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UFO Skeptic Pilot Witnesses UFO Near Aircraft.

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UFO Skeptic Pilot Witnesses UFO Near Aircraft. Empty UFO Skeptic Pilot Witnesses UFO Near Aircraft.

Post  karl 12 on Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:17 pm

Listed here in the chronology section of NICAP's 'UFO Evidence' report there's a pretty fascinating UFO encounter from over Jackson, Alabama on November 14th, 1956 where a pilot and co-pilot both witnessed a 'brilliant bluish-white light' perform highly unusual flight characteristics near their aircraft.

The UFO's maneuvers were said to last for 30 seconds and described as 'rising and falling, darting back and forth, instant 90° turns, then hovering motionless again' - when the control tower radioed the aircraft the object began another series of 'crazy gyrations, lazy 8's, square chandelles with undulating motion' and then shot out over the Gulf of Mexico in a steep climb at 'fantastic speed'.

What makes this case all the more interesting (or 'splendidly ironic' as it mentions in this book) is the fact that the main witness pilot Captain W. J. Hull was a published anti-UFO skeptic who had already written a 'debunking' article in an Airline Pilot magazine three years before.

10:10-10:12 p.m. Capital Airlines Flight 77 pilot Capt. W. J. Hull with 3 million miles and 17 years' flight experience and author of anti-UFO skeptical article "The Obituary of the Flying Saucer" in The Airline Pilot magazine (Sept. 1953), with copilot FO Peter MacIntosh were flying from New York to Mobile, Ala., in a Viscount airliner at 300 mph descending at 10,000 ft, when they saw a brilliant bluish-white light (mag. -7) descend in a steep downward angle diagonally (about 45°?) from left to right from WSW at azimuth 315° to dead ahead SSW at 205° azimuth 30°-40° elevation where it stopped at the same or slightly higher altitude. Hull radioed Bates tower near Mobile to look for object, then at that moment the object began a series of maneuvers for 30 secs, rising and falling, darting back and forth, instant 90° turns, then hovered motionless again at same/slightly higher level. When Bates field radioed again the object began another series of "crazy gyrations, lazy 8's, square chandelles" with undulating motion, then shot out to the S over the Gulf of Mexico in a steep climb at "fantastic speed" until it disappeared.

(Condon Committee Unexplained case, CR pp. 127-9; Hynek-CUFOS­ Willy Smith files; NARCAP; UFOE,

Capital Airlines Pilots Sees Acrobatic UFO

Below is the full report of the encounter sent in a letter by Captain Hull to his friend, the president of the CSI-NY Civilian UFO Investigation group where he describes being 'flabbergasted' and 'confounded' by the object's aerial maneuverability -the pilot also reminds him that he was 'objectively skeptical and cynically critical of most of the purported saucer sightings' yet asks the question 'was this was a machine based on earth?' which I suppose is a pretty fair one, especially considering this incident occurred way back in 1956.

The sighting which follows is of particular interest because it was made by an expert observer - a veteran airline pilot - who was formerly extremely skeptical on the subject of flying saucers. In fact, in 1953 Captain Hull wrote an article for Airline Pilot magazine titled "The Obituary of the Flying Saucers. We reprint, with his permission, a slightly condensed excerpt from the letter to CSI President John Du Barry in which he described his experience.

On the night of November 14, 1956 I was flying a Viscount at high altitude from New York to Mobile, Alabama. We were above a layer of clouds which were occasionally broken, giving us a glimpse of the ground now and then. At 10:10 p.m. E.S.T., when only about 60 miles from Mobile, my co-pilot Peter Macintosh and I saw what we thought was a brilliant meteor. We were flying south-southwest and it fell across our path from left to right, first becoming visible at the top of the windshield. (The Viscount has wonderful visibility upward.) It decelerated rapidly, just as any meteor does when entering the denser layers of ths earth''s lower atmosphere, and we expected to see it burn out with the customary flash, which pilots often see, but which people on the ground are often denied.

