The UFO event over Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in 2006 is one of the most intriguing UFO sightings in recent history. Despite being unremarkable as far as UFO sightings go, the reaction of the airline and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was anything but ordinary, suggesting some type of cover-up between the implicated authorities.
On November 7, 2006, United Airlines Flight 446 was preparing to depart from O’Hare International to North Carolina when a dozen of airline employees, including mechanics and pilots, spotted a gray and metallic saucer-like object hovering above Gate C17 of the United terminal. The object remained there for several minutes before flying off into the clouds at an unnatural speed. This event was captured in official FAA audio recordings, with a United controller and a colleague discussing the sighting.
The disc was estimated to be at least 22 feet in diameter and hovered around 1,500 feet off the ground, below a heavy cloud cover at 1,900 feet. One grounded pilot announced his sightings over the radio, alerting a taxi mechanic and several other pilots to the presence of the object. At least two grounded pilots were able to lean out of their cockpit windows and see the object in great detail.
The story of the O’Hare UFO incident went almost completely unnoticed until the Chicago Tribune published an article on December 31, 2006, nearly two months after the incident. The story became the highest-hitting article in the website’s history, and other news outlets picked up the story as well.
Jon Hilkevitch, a transportation reporter with the Chicago Tribune, started interviewing the witnesses. Initially, both the FAA and United Airlines denied any knowledge of the event but were forced to admit that this was a lie when an audio tape was leaked to the press that captured a United Airlines radio conversation on the date of the event.
The FAA supervisor identified as “Sue” was asking several controllers at O’Hare if they had seen a flying disc over gate C-17. They initially laughed off the question, but she called back 15 minutes later to confirm that several pilots had seen the disc and that one had captured a photograph of it. Unfortunately, this alleged photograph has never surfaced.
The tape also recorded the control tower operators warning outgoing planes of the UFO and advising them to be cautious. Even in the wake of the tape, United Airlines and the FAA continued to brush off the incident. The airline prohibited any employees from discussing the incident with the media.
However, after the Chicago Tribune article compelled them to address the situation, a spokesperson from the FAA claimed that the alleged disc was nothing but the reflection of airport lights off the low cloud cover. However, this explanation was unconvincing, as the sighting occurred in daylight, before any of the airport’s lights were turned on.
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Despite the assertions of several credible witnesses, the airline and the FAA declined to investigate the matter further and wrote it off as a rare weather phenomenon known as a fallstreak or “hole-punch cloud.” However, Mark Rodeghier, the director for the Center for UFO Studies Scientific Director, did not accept this explanation and stated:
“It’s an unknown object over O’Hare, and it’s seen by official personnel and does United or the FAA take it seriously? Of course not, they have zero interest because UFOs can’t exist. But how can you not worry about something hovering over an airport after 9/11? It doesn’t make sense.”
This explanation did not stand up to reason too, as journalist Leslie Kean soon discovered. Hole-punched clouds form, when ice crystals from higher clouds fall down through a lower cloud shelf, punch a hole in it, and evaporate in the warm air below, only forming in below-freezing temperatures. The air at the altitude of the sighting on the day in question was 53 degrees Fahrenheit, which was above freezing.
Despite the FAA’s lack of interest in the O’Hare UFO incident, an independent investigation group called NARC conducted their own research. The team of former NASA scientists, pilots, meteorologists, and aerospace engineers, among others, prepared a 154-page report that confirmed the presence of a physical object over O’Hare. The report stated that the object’s maneuvers could not be explained by conventional means and advised the FAA to launch their own investigation. However, to this day, the FAA has not acted upon this recommendation. (Source
“There have been documented cases where safety appears to have been implicated, and more and more we are coming to the point of view that we are dealing with an intelligent phenomenon. We must be proactive before an aircraft goes down,” said Richard Haines, a former chief of the Space Human Factors Office at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
The reaction of the airline and the FAA in the aftermath of the incident suggests some type of cover-up between the implicated authorities. The airline prohibited its employees from sharing the details of the incident, and the FAA provided unconvincing explanations for the UFO sighting, such as the reflection of airport lights off low cloud cover or a misidentified weather phenomenon. These explanations were quickly debunked by journalists and independent investigators.
Jon Hilkevitch emphasized how unusual it is for the FAA to ignore such a significant UFO sighting. The FAA has launched investigations for far less extraordinary incidents, such as spilled coffee pots and airport aisles. This lack of interest in the O’Hare UFO incident raises questions about the extent of government involvement in hiding the truth about UFOs from the public.
The taxi mechanic described Chicago’s O’Hare UFO as follows:
“The craft appeared to be hovering right below the ceiling of the cloud cover (about 700 or 800 feet). The cloud ceiling that day was 1900 feet. The top of the craft was clearly outlined as a very dark gray material, but the bottom and the edges of the craft were hazy like when you see the mirage-like surface of the road on a hot day.
The other interesting observation was that after the craft accelerated straight up (observed by other witnesses), there was a hole punched in the clouds. The hole in the clouds was about the same size as the unidentified craft. It looked like a cookie cutter hole stamped out of dough ‘very similar in size’ to the craft. The hole stayed for a little while and then dissipated into the overcast clouds. The sighting lasted about 20 minutes from the time of the first radio call to the time when the mechanic and witness parked the Boeing 777 that he was taxiing across the airport.”
Reddit user Buddy_Felcher describes what he saw during the 2006 O’Hare Airport UFO sighting:
“I was working at American Airlines as a ramp service clerk at O’Hare when that thing came. I saw it, and only one other coworker saw it as well. And nobody believed me even after other airline workers said they saw it too. Until I heard other people saw it everyone had me convinced I was crazy…
Have you ever seen the movie flight of the navigator? That’s what it sort of looked like but also kind of like it was a chrome bubble of air or like the way invisible people in movies look when it’s raining on them. I only saw the latter part of it being there, the guy I worked with said it was solid grey at first and then changed to what I saw.” (Source)