Two pilots from 2 different flight operators reported seeing bright lights traveling at high speeds off the coast of Ireland, the BBC reports. The IAA has opened an investigation.
The incident happened last Friday, local time 06.47. A British Airways pilot contacted air traffic control to inquire whether any military exercises were underway, after noticing a bunch of bright lights “moving so fast.” One of them had come very near the aircraft, but posed no danger of collision, the pilot said.
The pilot was informed that they had no knowledge of military exercises being performed in the area. That’s when a second pilot, this time from a Virgin plane, chimed in to say that he had noticed the lights too.
He reported seeing 2 such bright lights that climbed away at incredible speeds. He described the speed as “astronomical, it was like Mach 2,” according to the publication.
Following their remarks, the Irish Aviation Authority has opened an investigation it’s refusing to comment on. The same goes for BA and Virgin, both of which denied to respond to calls from the BBC regarding the incident.
While it would be easy to cry “UFO” and assume that 2 experienced pilots would be able to say whether what they saw were alien aircraft or not, it’s best not to jump to conclusions. Apostolos Christou, an astronomer from the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, notes that the lights were probably dust or larger particles entering the atmosphere at high speeds. Apparently, November is the month when most of these occurrences increase in number.
“It was most likely what are commonly called shooting stars,” Christou says. “It appears the matter was extremely bright so it must have been quite a large piece of material. I cannot say from the pilots' description, but it could have been the size of a walnut or an apple.”