Imagine our consternation when this brilliant light did not burn out, but abruptly halted directly in front of us. It was an intense blue-white light, approximately 7 or 6 times as bright as Venus when this planet is at its brightest magnitude. Pete shouted "What the hell is it, a jet?" His first thought, of course, was that the object was a diving jet fighter which had turned sharply away from us and in departing, was giving us a view right up its glowing tailpipe. Instantly I knew this could not possibly be an airplane. I have seen the glow of too many jet pipes at night not to recognize one when I see it. It was not the right color; it did not diminish in size, as a departing jet fighter's exhaust should have; and it remained motionless directly ahead of us, how far I cannot say, but it must have been quite a few miles.

I quickly grabbed my microphone and called the Mobile Control Tower. "Bates Tower, this is Capital 77. Look out toward the north and east and see if you can see a strange white light hovering in the sky."

"Capital 77, this is Mobile Bates Tower. We are unable to see much of the sky because of a thick cloud cover. Do you think the object is in our vicinity?"

"Affirmative. It looks like a brilliant white light bulb, about one tenth the size of the moon. It is directly ahead of us and at about our altitude, or slightly higher. We are right over Jackson, Alabama and have descended to 10,000 feet. Please initiate a call to Brookley Field Tower (Air Force Field 20 miles southeast of Bates Field) and ask the controller if he can see it on their big radar scope." (We did not have the military frequency crystals in our transmitter to work Brookley Tower.)


karl 12

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Post  karl 12 on Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:18 pm

Just after this exchange, the object began to maneuver. It darted hither and yon, rising and falling in undulating flight, making sharper turns than any known aircraft, sometimes changing direction 90 degrees in an instant. All the while the color remained constant, a brilliant blue-white, and the object did not grow or lessen in size. Macintosh and I sat there completely flabbergasted at this unnerving exhibition. I thought of calling the passengers over the public address system, but the object was dead ahead of us and putting on its performance in an area whose arc was not large enough to enable anybody in the cabin to get a view of it out the side windows. After a half minute or so of this dancing, unorthodox flight the object suddenly became motionless and hovered dead still. We were simply confounded by this.

Bates Tower called back, "Capital 77, we are trying to raise ths Brookley Tower"

Right at this moment the strange light began another series of crazy gyrations, lazy 8's, square chandellea, all the while weaving through the air with a sort of rythmic, undulating cadence, the likes of which neither Pete nor I had ever seen. Then, apparently content at the consternation which it had wrought, the object shot out ever the Gulf of Mexico, rising at the most breathtaking angle and at such a fantastic speed that it diminished rapidly to a pinpoint and was swallowed up in the night.
This unearthly exhibition probably went on for at least two minutes, according to our best judgment. I glanced at the clock and noted it read 10:12. The most puzzling thing about the whole occurrence, aside from the dancing flight, was that the object, whatever it was, had remained at the same distance from us throughout the performance. How do we know this? It never increased in size, and yet we were bearing down on it at more than 5 miles a minute in the Viscount. If it was in view two minutes and performing in one area we should have been at least ten miles closer to it. How, any object that flies certainly looks different when viewed at such a great variance in distance. So this UFO must have managed to remain at the same distance from us throughout the entire display.

If you know southern Alabama you know that it is pretty desolate country, with few inhabitants and only a few small hamlets between Mobile and Montgomery up in the middle of the state. We were above the clouds, precluding any reflections of searchlights from below. I have seen hundreds of advertising searchlights playing on clouds, and this was nothing remotely related. Likewise I am summarily ruling out aircraft (at least the ones we know), balloons, missiles, or any other earthlaunched device within my ken. The one thing which I can't get over is the fact that when it came, it came steeply downwards when it departed after its amazing exhibitio. It went steeply upward. Now I ask you, John, is this machine based on the earth?"

