|Occurred : 10/11/2019 19:30 (Entered as : 10/11/19 19:30)
Reported: 11/4/2019 3:36:19 PM 15:36
Location: Ponce de Leon, FL
|Unknown aircraft nav-anticollision light configuration.
I was looking out my back door window at the stars about 7:30 tonight.
The sky was clear and moonless. I noticed a bright white light in the sky moving toward me from the south (from the direction of Eglin AFB).
At first, I thought it might be a satellite, then I decided it was more likely an aircraft landing light and walked outside to get a better look. There are no airports close enough to my location that at pilot would find it necessary to turn on a landing light, so I’m thinking that maybe the pilot forgot to turn it off after takeoff.
As is typical when seeing an aircraft approaching with the landing light on, the brightness of the white light overpowers the marker lights, with the exception of the strobes, but I didn't see any strobes or beacons, just the brilliant white light.
I estimated the altitude to be between 5 & 10 thousand feet, traveling 200 knots or less as it passed by a couple of miles or less west of my observation point. My property is surrounded by trees 50 feet or higher, so, from my vantage point, my viewing angle of the craft was about 45 degrees, well above the tree tops.
Unfortunately, my place is too close to I-10 and it was abnormally noisy tonight, so I was unable to hear the aircraft. But judging from the ambient noise level, I'd guess it wasn't prop driven. I could have heard a helicopter, and I think I could have heard props as well, but those new jet turbofan engines are really quiet, especially at the slower speed the aircraft was traveling.
The first thing that struck me as odd as it grew closer and was positioned adjacent to me - the intensity of the bright white light remained the same, and did so until it went out of my sight continuing on its flight path northward.
Obviously not a landing light. At least, I've never seen an omnidirectional, steady-burning bright white light on an aircraft. But it was close enough as it flew past that I could see four red lights well forward of the bright white light.
Assuming an FAA standard aircraft navigation and anticollision light configuration, I should have been able to see a green marker light on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft, and either a white wingtip strobe, or a red or white strobe or flashing beacon on the lower fuselage, and a red or white strobe or flashing beacon on the upper fuselage or on the tip of the vertical stabilizer. There also should have been a smaller, white tail light as well. I should not have been able to see the solid red light, which is supposed to be displayed on the port (left) side of the aircraft.
I didn’t see any beacons or strobes, red or white. However, I saw a steady-burning red light out in front (what I assumed was the tip of the nose of the aircraft), and three steady-burning red lights behind the forward red light.
In the 60+ years that I have been aware of, and fascinated by, aircraft, I've never encountered a light configuration like this on an aircraft. And considering the non-standard light configuration, I was unable to determine the shape of the aircraft.
I’ve been a private pilot since 1982, I was an avionics tech in the USAF for six years, a field engineer with a defense contractor on the USAF/Navy air combat training (ACMI/TACTS) ranges for nine years, and a Nav/Com/Weather technician for the FAA for 25 years. I retired from the FAA in 2014 and am currently working as a resident engineer for an FAA contractor.