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America West Airlines Flight 564

  • Case Number: #0120
  • Date: 25 May 1995
  • Time: 9.25 pm.
  • Location: Bovina, Texas, U.S.A.
  • Witness(es): Eugene Tollefson, John, J, Waller
  • Classification: Pilot Sightings
The incident would be studied by ufologists with such interest due to this fact and also by the fact that NORAD would also in the brief conversation, admit to tracking an object in the area of the UFO sighting, something which of course they would later deny, but which at the time, and for investigators to this day, is a case where there was a confirmed detection on a UFO sighting.
As the American West airline was travelling from Temper in Florida to its destination in Las Vegas, Nevada, the crew would witness a massive and very fast moving UFO about seven miles high. Their story is as follows:
At the controls of the plane was Captain Eugene Tollefson and he was accompanied by his first officer, John. J. Waller, and they were cruising at 39,000 feet above Bovina, Texas. Everything about the flight was going normal until 10:25 in the pm, when Tollefson thought he saw an unidentified object just below then at approximately 30,000 feet. 
Being curious as to what it was, Tollefson rose from his seat for a better view at what he could now make out was a row of flashing lights. As he gazed at it, there was a large and bright flash of lighting and he was able to make out a silhouette of the object from where the lights were emanating. It was very large, about three to four-hundred feet long, dark in colour and a sort of cigar shape. 
Immediately on seeing this, captain Tollefson contacted Albuquerque air traffic control to report the incident and the following is a transcript of the conversation:
ZAB1: Hey cactus 564, say again.
564: I said, there is nothing on the radar or the other centres at all on that particular area. That object that’s up in the air?
ZAB1: Is it up in the air?
564: Affirmative.
ZAB1: What is the altitude about? 
564: I don’t know, probably right around 30,000 feet or so. There is a strobe on it and it starts from going counterclockwise and the length is unbelievable.
Despite the massive size, Albuquerque ATC reported that there was no object visible on the radar. With the obvious concern of the pilot and the fact that they could not pick up the object, the ATC decided to contact Cannon Air force space radar operations in nearby Clovis, New Mexico. The following is another transcript of the conversation:
CANNON: Cannon, go ahead.
ZAB1: Hey, a guy at 39,000 feet says that he sees something at 30,000 feet. The length is unbelievable and it has a strobe on it.
CANNON: Uh huh.
ZAB1: This is not good.
CANNON: What does that mean? 
ZAB1: Don’t know? It’s a UFO or something, it’s that Roswell crap again.
The description from the crew of the object would be told in more detail later and they would say it was a long, thin object of a cylindrical shape with a series of bright lights that went down its side. These lights blinked on and off in a sequence. 
As the incident unfolded there was an air force F117A nighthawk jet of the 49th fighter wing from the Holloman air force in the area. The ATC contacted the pilot of this and the stealth fighter managed to see something. Again follows the black box recording of the conversation between ATC and the stealth fighter pilot:
ZAB2: Hawk 85, in the next two to three minutes, be looking off to your right side, if you see anything at about 30,000 feet, one aircraft reported seeing something, it wasn’t a weather balloon or anything. It is a long, white looking thing with a strobe on it. Let me know if you see anything out there. 
HAWK85: You got any traffic off our left wing right now?
ZAB2: I’ve got something off your nine o clock in about twelve at westbound.
HAWK85: It actually looks like something about a little lower than us just off our left wing.
The Night Hawk reported the unidentified object passing by its left side and also the American West flight reported seeing the same thing just moments later, passing dangerously close to the craft. The flight then contacted the ATC again about what they had saw:
564: We are all huddles up here talking about it. With the lightening you could still see the dark object. It was like a cigar shape from the altitude we could see it and the length is what got us sort of confused because it looked like it was about three to four hundred feet long. So, I don’t know if its wire with a strobe on it, but the strobe starts going left then goes right counterclockwise and it was a pretty eerie sight.
Soon after this the object disappeared from sight. 
Now concerned with the situation, Albuquerque ATC then contacted NORAD’s western air defense sector headquarters in Washington. Their conversation is as followed:
ZAB3: I’ve got something unusual and I was wanting to know if you all happened to know of anything going on out here? We had a couple of aircraft reported something three to four hundred feet long, cylindrical in shape with a strobe.
NORAD: Oh.
ZAB3: At 30,000 feet.
NORAD: We don’t have anything going on up there that I know of.
ZAB3: This guy definitely saw it run all the way to the side of the airplane, it was right out of the Xfiles, it is a definite UFO or something like that.
NORAD: and you are all serious about this? 
ZAB3: Yeah, he’s real serious about it too and he looked and saw it.
NORAD: Holy shit. 
Thirteen minutes, Albuquerque checked in with NORAD once again.
NORAD: We had someone call here earlier about a pilot spotting an unidentified flying object.
ZAB3: Yep, that’s us.
NORAD: Ok, well hey, we’re tracking a search only track, kind up when that might have happened. We have been tracking it for about two to three minutes now.
Later, NORAD would deny any involvement in this incident in writing. 
Again, this UFO sighting displays all the information and background that would make it one of credibility. With the witnesses to it all being experienced airline pilots with many hours fly time over many years. It is true to say that for people who spend that much time in the air, they are well aware of the possibility of seeing such objects as weather balloons and are more than capable of distinguishing them from other objects. If a pilot of such caliber claims that they have had a UFO sighting, then it is in all probability that what they saw was in fact what they say. In the case of flight 564 and the evidence of an unknown craft being also tracked on high ranking radar equipment, it also sheds light on the incident of being one of truth. The fact that the conversation was later denied is nothing unusual in the governments continual attempt to disregard such UFO sightings as either myth or mistaken identity on part of the witness.

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