(Not all the sightings are listed but only a significant sample.)
Mount Rainier (June 24, 1947)
The modern history of UFOs, though, perhaps begins in 1947 with an Idaho businessman and pilot named Kenneth Arnold. While flying near Mount Rainier, Washington, Arnold spotted a formation of nine silvery crescent-shaped objects flying in tight formation. Later, he estimates their size at 40 to 50 feet wide, their speed at a fantastic 1200 miles per hour, more than twice as fast as any known aircraft of that day. He described the disc’s movements to a reporter as “like pie plates skipping over the water.” In his story the next day the reporter coined the term “flying saucers” and the label stuck.
After Arnold’s initial report, UFO sightings in our skies exploded. On June 26, four witnesses including a doctor saw a “huge silver globe” moving along the rim of the Grand Canyon; two days after that, an Air Force pilot reported a flight of six discs over Lake Meade, NV. Within days, reports were pouring in from localities as widely separated as Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Louisiana, Quebec and Prince Edward Island in far-north Canada.
Then came the extraordinary Saucer Summer of 1952, when for months, it seemed, you could scarcely leave your house without getting your hat knocked off by a gleaming messenger from beyond. UFO sightings piled up for months, with an impressive number of reports from airline and military pilots. The flap reached its peak in the Washington, DC area in July; an Air Force report declassified in 1985 describes radar sightings involving up to 12 unidentified “targets” at a time near Washington National Airport. At its largest peacetime press conference in history, the Air Force attributed the radar activity to “temperature inversions.” Local meteorologists said: no way.
Suffolk (August 13, 1956)
A flight of objects buzzed the joint RAF/USAF base at Bentwaters in Suffolk, England and was tracked by three different ground-based radar stations at speeds of up to 4,000 mph.
Lapeer (December 9, 1965)
A fireball was witnessed traveling south from Canada, over eastern Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. According to researcher Stan Gordon and several dozen citizens of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, a ten-foot tall “acorn-shaped” object with “strange hieroglyphic-like symbols” crashed into a wooded ravine outside of Kecksburg late in the afternoon of December 9th, 1965.
Official military records show that the 662nd Radar Squadron, based at the Oakdale Armory near the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport and under the direction of the Aerospace Defense Command, was sent to Kecksburg on that same evening, just following the object’s impact.
If this object were a Soviet satellite, as researcher and author Kevin Randle (“History Of UFO Crashes”) believes, we were required by signed international treaty to return it. The Soviets have never requested, at least publicly or through the United Nations that this object be returned to them.
Before the mystery object landed in Pennsylvania, it allegedly set several fires in the Lapeer area as well as in Ohio as it passed above. A sonic boom was also registered from the object near Detroit.
The Lapeer County Sheriff’s Department received several calls that a fireball had crashed into a swampy area south of the city limits. These calls came in during the deluge of reports of a bright object hurtling south across the sky. Lapeer County Deputy Lenny Tolly found “about a peck” of foil in two piles ten feet apart. The strips were 1/16 inch wide and 3/4 of an inch long. Tolly said that there was foil scattered all over the swamp. He said, “It looked like it may have come from the deal (the fireball)”. Another Lapeer Deputy, flying in a plane at the time of the fireball sighting, said he could see several fires breaking out in the swamp as he passed over. The Lapeer Sheriff’s Department sent foil samples to the Air Force and Project Blue Book (their much maligned UFO study) who later determined that it was aircraft chaff, foil strips sent out of airplanes to confuse radar.
Nothing was ever found to have crashed in the swampy area south of Lapeer.
Bad Axe (March 27, 1966)
Peter Torres of the Bad Axe Police Department, Larry Rigvelski of the Huron County Sheriff’s Department and Frank Best of the Michigan State Police all observed a bright blue UFO at 5:24 am EST on Sunday March 27, 1966 southeast of Bad Axe. Several calls about the UFO were received before the three officers made their sighting.
Sanilac County (April 22, 1966)
Sanilac County residents reported several unidentified flying objects and police officers were eyewitnesses to them early in the morning of April 22, 1966.
A Michigan State Police Trooper from Sandusky watched “a brilliant ball of light” in the pre-dawn sky today for more than an hour. The Trooper, Alex Fisher, described the object as having a green finger of light pointing towards its top and a red shaft toward the bottom. It hovered “at airplane altitude”, he said, and gradually disappeared over Lake Huron to the east.
Oscoda/Saginaw Bay (October 30, 1975)
Over a two-week period in late 1975, NORAD bases along the US/Canadian border were having UFO encounters that were seriously infringing upon our National Security.
“The UFO Cover-Up” by Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett (1984) details NORAD base incursions by UFOs through official military documents gleaned through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). These unidentified craft were seriously infringing upon our national security by hovering above nuclear weapons storage facilities and in one case, deactivating the guidance systems of several ICBMs pointed at the former Soviet Union. On October 30, 1975 at Wurtsmith AFB in Oscoda, a soldier reported a 30-foot-wide disc hovering over the weapons storage facility. The disc was pursued by a tanker plane over Saginaw Bay but soon disappeared. As the plane returned to the base, radar showed the disc following it until the object sped off at about 1,000 knots.
