A glowing round object making a speedy descent near the West Bengal-Bihar border early on January 26 left pilots of five aircraft baffled, triggering widespread speculation about unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
The first person to sight the object was a senior Air India pilot who was navigating the aircraft at a height of 34,000 ft during its flight from Kolkata to New Delhi.
“The plane was just entering the airspace of Gaya, close to Bengal-Bihar border, when I first noticed the glowing object, below the aircraft, hurtling down at a very high speed,” Captain Rishi was quoted as saying by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower here at Dum Dum International Airport.
The Air India pilot initially didn’t pay much attention as it is customary for the pilots to notice several such things midair. But when the aircraft was close to Varanasi, the object was still brightly visible.
Without wasting time, he informed the Varanasi Air Traffic Control from where ATC, Kolkata, was alerted.
The officials at ATC pondered over whether pilots of other international flights that might have crossed the Kolkata-Bihar-Varanasi route, had also observed the glowing object reported by Capt Rishi.
Accordingly, the ATC, Kolkata, beamed asking signals for other international flights that flew the same airspace during the period concerned.
Foreign pilots confirm
To their utter surprise, the air traffic control officials were told by as many as four foreign airlines flight pilots that they had seen the same object and all of them reiterated that it was falling down at a great speed!
FinAir of Finland and Novou Air of Sweden were flying from the West to East while a couple of flights of Cathay Pacific and Dynasty Airways of China were moving in the opposite direction at an altitude between 34,000 and 37,000 ft over the airspace supposed to be in the trajectory of the object.
Once the foreign airlines pilots radioed back the ATC tower here, confirming their sighting of the object, ATC engineers immediately got in touch with the Indian Air Force. However, the IAF engineers pointed out that their powerful radar had failed to track or notice any unusual object.
“It could be a shooting star or part of a meteor or a metal that had a sudden entry into the earth’s atmosphere as a result of which it turned into a burning object and appeared glowing from a distance,” explained Positional Astronomy Centre director Sanjib Sen.
“There is no denying the fact of its existence as so many pilots having seen it.”
But when everyone had seen it falling at a high speed, where and when the object had hit the earth? There is apparently no answer to this question so far.