|Occurred : 11/29/2006 16:00 (Entered as : 11/29/06 16:00)
Reported: 2/12/2008 12:36:18 AM 00:36
Location: Columbus, GA
|((NUFORC Note: We express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Tom Sheets, State Director for MUFON/Georgia, for conducting the follow-up investigation of this case, and for sharing the information with NUFORC. PD))
Inquiry into alleged crash of unknown aircraft.
Joint Investigation by NUFORC and MUFON of Georgia, Fireball, Columbus Georgia Occurred : 11/29/2006 16:00 (Entered as : 11292006 16:00) Reported: 11/30/2006 5:27:48 AM 05:27 Posted: 12/7/2006 Location: Columbus, GA Shape: Fireball Duration: Unknown (NOTE: Readers, for a full understanding of the following described inquiry, please see full original witness account at NUFORC; Columbus Georgia, Fireball, Posted 12/7/2006).
Recap- A resident of Columbus Georgia, a retired educator holding a PhD, was reportedly ill on 28Nov06 and did not follow the normal local news of the day. The next day, on 29Nov06, he discovered the circumstances of the 28Nov06 Columbus suspected 'airplane crash' as covered by the local TV station and newspaper. At that point, he was mystified by certain events that had occurred earlier that day (29th) in relation to the Columbus Airport, said area which he had driven past in his automobile. These unusual events described by the witness at the airport involved an alleged unmarked 727 that was taxied close to the adjacent roadway, and was suspected of causing the witness' passing vehicle to stall, as if some unknown electronic device was in operation from within the craft. Other unusual circumstances relating to this are described in the original account. The below described inquiry attempted to sort out all of the matters described by the witness in his NUFORC statement, which basically alleged that something unknown was recovered and then secretly removed from Columbus Georgia by agencies unknown.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- On Thursday evening, 7Dec06, Peter Davenport, the Director of the National UFO Reporting Center, contacted this writer and described the account posted by the witness in this case.
An agreement was reached to further scrutinize the situation.
Unavoidable events then occurred which delayed movement on this investigation in the desired prompt manner. This writer was in the process of returning to MUFON after a 2+ year absence, and was in a transitional phase. Furthermore the MUFON representative in Columbus Georgia had suffered an extreme medical condition which left him permanently disabled, and no other FIs were in close proximity. This writer lives some 75 miles north of Columbus. Then during the first phases of the investigation, this FI developed an extreme case of the flu and bronchitis, with pneumonia, which lasted several weeks, most of which I was unable to speak properly.
This writer contacted the witness by both phone and email and further discussed the account. He was asked, and stated he would inquire, if his associate PhD, his passenger on 29Nov06, would also submit an account. (This account was never produced).
During these conversations, the witness stated that the local TV meteorologist (name on file) had stated that he had noticed a return on his Doppler radar unit about the time of the purported 'plane crash' on 28Nov06, and that he had spoken to this meteorologist. This writer identified the meteorologist and placed repeated phone calls to him which were NEVER returned. An email also went UNANSWERED, as did a letter posted to him at the TV station.
The witness had also described a quickly formed task force of search personnel that had been formed on 28Nov06 shortly after a 'crash witness' had phoned 911. This search party consisting of Columbus Police and Fire/Rescue, FAA, and soldiers from the adjacent massive Fort Benning.
(NOTE: Sidebar- This writer recalls seeing this large search operation covered by the local Atlanta TV stations, and the Columbus authorities stating, at sometime prior to 11:00PM, that no downed aircraft had been found).
The area of the suspected downed aircraft, vicinity of 8801 Macon Road, is the location of the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft facility. Furthermore said Macon Rd. actually forms part of the northern perimeter of the Fort Benning Army Base. From past experience, this writer is aware that any major public safety emergency IMMEDIATELY outside of the base has been responded to by Army emergency personnel due to the the possible effects on the base itself and due to the Army being a 'good neighbor' to the local Columbus authorities. Thus a response by the Army Military Police, Provost, or base public safety personnel, is not unusual in a case such as a possible downed aircraft.
