In Depth

What was UFO seen off the Irish coast?

BA and Virgin pilots report spotting bright lights that disappeared at high speed

The Irish Aviation Authority has launched an investigation into a series of bright lights and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) spotted off the Irish coast by airline pilots.

On 9 November, the pilot of British Airways flight BA94 from Montreal to Heathrow “called air traffic control in Shannon to report seeing an object moving past her aircraft”, reports The Guardian. The pilot initially suggested that they might have originated from military exercises.

“It was moving so fast,” she is heard saying in a recording of the conversation posted on AirLive, a site for flight enthusiasts. “It came up on our left-hand side and then rapidly veered to the north. It was a very bright light that disappeared at very high speed.”

The pilot is then told that there are no military exercises being conducted in the area. “There’s nothing showing on either primary or secondary [radar],” say air traffic control.

Another pilot from a Virgin Airlines plane travelling from Orlando to Manchester then joins the conversation and suggests “it might be a meteor or another object re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere”, reports the BBC. The second pilot says he saw “two bright lights” over to the right that climbed away at speed.

He adds that the speed was “astronomical, it was like Mach 2” - twice the speed of sound.

David Moore, head of Astronomy Ireland, told The Times that he was “1,000% sure” the sightings were of a fireball, or a flaming meteorite, falling through the atmosphere.

The astronomer said four people on the Irish west coast had reported seeing a fireball in the sky at the same time as the sightings by the pilots. Moore added that the meteorite had probably fallen into the sea.

“It was definitely a fireball, but of course I am not ruling out the alien theory,” he said.

“The bigger they are, the brighter they burn. The glow we see is from the friction of them ripping through the sky.

“The pilots may have thought the fireball was on the same level as them, but it was many miles above. It can be hard to gauge where they are because they move so fast.”

The fireball theory is backed by aviation journalist Gerry Byrne, who told the Irish Examiner: “In all probability they were meteorites and it’s not uncommon for meteorites to come in at a low angle, a low trajectory into the Earth’s atmosphere.”

A spokesperson for the Irish Aviation Authority told The Times that it was investigating the incident and would file a report. “This report will be investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process.”

The representative added that it was unlikely to be aliens from another planet.

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