Date: September 1978, at 1:30 UTC
Place: North of Samoa, on the route between Auckland and Honolulu
Airplane: DC 10-30
Witness: copilot George Richardson and pilot
Captain Richardson is a retired pilot. He flew for New Zealand airline companies on DC 10-30 and Boeing 747-200. He has a private pilot license and a commercial pilot license. He has done 18,000 hours of flight time. He was a commercial pilot between 1961 and 1991, and an air traffic controller between 1961 and 1965.
Details: positive sighting of an unidentified aerial aircraft. The weather conditions were stable, with some flat clouds. The stars were visible but there was no moon.
DC-10 was flying at cruise speed at 33,000 feet, north of the Samoan Islands. Captain Richardson (who was then a copilot) described the night as very black and dark. The airplane was flying over strata of clouds. From the cockpit window the copilot saw a very shiny white light closing in on them at great speed over the clouds. He shouted: “a traffic coming up on the left!”
The light moved from west to east, from 270 to 90 degrees. It (the unidentified object) crossed the DC-10’s trajectory from left to right. The DC-10 airplane was heading to the north at about 10 degrees while the unidentified traffic was heading to the east flying on the same level. The object passed really close to the airplane, at about 150 feet away. For a few seconds, they thought they would collide with the object.
Both pilots observed a very big cylindrical object, about 150 feet long, with 3 feet large oval windows. It cast a very powerful white light. It did not seem to have any airframe; no wing, no fin, no rudder, and clearly it had a hard metallic structure. They reckoned it traveled at more than 500 knots (575 mph). It disappeared behind them on the right side.
The pilots could observe the cylindrical object for 3 or 4 seconds. It had more or less the same structure and fuselage as DC-10 without the tail and the wings. The front part had a round sharp end whereas one third of the rear was markedly thinner. Captain Richardson commented that the object had not caused any turbulence.