Much has been written on the Internet recently, about an incident which reportedly happened in November 2004; which resulted in an encounter between US Navy aviators and a 'tic - tac' shaped UAP. The story which has emerged, has a lengthy history, which many of the current Internet accounts don't cover. For my blog readers, I will attempt to provide as much information as is currently available.
Back in 2007
On 3 February 2007, on the Above Top Secret website, someone using the username 'thefinaltheory' (which I will abbreviate to TFT), on a thread titled 'Observations of an Actual UFO' posted about what seemed to be an intriguing incident.
TFT stated that an incident had occurred in 2005 when they were on board an aircraft carrier, based on the West coast of the USA, off the coast of Mexico. TFT mentioned that they worked in 'the computer field' and had access to 'the top secret network onboard.'
The incident was described as follows - at 2300 the ship went into 'security alert' and TFT asked others what was happening? The response was that there was a UFO above the ship. TFT then said they had logged on to the ship's network and that they found 'many videos and powerpoint briefs' written reports and message traffic about the incident. TFT burned these to disk which was subsequently misplaced. TFT referred to the video as being taken from a cockpit camera, was black and white, and showed altitude, pilot's 'nickname' and other data. The UAP was floating stationary at 30,000 feet. It was disk shaped. The pilot tried to get a lock on it but couldn't. The UAP moved in a half circle upward and paused. There was a bright flash and it disappeared from sight.
Discussion then ensued in subsequent posts, questioning the veracity of TFT and the details which had been provided.
On 4 February 2007 TFT announced that 'I have the video and documents as I have previously described,' but asked that the ATS thread be erased before he proceeded further. TFT was apparently concerned over the possibility of being tracked down.
An ATS moderator entered the picture and 'trashed' the thread, but revealed that the initial two posts of this thread, allegedly from TFT and another individual came from the same IP address. Later this moderator 'untrashed' the thread, which can still be read in 2017. However, they did close the thread at that point.
Later on 4 February 2007, another ATS thread was commenced, titled 'Fighter jet UFO Footage: The Real Deal.' TFT posted the first piece and announced that 'The video you are about to see...' There is a click 'here' to view the video but today if you click the link you are advised that www.vision-unlimited.de/extern/f4.mpg is not to be found on the server.
This thread then contains an item titled 'recall of an event log of a ship of the US Navy fleet' which sets out the alleged incident. From further comments, it appears that a number of individuals were then able to access the video, view it and comment on it.
Later on 4 February 2007, UK researcher Isaac Koi posted, and pointed out that the video was similar to one created by Australian film maker Chris Kenworthy in 2006, which was not genuine. Koi also pointed out that the link given was part of a German website which was related to film making. In conclusion, Koi said that 'Pending release of the promised further 'files,' this video should be tentatively identified as an attempted hoax on ATS by members of the 'Vision unlimited' group of German student film makers.'
Much discussion ensued. Some posts supported the hoax hypothesis, while others wanted to see the further 'files.' TFT went on to say that 'I have four versions of the video...the "full" version is about twice the length of this...The video does reside on a German server for security...'
On 5 February 2007, and later, an individual using the username 'Willard856' who stated that they were in the Royal Australian Air Force, pointed out a number of facts, such as that the video was not of a Heads Up Display but in fact a Digital Display Indicator; and went on to provide details about the data shown on the video display.
The debate as to hoax or not, swung back and forwards, but on 10 February 2007 a moderator banned three accounts for hoaxing, including TFT. On 13 February 2007, another user 'Cometa2' posted an 'event summary' which was apparently supplied by TFT.
This second thread had no further posts until 23 October 2017 when Isaac Koi, asked if anyone from the 2007 time posts ever did get additional information from TFT? Other posters added the fact that Chris Mellon, on Tom Delonge's 'To the Stars Academy' launch announcement video, had provided details about a 2004 incident involving the Nimitz battle group off the coast of California, which sounded exactly like what was being described and shown in the two, 2007 ATS threads.
Forward to March 2015
On 14 March 2015, an article appeared on the FighterSweep.com website. The text of which I reproduce below. My take on the acronyms are:
WSO = Weapons Systems Officer
HMCS = Helmet Mounted Cueing System
BFM = Basic Fighter Maneuvers
CAP = Combat Air Patrol
STT = Single Target Track
EA = Electronic Attack
RWS = Range While Search
FLIR = Forward Looking Infra Red.
