Patrick Brennan looks to the skies and wonders if someone is looking back.

At 6.47 A.M. on November 9th, 2018, the pilot of a Boeing 787 flying near the Kerry coast made a call to Shannon Air Traffic Control (ATC).
“Is there any military traffic you’ve got right now?”
The ATC responded there was nothing on their radar.
“Okay, it was moving so fast,” continued the pilot. “In fact we can no longer see it but yeah, thank you.”
“Alongside you?” enquires ATC.
“Just two came up on our left-hand side and then rapidly veered to the north. We saw a bright light and then it disappeared at a very high speed. We were just wondering…what that could’ve been!”

A nearby airliner reported a similar sighting. The Irish Aviation Authority has opened an investigation into the incident.
So what had happened? It was yet another close encounter with an Unidentified Flying Object.

The UFO phenomenon seems thoroughly modern, and yet incidents we would now consider UFO sightings reach back thousands of years. A Chinese text from the fourth century BC describes a “moon boat” that appeared every twelve years and in the second century BC, “gleaming round shields” were spotted in the sky by the Romans. Even the Bible is said to contain a description of a UFO, where Ezekiel has a vision of a chariot of God consisting of a “wheel within a wheel”.

Sightings continued throughout history but any association of these objects with beings from other planets only began around 1947 with an explosion in UFO sightings in the United States, the most famous being the Roswell Incident.

In early July, a homestead foreman named William Brazel found clusters of debris strewn across a large area about thirty miles north of Roswell in New Mexico. Brazel had heard some reports about “flying discs” and wondered if that was what he had found.

The debris included tin foil, rubber strips, paper, and sticks. Brazel took the material to the local sheriff, who contacted the nearby army air field, who sent a man to collect the debris. The debris was unusual but not otherworldly.
And yet, because of the on-going UFO craze, the incident couldn’t but helped to be linked to them. The air field issued a press release saying they had captured a “flying disc” which greatly added to the fervour.
But when the military examined the debris, it was quickly determined to be a balloon of some sort.

The true nature of the object – that it was part of an experiment to see if high-altitude balloons could detect nuclear explosions – was kept secret, and the public were informed the debris was from a weather balloon.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own