November 12, 1973 Tallahassee, Florida
The source of the information for this case is the 1974 January-February APRO bulletin.
The APRO bulletin has a lengthy article about the sighting and it sourced the airline’s magazine “Southernaire”. For some reason, APRO did not perform any follow-up and discover the time line for the incident or talk to the pilot. Weinstein lists the time as 2000. The article outlines the events as follows2:
On November 12, 1973, Tallahassee FAA personnel told a Southern Airways DC-9 crew that they were observing a UFO from the tower.
Charter flight 730 was deplaning passengers and unloading cargo when an FAA employee informed Captain R.C. Cook that the tower had seen a UFO pass overhead at 2000 mph and at an altitude of 3000 feet.
The plane was then to be ferried to Atlanta. As the plane taxied out to runway 30, Captain Cook inquired about the UFO and the tower reported the UFO was still visible to the Southwest from the tower and low over the trees.
After takeoff, Captain Cook received permission to fly on a vector of 240 degrees.
He sighted a round glowing object low on the horizon that climbed away from them. Cook estimated its distance at 15 miles.
The flight flew to an altitude of 20,000 feet and maintained its bearing of 240 degrees. As they gained altitude, the object also gained in altitude and maintained its distance of 15 miles.
Jacksonville flight center informed Cook to inquire with Tyndall AFB to see if they were monitoring the object.
Tyndall stated they had visual contact but would not confirm or deny if they had any radar contact.
The flight then contacted Panama City tower, 10 miles to their Southwest, and asked if they had the UFO in sight. They confirmed that they had it and two other objects in sight. The flight only saw the single target and it was implied the UFO was moving out over the gulf.
The pilot could not close on the UFO. They turned north to complete their ferry mission to Atlanta.
At this point the UFO changed its flight path and followed the aircraft as it flew north. It then descended and, eventually, disappeared.
The lack of a time line is frustrating and makes this very difficult to analyze. Even worse is that flight 730 was a ferry flight, which means it did not appear as a regularly scheduled flight in any timetables. All we have is the time of 2000 listed by Weinstein in the table.
There are actually two sightings in this case. The initial report to the pilot was of a high speed object that had passed low over the airfield. This probably was a meteor.
The second object reported by Captain Cook was described as “a spherical glowing light which was pulsating from very bright to quite dim but always visible”. 3 It was in a fixed location in the sky moving directly away from the aircraft as it began its pursuit.
One can assume that the “pursuit” of the UFO started sometime around 2000. The aircraft was a DC-9, which flies about 500-550 mph. The distance from Tallahassee to Panama City was 80-90 miles. This is a time of about 10 minutes before the aircraft turned north. From Panama City to Atlanta was about 250 miles. That takes about 30 minutes. Therefore, with some assumptions we can create a time line:
It just so happens that the bright planet Venus was visible in the southwest on that evening. It was approaching greatest brilliancy and was at magnitude -4.5. Its position in the sky in azimuth/elevation are as follows:
Since Captain Cook never mentions that Venus was visible near the UFO, it seems very likely he was pursuing Venus. It was in the direction he described flying and Venus set around 2030. This matches the description by Cook that the object disappeared while he was flying north to Atlanta.
There seems to be a sufficient information available to determine that this case was the planet Venus and it should be removed from the list.
Quelle: SUNlite 6/2022