Canada PM's Plane In Close
Encounter With UFO

By Jim Bronskill

OTTAWA (CP) - What fate the stars hold for Paul Martin may be unclear.
But one thing's certain: Canada's prime minister recently had a high-flying close encounter with a UFO.
Martin and his entourage were cruising above Alberta when their Challenger jet came within an otherworldly whisker of a luminous object streaking through the night sky. In a report to Edmonton air traffic controllers, the pilot of Martin's plane noted seeing a "very bright light falling" through the air, with smoke trailing, while the aircraft passed over Suffield, Alta., on Sun., March 21.
People aboard at least two other planes also saw the plummeting object, which was travelling "at a very fast rate of speed" from a high altitude, says the report.
A copy of the one-page form, titled "UFO Procedures," was provided to The Canadian Press by Chris Rutkowski of the Winnipeg-based group Ufology Research of Manitoba.
Rutkowski, a longtime tracker of UFO sightings, obtained the report from the federal Transport Department, which routinely forwards him data on unidentified flying objects.
Martin travelled to a farm near Picture Butte, Alta., to announce an aid package for farmers last Monday.
So was an extraterrestrial envoy trying to convey a message to Canada's new leader?
Unlikely, says Rutkowski. What the prime minister's plane and many others saw that night was almost certainty a chunk of a comet or an asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up into fragments.
An amateur astronomer in Calgary captured the blazing streak on videotape. And it appears one or more such fireballs were seen by people across the Prairies and as far east as Quebec.
In any event, it's unclear if Martin or his aides even glimpsed the object that crossed the plane's path.
"I'm not sure of whether the prime minister himself was apprised of what the pilot had seen at the time," Rutkowski said.
Justin Kingsley, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office, could not shed light on the question of whether Martin was aware of the celestial sighting. "I don't have any other information than what was provided through the protocol of the pilots," said Kingsley.
Ufology Research of Manitoba publishes an annual study on UFO sightings in Canada, including many cases involving meteors.
The group's recently released 2003 survey found that a record 673 reports of unidentified objects were made to various organizations and investigators in Canada.



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