Whenever something appears in the skies that isn’t easily recognizable to the human eye, there are always questions about what it could be. It can be easily explained in most situations, such as a weather balloon or a drone. In some other cases, especially at night, the answers aren’t always as easily accessible. In some situations, the night sky is lit up as a meteor burns up in the atmosphere, such as the case of the night of January 26-27. Sometimes, though, even those used to seeing the night sky are left scratching their heads over what it could be.
Since the start of the year, there have been at least four incidents in the skies over southeast Saskatchewan where multiple witnesses filed reports over what they saw. For three of these, it turns out what was seen was a meteor, while the fourth is still unknown.
The first meteor that was seen by residents in the southeast happened on January 15th. The object is believed to have been travelling over central Alberta, but there were reports of observing it from hundreds of kilometres away. Then, two nights later, another meteor was seen, believed to have been travelling west from around Saskatoon, with reports from everywhere south of Regina to north of Edmonton.
The third reported meteor happened on January 27th. This object was briefly seen, heading southeast over the Grasslands National Park west of Weyburn. The reports for this fireball ranged from near Prince Albert to Williston, North Dakota, to Helena, Montana.
One more incident, however, has yet to be explained.
On January 19th, there were reports of lights from pilots who were flying over southeast Saskatchewan. The official report, as filed with Nav Canada, said that a Flair Airlines Boeing 737 en route from Vancouver to Toronto saw multiple lights, sometimes in a triangle formation. An Air Canada Airbus 320-211 reported seeing the same lights while flying from Washington State to Winnipeg.
Those weren’t the only two planes to spot the lights, either.
According to the air traffic control chatter from that night, several pilots saw the lights as they were over the southeast.
The audio, which can be heard on a video posted to YouTube, and was captured through public access to air traffic control, details the first report from a Morningstar Air pilot, who asked about possible military activity being seen north of Winnipeg while they were flying over Saskatchewan. The air traffic controller advised they hadn’t heard anything about military activity, and advised they would start to look into it.
The pilots on the Flair and Air Canada lights confirmed with each other what they were seeing, and then confirmed with control about others seeing the lights. The pilots all described the lights as forming up as a triangle, then moving away from each other.
One pilot heard on the audio speculated it could be a reflection of the sun off of low orbit satellites, such as StarLink, but said it was just a wild guess. One of the initial pilots, however, said the movement of the lights ruled out satellites, but said he wasn’t an expert so he could be wrong.
Later, the Flair Airlines pilots said there were up to six of the lights moving around at a high altitude.
Air Traffic Control filed what is known as a CIRVIS report, or Communication Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings. The reports are used for anything airborne that appears to be hostile, suspicious, unidentified or in possible illegal smuggling activity. The report is sent to Flight Information Centres across Canada, and from there, the report is sent on to the Royal Canadian Air Force.
As the pilots continued to report the lights, one of the pilots noted that in her 15 years of night flying, she had never seen anything like it.
One pilot, however, reported to air traffic control, to be added to the CIRVIS that similar lights have been seen over the region, matching the description made by the pilots, for roughly 18 months.
At this time, no further information has been reported concerning what the lights seen by the pilots flying over southeast Saskatchewan could have been on January 19th.