March 23, 1997
Editor: Joseph Trainor
Researchers have been flooded with reports in the wake of last week's big UFO flap in Arizona.
People claiming to have seen glowing orange spheres and triangular UFOs over Phoenix, Tempe, Prescott, Glendale and Tucson the evening of March 13, 1997 number in the thousands.
On Monday, March 17, 1997, Channel 10 in Phoenix aired a videotape of a large cylindrical UFO with 8 lights.
In Tucson, eyewitnesses reported four bright lights coming from the northwest and heading southeast. (See the Prescott, Arizona Daily Courier for March 14, 1997 "UFO Sightings in PV, Other Areas.")
In Glendale (population 96,988), orange globes hovered over a suburban neighborhood for two hours, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. People were "looking up at what they said were orange balls of light. They were very scared...In fact, my 80-year-old father-in-law was shouting on the phone at one point. My wife and I did what we could to calm him down and let him know what we had tried to tell him about UFOs over the years," Billy Dee of Wisconsin reported.
On Tuesday, March 18, the Arizona Republic ran a story on the flap. According to reporter Susie Steckner, the "first call came from former police officers who spotted" the UFOs "near Paulden, north of Prescott, in Yavapai County."
"The bright orange-red lights formed the shape of a boomerang...with a larger grouping in the lead, followed by a single light."
Shortly after 8 p.m., calls came flooding in from Prescott, Prescott Valley, Dewey, Chris Valley, Glendale and Phoenix.
"Tim MacDonald, 11, was leaving his Cub Scout meeting in Phoenix when he saw the bizarre object. 'It looked like a Stealth bomber,' he said, 'It was in a triangle shape and had three lights. It was moving very slowly. It was there for two or three minutes...When it disappeared, I thought it was a UFO.'" (See the Arizona Republic for March 18, 1997.)
During its 5 p.m. newcast on March 17, Channel 12 in Phoenix stated that the glowing orange spheres seen March 13 over the Gila River Indian Reservation south of the city were "military flares." The announcer reportedly said, "The strange lights over Phoenix were explained as an anti-aircraft experiment in a military area 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Phoenix."
Lt. Col. Mike Hauser, USAF, a spokesman for Luke Air Force Base, told the Arizona Republic: "Everybody is telling us we have UFOs stashed all over the Air Force. I'm not taking issue with what people saw (but) lots of things can make lights."
On Wednesday, March 19, videographer Tom King and a group of ufologists went to the state park at South Mountain, just south of Phoenix, hoping to catch more UFOs on tape. But park rangers ordered the group off the mountain at 9:30 p.m.
"To our surprise, we were hustled out of the park early," King reported. "The park usually closes at 11 p.m. We were told to leave at 9:24. The park rangers were storming up the peak and announced over the loudspeaker, 'The park is closed. Leave now. The park is closed. Leave while you can.'" (Many thanks to Bill Hamilton, Errol Bruce-Knapp, Tom King, Billy Dee and Steve Wilson, Jr. for this story.)
On Tuesday, March 11, 1997, at 6:30 p.m., which was the second night of the UFO flap in Phoenix, three orange spheres appeared over the south bank of the Kanawha River, in the South Hills section of Charleston, West Virginia.
Patricia J. Blake and her nine-year-old daughter were on Oakwood Road in South Hills when they sighted the objects. "The first light was coming down towards the woods vertically," Mrs. Blake said, "It was very orange and had a long trail behind it. Two other lights of the same description were also coming down, also with tails behind them. The first one was now in the middle and seemed to slow down at one point."
Mrs. Blake said the three UFOs were arrayed like this:
0 0 0
"Then all three appeared to stay in this position for a few minutes, the larger moving rather slowly to our right. When we first saw them, they were maybe 45 degrees above the horizon (and then) came down to a much lower angle, I would say 25 degrees."
Mrs. Blake estimated that the UFOs hovered over a wooded area south of Route 61 and west of Route 119. "The lights darted to the west, somewhat southwest, hovered at the second site for 8 to 10 minutes," she added. "It was still daylight and the sky was nearly cloudless." The UFOs then sped away.
At 6:45 p.m., four C-130 Air National Guard planes flew across the Kanawha River, heading southwest in the same direction as the orange UFOs. Mrs. Blake said she believes the planes came from Yeager Field airport, northeast of Charleston. (Email Interview)
In addition to Arizona and West Virginia, "orange sphere" UFOs were also seen over Quebec. Since Friday, March 14, the ufological group CEIPI has interviewed 24 eyewitnesses.