I followed up on this spectacular sighting after landing at Mobile The control tower operators had reached Brookley after a slight delay, but the controller had seen nothing, and since no night flights were in progress, the surveillance radar had not been energized at the time.

In case any of your members would like to know my background, you may give it to them. You will remember me as objectively skeptical and cynically critical of most of the purported saucer sightings. But I think you have to believe a veteran airline pilot with 17 years of service, 15,000 hours and 3 million miles in his log-book. I am seeking no publicity. I didn't report this sighting to the press and not a word has ever been printed about it until this moment.

W. J. Hull

Bluebook documents (pdf file)

karl 12

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Post  karl 12 on Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:19 pm

Even the highly questionable Condon Report couldn't shoehorn a debunk onto this one and Dr James Mcdonald brings up the case in his 'Science In Default' article where he lists UFO incidents conceded by Condon to be 'unexplainable' and 'containing features of particularly strong scientific interest' (he also lists cases deemed 'explained' by the Condon report to which he takes 'strong exception to the argumentation presented').

Some examples of UFO cases conceded to be unexplainable in the Condon Report and containing features of particularly strong scientific interest:

Utica, N.Y., 6/23/55
Lakenheath, England, 8/13/56
Jackson, Ala., 11/14/56
Norfolk, Va., 8/30/57
RB-47 case, 9/19/57
Beverly Mass., 4/22/66
Donnybrook, N.D., 8/19/66
Haynesville, La., 12/30/66
Joplin, Mo., 1/13/67
Colorado Springs, Colo., 5/13/67

Some examples of UFO cases considered explained in the Condon Report for which I would take strong exception to the argumentation presented and would regard as both unexplained and of strong scientific interest:

Flagstaff, Ariz., 5/20/50
Washington, D. C., 7/19/52
Bellefontaine, O., 8/1/52
Haneda AFB, Japan, 8/5/5
Gulf of Mexico, 12/6/52
Odessa, Wash., 12/10/52
Continental Divide, N.M., 1/26/53
Seven Isles, Quebec, 6/29/5
Niagara Falls, N.Y., 7/25/57
Kirtland AFB, N.M., 11/4/57
Gulf of Mexico, 11/5/57
Peru, 12/30/66
Holloman AFB, 3/2/67
Kincheloe AFB, 9/11/67
Vandenberg AFB, 10/6/67
Milledgeville, Ga., 10/20/67

Science in Default - Twenty-Two Years of Inadequate UFO Investigations

Whatever the case this is a pretty compelling unexplained UFO incident involving a flabbergasted UFO skeptic and some incredibly strange UFO flight characteristics including 90° turns, lazy eights and square chandelles so it's a great shame that it was completely ignored by USAF UFO investigators - the article below also mentions there was a major UFO flap on in the U.S. at the time so maybe there could be other reports that corroborate this one.

A UFO flap covering the area of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota began on November 8th. The sightings, made during nearly every hour of the day and night, continued until December 2nd. More than 85 separate visual sighting reports from some 60 different localities were received from the three state area. Due to the unusually large number of reports, it was possible, in some instances, to determine that the same phenomenon was seen at widely separated areas. In other cases, the sighting reports indicate a great number of different objects were aloft at one time over different areas.


karl 12

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Post  easynow on Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:09 am

Thanks karl this is defintely an interesting case !

I guess it's true then .... seeing is believing ?

I think this report can be added to the list of cases the debunkers ignore Wink

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Post  karl 12 on Wed Mar 27, 2013 4:40 am

easynow wrote:Thanks karl this is defintely an interesting case !

I guess it's true then .... seeing is believing ?

I think this report can be added to the list of cases the debunkers ignore Wink

It sure is an interesting one mate and that debunker list seems to be getting longer and longer as time goes by -they also never seem to want to address the fact that many official USAF UFO explanations are completely contrived and have 'almost no correlation to the facts of the case' but I guess that's a discussion for another thread.

