The 1963 UFO Encounter Over The Atlantic Ocean

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
June 26, 2020
Last Updated
October 21, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
16 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Sightings

An apparent incident involving a “gigantic cigar-shaped UFO” somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean in May 1963 would remain unreported for almost 20 years until the editorial team behind Flying Saucer Review magazine received a letter in late 1980 from the witness to the affair.

UFO emerging from the water (artist's impression)

UFO emerging from the water (artist’s impression)

Part of the reason the witness left the incident unreported for so long was simply that the witness had very little knowledge of UFO reports, as well as the fact that she found the entire episode “terrifying”. Only after reading about the subject – purely by chance – did she begin to realize just how extraordinary the incident was.

Although the incident is not one of the most exciting on record, it is another incident that has a connection with such official organizations as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), who have a small plethora of UFO accounts attached to their name. If we assume these strange crafts are piloted by intelligent beings from another world, would it make sense that they would take an interest in such key organizations?

The details of the witness have been withheld from the public domain. We know that she is female and from a country in “Western Europe that are members of NATO” and was married to an Englishman at the time she gave the report. According to investigators at Flying Saucer Review, she is an incredibly credible witness meaning, in turn, that the account is likely equally credible.

They would eventually release details of the encounter in their November 1981 edition (Volume 27, No. 3). It is that from that report that we base the following account on. Just what did the witnesses see that day somewhere in the north Atlantic? And for what reason were these apparent visitors here in the first place?

“Something Dark And Absolutely Tremendous” At Over 35,000 Feet!

According to the witness, the following incident “took place in the first or second week of May 1963”. [1] The witness was a NATO employee in the capacity of an English language secretary normally based in Paris, France. On the day in question, she was part of 50 NATO employees who were about to board a flight to take them to Ottawa in Canada for NATO Ministerial Meetings. It was around 10 am when the DC-8 left the runway at Orly Airport in Paris. The weather was perfect with clear visibility as the pilot took the plane to just over 35,000 feet.

The witness recalled that there appeared to be a feeling of military control on the plane that day, although the fact there was only 50 NATO staff on board the plane made it appear decisively empty. Because of this, passengers had an array of seats to choose to settle down in for the majority of the journey. The witness chose to sit next to one of the windows, which she recalled was a lot larger than a standard commercial airliner window.

Cigar-shaped UFO flying over the water (artist's impression)

Cigar-shaped UFO flying over the water (artist’s impression)

It was as she was preparing to settle in her seat with her book, with the cold waves of the Atlantic Ocean below them, that she noticed a strange object below them. She would describe it as “something dark and absolutely tremendous”. What’s more, it “stood out in vivid contrast to the brightness” of the early afternoon sky. When she moved her face as close to the window as possible so as to get a closer look, she would see the object appeared to be a “gigantic dark grey ‘torpedo’”. She would elaborate that the object appeared “menacing and frightening” as she continued to watch it.

The Only Witness To A Truly Extraordinary Event!

She continued to observe the strange object for several minutes. She was unable to see any wings, windows, or any apparent propulsion systems or engines, although she would describe what she believed was the back of the object as “cut off sharply and squarely”. The witness would estimate the object was around 6,000 to 7,000 feet below them.

She watched it for several more moments until it disappeared into the clouds. She suddenly looked around the plane. It appeared she was the only person who had noticed the strange object below. She would debate with herself whether to mention what she had seen. However, she feared they would not believe her.

As she sat back into her seat, she began to ponder whether the object had any connection to nuclear weapons. Although she would indeed remain quiet for the time being, she resolved that she would speak to a colleague in Paris with expertise in nuclear matters. However, as she would later reveal in her report, she would decide against mentioning the incident.

It was while she was considering these things that the plane suddenly began to “shudder and pitch up and down violently”. Although she told herself that this was just normal turbulence, she knew that she had not experienced anything as intense, or as prolonged as this disturbance appeared to be. And what’s more, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the disturbance to the flight was due to the object that very well might still be below them.

She would begin researching what the object might have been. She would do this privately before finally issuing her report to the UFO magazine in 1980.

Many Details That Show Up Elsewhere!

It is unfortunate that there were no other corroborating witnesses to an otherwise intriguing account. And while this is something that skeptics to such accounts will use to their advantage, aside from the apparent credibility of the witness, as well as the credibility of those behind the one-time UFO publication, the fact that the account not overblown or dramatic in any way would suggest it to be authentic.

