Pilots on two separate aircraft reported an unidentified flying object high over southern Arizona last month.
One of them, a commercial pilot flying a passenger jet for American Airlines, said the object was above 40,000 feet and “had a big reflection.”
The Feb. 24th incident began when the pilot of a Learjet reported an object to Albuquerque Center air traffic control while flying over the desert in southeastern Arizona.
“I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t an airplane but it was, the path was going in the opposite direction,” the pilot said.
Air traffic controllers asked the pilot of a nearby American Airlines passenger jet traveling from San Francisco to Dallas to let them know if anything passes over the aircraft.
“If anything passes over us?” the pilot asked, somewhat incredulously.
A few minutes later, he saw it ― whatever “it” was.
“Something just passed over us, like a, don’t know what it was, but it was at least two, three thousand feet above us,” he said. “Yeah it passed right over the top of us.”
The American Airlines pilot said he couldn’t make out what the object was but it “had a big reflection” and was going in the opposite direction.
“Was it a Google balloon?” a voice asked.
“Doubtful,” the pilot replied.
“UFO,” someone responded matter-of-factly.
Audio of the mysterious aircraft encounter was first posted on The Drive.
Two months later, it’s still not clear what was up there.
“We don’t have any comment beyond what you hear,” FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford told KOB, the NBC station in Albuquerque. “Other than the brief conversation between two aircraft, the controller was unable to verify that any other aircraft was in the area.”
The reported altitude would put the UFO well above the range of consumer drones. Yet the vague nature of the sightings doesn’t completely rule out balloons or experimental aircraft.
The sightings occurred near the Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, and about 100 miles from Luke Air Force Base. Several other bases are within 500 miles. However, Lunsford implied that air traffic controllers would likely know if there was military aircraft in the air.
“We have a close working relationship with a number of other agencies and safely handle military aircraft and civilian aircraft of all types in that area every day, including high-altitude weather balloons,” Lunsford was quoted as saying.
The location of the sightings was also about 500 miles west of one of the most famous UFO incidents in U.S. history: The 1947 UFO “crash” at Roswell, New Mexico. The federal government later said the object was a high-altitude balloon sent up to look for signs of a possible Soviet nuclear test.