|A passenger photo shot from inside the terminal.|
Witnesses described the object as completely silent, 6 to 24 feet in diameter and dark gray in color. Several independent witnesses outside of the airport also saw the object. One described a disc-shaped craft hovering over the airport which was "obviously not clouds." According to this witness, the object shot through the clouds at high velocity, leaving a clear blue hole in the cloud layer. The hole reportedly seemed to close itself shortly afterward.
According to the Chicago Tribune's Jon Hilkevitch, "The disc was visible for approximately five minutes and was seen by close to a dozen United Airlines employees, ranging from pilots to supervisors, who heard chatter on the radio and raced out to view it." There is no photographic or video evidence of the UFO.
News sources report O'Hare UFO sighting.
Both United Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initially denied that they had any information on the O'Hare UFO sighting until the Chicago Tribune, which was investigating the report, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The FAA then ordered an internal review of air-traffic communications tapes to comply with the Tribune FOIA request which subsequently uncovered a call by the United supervisor to an FAA manager in the airport tower concerning the UFO sighting.
The FAA stance concludes that the sighting was caused by a weather phenomenon and that the agency would therefore not be investigating the incident. According to astronomer Mark Hammergren, weather conditions on the day of the sighting were right for a "hole-punch cloud", an unusual weather phenomenon which is often mistakenly attributed to unidentified flying objects.
UFO investigators have argued that the FAA's refusal to look into the incident contradicts the agency's mandate to investigate possible security breaches at American airports such as in this case; an object witnessed by numerous airport employees and officially reported by at least one of them, hovering in plain sight, over one of the busiest airports in the world. Some witnesses interviewed by the Tribune were apparently "upset" that federal officials declined to further investigate the matter. NARCAP published a 155-page report on the sighting and has called for a government inquiry and improved energy-sensing technologies: "Anytime an airborne object can hover for several minutes over a busy airport but not be registered on radar or seen visually from the control tower, it constitutes a potential threat to flight safety."
The Chicago O'Hare airport UFO story was picked up by various major mainstream media groups such as CNN, CBS, MSNBC, Fox News, The Chicago Tribune, and NPR.
On February 11, 2009, The History Channel aired an episode of the television show UFO Hunters with the title Aliens at the Airport in which they reviewed the incident.
Compiled By Neil Gale, Ph.D.