A decade-old UFO sighting continues to spark controversy and concern in Russia
UFO update , Omni, Dec, 1994 by James Oberg
[original speculation centered on a Plesetsl launch]
Once a UFO case becomes "a classic," no amount of logic can convince some people that a
prosaic explanation holds sway. Take the sighting made in the pre-dawn darkness of Friday,
September 7, 1984, when a Soviet Aeroflot airliner was flying north from Belorussia toward
Estonia. At 4:10 a.m., passing Minsk, the co-pilot noticed a bright light ahead and to the
right. For the next several minutes, the light, or whatever it was, supposedly escorted the
airliner along its path.
Captain Igor Cherkashin called the local traffic control, who saw nothing in the sky. But after
several minutes of searching on radar, ground controllers reported a funny "double image,"
presumed by some to be the airliner and its escort from beyond. As the radar was tracking,
co-pilot Gennadli Lazurin grabbed his logbook and began making sketches of the apparition
as it changed shape, color, and size. Its scintillating sequences of color were so bright the
crew could see its reflection in the ground below.
Years after the original report, pundits started discussing another civil airliner, one
supposedly heading in the opposite direction, that had observed the strange lights as well.
According to rumor swirling around the UFO community, this second craft had been a
military interceptor sent up to chase the UFO. Its pilot reportedly died a year later of cancer,
and its co-pilot suffered heart problems. A stewardess was said to have contracted a
mysterious skin disease.
To some investigators on the case, the medical puzzle had an obvious explanation: the
poisonous rays of the UFO. Russian UFO-watcher Antonio Huneeus later called it "one of the
most serious UFO injury cases ever reported."
But despite all the theories, a prosaic explanation exists. It turns out that just when the pilots
in the first craft glimpsed the mysterious lights, a Soviet military missile was being la