Sault St Marie, ON
May 9th, 4:15pm
((NUFORC Note: We spoke with this co-pilot at length, and found him to be an exceptionally qualified observer. We believe the pilots who reported this event probably had witnessed space debris returning through the atmosphere. Please see the following URL for details:
We express our gratitude to the FAA for having directed the pilots to NUFORC, and to the crew members for having contacted us with their reports! PD))
Two balls of light with illuminated contrails flying in formation at a constant altitude and heading.
We were flying west bound 50nm south of Sault Ste Marie Ontario, Canada at FL390. The sky was clear with the odd cloud formation below us. We noticed at our 1 oclock position, at approx our altitude two balls of light flying towards us. The balls of light were flying in a continuous formation and constant altitude, and each had an illuminated contrail. The lights continued on what seemed to to be a constant heading until they went by our right wing 10-40nm away. As they passed, the second light split into two separate lights, as if up until then one light was obscuring the other. When the lights reached our 5 oclock position they all disappeared. I would estimate that each light was 200-400 feet in diameter, and each contrail was illuminated for 2000-4000 feet. We notified ATC and they had no other aircraft in the area, or anything on radar. Also, another aircraft 100nm behind us at FL280 stated they had seen the same lights. Both myself and the other pilot have been flying for more than 25 years with over 10,000 hours each and neither of us has seen anything like it before.
((NUFORC Note: We spoke at length with this airliner crew member, and found him to be an excellent witness. We also spoke with the other cockpit crewmember, who submitted a report, as well. Each person has flight time logged that is measured by the tens of thousands of hours, and both of them have decades of experience in the cockpit of an airliner. As witnesses to the event, they are superlative, in our opinion.
Please see report from crew member of other airliner, who reported the same event. PD))
Thanks to NUFORC