November 17, 1996
Editor: Joseph Trainor
On Thursday, November 14, 1996, at 6 p.m., Chuck Shramek, an amateur atronomer from Houston, Texas was observing the Comet Hale-Bopp in his backyard telescope when he spied an anomalous object seemingly near the comet.
Shramek described the object as "Saturn-shaped, self- luminous" and "four-and-a-half times larger than the Earth." He immediately photographed that area of space and obtained a clear image of Hale-Bopp with the highly-luminous UFO at a two o'clock position relative to the comet.
Shramek's photo can be seen at the following URL-- http://paradise.dpl.net.com/shram/comet.htm.
On Friday, November 15, Shramek appeared as a guest on the Art Bell Show and described the strange object he had seen. Art Bell's broadcast ignited an immediate debate among scientists.
Astronomer Terence C. Platt identified the object as a "nearby star, SAO141894, which is sufficiently bright to show diffraction images...Several spikes are often seen when imaging bright stars in a Newtonian reflector. SAO141894 is listed as magnitude 8.5 but it is of spectral type M and this gives it a very bright infrared excess."
Another astronomer, David W. Knisely, said the object might be "another star at that location--HD162115," which is a magnitude 9.9 star. "But," he added, "I think that this object may be a geostationary satellite which just happened to get a sun flash off a solar panel."
Anyone who wants a closer look at Shramek's mysterious object will be able to find Comet Hale Bopp at these coordinates on November 19:
Right Ascension Declination Elong.
17h 52.9m -01.54 37ev 4.0
(Editor's Comment: I think Knisely is right about it being an object much closer to Earth. The object in the photo is overexposed and appears to be reflecting light from 80 percent of its surface. This suggests that it's much closer to the camera. It could be a photo of a satellite--or a Saturn-shaped UFO--that wandered into the field of view of Shramek's telescope. Concerning "Saturn-shaped" UFOs, review the Trinidade Island, Brazil case of January 16, 1958.)
On Monday, November 11, 1996, Donna B. was driving through eastern San Diego County, not far from Calipatria (population 2,650) at about 8 p.m. Suddenly, she saw a strange object hovering in the night sky to the northeast, near the Chocolate Mountains. She described the UFO as "an object with flashing red and blue lights." She said nighttime air traffic in the area "flew normal patterns. They did not appear to be concerned." Donna adds that she saw "an identical UFO" in the same area back in July. (Email Interview)
On Tuesday, November 5, at 6:45 p.m., dozens of homes in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties in northwestern Florida called police to report mysterious "explosions in the sky." The "rattled callers from Santa Rose County to Mobile (Alabama) and from Pensacola Beach (population 800) to Cantonment (population 3,450) reported shaking houses, rattling windows and doors vibrating in their homes. More called Wednesday (November 6) to report booms." (See the Pensacola News Journal for November 11, 1996 "UFO, Quakes, Jet Ruled Out in Booms.")
Lt. j.g. David Speicher, speaking for the U.S. Navy air station at Pensacola, said, "From what we have found out, it had nothing to do with NAS (Navy air station) or any other aircraft."
Other military bases in the area, such as Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base, plus the Mississippi Air National Guard, all denied "flying supersonic aircraft on Tuesday."
A local police chief said he "received no reports of UFO sightings in the Gulf Breeze area (southeast of Pensacola), which is considered a hotspot for such activity."
On Friday afternoon, October 18, 1996, Humberto Araujo Cruz took off for a flight in his Cessna 310. Leaving the airport at Campina Grande, the second largest city in the state of Paraiba in northeastern Brazil.
As he approached Guarabira (population 200,000), Araujo "saw an OVNI (Portuguese acronym for UFO) measuring 30 meters (100 feet) in height, pyramid-shaped with rounded corners at the bottom and a transparent dome on top."
Oblivious to the Cessna's presence, the UFO proceeded in a westerly direction through the big cumulous clouds, crossing the Rio Corimata and heading for Paralhas. Keeping his distance, Araujo said he followed the UFO "for over thirty minutes," crossing the line into the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The UFO turned to the northwest, flying over Jardinido Sorida, Carto and Catole do Rocha, with Araujo still following.
Then the UFO's top dome opened, Araujo reported, and "a little oval-shaped thing came out." While the small, shiny UFO hovered, the huge object rocketed away at high speed, heading due north toward the Chapada do Apodi and the South Atlantic. "The small one hovered for a few more minutes and then left."
Elsewhere in South America, a few days later, on Monday,
October 21, at 10 p.m., an unidentified Venezuelan woman
walking the beach on Isla Orchila in the Caribbean Sea saw
"a giant UFO 100 meters (330 feet) in diameter, rise from
the ocean" about a quarter-mile (0.5 kilometers) offshore.
The woman watched as the jumbo-sized saucer flew overhead
due south, heading for the mainland. Isla Orchila lies about
400 kilometers (240 miles) north of Caracas, Venezuela.
