Saturday, July 24, 2010


As a long time watcher and researcher of the Chinese UFO scene I was rather surprised by the extent of the worldwide coverage given to the July 7 2010 Hangzhou Xiaoshan airport "UFO" shutdown incident. So much inaccurate reporting and speculation on this story has spawned spurious links, fake photos and poorly devised "explanations." Most of this was driven by extremely limited information. The Mr. Ma photos were widely linked to the airport UFO incident, along with dubious photos that used it as a basis for more creative photo manipulation efforts. Missile film and photo imagery from a week earlier and from Western China were even linked.
Given such a high level of wild speculation and erroneous reporting I was pleased to learn through Chinese sources that the Beijing UFO Research Organisation and the Shanghai UFO Research group undertook an on site joint investigation on July 14 and 15. I followed the progress of these enquiries through Chinese connections and Chinese web sites. Western sites largely circulated unreliable and mangled stories and seemed to loose sight of the fact that the details emerging on the airport incident were limited and initially contradictory. The key to sorting the confusion out would be official departments being cooperative and transparent and they were not being very revealing.

The Beijing group investigation led by their long time secretary-general Zhou Xiaoqing came to Hangzhou armed with letters of introduction from the Beijing Science and Technology Association (the UFO group being a member). During the two day jiont investigation the UFO researchers visited Hangzhou Xiaoshan airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zheijiang, East China Air Traffic Control, East China Civil Aviation Authority, and other relevant departments.

On July 24 Zhou Xiaoqiang release the preliminary conclusions of their enquiries. They have concluded there was no evidence that the incident was caused by an alien UFO or flying saucer. Direct discussions with relevant departments secured only limited information with official departments being found largely circumspect. It was clear from their investigations that the Xiaoshan airport officials were not the direct source of the alleged UFO photographs, videos, news reports and other material. The initial information implied no visual sightings and only instrumented detection. Later reports then implied the exact opposite. The investigation appears to have confirmed there was no confirmation on radar of the UFO reports, that there were "blind spots" in the airport radar observations, and therefore private, military aircraft and other activities could not be ruled out as the source of the events that lead to the airport shutdown. The investigation confirmed that only limited information was available. The joint investigation team concluded that the widely circulated Mr Ma Shi-jun photos were not of a UFO and that they were of an aircraft, and were not related to the events connected with the airport shutdown.

The joint Beijing and Shanghai UFO group investigations appear to be good examples of cautious direct investigation. It remains to be seen whether further investigation will led to any further clarification on the source of the "UFO" events which shut down the airport. Zhou Xiaoqiang was at this stage only releasing preliminary conclusions.

Chinese web sources ( on July 17 carried transcripts of a radio interview with Zhou Xiaoqiang indicating that the details of the incident were contradictory, that some pilots did see something that precipitated the airport shutdown. He largely stated what has subsequently emerged in the July 24 preliminary findings release. He confirmed the Ma photo was a plane not a UFO. While he referred to the cause of the airport shutdown as being a UFO he said it was not an "alien spaceship" or "flying saucer." He expanded more generally saying there was a real UFO phenomenon deserving serious scientific investigation.