UAP - A 747 pilot's sightings

With the official 2017 DoD disclosure about UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) in the NY Times, the US Navy has admitted it has encountered many unknown objects in the sky for decades.

Since then, many pilots have come forward about their experiences.
The now-famous interviews of Commander David Fravor on '60 Minutes' and Ryan Graves on the Joe Rogan Podcast were a trigger for me: I suddenly realized I might have seem some of those things in the past that they described.

During an 1,5 hour interview with Vinnie Adams of Disclosure Team in November 2022 (link below), I've spoken openly about the various sightings I've had in the last twenty years of flying, in an attempt to keep the global conversation about UAP and disclosure about the topic going.

Most of my sightings were clearly mundane or have been explained in retrospect. Others still defy an explanation.

The 'Spain Object' of 2010 is the most compelling sighting which is now under investigation by the French organisation IPACO. More details will be posted as soon as the report is published.

The British tabloid 'The Sun' published an article about my sightings as well, December 28th 2022.


My background

I'm Christiaan, 40 year old airline pilot from the Netherlands with around 9,500 hours of total flying experience. Currently Captain on the 747-400.

I've started my first job on the Fokker 50 aged 20, flying contract work for a multitude of European and African airlines, besides flying under military contract in Afghanistan. 

After about two years of flying the F50 I joined a Dutch airline to fly the Boeing 737 for roughly 4 years all across Europe before moving to the Boeing 747, which I've been flying now for almost 13 years.

Ever since my first flight as a student pilot I've been taken away by the absolute beauty of the world from above, so I've always carried a camera with me to try and document the world from above. 
This resulted in a succesful secondary career of aerial photography that allowed me co capture and immortalize many of my moments in the air. I've won a multitude of awards with my work and also published several (award winning) books, completely unrelated to the UAP phenomenon.

I had no interest in the UAP subject until 2021.
The sole reasons for me to come forward about these sightings is to find out what I've seen, if there is a general air-safety issue regarding UAP and to keep the world-wide conversation about those sightings going.


Unexplained sightings

  • 23 January 2010 - Spain - Large dark object - (under investigation)

    Sighting took place during a flight with a 737 from Amsterdam to Malaga on the late afternoon of Jan 23 2010. We noticed a certain object far ahead of us showing a rounded rectangular shape as if we were looking in the rear side of a contrail.

    But we were flying at 41.000 ft and there is hardly any traffic above us at these altitudes. We were on a 'direct route' from Pamplona (PPN) in the Madrid FIR to Malaga (thus not on a formal airway) and saw the object far, far ahead of us all the time, not changing direction. We were unable to estimate its distance, so judging its altitude was near impossible, but in case it was another commercial airliners, we guessed it might have been 100 (nautical) miles ahead of us, possibly much further. With a 100 miles distance in mind, it was flying much higher than any commercial traffic so our curiosity was spiked.

    While still flying in the north of Spain, we asked Madrid ATC if there was any known traffic ahead and above us. They told us there was no traffic at all, and wondered why we asked. So, we told them we saw an object far ahead of us and rather large. So we were just casually wondering what it was. He immediately asked us to contact the military air traffic control frequency and tell them what we saw. Military air traffic control was prompt, interested and and took serious note of all we saw.
    He confirmed there was no other traffic at all, all the way down to Morocco; no military activity, no commercial traffic, no weather balloons; nothing. We saw the stationary object all the time for an hour at least, until we descended into the clouds over Malaga at position CRISA, far to the south of the Iberian peninsula. I've included some photos of that event, though I admit they are very vague and are hardly any help.


    In short:

    • Object was visible for over an hour.
    • We saw it with our own eyes and my camera captured it.
    • The shape was cigar-like and completely unlike anything else I've ever seen in the sky before or since.
    • It was something physical in our atmosphere since it was backlit (if it would have been outside of our atmosphere it would not have been a shadow but reflecting light and thus light, like a planet or the ISS is visible because of reflecting light back to Earth).
    • It was far away from us and did not move in any way relative to us for over an hour, it must have therefore been at a considerable altitude.
    • it was stationary laterally; it might have been moving to/from us but since it remained stable and the same size for us, that seems unlikely.
    • Madrid Air Traffic Control was very interested and quickly transferred us to a military Air Traffic Controller who took our sighting seriously and wanted to know all the details. He also confirmed there was no known traffic, weather balloons or any military activities ahead of us at any altitude all over Spain.

    This is by no means we saw something extraterrestrial or truly exotic, but it is something I have never seen before or since, nor do any of my colleagues.
    The image is being examined by the French organisation IPACO, results will be published when their analysis is finished.

  • 28/29/30 September 2005 - Greece - Erratic and strange moving light

    Greece, probably the island of Mykonos or similar, late evening/night (not noted in logbook at the time).

