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Pilots UFO sightings:

This page documents and assesses a case in which a UFO or supposed or alleged UFO was reported to have been observed from an aircraft in flight.

Virginia, USA, January 1, 1937

Some time before 1999, the ufology website Project 1947 listed an aircraft - UFO encounter as:


1937: January 1, 1200 hours local, Virginia-Nth Carolina border

At the Virginia-North Carolina border, Howard S. Behr, LTC, USAF, retired. He was flying a plane south at 3000 feet. A gondola shaped object of gun metal color crossed his flight path. He was flying a Curtis Wright Sedan. He was military pilot flying in a non-duty status in a private plane.

A/C Code: P (Curtis Wright Sedan) GXE codes: _ __


First hand account in CUFOS files.
(Credit: Jerry Clark.)

In the general catalog of UFO sighting reports by US ufologist Larry Hatch, 2002 version ([lhh1]), this report appears as:

425: 1937/01/01 12:00 1 78:00:00 W 36:30:00 N 3333 NAM USA NCR 6:6

Which reads: On January 1, 1937, at 12:00, in Warren, Colorado, a flying pilot saw a 12-meter metallic gondola going to the southeast at 250 km per h, which had neither windows nor propeller, the reference being the catalog of Dominique Weinstein.

Erudite UFO historian Jerome Clark indicated in his "Strange Skies" book of 2003 ([jck1]) that there was a letter in the file of the defunct US ufology group NICAP (National Ivenstigaton Committee on Aerial Phenomena) that told about an aerial UFO encounter of Virginia on January 1, 1937.

The witness is described as Howard Behr, would bemace later a Lieutenant-Colonel in the US Air Force.

The encounter occurred as he was flying a Curtis-Wright Sedan at 3.000 feet to Raleigh, North Carolina, at noon in an overcast sky, with visibility below excellent.

He suddenly saw about his right and about 1.000 feet below his aircraft and at perhaps a hald mile of distance from him, an object heading across his flightpath.

The object looked like a gondola with both ends turned up, it was of gun-metal color, it had no visible windows or propellers. Behr estimated that it was 35 or 40 feet long, that it travelled 60 mph faster than his aircraft who was flying at 90 mph.

The object flew off to his left where Behr lost sight of it.

As the sighting was so bizarre, Behr concluded that he had been the cictim on an halluciation and said no word about it to anyone. It was only years later that he realized it might have been what was now being called a "flying saucer".

The sighting was briefly listed in several catalogs (Dominique Weinstein's "Aircraft UFO Encounters", France, 1999; Richard H. Hall's "From Airships to Arnold: A Preliminary Catalogue of UFO Reports in the Early 20th Century (1900-1946)", UFO Research Coalition, Fairfax, USA, 2000; Larry Hatch's "*U* computer database", Redwood City, 2002; and the UFOdna website.

The UFO magazine Atlantis Rising #135 for May / June 2019 reported:


Around noon on New Year's Day, 1937, U.S. Army Air Corps Lieutenant Howard S. Behr was flying south, three thousand feet over the Virginia-North Carolina border in his Curtiss-Wright CW-15 Sedan, a four-seat, single-engine utility aircraft, when "a gondola-shaped object of gun metal color crossed his flight path."

(Jerome Clark. The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial. Ml: Visible Ink Press, 1997). Unusual, even by Ufology standards, the craft observed by Lieutenant Behr represented the last sighting of its kind before the outbreak of the Second World War, two years later. (

This was part of an article titled "U.S. Forces vs. UFOs Before Roswell - Could Forgotten Accounts Force a Look at Evidence Once Considered Taboo?", by Frank Joseph. Note that the Listverse reference does mention similar cases but not this one. Not does it seem to appear in Jerome Clark's "The UFO Book".


In the Air Force News for January - June 1931, there is this mention indicating that 2nd Lieutenant Howard S. Behr moved from Washington D.C. to Mitchel Field, a US Army Air Force base located on Long Island, New York:


The name Howard S. Behr also appears in a 1943 "USAF Incident and Accident Personnel List".

So, it seems that at least the witness' name exists, as name of a US Army Air Force 2nd Lieutenant at least at the time of the elleged sightings.

Of course, I miss the original letter it is said he wote to NICAP, and its date.

The Curtiss-Wright CW-15 (photo below) was a four-seat high-wing monoplane utility aircraft with a fully enclosed cabin produced in small numbers in the United States in the early 1930s. Its maximum speed was 15 mph (185 km/h).

It was a civilian plane, not used in the Army Air Forces, so it must indeed have been the witness' own private plane.



High strangeness, bit late reportd, not sufficiently documented.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross August 7, 2021 Creation, [prt1], [lhh1], [jck1], [arg1].
1.0 Patrick Gross August 7, 2021 First published.

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This page was last updated on August 7, 2021.