According to a report published to Canada’s Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS), the flight crew of a regional airliner flying into Yellowknife—the only city in Canada’s Northwest Territories—observed two unidentified white lights at about 11:15 p.m. on January 30th, 2023.
According to the report, the airliner was flying to Yellowknife from Fort McMurray, Alberta, and was on approach to land when the flight crew reported two white lights approximately 3,000 feet above them and 10 nautical miles to the airport’s northwest.
The lights were reportedly moving in a circular pattern and were visible throughout the airliner’s approach and landing.
There was no known traffic in the area at the time of the sighting.
That report was later corroborated by audio of the flight crew’s conversation with Yellowknife air traffic control (ATC), published by CTV News.
“Good evening, just wondering, do you got two planes that are just to the east of your field doing circuits or maneuvers?” a flight crew member can be heard asking Yellowknife ATC on the recording.
“Negative, I have no reported traffic in the area,” ATC replied. “Do you have a visual on something?”
“Yeah, we’re looking at two lights dancing around here, to the east of your field,” the flight crew member said. “They’re above us, about, I don’t know what. We’re not seeing them on TCAS [traffic collision avoidance system]. But we can see the lights moving around.”
No objects were visible on radar, and after checking with their air control center, Yellowknife ATC confirmed that there did not appear to be any movement in the area.
“And you said they’re over your position?” ATC asked.
“Well, they’re above us,” the flight crew member responded. “We’re at approximately 12,000 feet. We’re going 30 miles back from your field over the lake, and yeah, we’re seeing them just to the east of the city. Probably about maybe 20 to 30 miles, but they’re well above us. We saw them when we were going through 20,000 feet [and] they looked almost parallel for altitude.”
Yellowknife ATC was unable to visually confirm the lights.
“All right, I’m trying to look,” ATC said. “I don’t see them from the ground here. Well, I’ll keep an eye out. I’ll talk with center again.”
“Yeah, no worries,” the flight crew member replied. “They’re not a risk to us.”
The flight crew member went on to say that the lights “come in and out, but there’s two of them moving around in a circular pattern” approximately 10 to 20 nautical miles northwest of the airfield.
ATC remarked that the lights were “quite strange” and ultimately opted to submit a CIRVIS report, which they said is filed “when we have some sightings that we cannot explain.”
CIRVIS stands for Communications Instructions Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings and, according to the United States Air Force, is generally used to refer to “all unidentifiable, suspicious, or hostile land, air, or seaborne traffic which—because of its nature, course, or actions—must be considered a threat to the security of the US or Canada.”
“We’re not crazy,” the flight crew member said of their sighting.
“No, we believe you,” ATC replied.
The lights described by the flight crew vary considerably from the unidentified flying objects most recently making headlines after being shot down by fighter jets over both U.S. and Canadian airspace.
Unlike these lights, those objects reportedly showed no signs of propulsion or maneuverability and were likely to be balloons.