My Own UFO Sightings

Sighting 1. It was on June 9, 1986 —a clear day. I was in my Oregon State University office (in Stag Hall) finishing off a brown-bag lunch and gazing out the east-facing window when I spied what looked like a dark, black balloon slowly passing by, from N.E. southward. It had a roughly spherical shape. At its closest it looked like it was only a few blocks away and only some 1000 feet up. It caught my attention right away as it seemed larger than any toy balloon; it was certainly no weather balloon or hot-air balloon, as it carried no suspended payload. I estimated that its width subtended an angle roughly equal to 3 mm at arm's length, or about 1/3 the angular width of the moon. I estimated its elevation angle to lie between 30 and 45 degrees. It soon became obscured behind trees and buildings.

Its first suspicious feature was its dark black color, without disclosing any shiny black that would show a highlight. And I didn't know of any black balloons like that.

I noticed a second suspicious feature as it neared its closest approach, when its elevation angle was around 40 degrees. It had tiny points of glitter scattered all over its upper half, which reflected the sunlight brightly, but none on its lower half. The above rendering cannot do justice to the brightness of the glitters. I couldn't think of any scientific experiment or other reason why any balloon would be so decorated.

Its third suspicious feature, which didn't strike me until later, was that it was moving along at apparently constant altitude. Ordinary balloons we see down low either are buoyant and in the process of rising or just the opposite and sinking. A nearly neutrally-buoyant balloon is a rarity, requiring extra skill in construction, adjustment or operation, and it will still rise up and down with the turbulent air currents, which this object didn't do, and wouldn't survive long before entering a convective downdraft and ripping open against a tree, building or the ground.

A fourth suspicious feature is that the "balloon" wasn't rotating about any arbitrary axis, as an ordinary non-ballasted balloon would likely have been doing within a turbulent atmosphere.

I did take time out from gawking at it long enough to run down the corridor from my second-floor office, looking to see if anyone was around to yell to as a witness. No one was, and even in the departmental office no one was around, which was rather rare but happened sometimes during noontime lunch hour. Also, I noted that the wind direction (from the NNE) was about the same as the direction of motion of the balloon-like object. So I didn't later go around informing others of this UFO sighting, knowing for that reason it would be assumed to have been some sort of man-made balloon. Yet I regarded it as a UFO because of its suspicious features, especially the upper-half glitters. I kept my eyes and ears open for any newspaper, radio or TV reports of others having seen it, but heard nothing about it.

Sighting 2. The very next afternoon (June 10th, 1986) around 5 p.m., as I was riding my bicycle southwards from campus towards home (on 26th St.), I couldn't help but notice an aerial object that resembled a high-flying kite (polygonal with 5 or 6 edges) except that it had a "tail" which displayed an alternating bright irridescent ruby red color and a gray-black color. It appeared to be a quarter mile away or so, about 35 degrees above the horizon, and drifting from NW to SE, which again was about the direction the breeze on that clear day would have carried a floating object. Thus it resembled a kite that had broken loose from its string—I looked hard for any such string and didn't see any. However, a kite without its string would have come down pretty quickly, but this object retreated towards the tree line to the south, without apparent descent, faster than I could bicycle towards it. Moreover, the brilliant "tail" was oriented along the direction a kite string would have been directed—downwards and upwind, rather than trailing downwind behind the kite. The sighting lasted for about 4 minutes, as I bicycled slowly along 26th St. taking time to look at it carefully.

The black dots in the crude picture above indicate its continued direction of movement.

I continued south across Philomath Blvd. bicycling faster and then southward along Brooklane Ave., until near the final curve of Brooklane I lost sight of it after looking back up from the road. It may have been obscured by nearby trees, though I thought I should have espied it a while longer before the trees would obscure it. When on 26th St. I had again looked in vain for any pedestrians or persons in stopped cars whose attention I might direct towards the object, but there were none around.

