May 24, 1998
Editor: Joseph Trainor
On Tuesday, May 19, 1998, at 6 p.m., the satellite Galaxy IV suffered a failure in its onboard control system. The backup switch also failed, and the $250 million satellite rotated out of position, completely disrupting communications here on Earth.
Owned by PanAmSat, Galaxy IV was launched in June 1993. It is positioned in a geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles above Kansas.
USA Today called the incident "the biggest telecommunications failure in recent years," adding that the breakdown "wiped out pager traffic, halted credit card transactions and knocked TV and radio stations off the air."
Pager service to 45 million customers was lost when Galaxy IV rotated out of position. "Personal pagers use less than one percent of the capacity of the Galaxy IV satellite...The satellite's primary users are broadcast and cable TV companies and big telecommunications companies."
"Galaxy IV remains in orbit but is no longer pointed at its target on Earth. PanAmSat, which is 81 percent-owned by Hughes Electronics, says an onboard navigational computer and its backup failed. It can't explain why."
As of Friday, May 22, 1998, "PanAmSat still doesn't know why Galaxy IV's spin controller and backup failed. The satellite is beyond repair."
All 600 stations of the USA's National Public Radio were knocked off the air when Galaxy IV went haywire. They were served by the two channels of NPR Satellite Service routed through Galaxy IV.
Other affected radio broadcasters included KOA-AM in Denver, Colorado, KSJN-FM Minnesota Public Radio in Minneapolis, Chicago White Sox radio, KIRO-AM in Seattle, Washington, KEX-AM Trail Blazers Radio Network in Portland, Oregon, KGIL-AM in Los Angeles and all four channels of World Harvest Radio International WHRI-SW short wave.
Television broadcasters affected included the WB, UPN and CBS networks, Reuters TV, Motor Racing Network, CNN Airport Channel, the Chinese Television Network in Hong Kong and Soldiers Satellite Network, the USA armed forces entertainment network.
Private business TV stations such as Aetna, Microsoft, 3M and the Ford Motor Company's Fordstar service were also knocked out, as were the Ohio, Minnesota and Texas state lotteries.
"Fred Landman, CEO of PanAmSat, knew he had trouble when one of his company's 17 satellites failed just after 6 p.m. Tuesday...About 90 direct customers of PanAmSat use Galaxy IV, so Landman was shocked when he learned 100 calls from the media had come in by 3 a.m. Wednesday. 'That was the biggest surprise,' he recalls."
PanAmSat is currently retargeting and shifting customer traffic to other satellites in orbit.
"We expect that within one week of the occurrence that virtually all service will be up in force," Landman said. (See USA Today for May 21, 1998, "Satellite's death puts millions out of touch," pages 1-B and 3-B. Also for May 22, 1998, "Satellite emergency a lesson in spin control," page 2-B. For more on strange events in the USA's heartland on May 19, the day of Galaxy IV's failure, see the related stories in this issue.)
(Editor's Comment: If you were on a cell phone at 6 p.m. when Galaxy IV performed its unauthorized rotation maneuver, your voice message is now on its way to Alkaid, also known as Eta Ursa Majoris, and should arrive there in 2108, about 110 years from now.)
On Tuesday, May 19, 1998, just after 1 a.m., ufologist Lynn H. Taylor was just outside his home in Bloomington, Indiana (population 60,633), checking out his videocamera, when he heard "the barking of excited dogs in the neighborhood, as well as the bellowing of unseen cattle in the area."
"I had almost reached my house when I had to look back," he reported. "There was something there, all right. I could barely make it out. It was so low as it moved northward, just above the trees. All I could see was a very faint red glow. No other runnings lights, strobes, etc."
"When I reached my house, I turned for one last look. There it was--a brilliant, swirling, multi-colored light floating in the same direction as the first, only closer to me. I quickly picked up my videocamera and began to record. I have witnessed this light many times before...I changed position several times as the object passed by, trying to record as much of its flight as possible before it moved behind some trees and out of sight."
"A couple of minutes later, I saw another flying red object like the first" traveling toward the east. "I stopped and turned around to the west, to see another lighted object moving north...apparently following the previous three. Again, it was...red and barely detectable."
Bloomington is on Indiana Highway 46 about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Indianapolis.
(Copyright 1998 by Lynn H. Taylor. Many thanks, Lynn, for letting UFO ROUNDUP quote from your report.)