In this same vein, this writer contacted the Director of Security for the Pratt & Whitney facility (name on file). He stated that he recalled the afternoon of the event. The police had sent an officer out ahead to check on conditions as the search was organized and deployed. He spoke to the officer, but could report nothing vital. The DirSec's office is elevated, and he stated that it overlooks most of the area in question in a panoramic view, and that he had noticed nothing extraordinary such as a crashing aircraft or similar.
This writer also contacted the Columbus Police i.e. 911 Center to locate records of the initial emergency call and the original 'plane crash' witness. This writer was bounced around to different divisions, and generally ignored for days on end. Past professional contacts in that agency maintained when this writer was a Chief of Police had been transferred or also retired. This investigator then filed a request for records under the 'Georgia Open Records Act', a state law similar to the FOIA. This produced what was described as the only record relating to the event (since they maintain that nothing was found), a 911 dispatch card. It listed the original caller's name and not much else. The nature of the 'call' was described as "Caller sts seen a plane go down north east of Pratt Whitney". Time received 15:56:14; Time dispatched 15:56:19; Time arrived 16:08:52.
This writer phoned the name listed as the original 911 witness, with NO response. A complete letter of explanation of our needs, insuring confidentiality, and a SASE, was then mailed to the witness, again with NO response.
This writer also filed detailed FOIA covering all aspects of this matter to the FAA. On 30March07, the FAA responded stating that "........searched our files........could NOT find any records responsive to your request...." During this inquiry, the writer earlier contacted a journalist with the largest Columbus newspaper (organ and name on file). This individual had demonstrated in past years that he was a friend of Ufology, of MUFON of Georgia and ISUR in particular. All aspects were explained to him as well as request for informational help through his various contacts among the local government and community. He agreed to 'make some calls' and pass any info to this writer. This individual developed nothing more than what was already known about the search for a downed aircraft, which he had monitored on his public safety scanner.
Also contacted was the Air Force Space Command. This writer sent a request to Lieutenant ______ ______, USAF (name on file) explaining what information we sought regarding returning space junk and re-entering debris. The answer came on 5Jan07, indicating that the 1st Space Command Control Squadron at Cheyenne Mountain AF Station confirmed that there was NO returning orbital debris being tracked in the vicinity of the southeastern USA at the times in question. Likewise the Joint Space Operations Center Weather Flight that there were no unusual space or terrestrial weather phenomena observed during the same time period. A note added, in order to discuss meteors, refer to NASA.
The following data highlights should be noted, as it was taken directly from the data base of NUFORC, regarding the following states in the southeastern USA; 28Nov06, between 4:00PM and 9:00PM and later; Georgia- EST zone- Dacula, 7PM, Bright green object like shooting star, seemed to stop....moved on.
Nahunta, 7PM, fireball observed, no color given. Dalton, 7PM, fireball observed, long tail, shooting across sky, changing pink and green, broke into 2-3 pieces, vanished. Rome 6:35PM, fireball glowing green, NW to south, broke up into several pieces, appeared to strike earth, witness suspected space debris or meteor. Lawrenceville 6:30PM, very bright green light 'eyebrow shape', silent, very high-speed. Rising Fawn, 6:15PM, 2 round green lights falling toward horizon, aqua-green, no tail, like pencil erasure held AAL, witness later heard Chattanooga weather report of fireball meteors.
Alabama- CST zone- Birmingham, 1st, 5:30PM, Blu-grn ball of light; 2nd, 5:30PM, green light streaking across sky, thicker tail than meteor, seemed close to ground, went over a 'mountain', gone; 3rd, 5:30PM, large round bright green circle, WNW to ESE, seemed to be meteor; 4th, brilliant green light to NE, quicker than a plane, 45 degree angle to earth, lost behind trees; 5th, 5:30PM, large green fireball, W to E, surrounded by glowing white light, tail like a comet, next day news said NASA had no meteor reports, news called it a 'UFO". Pinson, 5:35PM, fireball, white then turned green, vanished behind trees....said landed 2 miles away. Huntsville, 5:30PM, bright green light, traveled east over Chapman Mountain, very fast, wife saw same from different location miles away, like Roman Candle. Bremen, 5:30PM, bright green fireball, falling, resembled fire works display.
