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I'm all for atmospheric effects when the only other explanation is aliens but this thing was flying at a height and speed and appearance totally consistent with modern aircraft with multiple observations. By far the most likely explanation is US military.

Why military? Not smugglers? Not intelligence services, or just an asshole?

The military is a possibility, but I don’t know about “most likely” here.

Most of the speculation here hinges on it being an advanced aircraft that successfully evaded the USAF. Though it's entirely possible that that is easier than it sounds.

Given that assumption, the answer to your questions are:

> Why military?

The assumption here is that the military goofed, didn't tell another branch about it (hence the USAF scrambled), and is avoiding either embarrasment or needs to keep the deployment of the craft as secret as possible. This probably happens on a regular basis (though if we have data on how often that happened during the Cold war, that'd be useful), and explains why USAF couldn't find anything.

> Not smugglers

I have never heard of smugglers having advanced aircraft that would be flying around Oregon; Seems pretty risky. Also, doesn't make a ton of sense as you presumably wouldn't be able to transport much with a high speed aircraft.

Definitely an interesting proposal, have you heard of smugglers having advanced aircraft?

> intelligence services

Possible; Which ones, the American Intelligence Services? If so, I believe the parent was lumping them in with 'military'.

Though it still seems more likely that this was just bad internal communication, mostly because I wouldn't expect a foreign spy plane to be ever be caught flying at high speeds; though it could be a generic attempt to test the US response. Be great if anyone has any data on how often that sort of thing happened during the Cold War.

> just an asshole

Seems very unlikely. What random assholes have access to advanced aircraft that can evade the USAF?

So under the assumption that this was an advanced aircraft, the most likely explanation is government, either the US's or a foreign intelligence service. Since presumably the US is in control of it's own airspace, the idea that this was the US itself seems the simplest explanation.

What randon aholes? Almost anyone with the money. Sending an f15 to intercept something moving like an airliner isnt simple. Everything is moving at close to supersonic speeds. By the time they get up there the target is over the horizon. They need to be directed to one of a dozen targets without burning all thier fuel on the way. It is a big ask.

Intercepting an inbound russian is easy. He is comming towards you. An airliner moving away or past you at 200nm is exponentially more difficult.

>assumption here is that the military goofed, didn't tell another branch

Perhaps intentionally provocated a response from FAA, USAF, etc as a real-world test of the aircraft's stealth/evasion technology

Drug cartels have been using old airliners to smuggle cocaine for years. A Boeing 727 or something similar could achieve the flight profile described in this incident.


And immediately get painted by three or more primaries. Large airliner doesn’t fit with the primary radar loss, and they seem to use those aircraft for transoceanic routes on account of their radar signature. One doesn’t hide a 727, even with weaker civilian radar. Once the military was involved it should have been a slam dunk intercept, in that case.

Although Southwest flies 737s and the SWA pilot did report it was bigger...

Could be a routine ferry of Nightwatch/NEACP based on the same profile, but seems like NORAD and WADS would have caught that sooner. And kiboshed FOIA and not made public statements and all that. Nightwatch is operated by USAF, though, under high classification, while WADS reports up through the National Guard. Miscommunication seems at least plausible.

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