HIGH-ALTITUDE UFO SEEN OVER HOWELL, MICHIGAN
On Tuesday, May 19, 1998, at 10:31 p.m. (four and a half hours after Galaxy IV's systems failure--J.T.), Doug Parrish, Michigan director of Skywatch International, spotted "a point of light the size of a star moving slowly across the sky above Howell, Michigan." (population 8,184)
"The altitude (elevation) of the light was approximately 81 degrees in the sky, almost overhead," Parrish reported.
"Upon being spotted, the point of light instantly started to glow brighter, and, in less than two seconds, it became as bright as, if not brighter than, the sun at noon. Since it was only a point of light, it did not cast any appreciable shadow on the residential landscape."
"Once I had acknowledged the light as having been seen, it started to diminish its brightness, and in a time span of five seconds, it had dimmed into invisibility. The light was moving slowly directly south. The actual observation lasted about ten seconds. No noise was heard and there were no running lights."
Howell is located at the intersection of Oakgrove Road and Highway BL96, also known as Grand River Road, 55 miles (88 kilometers) west of Detroit. (Many thanks to Doug Parrish and Steve Wilson Sr. for this report.)
Two UFO sightings were reported in western Pennsylvania the evening of Sunday, May 17, 1998.
At 8:15 p.m., four people in Belle Vernon, Pa. (population 1,213) observed a UFO for 40 minutes. "They were looking in a north-northwest direction," reported Pennsylvania ufologist Stan Gordon. "The object was about 60 to 70 degrees elevation. (The UFO) First appeared as a brilliant star that appeared nearly stationary. Through binoculars and spotting scopes it looked like an 'illuminated donut.' There was something that appeared to be hanging down from the object. While they watched, it seemed to suddenly 'explode' into many small fragments and particles. And then a red sphere was observed which minutes later reportedly split into two smaller objects."
Belle Vernon is on Interstate Highway 70 about 31 miles (48 kilometers) south of Pittsburgh.
Also on May 17, at 11:50 p.m., an observer in Penn Hills, Pa. (population 51,430) spotted "two luminous objects" in the clear night sky. "One was moving and after a few minutes was gone from sight. The remaining object appeared to move in a swirl formation, emitting bright flashes of blue and red... It seemed as though it was rotating, giving off various light patterns" described as "bright colors of red, blue, green and white."
"During the observation, the object appeared as a seeming oval shape with a light effect that separated the top and bottom halves...The object's light pulsated on and off, appearing to search. Then the object returned to its luminescent state. Almost ten minutes later, the object gradually moved in a direction to the north of the observer."
Penn Hills is a suburb of Pittsburgh, located 13 miles (21 kilometers) northeast of the city. (Many thanks to Stan Gordon for these reports. Pennsylvania readers, if you have a UFO to report, call Stan Gordon's UFO Hotline at 1-724-838-7768.)
On Tuesday, May 12, 1998, people in Fort Walton Beach, Florida (population 21,471), spied "a triangular shaped craft hovering over the Gulf of Mexico" just offshore, south of town. "Three lights were arrayed on all three points of the triangle." A bright beam of light was seen beneath the object, spotlighting the surface of the sea.
Minutes later, the witnesses saw four U.S. Air Force jets approaching, and "the craft...instantly left the area."
On Wednesday, May 13, 1998, the witnesses reported, "'frogmen' were seen in the area where the light had been shining down into the ocean."
Fort Walton Beach is on Highway 98 about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of the UFO hotspots of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. (See Filer's Files #20 for 1998. Many thanks to C. Leigh Culver of ISUR and George A. Filer, Eastern director of MUFON, for this news story.)
On Sunday, May 17, 1998, Kenneth Young, public relations director of Tri-States Advocates for Scientific Knowledge (T.A.S.K.), was listening to a police radio scanner at 5:30 a.m. when a most unusual call came in.
Listening to 460.100 megaherz (MHz), Young heard that "a female resident had reported a very unusual event, claiming that there was an 'unknown object' with lights flashing on her front porch, near a plant."
According to Young, cruisers of District 3 of the Cincinnati Police Department responded to the call. The police cruisers converged on a home in the 2300 block of Fairbanks Avenue, near Delhi, to investigate the reported incident. At 5:35 a.m., the scanner broadcast a report from an officer, "as they arrived there, 'the thing had disappeared.'"
Young telephoned the Hamilton County Communications Center, "and they referred my call to the Cincinnati Police Department, where they confirmed for me that there was something reported by a citizen and District 3 units were dispatched to the scene."