(Editor's Note: This is the latest in a long line of Guarabira sightings dating back to April. Also, a giant pyramid-shaped UFO was seen over Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil on October 5, 1996.)
In early November, a motorist driving near Ballarat, in southern Australia's Victoria state, "reported seeing a fireball with a tail" fly over his car. Minutes later, he glanced in the rearview mirror and saw what he described as "a panel of lights" approaching from behind at speeds between 185 and 250 miles per hour (300 to 400 kilometers per hour).
The driver immediately pulled over to the side of the road. Just as it seemed about to crash into his car, the UFO pulled up and shot away "at a tremendous speed."
In Queensland, residents reported a weird phenomenon in Grafton, the site of a UFO incident last summer. Whole sheets of roofing tiles and shingles levitated away from houses and flew west toward Mount Bajimba. There were "no weather conditions that (could have) caused it."
Ross Dowe of Australia's National UFO Hotline said, "There's been a whole sequence of events which are highly irregular." (See Australian AP World News for November 4, 1996.)
On Sunday, November 3, 1996, Marta Ionescu, 27, was at the beach in Eforie Nord, 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Constanza, Romania's seaport on the Black Sea. Sharing the beach with about 50 other onlookers, Marta spied "three red spheres positioned in a triangle shape. Moving but always keeping a triangle" The beach crowd "stopped and stared as the spheres disappeared one by one."
On Thursday night, November 7, 1996, Elena Antonescu, 29, was watching a gymnastics performance on her TV at her apartment in Constanza. "During the publicity (commercial)," she said, "I went to the kitchen and opened a window to smoke a cigarette. I am a very enthusiastic smoker. As I was looking in the sky, (she noticed) it was a cloudy night. I was looking at a 'red star,' saying to myself that it's a UFO. After thinking this, I started to watch (scan) the sky to see if there were any stars. After smoking my cigarette in peace, I saw a red ball...not round, but like a rugby ball...up in the sky. I became afraid. I started to close the window. But it was too late. This strange thing was right in front of my window at about 50 meters (165 feet away). I ran away, scared, to my neighbor."
In the adjoining apartment, Elena convinced her neighbors to go to the French windows overlooking the terrace.
"It took three seconds for the UFO to arrive in front of my window," Elena said. "Its color was bright red, like something between pink, orange and red, bright with a half-sphere shape. It looked like a half-moon (or inverted bowl). My neighbors looked at it more than I did. After I calmed down, they told me it was (had been) moving slowly to the left and to the right. After fifteen minutes, it went away. (By then) We were not watching the window because we were afraid."
Romania's current UFO flap began in June when MOI-TV in Bucharest reported a saucer landing in Vidra, a remote village in the Carpathian Mountains of the Vrancea district. The entire village saw a platoon of UFO occupants, whom they described as "gray, smaller than we humans, with big ears and big eyes. People were afraid and ran and hid."
The following day, a red-sphere UFO was seen flying over the forests of the Galati district, 150 kilometers (80 miles) east of Vidra, near the Ukrainian border. (Email Interview)
Earl Frederick Howe, the UK's Defence Minister, startled Britons on Sunday, November 10, 1996, when he revealed to a newspaper the existence of top-secret UFO files compiled by the Royal Air Force (RAF).
In a letter obtained by the newspaper The People, Lord Howe reportedly stated that all RAF station commanders are under orders to submit a report on each UFO they encounter.
"So far as the existence of extraterrestrial lifeforms is concerned, we remain open-minded," he is alleged to have written.
The stunning revelation came after a debate in Parliament over last month's UFO incident at Skegness. Two UFOs were seen by Lincolnshire police and tracked for six hours by RAF radar as they hovered over a large bay called The Wash.
Martin Redmond, MP (Member of Parliament) for the Don Valley, said he is trying "to break MoD's (Ministry of Defence's) veil of secrecy over flying saucers," adding that he was "concerned that a UFO with a red-and-green rotating light" had compromised British airspace and "appeared over East Anglia last month."
"It's incredible that no aircraft were marshalled when a (radar) target was picked up so close to the coast," Redmond wrote to Defence Secretary Michael Portillo. "This raises questions as to the way we police the UK Air Defence Region."
Another MoD official, Nicholas Soames, was asked how many
UFOs the RAF had reported during 1996. Soames reportedly
told the British press that this information "would cost too much
(Many thanks to UFOINFO for this story)
A Saudi Boeing 747 and a Kazakh Ilyushin 76 cargo plane collided in mid-air near New Delhi, India Tuesday evening, November 12, 1996, killing everyone aboard both aircraft. Approximately 351 people perished in this, the third worst air crash of all time.
