Thursday, May 28, 2015

Unheard from beyond the Kitsune cloud

As a longtime flight enthusiast and a trainee pilot, I’ve maintained a fascination with unusual aircraft and aviation in general since I was a child. It is one of my foremost passions in life, and I fondly reminisce upon the past-time of spotting commercial airliners with my father as they came in to land while he parked just outside the Miami airport tarmac fences back in the early 90s. Nowadays, I live relatively close to Hartsfield Jackson International airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. Air traffic is ubiquitous, and on any clear night, the blinking beacons of many commercial jetliners on a typical flight path is a very common sight indeed as I sit upon my bench on my back porch at night and stargaze with the occasional cigarette in hand.  Meteors are more uncommon, but still clearly visible, particularly the Perseids of August and the Leonids that shower down around November. There is one outstanding incident which I’ve kept largely silent about that I feel compelled to share with any who read this article.

The following anecdote describes the night I saw a UFO.

I am entirely without concern upon running the risk of sacrificing any notion of credibility upon revealing this story, since I stake my word on it with complete and total confidence. Many skeptical ‘UFO hunters’ pay no heed to anecdotes that do not provide some form of photographic or video evidence, and to that end, I simply do not care. What I saw remains one of the strangest events I had ever bared witness to.

I was a passenger aboard the ‘Cormorant’ Catamaran, a dual hulled vessel on an expedition venturing throughout the Galapagos Islands.  On the night of July 19th, 2012, our charter was sailing en-route from Isla Santiago (San Salvador), to Isla Genovesa (AKA: Tower Island), a remote shield volcano boasting a dormant crater lake called Darwin Bay. There is nothing but open ocean between these two islands, and it should be noted that the Galapagos Islands are a ‘dead zone’ for international air travel, with the only exceptions being flight paths between southern California (Typically LAX or SFO) and Lima or Santiago, which, if referenced on any world flight path chart, do NOT cross directly over the island chain.

We were crossing the Equator for the second time on our course (0°0′N)north, and my fellow passengers were busy carousing with the crew on the bridge. I left my camera bag behind in my cabin to make my way up to the upper deck to stargaze and relax on the outdoor chaise lounge.  As I am sitting on the lounge bench, winding down from a long day of diving and hiking, I gaze up into the night sky. It is truly remarkable to see the stars in the night sky in the Galapagos due to the complete absence light pollution. One can see the spiral arm of the Milky Way with unparalleled clarity arcing across the midnight expanse; and all our nearby star systems shine with a vividness that all but made my jaw drop. It’s an amazing spectacle in and of itself.

After about 15 minutes of stargazing, I saw a bright, bluish-white, pulsating light appear high in the skies directly above me, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

“…What the F*ck…” were the only words that came out of my mouth.

The pulsing light seemed to travel at a constant speed as it headed due north, in the same general direction that our craft was heading. I knew what I was seeing was extraordinary, having never seen anything even remotely like it. I stared in rapture as the pulsing light raced across the sky and started to veer east on a smooth, parabolic orbit, now speeding toward the horizon. I got up and hurriedly made my way to the ship’s railing, and watched the pulsing light continue onward at a steady speed, descending down to greet the horizon far to the east as it got dimmer and dimmer the further away it traveled. It did not leave a trail of any sort.  Within a minute of having first seen this spectacle appear in the skies, it had disappeared over the horizon.

I stared over the railing of the ship into the dark expanse of roiling, empty sea and dusky grey clouds, my mouth agape. I stared out to sea for several minutes facing east where the craft disappeared and then raced down below decks, dashed into my cabin, snagged my camera bag, and ran back to the top deck with my heart racing. I pulled out Nikon D5100 with haste and turned it on, forefinger hovering over the shutter release, eager to capture anything I could.

I must have spent the next hour and a half up on that deck, camera clutched in my hands while hoping to see something else again, anything at all, but nothing else appeared: Just gazing up into the cosmos and trying to comprehend the magnitude of what I saw. I didn’t’ tell anyone on-board the ship.

