The year 1977 was one of the most eventful in the history of UFOs. Just how it compares with other years will never be known because no organization – local, national or international, official or otherwise – keeps any kind of meaningful record of sightings and encounters.
What we can say is that 1977 was a year of countless sightings around the world. A number of them came during waves of sightings in Brazil, New Zealand, Uruguay, the United States and possibly other countries. During those flaps, UFOs were seen over a period of days or weeks and sometimes months. Some of them were quite spectacular.
Part of the UFO history of the year 1977 was recorded in Carroll County in northwestern Arkansas. Although not part of a wave, a remarkable single incident occurred on the night of December 15, 1977.
Dozens of people saw a triangular-shaped object, possibly as big as a football field, that moved slowly and low in the sky. It was seen over a stretch of at least twenty-five miles of the county, which is located in the Ozark Mountains.
It was, in effect, a mini-wave that lasted two to three hours and occurred over much of the two-thousand-square-mile county. Some of the sightings occurred less than fifteen miles from southwestern Missouri's McDonald County, the site of an impressive UFO flap earlier in the year. McDonald County is just across the state line and a little west.
The Carroll County object was seen as far west as Beaver Lake as it drifted slowly over the towns of Eureka Springs, Berryville and Oak Grove, and vanished northeast into Missouri. The incident startled many people, frightened some and delighted at least a few.
The first known witnesses were Peter and Kathryn Bezjian, who saw an unusual craft pass over their home in Eureka Springs. That was between seven and seven-thirty in the evening.
“It was just after dinner and I was lying down watching television,” Kathryn Bezjian, then sixty-six, said. "I was looking out the window and saw these two round lights as large as or larger than bright headlights on a car.
“My husband had fallen asleep. I got up and walked out on the balcony. I thought that this was a plane and it was going to crash. My husband was in naval aviation in World War Two for almost three years, I've flown quite a bit and our grandson is an air traffic controller, so I do know a little bit about planes. But it was coming so slow.
"I immediately woke my
husband up and said, 'Look, Honey,
that is a plane and it's going to crash,' but as I said it, the thought entered
my mind that it was coming too slow to crash. It was about fifteen minutes
"The other thing that impressed me so much was the sound. It was an even hmmmm, every cylinder hitting on all fours, so controlled, so quiet, a beautiful humming sound.
“As it got directly over us, the bottom of it was diamond-shaped. It looked like raw wood. In the middle of this diamond was a red light, a signal-like light like you'd see on any plane, and up underneath it were three or four small red lights.
“And it was huge, the length of this diamond. My husband said it was half as long as a football field. I say no, but it was long."
SCIENTIST IS DELIGHTED
Where the object went immediately after that, no one knows. The next glimpse of it came between nine and nine-thirty from the edge of Beaver Lake, just southwest of Eureka Springs. The witnesses were Frances and Ira Whitney, both retired.
"I still get excited when I think about it because it's an unforgettable experience," said Mrs. Whitney, then seventy-three, as she described what she saw while driving to her home on Beaver Lake about five miles southwest of Eureka Springs.
Both she and her husband saw the object while driving home in separate vehicles a few minutes apart. Ira Whitney, then sixty-nine, was a nuclear chemist.
Neither was aware that the other was also seeing the object. Mrs. Whitney, a biologist with a master's degree in science education, was driving home from a school board meeting. It was about twenty-five after nine.
"I came around a curve and saw these strange headlights up in the air," she said. "They appeared to be a thousand to fifteen hundred feet up. My first impression was that a big truck with floodlights was up on one of the hills.
“Then I slowed down because it was so unusual. It was atypical. I looked again and thought, 'There's no hill there.' Then, since I used to fly I thought, 'That’s a plane.' And I thought, ‘No, those lights are too peculiar.’
"Then I came around another curve and the thing was just standing there in the same position. It wasn't moving. I'd never seen anything like this.
“I had been in the Air Force, I built an airport when I came out and had a flying field and I flew and I've kept up with the newest planes and this didn’t fit any category in my information.
