Airliner Chases Bright Light Miles Across the State
Source: Buffalo Evening News (NY), April 10, 1956
Submitted by Michael Swords
Image of Article: http://www.nicap.org/images/ryan_swords_01.jpg
A veteran American Airlines pilot on a flight from New York to Buffalo Sunday night spent 45 fantastic minutes pursuing something which, until someone offers a better explanation, can only be called a flying saucer.
Capt. Raymond E. Ryan, 42, of 199 Lorfield Drive, Snyder, left New York at 9 PM Sunday at the controls of Flight 715 bound for Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.
The flight was routine into Albany, where the big Convair landed at 10 PM. Fifteen minutes later she was airborne again heading into a starless sky which soon would unfold the strangest night the captain and his crew had ever seen.
“I was flying at the time we took off from Albany.” Capt. Ryan said. “We made a left turn after clearing Albany and headed for Syracuse.”
Stewardess Sees It Too
Almost instantly, as the big plane turned westward, the captain saw “this bright light hovering over Schenectady.” At first, he said, he thought it was another plane.
“We started to try to by-pass it and I remarked to my first officer, William Neff: “Oh, that’s an awfully bright light!” The stewardess, Miss Phyllis Reynolds of Eggertsville, came into the cockpit and she too saw the light.
“Suddenly, as we came abreast of it,” Capt. Ryan said, “it put on a burst of tremendous speed and darted off to the west.” He said his plane was flying at about 240 miles per hour and estimated the object then was traveling “about 600 or 900 miles per hour.”
He said he could not judge the size of the object. Capt. Ryan explained that “the light was so bright you wouldn’t want to look at it.” He added that the object seemed at times to change color from “a very bright white to an orange color” especially when it passed over cities or towns.
Calls Griffis Base
When the light was almost eight miles west of the plane, Capt. Ryan recalled, it seemed to slow down and keep its distance as the plane followed.
“We decided to call Griffis Air Force Base in Rome and ask them if they had radar operating,” the captain said.
They didn’t and replied it would take 30 minutes to activate the equipment. But they requested the airliner, which had it powerful landing lights biting into the darkness in an attempt to identify the object, to douse all but the small navigational lights.
The Air Force personnel then reported by radio to the Convair that they could see the plane and also “an orange object in the sky.”
The Air Force alerted a scramble of two jets. While the jets were being prepared for take-off, the military base requested Capt. Ryan to follow the object, which was now traveling at about 6000 feet or 1500 feet higher than the Convair.
Follows to Shoreline
Capt. Ryan turned off his Syracuse-bound course and headed northwest, following the flying object. At no time, he said, did he ever get closer than three miles to it.
He followed it to “just beyond the shoreline of Lake Ontario near Oswego” and lost radio contact with Griffris.
Contacting the CAA tower in Syracuse, he was told they had been monitoring his conversation with the Air Force.
About 5 miles over the lake, Capt. Ryan decided to abandon the pursuit. “The object was heading northwest over the lake toward Canada. I knew I couldn’t catch it or keep up with it.”
The jets which took off from Griffis could not locate the object, the Air Force told Capt. Ryan.
But it has been seen by CAA towers in Albany and Watertown as well as by naked-eye observers at Griffis Air Force Base.
A veteran of 23 years of flying with 62 Atlantic crossings, Capt. Ryan said he has seen meteors and other strange sky phenomenon. The light he and his crew, and observers along the course, saw was none of these.
“This is real, brother,” the captain said. “This is absolutely real.”
He added” “I’ve read about fantastic flying saucers and I’m the type of fellow that – well, you’ve got to show me. But I’m convinced there was something fantastic up there.”
After giving up the chase, Capt. Ryan returned to Syracuse and his normal course.