RWS shows multiple targets within the radar scan. STT provides accurate tracking of a single target.
'A good buddy of mine and former squadron mate, Dave "Sex" Fravor, has one of the most bizarre aviation stories of all time. It is a story that stretches credibility, so I'll start off building up Dave's bona fides.
For what it's worth, I know him personally - very well. We flew A-6s together for a cruise back in the Dark Ages before he matriculated into the Hornet world. He's a funny guy. Smart and sharp witted, with a typical fighter pilot's overestimation of his skills. (he'd read the SHB article and assured me his way was way better than anything Nasty could do. I called B.S. - pretty standard.) In the air, though, Dave was all business, as professional as it gets.
It's easy to get a sense of who and what he is because the squadron was featured on the 10-part miniseries Carrier that aired on PBS. You get an excellent and accurate impression of him from his screen time as Commanding Officer of VFA-41. On the morning of 14 November 2004, Dave and his WSO launched into the clear blue Southern California sky about a hundred miles southwest of San Diego. Their Call Sign was FASTEAGLE 01. His wingman and WSO launched just after them in FASTEAGLE 02. They climbed overhead the ship and rendezvoused in normal fashion before setting off to their assigned work area in the open ocean south of USS Nimitz. Normal day, normal ops for the pre-deployment work up cycle they were in the middle of.
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group had been on station for a few weeks already, working to integrate the operations of the carrier with her various support ships, including the Ticonderoga Class Guided Missile Cruiser USS Princeton. As far as Dave was concerned, it was a standard day in a normal work up cycle. Another step in the long journey in preparing the ships of the Strike Group and the planes of the Air Wing to work harmoniously for their upcoming combat deployment.
What Dave didn't know was for the past several days, Princeton had been picking up some bizarre returns on their Death Star - worthy SPY-1 radar. On several occasions beginning 10 November, the Fire Control Officer and the extremely experienced Fire Control Senior Officer had detected multiple returns descending from far above the radar's scan volume - somewhere higher than 80,000 ft. The targets, dubbed Anomalous Aerial Vehicles (AAVs), would drop from above 80K to hover roughly 50 feet off the water in a matter of seconds.
Always over the same spot, a Lat/Long about 30NM off the coast of Baja, roughly 70nm southwest of Tijuana. At the time, the SPY-1 was the most sophisticated and powerful tactical radar on the planet. With it, they were able to track these AAV's while they descended, hovered and then zipped away at speeds, turn rates and acceleration faster than any known friendly or threat aircraft. Impossibly fast.
Once the Air Wing's planes arrived aboard Nimitz, the Fire Control team on Princeton saw an opportunity to use those assets and eyeballs to help solve the AAV mystery.
At the same time FASTEAGLE flight was wrapping up its scheduled training, the CO of Marine Hornet squadron VMFA-232, Lieutenant Colonel "Cheeks" Kurth was completing a post-maintenance check flight not too far away. He was the first fast-mover contacted by Princeton. The communication was strange and intriguing. He was asked to investigate an unidentified airborne contact. This wasn't a terribly unusual request while a Strike Group was in transit or deployed far from home waters, but it was more than a little strange practically in sight of the San Diego Homeport. To add to the unusual communications, he was queried as to what ordnance he had on board. "None."
While Princeton was communicating with Cheeks, they were also attempting to hand off their AAV contact to the Air Wing's E-2C Hawkeye, also airborne at the time. The crew from VAW-117 had been providing intercept control for FASTEAGLE flight during their training. Princeton now wanted the E-2 to guide the Super Hornets to an intercept with the AAV contact, currently hovering over their favourite spot, but now about 20,000 feet over the ocean.
The AAV returns had not been strong enough to show up on the E-2's broad sweep, but once they focussed their radar on the coordinates Princeton directed them towards, they managed a faint contact. The radar returns from the contact weren't enough to generate a target track however, so Princeton cut the E-2 from control and contacted FASTEAGLE directly. Though he was unable to lock up the AAVs, the E-2 controller remained on frequency and listened to the entire ensuing evolution.