I had to place this in the UFO category because the object didn't behave the way a kite would have yet didn't resemble anything else, and because of the brilliance of its dazzling color. Also, the fact that it occurred only a day after my first UFO sighting reinforced the idea that it belonged in the same category of UFO. Again I did not attempt to convince any of my atmospheric-science colleagues that I had seen a UFO, as I had already given a UFO talk within the department, and had learned by this time of the rationales that many scientists and ufologists alike employ to explain away UFO sightings whenever at all possible. I knew that the broken-string kite hypothesis would be seized upon and the disparities would be ignored or dismissed.

Sighting 3. This occurred during a clear August evening around 1990 when my wife and I were tenting overnight on a campground along the south fork of the Willamette River, on the west slope of the Cascades (between Eugene and Crater Lake). We were taking a stroll along a dirt road around 9 p.m., at dusk, when we spotted a bright yellowish-white satellite-like object moving steadily and silently from south to north. It was much brighter than an airplane or a satellite either one, however, and appeared to be lower down than a satellite. We could see it through the treetops for about a minute -- much longer than any meteor sighting would last. It was as bright when viewed from the rear as it had been when viewed from the front -- some 5 times or so as bright as Venus. Again, I did not report this to my colleagues or to any UFO organization because the object did not execute any UFO-like maneuvers, and would be explained away as a satellite. However, I have seen too many satellites to think it was one, and it was not leaving any trail of sparks or debris behind as a reentering satellite would.

Sighting 4. My brother, when he lived on the north side of Corvallis, called me a couple times about an unusually bright but silent "airplane" he had seen on several nights, around 10 p.m. This was in July of 1992 or 1993. The "airplane" appeared to the east of his residence, moving from north to south. Both its brilliant white light and lack of any noise alerted him to its unusualness, plus the fact that it flew unusally low. So I arranged to meet with him on a following evening when we drove to the top of a nearby forested ridge to the east for a better view of it, and waited. Sure enough, shortly after 10 p.m. it came into sight in the north, on a track that would take it abreast of us on the east as it traveled on to the SSE. I focused my binoculars on it, and after it had approached nearly broadside, could notice how its bright white front light appeared to wrap around its nose for a distance of some 5% of the "plane's" length, but appeared to have a grill-like structure superimposed on it. Still, I was not quite certain of the uniqueness of these apparent features, due to the difficulty of holding the binoculars steady enough while tracking it.

If the object had wings, they didn't show up, which wouldn't have been too surprising considering the darkness and the fact that its flight path was low, only slightly higher than our own elevation. However, if it had been an airplane its navigational lights, at least the green one on the right, should have shown up, but did not.

However, just about when it was broadside to us, directly to the east, I was suddenly startled to notice through the binoculars that a tiny red-orange "pip" shot down from the craft for perhaps a hundred feet and then curved upwards before vanishing, having traced out a "J" shape in less than a second of time. Immediately after, a second "pip," this time yellow, zoomed upwards a similar distance from the craft and then curved down a bit before vanishing, just as quickly tracing out an inverted "J" figure.

The above picturing is only suggestive, as the pips did not leave any trail of dots behind, and as the UFO craft moved along the locations of the two pips were left behind. Also, unlike in the depiction above, I could not visually quite discern a tail (or the tail) of the craft.

Unfortunately, my brother was not watching through his binoculars at these moments and missed the two pip events. Naturally I knew of no devices coming from any ordinary airplane that would behave in this manner, nor any motivation for any human deployment of any such devices. At its closest approach, the craft seemed to be about 1 or 1 1/2 miles away and at an elevation only slightly above our own, which was around 500 feet. But not even then could we hear any noise from it, even though we were on a quiet hillside miles north of the nearest city (Corvallis). We believe we sighted the same craft from a greater distance on a couple of subsequent nights, but didn't see it any more after that.

Again, however, neither of us reported this sighting to any UFO organization, believing it would be dismissed as an ordinary commercial airliner whose flight track for some reason took it unusually low in traveling from Portland to Eugene. Moreover, I checked the airline schedules, and there was a nightly plane from Portland to Eugene scheduled to arrive in Eugene around 10:30 p.m. Surely a UFO wouldn't show up on a regular schedule! The fact that an airliner shouldn't be flying that low, 30 miles north of the Eugene airport, would be shrugged off, and the "pips" I had seen just a 1000 feet or less above the ground would be ignored as aberrations.