Kingston (Spring 1992)
WDIV channel 4, Detroit (NBC) aired a “Michigan Unsolved Mysteries” segment about recent UFO sightings in the Kingston area involving triangular craft, large orange hovering lights that shook homes near Plain Road & M-46 and sightings of several distant orange lights in the northern skies.
Marlette ufologist Bob Snow, formerly of Michigan MUFON, having heard several reports from all over the thumb concerning the distant orange lights to the north came up with an explanation for the aerial phenomena.
Snow surmised that what were being witnessed to the north were not alien spacecraft but actually high-altitude flare drops from Selfridge jets performing training maneuvers above Saginaw Bay. Several area witnesses have agreed with Snow while some believe that what they observed were altogether different.
“Somebody told me that they were jet aircraft on maneuvers dropping flares,» said Port Austin resident ‘William’. “There were quite a few of us on the docks one night watching these weird orange lights. They were doing maneuvers, disappearing and reappearing. I’ve seen hundreds of jets flying around here coming and going from Oscoda and dropping flares above the Bay, but I have never seen them making perfect 90 degree turns without any slippage!” Caro’s Undersheriff, Jim Fyfie, was baffled by the other much stranger reports from 1992. He checked with the Air Force, local airports and the FAA and could not account for a majority of the odd sightings. “So we just chalk them up as Unidentified Flying Objects,» he told Mike Wendlind of Channel 4’s Night Beat.
Caro and Cass City (throughout 1993)
Triangular craft, often with bright lights at each corner, were witnessed and reported to then-Michigan MUFON State Director, Shirley Coyne. Videotape was allegedly shot of one of these triangular craft.
Paris (January 1994)
In the skies above Paris, an airborne crew saw a “gigantic disk” more than 3,000 feet in diameter. The disk was detected on military radar for 50 seconds, slowed abruptly from 100 knots to zero, and then disappeared.
Cass City (October 15 & 16, 1996)
The October 23, 1996 edition of The Cass City Chronicle ran a front-page story on two separate UFO sightings made on consecutive nights and witnessed by at least nine people.
On October 15th, a man returning from work at 4:30 a.m. spots a strange object in the eastern sky of the Ellington area (west of Cass City on M-81). He calls his sister, Sandy K., to meet him outdoors with her video camera. They claim to have recorded a dome shaped object…that looked like a brain, with lights that would alternately dim and brighten”. The Chronicle reporter who covered the story did not view the videotape and Sandy K., a Cass City hair stylist, has not responded to several requests to have her video analyzed by optical physicists. Tuscola County 911 Dispatch logged no UFO reports that evening. The following evening, at least 7 workers at Anrod Screen and Cylinder, witnessed strange orangish-red lights “playing leap frog”, disappearing, reappearing and “jumping over each other” in the northern skies around 8 p.m. on October 16th. (sources-Cass City Chronicle 10/23/96 edition, Tuscola County 911 Dispatch and author’s personal file)-Flint Bishop Airport-FAA Tower (February 19, March 17 & 23, 1995) – On February 19th several air traffic controllers viewed a strange object both visually and on radar. It did not transmit a transponder signal in response to the radar beam but it did reflect the signal. On March 17th five air traffic controllers witnessed four bright red, pulsating objects hovering in the night sky, the nearest was located within four miles of their tower, and initially at an altitude of 4000 feet. The controller reported that it looked somewhat like a “red road flare”, although it pulsated at regular intervals. At each pulsation, when the radiated light subsided somewhat, some sort of object appeared to be marginally visible in the “cloud” of red light, and it was a different shape after each pulse! The controller reported that one member of the group flashed the tower’s light “gun” at the nearest of the four objects, at which point it instantly returned to the shape and size of a small “fireball”, and began darting and zigzagging in the evening sky!! None of the objects appeared on the radar screen in the tower. 911 lines in the Flint area also reported UFO calls on March 17th. On March 23 NUFORC received a third report from the Flint FAA Tower reporting a sighting beginning at 10:25 PM. During this sighting the tower supervisors were allegedly witness to the object. The FAA has been sent a Freedom Of Information Act request for all available records concerning the above incidents and a case number has been assigned to them.
Saginaw (February 27, 1996)
Cleveland FAA Air Traffic Control was in contact with multiple aircraft over eastern Michigan that reported unusual “aerial stimulus”. The pilot of a commuter airliner reported a pulsing ball of light ahead of his aircraft near Saginaw and had to descend several thousand feet to avoid the object.
Acquired through the Freedom Of Information Act an audiotape of the conversations between Cleveland FAA and the aircraft contain one pilot describing the object as “a Frisbee type thing” with a “rotating light going around it”.
