Pilots leaving Houston spot strange object

HOUSTON Eyewitnesses say the object, possibly a rocket, came close to hitting the plane. The Continental Express plane, operated by Express Jet, was flying from Houston to South Carolina last night when it happened.

The plane had just left Bush Airport around 8:20pm Friday when the captain reported seeing the object about 150 feet away. According to the FAA, the incident occurred about 11,000 feet into the air above Liberty County.

On Saturday, sheriff's officials interviewed two Hardin High School students who reported seeing the object come close to the plane.

What's strange is that the FAA says they have no reports of any scheduled hobby rocket launches in the area.

"All we've been told it was bigger than a bottle rocket. It was enough of a light or big enough of an object the pilot had to call it in," said Corporal Hugh Bishop with the Liberty County sheriff's office. "But again, we haven't found anything to substantiate it yet."

The sheriff's department is scouring a large area from the Harris County line east to Liberty between Mont Belviu and Moss Hill for any sign of what might have come close to the plane. It's about a 24 by 12 mile area.

Officers were also on the radio today asking for witnesses. If you have any information about this, you're being asked to call the Liberty County Sheriff's Office at 936-336-4500.

A similar situation happened almost exactly a year ago with a Continental Airlines jet that left Bush Intercontinental. Passengers spotted a rocket-like object near the plane shortly after takeoff. The FAA investigated, and believed in was a high-power model rocket.

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