For the other reasons mentioned, however, I had to place this sighting in the "for sure" UFO category. It then alerted me to the realization that UFOs in general often pass themselves off as other objects to those who do not get a close look or who do not listen to all the details of the witnesses' reports. In this manner the aliens, or UFO pilots, can alert those whose minds are open to the possibility of the alien presence that they are indeed here and well aware of us, while not shaking up those whose minds are unable to accept that likelihood. The UFO phenomenon is replete with cases of this nature, which to me says something about the level of ethics of the UFO aliens in charge. It thus appears that they wish to act as catalysts who then cause perceptive witnessing humans themselves to be the ones who try to inform their fellow humans as to what's going on and what mankind's position within the cosmos is -- Johnny-come-latelies.

Sighting 5. On June 12 of 1996 at 8:25a.m. I was in my back yard in Corvallis, OR, looking over a row of tomato plants. The skies were clear that morning, except for a few old contrails, and the sun was out. I happened to glance up towards the west for a fraction of a second and noticed what appeared to be a small airplane, but at first didn't think anything about it. However, a couple of seconds later I realized I didn't hear any airplane engine noise. Then I looked up at it carefully. It was moving steadily from north to south and appeared to be about a mile away. I couldn't see any wings or tail on it; it just had a cylindrical shape and was of a silvery color.

It was at about 30 degrees elevation, and knowing that its wings then may not have shown up well, I looked for them intensely (with 20/20 vision as corrected by eyeglasses), but still couldn't see any. And there was definitely no indication of any characteristic tail shape, just the precise cylindrical shape from fore to aft. Most peculiar, there was a single vertical stripe along the center of the cylinder, making it resemble a narrow capsule, horizontally oriented. Its length was around ten times its width, and its length subtended an angle about equal to the width of my little finger at arm's length.

The sighting lasted around a minute, before the craft disappeared into the near-horizon haze to the southwest as it approached a tree line. I had considered running inside the house to grab a pair of binoculars, but decided that would take a bit too long, including time that would be needed to focus them, before it would be practically out of sight. My wife wasn't around to call upon as a witness, as she had already gone to her part-time job. I glanced up and down the street to see if any neighbors were outside to yell to, but they weren't.

The following summer I read over the Internet of the sighting of an object described the same as I have described it: as a capsule moving along like a small airplane, near the town of Monmouth, OR. It had been seen by a high-school aged student whose father reported the sighting.

Sighting 6. During early afternoon on the clear day of July 16th, 1998, I happened to be out in my front yard in Corvallis, OR, admiring the blueness of the sky due to lack of any field-burning smoke or slash-burning smoke or noticeable smog, and due also to a clear-weather high-pressure subsidence situation. There was scarcely any wind. When facing west I looked up to watch a plane go by nearly overhead, from N to S, at around 5000-6000 ft. While my head was still up, a fast-moving whitish object suddenly streaked into view, moving from nearly overhead towards the west. It seemed to be some 500 to 1000 ft. up when nearly overhead, but moved so fast that within about 1.5 seconds (1 1/2 sec.) it had already disappeared into the western horizon. When closest overhead its apparent angular length I estimate to have been about 2/3 of a little-finger width held at arm's length. It didn't make any noise or show any exhaust or lights.

Its shape was sort of like a rocket with a pair of very short "wings" whose outer edges ran parallel to its body length, as I recall, as in the picture above. I estimate that its ratio of length to greatest width was about 4 to 1. It was of a "misty" white color, with the peculiarity of showing no darkness on its underside, which ought to have been shadowed from the sun. Nor did it exhibit any highlights of reflected sunlight. Yet the sky was clear. Its most striking aspect at the time was, in moving so fast, to have moved in a perfectly straight line -- no swooping, no "flapping of wings" or anything like that. So it didn't resemble a bird or a plane or a thistle seed. Nor did it resemble any "floater" in the eye, as I checked for that possibility immediately afterwards. It more resembled a stick drawing in chalk of a ski jumper stretched out horizontally and viewed from directly above or below.

