A "cruise missile type of thing" spotted by AA2292

Brian Dunning

New Member
It's appropriate to exclude all discussion of actual missiles, cruise or ballistic. Those are never flown over land.

Classified operational UAS like the RQ-180 that come & go all the time, and would not appear on Flight Aware, only fly at night.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
they have WINGS?!! so basically what he saw looks pretty much like a plane? i'm so confused.
He said "a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing" I think that's pretty vague really, so I'd not read too much into the "cruise missile part".

Planes and cruise missiles both look like "long cylindrical object" when they are too far away to make out details - especially when the lighting is right.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
so I'd not read too much into the "cruise missile part".

yea the missile range said it wasn't a missile.
Article:
Scott Stearns, the chief of public affairs at White Sands Missile Range, said the range was not testing anything on Sunday and also noted the distance between the missile range and northeastern New Mexico, which is about 400 miles.

"We have no idea what it could have been or if anything similar has been sighted in that area before," Stearns said in a statement to Fox News.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Missiles have wings, but because those wings are for steering
(whereas a plane's larger wings provide essential lift, over a longer distance)
they are much smaller...often referred to as "fins."
 

Max Phalange

Active Member
Missiles have wings, but because those wings are for steering
(whereas a plane's larger wings provide essential lift, over a longer distance)
they are much smaller...often referred to as "fins."
Generating aerodynamic lift is pretty much the defining feature of cruise missiles, they're "flying bombs".
 

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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The closest they get is about 33,000 feet horizontally, with a 5,000 feet vertical difference. Closer than the Zion misidentification (42,000 feet away, 15,000 feet vertical)
Someone pointed out to me that they actually get closer than 33,000 feet horizontally. Stupid mistake on my part as, as I was just looking at the plane position in Google Earth which only has a resolution of 1 minute, and I just picked the minute where they were closest. They are actually closest about 15 seconds later, when the Lear is due south of AA, but still visible to the pilot on his left side.
2021-02-28_23-30-44.jpg
So around 11,000 feet, or about two miles away.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
A question asked is why wouldn't the pilot see it on TCAS? Well, he would if he looked. But it was 6,000 feet above him, and so there would have been no alert. There was also plenty of traffic around him on the TCAS display (assuming it was set to 20NM radius, like the one below)

Once he saw it at the closest point it would very quickly be behind him, off the TCAS display - which shows only the traffic in front.

Here's what TCAS looks like in an A320
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHXk0KsRHmg
 

MapperGuy

New Member
Let me begin by saying I am neither a pilot or an air traffic controller. I think the reason this story has captured so much attention is the language the pilot used, saying "right over the top of us". To me that sounds like he is reporting a near mid-air collision, and I think a lot of others also believed he was reporting a near disaster. The potential of a mid-air collision between an airliner and unmanned missile catches peoples attention and generates fears. The fact the controller did not instantly ask what the miss-distance was makes me think however that this is just routine pilot speak. These days communications like this are recorded and listened too, a bit more precision in the language used, like how much higher the object was, could have turned this into a non-event. As it was people could read in their worst fears as to what almost happened in the skies that day.
 

Alphadunk

Active Member
I think it would be a mistake to infer too much about what the pilot meant without hearing from him/her directly. I would, however, expect quite a bit more chatter on the recordings if anything approaching a mid-air collision had taken place.

Regardless, has anyone heard anything else about this story? It kind of seems like we've gotten about as much as we're going to get and this isn't a case we'll ever be able to definitively solve.
 

Max Phalange

Active Member
I think it would be a mistake to infer too much about what the pilot meant without hearing from him/her directly. I would, however, expect quite a bit more chatter on the recordings if anything approaching a mid-air collision had taken place.

