Encounter of the Imaginary Kind
NARRATOR: After interviewing an airline pilot who had to take evasive action to avoid hitting a UFO, Lue Elizondo meets a new pilot who claims a UFO intercepted his plane in one of the closest alleged encounters on record. Peter Kiriazes flew multiple aircraft from fighter jets to the Boeing 777 for more than 30 years.
LUE: Pete is one of those guys who's trained to actually go into combat and look for trouble.
NARRATOR: In 2003, Captain Kiriazes says he had a UFO encounter that would haunt him for years and underscore what's at stake for millions of passengers.
PETE: It was a little bit after 9/11; everybody was, uh, a little sensitive. It was a beautiful night; no clouds, smooth air. We blasted off from Dallas-Fort Worth; we had one leg left, to Charlotte. The airplane was functioning perfectly. We got up to 35,000 feet and started cruising, and everybody just relaxed. And then all of a sudden I get a radar altimeter display. And it immediately just pops on. It's a simple system; it's just emitting a straight vertical radar beam. It has to bounce off something. It can't just generate.
PETE: So then it goes 2200, 2300, 2000, 1800, 1700, and then it stops. Some object was coming up underneath me, unverifiable, unidentifiable, but undeniable.
LUE: They call the tower; the tower sees nothing. There's nothing on radar.
NARRATOR: Then, as the captain and his copilot continue to monitor the radar altimeter, the mysterious object makes moves again.
PETE: And then [the altimeter] goes 1800, 1700, 1500, 1200; it went to 1000 feet. It was behaving in a way that wouldn't really be logical if it was broken.
PETE: So we made some shallow S-turns and, you know, we're trying to look over our wing and below us and behind us, and we couldn't see anything. And then it went 800, 700, 500, 400, 300, and it stopped. I mean, the worst possible situation to be in as a captain. Your brain says this can't be happening, but you have to deal with it in the here and now, in the present. So then it goes 200. Then it goes 100.
PETE: It's the worst-case scenario; it's not even thinkable. You have the responsibility of all these lives. You have to make a split-second decision coming soon, and you have nothing to base it on but one bit of information.
NARRATOR: If Captain Kiriazes' readings are correct, something is flying directly under his plane and closing in. He readies himself to take control.
PETE: My thumb was hovering over the autopilot button. I said, if it gets inside 100 feet, I'm going to maneuver [evasively, by climbing to a higher altitude]. It just stayed there, it seemed just eternal; it was just so long. And then it just it just went away! And at that point our heart rate's going pretty fast, and we thought, what the heck just happened?
NARRATOR: A short time later, the flight lands in Charlotte, and Captain Kiriazes begins looking for answers.
PETE: I checked the log book on that airplane. It never had happened before. And in all the 30 years of flying with a radar altimeter, that has never happened. With anybody I've ever talked to, it's never happened.
NARRATOR: Experts are at a loss as to what could have been beneath the plane.
PETE: I've talked to some very brilliant pilots, and I've posed this to them many times, and no one can really give me a good answer.
PETE: And so the conclusion is there's Something Else with the technology that's much more sophisticated than ours, that's operating with an additional set of physical laws and rules.