And, it is certainly possible that there were other witnesses on the DC-8 that afternoon. It is also equally possible and plausible that they too opted to keep the sighting to themselves in the belief that they were the only person to have seen the strange object. As we have discussed before, there are very likely a whole host of UFO sightings that go unreported simply because the respective witnesses fear being labeled “crazy” or simply a liar.

Flying disc over the ocean (artist's impression)

Flying disc over the ocean (artist’s impression)

What perhaps makes this account credible is the details that show up in other, similar UFO reports. Not least the shape of the object itself. While a great many UFOs are disc-shaped or even triangular, a great many sightings of cigar-shaped objects can also be found in the mountain of UFO reports. What’s more, so can the detail that there appeared no obvious source of propulsion.

What is also interesting – and often overlooked – is the fact that the incident occurred over the water. Many UFO sightings occur on or near water, and at least according to researcher Gordon Creighton, many of the objects witnessed over the seas and oceans of the planet are cigar-shaped craft. Might this be to do with their potentially aquatic environment, perhaps as such a shape would likely cut through the water all the easier? What the connection between such craft and water is, however, remains a mystery.

Another Account to Keep On The Collective Mental Backburner

Whatever the object was that the witness saw from her plane seat that afternoon over the Atlantic Ocean, we know that the details offered are very much in line with other sightings – both before and since. And undoubtedly, there will be other sightings, both in the contemporary era or from years ago that have yet to surface which will also likely contain similar details.

Should we take the incident as credible? Considering the people involved with the Flying Saucer Review magazine, we should perhaps state yes. And that such a mysterious craft – or more specifically, the intelligence behind it – should take an interest in a NATO military plane is perhaps not too surprising to many in the UFO community. For example, during the latter months of the Belgian Wave, there was an increased NATO presence in the region. And there are multiple accounts on record of UFO sightings and incidents during NATO training exercises.

Might we even consider that the strange craft was not of extraterrestrial origin at all but a secret world military craft? One which discreetly made the journey under the “cover” of the NATO flight? Admittedly this is pure speculation here on our part.

With all of that said, all we can do with the account is leave it on our mental backburners, ready to bring it to the forefronts of our minds when we spot similarities with other incidents. Or indeed, if further witnesses suddenly step forward to tell their version of events.

The US Highway 81 Incident, Nebraska

There are several other sightings of strange, cigar-shaped UFOs in the early 1960s, several of which are perhaps worthy of examination here. For example, according to a report in the January 1962 edition of The Honeywell World and later reported on for NICAP in 1964 by Richard Hall, at a little after 7 pm [2] on the 22nd November 1961 near Grafton, Nebraska, a local married couple witnessed a distinctly cigar-shaped UFO while driving along US Highway 81.

The main witness, Melvin Vagle Jr., noticed a strange red light in the starlit skies overhead. He alerted his wife to the strange glow, and they both watched it for several moments. At first, they believed it was a conventional aircraft. However, as they continued onward – essentially, heading toward the light, they could see that it was something more out of the ordinary.

A superimposed UFO on a highway

Just what did the Vagles see above them?

They would eventually pull the car to the side of the road so they could get a better look. In front of them, each could clearly see a “cigar-shaped object hovering at a sharp angle over a plowed field”. They would continue in their report that a “bright flashing white light” was at the lower end of the craft, while a red light glowed at the other. What’s more, Vagle would recall that there appeared to be square window-like ports along the side, each of which showed a “white-yellowish light”.

They continued to watch the bizarre object, which seemingly remained completely motionless and silent. When their son, who was also in the car with them, began to become somewhat distressed, however, they restarted their car and drove on, the object eventually disappearing in the distance behind them.

Interestingly, a local farmer had reported seeing an almost identical object a short time earlier, which corroborated Vagle’s version of events.

The sighting remains unexplained.

Silent Cigar-Shaped Object Over Victoria, British Columbia

At some time in early 1960, another cigar-shaped UFO [3] was spotted hovering over Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. At some point in the early evening, Miss Footner was walking with her dog in a field near her home. As she was doing so, she happened to look upward and noticed a “bright dot of light” seemingly hovering over Saanich Mountain.

Due to the recent launch of a Soviet Sputnik satellite, Footner at first believed this is what she was witnessing. She would recall that she expected to see a flash from the object but instead, it appeared to be getting bigger. She soon realized, whatever it was, it was coming toward her.

When she reported the sighting to a UFO organization a short time later, she would recall how she daren’t take her eyes from the increasing object. In what seemed like no time at all, it was directly above her. What’s more, it had now stopped moving and remained stationary.

