A near-miss stalemate
|By Billy Cox
Â Â Â When MUFON researchers requested radar records pertaining to an event on March 13, 2013, they were preparing to log a garden-variety sighting report for eastern Pennsylvania. What they got instead were indications of a startling near-collision in mid-air outside Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE).
âNeedless to say, we didnât expect this,â says Dan Medleycott, Pennsylvania State Section Director.
To wit: At about 8:50 p.m. on 3/13/13, a man and his daughter in Bethlehem, Pa., saw what they described as âat least 100 or soâ round bluish objects moving in formation from north to south, in addition to a less well organized formation trailing the first. The orb-like UFOs then accelerated âfrom 0-80 mphâ before disappearing. With winds on that evening clocked at 11 mph from the west, MUFON scratched sky lanterns from the suspect list.
The Federal Aviation Administration responded to Medleycottâs FOIA with a compact disc congested by 15,543 skin paint returns during the hour-long time window in question â 8:20 to 9:20 p.m. Lacking the radar expertise to decipher, Medleycott forwarded the results to Glen Schulze in Colorado. Schulze has more than 50 years experience studying radar and is the co-author of MUFONâs underreported Stephenville radar analysis of 2008. After filtering out the extraneous material, he found an anomaly â only, the incident ended some 13 minutes before the Bethlehem sighting. What he discovered was a more surprising sequence, beginning at 8:20 p.m.:
An object without a transponder, detected on pingbacks, shows up on a southeast course, while a plane with a beacon â Schulze labels it Beacon Code 4207 â is flying to the northwest and heading toward it. Visibility that evening is reportedly 10 miles. Acccording to the radar signatures, the two close within a mile of each other at 8:36 p.m. near Danielsville. BC4207 then swerves abruptly to the east. BC4207 pulls a couple of loops and eventually makes a 9:17 p.m. landing at ABE. But what happened to the non-responsive target? Between 8:36 and 8:37, the object goes âradar darkâ in Schulzeâs words, âlike somebody threw a switch.
âWithin a minute,â he adds, noting the antenna swept its 60-mile radius coverage every 4.7 seconds, âthis cluster, for lack of a better term, just distintegrated, from 10 smaller returns to 5 to 2 to 1, then nothing. It just disappeared.â
Even weirder: The âbroadspreadâ skin-paint returns were so solid up to that point, Schulze compared their strength and breadth to pingbacks he evaluated, years ago, from 900- by 150-foot freighters off Los Angeles.
Again, this encounter ended almost a quarter hour before witnesses reported the nearby Bethlehem UFOs not as a solitary behemoth in the sky, but as a formation of small individual objects. Schulze says the unfiltered radar data indicated a second cluster of non-responsive skin paints were aloft that night as well. âYou canât connect the dots 100 percent,â he says, âbut you can say something very, very unusual was in the air that night.â
So who was the pilot with the transponder, what kind of aircraft was he/she flying, and what did they see?
Upon acquiring Schulzeâs filtered data â itâs quite dramatic, and De Void would post it here if there was a way to get around the formatting â MUFON contacted airport officials at ABE. According to Medleycott, ABE suggested MUFON send them the data. MUFON declined, saying it preferred a face-to-face sit-down discussion instead. Nothing has happened on the offical end since.
âWeâve got something of high-strangeness value here, and we wanted to get their direct, personal reaction to it,â Medleycott stated. âJust sending it to them without getting that reaction seems like a misstep.â
De Void contacted ABE but hasnât heard back, most likely because its analysts have no data to work with. MUFON published the results of what it calls Case 47000 in its October journal. After unsuccessfully attempting to locate new witnesses through the Bethlehem newspaper and the Pennsylvania State Police, and after being told by nearby Horsham Air Guard Station (suspicion of drones) that its tower “was inactive” that night, MUFON closed the case as an Unidentified Aerial Vehicle encounter.
De Void will update if events warrant.