|Occurred : 2/4/2018 10:45 (Entered as : 02/04/18 10:45)
Reported: 2/4/2018 8:25:20 PM 20:25
Location: Mt. Ashland, OR
|High speed object witnessed in vertical ascent nearby, south of Mt. Ashland, Oregon.
Reason for report: Flight of an unknown craft sighted as I climbed up the pass near Mt. Ashland, OR, ~1045 hours PT, 04 Feb 18.
Sky conditions: It was a bright blue sky with a very thin altocumulus cloud layer, visibility unlimited. Mt. Shasta was clearly visible to the south when I stopped to take a photo of the exhaust trail of the vehicle I observed.
Narrative: On 04 February 2018, I was driving on I-5 southbound in steep and winding terrain in the mountain pass near Mt. Ashland. I saw what appeared to be a missile launch rising straight into the sky above the terrain, distance unknown, at a high relative speed. [One of my friends lives just a few miles north of the Modesto, CA, airport: judging from air traffic approaching the Modesto Airport (on the Bay Area DYAMD arrival), the vehicle or craft I observed was flying at approximately 4 times the speed of the aircraft approaching the Bay Area from the east.] I observed a large smoke plume, semi-conical in shape, as the vehicle shot upward; there was a slight break in the exhaust trail, then another just below the vehicle. The upward part of the vehicle was partially obscured by a cone-shaped cloud typical of a craft passing transonic speed. See diagram #1.
It caught my eye because it was a straight climb upward, at a very high rate of climb and speed.
As I was driving in steep, winding terrain, I had no opportunity to photograph what I saw until a few minutes later, I began the descent into California. I stopped my car and took a photo of the exhaust trail which was still visible though fading somewhat. I do have an operating high definition dash camera with a f/1.4 lens which recorded the event. (Please see the DVD enclosed.) The vehicle itself (please refer to diagram #2) was highly reflective; the upper part was tapered, though not with a sharp point; the lower portion was cylindrical and seemed rounded at the base: the overall shape was cylindrical, somewhat like a gelatin capsule.
I observed the craft until it reached the thin, partially-broken cloud layer above me: though the layer was not very thick and afforded a clear view of the sky above, the vehicle disappeared.
I want to make this very clear: this was not a contrail of a high-altitude aircraft approaching me from the south. Those contrails are seen well above the horizon: this craft was distinctly visible, climbing at a very high relative speed, unlike an aircraft approaching at a distance at high altitude with a thin contrail. The vehicle was climbing beneath the cloud layer upward at an incredible velocity, initially leaving a pillar of smoke or exhaust, and had a cone-shaped cloud surrounding the upper portion of the craft.
Other significant factors: Also visible were two high-speed flights of military aircraft, very small jets (from my perspective); there was a flight of two, flying in tight formation, and another group of three in a triangular formation, sighted when I stopped to photograph the exhaust trail of the vehicle. These aircraft appeared to be flying at an altitude not more than 50% of Mt. Shasta’s elevation above the mountain (21,000-22,000 feet?) and no lower than the peak of Mt. Shasta. What type of aircraft these were is unknown to me, but they were small, flying in formation, at high speed.