Captain Killian and First Officer James Dee, American Airlines, were flying a DC-6B nonstop from Newark to Detroit. It was a clear night, with stars brightly visible and no moon. At 8:20 p.m. EST the plane was approximately 13 miles west of Williamsport, PA, flying on a heading of 295° at 8,500'. Off the left wingtip, Captain Killian noticed three bright lights, which he first thought were the three stars making up the belt of the constellation Orion. But then he realized that Orion was also visible, higher overhead. The UFOs were about 15° above the plane.
As he and F/O Dee continued to watch, the objects pulled ahead of the wingtip. At this point, in the vicinity of Erie, PA, Captain Killian contacted two other American Airlines planes in the area. One at the Dolphin checkpoint (over the northern shore of Lake Erie) saw the objects directly to the south over Cleveland. The other aircraft, near Sandusky, OH, and headed toward Pittsburgh, spotted the objects a little to the left of their heading, to the southeast.
As the DC-6B continued west, the UFOs occasionally pulled ahead and dropped back until they were in their original position with respect to the left wingtip. Then Captain Killian began letting down for landing in Detroit, and the crew no longer had time to watch the objects.
During the 45 minute observation, the UFOs continuously changed brightness, flashing brightly, brighter than any star, and fading completely. This did not occur in any apparent pattern. The color fluctuated from yellow orange to a brilliant blue-white at their brightest. The last object in line moved back and forth at times, independently of the generally western motion of the formation.
Visibility was unlimited. The pilots agreed, It could not be any clearer than it was that night above 5,000'.
When the plane began letting down for landing, about 9:15 p.m., Captain Killian and F/O Dee lost sight of the objects. At 9:30 p.m. in Akron, OH, George Popowitch of the UFO Research Committee received a phone call from a contact at the Akron airport. A United Airlines plane, Flight 937, had just landed for a 15-minute stop, and reported sighting three UFOs which had followed their plane for 30 minutes. Popowitch had already received 9 reports from local citizens between 9:15 and 9:20 of three UFOs seen in the area, so he arranged to interview the crew of the airliner.
Captain A.D. Yates and Eng. L.E. Baney said they had tracked the objects from the vicinity of Lockhaven, PA, to Youngstown, OH, between 8:40 and 9:10 p.m. United Airlines Flight 321, also, had discussed the objects by radio. Captain Yates had seen the UFOs pacing his plane to the south. But in the vicinity of Warren, Ohio the objects passed the aircraft, veered to the right, and finally disappeared to the northwest.