Will There Be Another Near Miss With a UFO/Missile Over Houston?
John Etgen speaks with KHOU news on report of FAA rocket incident in Houston.
“There will be another such loud report!”
– Carl Gustav Jung to Sigmund Freud
“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
– Auric Goldfinger
The other day a friend was telling me about a new book by local author James Hynes titled NEXT. My friend described part of the book’s premise, that of the main character Kevin Quinn worrying about being shot-out-of-the-sky by a shoulder mounted rocket while coming in for a landing in Austin, Texas:
In the first paragraph of “Next,” he imagines terrorists “kneeling in the bed of a dinged-up pickup truck with Texas plates, or crouching on the springy backseat of a rented convertible on a dirt track just outside the airport fence.” He envisions a Stinger launching “toward the sleek underbelly of Kevin’s plane, a Pringles can with wings, packed full of defenseless Pringles.”
I joked with my friend that, since the character was flying into the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and not the Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, he had nothing to worry about. I then proceeded to explain that there have been two very similar near-miss aviation events, almost exactly one year apart, where the unidentified flying object was described as like a missile or rocket, reported by commercial pilots and corroborated by witnesses on the ground. I suddenly realized we were now within the same time-frame as those two past events.
Both events involved “Continental Airlines,” though the second incident was actually with an ExpressJet plane that “flies regional routes for Continental Airlines as Continental Express.”
In the case of the 2008 event:
Continental Flight 1544 was flying at 5,000 feet about 11 miles east of Bush Intercontinental Airport after takeoff Monday morning when the pilot called the tower to report an object headed toward the plane. The pilot described seeing a fast moving object with a thick smoke trail nearing his airspace.
The 2009 incident also occurred shortly after take-off from Bush Intercontinental Airport, over the southern edge of Liberty County but with the plane at 13,000 feet on its way to Greenville, South Carolina. The 2008 event involved a commercial flight headed to Cleveland, Ohio.
While the first incident was at a relatively low altitude, compared to the second event a year later, the second closer-call was witnessed by two Hardin High School students who were interviewed by the local Sheriff’s department.
Besides local law-enforcement, the incidents have been investigated by the FAA, FBI and the Houston Area Joint Terrorism Task Force. Investigations have centered on the assumption that the rocket was launched by a model rocket hobbyist / enthusiast.
Model rockets can reach as high as 40,000 feet, although enthusiasts are supposed to notify the FAA if a rocket is entering controlled airspace, said Robert Morehead of the Amateur Spaceflight Association in Houston.
Investigators combed huge swaths of land (a 24 x 12 mile area in the case of the 2009 incident) where the mystery objects were presumed to have originated, however, nothing has ever been found. It can be difficult to locate such a potentially small object when there is so much ground to cover. In the case of the errant 6 and a half foot model AIM-120 AMRAAM pictured spiraling over the moon several paragraphs above, the rocket was out of control and quickly flew out of sight and “was not to be found until exactly one year later about a mile away from the launch site.”
So what does this all mean? Are there reckless hobbyist rocketeers in Liberty County trying to test their aim with high-flying civilian aircraft? Are there terrorists lurking in the Texas scrub-brush, salivating at the chance to take down an American airliner? With the approach of the same time-frame as the first two events, I have to wonder… will there be another near miss this year? Or have the perpetrators perfected their aim?
Coincidentally, in 2008 the Department of Homeland Security changed its mind and decided that shoulder fired missiles represented a threat so significant that they began outfitting jets “with anti-missile systems as part of a new government test aimed at thwarting terrorists armed with shoulder-fired projectiles.”
If you have any information that could help resolve these mysterious near-miss events, please contact the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office at (936) 336-4500.
Boeing 737 Aircraft similar to the plane in the 2008 incident
Continental Airlines Pilot Reports UFO – FBI Investigates
Flight 1544 – May 26th (Monday), Boeing 737 Event in 2008 at @ 10:20 am CST
- FBI: Pilot saw flaming object near Cleveland-bound jet – USATODAY.com
- Continental jet has near miss with ‘rocket’ – Texas Cable News KHOU
- Continental jet has near miss with ‘rocket’ – Rocketry Planet – KHOU (Video)
- Feds mum on “missile” incident involving passenger airliner – The NEIN Blog
Embraer 145 Aircraft similar to the plane in the 2009 incident
Pilots leaving Houston near miss with rocket / UFO – ABCnews www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFqM3tmBmkE
Flight 2822 – May 29th (Friday), Embraer 145 Event in 2009 at @ 8:20 pm CST
- FAA looks into what pilot saw over Liberty – Mystery at 13,000 feet / What jet pilot saw over Liberty – Houston Chronicle
- Pilots leaving Houston spot strange object – ABC local
- Authorities investigate strange object in sky – ABC local (Video)
- Texas UFO Was Missile or Rocket: Pilot – NBC Dallas-Fort Worth
- FBI: Pilot saw flaming object near Cleveland-bound jet – (Video)
- Missile Possibly Launched in Liberty County – MyFoxHouston (Video)
- Pilots Leaving Houston Report Near Miss With Mystery Object – National Terror Alert
- Continental Pilot Reports Missile Flying Near His Plane Over Texas … – Above Top Secret forums
- Near miss with Ufo says Pilots leaving Houston Bush … – RealUFOs.net
- Model rocket buzzes Continental jet claims authorities – Rocketry Planet – KIAH-TV39 (Video)
- Continental planes’ rocket scares have rumor mill flying – Rocketry Planet – Houston Chronicle
- Next: An excerpt – James Hynes
- ‘Next’ by James Hynes crackles with wit as the novel goes inside a Midwestern male’s head – Review by Karen R. Long of The Plain Dealer
DHS Decides Shoulder Fired Missiles are a Threat – The Aviation Nation
Passenger jets get anti-missile devices – USATODAY.com
- Three killed as Bush private jet crashes – PlaneNews.com
- Three Dead in Private Jet Crash Near Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas – EMSresponder.com
- Jet crashes before picking up elder Bush – China Daily
A Few Choice Reactions
Flashback… It was on November 26, 2005 when the pilot of American Airlines Flight 612 reported a “near-hit” from what was described as a rocket passing nearby as the aircraft was traveling over the Santa Monica Bay at approximately 5,000 feet. Although the incident received scant media attention the Northeast Intelligence Network provided an extensive investigative report on the incident, complete with audio from the pilot and control tower, at this link.
UFO Researcher Bruce Maccabee:
Pilot reports of “rockets” go back to the 40’s. One of the first is in a report made to the FBI by a pilot flying over West Virginia. Another in the 90’s was by a pilot flying northward in Maryland not far from Camp David (north of Frederick). I have not tried to collect these reports but I know they are “out there.”
UFO UpDate: Re: What Pilot Saw Over Liberty