Audio Of Pilot's Encounter With Strange Object Over New York Surfaces

Not only do we have the audio recordings of the exchange between the pilot and ATC, but the FAA has confirmed that an incident took place.

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On May 26th, 2018, at 12:59pm local time, a Piper PA-32R Saratoga (N161MA) was flying over Huntington, Long Island during a trip between Minute Man Airfield in Massachusetts and Old Bridge Airport in New Jersey when the pilot encountered a strange object directly in front of his aircraft. He called air traffic controllers stating "I have an object in front of me, I don't know what it is." The controller replies "You mean like a drone or something?" The pilot responds: "I don't know if it's a drone... It's bigger than a drone." The controller responds "Ummmm, I don't show anything on radar."

The controller then asks if the object is at his same altitude, the pilot responds in the affirmative. Then the controller asks if the pilot needs to make a turn to avoid the object and the pilot requests a slight change in direction. The controller then queries the pilot to report what he thinks the mysterious craft is as soon as he can.

Wiltshirespotter/Wikicommons

A PA-32R similar to N161MA

The pilot responds that he has no idea what it is and it has since gone behind a cloud. "Definitely something was there" the pilot states. The controller seems oddly adamant that they should assume it was a drone, stating "Ok, I mean, we'll have to assume that it was a drone, that's the only, I mean I don't know if that's the shape assumption or not but I guess that's what we will go by." The pilot responded, "Actually, it looked, uh, like it had lights on it." The controller responds "That's uh, really interesting, uh again, I show nothing on radar so I don't know what to say." The pilot then states "Ok and I know I'm not delusional." 

Flightradar24

The route of N161MA in the afternoon on May 26th, 2018.

The next transmission we hear is from the controller asking the pilot to call in and make a report with specifics about the incident once he lands. He notes that the request is from his manager. The pilot quips "this is the first time I'm getting a phone number that I'm not in trouble!." The controller laughs and affirms to him he is not in trouble. He then passes him the number and says they will be awaiting his call.  

The Piper stayed at about 6,000 feet during the cruise portion of its flight. Weather that day included clear to partly cloudy skies with the temperature in the 80s and benign winds. 

You can download and listen to the bizarre exchange for yourself by clicking this link. 

Flightradar24

The approximate location of N161MA when the encounter began occurred according to time index information from the FAA.

I was directed to the audio by a Twitter contact of mine @Apicasefiles who originally found it posted by user Caro in the forums over at one of our favorite sites, Liveatc.com. The audio is edited to include just the exchanges between the Piper pilot and ATC. 

After listening to the audio we immediately reached out to the FAA, which promptly took up our request for additional information. Hours later they confirmed the recording's authenticity and gave us the following statement: 

Tyler,
We did receive a report on the sighting. Our statement is below.
Arlene

FAA STATEMENT
The pilot of a Piper PA32 reported to the FAA that he saw a "drone-like object" approximately 14 miles northeast of John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 26, 2018 at 12:59 p.m. The FAA will investigate.

When we requested the report the pilot filed we were denied and were told to file a Freedom Of Information Act request, which we already had done. That request will take time to process, but if our prior experience is an indicator, it could be well worth the wait.

We also tracked down the aircraft owner and who was likely flying the aircraft that day. We left them a message but have not heard back just yet. 

Since our initial report on the Oregon UFO incident last October, the subject matter has become far more topical as a Pentagon program that was clandestinely set up to look into these types of events, and possibly much more, was uncovered. Since then we also broke the Arizona UFO-Learjet encounter that also had ATC recordings to back it up. 

We will keep on this story and let you know when we find out more about this seemingly unsolved mystery that occurred over the skies of New York last May. 

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com