(NOTE: Alabama Sidebar--The 'Decatur Alabama Daily News' ran a story in their 29Nov06 edition. "Lights in Sky Probably Space Junk or Meteor". Thumbnail--The 911 Center in Morgan County began receiving calls at 5:28PM CST on 28Nov06, that a brilliant lime-green light had appeared and the callers were claiming it was a 'downed aircraft'. A multi-agency public safety search effort was mounted in the area and no downed aircraft was found. Local astronomers went on to describe space junk, and so forth. Including that lime-green would be consistent with burning aluminum re-entering the earth's atmosphere. A University of Alabama astronomer stated the "sightings were too late to be explained by the meteor shower that took place last week". (Leonids). Article went on to discuss bolides, the differences in the way the human eye perceives color and a recent golf shot made by a Russian cosmonaut that hit a golf ball into orbit to become 'space junk').
Tennessee, split into EST and CST zones- Knoxville, 1st, 10:45PM, 8-10 blu-grn lights, very bright, circular, largest like 1/2 moon, others smaller, E to SE, seemed 60-100mph, large aircraft like a 'tanker' seen following behind; 2nd, 6:30PM, 5 very bright blue lights, silent, passed overhead, vanished, distant boom then heard, 5 minutes another boom; 3rd, 6:30PM, large blue fireball, moving east, unlike 'shooting star', traveled 180 degrees, broke into 2-3 pieces, reminded witness of shuttle breakup. Chattanooga, 6:30PM, bright green light, silent, as if 100 feet above ground, intense light, looked as if had 2 parts, shot forward then gone, policeman stopped, got out and looked. Soddy Daisy, 6:30PM, 2 bright green lights close to horizon, falling at angle, witness says could make out a cylinder or cigar shape from which lights seem to come.....vanished.....neighbor saw same driving miles away. Oliver Springs, fireball, streak of light, NW to ESE, saw 4-5 balls develop from it, burned, went dark.
Kentucky, split into EST and CST zones. Stanford, 6:30PM, very fast green light, W to E, strange shade of green. Hyden, 5:00PM, 7-8 blu-grn lights, appeared far away, detected circular motion.
North Carolina, EST zone. Marshall, 7:00PM, green light, too fast for an aircraft, S to N, seemed 5 inches off horizon AAL. Marble, 6:50PM, bright green light, silent, illuminated clouds, moving to NE, seemed 3000-4000 feet, 200-400 mph. Boone, 6:40PM, fireball, large, bright green, poorly defined edges, clouds glowing green, changed direction slowly.
Franklin, 6:25PM, 2 green lights, very fast, down then upwards, silent, one ahead of the other.
While there is a difference in times, directions, and exact descriptions, there is enough probable cause therein to indicate there was in fact something afoot in the SE skies of the USA the evening of 28Nob06. TOO MANY similarities not to have been connected to the same, or a series of, related aerial event(s).
It's obvious from past investigations that a bolide, fireball, large meteor, or huge returning space junk, can be seen by ground observers MANY hundreds of miles apart.
Likewise large meteor showers. Past investigations have found CREDIBLE witnesses that all believed the light/object/fireball observed went to ground nearby when it actually traveled over the horizon, sometimes into another state. A good example of this was a SC police helicopter pilot who made such an observation on the Ga/SC state line. He was preparing to call out the search parties for a downed aircraft and actually landed his chopper to refuel so as to cross into Georgia to assist. The object observed on that occasion was later tracked by citizen's reports across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and on into Arkansas.