As Cheeks approached the spot he was being vectored to, Princeton advised him to stay above 10K as the section of Super Hornets was approaching the target. His radar picked up the FASTEAGLE two ship, but no other contacts. A moment later Princeton directed him to 'skip it' and return to the ship. Since he was so close he decided to fly over the action and sneak a peek.
The sea was calm, almost glassy smooth and it was late morning on a beautiful SoCal day. Perfect conditions. As Cheeks flew over the spot he saw a disturbance on the surface of the ocean. A round section of turbulent water about 50-100 meters in diameter. It was the only area and type of what he called "whitewater" describing that it looked as if there was something below the surface like a shoal or what he'd heard a ship sinking rapidly would look like.
He overflew the disturbance and circled back in the direction of Nimitz without ever seeing what caused the water to froth. As he turned away, which happened to be the moment the Super Hornets converged on the location, the whitewater cleared and the ocean surface returned to its smooth state. The spot of the previous disturbance was completely indiscernible.
A few thousand feet below him, Dave had gone through a similar surreal experience of being asked by Princeton if the FASTEAGLE jets were carrying any ordnance. Dave's baffled WSO reported that all they had were two captive-carry training missiles. They were given bearing and range vectors to a set of coordinates and told to investigate an unknown aerial contact over that spot.
With no further information on the contact, they descended to the low 20's and scanned with radar, picking nothing up. Neither plane in this flight was carrying a FLIR pod, which limited the type of sensors they could search with; but, both planes were brand new - in Dave's words, "They still had that new car smell." The APG-73 radars were both new and had performed perfectly during the previous hour's training. Yet the screens from both planes were clean all the way to the point Princeton called "Merge plot!"
All four aircrew were eyes out from this point forward. The first unusual indication Dave picked up was the area of whitewater on the surface that Cheeks was looking at over his shoulder as he flew away. He remembers thinking it was about the size of a 737 and maybe the contact they had been vectored on had been an airliner that had just crashed. He maneuvered his F-18 lower to get a better look. As he descended through about 20K he was startled by the sight of a white object that was moving about just over the frothing water. It was all white, featureless, oblong and making minor lateral movements while staying at a consistent low altitude over the disk of turbulent water.
Dave put FASTEAGLE 02 into high cover passing through about 15K and she and her WSO witnessed the events from a perfect vantage point. Dave continued his dive lower towards the object, now also attempting to slave the radar through his HMCS to achieve a short range lock. No luck. His intention was to pass the object close aboard at about 350 kts, but as he got closer he noticed that the AAV had oriented one of its skinny ends towards him, as if, in his words, "It had just noticed us" and it was now pointing at them.
The AAV then began to rise from its hover. The object, which he would later describe as a white tic-tac, rose in right 2-circle flow about a mile cross-circle from Dave's Hornet. BFM instincts took over and Dave dug nose-low to cut across the bottom of the circle. As he was looking at the AAV and pulling his nose up to bear, he tried again to slave his radar via the HMCS. Again, the APG-73 was unable to lock on the white, fighter-sized flying object now just a couple of thousand feet away and closing.
All through these maneuvers, Dave's WSO was broadcasting the real-time events of the intercept to Princeton. The radar operators in the E-2 listened on the secure net to what sounded like one of the hundreds of intercepts they had heard over the years. With the notable exception that the aircrew's voices were more stressed and the verbiage to ID the target was unlike anything they had heard before.
In his debrief comments, Dave, his WSO, and the two other crews stated the object had initially been hovering like a Harrier. They described it as uniformly white, about 46 feet long (roughly fighter sized), having a discernible midline horizontal axis (like a fuselage) but having no visible windows, nacelles, wings or propulsion systems.
As Dave was pulling for nose-on and trying to get a dogfight lock with his radar, the AAV tightened its turn, "lift vector on, then aft" as Dave described, passing behind his tail and accelerated away at multi-mach speed. Dave immediately queried Princeton for a snap-vector but the SPY-1 radar had also lost contact. The first calls from Princeton were "picture clean." A few minutes later Princeton came back with, "You're not going to believe this, it's at your CAP." Princeton had picked up the AAV hovering at 24K at the assigned Lat/Long Dave had used earlier during training as his orbiting point.
