At 4:30 on the afternoon of November 7, 2006, approximately a dozen United Airlines employees watched as a saucer-shaped object hovered low over a gate at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for several minutes and then suddenly disappeared into the clouds, according to a Chicago Tribune article and eyewitness reports filed with the National UFO Reporting Center.
A United supervisor was concerned to report the sighting to the O’Hare control tower, but Federal Aviation Administration official later told the Tribune that radar operators were unable to pick up the UFO on their equipment. The FAA opted not to further investigate, ascribing the sighting to a “weather phenomenon,” spokesperson Elizabeth Isham Cory told the Tribune.
But the witnesses were not so easily convinced that the sighting was some sort of atmospheric mirage.
"I tend to be scientific by nature, and I don't understand why aliens would hover over a busy airport," one witness told the Tribune. "But I know that what I saw, and what a lot of other people saw…. and it definitely was not an aircraft” of terrestrial origin.
The details of the incident can be pieced together from both the Tribune article and two separate reports filed with the National UFO Reporting Center, a group that gathers information on such sightings nationwide.
At around the same time, according to one of the reports in the NUFORC datebase, a United employee who was working at the gate looked up and was startled to see the saucer hovering directly overhead at approximately 500 to 1,000 feet in altitude. He described it as looking like a metallic Frisbee, and said that the object rotated silently and had no lights.
The employee informed pilots at the gate, who opened their windows and observed the object as well. Then he called the airline’s operations center at the airport. A United manager who was in his office quickly ran out to see.
The manager told NUFORC that he saw “a relatively small object” hovering in place over C17, at an estimated altitude of 1,000 feet. “After about a minute, I saw the aircraft zip to the east and disappeared,” the manager recalled. The manager then went out to the tarmac and interviewed the employee who originally had reported the object, and also talked to other witnesses as well.
At about the same time, a United mechanic told NUFORC and the Tribune that he was in in the cockpit of a Boeing 777, which he was taxiing back to a maintenance hangar, when he heard radio chatter about the sighting, and then looked out the aircraft window to see the object.
In the NUFORC report, he described it as “a dark gray hazy round object” and observed that “it was holding very steady and appeared to be trying to stay close to the cloud cover.”