She described the object as silver and “shining in the late sun with a number of twinkling lights along the side”. Although she knew otherwise deep down, she asked herself once more if this strange object might be some kind of experimental wingless plane. However, not only did it not look like anything she had seen before, but the futuristic-looking craft didn’t make a single sound.

A witness sketch of the UFO incident in British Columbia

A witness sketch of the UFO incident in British Columbia

As she continued to look up at the cigar-shaped craft it suddenly “veered at a right angle and swiftly disappeared over the trees” heading toward the Sooke Mountains.

Once she was sure it had gone, she set out for home. She noted how the horses in the field appeared unaffected by the strange vehicle. And the same could be said for her dog. In fact, given the size of the object, she felt sure that other people must have witnessed it. However, as she approached her estate, she realized that there was no commotion as there surely would be if others had witnessed it also. In fact, she noticed how distinctly quiet the neighborhood was, without even a single dark barking (which was relatively unusual).

She would later estimate that the object was approximately 100 feet in length (very similar to other reported sightings of such objects at the time) and was in view for no longer than a few moments. What is interesting, is that several months later, on the other side of the world, a very similar object was witnessed. It is there we will turn our attention to next.

The Cressy Cigar Mothership Sighting

A particularly interesting sighting occurred over the small country town of Cressy in Tasmania, Australia several months later on 4th October 1960. The incident is today regarded as one of Tasmania’s most well-known UFO events – one later described as a “cigar-shaped mothership” along with several smaller disc-shaped craft – and was reported on by The Launceston Examiner. The case was investigated by Keith Roberts of the Tasmanian UFO Investigation Center (TUFOIC).

On the evening in question, at a little after 6 pm, Reverend Lionel Browning and his wife were in their dining room looking out of the window had a rainbow that had appeared. It was as they were doing so when Browning’s wife pointed to a strange object in the skies overhead.

They noticed how the object was a particularly dull, grey color with several vertical dark bands running along it. There also appeared to be several antennae running along the top and bottom of the object. Browning was used to seeing Viscount aircraft going overhead and would estimate that the object was slightly larger than that, approximately 100 feet.

Superimposed UFO in a sunset sky

What did Reverend Lionel Browning witness over his home?

The couple noticed how defined the object was in the sky, and further estimated that it was around three to four miles away from their location. It was also their guess that the object was moving between 60 to 70 miles per hour and remained at an estimated altitude of 400 feet. After the couple had watched the strange craft for several minutes the bizarre aerial vehicle came to a sudden stop. Then, things turned even stranger.

Appearing within seconds of the object halting its progress, several smaller, disc-shaped objects appeared, traveling at “high speed” and seemingly emerging from the low-lying cloud. These smaller discs remained hovering around the apparent mothership cigar-shaped craft for several moments. Then, in a bizarre reverse manner, the cigar-shaped object and the smaller discs headed back into the clouds and promptly disappeared.

Subsequent Sightings And Large Explosions

Throughout the encounter – which lasted approximately two minutes – the couple didn’t recall hearing any sounds whatsoever. They continued to watch the sky where the objects had been for several moments in case they reappeared before reporting the incident to the control tower at Western Junction Launceston Airport.

Browning had also managed to capture a picture of the object through their dining room window. Although it isn’t a clear copy, you can view that picture below.

A picture claiming to show a UFO

Does this picture show a UFO?

Five days after the sighting, the reverend would speak to the Launceston Examiner, who would show a copy of the picture and report on the encounter to the wider public in their 10th October edition.

The account would take on an even stranger turn over the following weeks when Browning would receive several reports from members of the public of similarly shaped objects and even of hearing “loud explosions”. In fact, on the evening of 27th October – three weeks after the sightings – at around 89:30 pm in the evening, he himself heard a sudden loud explosion.

Although he didn’t know why or how to explain it, Browning was convinced that the strange explosions were somehow connected to the sightings of the strange and seemingly otherworldly craft. And what’s more, while he and his wife had both dismissed reports of UFOs as nonsense previously, after what they had witnessed, they had both since changed their minds.

Incidentally, the Civil Aviation Department would confirm that there was no known aircraft in the region on the day of the sighting. Furthermore, when the Royal Australian Air Force interviewed Mr. and Mrs. Browning, they would describe them as being “mature, stable, and mentally alert”.

Further Corroborating Witnesses

It would come to light that there were at least two further witnesses to the mothership encounter over Tasmania. In the book UFOs Over the Southern Hemisphere, Michael Harvey would examine the case. He would mention a Mrs. Bransden who claimed that it was “a fantastic sight – like a lot of little ships flocking around a bigger one”. There are also reports that a young child also witnessed the object near the church. However, no further details are known about this witness.

