Explainer: The Weinstein List: 10 UFO cases closed

  • "Science in the USSR" via James Oberg
    These 14 sketches are based on drawings made by an airline pilot during the Minsk UFO sighting in 1984, and published in the journal Science in the USSR in 1991. The sketches show the sequence of bright lights witnessed by the pilot — and provide evidence that could help crack the case.

    The "Weinstein List" is a compilation of 1,300 UFO reports drawn up by French investigator Dominique Weinstein and cited by Leslie Kean's book "UFOs." The list is supposed to describe cases of "verified unknowns," where thorough investigation has eliminated any possible prosaic explanation for the sightings. But that's not true.

    Just relying on my own familiarity with one class of pseudo-UFO stimuli — namely, missile and space activity — I found many cases listed whose prosaic explanations had already been published in the UFO literature. Nevertheless, they were presented on Weinstein’s list as provably anomalous, and faithfully vouched for by Kean.

    Click the "Next" label to page through 10 of the solved UFO cases on the Weinstein List.

    — James Oberg, NBC News space analyst

  • 1967, Russia

    Airline pilot reports UFO flying above his plane. Engines stop, and start again only when UFO disappears. Explanation: Secret Soviet nuclear warhead test was fireballing 50 miles overhead. Any effect on engine was pilot-induced.

  • 1972, Chile

    Pilot reports amber light overhead. It's an accurate description of the surplus hydrazine propellant being dumped by the Soviet Molniya 2-2 satellite.

  • 1977, Russia

    Pilot reports a pulsating light flying "alongside" his aircraft. The light was the far-distant launch rocket for the Kosmos-958 satellite.

  • 1980, Russia

    Military pilot reports that a round object more than 300 meters in diameter "played" with his plane and then disappeared. The object was the Kosmos-1188 booster, at a distance much farther than the pilot thought.

  • 1981, Argentina

    Air crews report a bright round object flying at about 180 meters altitude. They were actually seeing the final fuel dump from the Kosmos-1317's third-stage booster, at a height of 600 kilometers high.

  • 1984, Belarus

    Image: Soviet map
    Courtesy of James Oberg

    Flight crew reports a glowing yellow object that changed shape in the sky. It was actually a sub-launched Soviet missile.

    Get the full story behind the Minsk mystery.

  • 1985, South America

    Pilots report two objects, one of them "banana-shaped." This was an accurate description of a distant sunlit cloud of rocket fuel, spewing out from an expended rocket after the launch of Japan’s Planet-A probe toward Halley's Comet.

  • 1987, China

    Military pilot reports a bright orange rotating object that climbed and disappeared at great speed. He was watching the post-insertion fuel dump from a Japanese satellite.

  • 1990, Germany

    RAF fighter pilots see a formation of UFOs over the North Sea, while a British airliner crew reports two mysterious lights nearby. This was caused by the fireball disintegration of a falling rocket stage.

  • 1994, Kazakhstan

    A cargo 747 crew reports seeing a brilliantly luminous object with a contrail corkscrewing above them. The crew is convinced it was from outer space. It was actually a Russian supply ship headed for outer space, launched several hundred miles in front of them.


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