And that was the moment when the pilots caught sight of something extraordinary. It appeared to be some kind of aircraft, but it had a jet of flame shooting from it. And after a short time, it zoomed out of view. Whatever it was that Chiles and Whitted saw in the night sky, it was certainly capable of traveling much, much faster than their plane.
Meanwhile, what the two pilots saw would hit America’s headlines within hours of their landing at Atlanta. It would also become the subject of a highly secret government investigation. So what exactly flashed past the DC-3 as it flew over Alabama? We’ll come to that shortly, but first let’s look at some of the details of this intriguing story.
First of all, we’ll start with those two pilots. The lead one, Tennessee-born Captain Clarence Shipe Chiles, was 31 years old at the time of this event. His co-pilot John B. Whitted was just a year younger. Chiles was a World War II veteran who had flown planes for Air Transport Command, a branch of the U.S. Air Force.