SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Korea Bizwire) – Pilots of South Korean passenger jets homeward bound from the United States may have caught a glimpse of the North Korean ballistic missile that was launched by the Kim Jong-un regime on November 29.
According to Korean Air, the pilots of flight KE026 saw an unidentified light while in the air and notified Japanese authorities in Tokyo at 4:23 a.m.
Four minutes later, fellow Korean Air flight KE012 also contacted Tokyo headquarters for what the pilot stated was “a light in the distance” after spotting an unidentified flying object.
The two planes received confirmation from Japan that it had registered their reports, and both continued onwards to Incheon International Airport and landed without further incident.
Korean Air stated that no specific warnings or requests out of the ordinary were issued by Japanese authorities.
KE026 was traversing through Japanese airspace from San Francisco, and KE012 was doing the same transporting passengers from Los Angeles.
A spokesperson for Korean Air said, “The sightings were also reported to the airline’s headquarters. When the relevant department looked into the matter, it found that the location of the light was at a significant distance from the plane’s flight course. The safety of the flight was not under threat.”
The particular route in question is used for air traffic going to and from Southeast Asia and North America. Besides the Korean Air planes, about 20 other jets are believed to have been on the same route at the time.
The military disclosed that North Korea had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile at 3:17 a.m. towards the east. The missile was found to have dropped into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone off the northwestern coast, traveling 950 km. Military analysts believe the flight time of the missile to have been about 53 minutes.
If the analysts’ calculations are correct, it would be unlikely that the Korean Air planes saw the actual missile. Instead, what they may have seen were discarded parts from the missile’s body that caught fire as they fell towards the sea.
What seems to be certain is that the pilots did see something unusual. A former pilot said, “Pilots don’t contact the authorities over lights that can normally be identified, like other planes or shooting stars. The fact that two flights in succession spotted a light while traveling on the same route and reported it can mean that the pilots witnessed a missile or unusual lights.”