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The FBI is now involved in a bizarre encounter between a passenger airplane and an apparent UFO.

An American Airlines jet was heading from Cincinnati to Phoenix on Sunday, and at approximately 1pm its pilot spotted a mysterious "cruise missile type of thing" flying near the plane in the airspace above New Mexico.

The airline has verified that a radio transmission of the encounter, broadcast by Fox News, is legitimate – and suggested the feds are investigating the matter.

The audio, recorded by an Airbus A302 during flight 2292, was captured via a scanner by an experienced radio interceptor who runs a blog called Deep Black Horizon.

"Do you have any targets up here? We just had something go right over the top of us," the pilot can be heard saying.

"I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing moving really fast. It went right over the top of us."

American Airlines has since confirmed that the transmission was from flight 2292 — and in another twist, advised reporters to "contact the FBI" for more information about the reported UFO sighting.

The plane involved in the encounter was flying at 36,000 feet at the time and going at a speed of more than 653km/h, meaning whatever the pilot spotted had to have been going just as fast.

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New Mexico is home to White Sands Missile Range, described as the US Department of Defence's "largest, fully-instrumented, open air range".

However the military base says no tests took place on Sunday and the range is some 650km from where the encounter took place.

"We have no idea what it could have been or if anything similar has been sighted in that area before," spokesperson Scott Stearns told local media.

UFO sightings have been on the rise in recent years, and the coronavirus lockdown across much of the world has also sparked an increase in reports with more people at home gazing at the sky.

Last year the UK UFO Research Association said sightings were at an all-time high thanks to video-sharing apps like TikTok, which let users post photos and videos of their cosmic discoveries to an audience of millions.

"It really is incredible the amount of reports we are seeing coming in," the group's Alan Scott told the Daily Star.

"A lot of these videos are coming off the back of social media platforms, in particular TikTok, because just so many are uploaded.

"In years gone by we wouldn't really have any evidence at all – just word of mouth to go on.

"But these days, where everyone has their phone with them at all times, we are being sent more videos than ever."

  • UFO
  • FBI

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