The Mystery of the Chicago O’Hare UFO incident remains strong

Ohare UFO 11-07-2006

The 2006 O’Hare international airport UFO incident remains one of the greatest cases in Ufology of all American history. At approximately 4pm on November 7, authorities at the airport received a call that over 12 airport employees were witnessing a disc shaped metallic craft hovering over gate C-17. Many more pilots, some air traffic control people and individuals outside the airport later reported to have also seen the strange craft that seemed to be hovering in place for a little over 5 minutes from when it was first spotted. At the end of the 5 minutes, it was reported that it shot up into the clouds at a super sonic speed and left a distinct hole in the cloud layer that closed a few minutes later. Now one would think that an unauthorized, unidentified aircraft that was hovering over one of the busiest airports in the world, and was witnessed by airport employees and airline pilots, would constitute a substantial and legit investigation by the FAA. But you would be absolutely wrong to think any of the sort happened. An initial inquiring by the press had the FAA claim they knew nothing of the incident but then a reporter from the Chicago Tribune filed a freedom of information act that forced the FAA to reveal that a call from  United Airlines personnel was made to the FAA tower concerning the sighting of the UFO above gate C-17. The superiors at the FAA eventually claimed that it was nothing more than a weather phenonmenon.

Witnesses interviewed by the Tribune, were incredibly upset that federal authorities were not willing to investigate something that would clearly qualify as an airport security concern. The most important fact about the investigation performed by the Tribune, was that it revealed, very credible witnesses all seen and described the same thing. “I stood outside in the gate area not knowing what to think, just trying to figure out what it was,” a United airlines manager told the Tribune reporter. “I tend to be scientific by nature, and I don’t understand why aliens would hover over a busy airport,” said one United mechanic who was in the cockpit of a Boeing 777 that he was taxiing to a maintenance hangar when he saw the metallic-looking object floating above Gate C17. “But I know that what I saw and what a lot of other people saw stood out very clearly, and it definitely was not an [Earth] aircraft,” the mechanic remarked. One United employee was said to apprear emotionally shaken by the incident and “experienced some religious issues” over it, one co-worker said.

When a couple airline pilots describe the same scene and it matches what airport employees saw and many other civilian witnesses, it becomes an interesting situation. It doesnt prove anything but it warrants further inquiry and adds to the already overwhelming amount of similar incidences that cant continue to be ignored by the mainstream as total bullox. The United States government must come forward and halt their secrecy. This is not conspiracy theory mumbo jumbo. After the bombshell New York Times report about the secret pentagon program that was actively investigating unidentified, mysterious aircraft, the public knows that its not only random people with questionable credentials (or so the pseudo-skeptics claim) that have seen these things and taken an interest.


Explorer: Robert Powell


Robert Powell is a SCU board member (Scientific Coalition For Ufology) and was a mufon investigator when he took initiative to follow up with the O’hare incident. He is co-author of the book, “UFO’s and Government: A historical Inquiry.” He was also MUFON’s director of research for 10 years. Robert is a individual with a distinguished science background and holds a B.S. in Chemistry. He has 28 years experience working in engineering management in the semi-conductor industry. While working at Advanced Micro Devices, he helped develop its first flash memory technology that is used in todays flash cards for cameras, PCs, video cameras and other devices. Robert is a man of science but also one of logic and reason, and this is what allows him to explore the UFO phenomena without a scoffing attitude. He interviewed a witness to this November 2006 incident and his field notes pay tribute to the importance of the scientific investigation of this incident and those like it, and the importance of not discounting all subjective experience as not important or relevant in cracking the mysteries of the UFO phenomenon.

Here are some of the transcripts from Robert’s Report:


Witness Background: The witness, Jamie ——-, is a designer and draftsman for a company involved in the national gas industry. He works with CAD equipment. He is now 37 years old but was 29 years old at the time of his sighting. He wears glasses and was wearing them on the day of the sighting. As can be heard in the voice transcripts, the witness is intelligent, rational in his comments, and observant as to the object that he saw on November 7, 2006.


The witness initially contacted Patrick Huyghe via email in mid-May of 2014. Patrick turned over the investigation to me. Included as item “A” of the appendix is the original email statement that was given to Patrick by the witness.

Since this report was made over seven years after the event occurred, it is important to determine whether the witness picked up the information from reading about the event or whether he was actually a witness to the event. The witness has kept his itinerary and his boarding ticket all of these years and has provided a copy, which is contained in item “B” of the appendix in this report. This supports that he was actually at the O’Hare airport on the day of the incident. His wife was also with him but did not see the object. I talked to her briefly to determine if she could tell me if she remembered her husband telling her about the UFO on the day of the event. Unfortunately, his wife has epilepsy and due to her medication there was a clear affect on her cognitive processes when I talked to her. It was clear to me that she was having a hard time understanding my questions. The best evidence that the witness’s report seems to be authentic was his statement that his aircraft was scheduled to arrive at Chicago O’Hare. According to his itinerary the plane was to land at 4:17 pm, but he recalled looking at his watch and noticing that the plane arrived early at close to 4:00 pm. I was able to verify through FlightStats, Inc. that the witness was correct in his memory. His plane did arrive early at 3:59 pm. The FlightStats information is included in item “C” of the appendix.

