The incident happened around 1 p.m. local time on Sunday, while American Airlines flight 2292 was en route from Hebron, Ky., to Phoenix, Ariz.
A 15-second audio clip captures the pilot’s excited voice as he tries to make sense of something he spotted above the clouds during the flight.
“Do you have any targets up here?” he says over the radio. “We just had something go over the top of us that — I hate to say this — looked like a long cylindrical object.”
The pilot describes the object as a “cruise missile type of thing” that was “moving really fast.”
He adds that the object “went right over the top of us.”
Steve Douglass, an airline radio enthusiast, first captured the audio chatter for his blog. American Airlines later confirmed that the audio was authentic, and referred all further questions to the FBI.
“Following a debrief with our Flight Crew and additional information received, we can confirm this radio transmission was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21,” American Airlines said in a statement to several outlets. “For any additional questions on this, we encourage you to reach out to the FBI.”
Douglass said he was listening to the airwaves on Sunday when he heard the strange tone of the pilot’s voice.
“I heard this aircraft, basically, above all other aircraft because the tone in his voice was so excited,” Douglass told local station ABC 7.
He added that it’s unlikely that the object was a missile, because Sundays are a “day off” for the military.
No military test notifications were made ahead of time, ABC 7 reports.
White Sands Missile Range, which operates in the area, did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
Cockpit audio recordings have captured a handful of close encounters over the years, though some have been more obviously terrestrial than others.
Last year, for example, pilots reported seeing a man with a jetpack around Los Angeles International Airport on two separate occasions.
Nevertheless, the close encounter sparked some speculation about aliens on social media, especially given that New Mexico is the site of the infamous alleged Roswell UFO incident.
The so-called UFO involved in Sunday’s encounter remains, by definition, an unidentified flying object.
The Pentagon in recent years has confirmed several recordings and encounters with UFOs, which it calls Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). Officials say they want pilots to be more comfortable with reporting such encounters due to the potential danger they might represent.
The government recently released a vast trove of documents about UFO sightings over the past several decades, although enthusiasts are still combing over those documents for evidence of alien visitors.
U.S. defence officials have not said that UAPs or UFOs are proof of alien visitors, despite rampant speculation that the truth is out there.