On May 29, 2009 at 01:20 the pilot of Continental flight 2822 radioed in a UFO sighting approximately 200 feet under his aircraft.
The event took place over southwest Texas not long after takeoff.
John Greenewald, Jr. first reported the event after obtaining FOIA documents from the FAA. Greenewald’s report included audio transcripts between the person on the radio with the pilot and the air traffic controller.
UFO Sighting But No Radar
When told that the pilot had spotted what appeared to be a missile flying in the opposite direction of the aircraft at roughly 13,000 feet, the Air Traffic Controller resonded:
“There isn’t anything out there… no primary…”
Meaning, there was no radio signature recorded for the object during the sighting. The FAA log confirmed this with the statement, “No Radar target displayed at 190 of ZHU.”
The FAA log reported the following details about the event.
“BTA2822, E145, Reported a missile passing below his aircraft by 100-200Ft @13000 APX IAH12002. The report was made by Zhu, and passed to I90. The DEN, ROC, and Liberty County Sheriff’s Department were notified, Manpad incident was transmitted on the ATIS at IAH for one hour.”
The Quality Assurance form included in the FOIA packet included a couple of extra lines in addition to the above description. It read:
“No phraseology or technical issues were identified. All other ATC services were normal.”
Investigators Blame Model Rocket
On June 5th, 2009, Cindy Horswell of the Houston Chronicle reported on the incident. According to the article, investigators believed that the jet had been buzzed by a “civilian-made rocket — described as a white cylinder about 5 to 7 feet long with triangular fins on its tail — rather than a military missile.”
According to the news report, both the pilot and co-pilot had seen the missile, and that it had a “white vapor trail headed directly toward their cockpit…”
According to the report, the event wasn’t the first time an aircraft had been buzzed by a “rocket-like object” after taking off from the Houston airport. On Memorial Day in 2008, an Continental plane almost collided with a rocket at roughly 4,750 feet.
The rocket theory seems to be the most plausible explanation for the UFO sighting in this particular case.
There are numerous model rocket clubs in Texas, many of which focus on launching high-powered rockets that have the capability of reaching high altitudes well within flight paths.
A search of YouTube for model rocket clubs launching high power rockets in the Houston area turned up a number of launches before or after the sighting, but no obvious event that took place on that day.
However it’s very possible that amateur rocket builders may have launched a high powered rocket during Memorial weekend celebrations, without appropriate permits.
Whatever you believe about UFO sightings and whether they’re extra-terrestrial in nature, one thing is very clear about this particular event. The sighting parameters and circumstances don’t match most UFO sightings.
In this case, the cause was most definitely very terrestrial in nature — and someone is very lucky that the authorities never caught up with their unlicensed holiday-weekend festivities.
Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com