Most of the sightings took place over Breckenridge, a small town on the north shore of the Ottawa River near Aylemer (population 25,724), just west of Canada's capital city, Ottawa.
On Friday, March 14, shortly before 8 p.m., a glowing orange light was seen over Breckenridge. Shortly after 8, a man in Gatineau, Quebec (population 73,479) eight miles (12 kilometers) north of Ottawa, saw "a definite orange light."
At 8:45 p.m., another man "saw the same thing but a little more yellow" over the Parc de la Gatineau, along the Ottawa River.
On Saturday, March 15, at 10:15 p.m., a total of 10 eyewitnesses told CEIPI that they saw "an unknown object" hovering close to the ice on the Ottawa River. The UFO had six arrays of white light and appeared in the same place in the Parc de la Gatineau off Route 148 as the previous night.
On Monday, March 17, at 9:50 p.m., another ten witnesses saw "a very brilliant and strong" aerial light glowing behind the mountain at Breckenridge.
According to Jean Casault of CEIPI, the Aylmer police reportedly told his group that the lights were "military flares" being lit on the firing range at CFB Connaught, near Ottawa.
Meanwhile, below the border, radio buff Tony O'Neill switched on his BC860XLT 100-channel 12-band Uniden Bearcat scanner. At 7:20 p.m. on Monday, March 17, he picked up an intriguing exchange between Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and six jetliner pilots.
The pilots were talking to the ATCs in Albany, New York and Burlington, Vermont, he said. "One pilot radioed 'A bright light approached us, went vertical and dropped into the horizon.'"
The pilot asked both ATCs to confirm his position, and they did--the jetliner was 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Burlington or 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Albany. That puts the UFO over the forest area just south of Hardwick, Vermont (population 1,476)
Six pilots discussed the sighting with the towers, O'Neill said, describing the UFO as having "fire coming out of the back and left or made a contrail." Controllers asked the pilots if they would be willing to file a report. Some said yes and were given the phone number of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) center in Nashua, New Hampshire. (Email Interview)
(Many thanks to Jean Casault and Helene Dupont of CEIPI for this report.)
At 6:30 a.m. on January 24, 1997, Sherry Howell and her husband left Key West to drive back to their home in Florida. As they drove north on Route 1, a thunderstorm crowded the western horizon over the Gulf of Mexico. At 7:30 a.m., just north of Marathon (population 1,500), "we were crossing a bridge when I saw the first one," Sherry reported. "Then I saw what seemed to be a cloud...it developed into an object like the first only much lower on the horizon and much closer to the highway."
While her husband drove, Sherry snapped some photos of both objects. "The (second) object was no more than a half-mile from us. The other was much higher in the sky and so it was more difficult to estimate distance. Both objects were silvery gray."
She estimated that the more distant UFO was "the size of a man's thumbnail at arm's length" while the closer one was "larger than a bus."
"The front of the larget object had a darker gray front," she said, "It reminded me of the front of a microwave (oven). Neither object moved while we were observing them."
Mrs. Howell sent her roll of film to a developer. But the finished photos showed only the dark overcast sky--not the objects. (Email Interview)
On Monday, March 17, 1997, at 9:04 a.m., "a bright streak" appeared in the sky over Montpellier, a seaport city on the Mediterranean midway between Nimes and Narbonne. The object was seen by commuters driving to work and by mothers dropping off their children at school. Witnesses described the UFO as "moving very fast from the northeast to the southeast."
The UFOs semi-circular flight path was confirmed by the pilot of an Air France jetliner, who spotted the object at 30,000 feet over Montpellier. "The phenomenon disappeared very quickly." (Many thanks to SOS OVNI for this report.)
On or about February 25, 1997, teenager Maria Amparo Galvez was walking home from school in her hometown of Puerto Arenas, at the southern tip of Chile, when a glowing UFO suddenly appeared.
According to Carlos Munoz, an investigator for Agrupacion de Investigaciones Ovniologicas (AION), Maria ran away and "was hit in the back by many small balls of light--flashes that peppered her back."
Maria remembers nothing else of the strange incident except "waking up at another location four hours later."
