|Occurred : 12/16/1997 02:00 (Entered as : 12/16/97 2:00)
Reported: 6/26/2019 5:22:10 PM 17:22
Location: Mediterranean Sea,
|Based on my military log book, the incident I describe happen in mid-December 1997. I was serving in the U.S. Navy at the time, working as a radar operator on P-3 Orion aircraft. My unit was deployed Mediterranean, operating from the naval air base in Sigonella, Italy. Late one night, my crew took off on a tactical mission around midnight, heading east over the Mediterranean Sea. Since it was a late departure and we had about 2 or 3 hours before arriving at our tactical area in the Eastern Med, most of the crew used the opportunity to catch a few hours of sleep. Except of course, the cockpit crew and myself, as I nodded on and off while manning at the radar station.
About hour after takeoff, the cockpit crew called back to me, and asked me perform a radar sweep of the area ahead. They said they were seeing a strange, undefined ball of light off the nose, somewhere in the distance, that appeared it might be moving towards us. The pilots said they could not make out any details, only that it was too big to be any star, moon, or planet, and it was moving independently of the background sky.
The pilots contacted the ATC controllers, asking if they had any other reported aircraft in our area, they replied that we were the only known aircraft flying over the eastern Med that night. I performed both radar and IFF sweeps of the area using onboard sensors, turning up nothing as well.
After the radar sweeps came nil, I powered up the aircraft’s forward-looking infrared camera, and this time I was able to see the object, it was just as the pilots were describing, a large, undefined, ball of light. Unfortunately, the IR camera onboard this aircraft was of an older generation, meaning the IR picture wasn’t much better than that of old black and white TV.
After fiddling with IR camera not able to resolve any definable image of the object, I decided to go up to the flight station to see the object for myself. It was as they described, a round, undefined, slightly yellow/orange ball of light. It was directly off the nose in the distance and appeared to be either tracking us, or moving toward us as it was getting bigger. I could not tell exactly how close it got, but after further closing in on us, it gently moved off to the left side of the aircraft, where it appeared to briefly parallel our course, and then it disappeared to the south, headed in a direction over the north coast of Africa, and disappearing off the horizon.
Of the 14 or 15 folks we had on board that night, only 4 or 5 of us were awake to witness the unexplained event. We all agreed that we had seen something of an unknown origin, but none of us thought much of it, and only causally mentioned it to the rest of the crew later. The encounter was never reported.