CAA radio station in Jacksonville, Florida, and had been forwarded over the Flight Service
teletype net. I received the usual telephone call from the teletype room at Wright-Patterson, I think I got dressed, and I went out and picked up the message. As I
signed for it I remember the night man in the teletype room said, "This is a lulu, Captain."
It was a lulu. About one o'clock that morning a Pan-American airlines DC-4 was flying south toward Puerto Rico. A few hours after it had left New York City it was out
over the Atlantic Ocean, about 600 miles off Jacksonville, Florida, flying at 8,000 feet. It was a pitch-black night; a high overcast even cut out the glow from the
stars. The pilot and copilot were awake but really weren't concentrating on looking for other aircraft because they had just passed into the San Juan Oceanic Control
Area and they had been advised by radio that there were no other airplanes in the area. The copilot was turning around to look at number four engine when he noticed a
light up ahead. It looked like the taillight of another airplane. He watched it closely for a few seconds since no other airplanes were supposed to be in the area. He
glanced out at number four engine for a few seconds, looked back, and he saw that the light was in about the same position as when he'd first seen it. Then he looked
down at the prop controls, synchronized the engines, and looked up again. In the few seconds that he had glanced away from the light, it had moved to the right so that
it was now directly ahead of the DC-4, and it had increased in size. The copilot reached over and slapped the pilot on the shoulder and pointed. Just at that instant
the light began to get bigger and bigger until it was "ten times the size of a landing light of an airplane." It continued to close in and with a flash it
streaked by the DC-4's left wing. Before the crew could react and say anything, two more smaller balls of fire flashed by. Both pilots later said that they sat in
their seats for several seconds with sweat trickling down their backs.
It was one of these two pilots who later said, "Were you ever traveling along the highway about 70 miles an hour at night, have the car that you were meeting
suddenly swerve over into your lane and then cut back so that you just miss it by inches? You know the sort of sick, empty feeling you get when it's all over? That's
just the way we felt."
As soon as the crew recovered from the shock, the pilot picked up his mike, called Jacksonville Radio, and told them about the incident. Minutes later we had the
report. The next afternoon Lieutenant Kerry Rothstien, who had replaced Lieutenant Metscher on the project, was on his way to New York to meet the pilots when they
returned from Puerto Rico.
When Kerry talked to the two pilots, they couldn't add a great deal to their