2022 Racetrack UAPs
In the second half of 2022, over 15 (and possibly up to 50) separate events were reported whereby commercial airline pilots reported seeing unusual lights flying laps at high altitude, as if on a racetrack. The issue caught mainstream attention in the fall/winter of 2022.
The Racetrack UFO Incidents of 2022 refers to a series of sightings reported by commercial airline pilots starting around August 2022 and continuing through the autumn of that year. It is estimated that over 15 (and possibly up to 50) individual events were observed, with several gaining prominence in the national media. The name "racetrack" refers to the commonly observed phenomenon of multiple unidentifiable lights operating at high altitudes and observed to be flying circles above airplanes, as if on a racetrack.Mark Hulsey on August 18, 2022. Hulsey, a former Marine F-18 pilot and flight instructor with over 12,000 hours of experience, was flying a Gulfstream 650 off the coast of California when he saw two lights above his plane. Hulsey thought it to be unusual that any craft would be flying higher than the 47,000 foot altitude he was at. Making things even more unusual was that the lights appeared to be flying circles directly above his plane; the tightness of the circles suggested a plane with a very wide wingspan, but air traffic control (ATC) saw nothing on the radar. ATC also confirmed there were no military craft in the area at the time. Hulsey estimated these lights were flying at approximately 60,000 feet of altitude.
What Hulsey thought was unusual took a turn toward the unbelievable when a third light joined the pattern, flying circles with the other two lights above his plane. Then a fourth. Then a fifth and sixth, until ultimately seven lights were flying circles above his plane, as if on a racetrack. Hulsey watched the scene for approximately 20 minutes before the lights disappeared. Crewmembers of at least two other commercial airlines reported also seeing these lights.
According to Ben Hansen, a former Federal agent and UFO investigator, Hulsey is not alone. In October 2022, Hansen reported that approximately a dozen crew members of six different airlines reported seeing unexplainable lights on August 10, 2022. Pilots from Hawaiian Airlines reported that several strange lights flew circles above their plane, pacing them for several hours, while flying from Honolulu to the mainland. Hansen also reported an incident on August 19th, 2022 whereby pilots from both a UPS cargo plane and a Southwest Airlines plane reported seeing unusual lights flying in a circular pattern near Springfield, MO.
Hansen has claimed that over the second half of 2022, over fifteen different incidents of strange lights flying in a racetrack pattern were reported. Per a report in the NY Post, Hansen stated: "In this case, we have a global phenomenon from as far west as Japan, to as far east as possibly Miami. Whatever it is, pilots are seeing it from halfway across the world."
Both Hulsey and the Southwest pilot reported the sightings to Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC), with no radar corroboration available. Hulsey had a meeting with the Joint Air Traffic Operations Command (JATOC) the day after his sighting, after which he claims he was told that cockpit voice recordings and all radar files of the time period in question had been "corrupted" and were not available. Fortunately, Hulsey had already leaked a copy of the voice recordings, which he released publicly through Hansen in the fall of 2022.
The official position of the FAA is to not investigate such incidents. On his Metabunk website, noted skeptic Mick West argued the objects were most likely Starlink flares. Other debunkers and skeptics attribute these sightings to weather balloons, space debris, satellites, or conventional aircraft.