Feb 28, 2021 I Paul Seaburn

American Airlines and the FAA Respond to Pilots’ Report of UFO

The recent report that two American Airlines pilots described to air traffic control a cylindrical unidentified object fly over their plane while crossing New Mexico is getting updated as fast as the UFO was apparently flying. Just days after the incident hit the media and went viral, American Airlines confirmed that the report had indeed been made by the pilots. Not long after that, the Federal Aviation Administration issued its own statement. Is this the Tic Tac of 2021?

“Do you have any targets up here? We just had something go right over the top of us - I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing - moving really fast right over the top of us."

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Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missile

That’s a transcript from the recording of the pilots on February 21 as American Airlines Flight 2292 flew at 36,000 feet over northeastern New Mexico. It had been recorded by Steve Douglass, a photographer for Amarillo television station KVII whose hobby is listening to air traffic control conversations. Douglass posted the recording on his blog, Deep Black Horizon, and commented that the reply from the Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center was garbled by conversations from other planes. The story was picked up by the Albuquerque Journal, other local and national mainstream media providers, and the military investigative website The Drive/War Zone.

The Albuquerque Journal reached out to American Airlines for a statement and received this email and followup:

“Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21.”


“The FBI is aware of the reported incident. While our policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations, the FBI works continuously with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to share intelligence and protect the public.”

A request to White Sands Missile Range was unanswered, but Lally Laksbergs, a spokesperson for Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque said they heard nothing.

“We have no knowledge of this. We’re not aware of anything.”

The Journal article did not say if the FBI was contacted. The Drive contacted the FAA and received this statement:

“A pilot reported seeing an object over New Mexico shortly after noon local time on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.”

That non-response is typical, so The Drive’s Tyler Rogoway says he “executed a full FOIA request on this case with the FAA” for basic radio recordings between the AAL 2292 and Albuquerque Center (air traffic control). Rogoway also investigated a report that a Lear jet had been in the vicinity of AAL 2292 at about the time of the incident, and found the “timing was off” and the pilots would not have made such a puzzled report to the tower. He seems to be leaning towards “misidentification” but is waiting/hoping for more from the FAA.

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Will this be the Tic Tac UFO of 2021? It has been picked up across the mainstream media spectrum and made it to the late night talk show monologues. While there’s no video or air traffic control radar recording, that could change if they exist and enough pressure is put on the FAA, as seen after The New York Times picked up the Tic Tac/Nimitz UFO incident.

This long, cylindrical UFO won’t be going away anytime soon.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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