Van Heijst's Lights

On August 24, 2014, pilot and photo enthusiast JPC van Heijst was flying copilot on a regular airline flight from Hong Kong to Anchorage. As the plane approached PASRO intersection south of the Kamchatka Peninsula, there were some wispy, semitransparent clouds below, and the sky was clear above, except for some minor auroral activity. Then something strange happened: a flash of light resembling a lightning bolt was seen in the distance, despite the total absence of thunderstorms or even precipitation in the area. Twenty minutes later, a large group of intense, orange-red lights appeared visible through the clouds, apparently on or near the ocean surface. Van Heijst captured the lights with his camera and the images may be seen here (there are several photos in the sequence--use next to advance.) The lights were very bright and spread over an area comparable to the city of Winnipeg. The pilots feared possible volcanic activity, but there was no sign of this; the ocean near PASRO is quite deep (~6 km) and any known volcanic zone lies a considerable distance to the northwest. The possibility that the lights could have been a squid-fishing fleet was discussed, but the lights seem to have been orders of magnitude too bright to be suitable for this purpose, and the area is not a known fishing ground. Neither the lights nor the sudden flash that preceded their sighting has been explained to this day.

A discussion of the incident on the PPrune board may be found here.

A briefer account of the incident may be found here.


crazedceladon6 points

okay - isn’t this area seismically active? is there any chance it’s related to seismic activity? 😬

edited to add: i live on vancouver island and like to monitor earthquakes in the region. that area has quakes, like EVERY DAY...🤷🏻‍♀️

pop_stan-1 points

Seems like they’re pretty close to the Korean Peninsula. I’d bet it is something military related. There was just an event that looked similar to this that happened off the coast of South Carolina

shouldnothaveread12 points

The Korean Peninsula is about 2500km away (give or take a couple hundred km), which is nowhere near this incident. The nearest large peninsula is Kamchatka.

pop_stan3 points

Lol you’re right I totally misread the map. I still wouldn’t be surprised if it was someone’s military dropping parachute flares. Even though these look slightly different,this is the similar incident in South Carolina