reported seeing a UFO hovering above Gate C17 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Based on eyewitness reports, the sighting occurred sometime between four and four thirty in the afternoon (central time). The witnesses may have included a ramp worker, an aircraft mechanic, one or more pilots and some passengers waiting to board planes.
The UFO was described as a dull grey disc-shaped object which might have been twenty to thirty feet in diameter. That is a classic description and size for most daylight disc sightings. According to the witnesses that saw it depart, the disc moved upward at an incredible speed leaving a 'hole' in the cloud cover which was at about 19,000 feet on that day.
To understand what happened at O'Hare on that day, I contacted a friend. To assure his anonymity, I'll call him Bob. I have known Bob since 1988. In the spring of that year there were a number of UFO sightings above and near both LaGuardia and JFK Airports in New York City. I first became aware of these when NYC Fire Fighters contacted me. Working out of a Fire House near LaGuardia, they had a habit of sitting in lawn chairs on the roof when things were slow and the weather was nice.
The Fire Fighters began to notice strange objects that seemed to come in from the west and travel through the LaGuardia airspace. These objects were cigar-shaped and had a dull gray color. This went on for several days. One of the Fire Fighters called the airport, but they blew him off and said nothing like that had been reported. Frustrated, they called me after seeing my UFOS Over Long Island cable TV show.
After mentioning the sightings during a guest spot on WABC Talk Radio, I received a call from two excellent sources. One was an Air Traffic Controller and the other was Bob. I later met the Controller in person. After I was satisfied that he was an Air Traffic Controller working in the NYC area, we talked. He told me that the objects hadn't been tracked by him, but that calls came into his work area about the unidentified objects on several occasions. These were passed on to the FAA since no immediate threat to aircraft in the area could be discerned.
Bob spoke with me on the phone a few times before we met for lunch in suburban New Jersey. He was an experienced military and civilian pilot. More importantly, Bob worked as an Aviation Security Consultant. He made it clear that it would be impossible for him to say anything about what he did or didn't learn about the UFO phenomenon while in the Military. However, he agreed to brief me on procedures and practices that the FAA and Airlines had in place for dealing with UFO sightings. His descriptions were cautious and carefully worded.
"Nothing ever happens with known aircraft in the sky that the FAA doesn't know or find out about," he began. "If an experimental aircraft was scheduled to enter and pass through New York City airspace, they would be told as far in advance as regulations and procedures might allow. A log entry would be created." Bob indicated that he would have access to that information and that no such entry existed for the dates in question.
Bob explained that the best way to approach the Fire House sightings was to eliminate what the guys didn't see before thinking about what they did see. After working with me for almost three weeks, he eliminated most every logical explanation including weather phenomenon. Bob had a knack for attention to detail and loved throwing charts, graphs, weather reports and statistics at me to prove his point. Based on all that and my own investigation, we concluded that the objects were unidentified and probably under some sort of intelligent control.
I speak with Bob on the phone a few times a year. When I decided to take a look at the O'Hare sighting, I gave him a call. Although he has no personal knowledge about this matter beyond what has been reported online, Bob is always more than helpful when it comes to understanding UFO sightings involving pilots, airports and aircraft. He agreed to allow me to record our phone conversation and use a few quotes:
"People believe when something strange is spotted over an airport, all kinds of alarms go off. That's not the case, "he began. "There are federal, state and local agencies that have jurisdiction over airports in the United States. They make sure those facilities are safe and operate efficiently. Contingency plans are in place to handle emergencies based on the big picture. That picture doesn't include anything out of the ordinary. A UFO hovering over the airport would be an example of something not included in those plans."
"Nothing flies without Federal Government permission. Nothing happens at the Airport unless federal, state and local governments, airlines, employees and unions can agree on what should happen, when and how. Nothing works at an Airport without the cooperation of the Airlines. They can't get a single aircraft off the ground without the cooperation of their employees. That's the pecking order. It's not a process designed to immediately cope with unexpected situations."
Evidence of the truth in Bob's statements to me can easily be seen by the reactions to the eyewitnesses that called to report their UFO sightings at O'Hare. Those reactions ranged from laughter to a complete a disregard for the witnesses and the situation they were reporting. This one wasn't in the playbook, so it was going to be ignored until it could be ignored.
The National UFO Reporting Center was the first (as far as I know) to report this situation and they did so based on an eyewitness report filed with that organization. The report appeared on their website about a week after the sighting. That may seem like an unreasonable amount of time for the release of such important information, but I'm sure they just wanted to be certain this wasn't some hoax or silly prank. And from a practical investigative standpoint, it just takes time to verify something like that. I'm sure almost everyone they called from the Government Agencies to the Airlines had no interest in seeing this go public.
Agencies like the FAA and the TSA still adhere to the time-proven practice of pleading ignorance, denial or just stalling when it comes to any inquiries. Even Freedom of Information requests have limited value. There isn't a federal employee out there that doesn't know whatever they put down on paper may come back to haunt them. That's why many UFO Researchers depend on eyewitnesses and whistleblowers to get the most valuable and reliable information about any sighting or encounter.
Pilots, people that work at Airports and those who live nearby tend to be the best UFO witnesses. That's because they are used to seeing things fly around the sky all day and night. When something really different comes along, they can spot it right away. That is a simple and logical conclusion to draw and one being ignored by the news media. I guess it's just easier for them to pretend that the O'Hare UFO Sighting never happened, then to investigate the situation or try and explain it.
My own paranormal investigations have taught me something that might explain their apathy. No matter how credible the source may be, a piece of information is only as good as people's ability to believe it. After years of government denial and belittling of credible UFO witnesses, many reporters think that there just isn't any proof that we're being visited by beings from other worlds. They probably lack the confidence in their own abilities to try and convince the public otherwise. Even if a UFO landed on their front lawn, an Alien came out and asked for directions to O'Hare, I doubt most news people would believe their own eyes.
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