Is aviation safety being put at risk because of scientists’ reluctance to be associated with UFOs? After a long investigation, the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP) has released a detailed report (PDF file, 5mb/155 pages) on the Chicago O’Hare Airport UFO incident from last year, which got so much coverage in the mainstream press. On their site, NARCAP make some pertinent comments, which are worth pointing out here (bolded type are emphasised by me). The NARCAP report comments “it is interesting that an incursion over one of the busiest aviation facilities in the world would receive such superficial attention” from the FAA. Especially in this post-9/11 era…
An incursion by an unidentified aerial phenomena, UAP, into Class B restricted airspace was reported by airline and airport employees at Chicago ‘s O’Hare International airport on 7 November2006. The offending object was described by all witnesses as a disc-shaped form that hovered over C terminal. When the UAP departed it left a hole in the overcast above the airport.
After a superficial examination of the event the FAA suggested that the incident did not occur as described and was probably a “weather phenomenon” citing a “hole-punch cloud” as the source of the hole that was left by the passing of the UAP. It appears that this judgment was based entirely on the hope that such events do not occur and the absence of radar data to support the witnesses’ claims. Weather conditions at the time of the incident do not support the claim of a “hole-punch cloud” and it is possible that the UAP was detected on radar. It is interesting that an incursion over one of the busiest aviation facilities in the world would receive such superficial attention.
NARCAP was notified of this incident by the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and immediately began a thorough investigation following aviation incident investigation protocols regarding confidentiality and premature public commentary.
After advising NARCAP of the incident Peter Davenport of NUFORC broke the story to the press and the case was widely publicized. While the discussion in the public domain was heated and the pressure on the facilities and witnesses was intense, NARCAP was not able to comment or engage the various media requests as the investigation was not completed. If the report had been made directly to NARCAP there would have been no public exposure of the event until the report was released. NARCAP is dedicated to serving the aviation community and seeks to manage UAP investigations in a responsible and respectful way.
Subsequent to the media exposure of the incident, numerous hoaxed photographs and alleged videos of the event were reported on the Internet. After examining these images and claims it is NARCAP’s opinion that no authentic photographs or videos have been brought forward at this time. NARCAP is aware of only one claim by a witness that, allegedly, someone took a photograph of the UAP and that claim remains unsubstantiated.
NARCAP completed its investigation in March/April of 2007. Consistent with the NARCAP mission, the report was distributed to key aviation safety officials and organizations. While public interest in the case remains high, NARCAP has withheld general distribution of the report until the aviation community has an opportunity to review and respond.
This is an important contribution from NARCAP, and shows that UFOs/UAP can be studied scientifically, and with responsibility. NARCAP’s science director, Dr. Richard Haines, is a perceptual psychologist and former Chief of the Space Human Factors Office at NASA Ames Research Center and a former senior research scientist for both NASA and Raytheon. Unfortunately, however, the results of this report suggest that the O’Hare mystery will probably remain unsolved.