The sky can provide many delights to passengers. Shooting stars, Aurora Borealis sightings and gorgeous sunsets are a delight from 33,000 feet – but not missile sightings. A recent Cathay Pacific Flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco witnessed something very few others have, a ballistic missile.
On November 29th, Cathay Pacific 893 alerted air traffic control “Be advised, we witnessed the DPRK missile blow up and fall apart near our current location”, according to BBC reports. The sighting remains “officially” unconfirmed. The BBC also reports two separate Korean jetliners witnessing the missile. To be abundantly clear- it’s not believed the jet, nor any others were ever in danger, nor are they now.
The issue is unpredictability. North Korea does not announce it’s missile tests, therefore giving no warning to air traffic control and air space coordinators. Without advanced warning, flight paths cannot be altered in advance. An Air France jet from Paris to Tokyo this year came within 60 miles of a missile test. North Korea has access to systems which show flight paths, allowing them to aim any tests away from civilian aircraft, but visibly witnessing a ballistic missile is not on anyone’s bucket list.
Cathay Pacific has assured passengers and crew that there is no danger. Accordingly, no airlines have altered flight paths in the area. We’ll be boarding a flight to Tokyo shortly, so with any hope a pretty sunset is as much action as we’ll see.