In a story titled, "Jet's Close Encounter Remains a Mystery," Ceefax BBC Home News of June 12 said:
"Aer Lingus has no explanation for an incident in which one of its passenger jets had a close encounter with a flying object 9000 feet over Hertfordshire, north of London area.
"Both pilots of the plane reported seeing a red, blue and white striped aircraft pass close by on June 7th. [This suggests the event just occurred.]
"But inquiries have failed to find any trace of another plane in the area.
"An aircraft proximity team said it was sure that the object had not been an aeroplane."
A more detailed report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper of Friday, June 13, ran as follows:
MYSTERY OF AIRLINES NEAR MISS WITH "UFO"
By Paul Marston
Air investigators are baffled by an apparent near-miss between an Aer Lingus jet and an unidentified flying object.
The BAe 146, bound for Stansted from Dublin, took evasive action after both pilots saw what they described as a red aircraft with blue and white stripes heading towards them as they flew over Hertfordshire.
The jet passed 100 ft above the interloper two seconds later.
The crew reported the incident to air traffic control and suggested that what they had seen might have been a military aircraft, such as a Red Arrows Hawk.
But inquiries, involving searches of radar recordings and radio transcripts, failed to find another aircraft.
Investigators established that no Red Arrows aircraft flew that day, and checks on all military or civil Courts revealed that the last one to be airborne had landed four hours earlier.
Inquiries into the whereabouts of Gnat aircraft, which are similar to Hawks, also revealed no flights.
The possibility that an unregistered ex-military aircraft had taken off from a private airstrip was ruled out as "inconceivable" because radar in the area would make detection a certainty.
The Civil Aviation Authority group set up to examine the incident said yesterday that there was no doubt that the pilots "saw something and agreed in some detail in their descriptions."
Group members speculated that the object could have been a model aircraft, an advertising balloon, or even plastic sheeting.
But the lack of radar evidence "meant that members could feel reasonably certain that what had been seen was not an aeroplane."
Similarly, the degree of risk to the jet from the incident, which occurred last June [presumably meaning 1996], was "impossible to assess."
Aer Lingus said its pilots had reported the event because they were trained to do so. The airline predicted that the incident was "likely to remain a mystery."
Original file name: CNI - Jet close encounter
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