On February 24, 1997, an odd "ring-shaped OVNI" (Spanish acronym for UFO) was seen hovering above Lago (Lake) de Rapel in the Andes.
The following day, February 25, 1997, Fuerzas Aereas de Chile's (Chilean Air Force's) crack aerobatics team, Los Halcones, was performing at an air show in Pucon when a UFO slipped into the restricted airspace.
"The object was ring-like," AION reported, "It looked like a ring of smoke but very bright. It turned on its axis and left the area very slowly (about 60 mph), moving east. The object was filmed by two different witnesses, one of them the air traffic controller at Pucon."
(Many thanks to Luis Sanchez for this story.)
On Monday, March 17, 1997, at 11 p.m., people living in Boca Negra, a suburban town at the north end of Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chavez spotted two disc-shaped UFOs beyond the airport's runway, near the beach. Boca Negra is 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Lima, the capital of Peru.
According to China's Xinhua news agency, about a dozen witnesses described the UFOs as "saucer- shaped craft...with multicolored lights flashing intermittently." The UFOs hovered for several minutes and then flew away to the northeast. (Many thanks to Erik S. for this story.)
On February 22, 1997, at 4:58 p.m., Messias de Oliveira was walking through the Bairro de Nordexte in Aracagi, a town in Brazil's northeastern state of Joao Pessoa. Aracagi is close to Guarabira, which has been the focus of a UFO flap that began on April 4, 1996.
As she walked by the Compostagem bus stop, she saw "an oval-shaped light, extremely bright, rising into the air, giving the appearance of being hidden behind the bus station. It gave off whitish smoke." At first, Messias "thought it was a teardrop shaped fireworks display before realizing it was far stranger than that." She thought, "It's going to fall," but "the object continued to rise noiselessly into the air." She was reportedly "shaken by the experience." (See the Winter 1997 issue of Samizdat. Muito obrigado a Scott Corrales para ese.)
On Wednesday, March 12, 1997, at 8 p.m., a huge "flying disc" estimated to be 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter, appeared over Mount Sterling, Ohio (population 1,623), a small town in Madison County 22 miles (35 kilometers) southwest of Columbus.
The saucer was seen by two couples, one at each end of the town. They estimated that it floated 50 feet (15 meters) off the ground and flew from east to west. "It was over the town for four and a half minutes. There was no noise. The departure path was to the west at a very quick speed."
According to investigator Jim Donohue of Equinox, the eyewitnesses included a woman age 35, a girl age 14, a man in his early 70s and another man in his middle 50s.
The same night, at 9:15 p.m., Ron Schaffner of Tri-States Advocates of Scientific Knowledge (T.A.S.K.) received a call from a farmer in Aberdeen (population 1,600), a town on the Ohio River. The man reported "a formation of three to five lights" and the lights "appeared orange or white-red in color. Three lights in a row, then two on top."
The same farm was visited by a smilar array of UFO lights the night of October 16, 1996. The UFOs appeared near the zenith of the barn on Flaugher Hill Road in Aberdeen. Three T.A.S.K. members, Kenneth Young, Terry Enders and Dale Farmer, interviewed the farmer back in October. The group's investigation in Aberdeen continues. (Many thanks to Kenneth Young, T.A.S.K. public relations director, for this story.)
One of the strangest cases in the annals of the Lake Michigan Triangle took place 32 years ago this week.
"She was Joan Williams, 39, a Chicago Heights (Illinois) schoolteacher who owned a Cessna 170B, N2522C. She left Wings Airport, Chicago, at noon on a Saturday morning, March 20, 1965, carrying fuel sufficient for four hours, 30 minutes. She was not on a flight plan. She has not been seen since."
"For some reason the case stimulated the interest of the Chicago newspapers. It stayed in the headlines for weeks as officials searched vainly for some evidence of what happened. Virtually everyone Miss Williams knew was contacted. Her bank records and personal life were investigated thoroughly on the chance that the disappearance was intentional. The lake (Lake Michigan) was combed for some scrap of wreckage that might solve the mystery."
But the search was in vain. Joan Williams's Cessna vanished from the FAA radar scope while the plane was airborne southwest of Ludington, Michigan. She has not been seen since.
(See THE GREAT LAKES TRIANGLE by Jay Gourley, Fawcett Gold Medal Books, 1977, pages 164-165)
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