|Capt. Richardson is a retired NZ airline pilot who flew DC 10-30 and Boeing 747-200. He has an Airline Transport Pilot License and Recreational Pilot License. He has a total of approx. 18,000 flying hours. Capt. Richardson was involved with commercial aviation from 1961 to 1991, and was also a NZ Air Traffic Controller from 1961 to 1965.
The duration of the first sighting was around 10 seconds, and involved the positive sighting of a vehicle (airborne unidentified object). The air conditions were stable with some flat cloud. Stars were visible, but there was no moon.
The DC 10 aircraft was at cruise flight level of 33,000 feet, just north of Samoa. Capt. Richardson (then co-pilot) describes the night as “pitch black, very dark”, but recalls that they may have had a nose light on, on the aircraft. The aircraft was “skipping along over the strata-form” and he was gazing ahead out the cockpit window, when he observed a very bright white light rapidly approaching above the clouds and stated, “Traffic on our left.”
The light was moving west to east from 270 to 090 degrees magnetic. The light (vehicle) crossed the DC-10’s track from left to right. They were on a northerly heading, roughly 010M, and the vehicle was tracking east at the same level. The vehicle crossed their path at very close proximity – around 150 feet apart. For a second or two, the two pilots thought they were going to collide with the object.
The two pilots observed a large cylindrical object around 150 feet long, with large oval windows around 3 feet wide, that were emitting a very harsh bright white light. The object had no appendages such as wings, tail, or rudder, and was clearly a solid metallic structure. They estimated that it was travelling in excess of 500 knots (575 mph, or 926 kph), and it disappeared out on the starboard side behind them.
The pilots were able to observe the actual cylindrical object for approximately 3 to 4 seconds. The object was roughly the size and shape of a DC10 fuselage, without the wings and tail. The front had a rounded point, while the rear 1/3 of the object tapered off to a narrow end. Captain Richardson commented that the vehicle left no turbulent wake.
Co-pilot Richardson contacted Nadi Airport radio and asked if there was any eastbound traffic, and the answer was, “Negative”. He then called Tahiti Airport radio and asked if they had any inbound traffic from the west, and their reply was also, “Negative.” He finally called Honolulu Airport radio with the same question, and also enquired whether they had any military activity at or near their flight position. The response was, “Negative. You guys are the only traffic in the South Pacific!”
At the time, the pilots did not report this event to the airline because of concern about the ridicule or disbelief they may be subjected to. Capt. Richardson is very clear to this day about the object he observed during this event.
Artist's impression of the craft observed by co-pilot Richardson & pilot of the DC10-30.