Delta Pilot Spots Mysterious Paraglider at JFK, Officials Baffled

By Brian Ries
|  Friday, Aug 21, 2009  |  Updated 6:30 AM EDT
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Delta Pilot Spots Mysterious Paraglider at JFK, Officials Baffled

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MEVO HAMA, GOLAN HEIGHTS - AUGUST 28: An Israeli paraglider takes off from the cliffs looming above the Sea of Galilee to catch the thermals rising from the water during the Holy Wind festival on August 28, 2008 at Mevo Hama on the Golan Heights. The biblical lake is Israel's most important water reservoir, fed by the Jordan River from the north and by the many streams that carry snow melt and rain water from the strategic Golan Heights. Jerusalem may soon find itself surrendering the volcanic plateau to Syria, with Damascus demanding a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for a comprehensive peace. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

At about 8:00pm Sunday night, as he was waiting to depart at JFK, a Delta Airlines pilot spotted something strange floating through the early afternoon sky, seemingly coming down to land on runway 22R. He radioed the control tower, reporting what "looks like a guy on a paraglider" approaching the airport.

The controller then warned nearby pilots to look out for a "kite." Shortly after, the Delta pilot radioed back in to say that the paraglider had touched down, dropped something off, and quickly took off into the night sky. "Looks like he hit the ground, dropped something off. Now he's airborne again," the pilot reported, adding, "I guess it ah, looks like some guy on a parachute." The unidentified object/person then took off in the direction of oncoming traffic.

 The location of the supposed touch-down was "near the Varig cargo building, on the northern border of the airport, adjacent to the approach paths for 22R and 22L," FlightGlobal.com reports, but after authorities reportedly searched the area, they "found no trace of the UFO." 

YouTube user aeronauticstud who posted the tower communications sums up the incident, writing, "Something flew over 22L and 22R causing an American 767 to go around 22L to avoid it. Later ended up closing 22R for 5 Police helicopters to search for him and forcing several aircraft to divert due to being restricted to one runway. Seemed to come down to about 10-20 feet off the cargo ramp possibly dropping an object and then climbing to 1000 feet flying outbound on a 030hdg on an active final approach!"

If something was indeed dropped off, and never recovered, this presents a pretty serious security breach at the city's busiest airport. Gizmodo is thankful nothing happened, but aggressively questions the incident, writing, "What the hell was he or she dropping? Why nobody has found the dropped object yet—if there was actually anything?" Almost a week later, nobody knows.

You can listen to the radio communications below.

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