Thursday, September 22, 2011


UFOs are never tracked on radar and visually, right?

Sometimes, it's claimed that UFOs are never tracked on radar, so they couldn't possibly be physical objects flying in controlled airspace. However, there are many cases on record (a few that I've blogged about here) in which unidentified returns were observed by radar operators. The next issue is, of course, whether anything was seen both visually and tracked on radar, and the number of these cases is far less.

Yet, a few do crop up now and then. In my slow and agonizing (trust me) perusal of the NRC Canadian UFO files, I'm finding some curious reports, and I'll be detailing them periodically in future blog entries.

One case that caught my eye was a report from 1972, involving an object tracked on radar by tower operators at North Bay, Ontario, where NORAD is based. What's interesting is that many other cases on file consist of several pages worth of correspondence and discussion, even when there's an obvious explanation for the object seen. In this case, however, there's no indication that the UFO report was ever investigated or followed up, at least at the low level of classification of which we have access. In fact, that in itself suggests that the case must have been referred to a higher-level investigation.

Anyway, the report notes simply that on September 10, 1972, at 0317Z (10:17 pm ET on September 9, 1972), "Mr. Robert Patterson," an Air Traffic Controller, and "Mr. Stacey (?)," the Radar Operator at North Bay Airport, both observed "one object flashing red and green lights, speed very slow to 300K [knots] at 4000 to 6000 feet estimated."

The report then gives the following description:

Visual sighting correlated with a North Bay terminal radar return at 340 degrees, six miles. Object appeared to turn in tight circles or hover for approx. 15 minutes and then lose altitude steadily with flashing lights becoming dimmer until visual contact lost at 0345Z. Radar contact lost prior to visual contact.

My check with a sky chart program shows that Jupiter was the only planet in the sky at the time, and it was low on the horizon, but in the southwest, not at 340 degrees.

Now, the fact that the report is careful to call the witnesses "Mr." means they were civilian, and not military personnel at NORAD, but working at the civilian airport. Since this doesn't seem to have been a misidentified star or planet, it could have been a military aircraft for which the civilians were not entitled to know about.

Still, we don't know what it really was because there was no follow up at all. And we're left with a UFO seen by reliable observers and tracked simultaneously by radar.


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