In the early morning hours of June 24, 1948, two Eastern Airlines pilots Clarence Chiles and John Whitted, flying a commercial route from Mobile to Montgomery, AL, narrowly escaped collision with a cigar-shaped UFO. An article, "5 UFO Sightings That Even Non-Crazy People Find Creepy,". provides details of the WWII-era encounter, both pilots, made similar drawings (Chiles drawing pictured), "they had seen the object for about 10 to 15 seconds. Both men described the object as cigar- or torpedo-shaped, about 100 feet in length, and about three times the diameter of a B-29 bomber. The "fuselage" was entirely smooth, with no wings, projections or fins. A bright red-orange exhaust was emanating from the object's rear, and was more orange at the outer edges of the exhaust, but grew redder when it rose in altitude. The exhaust extended approximately 30 to 50 feet behind the object. They heard no sound from the object as it sped past the DC-3." Chiles steered the plane hard to the left, in order, to miss the UFO 700 feet on their right, the plane then hit turbulence as Chiles looked back to see the UFO pull up in a steep climb. A passenger, one of few awake at 2:45 am, also witnessed the UFO. An almost identical UFO had also been reported a month earlier in the Netherlands.
A Wikipedia entry refers to the Chiles-Whitted encounter as an important sighting, "...for several reasons...perhaps the first that occurred at close distance...reported by two very experienced pilots, Clarence Chiles and John Whitted. Both pilots had been decorated for their service as airmen during World War II, and...regarded as valuable, respectable employees of Eastern Airlines. Chiles, in particular, was highly esteemed by his peers and by his employer."
The Chiles-Whitted Encounter is considered a classic and made UFO sightings more credible. You may want to read a 12 page NICAP analysis if you would like more details about the sighting available here (pdf). The Air Force first dismissed the sighting as a "weather balloon" and then "a meteor", but the credibility of the witnesses proved too much to just write this one off!