Occurred : 9/16/2011 11:16 (Entered as : 09/16/11 11:16)
Reported: 1/23/2012 8:25:48 PM 20:25
Location: Sisters (in-flight), OR
Orange Dart-like craft passes our aircraft at close proximity in flight
I am an airline transport pilot with over 14,000 flight hours in unique aircraft such as the HU16b I am flying in these pictures I have been flying for 40 yrs I am also a certified A&P mechanic and an IA or inspector with over 25 yrs maintenance exp on planes like these. The Albatross we have is used as a test bed for Satellite broadband internet, we are one of the few companies in the world that has airborne satellite systems for high-speed internet. The plane is full of sophisticated equipment for this purpose as it is the original test bed for this.
I have better than 20/20 vision and I usually can spot any single helium balloon of 15" diameter from a great distance and I am trained to do so. I see them all the time. That being said, the object was literally a blur and I didn’t see it as it was moving in the same direction as the plane. The order of the pictures attached here is the series of the 3 that I took with my iphone as I was just trying to get a shot of "Sisters" and Mount Jefferson in the Bend area.
As for the pictures, they cannot be a balloon cluster as this thing passed us!! Look at the lake on the first picture as the object comes from right to left, go to the next shot, it's in frame, look at our relative movement passing the lake then the last shot as the thing is hidden by the wing and our location relative to the lake again. We were cruising at 11,500 ft at approx 200 mph. the balloons would have to be fast!! That thing was a streak, it went by as nothing but a blur. Only the luck of the camera could tell me that it was some sort of object of quite some size, as our wing is nearly 50 long and that float out there (40 ft away) is 10 ft long. I estimate that it is about the same size as our plane or longer, that would make it approximately 70-80 ft long. I would also estimate it to be within 1000 ft of us laterally. The object made no noise that I could discern, nor did it leave any sort of contrails or exhaust paths. It appears to be banking around us for a split second then gone.
Our plane is traveling south-east at approximately 200 mph at 11,500 ft We were in the vacinity of Bend or Sisters Oregon.