"As I watched it, it started coming down towards me. It was very low and I began to get excited because it just wasn't real. And since I have an analytical mind I was analyzing like crazy, and I thought, 'My God! I'm seeing a UFO!'
“There were just these two bright lights. Then I saw two smaller ones, green lights. They were in the wrong position for wing lights on a plane or anything like that. They were at the top of those lights but off to the side of them.”
‘ISN’T THIS GREAT!’
She stopped her car and watched for about five minutes. Then, thinking she could get a better view on the next curve, she started the car again.
“And as I did, this thing started planing down toward me and I thought, 'It's going to land on the highway – isn't this great!' I opened the window and I couldn't hear anything. There was no sound.
"It was big. In every way it was big, but still no silhouette. You couldn't see any wings, no tails, anything but lights. Then it stopped again and sort of looked me over, and all of a sudden it whizzed off. l rushed around to the next curve and saw nothing. That was the end of it. I was disappointed."
Ira Whitney had been at a lodge meeting and came driving down the same road just a few minutes behind his wife.
“I saw a pair of bright lights in the distance across an arm of the lake that seemed to be standing still," he said. "I must have driven half to three-quarters of a mile further and decided that there was something wrong with those lights. They just didn't belong where they were.
“I decided to stop and get my bearings. I got out of my truck to get a good view of it and it just seemed to be standing still. At this point there was no noise. At that distance, the lights appeared to be maybe ten feet apart in the sky. I had no idea of the distance from me, probably half a mile.
"As I was watching it, the lights began to move, but very, very slowly. It crossed my mind that the thing must be huge and it is unusual because if it was an aircraft, at that distance I should have been able to hear some noise. There was no noise, and this kept bouncing in my mind the whole length of the experience.
"I would say it took a full five minutes to cross from the top of that hill and go over my head, and it went directly over my head. I turned around and saw one light as it receded from me toward Berryville.
“As it approached, I assumed the lights were approximately a thousand feet above me. It was close, and the lights appeared to be roughly a hundred feet apart when they passed over me. In a matter of seconds they passed beyond a hill out of my sight."
As soon as they got home and realized they’d both seen the object, they compared notes. Their conclusion?
"A UFO," said Ira Whitney.
"A UFO, no doubt," said Frances Whitney.
"I have lived so long and done so many things,” she added. “I am one of those people who was in on the beginning of this great age of ours. I've done everything. I flew across the English Channel in 1922 and then I was in the new Air Force. At my age, I feel I have taken part in so many exciting things that it is just fitting that I should have seen a UFO.
“It's like the great fireworks at the end. I was just delighted because I've done everything and seen everything."
The next witnesses were farther east, toward the county seat of Berryville.
Bob Weathers, forty-seven, general manager of the Carroll Electric Co-op, which then served eleven counties in Arkansas and Missouri, was one of many in the Berryville area who saw it between nine-thirty and ten. He and his wife were watching TV in their home three miles west of Berryville when he noticed bright lights in the western sky toward Eureka Springs.
"I saw three lights closely grouped," Weathers said. "After watching them coming toward me for at least five minutes, I walked out in front of the house. The lights were gradually getting closer.
“It came on and went almost directly over me. As it did, a fourth light became visible. I’d never seen anything like it. It was moving real slow, probably no more than five to ten miles an hour.
"By this time I'd watched it for at least ten minutes. I went back inside and told my wife and the two of us walked out on the back patio. She said she thought she could hear a small humming noise.
“I don't know what it was. It appeared to me it could have been a hot air balloon but the radio station said the wind was blowing from the opposite direction that night."
Berryville Police Officer Jim Dwyer watched the lights for at least half an hour, most of the time from the top of Saunders Heights in Berryville, the second highest mountain in the county.
"I was patrolling, going
west and noticed three lights in the sky," said Patrolman Dwyer, then
twenty-five. "I watched them cross over Berryville fairly low. Looked
like they were sort of kite-shaped or triangle-shaped. "
He thought it could have been as large as a football field.
