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After Two Pilots Claimed To See A Fiery UFO, Rumors Of A Top-secret Soviet Spy Craft Surfaced

July 1948

On a clear night in July 1948, pilot Clarence Chiles and co-pilot John Whitted were flying a twin-engined Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-3 plane. There were 20 passengers on board, and they were flying 5,000-feet above Alabama. They were flying from Houston to Atlanta, and for the two experienced pilots, it was a routine flight. However; what happened at 2:45 am was far from routine. The two pilots were very experienced. Childes was a World War II veteran who flew planes for Air Transport Command, which is a branch of the United States Air Force. During his time in the service, he earned the rank of lieutenant colonel. Whitted also served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He piloted the B-29 Superfortress bombers.

The Flight

The flight took off around 8:40 pm on Friday, July 23. The flight was supposed to take seven hours, which included a stop-off in New Orleans. The flight was going as planned with nothing too unusual until 2:45 am, which they were flying 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, Alabama. At the time the incident took place, the plane was traveling at 170 miles per hour. The two pilots saw something strange that they never expected to see.

Another Aircraft

At 2:45 am, the two pilots saw something that looked like another type of aircraft with a jet of flame shooting from it. It wasn’t long before the aircraft zoomed out of their view. The two pilots agreed that whatever it was that they saw, it was capable of moving much faster than their plane. When asked about what the aircraft looked like, Whitted said that it looked like one of the Flash Gordon rocket ships that you see in the funny papers. Chiles told the newspaper that what they saw looked like it was four times the size of the Superfortress that he saw during the war. It was the same shape, but it had no wings. He also said that it looked as though it was speeding through the moonlight.

The Speed

Both of the pilots agreed that the aircraft that they saw was traveling between 500 and 700 miles per hour. When the aircraft quickly traveled toward New Orleans, both pilots believed that it was a new Army jet that was in recent development. After seeing the aircraft for 15 seconds, they realized that it could not be a U.S. military jet. They were sure that it was not even from this world.

Describing the Aircraft

When the two men described the aircraft, they said that it had two rows of square windows, upper and lower. They claim that out of the rear of the ship; there were red flames that shot 25 to 50 feet. There was a blue glow under the fuselage, and it was very visible when it got alongside them. Chiles says that the light was so bright that it blinded them for a second. They said that the ship had no wings and it had an upper and lower deck. Even though it was fully lit inside, they saw no occupants.


When the two men were questioned by government investigators separately, they both had the same answers. This led the investigators to believe that they actually did see something in the night sky. The investigators asked if any of the passengers mentioned seeing the aircraft also. Since it was almost 9 am, most of the passengers were sleeping. One passenger was awake. His name was Clarence McKelvie of Columbus, Ohio. He was also an Air Force war veteran. He said that he saw something, but he couldn’t go into as much detail as the two pilots were able to. He said that he didn’t see the shape or the form, but he did see an odd streak that wasn’t like lightning or anything he had ever seen before.

Project Sign

The Air Force wanted to get to the bottom of what the two pilots saw. The Director of Air Force Intelligence, Major General Charles P. Cabell, started an inquiry head up by Project Sign. Project sign was a U.S. Air Force Unit who was in charge of investigating UFO sightings. After a supposed flying saucer crash at a Roswell farmhouse in 1947, an official investigation team was assembled.

The Next Few Years

Over the next few years, the team was very busy investigating UFO sightings. One of them was the sighting that the two pilots saw that night in July. Many rumors came up after the pilot’s sighting. After two pilots claimed to see a fiery UFO, rumors of a top-secret Soviet spy craft surfaced.


Over the years, there have been many reports like the ones made by the two pilots on that July night. In some cases, they are written off as being weather balloons, airplanes, and jets.

Government Cover-Up?

Many people believe that the sightings in the past have been covered up by the government. Some people are sure the UFO’s and aliens do exist, and the government is trying to cover it up to avoid a panic. Others are sure that these sightings can all be explained. We may never know.

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