    After landing (Fokker 50) at night, we made a 180' turn on the runway and during the turn we saw a bright light appearing in the sky at extremely high altitude. It moved instantly (distance about one finger tip width with extended arm) disappeared, appeared again, moved roughly same distance, disappeared again, etc, about 3 times. Before it appeared roughly 2 times that distance and instantly shot off at ludicrous speed, without acceleration: just instant speed and it was gone from sight.
    Estimated altitude was unknown, but our estimation was 'extremely high': higher than any regular commercial traffic. Looked like a star almost. Speed is impossible to judge because of unknown altitude, but IF altitude was 30,000-40,000 ft (regular commercial traffic), it would have been Mach 10 or 20+ at least. No visible trail was left.
    The US Carrier Strike Group 2 with the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) aircraft carrier was passing by in the Mediterranean on it's way to the Persian Gulf that night for the Second Gulf War. This was mentioned in airspace closure (NOTAMS) as well.
    Unknown if these events are connected.

  • 5 April 2020 - North Atlantic Ocean - Cosmic ray (under investigation)

    Spotted a weird streak of light in an old photo of mine while browsing through images in my database. Very likely a cosmic ray hitting the camera sensor. Image is being analysed by IPACO as we speak.

    Read more here

  • July 2005 - Southern Germany - Falling light

    Probably around Neurenberg, exact date and time unknown (not noted in logbook unfortunately).

    Ball of white light falling through layers of clouds, vertically down, at night. Speed was very fast.
    Fokker 50, flying around 20,000 ft. Noticed bright light falling vertically down, illuminating lower layer of clouds before/while falling through it. No ATC (Air Traffic Control) call, no other aircraft calls over the radio. Capt was as surprised as I was. Rest of flight uneventful.

  • 28 February 2009 - Adriatic Sea - Falling light

    Adriatic sea around the Greek/Albanian border, roughly 20 km from the coastline.
    Boeing 737 flying northbound along the Greek/Albania coastline during daylight.
    Both of us suddenly saw a bright white ball of light falling/moving vertically down into the Adriatic Sea, perhaps 10-30 km from the coastline, plummeting into Albanian airspace/coastal waters.
    Greek Air Traffic Control confirmed to us in an annoyed and bored tone that there was no military activity whatsoever taking place and just transferred us to the Albanian controller and nothing was said or done since. Neither of us had any clue what it was and left it for what it was.
    No splash, light just disappeared into the sea. All of it happened within 2 seconds.
    There was no clouds at all for as far as the eyes could see: perfectly clear weather. NO thunderstorms in the vicinity whatsoever, ruling out any 'ball lightning' or strange lightning strikes.

Explained sightings

  • 24 August 2014 - Pacific Ocean - Red lights

    A strange and unexpected group of red lights spotted over a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.
    Highly likely this was an illegal fishing fleet using red lights. Event is probably going to be featured by the Smithsonian series called 'Mysteries from Above'.
    Find more here

  • 28 May 2017 - Mid-Atlantic Ocean - Space Debris reentry
  • 23 July 2017 - China - ICBM launch

    Xinjiang province of China (far north-west between Urumqi and Mongolian border).

    Sudden bright and growing spot on the horizon, growing into a plume and seconds later a secondary plume. It was very clear to us that we witnessed a rocket launch and indeed: it proved to be a Chinese ICBM test launch.
    Large areas north and south our route were closed as well according NOTAMS (Notice To AirMen), further proving this hypothesis. We were not warned before or during the event.

  • 29 April 2022 - Germany - Rocket reentry

    A weird light moving across the sky in a non-ISS orbit, seemed to grow larger and diffuse as it travelled north.
    This sighting has been explained as a Russian Angara AM de-orbit burn over Europe.
    Read more here

  • 2020-2022 - Starlink - many times

    just want to mention this because many people nowadays suggest that pilots 'simply see starlink', as if that explains everything.
    As you probably know and have seen for yourself, starlink satellite 'trains' fly with the regular speed of orbital objects at roughly 400 km altitude. Easily recognizable and identifiable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What camera do you use?
    Olymus C7070CW April 2006  - February 2006
    Nikon D80 February 2006 - April 2007
    Nikon D200 April 2007 - August 2013
    Nikon D800 April 2013 - June 2017
    Nikon D850 June 2017 - April 2020
    Nikon Z7 April 2020 - now
  • What lenses do you use?

    These are the lenses I currently use in the cockpit:

    • Nikon AF 10.5mm f/2.8G ED DX Fisheye
    • Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
    • Nikon AF-S 24-70mm F/2.8E ED VR
  • What do you think they are?

    I have no clue and I don't want to speculate too much, quite frankly.

    I'm coming public with my sightings hoping to make the current UAP subject more approachable, get rid of the stigma and keep the global discussion about the topic going.