Location of Sighting: 1 Nautical Mile West of Toledo, WA Airport
Date of Sighting: June 1, 2021
Time of Sighting: 12:42 PM PDT
Description: June 1, 2021 at 12:42 PM PDT, 1 NM west of KTDO Airport (Ed Carlson Memorial Field) in Toledo, Washington.
I was flying from KTIW (Tacoma Narrows Airport – Gig Harbor, Washington) to KVUO (Pearson Field – Vancouver, Washington) at 3,500 feet MSL on a southbound heading when I observed a metallic object off the left front of my airplane approximately 500 feet below my altitude and 2 NM southeast of my position.
I looked on my TCAS (traffic alert collision avoidance system) to identify the aircraft type, altitude, speed, and heading to ensure adequate separation. However, there was no signature on my TCAS.
As I approached the object, I noted it was a silver-metallic ball-shaped object and there were no visible wings of obvious propulsion system.
I pointed out the object to my passenger (seated in the co-pilot position) to confirm my own observation. She also noted there were no wings and the object appeared stationary at the time.
My first instinct was to conclude it was a drone aircraft, but drones are typically limited to 400 feet AGL whereas this object was approximately 2,500 feet AGL, well above drone limitations.
At this point my closing speed was approximately 100 knots over ground when the object began accelerating northbound (opposite my direction of flight and off the left side of my aircraft).
The closest the object came was approximately 1,500 feet as it passed off my left wing at a high rate of speed. It appeared to briefly turn toward my airplane before disappearing out of view behind and to the left of my airplane.
Determining it’s size is difficult given unknown precise distance and reference to other known objects, but my best guess is approximately six feet in diameter and spherical in shape.
I did not attempt a turn toward the object to surveil the craft. Total time from first observation to losing sight of the object was approximately 60 to 90 seconds.
I often record my flights with a wing-mounted 4K GoPro camera, but unfortunately I did not have the camera mounted on this flight.
Additional Information Provided by Pilot in Response to Questions: Thank you for the prompt reply. I did not report the sighting to the FAA. In any case it is very unlikely they would receive a primary radar return on an object of this size (and less radio-reflective shape).
My airplane is a Piper Cherokee (PA-28). I sent this report because in my 20 years of flying, this was a first. My initial primary concern was a drone flying well above authorized altitude, but it did not have drone-like characteristics. I was also hoping there might have been other sightings in the area. I may call the airport manager to see if there were other similar reports.
Additional Information Provided by Pilot (June 24, 2021): Good afternoon. I am providing some follow up information in the event you might find it useful.
I spoke with the KTDO Airport Manager. No other observations have been brought to his attention.
I also called the owner of the skydiving operation based at Toledo airport. She informed me that there were no parachute operations on June 1. I made this call to rule out any possibility that skydiving activity could have been responsible for my observation.
Also, one of the comments mentioned a World War II pilot in the Japanese Air Force who observed a spherical object following his formation. I would be interested to see any information that might be available on that sighting.
Note: The pilot makes a good argument that the object was not a drone. The object was not a regular aircraft because his TCAS did not pick it up. Regular aircraft are required to have transponders which emit a signal that would be picked by a TCAS. The craft was spherical, without wings and looked to be close to his aircraft. These encounters with UFO’s constitute a flight safety risk.Note to Commenters: If you are reporting a sighting, be sure to include the location (city, state, country), date and time of your sighting. Be detailed in your description. You may also use our report form to report your sighting. Comments will only be published if they are in "good taste" and not inflammatory. Also the name that you list in the comment will be posted. Use abbreviations or aliases if you don't want your name listed.