Gander International Airport is one of Canada’s most modern, full-service international airports.
Over the years, celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Woody Allen and Barbra Streisand have passed through. These visitors may have been stars, but on one night in 1974, Gander had visitors that were truly out of this world.
On Oct. 10, a report of a possible sighting of an unidentified flying object (UFO) was made to the Gander Airport detail office of the RCMP.
According to RCMP records, the sighting was reported by an air traffic controller, a three-year veteran of the Gander Air Traffic Control Centre.
At the time of the sighting the controller, who was also a pilot, was flying a Cessna aircraft at an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet with one passenger. Both men were said to be mature and responsible individuals.
The Cessna was returning from Deer Lake to Gander, and the flight was progressing normally through clear skies with occasional clouds. About 40 miles northwest of Gander, the pilot and passenger spotted a strange light almost directly beneath them. The object was described as being a solitary green luminous light at an altitude of approximately 3,000 feet.
The light seemed to be triangular or delta-shaped. At first, it was on for only two to four seconds and then blinked off. It then blinked on and off in a regular pattern. As time passed the blinking ceased and it became a steady light.
At first, the pilot interpreted the sight as his starboard aviation light reflecting off a cloud bank below. Turning off all his aviation lights for a moment, he discovered that the green glow continued directly below. He tried to discern if the green light was part of a bigger craft, but only the green light itself could be seen.
The Cessna continued along its flight path, moving at a speed of approximately 134 miles per hour. The light continued as well. At times it sped up and remained some distance ahead of the aircraft. The light then slowed down and allowed the Cessna to once more regain its position directly overhead.
Then the light decelerated, allowing the plane to move ahead. The light held this position for a while, and then returned to its original position below the aircraft. This eerie game of tag repeated several times, lasting close to half an hour.
Five or six miles from the terminal, the pilot got on the radio and reported the mysterious aircraft. Controllers at the tower immediately attempted to locate the object on their radar. The supervising controller on duty advised that a target was indeed visible on their six-mile radar. As the control crew watched, the target remained on the screen for two sweeps of the radar needle. It then vanished.
Believing it had dropped to tree-top level to avoid detection, the tower informed the pilot, who by now had reached the airport. The pilot pulled his craft into a circular path around the airport, searching for the object. All traces of the mysterious green light had disappeared.
Continual attempts to find the strange aircraft by both the tower and plane resulted in nothing.
Puzzled by the sequence of events, the supervising controller contacted the authorities connected with the early warning defensive system at the Air Force base in Goose Bay. Upon touching down in Gander, both the pilot and passenger were questioned.
An official report was made to the RCMP detachment. The document noted that the pilot and passenger did not appear to be under any sort of influence from alcohol or drugs and further noted that the “accounts of the incident are neither exaggerated nor are they dramatized.”
A copy of the report was forwarded to the Upper Atmosphere Research Section, Astrophysics Branch, of the National Research Council in Ottawa.
No explanation was ever found.
Dale Jarvis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.