According to the officer Young interviewed, the woman "reported 'something flashing behind the potted plant on her front porch...with a bright flashing light.'"
Cincinnati (population 364,040) is a large city in the southwestern corner of Ohio. (Many thanks to Ken Young of T.A.S.K. for this news story.)
For the past week, UFOs have been sighted repeatedly in Canoga Park, California, located on Highway 27, also known as Topanga Canyon Boulevard, a suburb 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles City Hall.
On Sunday, May 10, 1998, at 9:30 p.m., Joanne Larue "saw a strange light above the San Fernando Valley, while traveling west on the Ventura Freeway (Highway 101). Flying at about a 10-degree angle of descent, at about helicopter altitude or lower, north of the freeway, was a green light, sort of like a traffic light."
"I watched it traveling for about two seconds and then suddenly it disappeared into thin air. I was right near the Balboa Freeway exit, and both people in my car spotted it...Has anyone seen anything similar?" (Email Interview)
On Saturday, May 16, 1998, at 9:17 p.m., Hank Turcotte had a strange sighting in Canoga Park. "I don't know what's going on lately," he reported, "Within the last two weeks, I have sighted ten different 'star-like' objects making their way across the night sky here."
"This night I had a few friends over and asked them to be patient for a few minutes. Sure enough, at 9:17 p.m., three of us watched a star-like object making its way from the south-southwest to the north-northeast, passing in between the star Arcturus and the last star in the handle of the Big Dipper. The object was spotted straight above and then traveled in the arc I described and disappeared within 30 seconds into the haze of the evening sky at approximately 45 degrees (elevation). The object was Magnitude 4 brightness according to the constellation chart."
"As my friends and I talked about it, my other friends said to look above us once again, and this object appeared directly above us and traveled north- northwest and disappeared into the cup of the Big Dipper. The object was a Magnitude 5 brightness but this one 'faded away' halfway into the cup. The sighting lasted 20 seconds." (Many thanks to Jim Hickman of Skywatch International and Errol Bruce- Knapp for this report.)
On Wednesday, May 13, 1998, at 10:30 p.m., Mrs. Bergman and Mrs. Blomquist were standing near the docks in their hometown of Stromstad, Sweden when a flash of light out to sea caught their attention.
The women described the UFO as "a large object floating 500 to 600 meters above the sea. It was elongated. The object was emitting a tremendous light like a great spotlight."
The UFO let its bright beam drift along the sea to the shore. Then the beam played over the docks, the warehouse and the people in the area, including both women.
"The object came from the northeast, but we were unable to guess its speed of approach," Mrs. Bergman reported. "The shape of the object was somewhat elliptical and it was luminous. There was no sound, not even when it departed."
"It just hovered for a while," Mrs. Blomquist reported. "There was no trail or smoke, and the object headed northeast when it departed. The whole sighting took about ten seconds."
"One second the object hovered almost above us," Mrs. Bergman added. "Then, in the next second, the object was not more (larger) than a star in the sky."
Stromstad is on the Kattegat, on Sweden's west coast, approximately 190 kilometers (114 miles) north of Goteborg. (Email Interview)
On Wednesday, May 13, 1998, Robert Martel and his girlfriend stopped at a gas station in Verneuil, a city in the department Eure, in northwestern France. While he was filling the gas tank, Martel heard the roar of a jet afterburner. Looking up, he saw a jet interceptor of Armee de l'Air (French air force--J.T.) "pass at a very low altitude."
Hours later, at 11:30 p.m., Martel and his lady friend were driving down a two-lane road between La Chapelle Montligeon and Mauves-sur-Huisnes in the department Orne et Basse Normandie, about 170 kilometers (102 miles) west of Paris, when sighted a UFO.
"Suddenly, atop a small hill, I noticed an unusual object a short distance away, perhaps 300 to 500 meters," he reported. "At a low altitude, perhaps 30 to 50 meters. The speed of my vehicle was between 50 and 70 kilometers per hour (30 to 45 mph)."
Staring at it through the windshield, Martel said, "That is what it is. But it's as white as a cloud. It's an OVNI." (French acronym for UFO)
"I thought it would be interesting to close in and observe it a bit better," he added, "Unfortunately, the sinuous road swerved to the right, and I found that the object was no longer visible...But as soon as the road placed us more to the straight, the object was moving parallel to me."