“I went up to Saunders Heights and watched from there as it kept going. The two lights that appeared to be on the bottom of it just flashed out and then periodically they'd come back on and the smaller light would get bigger and smaller.
"As I was watching, Howard Hill, who works for the volunteer fire department, had a set of binoculars and we watched it through the binoculars for quite a while. We just couldn’t figure out what it was.
“I sat there and watched it for probably thirty to forty-five minutes. Other people would come and watch it and leave. Twenty-five to thirty people were up there during the time I was there.
"I really don't know what it was. I know in my mind it wasn't an airplane or a helium balloon or a weather balloon. I’m not a hundred percent believer in UFOs but it was something I couldn’t explain nor could anybody else that night.”
Jackie Bunch, then the clerk for Carroll County Circuit Court, was frightened when she saw it.
"I had been bowling and went to my mother's to pick up my children and we were on the way home," Mrs. Bunch said. "We were still in the city limits and my little boy was the one that saw it first. 'Oh, Mommy, there's a UFO,' he said, and I said, 'Ah, Vic, that's an airplane.'
“He just kept on and the more I looked at it the more I decided it wasn’t an airplane. It was off to our left going to the right. It was a group of yellowish looking lights.
"It really was something unusual and it really frightened me. It made me a little nervous. There wasn't a car on the road. Usually I meet several cars on the road going home, and I knew I had to turn and go off that road.
“We watched it and I tried not to upset the kids. I tried joking about it, saying it was just Santa Claus. But it was something unusual, really something different."
Gene Wingate, then an announcer for radio station KTHS in Berryville, was at home three miles north of Berryville, watching television with his son, Kenneth, fifteen, and a friend.
"I looked out the living room window towards the west at what I thought were two car lights at first," Wingate said. "I thought I was seeing lights on a mountain, but they looked stationary.
“After five minutes or so I got curious. The lights started getting closer, moving our way, toward the house. We were kind of concerned about what they were. I'd never seen any lights like that in the sky. We actually got a little bit scared because we didn't know what it was.
"They moved directly over the house. I could see a definite outline. From underneath it looked diamond-shaped. After it passed over and nothing happened, we were kind of relieved.
“The next morning when I got to work, I noticed we had had several reports of sightings of the same thing. That's when I first realized it was something out of the ordinary.
"I have a thirty-minute talk show so I put out a request for anybody who saw the thing to call me. Four people called in and they all described the same craft."
SLIGHT HUMMING SOUND
SLIGHT HUMMING SOUND
Jim and Shirley Hudson and their two sons, Dana, seventeen, and Pat, fifteen, saw the object from their home about a mile southwest of Wingate’s home.
"We went out on the porch and this spacecraft or whatever it was was going from west to east,” said Mrs. Hudson. “It wasn't too far from our house, half a mile or so. There were four huge white lights and looked to me like they were shining down. There was one red light at the front. It was huge. It looked like it was five hundred feet square."
Jim Hudson, who owned a small-engine sales and service company in Berryville, said: "I don't think it was quite as wide as it was long. We figured it was traveling about fifteen miles an hour and was about two hundred feet off the ground. I'd say it would fit pretty good on a football field.
"After it passed our house you began to hear the noise of whatever was propelling the thing. It had a humming noise like an electric motor that's maybe shorted out. It was fairly quiet."
Mrs. Arlie Long saw it from her home four miles southeast of Berryville. With her were her daughter Patty and a friend of Patty’s, Tina Wells.
"I was outside checking on my Christmas lights and I saw this thing coming awfully slow,” said Mrs. Long. “There were four lights. It was kind of kite-shaped until it got right up close and then it looked more round, with two lights shining down to the ground.
“My daughter was using an electric comb and she screamed and threw the electric comb out in the hallway. I thought my little dog was going to have fits.
“I ran into the house and got them all quieted down and that thing was right over the house then. By the time I got them quieted down I went to the back door and watched it until it stopped over a field and huddled for I guess ten minutes. Then it went off to the east.”