In the years gone by since I witnessed this event, I mulled over many explanations. I’ve gone to great lengths using all available contemporary logic to rule out what it ‘wasn’t.  

The rate of speed at which this object traveled was hypersonic and maintained more than enough velocity to have broken the sound barrier many times over, causing a series of sonic booms if it was within atmosphere, so it was certainly in orbit above the planet. The entire experience was utterly silent. Contemporary Supersonic jet fighters travel within the atmosphere and emit sonic booms as they push past the sound barrier. Smaller meteorites streak across the sky and typically burn up within a second. Larger meteors (which are very, very rare), most notably the ‘Chelyabinsk’ Meteor that impacted Russia the following year, will however, burn up steadily as they descend to earth. Due to the laws of thermodynamics they will burn in the ‘orange-yellow’ spectrum (burning sodium & or iron) as they descend on a downward tangent. These natural phenomena do NOT travel on parabolic orbital paths, nor do they pulse bluish-white. Thus, these natural phenomena have been ruled out.

The international space station, however, can be seen with the naked eye. It is as ‘slow’ as molasses compared to what I saw, and simply cannot change paths with such incredible maneuverability, appearing directly overhead, turning on a dime, and then disappearing beyond the horizon within the time span of one minute. While the low orbital path of the ISS is indeed curved along the Earth’s axis, it is a very broad-sweeping orbit and does not delineate from its course at such a sharp trajectory from the vantage point of an observer standing atop a ship on the surface.

The object witnessed did not change course at a sharp right angle, but plotted a very rapid elliptic curve east. I’d estimate the course change was between 80-90 degrees, something which the ISS is simply not capable of making within the time frame of being observed for less than a minute during one of its orbits. The total duration of the craft I witnessed from its Zenith directly above me to its disappearance over the horizon was roughly one minute, with the course change taking around only about 6 or 7 seconds.

Re-entry vehicles such as the Jules Verne ATV do emit a bluish-white glow, but are designed to burn apart over remote swaths of the Earth’s oceans in a shower of sparks, heading in one direction on a downward plunge. It’s a one way trip. 

There exists only a scant few possibilities which present themselves to me, and as such, offer the likeliest explanation: 

One of the few types of  craft capable of fitting the profile of what I saw would be a highly classified suborbital scram-jet vehicle, such as the SR-75 Penetrator, AKA “Project Aurora” which has been rumored to exist since the 1980s, supposedly as a surveillance vehicle and a successor to the SR-71 Blackbird which was introduced in 1966. We’ve come a long way since then. There have been numerous claims by many enthusiasts who believe the “Aurora” to exist, even though the U.S government never fully acknowledged its existence.  It could have also been an as of yet unknown ‘Skunk Works’ vehicle, a true ‘Black Project’. But we all know we can trust the government completely, word for word, right?

Let’s not forget the U.S government has a history of misleading the public with its experimental military aircraft, since the F-117 ‘Nighthawk’ Stealth Fighter and B-2 Spirit Stealth bombers were both formally denied as existing back when they were classified as ‘black’ projects until they were unveiled publically in the late 1980s.

Classified reconnaissance vehicles of a similar nature originating from Russia or China would also plausibly fit into the criteria. Yet another plausible explanation is that the craft was an unmanned scram-jet drone such as the Boeing X-51 ‘Waverider’, or an experimental hypersonic vehicle such as the NASA X-43 or some other, newer variant thereof.  According to the X-51’s Wikipedia entry, its scramjet engine utilizes ethylene fuel, which as it turns out, glows bluish-white when ignited at full burn. 

As farflung as it may be to others, these types of classified military or experimental crafts are what I believe to be the most logical conclusion to describe what I observed. I would even venture so far as to say that the craft I saw behaved in a manner that was not entirely beyond the bounds of the laws of physics as we know them, nor did it perform in a such a way that would have made it entirely incapable of being built by human hands (as extreme as it was), especially with today's sophisticated aerodynamic technology.

The only other possibility that remains is that what I saw was not of this world.

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