The UFO's maneuvers were said to last for 30 seconds and described as 'rising and falling, darting back and forth, instant 90° turns, then hovering motionless again' - when the control tower radioed the aircraft the object began another series of 'crazy gyrations, lazy 8's, square chandelles with undulating motion' and then shot out over the Gulf of Mexico in a steep climb at 'fantastic speed'.
What makes this case all the more interesting (or 'splendidly ironic' as it mentions in this book) is the fact that the main witness pilot Captain W. J. Hull was a published anti-UFO skeptic who had already written a 'debunking' article in an Airline Pilot magazine three years before.
10:10-10:12 p.m. Capital Airlines Flight 77 pilot Capt. W. J. Hull with 3 million miles and 17 years' flight experience and author of anti-UFO skeptical article "The Obituary of the Flying Saucer" in The Airline Pilot magazine (Sept. 1953), with copilot FO Peter MacIntosh were flying from New York to Mobile, Ala., in a Viscount airliner at 300 mph descending at 10,000 ft, when they saw a brilliant bluish-white light (mag. -7) descend in a steep downward angle diagonally (about 45°?) from left to right from WSW at azimuth 315° to dead ahead SSW at 205° azimuth 30°-40° elevation where it stopped at the same or slightly higher altitude. Hull radioed Bates tower near Mobile to look for object, then at that moment the object began a series of maneuvers for 30 secs, rising and falling, darting back and forth, instant 90° turns, then hovered motionless again at same/slightly higher level. When Bates field radioed again the object began another series of "crazy gyrations, lazy 8's, square chandelles" with undulating motion, then shot out to the S over the Gulf of Mexico in a steep climb at "fantastic speed" until it disappeared.
(Condon Committee Unexplained case, CR pp. 127-9; Hynek-CUFOS Willy Smith files; NARCAP; UFOE,
Capital Airlines Pilots Sees Acrobatic UFO
Below is the full report of the encounter sent in a letter by Captain Hull to his friend, the president of the CSI-NY Civilian UFO Investigation group where he describes being 'flabbergasted' and 'confounded' by the object's aerial maneuverability -the pilot also reminds him that he was 'objectively skeptical and cynically critical of most of the purported saucer sightings' yet asks the question 'was this was a machine based on earth?' which I suppose is a pretty fair one, especially considering this incident occurred way back in 1956.
The sighting which follows is of particular interest because it was made by an expert observer - a veteran airline pilot - who was formerly extremely skeptical on the subject of flying saucers. In fact, in 1953 Captain Hull wrote an article for Airline Pilot magazine titled "The Obituary of the Flying Saucers. We reprint, with his permission, a slightly condensed excerpt from the letter to CSI President John Du Barry in which he described his experience.On the night of November 14, 1956 I was flying a Viscount at high altitude from New York to Mobile, Alabama. We were above a layer of clouds which were occasionally broken, giving us a glimpse of the ground now and then. At 10:10 p.m. E.S.T., when only about 60 miles from Mobile, my co-pilot Peter Macintosh and I saw what we thought was a brilliant meteor. We were flying south-southwest and it fell across our path from left to right, first becoming visible at the top of the windshield. (The Viscount has wonderful visibility upward.) It decelerated rapidly, just as any meteor does when entering the denser layers of ths earth''s lower atmosphere, and we expected to see it burn out with the customary flash, which pilots often see, but which people on the ground are often denied.
Imagine our consternation when this brilliant light did not burn out, but abruptly halted directly in front of us. It was an intense blue-white light, approximately 7 or 6 times as bright as Venus when this planet is at its brightest magnitude. Pete shouted "What the hell is it, a jet?" His first thought, of course, was that the object was a diving jet fighter which had turned sharply away from us and in departing, was giving us a view right up its glowing tailpipe. Instantly I knew this could not possibly be an airplane. I have seen the glow of too many jet pipes at night not to recognize one when I see it. It was not the right color; it did not diminish in size, as a departing jet fighter's exhaust should have; and it remained motionless directly ahead of us, how far I cannot say, but it must have been quite a few miles.
I quickly grabbed my microphone and called the Mobile Control Tower. "Bates Tower, this is Capital 77. Look out toward the north and east and see if you can see a strange white light hovering in the sky."
"Capital 77, this is Mobile Bates Tower. We are unable to see much of the sky because of a thick cloud cover. Do you think the object is in our vicinity?"
"Affirmative. It looks like a brilliant white light bulb, about one tenth the size of the moon. It is directly ahead of us and at about our altitude, or slightly higher. We are right over Jackson, Alabama and have descended to 10,000 feet. Please initiate a call to Brookley Field Tower (Air Force Field 20 miles southeast of Bates Field) and ask the controller if he can see it on their big radar scope." (We did not have the military frequency crystals in our transmitter to work Brookley Tower.)