San Jacinto, California
A little background: My name is John R. English, I am a past Director of the "International Aerospace Hall of Fame" (IAHF), San Diego Air & Space Historical center. During this time I was involved in the research, selection, and installation of several US and foreign Astronauts, as well as other significant aviation related candidates. I am also a Licensed pilot S.E.L. and a "Diamond" level Soaring pilot (18 years), with approx. 400 flight hours logged, 350 in high performance Sailplanes in multiple flight envelopes and conditions. During soaring flights a great deal of time is spent flying in close proximity with other aircraft, necessitating a continual visual search for other aircraft under the see and be seen discipline. What follows is a brief description and TIF. file of an event over Mt. San Jacinto, CA.
Flight origination.: Hemet Ryan Field, CA
Aircraft...........: Mini-Nimbus/C Sailplane
The reason for this flight was to obtain air to air photos of Mini-Nimbus Sailplane (N419Z) (V/O) for personal album. I took off from Hemet Ryan field at Approx. 01:15 pm under aero tow, and proceeded to an altitude of 12,000 ft AGL and formed up with Mooney chase plane five miles North East of Mt. San Jacinto, a shallow descent was established to 11,000 ft to build air speed for photo run. A number of photos were taken without anything unusual, then a bank and turn to the right, away from the chase plane was made. During this turn both aircraft observed, and chase plane photographed the included anomaly. This object came from the 7:00 position relative to the sailplane and at a distance of about 1-2 miles?? in front, and exited vision at the 1:00 position relative to the sailplane. The best description I can give is that it looked much like a large reflective sphere (about the size of a quarter held at arms length).
The object was observed for 5-10 seconds until out of sight, no extreme maneuvers were observed, no sound was heard, and no wake turbulence was encountered. I have no idea what the object was nor have I ever seen anything like it, either before or after this flight. The event took place July 1988. Original photo and negative as well as the flight log are still in my possession.
John R. English
Hope these additional details are of interest. The photo was taken by another sailplane pilot that was flying right seat in the Mooney for that purpose. I used the term sub-sonic, 670 - 700 mph Approx. (depending on air density & altitude) because there was no sound and no physical effect on my aircraft that I could determine. I should add that it is possible that I underestimated the object's distance from my location, with a resulting error in the object's apparent speed. The object most resembled a very bright sphere, much like a mirrored ball with a distorted area opposite from its direction of travel. My memory of the event has the object coming up from the 7:00 position relative to the top of my instrument panel, however I had just initiated a right turn and was just starting to roll to the right. The object was observed by myself, the photographer and two other sailplane pilots in the area at that time. There was a very comical attempt to confirm by radio on 123.3 at the time using non-specific and ambiguous chatter. Upon landing back at Hemet Ryan field, no one said another word about the event and it wasn't until some time later that I was aware the object had been caught on film.
The Minolta was a Maxxum 7000
The actual date of the sighting was July 16, 1988 14:00. It was reported to NUFORC on January 10, 2000.