View YouTube Video Taken by One of Pilots:
Description: We were a three man crew flying a FEDEX MD-11 from Paris, France to Memphis, TN Saturday night, April 27, 2013. At approximately 47.00N/050.00W, 0130Z – 28APR13, FL340, heading 280 Magnetic, we noticed an object almost directly in front of us and about 45 degrees from the horizon that went from dim to bright, to dim again and then disappear. This only went across about two inches of sky as we looked at it, lasted about twenty seconds, was very bright and then was gone. It was very high and obviously in space. We really couldn’t decide on whether it was coming toward us, or going away. The moon was bright off our left side and behind, but visible from the left window. The sun was on the other side of the earth. We assumed that we saw a meteor ricochet off the atmosphere and didn’t think anything of it. Both of us sitting in the cockpit saw it. Then, a short time later, we saw it again in the same area of sky, same duration, same brightness. We thought that it couldn’t be another meteor, so our next thought was that it was the space station and we were seeing it being reflected off the sun. But it happened fairly close to the last sighting and we thought that it couldn’t have gone around the earth in that amount of time. Then, we saw it again. This time I started my clock to time the event. Then, we saw it again. It had only been 8 1/2 minutes. Our second pilot came into the cockpit and we briefed him on the sighting. We darkened the lights, and at about the 8 1/2 minute timeframe, we saw it again. We ended up watching this thing come and go every 8 1/2 minutes, (plus or minus a few seconds) for almost 2 hours. The final sightings were about 42.00N/070.00W and about 03:30Z, 28APR13; two hours later. Though we were traveling about 6 miles a minute westbound, and the earth was rotating, the object kept getting lower on the horizon until it wasn’t visible anymore. I did get a short video of it from my iPad, but it doesn’t show much, and the object wasn’t as bright as our earlier sighting. I have never seen anything like this in my 19,000 hours of flying and can only assume that it’s some sort of government object, but for it to be repeatedly seen for so long and so consistent, is a mystery.
Witness Response to Questions: Thank you for the response. As I reported, the sightings began about 47.00N/050.00W at about 0130Z on 28APR13, FL340. It progressively got lower in the sky as the earth rotated, and we last saw it about two hours later, 0330Z, at about 42.00N/070.00W, and FL360. The sky conditions were clear with no clouds above or below almost the entire time. My video was late in the sighting, after watching it for over an hour, and it wasn’t as bright as it was when we first noticed it. We were communicating with ATC via our FMS system and SAT Phone installed in the aircraft (i.e. typing messages and receiving responses via the computer). In the latter part of the sighting we were in VHF communications with Gander. We elected not to mention anything via radio, make any report, or file any company report. Normally at this time of evening, only us freight aircraft are flying westbound, and the passenger airlines are flying eastbound. I would have asked on the oceanic VHF frequency we monitor if anyone was looking at this, but I figured they were all going in the other direction. There were no TCAS aircraft seen near us the entire time (this is normally +/- 3000′, and within 40 nm). Unfortunately, only the three of us were there to experience and enjoy it. I hope this helps!
Note: We have received several comments that the object was likely a tumbling geostationary (or nearly geostationary) satellite. These satellites are normally not visible to the naked eye, but perhaps at 35,000 feet they are more visible?