Interview of Witnesses Regarding Unknown Object: The witness agreed to have his voice recorded. A copy of that recording is included with this report. The key parts of his testimony as well as comments are included here.

The witness and his wife were invited by his wife’s father, a Command Master Chief in the Navy, to Okinawa Japan. They left on October 30th and the ufo sighting occurred on November 7th, 2006, on the return leg of his flight above Chicago’s O’Hare airport. He was on United Airlines flight 0878 and was seated in row 37. The witness first sighted the object a few minutes before 4:00 pm. (The plane landed at 3:59 pm and the witness observed the object as the plane was descending.) As the plane was descending to land the witness was looking out his window in anticipation of seeing the ground as the plane descended through the clouds. As the plane cleared the cloud level, he immediately saw the airport and also noticed a gray, round object over the airport. He described it later as a perfect symmetrical circle.

As the aircraft continued to descend he noticed that the object did not change its location and was motionless. At first the witness thought perhaps it was a balloon but he soon disgarded that theory. In his own words, “As we were moving, it was kind of like we were above it and then I remember there was a time when we were actually level with it and then we were below it…and that’s when I actually saw that it wasn’t a balloon it was like ‘uhm uh your stereotypical saucer shape.” He went on to describe the object as elliptical in shape, a dark gun-metal gray color, no openings for windows or doors, no line separating its elliptical shape and no visible markings. The outer edges of the object were very distinct. Based on comparing the object to other objects nearby, he estimated its size between 20 to 30 feet in diameter. The witness reviewed several caricatures of the object and a drawing of the object is shown in item “D” the appendix.

As the plane landed he lost sight of the object but saw it again as the plane was turning on the tarmac. He did not know if it was still in the original location but as the plane

taxied on the tarmac the object stayed in the same position. There was no movement, no rotation, and no vapor trail. It’s size at that moment was about the size of a half dollar or silver dollar held at arm’s length. He remembered the flight attendant handing him a customs pamphlet to fill out. He looked at her and looked back at the object. It was still there. Within seconds of him looking back at it, it rapidly “shot” up. He described its rapid movement. “The only way I can describe it is if you just hold something out at arm’s length level with your eye and you just let it drop to the floor, and you know how gravity moves, it falls like that and that’s how this thing just fell up into the clouds.”

After the object went up into the clouds he remembered seeing reflected light from a “hole” punched through the clouds. He distinctly remembered seeing sunlight come through the hole in the clouds even though it was an overcast cloudy day.

The witness said that he was shaken up by the event and it took him a while to register what he saw. He estimates that the total time from when he first saw the object until he last saw it was about 10-15 minutes. He indicated that he could not identify the object but he was confident that it was not a drone, a military aircraft, or any type of weather event. The witness also made a point of stating that he was not claiming that what he saw was as alien space ship and did not want to jump conclusions as to what he saw.

The witness did not relay his experience to anyone except his wife who did not witness the event. It was only later, in January of 2007, that he recalls seeing a news story about the Chicago O’Hare event. In the news story he recalled that they mentioned that the workers on the tarmac and some pilots had seen the object. He felt that hearing about this on the news helped give him consolation that he had not been imagining things. He had never seen a UFO before this incident and has never seen one since.

I questioned the witness further to clarify some of the information that he provided specifically around the apparent size of the object. He indicated that when the plane broke through the clouds and he first saw the object as a circular shape, it was about the same angular size as the commercial jet aircraft that he could see on the tarmac. He said the object was closer than the commercial jets, which is why it looked about the same size but he stressed that it was not as large as a jet. When the plane was level with the object during the plane’s descent, he indicated that he thought the object was 100 feet away. I asked again and he said that it was about 100 feet away but not as far away as a football field. He estimated its size as about the size of a silver dollar.

I also asked for clarification on the rate of the object’s departure. The witness said that he was looking directly at the object prior to its upward movement. He said there was nothing to indicate the object was about to move or any type of slow acceleration. He estimated that it took the object only a second to reach the clouds. He remembered that as soon as the object moved he was able to see the sunlight through the clouds.

The witness was not aware of any other passengers on the airplane that saw the object.

Investigation of the sighting area: The NARCAP report entitled, “Report of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon and its Safety Implications at O’Hare International Airport on November 7, 2006” iiprovides an excellent overview of the sighting area as well as additional testimonies from United Airline crews on the ground.

Investigation of any photos or physical evidence: none

EMF Issues: none

Shape and Size: circular when seen from above and elliptical when see seen straight-on; a dark gun-metal gray object that appeared as a sphere when the aircraft was above the object but as an elliptical disk with a 3:1 ratio of length to height when it was seen from a level position

Sound: none as the witness was in an airplane and could only have heard extremely loud sounds

Speed and Altitude: initially stationary but when it departed the movement seemed to be instantaneous

Light Configuration: none Light Color and Intensity: none

Disappearance: object moved vertically and instantaneously upwards through the clouds and left a hole in the clouds

Area of Operation: Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Investigation of Other Witnesses: This witness indicated that most people on the left hand side of the plane where he was seated had their window shades closed. He is not aware of anyone else on the plane that saw it but he feels that it is likely that the pilot would have seen it.

