A Chinese airport was shut down for more than an hour last month because air traffic controllers saw what they believed to be a UFO buzzing the airport, according to reports out of the country.
It is the eighth time since June that UFOs have been reported in China.
In the latest episode, several passenger jets were diverted from the airport at Baotou in Inner Mongolia for about an hour around 8 p.m. on Sept. 11.
The alert was triggered by bright lights in the sky that moved erratically, but reports claim that air traffic controllers at the Hohhot Air Traffic Management Bureau spotted the object on their radar.
After about an hour, the object and the lights suddenly vanished and passenger jets were allowed to land.
The Chinese government had said on previous occasions that the lights claimed to be UFOs were military exercises, but the government denied the Sept. 11 incident happened at all.
This summer another UFO report caused a sensation and forced Xiaoshan Airport in Hangzhou, to cease operations on July 7.
A flight crew preparing for descent first detected the object around 8:40 p.m. and notified the air traffic control department. Aviation authorities responded within minutes, grounding outbound flights and diverting inbound ones to airports in Ningbo and Wuxi.
Eighteen flights were affected. Though normal operations resumed an hour later, the incident captured the attention of the Chinese media and sparked a firestorm of speculation on the UFO’s identity.
Hangzhou residents released photos, taken in the afternoon before the delays, of a hovering object bathed in golden light and exhibiting a comet-like tail. Less than an hour before the Xiaoshan airport shut down, residents said they also saw a flying object emitting red and white rays of light.
Investigating the Phenomenon
Resident Ma Shijun was taking a nighttime stroll with his wife when he saw the object.
“I felt a beam of light over my head. Looking up, I saw a streak of bright, white light flying across the sky, so I picked up the camera and took the photo. The time was 8:26 p.m. However, whether the object was a plane, or whether it was Xiaoshan Airport’s UFO, I don’t have a clear answer,” Ma told the Xinhua news agency.
The photos taken by Hangzhou residents may be unrelated to the UFO that shut down Xiaoshan Airport. According to Hangzhou meteorological authorities, residents in the afternoon probably saw light reflecting off of an airplane. As for Ma’s nighttime photo, Beijing Planetarium curator Zhu Jing told Xinhua that the object looks just like a plane shining its strobe lamps. A spokesman from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) confirmed to ABC News at the time that the matter was under investigation. He declined to disclose further details.
A day after the sighting, however, an anonymous source told China Daily that authorities already discovered the identity of the UFO after an investigation but could not publically disclose the information because “there was a military connection.”
Sightings have also been reported in Xinjiang, Hunan, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces.