The SPY-1 radar was the newest state-of-the-art Naval radar in the US inventory. The contacts were traveling almost five miles in less than a second? That was MACH 30?! And they were stopping? It had to be a mistake with the system.
Gary Voorhis, the officer in charge of the radar system on the Princeton, decided to take the radar offline and re-calibrate it. He got approval from the ships Captain to take it off line. When they turned the radar back on after checking it in all modes they still saw the contacts. And now they were even clearer!
It was November 2004. Kevin and Gary were aboard the Princeton guided missile cruiser, one of the US Navy’s most technologically advanced ships designed to defend Carrier Group 11 from air and space attacks. Their carrier group was spinning up for a deployment to the middle east.
According to a 2019 study published by the Scientific Coalition for UAP studies (SCU), Estimating Flight Characteristics of Anomalous Unidentified Aerial Vehicles, the Ballistic Missile Defense radar tracked the contacts in low earth orbit.
The Princeton radar then picked up the contacts at 80,000 feet north of their carrier group, near San Clemente Island off the coast of San Diego.
The unknown contacts arrived 10-20 in a group at 80,000 feet (above 60,000 feet is considered astronaut qualification), and then they would drop down to 28,000 feet and track south at a speed of about 100 knots. “Periodically, the UAPs would drop from 28,000 feet to sea level, or under the surface, in 0.78 seconds,” said the report.
Something was there
“We were able to see them through binoculars. And that confirmed for me it was an object…something was there,” Gary Voorhis said.
For two weeks the radar operators wondered about the contacts. They talked on the ship about what they could be. They watched them from the top decks, tracked them on the radar.
But then the fighters arrived to start their training. And now, the contacts were in the same training airspace as the fighters. Senior Chief Day convinced the Princeton’s Captain to ask the first fighters to check out the contacts.
Tic Tac UFO on fighter jet's camera
On 14 November 2004, Commander Fravor was leading out a two-ship of F-18 Superhornets. He was a Top Gun graduate and had recently taken command of his first fighter squadron, a major achievement for any fighter pilot. He was preparing the squadron for war and it was a beautiful clear day to fly. All his years of combat and high-intensity training at Top Gun didn’t prepare him for this particular mission.
When his two-ship entered the training airspace, the radar controllers asked if he had any live weapons. That was an interesting question he thought. No, it was a training mission and he didn’t have any live weapons. The controller gave Fravor a vector towards the nearest contact.
Fravor pointed his two-ship towards the heading and started searching for the target. “Off the nose 20 miles,” the controller called out. They were closing quickly on the position and looking in their radars. “15 miles to merge….10 miles, 5 miles…” All pilots were looking outside now frantically. It could be at any altitude
“Merge plot!” the controller said.
Fravor noticed a 75-metre area of white water far below them on the otherwise clear blue sea.
“It almost looked like a breakwater. About the size of a 737. I thought at first it was a crash. Then I saw it.” Fravor said on the Fridman podcast.
He saw a clear white object about the size of a fighter, moving east and west, and north and south in quick movements. “Ahh, it’s a helicopter, I thought,” Fravor said. “Except it wasn’t a helicopter. It didn’t move with inertia, it just bounced around.”
After 2-3 minutes of watching the object, Fravor decided to go down for a closer look. He left his wingman up high at 20,000 feet while he started a slow spiral descent down. At 15,000’ Fravor noticed the object stop its search pattern and point right at him. The object then executed an impossible maneuver. From a standstill it climbed without effort up to his altitude in seconds. Something a modern fighter could never do.
Fravor then flew across the circle (imagine going around opposite sides on a large merry-go-round) less than 800 metres from the object. He was close enough to clearly see no signs of wings or propulsion. What he saw was just a slick white cylinder, about the size of a fighter, “it looked exactly like a white Tic-Tac candy.”
Fravor moved in to get a closer look. As he closed onto the craft it accelerated so fast it disappeared.
LCDR Slaight from the backseat of the plane above said it accelerated “like a bullet,” and was gone. All four aviators looked back down at the water and the break water was gone. They were alone over the clear blue sea.
Flabbergasted, the Fravor led the jets back to their combat air patrol (CAP) point and accomplished their training mission. On the way home the controller said, “you’re not gonna believe me Sir but that thing is back at your CAP.”
“What?” Fravor thought. “How did it know where our CAP was?”
When Fravor landed he quickly talked with the weapon’s system officer of the next fighter launching, Chad Underwood. Chad launched towards that CAP point and recorded the famous “FLIR1” video of the Tic-Tac UAP.
The visual engagement was corroborated by four trained observers with decades of experience. It was a crystal clear day with unlimited visibility. The contacts were confirmed by radar, video, and visual. For this reason, the Nimitz encounter is the most authentic and corroborated modern UAP case.
Standby next week for what happened during Underwood’s intercept of the Tic-Tac.
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