US Navy pilots have had some bizarre and at times alarming encounters with unidentified aircraft in recent years, as evidenced by eight recently-released hazard reports. Obtained by The Drive via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the reports contain descriptions given by the pilots that witnessed each incident, yet fail to explain the origin of any of the flying objects involved.
The first seven hazard reports all come from pilots flying aboard F/A-18F Super Hornets above a section of the US’s east coast, around Virginia and North Carolina, and all date to between 2013 and 2014. The final report comes from 2019 and details an object viewed from an EA-18G Growler in an area further north, off the coast of Maryland.
According to the FOIA officer handling the request, these are the only existing reports in the Navy’s database that describe encounters with unidentified aircraft.
The first case, which occurred on June 27, 2013, involved an object that was “white in color and approximately the size and shape of a drone or missile,” which passed within 200 feet (61 meters) of a Navy plane. Interestingly, however, a later review of radar tapes revealed no aircraft in the area at the time of the sighting.
In a later report, dated March 26, 2014, a pilot describes an “unknown aircraft [that] appeared to be small in size, approximately the size of a suitcase, and silver in color,” which was viewed from a distance of about 1,000 feet (305 meters) before it disappeared.
The communicating officer noted that the unauthorized presence of such a small aircraft in the area poses a major safety risk, explaining that “it may only be a matter of time before one of our F/A-18 aircraft has a mid-air collision with an unidentified UAS [unmanned aerial system].”
Fears of a crash were nearly realised on April 27 of that year, when a pilot reported a “near mid-air collision with balloon-like object," while a similar object – this time identified as a red weather balloon – was described in the final hazard report, dated February 13, 2019. Despite recognizing the nature of the flying object on this occasion, navy personnel were unable to identify who might have released the balloon.
The release of these documents comes less than a month after the Pentagon took the unexpected step of declassifying three videos showing “unidentified aerial phenomena” (that's UFOs to the rest of us). After much online speculation about these incidents, the US Department of Defense decided to release the videos in order to “clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real.”
However, without any accompanying information explaining the strange events occurring on screen, the publication of this evidence has left most people with more questions than answers. Similarly, these eight newly-released hazard reports only serve to highlight how much odd activity is going on above our heads.