"As a result of several trips to project Bluebook,I´ve had an opportunity to examine quite carefully and in detail the types of reports that are made by Bluebook personnel.In most cases, I have found that theres almost no correlation between so-called "evaluations and explanations" that are made by Bluebook and the facts of the case...
There are hundreds of good cases in the Air Force files that should have led to top-level scientific scrutiny of this problem,years ago,yet these cases have been swept under the rug in a most disturbing way by Project Bluebook investigators and their consultants."

Dr James McDonald -Senior physicist at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics and professor in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Arizona

As for this case, it's also mentioned in the credit section of this book and states that Captain Joe Hull's anti-UFO skeptical article was published in the 22nd edition of Men in Motion 'Air Line Pilot' magazine (pages 13 and 14) -can't find it but would certainly be interested to read it!

It also states in the pdf file below that the pilot experienced another UFO sighting one year after the Alabama report which involved radar confirmation from two aircraft -it also goes on to mention how the Condon team stated the two cases 'must be considered as unknowns' and describes the many failings of the Colorado project.

On August 30, 1957, Captain Hull was again piloting a Viscount,this time over the Chesapeake Bay, near Norfolk, Virginia, when he saw a brilliant object that "flew fast and then abruptly halted 20 miles in front of us." Both the Viscount and another aircraft, a DC-6, got radar returns from the UFO. The object, Captain Hull reported, "dissolved right in front of my eyes and the crew.., lost it from the [radar] scope at the same time." The Condon team said "these two cases must be considered as unknowns".

PDF File

Both cases are listed here in Dominic Weinstein's Catalogue of Military,Airliner and Private Pilots Sightings and the NICAP case file for the incident goes into a bit more detail below:

Two Aircraft Observe Object / Excellent Blip On Radar

Aug. 30, 1957

Chesapeake Bay, nr. Norfolk, Virginia

A Capital Airlines pilot with 17 years & 3,000,000 miles logged was flying a Viscount at 12,000' approaching Norfolk, Va., with a Northeast Airlines DC-6 "directly above" on the same heading at 20,000. The Viscount pilot saw a "brilliant" object which "flew fast and then abruptly halted 20 mi. in front of us at 60,000 ft. altitude." The Northeast pilot tried to acquire the object on radar: with the antenna at 0 degrees elevation nothing was detected, but with the antenna elevated to 15 degrees he acquired "an excellent blip right where I told him to look for the object." According to the Viscount pilot, the object "dissolved right in front of my eyes, and the crew above lost it from the scope at the same time. They said it just faded away." The entire incident lasted "several minutes". (NARCAP Report item # 14)


When it comes to the pilot's pre UFO encounter attitudes there's also another article below which states he was 'widely known among pilots for his negative views on flying saucers' and mentions that in his anti-UFO article he accepted UFO debunker Dr Donald Menzel's 'natural phenomena' explanation for UFOs - there's also a United Press Staff Correspondent here who describes Captain Hull denouncing flying saucers as 'bunk' .

This 1962 letter from William B. Nash (Pan American Airways pilot involved in the Fortenberry/Nash UFO case) is also a relevant one as it states Captain Hull was always respected as a man of integrity and was 'mesmerized' by a book by Donald Menzel but it doesn't mention the pilots UFO sightings directly.

I have letters in my possession from Captain W.J. Hull of Capitol Airlines, stating that he had invited you more than once to debate with him on the U.F.O. subject on television or radio. He said you refused. Captain Hull has always been respected as a man of integrity. Incidentally, until he looked deeper into the subject, he had been briefly mesmerized by your book. As the man said, it is well written..


Whatever the case on this one, it's certainly a fascinating report with some darn nifty UFO maneuvers (90° turns, lazy eights, square chandelles etc..) - I don't think we've got anything in the public domain that can do that nowadays so god knows what was flying about over Alabama back in 1957.

I also liked the fact that one of the pilots was a hardened UFO skeptic - he must have been quite mindboggled to witness all these maneuvers and I really do wonder if he retracted his anti-UFO article published in 1953.


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