Outstanding actions still to be completed: None

Discussion of sighting investigation: The time of the initial sighting of the object according to the witness was around 4:00 pm. Information provided by FlightStats, Inc., and contained in item “C” of the appendix shows that the aircraft landed early as recalled by the witness. The plane’s runway arrival time is shown as 3:47 pm and its gate arrival as 3:59 pm. Based on the witness testimony, the plane must have been already lined up with the runway as it broke through the clouds, at around 1900 feet. The witness saw the object as the plane broke through the clouds so this would place the time when the object was first seen at about 3:45 pm assuming the aircraft’s descent rate when it broke through the clouds was about 1000 feet per minute. The object was last seen when the witness received his customs form at the gate, which would have been within a few minutes of 4:00 pm. The total time of the event was 15 minutes.

The closest distance between the witness and the unknown object can be approximated using the approach route of UA flight 848. The witness’s ticket shows that he was seated in seat 37B on board a Boeing 777. A diagram of the seating positions in a Boeing 777 is shown in item “E” of the appendix. The location is on the left side of the plane behind the wings, which supports the witness’s memory that he was on the left side of the aircraft. Since the witness saw the object while landing and during the initial taxi of the aircraft then we should be able to identify the runway where the plane landed. According to


NARCAP reportiii there were three runways available at the time: 22R, 27L, and 27R. Based on the witness being on the left side of the plane and his ability to see the object while landing, flight 848 most likely landed on runway 27L. Its final destination was gate M19 in terminal 5 used for international flights at O’Hare. It is not known the exact path used during the taxi of the aircraft but according to FlightStats, Inc., it took 12 minutes to taxi to its gate. Item “F” in the appendix shows the O’Hare Airport with runway 27L labeled and the aircraft’s likely landing and taxi route in yellow. This is similar to item “G” in the appendix, which is the witness’s drawing of his landing at Chicago O’Hare. The likely location of the unknown object is labeled as C17 based on its most likely location as described in the NARCAP report as being above gate C17. The closest that the witness’s plane came to the object above gate C17 as can be seen in item “F” of the appendix was between 1300 to 1600 feet in distance. The witness estimated the object to be the size of a half dollar at arm’s length, which would equate to about 2.5 arc degrees. The diameter of the object can be estimated using its distance and apparent angular size. Most witnesses over estimate the size of an object, so I will assume that the object could be as small as 1⁄2 what the witness estimated or one arc degree. These numbers allow us to calculate a range of sizes for the object based on a distance of 1300-1600 feet and an angular size of between 1.25 and 2.5 arc degrees. Those values place the object’s size between 28 feet to 70 feet in diameter. This size range matches up with the witness’s belief that the object was 20 feet to 30 feet in size and the size calculated for the object in the NARCAP report of 22 feet to 80 feet in diameter.iv

The witness initially saw a circular object that he thought was a balloon. As he continued to observe it, he saw that it was actually elliptical in shape. He was very secure in his belief that the object did not move while he observed it except for the sudden spontaneous movement when the object moved vertically at a rapid rate and left a hole in the clouds. The witness was certain that whatever he saw was not a military aircraft, drone, balloon, or any other known object. The FAA suggested that it was a weather phenomenon. However, the FAA offered no explanation of what type of weather phenomenon could cause such an event. This type of explanation is about as worthy as stating it was a “daytime astronomical phenomenon.” There is no known weather phenomenon that displays itself as an elliptical object that remains stationary for several minutes at less than 1900 feet over an airport before burning a hole through the clouds as it departs. Another possibility is that the witness was correct in the beginning and he witnessed a balloon. There are multiple problems with a balloon as an explanation. First is the danger and risk to aircraft. Who would launch a balloon into such as area? Second is the fact that the object remained stationary for at least several minutes. How could a balloon do that with winds of eight mph that day and convection currents that would also be produced at an airport? The elliptical shape also argues against a balloon and lastly the ability to move rapidly upwards and leave a hole in the clouds. Another explanation would be some type of drone aircraft that was hovering near gate C17. This could explain the stationary position and the ability to suddenly move upwards. The main argument against a drone aircraft is how would any government official allow the risk posed to civilian aircraft and to allow a drone to hover at a civilian airport for at least 15 minutes. Furthermore, there is no drone aircraft that is elliptical in shape. Lastly, in addition to this witness there were other witnesses in the NARCAP report that described a hole being made through the clouds when the object departed. If those reports are true then a drone aircraft cannot explain a “hole” left in the clouds.



Conclusion: There is no known phenomenon or aircraft that satisfactorily explains what was seen over O’Hare airport on November 7, 2006. This case category will remain as caused by an unknown object.


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