It was out of sight so quickly that I of course had no chance to look for another witness to view it, or to go for a camera or binoculars. The sighting might fall into the category of UFO that has been called "rods;" by coincidence that very night I heard an interview of a "rods-type" UFO investigator on the Art Bell radio talk-show in which the description given seemed to come rather close to fitting what I had seen.

My earliest UFO event (most likely involving UFOs). In 1953 I was an ensign in the Navy, serving with a Special Weapons group aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain (CV 39). We were operating in the Sea of Japan, in waters off of South Korea. It was in the evening of July 26th (I learned the precise date later) around 7 pm that general quarters was sounded, and we all went to our battle stations -- mine was below decks where our group had the duty of maintaining a few atomic weapons at the ready. We didn't know what was going on, until word was passed that the ship's radar had detected a lot of bogies (unidentified blips) nearby. We were all extremely apprehensive. I took a peek into the office of our group leader, Lt. Robinson, who had just gotten off the telephone, and saw him just quivering all over, a bundle of fear, in his swivel chair. Needless to say, that didn't improve our morale! I have never seen any such fright like that before or since, and this is what implanted the whole event firmly into my memory. However, nothing further happened, and around 10 or 11 pm the all-clear was sounded. I expected we'd be told the next day what had happened, but there was nary a word spoken about it then or later from the ship’s captain on down.

It wasn't until some 25 years later that I had learned enough about the UFO phenomenon to know that this is typical behavior when UFOs are involved. Those who knew or suspected that the bogies were UFOs apparently realized, or were told, not to speak about it to others, and so the silence spread. If the bogies had been North Korean aircraft, and if the carrier's fighter planes had engaged any of them, or had any of our aircraft been shot down, we certainly would then have heard about it. A few more years passed before I learned that, in a disproportionately large fraction of sightings, UFOs had been witnessed above nuclear missile sites and nuclear reactors (one of the latest books on this is by Robert Hastings, UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites, 2008). From then on I strongly suspected that this traumatic event involving the USS Lake Champlain, with its onboard nuclear arsenal, had been a UFO event.

It wasn't until September of 2008 that I came across the following information from a Navy chronology web site:

26 July

Hwangto-do Island drew anti-tank and machine gun fire from the enemy mainland, but experienced no damage.

As Task Force 77 replenished, a small number of bogies made non firing runs on spotting aircraft from the Force. The spotting aircraft made seven visual sightings, all unidentified. Later in the day from two to four possible jet bogies orbited at 20,000 feet 60 miles north of the Task Force, but departed before CAP could make contact.

About 100 bogies were reported by USS Lake Champlain (CVA 39) during the night northwest and southwest of Task Force 77. The bogies, in five different groups, were never contacted by VFN aircraft and did not close the Task Force.

VFN aircraft are carrier Navy planes equipped for nighttime operations. The last paragraph above, in bold face, is the relevant one. Task Force 77 included three other aircraft carriers.

From information supplied by Carl Feindt, I also learned that at the time a Jack Sauter had been an electronics technician who flew with one of the Lake Champlain's aircraft. He wrote:

The only threat to TF 77 occurred on 26 July 1953, the night before the truce was signed. Many bogies were seen closing on the force and we all went to general quarters. Aircraft, including one of ours [one of the Lake Champlain's], were launched, but whatever was out there disappeared before our planes got close.

I was glad to learn of this confirming information, and of the date of the event. Evidently the bogies, or UFOs, occurred in groups as large as 20. The carrier's aircraft could not make contact with the UFOs, nor did the latter "close" (approach too close to) the task force, which included CV 39. This is typical UFO behavior -- to scare those involved with dangerous weapons, and to let us know they are around and aware of our activities, while generally inflicting no violence against us. In December of 2010, I spoke with Jack Sauter over the telephone, and he confirmed that none of the bogies had been seen visually as far as he knew. The rumor he had heard, as to their possible explanation, was that it may have been a large swarm of Chinese bombers that approached from the west but then were ordered to turn around before approaching closer than some 20 miles from the Task Force. This is unlikely, however, as news of this could not have been kept suppressed.

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