Regardless, has anyone heard anything else about this story? It kind of seems like we've gotten about as much as we're going to get and this isn't a case we'll ever be able to definitively solve.
Tyler Rogoway has lodged FOIA requests with the FAA, which are pending. Doesn't seem like there will be any news in the meantime.
 

charleslamour

New Member
I worked as medevac nurse years ago and had an opportunity to see a lot of planes zip by us from all size ,speed and distance ..you can clearly make out plane from something anomalous ,airline pilots have so much more experience watching crafts and if the pilot reported cylindrical object ,you better bet your last dollar this exactly what they saw and not a plane of any size ,speed or distance. This is what they do for a living ....
 

Ravi

Active Member
I worked as medevac nurse years ago and had an opportunity to see a lot of planes zip by us from all size ,speed and distance ..you can clearly make out plane from something anomalous ,airline pilots have so much more experience watching crafts and if the pilot reported cylindrical object ,you better bet your last dollar this exactly what they saw and not a plane of any size ,speed or distance. This is what they do for a living ....

argumentum ab auctoritate

Even experienced people sometimes make mistakes in identifying things.
 

Keith Beachy

Senior Member
I worked as medevac nurse years ago and had an opportunity to see a lot of planes zip by us from all size ,speed and distance ..you can clearly make out plane from something anomalous ,airline pilots have so much more experience watching crafts and if the pilot reported cylindrical object ,you better bet your last dollar this exactly what they saw and not a plane of any size ,speed or distance. This is what they do for a living ....
That is funny... my Copilot one night... he said traffic 12 O'clock, sure enough there was "traffic", I looked at the light, it was Mars. He insisted it was traffic (another plane, or something), so I said Nav (the crew navigator), that is Mars rising, right? The Nav decided to tease the copilot, and said no, Mars is not up... the copilot now thinks he was right, a planet, aka Mars, is "Traffic"... he watched it for the duration of our eastbound navigation leg, as the Navigator practiced celestial navigation, less than two hours, then back to base. Mars was up, the Navigator played the Copilot, and Mars was traffic, but we did not have our UAP/UFO spacecraft that can make Mars traffic available that night.

Yes, we pilots are great, perfect, the best... I have to admit a medevac nurse might be better at identifying something than a pilot.

Pilots are not special, USAF pilots spent hours of instruction on Physiological training, some did not pay attention, and none are immune to the issues we learned in Physiological training.

Maybe the copilot thought Mars was moving, and forgot this "The autokinetic effect (also referred to as autokinesis) is a phenomenon of visual perception in which a stationary, small point of light in an otherwise dark or featureless environment appears to move. It presumably occurs because motion perception is always relative to some reference point." It was covered in our Physiological training...

We perceive what we want to believe, and an airliner is not allowed to deviate to get a better look, unless ATC authorizes. The Airliner was stuck on a course, at an altitude and not able to get a second look, follow, or maneuver. I suspect it was a perception issue.

Perception... sometimes the golfers on the course behind our house appear like they are only a few feet from our property line as we look past the shrubs and trees from the living room, yet they are 25 to 50 feet away from our yard. What eyewitnesses see is not always accurate, or useful. This was exactly what I saw, and I was not going 450 knots true, and the golfers were not zipping past.
 

FatPhil

Active Member
And most if not all of these sightings are rare events.

I love how this exchange almost invites a retort like:
"And what are the chances of a rare misidentification happening *at the same time* as a rare UFO sighting - that's doubly rare, so basically can't happen!!!!"

The fallacy of course being that these two things are not independent. In fact, they're highly correlated with each other. If one has happened, you're almost guaranteed the other has also happened.
 

Amber Robot

Active Member
I love how this exchange almost invites a retort like:
"And what are the chances of a rare misidentification happening *at the same time* as a rare UFO sighting - that's doubly rare, so basically can't happen!!!!"

The fallacy of course being that these two things are not independent. In fact, they're highly correlated with each other. If one has happened, you're almost guaranteed the other has also happened.
The latter was my point, not the former.
 

FatPhil

Active Member
The latter was my point, not the former.

Indeed, I just wanted to highlight the accidental or deliberate misinterpretation/conclusion that was possible.

Remember, kids, always remember to carry a bomb onto the plane with you, as the chances of there being 2 bombs is practically zero!
 
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