In vain Martel tried to point out the UFO. But "now it was perpendicular to us and was starting to move very rapidly. The object became increasingly difficult to observe. Soon it was a silhouette of a sphere on the horizon. Impossible to distinguish because of the color" which was the same color as the sky. (Merci beaucoup a Thierry Garnier pour ces nouvelles.)
A UFO overflight was reported in Adelaide, capital of South Australia, on Monday night, May 18, 1998.
According to Emma B., "An object was seen in the skies over Adelaide." The unknown object "was flying south and it was at about a 30 degree angle above the horizon and it moved from right to left. The witnesses have seen the (Mir) space station pass over, and it (the UFO) seemed much closer to the earth than this. It was the color of the stars and looked like something entering Earth's atmosphere" and "glowed like it was burning." (See Filer's Files #20 for 1998. Many thanks to George A. Filer for this news story.)
During the next three weeks, UFO ROUNDUP will present three cases from the little-known Flap of 1931. Here's the first case, featuring Mr. and Mrs. N.J. Giddings of Riverside, California, one of the most unusual documented incidents of the pre-Roswell era.
"During the evening of 17 June 1931, I was working in the yard near our home at Riverside, California, and happened to glance at the moon. It was an unusually fine, clearly outlined new moon, and as I stood looking at it, suddenly some flashes of light streaked across the dark surface but definitely within the limits of the moon's outline."
"Since this was a phenomenon which I had never seen before, I continued to watch it and saw similar flashes streak across the moon again in a moment or two."
"Without mentioning what I had seen, I called my wife's attention to the new moon. She admired it. When I asked her to watch it closely to see if she noticed anything strange, she said, 'Oh, yes, I see lightning on the moon,' adding that it appeared to be confined to the moon."
"We watched it for some 20 or 30 minutes during which the phenomenon must have occurred at least six or seven times. The facts were recorded in my notebook as of approximately 7:40 p.m. 17 June 1931. At the time, I was inclined to attribute the phenomenon to some sort of sunlight reflection from mountain peaks on the moon or possibly some sort of electrical activity. I wrote the Mount Wilson Observatory regarding the phenomenon, and the reply very courteously discounted my observations." (See Science, volume 104, page 146, for August 9, 1946. Reprinted in THE UNEXPLAINED: A SOURCEBOOK OF STRANGE PHENOMENA by William R. Corliss, Bantam Books, New York, NY, August 1976, page 124.)
The British UFO Research Association (BUFORA) is back online with a new, improved website. Check it out at http://www.bufora.org.uk
For additional UFO reading, drop in at the Magonia ETH Bulletin. They're at http://www.magonia.demon.co.uk/ethbull/index.html
Artist Jeff Westover, who does sketches of aliens for Michigan MUFON, has a website, Alien Alley, with detailed drawings of all the aliens reportedly http://www.alienalley.com
Arline La Zolle has a UFO website up and running. It's called D-Hopper's World of the Paranormal, and it features UFO pictures, sightings reports and other news. Drop in at http://www.geocities.com/area51/chamber/5781/index3.html
One of your editor's favorite websites is Bill Corliss's Science Frontiers. I can't recommend it highly enough. Got an hour to spare? Visit http://www.knowledge.co.uk/frontiers/ and learn about the strange phenomena encountered by scientists themselves.
The big news this week is what's happening at our parent site, UFOINFO. Webmaster John Hayes added search engines to the site a few days ago. Now you can use these search engines to hunt up items in both the UFO ROUNDUP and Filer's Files archives. Come and try them out. Just drop in at http://www.ufoinfo.com.
Back issues of UFO ROUNDUP are available at our webpage. We're at http://www.ufoinfo.com/roundup
On this date, May 24, in the year 289 A.D., two teenaged Christians, Donatien and Rogatien, were killed by their religious enemies in Nantes, France. The martyrs are known as the Children of Nantes.
Unfortunately, their tragic deaths were only the beginning of a series of religious massacres in that city. On April 24, 1572, two hundred Huguenots were slaughtered on St. Bartholomew's Day. On November 16, 1793, 4,800 Roman Catholics, including 158 elderly priests, were drowned in the river Loire on the orders of an alcoholic Illuminatus named Carrier. Between November 7, 1942 and June 10, 1944, the Nazis carried out their long-running pogrom against Nantes's Jews.
Is Nantes all finished with those senseless religious massacres? I certainly hope so.
Join us next weekend for more saucer news from "the paper that goes home--UFO ROUNDUP." See you then.
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1998 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO ROUNDUP on their websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.