Though low on gas, the FASTEAGLE flight swung through the CAP position to try and pick up the AAV again. They saw nothing more on their way back to Nimitz. Even the 100 meter circle of turbulent water had disappeared. That spot was now indistinguishable from the rest of the sea's surface. Asked later, Dave reported that he had not seen anything on or below the surface that may have caused the turbulent circle of water. It had existed when they had first visually acquired the tic-tac, then was gone when they circled back a few minutes later.
Back on Nimitz after recovery, the four crew headed down to the paraloft to remove their gear. The next four crews from VFA-41 were getting dressed for their training mission to the same area, using the same assigned Lat/Longs as CAP points. Dave and his crew members passed on what they had seen to the new guys and reminded them to get tape if they could.
By the time the new crew launched, rendezvoused and checked in with the E-2 for control, it was early afternoon; 1500. The planes separated, with one heading to that same southern CAP location. They were cruising along at 20K and 300kts, max endurance. Again the jet, radar and also, this time, the FLIR were spanking new and operating perfectly.
The WSO first picked up a contact on the radar around 30nm away while it was operating in the RWS scan mode. He checked the coordinates and it was indeed hovering over their precise CAP point. He attempted several STT locks, to no avail. Later, in the debrief, he explained that he had multiple telltale cues of EA.
The target aspect on the track file was turning through 360 degrees along with some other distinct, jamming indications. In the less precise scan mode, the return indicated that the object was, in the WSO's words, "A few thousand feet below us. Around 15-20K - but hovering stationary." The only movement was generated by the closure of the fighter to the CAP location.
The WSO resorted to the FLIR pod on board, slaving it to the weak track the RWS mode had been able to generate. He recorded the following sequence to the on-board recorder. Using the IR mode, he was able to lock onto the AAV. It showed up on his screen and on tape as a white object in a black background hovering with no known means. The IR camera did not detect roiling hot gasses blasting from below the AAV, as they would with a Harrier or a helicopter. It was simply hanging in midair. He switched to the TV mode and was able to again lock the FLIR onto the object while still trying, with no luck, to get a STT track on the radar. As he watched it, the AAV moved out of his screen to the left so suddenly it almost seemed to disappear. On the tape, when it is slowed down, the object accelerated out of the field of view with shocking speed. The WSO was not able to reacquire the AAV either in RWS or with the FLIR.
Somehow the tape made its way to YouTube. A few years after the incident, when first telling me the story, Dave pointed me to the link. It was unremarkable without the background information. But folded into context it was amazing,especially the slow-mo of the dot accelerating out of screen. For years I told the story to friends and showed them the video as punctuation. However, last month when I called Dave to refresh my memory before sitting down to write this bizarre encounter, he informed me that the video had been removed from YouTube. He told me that a government agency with a three letter identifier had recently conducted an investigation into the AAV;s and had exhaustively interviewed all parties involved.
All of the seven flight crew, including 6 aircrew from VFA-41 and Cheeks from VMFA-232. The Fire Control Officer and Senior Chief from Princeton, and the radar operator on the EC-2. They even queried the crew of the USS Louisville, a Los Angeles Fast-Attack submarine that was in the area as part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group who reported there were no unidentified sonar contacts or strange underwater noises that day.
I'm not sure what to make of these events. I've loved the story since first listening because it is so crazy. I had never given aliens or UFOs much thought. It was a waste of my CPU power to mull a question like that. If they wanted to make contact, they would. If they wanted to observe from a distance, then they would be impossible to discern given the assumed high technology required to visit.
But now I was faced with credible witnesses. Not crackpots wearing foil hats but people I knew and people who were from my world. There were multiple, corroborating platforms that detected the AAVs using varied sensors. And, of course, the eight eyeballs that actually got a visual on the white tic-tac as Dave maneuvered to merge with it. He doesn't have to be a stranger to you either. Watch him on the PBS series, Carrier, and generate your own opinion of his professionalism and sanity. Then send me your best design for an aluminium foil hat...
About the author
Paco Chierici flew A-6E Intruders and F-14A Tomcats during his 10 year active duty career. He flew the F-5 Tiger II for a further 10 years as a Bandit concurrent with his employment as a commercial pilot. Paco is also the creator and producer of the award winning naval aviation documentary Speed and Angels. Paco has written articles for various international and domestic magazines as well as regular contributions to FighterSweep. He is currently revising the first draft of his debut novel, a naval aviation thriller. Paco has the standard panoply of medals and ribbons but his proudest accomplishment is the Top Nugget award for landing grades from his first deployment.'
