Category 11 Case Directory
  SIGHTINGS FROM AIRCRAFT 
 
  Preliminary
Rating: 5  

                                   
     

AVCAT is a special project being conducted by NICAP, with the help and cooperation of the original compiler of AIRCAT, Dr. Richard Haines, and other sources, to create a comprehensive listing of sightings from aircraft with detailed documentation from these sources, including Projects SIGN, GRUDGE & BLUE BOOK.

The Killian Case
Feb. 24, 1959
Williamsport, Pennsylvania

8:20 p.m. local
Duration 40 mins
aircraft DC-6B
United States
Commercial
37+ observers
No EMI
No radar contact

Fran Ridge:
Feb. 24, 1959; Williamsport, Pennsylvania (BBU)
8:20 p.m. A scheduled American Airlines flight from Newark to Detroit encountered three lights over Pennsylvania. The initial detection took place when the aircraft was 13 miles west of Williamsport. The lights remained at about the 9 o'clock position for 40 minutes, providing an opportunity for many of the 35 passenger to observe them. They were also observed by the crews of two other planes flying much farther to the south, as well as by the tower operators in Pittsburgh. PA.  (Over 80 documents found in Blue Book files by Dan Wilson. See below)

Richard Hall:
The sighting of three glowing objects by several airline crews February 24, 1959 is one of the most thoroughly investigated (and, ironically, one of the most controversial) on record. The key witness, Captain Peter W. Killian, was interviewed by NICAP personnel. A detailed investigation report, including weather data, air navigation maps, etc., was submitted to NICAP by the New York City Affiliate. The Akron UFO Research Committee cooperated in the investigation, adding valuable details. Other published references are listed in the Section Notes (43). The Air Force later attributed the sighting to a refueling mission involving a tanker and jet bombers flashing brilliant lights. Discrepancies in this explanation are discussed in Section IX. (Source: UFO EVIDENCE,  Pages 42).

Brad Sparks:
Feb. 24, 1959. Central Penna. (BBU)
8:30-9:30 p.m. (EST). At 8:40 p.m. control tower operators at Greater Pittsburgh, Penn., Airport, sighted 3 lights. At about 8:30 p.m. United Flight 937, at 14,000 ft, heading W, Flight Engr Lowell E. Baney sighted 3 bluish-white lights. At 8:40 p.m. pilot Capt Alvin D. Yates sighted 3 lights off left wing (S) moving parallel to airliner about 5° elevation, while near Lock Haven, Penn. Continued to watch, with co-pilot Frank A. Grona, the 3 lights until over Youngstown, Ohio, when they appeared to move closer. Near Warren, Ohio, while descending to land at Akron-Canton, Ohio, Airport, the 3 lights veered to the right crossing in front of airliner and disappeared in the NW. Sighting at 8:45 p.m. at 41°18’N, 77°15’W (about 13 miles WNW of Williamsport, Penn.), American Airlines Flight 139 pilot Capt. Peter W. Killian and First Officer James John Dee, stewardesses Mrs Edna LeGate and Beverly Pingree, and 35 passengers of DC-6B airliner including N. D. Puscas, gen mfg mgr of Curtiss Wright Aircraft, on a DC-6B airliner flying at 250 knots IAS [deducting headwind, true ground speed ~310 mph] at 8,500 ft [~9500 ft AGL] direct non-stop from Newark to Detroit heading 285° True. Capt Killian and crew saw 3 lights changing relative position, separation and color (yellow-orange to brilliant bluewhite) at the 9 o'clock position to the SSW at 15° elevation [sometimes level at ~0° ?] occasionally moving to 11 or 11:30 o’clock and back to 9 o’clock at speeds up to 2,000 mph (based on Killian’s contact with another airliner that saw the object 2 mins later at 70 miles displacement). Brightness about that of Sirius or mag. –1 at maximum, dimming to about mag. +3. Capt Killian radioed another pilot to take simultaneous bearings to triangulate objects at about 20-25 miles from Killian. Capt Killian lost sight after descending over Lake Erie through haze to land at Detroit and had American Airlines radio a CIRVIS report. 5 other airliners reported seeing the 3 lights, including 2 United Airlines flights 937 and 321, and 2 other American flights notified by Capt Killian by radio in-flight when Killian was near Erie, Penn. One American flight at Dolphin check point 42°25’N, 81°32’W over Lake Erie heading E, sighted the objects S over direction of Cleveland; the other American flight 20 miles NE of Sandusky, Ohio, heading E to Pittsburgh, sighted the objects a little left [?] of heading, at about 130° azimuth [sighting lines converging to triangulate over Cleveland area about 40 miles from Killian]. Also seen by an AF transport plane flying from Washington, DC, to Dayton (report suppressed by BB from its fles). Also seen by 8 people in Akron at 9:15 p.m. (Sparks; BB files; CUFOS tape index cards; Willy Smith pp. 85-96)

Detailed reports and documents
reports/590224williamsport_report1.htm (Richard Hall)
reports/590224williamsport_report2.htm (Dr. Willy Smith)
reports/590224williamsport_report3.htm (Dan Wilson)


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