Experienced captains and one former F-18 pilot told DailyMail.com they saw bright lights moving in elongated circles or ‘race tracks’ for hours high in the sky while they flew on routes from Japan and Hawaii towards the US West Coast in August and September.
The incidents were reported to the FAA, and a researcher obtained dramatic audio of the pilots calling in the strange sightings to Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).
Pilots also attempted to film from their cockpits the group of between three and five bright objects, which appeared to fly around in the area of the sky where the ‘scoop’ of the big dipper constellation sits.
Some of the witnesses told DailyMail.com they are now being told by their employers to keep quiet, and are calling for better reporting procedures for encounters with ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ (UAPs).
Pilot Chris Van Voorhis, 63, told DailyMail.com he saw between three and five objects, far brighter than the stars around them, fading in and out with no discernable pattern and moving in a ‘race track’ circular motion, while he was flying from Honolulu to Los Angeles in August
Two of the pilots can be heard in ARTCC recordings from August 18, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Ben Hansen, a former FBI agent and the host of Discovery+ show UFO Witness.
‘We’ve got a few aircraft to our north here and he’s going around in circles, much higher altitude than us. Any idea what they are?’ Mark Hulsey, a pilot flying a Gulfstream charter jet off the Los Angeles coast radioed in.
‘Uh, no, no I do not,’ the baffled controller responded. ‘You’re not entering any [military] airspace or anything. I am not sure.’
The pilot described seeing ‘maybe three aircraft there,’ then called ARTCC 23 minutes later, stating, ‘there’s now like seven of them,’ and estimating that they were ‘at least 5 or 10,000 feet above us.’
Asked to elaborate by the controller, the rattled Hulsey added: ‘They just keep going in circles. I was an F-18 pilot in the Marine Corps, and I’m telling you, I’ve done many intercepts, I’ve never seen anything like this.’
At certain times of day satellites can reflect the sun and appear to pilots as bright lights in the sky. But the expert aviators say they believe the circular movement and duration of the sightings – some for hours – ruled out satellites.
Chris Van Voorhis, 63, told DailyMail.com he saw between three and five objects, far brighter than the stars around them, fading in and out with no discernable pattern and moving in a ‘race track’ circular motion, while he was flying from Honolulu to Los Angeles in August.
Van Voorhis, who has been flying since he was 14 and has 32,000 hours experience, said the objects appeared to be in Earth’s orbit or even further out in space, given their continued position near to the big dipper constellation as he flew over the ocean for hours.
‘The other airlines were saying, Hey, are you seeing what we’re seeing?’ the veteran pilot said.
‘They were lights that would come on very bright, you would see them move, then they would go out.
‘It had to be in a very, very high orbit, or actually even out in space quite a ways away from anything that a satellite would be, because every time we were seeing it, it was in the lower right hand corner of the Big Dipper, no matter where we were in the world.
‘It lasted for such a long time that it actually became boring, almost.
‘If it was [Elon Musk’s satellite system] Starlink, or anything like that, then it’s going to be moving in a linear fashion, and all of them will be moving in the same direction. These weren’t. They were moving different directions.’
Van Voorhis said his employer, which DailyMail.com has chosen not to name, told him to ‘cease and desist’ even mentioning the incident in public, and that he feared his job could be at risk for reporting his sighting.
Gulfstream captain and former F-18 pilot Mark Hulsey’s saw a UFO sighting on August 18 by Santa Catalina, an island off the LA coast.
This image shows the brightness of the UFO compared to the three circled stars, which are much dimmer
Two UFOs (also called UAPS – unidentified aerial phenomena) are seen in this photo, grabbed from a video of the encounter
Hansen has collected accounts of pilots for Southwest Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and others between August 6 and September 23 who say they saw the same lights in the sky as Van Voorhis.
‘Many of these pilots are very confident that the lights were not just going in one direction, but in both directions, which is very unusual for satellites.
‘In Mark’s case they would go from the north and then actually go above his craft, where he had to crane his neck to see them from the canopy.
‘It was seen by upwards of 15 different commercial flights. And at least six pilots are willing to go on record with their names and everything if asked to do so by any investigative agencies.
‘In this case, we have a global phenomena from as far west as Japan, to as far east as possibly Miami. Whatever it is, pilots are seeing it from halfway across the world.’
But Hansen said there is currently no proper process for reporting such sightings – even of strange objects that could pose a threat to the safety of commercial airlines.
‘Civilian pilots do not have a structured, robust process that is publicly provided to them where they can report UAPs,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘The reason the pilots don’t report primarily is because they don’t think the FAA will follow up, or worse they will be ridiculed.’
An FAA spokesman told DailyMail.com: ‘The Federal Aviation Administration documents Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) sightings whenever a pilot reports one to an air traffic control facility.
‘If the pilot report can be corroborated with supporting information such as radar data, it is shared with the UAP Task Force’ – a Defense Department unit that investigates UFOs, now officially called the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office.
A 2021 Director of National Intelligence report warned that ‘UAP threaten flight safety and, possibly, national security,’ due to 11 near misses between naval aviators and unknown objects.
Van Voorhis’ said UFO sightings are quite common among pilots.
‘Out of my pilot friends, at least 50% have seen some type of an anomaly,’ he said.
Two of the pilots can be heard in ARTCC recordings from August 18. ‘We’ve got a few aircraft to our north here and he’s going around in circles, much higher altitude than us. Any idea what they are?’ Mark Hulsey radioed in
The incidents were reported to the FAA, and a researcher obtained dramatic audio of the pilots calling in the strange sightings to Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC)
His August sighting was not his first. In February 2004 while flying for Japanese airline Jalways he said he and another plane’s crew saw three ‘disks’ descend from outside the atmosphere, ‘stop’ mid air, then suddenly pivot 30 degrees while keeping their triangular formation and shoot off beyond the horizon at thousands of miles per hour.
‘I was coming back from Japan to Honolulu. We were at 39,000 feet coming across the Pacific Ocean. It was 5:30 in the morning, local time. Something caught my eye off the left hand side of the aircraft. There were three large discs,’ he said.
‘They were high enough up in the atmosphere to be reflecting the light from the sun which wasn’t up yet.
‘They came in a triangular formation and stopped. They turned in formation, they didn’t bank or anything like that, nothing aerodynamic, they just pivoted. And then they took off over the horizon.
‘It wasn’t like they accelerated. They were just at speed and gone over the horizon. The whole thing took about 15 seconds.
‘The aircraft in front of us saw it too. They said ‘are you going to tell anybody?’ and we said ‘no’.’
Gulfstream captain and former F-18 pilot Hulsey’s August 18 UFO sighting was by Santa Catalina, an island off the LA coast.
Famously, US Navy aviators from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz chased a ‘tic tac’-shaped UFO near Santa Catalina Island in 2004.
The tic tac evaded Top Gun ace Commander David Fravor, maneuvering and accelerating in ways which seemed to defy the laws of physics. It then disappeared before astonishingly reappearing 40 miles away in less than one minute, at the aviator’s CAP point, a rendezvous location only known by the pilot and his commander.
In July 2019, in the same area, multiple strange objects harassed US naval warships over several days.
The Pentagon claimed they were drones, but could not confirm the origin nor the operators of the craft. A source close to the investigation of the incident told DailyMail.com that a nearby Chinese cargo ship named Bass Strait, thought to be the culprit, was searched with no signs of drones.