Flint (November 27, 1997)
On Thanksgiving Day morning at 6:30 AM, a County Deputy Sheriff with 19 years experience, spied something strange low in the sky above US-23 five miles south of Flint. “I thought it was a plane and kept driving towards it” he told Michigan MUFON
investigator Frank Bertrand “but it never moved. I am familiar with air traffic near Bishop (Airport) and if this were a plane, it was in trouble and going the wrong way!» The object, as he approached it, was only a few hundred feet above the road and consisted of three bright lights, two white and one red, 40 feet apart. The Deputy Sheriff continued to close in on these lights that were still not moving until he drove directly beneath them. “There was no sound and as I looked in my rearview mirror it was still sitting there but this time I saw a row of seven rectangular lights or windows…very bright. It never moved as long as I watched it in my mirrors.”
MUFON investigator Bertrand notes that this same area of US-23 was very active with UFO sightings in March 1994. The Federal Aviation Administration has been sent a Freedom Of Information Act request to find if the Flint FAA tower had tracked or sighted any unusual activity that morning. A case number has been assigned to the request and an official reply is pending.
Birch Run (December 2, 1997)
Two separate reports concerning disc-shaped craft with many green and red lights, virtually silent and gliding at treetop level, came to Davenport’s attention from Birch Run (between Flint and Saginaw on I-75). The two reports listed similar objects being sighted at approximately the same time of night and on the same date.
Peck and Marlette (December 2, 1997)
While Birch Run was having their own close encounters the skies above southern Sanilac County were also filled with strange lights. A 53-year-old Marlette man witnessed a massive bank of several bright white lights “like giant stadium lights” sitting motionless above, or just beyond Peck to the northwest, before they simply “vanished”. They were similar in appearance to the object that the County Deputy sighted only a few days before. Meanwhile, a 31-year-old Marlette man was driving north on M-53 near Peck Road when he spotted a bright golden fireball with long flaming tail plummet straight down out of the sky. “It disappeared just before it reached the ground…it had to have been a meteor or piece of Mir or something”.
Brown City (December 13, 1997)
A helicopter explanation was given to a Sanilac County Sheriff’s dispatcher by Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mt. Clemens, MI concerning unusual lights sighted by at least five people, two of them police officers, above Brown City. At 10:04 PM the Sanilac Sheriff’s Department received a phone call from a Brown City area resident who claimed that her family had been observing a formation of red, blue and white lights over a long period of time and through binoculars. The Sheriff Dispatcher sent a police unit to the caller’s residence, arriving at 10:12 PM. The unit advised the dispatcher that “there is definitely something in the sky…it moved across the sky and was hovering.” The dispatcher then made contact with an unidentified dispatcher at Selfridge Air Base and was advised “that it was probably a helicopter…and there was nothing much that could be done from this end”. One of the two police officers, which requested not to be identified, confirmed that he did witness the strange lights in the sky but was hesitant in identifying them as a helicopter or as twinkling stars or planets. Knowing that the Brown City area sits underneath Selfridge’s low altitude area of operations, he thought that this object might have been military in origin, i.e. exotic aircraft being tested over southern Sanilac County.
Selfridge’s Public Affairs Chief, Alice Errington, stated that all of their aircraft were on the ground by 7:30 PM that night and that the Control Tower or Base Operations Dispatchers had not recorded any UFO calls from the Sanilac Sheriff’s dispatcher into their logs that evening. A Freedom Of Information request has been filed with Selfridge ANGB’s Control Tower for radar returns information and a response is pending.
Marlette (December 15, 1997)
At 11:30 PM, a 52-year-old Marlette area woman was turning out her Christmas lights when she spotted a brilliant golden light low in the eastern sky. “It looked like a landing light on an airplane…with two blinking stars, one on each side of it. I knew, though, that it wasn’t an airplane”. As the strange light approached her home she decided to open her sliding glass doors to get a better look at it.
“I was afraid…so I just stood in the open door thinking I could shut it if I needed to” she reported to Michigan MUFON investigator Frank Bertrand. “The light was quite large…too large to be an airplane”.
She stepped a few feet onto her patio, looked up to see that the object was comprised of “two large lights, one lemon yellow and the other a brilliant red, each larger than the full moon, perfectly round and seemingly lit from within. “There were also two small lights on the craft’s sides. Green on the craft’s left and white on it’s right. They were much smaller and brighter than an airplane’s wingtip lights and blinked in unison”.
As the lights were directly overhead the woman performed a very clear and sober observation. She measured the lights between the fingers of her outstretched arm. “Three inches from front of the yellow circle to the back of the red” she told MUFON investigators. “Huge…and completely silent! Iistened for a sound but couldn’t hear any.” The lights then disappeared over the roof of her home. As in other cases, Selfridge was sent a Freedom Of Information Act request concerning military traffic above Marlette that evening, radar data and aircraft transponder replies (the aircraft’s electronic ID that is automatically returned to the detecting radar facility). A reply from Selfridge is still pending.
Jeff Westover, Copyright 1998