However, there were, as mentioned above, several residents who reported further sightings and the strange explosions overhead. In fact, the first such explosion was heard only hours after the sighting by Reverend Browning. One resident who heard the sound was Mrs. Robson, who claimed that it felt as though some was “banging heavily on a wall” and that she could “hear the earth shake”. Another witness to the bizarre explosions, Mr. Spencer, claimed that it “shook the house” and then caused “rumbling vibrations”.

Might these explosions have been some kind of sonic boom? Or perhaps the opening and closing of a portal allowing these strange crafts entry to our world?

Perhaps interestingly, despite the apparent credibility of the Brownings, as well as the other corroborating witnesses, the RAAF would conclude that the explanation behind the sighting was likely “astronomical”, perhaps the Moon rising in the eastern sky – something that Browning himself would reject. He would state that the sun was still setting at this stage, and was in the opposite part of the sky to where the objects were viewed.

Whether the RAAF were unaware of the strange explosions heard by several people around the area or whether they simply chose to leave them out of their report is unknown.

Similar Cigar-Shaped Mothership Sightings Decades Later

While the above sightings we have examined happened in the same time window as the incident over the Atlantic Ocean in early 1963, sightings that occurred, in some cases, decades later, share very similar details, and consequently are of interest to us here.

Cigar-Shaped Object Visible For Two Hours Over Newfoundland, Canada

A decade and a half after the 1963 encounter over the Atlantic, a similar cigar-shaped object w3as witnessed over Clarenville in Newfoundland, Canada. According to the research files of HBCCUFO’s Brian Vike, on the evening of 26th November 1978, local resident, Chester Lethbridge made a call to the RCMP regarding a “strange object” they had spotted in the sky over Random Island. RCMP Constable James Blackwood would receive the call from the switchboard and immediately began in the direction of the Lethbridge’s home to investigate.

When he arrived, he was amazed that the object the husband and wife had reported seeing was still visible. Overhead was a clear cigar-shaped object with blue, red, and yellow lights – all of which were flashing – and a strange “curved tail” at the end. It was at an approximate altitude of 500 feet and was around the same size as a DC9 aircraft. However, there were no wings of any kind, and the object appeared to be absolutely silent.

At the same time that Blackwood was viewing the object, it was being tracked by the Department of National Defense. The police officer, along with Chester Lethbridge, viewed the glowing cigar shape for several minutes before using a device called a ball scope (which amplified light sources). It was clear to Blackwood that the object was most definitely not a terrestrial vehicle such as a plane.

Then, things turned even stranger.

A superimposed UFO in a night sky

A huge object was witnessed over Newfoundland by multiple people

Blackwood, interested in what might happen, reached into his car and turned on the flashing lights. Almost immediately, the lights on the hovering object mimicked the pattern and timing of them.  Blackwood would watch the object for close to two hours before suddenly took off “like a shooting star” and disappeared into the night sky.

When Blackwood filed his report of the incident, the National Research Council (NRC) was also notified of the details of the incident, as was standard procedure. Much to Blackwood’s disbelief and annoyance, a representative of the NRC would offer that the object was “most likely Jupiter” and “several other bright stars”. The fact that he had not even been interviewed or asked any questions by the NRC before they had arrived at such a conclusion only frustrated the police officer even more. When UFO researcher Lee Tizzard examined the case in the late 1990s, Blackwood would stress to him that he and Mr. and Mrs. Lethbridge each saw a shadow from the object on the water around the island, something that a planet or star would not cast.

Mothership-Type UFO Over New South Wales, Australia

Six years after the sighting in Newfoundland, in the opposite hemisphere in Hexam, Australia, “Mr. and Mrs. L” were camping [4] at Ponderosa Caravan Park near the Hexam Bridge over the Hunter River when they witnessed something strange in the skies overhead. The incident occurred in the early hours one morning in the last week of December between Christmas and New Year.

On the night in question, at around 2:30 am, Mr. L would wake his wife, urging her to come out of the tent and “see what you think of this lot!” As she emerged from under the canvass, she could see her husband was clearly staring up at the sky. When she turned her attention that way, she could see a “cigar-shaped object with a brilliant light at the front”. And what’s more, the object was clearly heading in their direction.

As it got nearer to the caravan park, the light from the craft lit up everywhere underneath it. Mrs. L would estimate that the craft was around 80 feet in length (although it very well could have been bigger). She also recalled that the object had what appeared to be windows running along the side of it, and that these looked to her to be “closed” as they were the same grey color as the rest of the vehicle.

