UFOs Over Nanjing: “Not rare but regular.”

For those who follow these things, there’s been quite a bit of UFO news in the Chinese media over the last week. The fun started on June 23rd, with reports that a UFO had been seen and photographed near Congqing – during a laser light show. Following previous practice in covering UFO sightings, Xinhua reported the story straight-up, no commentary. And then left us hanging with this:

Shanghai UFO Research Center confirmed the pictures were not altered. The director of the center said a team will begin to examine the photos to determine if the UFO is genuine, the report said.

The Shanghai UFO Research Center? I’ve spent the last thirty minutes trying to track down these people, but with no luck. If anybody out there has contact info, I’d be very grateful for it. In the meantime, the diligent researchers at the “Above Top Secret” discussion site seem to have determined that the Congqing UFOs is nothing more than a lens flash.

[Update: A couple of helpful folks left comments providing me with the Shanghai UFO Research Center website, which can be found here.]

Which brings me to last Thursday, and the rather curious declaration – by an astronomer at the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing – that UFOs “have been visiting Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu Province, every five to 10 years for the past three decades.” Shanghai Daily, following the above-mentioned just-the-facts approach to Chinese UFO reporting, drops this fabulous commentary-free history:

The first report of a UFO in China was in Nanjing in 1892 when a painting by Wu Youru, a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) artist showed crowds gathered near Nanjing’s Confucius Temple, looking up at a “fire ball” in the sky, Wang said.

The last visit of a UFO to the Jiangsu city occurred at about 5pm on January 10, 2006 when an orange V-shaped UFO with a long tail was seen near the northern side of the Purple Mountain and over the city’s Jiangning and Jiangpu districts, said Wang.

On January 14, 1999, a rod-shaped UFO appeared for nearly four hours in the skies of Nanjing – the longest UFO sighting on record for the city. Witnesses said the shining red item, which was about 10 kilometers high and three kilometers long, moved slowly across the sky and its lights gradually faded as it passed over the city.

End of story.

Which brings us to today, and reports that – over the weekend – somebody held a UFO Forum in Shanghai (and didn’t invite me; note to organizers: please consider this post a formal request for press credentials to the next one). Say what you will about UFO fanatics, but these Shanghai-area ones apparently have connections: somehow, for some reason, they were able to get their hands on the cockpit voice recording from what (we now learn) is one of the most notorious UFO sightings in recent Chinese history. Flight 3556 departed Shanghai for Jinan on March 18, 1981 (cue Leonard Nimoy’s “In Search of” voice):

From 6:12pm to 6:26pm, the UFO followed the flight, varying its form, velocity and altitude, the tape revealed. Flight controllers urged the pilot to change routes several times to avoid colliding with it … [T]he control tower saw the orange flying object first but no trace of the UFO was recorded by airport radar …

“I saw an unidentified flying object 7 nautical miles away in front of me after taking off. I was heading to 280 degrees and the object was like a ball of fire, about 3 to 5 meters long,” said the pilot on tape.

“It was flying fast toward the northeast and flew further away after I swung to the left. It then turned around and headed toward 100 degrees south, and lowered its altitude.

“I tried to avoid it while it changed its route to the north, when it transformed itself into a long black object and again lowered altitude before rising. It then appeared as a black rectangle and a round ball flying first to the northeast, then the northwest, before rising again.”


I am in no position to comment on UFO sightings – Chinese or otherwise. That noted, let me just state that – despite my reservations – I sincerely hope that these are all true. Every last one. And yet – I can’t help but recall that I once lived close to a US military test range, and when, late at night I would look out the window, I could see all kinds of weird stuff flying around that – in the morning – my less sober neighbors would claim as UFOs. Sometimes, the range would put out a public statement explaining the phenomenon. And sometimes it wouldn’t. Point being, there are similar facilities up near Nanjing, and I don’t think that they’re in the habit of employing public affairs officers.

But whatever. If the well-connected Purple Mountain astronomers are open to this kind of speculation, then who am I to judge?


  1. There’s contact info here (don’t know if any of the addresses or numbers work). You might be able to find press info through the Journal of UFO Research, or from one of the other local societies, like the Beijing UFO Research Organization.

    In the novel Let’s All Look for Aliens (??????????, 1999), a journalist investigates UFOs, alien abductions, unexplainable air crashes, and other paranormal events in cooperation with the China UFO Research Organization (it’s also an interesting commentary on the Chinese media; the journalist is constantly running into roadblocks from his boss as well as the heads of the UFO org, all of whom fear official censorship if they try to publicize their findings). Author Han Song describes China’s UFO associations in his afterword:

    The work of the China UFO Research Organization is actually quite serious and professional. Eighty percent of its members have at least a junior-college education, and the core membership consists of people employed as experts in the fields of aeronautics and aerospace, geology, and meteorology. In the novel I mentioned that they also accepted qigong and spiritualism into their research, but even if they did, it was in their early stages. They certainly do not today, and in fact they actively oppose it. They strongly support using modern scientific techniques to study they mystery of UFOs. Many people are unaware of these facts and mock them as “zen for foxes” (???).

  2. Thanks for this post. I’m not sure why but I really love the fact that the Chinese take UFOs so seriously. The standard depiction of Chinese society is so cold, lacking creativity, spirituality, imagination etc etc etc. But clearly, there’s some kind of yearning and imagination ifthere are so many Chinese are willing to accept UFO accounts. The comment from zhwj is really good too.

  3. Interesting information. I have been researching UFO propulsion dynamics and the alien abduction phenomenon for 38 years. I work with English, American, Australian and Russian UFO witnesses. I would like to make contact with Chinese UFO enthusiasts to compare theories and views (please contact Paul Potter at email address: pottonaru@yahoo.co.uk).
    I have recently written and illustrated a book on UFOs called “Gravitational Manipulation of Domed Craft” I would like some book reviewers to review my book. I would also like someone to translate my book into Chinese, please.

    Sincerely, Paul Potter

  4. Hi – a great post and interesting read. I was particularly taken with the cockpit voice recordings which seems to me to be good evidence to validate what was actually being seen by the pilots of Flight 3556. The fact that this object changed colour (my initial thoughts were of a small comet or entering space debris) and shape has to be given some credence and weight not too mention that the control tower actually ‘saw’ the object. I take it given it was not picked up on radar that they ‘saw’ it from the tower window with their own eyes? perhaps there is some testimony from them out there somewhere to further strengthen this story?

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