Eighteen flights were affected. Though normal operations resumed an hour later, the incident captured the attention of the Chinese media and sparked a firestorm of speculation on the UFO's identity.
A Chinese airport was shut down for more than an hour last month because air traffic controllers saw what they believed to be a UFO buzzing the airport, according to reports out of the country.
It is the eighth time since June that UFOs have been reported in China.
In the latest episode, several passenger jets were diverted from the airport at Baotou in Inner Mongolia for about an hour arond 8 p.m. on Sept. 11.
The alert was triggered by bright lights in the sky that moved erratically, but reports claim that air traffic controllers at the Hohhot Air Traffic Management Bureau spotted the object on their radar.
After about an hour, the object and the lights suddenly vanished and passenger jets were allowed to land.
The Chinese government had said on previous occasions that the lights claimed to be UFOs were military exercises, but the government denied the Sept. 11 incident happened at all.
This summer another UFO report caused a sensation and forcedXiaoshan Airport in Hangzhou, to cease operations on July 7.
A flight crew preparing for descent first detected the object around 8:40 p.m. and notified the air traffic control department. Aviation authorities responded within minutes, grounding outbound flights and diverting inbound ones to airports in Ningbo and Wuxi.
Hangzhou residents released photos, taken in the afternoon before the delays, of a hovering object bathed in golden light and exhibiting a comet-like tail. Less than an hour before the Xiaoshan airport shut down, residents said they also saw a flying object emitting red and white rays of light.
Investigating the Phenomenon
Resident Ma Shijun was taking a nighttime stroll with his wife when he saw the object.
"I felt a beam of light over my head. Looking up, I saw a streak of bright, white light flying across the sky, so I picked up the camera and took the photo. The time was 8:26 p.m. However, whether the object was a plane, or whether it was Xiaoshan Airport's UFO, I don't have a clear answer," Ma told the Xinhua news agency.
The photos taken by Hangzhou residents may be unrelated to the UFO that shut down Xiaoshan Airport. According to Hangzhou meteorological authorities, residents in the afternoon probably saw light reflecting off of an airplane. As for Ma's nighttime photo, Beijing Planetarium curator Zhu Jing told Xinhua that the object looks just like a plane shining its strobe lamps.
A spokesman from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) confirmed to ABC News at the time that the matter was under investigation. He declined to disclose further details.
A day after the sighting, however, an anonymous source told China Daily that authorities already discovered the identity of the UFO after an investigation but could not publically disclose the information because "there was a military connection."
Sightings have also been reported in Xinjiang, Hunan, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces.
UFO investigators' convention emphasizes scientific methods
Mutual UFO Network symposium teaches fundamentals — keep an open mind, take copious notes, get proper paperwork. Attendees also discuss alien-human hybrids, time travel and anti-gravity propulsion.
Cynthia Crawford holds one of the sculptures she had for sale at the conference. She says this figure of an extraterrestrial child is modeled after her own memories of meeting similar beings. (Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times / July 31, 2011)
By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
July 31, 2011
It's the first rule of thumb for any aspiring UFO investigator: Keep an open mind.
"We all want to believe, we all want to believe bad," said David MacDonald, a certified investigator with the Mutual UFO Network. "But you've got to look at the evidence. You've got to come at this like a scientific researcher."
On Friday, MacDonald and dozens of like-minded individuals filled an Irvine hotel conference room to discuss the finer points of investigating the inexplicable — or at least that which cannot be explained in terrestrial terms. As part of the network's annual symposium, attendees were given a crash course on what it takes to become a certified field investigator.
Approach all alleged sightings objectively, they were told, and with the precision of a scientist. Pack recording devices, a Geiger counter and a respirator.
The would-be UFO investigators were also urged to follow protocol: Always have the "percipient," or witness, sign proper paperwork. Ask thorough questions. Document everything. Always carry the Mutual UFO Network badge — a laminated identification card. And, most important, always be professional.
Many of the unidentified flying objects reported to the network can be easily explained — satellites traveling through the night sky, atmospheric reflections, or even a paraglider with a peculiar parachute. But there are occasions when no answers can be found. That's when it just might be a visitor from beyond.
Of course, one of the occupational hazards UFO investigators face is a certain lack of respect.
The common lament among many symposium attendees was that they were viewed as being on the fringe. "We do have what we consider evidence, but the scientific community doesn't want to consider that as evidence," said Barbara Lamb, a psychotherapist who works with "experiencers" — those who say they've been abducted. "There's a kind of booga-booga about ETs and UFOs."
Richard Dolan, a leading UFO researcher and author of several books, added: "Just below that level of snicker, snicker is fear."
The question of what happens if and when extraterrestrials visit Earth was the symposium's main topic of conversation, but other lectures included "Secrets of Antigravity Propulsion," "Time Travel Is a Fact" and "Mars, the Living Planet."
Many of the few hundred attendees were baby boomers, children of the space race who grew up casting an eye to the heavens and never stopped questioning what could be out there. Others came with a more spiritual outlook. They view extraterrestrials as omnipotent protectors who often beckon them in the night.
Cynthia Crawford, 61, an artist who sold sculptures of aliens, said there was no reason to fear contact by extraterrestrials. She said she has a spiritual connection to her alien guides, who have made medical ailments disappear and once manifested a crisp $20 bill.
She told others they could experience the same.
"Send the light and the unconditional love, and they will come to you," she told one young man. "When you start seeing your star family — oh my God — you'll love it."
Another topic discussed at the convention was human-extraterrestrial hybrids. Crawford, who lives near the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, said that she is one of them.