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Thornaby on Tees-21st March 2013

Location of Sighting: Thornaby on Tees
Date of Sighting: 21/3/13
Time: 22:30-2300
Witness Name: Mark Piccolo

Witness Statement: I was riding home on my bike and a flickering in the clouds to my right cought my attention, it was like the strobe lights of a plane so naturally I thought it was a plane. As I came into Teesside Retail Park I stopped to have a good look. I noticed that I couldnt hear anything in the way of jet engines and that the light was stationary. I watched and as a break in the clouds passed where the lights were there was nothing to be seen, but the clouds around the break were till being illuminated by the mysterious flashing. After a few more minutes it just stopped. Aplane flying low enough to light up the clouds would have been heard but it also wasn’t moving so a helicopter would have also been heard.


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Updated: March 24, 2013 — 8:08 pm


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  1. How do you know a plane or helicopter would be heard? I thought things like that depended on several factors like wind direction. More to the point, why didn’t you get a pic or movie, you had absolute ages?

  2. I think you’ve seen an aircraft on final to 05 at Tees Valley airport. The wind would be coming directly off the North Sea and you would not hear any noise. Angle of attack and banking will also make a light appear and disappear in the night sky.

    If you speak to ATC at the airport they will confirm, if they don’t then you’ve seen a UFO.

  3. Could this have been a weather balloon ?

  4. Nothing Notam’ed for balloon releases anywhere near at night.

  5. I tried to take a vido but my camera was not powerful enouth to pic the light out of the sky. It wasn’t an aircraft on final to teesside because I have flown that approach myself and I can say that aircraft don’t sit in the same place for ages before lining up with the iLS. But advice was taken I did call the airport and speak to atc, nothing was in their airspace at the time, and nothing was due to land or depart EGNV till the next morning around 6am… so UAV perhaps?

  6. Mark, glad you rang the airport, did they advise what it was? RAF Leemings approach also cuts across TV’s ILS. Helicopters operate both from here and Disforth.

    Incidentally, on a three degree glide slope an aircraft at 5 – 10 miles out will appear stationary in the sky for a long time, the landing light(s) effectively block out, to the human eye, the decrease in height. Even in daylight aircraft look suspended and not moving when looking at them on a approach at a distance.

  7. No they didn’t advis me of what it was, I am convinced it was an aircraft, but like I said I watched it for quite some time, it then just vanished. I take flying lessons from Durham Tees Valley and I will speak to an instructor when I’m next there to see what he thinks. But I really do not think it was a helicopter, not at that height anyway. The odd thing that I’m still trying to work out is the source of the illumination because I saw no lights only the clouds flickering and when the clouds were broken enough still I couldn’t see any lights just the surrounding clouds being lit up. I will continue to research thanks everyone 🙂

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