Superimposed UFO over a tent

Just what did two campers witness in New South Wales?

The couple continued to watch the object for several minutes. Then, they noticed that three more, smaller vehicles (around 10 feet across) were approaching the much larger craft, moving “like lightning”. These smaller vehicles were disc-shaped, grey in color, and with a distinct “orange or rust-colored” section toward what appeared to be the back. Within only seconds, the discs had positioned themselves with the larger cigar-shaped craft. Even more intriguing, Mrs. L believed she saw the outline of a helmeted figure inside one of the discs.

After continuing to watch the object for several more moments, the couple began to worry they might end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and so took sanctuary inside their tent. Mrs. L would state that she entered the tent wide awake from the bizarreness of the event only to fall deep asleep almost as soon as she lay down. By the time they woke several hours later, the objects had gone.

Bizarre Object Over Route 55 In Sweden

A very similar incident unfolded over Sweden around six months later in June 1985 when an anonymous woman witnessed something out of the ordinary while driving from Uppsala to Orsundsbro along Route 55. The account appeared in the public domain several weeks after it happened in the 12th July edition of the Enkopings Posten.

She had driven approximately one mile before she noticed what she believed were the blue lights of two police cars in the distance ahead of her. She continued along the road and a short time later noticed a similar blue light overhead, which she presumed was a police helicopter that was seemingly part of a police search.

For reasons she couldn’t explain, she began to feel a sudden nervousness about the situation. However, she continued along the road, trying to put such feelings from her mind. She continued to observe the helicopter overhead. Only, the more she looked at the dimensions behind the lights, it suddenly seemed to be much larger than a helicopter. In fact, it appeared decidedly cigar-shaped and unlike any helicopter she had seen before.

Superimposed UFO over a road at night

The huge craft hovered over the road

Whether it had come closer or not she wasn’t sure, but as she looked up there was now a “blinding” light coming from the object. She could, though, clearly make out three windows along the sides, each of which was lit up from the inside.

It was at this point that she pulled her vehicle to the side of the road and stepped outside to view the object with more clarity. She watched it for just short of ten minutes in total before it disappeared. Although she had not been threatened at any point during the encounter, the witness later claimed that she felt immediately frightened and rushed home.

Intriguing Details That Are Hard To Ignore

It is hard to get away from the reoccurring detail of these cigar-shaped objects of smaller discs emerging from or disappearing into them. Essentially, that these cigar-like craft are “motherships” from which smaller disc-shaped scout-like craft are sent on various missions over any given location. If they are, what are these missions about? Are they merely reconnaissance missions? A way of keeping tabs on what we are doing on the surface. Or might there be a more ominous end result to these encounters?

It is also perhaps worth noting that many of these accounts of cigar-shaped crafts are often over or near water. Is this perhaps further evidence that these apparent alien visitors are not coming from the vast reaches of space but from the hidden depths of the planet’s oceans?

And might we still have to consider the fact that these futuristic vehicles – despite the apparent admissions that they are not military crafts of the United States or other countries – be the result of top-secret advanced technology? Perhaps even such technology that has been recovered from alleged crashes of alien vehicles. Might it be that the much-publicized disclosure is yet another cover for what is really taking place behind closed doors?

Only time will tell, it would seem.

Check out the video below. It looks at some of the best UFO encounters on record.


1 A Gigantic ‘Cigar’ Over the Atlantic In 1963, UFO Evidence
2 Cigar-shaped UFO with portholes seen by Honeywell metallurgist, UFO Evidence
3 Cigar-shaped object hovers near witness in Victoria, BC, UFO Evidence
4  Cigar-shaped UFO and three small discs at Hexam, NSW, Australia, UFO Evidence

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Nige R says:

    Maybe with so many NATO aircraft and troops on exercise, that Extraterrestrial craft make their presence known out of curiosity!!! It’s again like saying lock up every fireman as everytime there is a fire there’s always firemen around!! Come on folks start thinking and looking at things differently.

  • John inkenbrandt says:

    On the top ten ufo videos, the “go fast” video is suspect to me. This is supposedly taken with a forward looking camera. I can go with that, but why is the background going left to right for the duration of the video? If the camera was looking forward the background should be moving from top to bottom, not from one side to the other. This might be ok it this was taken from a camera facing to one side or the other. But it isnt the case here.

    • Nash says:

      The flir system rotates 360 degrees..they were traveling parallel to the craft

  • Dàn Martin says:

    I believe we have a base on the moon ands mars. They are either ours or they are alian owned.

  • Bobby bartram says:

    I love your website on ufos,it’s fantastic.

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