updated 6/3/2009 1:44:24 PM ET 2009-06-03T17:44:24

Federal and local authorities are trying to find the source of a "strange object" the pilot of a Continental Express plane reported flying about 150 feet beneath his plane in southeast Texas.

Liberty County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Hugh Bishop said deputies looked for a possible launch or landing site for the item but had not found anything yet.

"We are going to try and come up with a more definite track of this object and its path," sheriff's chief deputy Ken DeFoor said in a story for the Houston Chronicle. "We are trying to find out where it came from, where it went, and who may be responsible for it."

A spokeswoman for ExpressJet Airlines, which operates Continental Express, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the pilot followed standard operating procedures.

Kristy Nicholas says the pilot of the Embraer 145 told flight controllers that the "strange object" he saw never showed up on his radar Friday night. The pilot reported a "missile or rocket" flying near his airplane on Friday.

Nicholas says the plane, with 23 passengers and three crewmembers, had just passed 11,000 feet, going to 16,000 feet.

Flight 2822 from Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport continued safely on to South Carolina and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

DeFoor said no one was injured and the pilot didn't have to take evasive action.

He said they were checking with the owners and presidents of local rocket clubs to see if anyone had fired rockets. He did not know if anyone was in the area at the time.

DeFoor said a Continental Airlines pilot reported a similar incident in May 2008. He said it was roughly in the same area as Friday night's report.

"While we have no information to indicate there was a criminal act, we certainly do not rule anything out and certainly would not want to speculate on what it may or may not have been," FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said.

The Federal Aviation Administration did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press for comment.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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