Andrew Danzinger, a 28-year airline veteran pilot, might consider it a career highlight to have flown then Sen. Barack Obama's plane while he was campaigning in 2008. But almost 20 years earlier he experienced another something while in the air that might top piloting the plane of the man who's now the president of the United States.
Danzinger says he saw a UFO.
In an article he wrote for the New York Daily News, Danzinger described the incident, which happened on a night flight April 10, 1989, from Kansas City International Airport to Waterloo, Iowa.
"There were thin wispy clouds all around us, illuminated by the light of the full moon that shone through the captain's-side window at our left," Danzinger wrote. "Despite the presence of these clearly visible wispy clouds everywhere, we weren't flying through any of them. There was also a white disc dimly but clearly visible through those clouds just off to our right.
The pilots continued onward toward their destination for about 30 minutes, and Danzinger said that he looked away for a moment as they had to start preparing for their descent into Waterloo.
Then, "I saw something that has been burned into my memory," he wrote.
"I yelled to Bruce, 'Holy s--t,'" the man who spent 14 years as an international 757/767 captain recalled. "He immediately looked over from what he was doing. Above the clouds, where the white disc had been, was a now giant red ball. It was big and bright and just sat there above the clouds. It wasn't intense enough to illuminate us with a red glow but it was still plenty bright. We sat there in stunned silence. We obviously didn't want to hit it but quickly saw that it was flying parallel to our course. We weren't on a collision course and we also weren't gaining on it. Time became a blur as we continued our descent, this giant, red ball holding its course."
As the pilots began to descend, the ball followed suit, until Danzinger said, "like a setting sun but not nearly as bright, it vanished behind the clouds. The instant it fully disappeared, hundreds of lights began flashing from within the clouds."
Danzinger went onto say that the red ball started to pull apart like a piece of "Silly Putty," and just as the stretchy toy material snaps when stretched too fast, "the halves grew so thin that it tore apart and, pop! Everything was gone," he wrote.
He said air traffic control didn't note anything odd on the radar when he asked them. Then, after a few minutes, he said he was asked if he wanted to report a UFO. And he did.
He called the National UFO Reporting Center, which maintains a 24-hour hotline to take UFO sightings. The person at the center told Danzinger the "very same thing has been reported by pilots countless times."
Danzinger wrote that he and his colleague didn't talk about the sighting much outside of their report at the time, because "we were both young with long and promising careers in front of us."
But now, at the end of his career, he's coming out with his story.
"I'm not going too far out on a ledge to say that virtually all pilots believe in UFOs," Danzinger said.
Read his full account in the New York Daily News.
Front page image via Shutterstock.