During the course of this investigation, it was found that the previously orbiting Russian reconnaissance satellite Cosmos 2423 was launched on 14Sept06 and it's orbit began to decay before completion of it's expected appx. 120 day mission (possible mechanical malfunction). Various sources indicated that the breakup began on or about 17-18November 2006 and the satellite was then destroyed at some point by ground command to better control any resulting impact damage and to prevent 'foreign' intelligence services' from retrieving any possible surviving components. The U.S. Space Command indicated that Cosmos 2423 generated 28 cataloged fragments, NORAD catalog numbers 29604-29631.
Additional speculation is that the now smaller Cosmos 2423 fragments might have taken as long as 30 days to re-enter the atmosphere, which puts the 28Nov06 date well within that window.
One would like to think that the US Space Command would not be intentionally deceitful to the American public regarding requests for information, but in matters dealing with intelligence about reconnaissance efforts of a potential future foe, I'm not so sure. In fact, in such a case, I would fully EXPECT such matters to remain confidential within our military and intelligence community.
Additional speculation on my part is that IF anything HAD been recovered during the Columbus Georgia 'downed aircraft search', and it rose to the level of requiring the find to remain secret or confidential, the Columbus Municipal Airport would be the last place used to remove it from the local scene. The Columbus Airport is only some 4+ miles from the Ft. Benning base perimeter, and the location of the 'search' area is practically atop the base's northern property line (Macon Road vicinity).
Fort Benning Georgia is IMMEDIATELY adjacent the City of Columbus. This fort is one of the largest U.S. Army installations in the world, and is the home of the Army's Airborne School, the Headquarters of the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the Infantry School. Official records indicate that Fort Benning, and it's various training commands, is serviced from within by Lawson Army Airfield which is capable of, and does, land the largest aircraft owned by the U.S. Government; the C-5, C-17, C-141, C-130 and others. It is this writer's opinion that anything requiring such secrecy as described by the witness would have been flown out of Lawson Army Airfield. Doing so would give TOTAL and COMPLETE control and security to such a confidential process. Such security would be marginal, or non-existent, at a civilian municipal airport. This is not to say that such a municipal airport has not been used during certain government projects, but again, anything arising to such a confidential level would be routed through a government installation if at all possible.......there is no doubt in my mind.
Under such conditions it would be difficult indeed to prove for certain that anything clandestine took place.
As to the circumstances of the event occurring on the airport access road i.e. the witness unexplained stalled vehicle near a 727 aircraft. Over the course of this inquiry, the writer has touched base with various former and retired persons with a background in military intelligence and other electronic 'specialists'. Speculations vary, but in the opinion of one 'specialist', an electronic system that might cloak or disrupt the outside monitoring of the aircraft systems or communications........"I would not be surprised if such devices exist. But effecting nearby electronic components? Likely not". He went on to describe the need for this that some military aircraft might have......Air Force One, but such system would have to be discrete, being vital that it NOT affect other systems........further describing sound cancellation devices........additionally, the one successfully used with some Black Hawk helicopters and similar techniques used in our submarines.
It's apparent that the Georgia 'downed aircraft witness' saw something that led to notifying the authorities. So did the witnesses in Decatur/Morgan County Alabama, both events leading to an official ground search.
Did pieces of Russian Cosmos 2423 or some other satellite or space junk come down in the southeastern USA? Not according to the USAF Space Command.
Did the southeastern skies experience the 'Green Fireball' phenomenon as have other parts of the USA in the past? Perhaps.
Was a truly anomalous event, including unknown craft, involved? Maybe.
The NUFORC and MUFON of Georgia wishes to take this opportunity to appeal to ALL future witnesses........when reporting any unknown aerial event, please do not hesitate to provide full information. NUFORC Director Peter Davenport and the MUFON organization sometimes need ADDITIONAL information in cases that might prove vital to our understanding of the various aerial phenomenon. Your identity will be protected to the fullest extent. Who knows? It could be you that provides the clue to opening up a whole new chapter in the study of these mysteries.
Tom Sheets, Chief of Police (Retired), State Director - MUFON of Georgia