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Spooktober: Chicago O’Hare Sees a UFO

The Chicago skyline beginning to come into view (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Earlier in this series, we explored the various conspiracies around Denver International Airport and the mysterious Mothman that roams the skies the Chicago. To conclude the Spooktober series, we will be focusing on the extraterrestrial, primarily unidentified flying objects — more commonly known as UFOs. Oddly enough, one of the more famous commercial aviation-related sightings happened at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where the Mothman is supposedly known to roam.

The sighting at O’Hare is not only one of the more famous commercial aviation-related UFO sighting but also one of the better-known ones overall.

It all happened on Nov. 7, 2006. United flight 446 was getting ready to depart to Charlotte, N.C., and a dozen United employees and a few other people spotted a saucer-shaped aircraft hovering over gate C17 around 4:30 p.m.

Witnesses say that the aircraft was dark gray and was 6 to 24 feet in diameter. There are conflicting reports on whether it was spinning in place or not rotating at all. They did, however, agree that the aircraft was silent.

It allegedly hovered over the gate just below the 1,900-cloud deck for about five minutes before shooting upwards at a fast rate, breaking such a hole in clouds on the overcast day that people could see the blue sky.

An airport manager allegedly ran from his office after hearing about the sighting on an internal airline radio frequency. He knew that no one would make up a sighting like that. His main concern was if there was a weather balloon or something over the airport they would have to stop flight operations for everyone’s safety.

FAA Declines to Investigate

It made the news in Chicago and around the world. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declined to investigate this appearance since it states that the UFO was not seen on radar. No air traffic controllers reported seeing the aircraft either.

The FAA called it a weather phenomenon and was backed up by scientists who said that the weather conditions at O’Hare that day could lead to “hole-punch clouds.” This happens when an airplane passes through uniform cloud cover and water droplets freeze in a particular manner that it looks like a hole punched in the cloud.

Now, regardless of whether it actually was a UFO and an ensuing coverup, there is an argument to be made that the event still needed to be fully investigated. Many were opposed to the FAA declining to investigate, their main argument being that the decision contradicts the agency’s mandate to investigate potential security breaches at American airports.

In this particular case, well over a dozen people all saw the same aircraft and there are recordings of people witnessing it. The fact that something that large could hover over one of the busiest airports in the world and not get noticed by air traffic controllers or radar is alarming.

Hemal Gosai


  • Hemal Gosai

    Hemal took his first flight at four years old and has been an avgeek since then. When he isn't working as an analyst he's frequently found outside watching planes fly overhead or flying in them. His favorite plane is the 747-8i which Lufthansa thankfully flies to EWR allowing for some great spotting. He firmly believes that the best way to fly between JFK and BOS is via DFW and is always willing to go for that extra elite qualifying mile.

    View all posts

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