The crash occurred in a cloud between 14,000 and 15,000 feet as Saudi Airlines Flight SV763 was taking off from Indira Gandhi International Airport and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight KZA1907. There were 312 people aboard the Saudi plane and 39 people aboard the Kazakh cargo plane.
At 6:40 p.m., said H.S. Khota, India's director general of aviation, as the sun was setting, the Saudi Arabian jetliner was cleared to climb to 14,000 feet. KZA1907 was cleared to descend to 15,000. The planes hurtled at each other at a speed of six miles per minute but with 1,000 feet (330 meters) of airspace supposedly separating them. (See the Washington Post for November 14, 1996). The transcipt of the actual radio calls may be read immediately below:
KZA1907: "Good evening. One-niner-oh-seven passing through (flight level) two-three-zero (23,000 feet) for one-eight-zero (18,000 feet), 74 miles from DPN (New Delhi)."
Tower: "Descend one-five-zero. Report ready."
SV763: "Approaching one-zero-zero (10,000 feet)."
Tower: "Cleared one-four-zero."
SV763: "Approaching level one-four-zero for higher."
Tower: "Maintain level one-four-zero. Stand by for higher." (pause) "KZA one-niner-oh-seven, report distance from DPN."
KZA1907: "Reached one-five-zero. 46 miles from DPN. Radial (turning to bearing) two-seven-zero."
Tower: "Roger. Maintain one-five-zero. Identified traffic twelve o'clock reciprocal (dead ahead). Saudi Boeing 747, 14 miles, report (when) in sight."
KZA1907: "Kazakh one-niner-oh-seven. Report how many miles?"
Tower: "Fourteen miles now. Roger, one-niner-oh-seven." (Pause) "Traffic in 13 miles (at) level one-four- zero."
From the transcript, it appears that the Russian pilot of KZA1907 was cut off before he could say "Roger." However, with 13 miles still between them, both planes had at least another two minutes of flight time left before the collision.
It appears that the New Delhi tower lost radio contact with BOTH planes two minutes before the crash.
The Saudi Boeing 747 suffered a long gash in the top of its fuselage. This is consistent with the KZA Ilyushin's wingtip gouging the Boeing's aluminum skin. But the crash did not completely sever the 747's controls. The Saudi pilot had enough aileron and rudder control to flatten out his dive and bring the plane down in the farm fields near Charkhi Dadri (population 50,000), southwest of New Delhi.
"The fuselage of the Saudi airliner dug a trench about 60 yards (50 meters) long and 15 feet (4 meters) deep into unplanted farmland where chick peas and mustard for cooking oil are grown in season. Villagers said that the Saudi pilot appeared to have kept some control of the 747 after the collision. The pilot then seemed to guide the burning jumbo jet into the open field. 'It's the pilot's mercy that he ensured the villagers were not harmed,' said Jeet Ram Gupta, a lawyer from Charkhi Dadri. (See Providence, R.I. Journal-Bulletin for November 13, 1996)
If the collision had happened in this manner, that would explain why the Ilyushin 76 lost one wing. It would have struck the 747 a glancing blow with its wingtip. The wing would have snapped off, and the Ilyushin would have gone spinning out of control.
However, the Ilyushin lost BOTH wings, and its fuselage was still intact after it crashed. "It was not a head-on collision," said India's top civil aviation official, Yogesh Chandra. "The cockpit and fuselage of the Kazakh airliner was found intact." (See New York Daily News for November 14, 1996)
"The controller saw that both (radar) blips were over- lapping, but they never separated," said A.K. Bhardwaj, assistant secretary general of the Air Traffic Controller's Guild. (New York Daily News, ibid.)
Suddenly, said H.S. Khota, "the radar blip of both aircraft was lost." (Boston, Mass. Herald for November 13, 1996)
There was only one eyewitness to the crash, which took place in a cloud bank made more dense by smoke from bonfires lit during the recent Hindu festival of Diwali. The witness was the captain of a U.S. Air Force C-141 transport plane ferrying supplies to the American embassy in New Delhi.
Yet the captain's taped testimony, which was played on the CNN Headline News TV broadcast at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, differed from the version printed in American newspapers the following morning.
In the Headline News tape, the captain reportedly said he saw "an orange glow in the cloud," and, while watching this, "it expanded into a very large glow within the cloud. We thought it was lightning."
The AP version went like this: "We noticed out of our right-hand (side) a large cloud lit up with an orange glow, from within the clouds. The glow intensity of the cloud became dimmer and the two fireballs descended and became fireballs on the ground."
The C-141 was circling at an altitude of 20,000 feet, preparing to land at Gandhi International Airport. What the captain might have observed on his cockpit's airborne radar was not mentioned in either the Headline News broadcast or the wire services story.
Unanswered questions include:
(1) Why did the tower lose radio contact with both planes?
(2) If the KZA Ilyushin only struck the 747 a glancing blow, then how did it lose both wings?
(3] What did the C-141's airborne radar reveal?
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