On to 2017
The incident is in the process of being investigated by the Scientific Coalition for UFOlogy. They have so far detailed the following information on their Face Book page.
Firstly, on 21 October 2017 they posted:
I am going to tell you about a Navy-UFO encounter that deserves a congressional investigation to determine if this happened or not. I am going to create three posts related to a recent UFO event that occurred in November of 2004 and involved the Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 11 off the southwest coast of California. This will be the first post and it will include the information that I initially obtained on the incident. If after reading these three posts you are reasonably convinced that this event happened then I will ask you to join me in a letter-writing campaign to a congressional subcommittee requesting that they ask for a debriefing of the incident from the Navy. Please share this FB site with anyone that you know who would be interested. #F18UFO #UFO
I was first told of this UFO incident in July of 2016 by an individual who was involved in the investigation of this event. He told me that the incident had been partially leaked to the internet, so that I could begin my investigation without involving my friend. Knowing a few of the key words I was able to locate the leaked story here: https://fightersweep.com/1460/x-files-edition/
I next began online investigations to verify the identity of the individuals in the story and I found that those officers were all legitimate and had served in the Navy during that time. I searched additional websites for clues to this event. First, I found a Navy Event Summary document that had been leaked to the internet by an unknown source that mentioned this event. The document had much of the same information as was provided in the naval aviator’s story: dates and locations match up; USS Princeton detects objects on radar and dispatches the F18s; F18s don’t find a radar target but detect the object visually; F18s engage the unknown; and F18s are outmatched by the unknowns. I then ran the Navy Event Summary document by a retired naval officer and he indicated that the document looked legitimate in terms of its format. A copy of this summary document can be found here:https://drive.google.com/…/0By-yCcE3UvHcSlg0YlhyaGYyd…/view…
Secondly, on 25 October 2017 they wrote:
Part II Remember---please share this post. #F18UFO #UFO
In December 2016 I submitted nine different Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Navy and the Marines in an effort to establish whether the information on the UFO encounter that I discussed in Part I was real. Here is a link to one of the actual FOIA requests for those that like to see the details: https://drive.google.com/…/0By-yCcE3UvHcbFJTRWgyYi0tR…/view…
By April of 2017 I had received replies on all nine of my requests for information. In every case the Navy replied that they had no information responsive to my request. I appealed two of what I considered the most important of the nine FOIAs to the Navy’s Judge Advocate General (JAG). The first appeal came back denied. In the second appeal I pointed out to the Navy JAG officers that another appeal denial would would indicate that on November 14, 2004, that they had no records on five different Navy assets. I copied my senators and congressman on my appeal. This time I had success. Although the Navy again indicated that they could find no documents, this time they provided me emails with some very interesting information that establishes the encounter with the unknown craft did occur.
Remember in Part I of this story that the F-18 pilot referred to the objects encountered as resembling the oval candy known as tic tacs. JAG provided me an email they received from a Marine Lieutenant Colonel that began as follows: “I am definitely aware of the ‘flying tic tac’! We were aboard the USS Nimitz attached to CVW-11. The CO of VFA-41, CDR Fravor had the video footage on his ATFLIR and several pilots in VMFA-232 saw the video.” Bingo! Not only did this event happen, the video was witnessed by a number of Navy and Marine officers. Is the video the same one that was leaked to the internet? We can’t know for certain but I think if the Navy has done their due diligence then they still have a copy of that video.
And then a second email was provided to me by JAG from a Marine Major. In that email he states, “MAG-11 (Marine Air Group 11) Operations should have a Point of Contact at the archive to facilitate recovery of these files.” This clearly indicates that the Major would expect the Marine archival group to have copies of these records. And would it not be reasonable to expect that the Navy would have the records archived of such an extraordinary event!
In total, I have the names of nine different Marine and Navy officers who either participated in the encounter with the unknown craft or have direct knowledge of the event. I will again appeal for the actual case files but the only way to really get to the bottom of this mystery is to ask a Congressional subcommittee to get involved. In Part 3 I will give you step by step instructions on how you can help petition your congressman. Please share this story with others on Facebook.
That then, is the sum total public information that I am aware of. The investigation is ongoing.