BLUE FLASH OF LIGHT
The next witness was Mrs. LaDonna Walker, who lived three and a half miles east of Oak Grove. She said the object followed her car for several miles. She was driving home from a high school basketball game with her four sons and a neighbor boy.
"We were driving north on Route 103 between nine-thirty and ten,” Mrs. Walker said. "We were about two miles out of Green Forest when we first saw it and it's about twelve miles from Green Forest, so we saw it for about ten miles. The boys first saw it, two lights some ways off to the west.
“About a mile out of Oak Grove we saw this blue flash, like a flash of lightning, and after that it seemed like the lights came toward us. It followed us. We'd speed up and it would go faster. We'd slow down and it would go slower.
“When we got to the four-way stop in Oak Grove, the boys hollered to stop, they wanted to get out and look at it. So we stopped and this machine or whatever it was hovered above us and there were four lights in a square. There was a red light in the center and it hovered above us for probably about a minute and then it took off to the northeast."
Greg Pyron, also an announcer for radio station KTHS, said: "We have a weather station at the radio station and the wind that night was just the opposite of the path this thing was going. The wind was roughly from east to west. If it was a balloon, it should have been going in the opposite direction.
"We thought it might have been an experimental craft but checking with the Air National Guard, the Air Force at Little Rock and Fort Smith, there was no such traffic reported on any of their scopes that night and no such authorizations that night.
“Apparently it was something else but we could not find out what. The military denied any knowledge of anything at all in the area that night. We received a flood of calls from people reporting seeing the object."
The police received a number of calls, too. The Carroll County Sheriff's Office, with headquarters in Berryville, at that time handled all communications at night for the three police departments in the county, Berryville, Eureka Springs and Green Forest.
"We had probably a dozen to a dozen and a half calls that evening," said Carroll County Sheriff Jerry Colvin. "The general consensus was that this was a type of triangle or kite-shaped thing.
“Some saw different colors, others say they saw just one type of lights, pure white. The primary shape, the lighting and so forth all seem to be pretty much the same."
Where the object went after that that night, no one knows. When last seen it was angling north up across the state line into Missouri. I spent several days in Berryville and the rest of Carroll County looking into these sightings and have wondered how far into Missouri I could have traced it if I had had the time.
Several nights after the December 15 sighting, a Eureka Springs man had a startling experience.
"I was heading for Berryville about eleven o'clock to see a girlfriend," said David Bland, then twenty-four, a real estate and insurance salesman and former Eureka Springs city councilman. "As I was coming down this steep hill I noticed something orange in the sky approximately two hundred feet up, hovering in the sky.
“I was looking out the left window. I thought I was seeing things. I ran off the road once so I pulled over, rolled down my window and watched it for a minute or two. It was kind of a moon-shaped object that was a fiery red. It became more intense as you looked at the center of the object.
"Then it shot off in a northeasterly direction just like a bullet. It was super speed. I've never seen anything like it, and I thought I'd better keep this to myself or people will think I'm off my rocker.
“The funny thing is, we had been sitting drinking coffee and talking about the UFO sightings they'd had in Berryville and I was kind of laughing about it. But this bothered me so much I went back to Eureka Springs and reported it to Deputy Dale Walden. He and another gentleman went and looked for the object but it never returned.
“It amazed me, it really did. I was just astounded. It was incredible how fast it moved. I don't know what it was but it made a believer out of me."
BLUE LIGHTS ‘SCARED ME BAD’
One other incident involved a woman who worked late at night and was driving seventeen miles home on January 11, 1978.
“It happened at eleven-thirty at night,” said Verla Donnell, an emergency medical technician for Carroll General Hospital in Berryville. "It was snowing and it was slick. I was driving real slow, like thirty-five."
About seven miles north of Berryville on Route 221, she saw a red light off to the right. “I wondered what it was because there's nothing there,” said Mrs. Donnell, the mother of four children then two through ten. “It looked kind of triangular-shaped or bell-shaped.
“I was going slow but eventually I lost sight of it. Out of curiosity, I stopped and backed up until I could see it again. It was big. It looked too big for that far away. There's nothing there but trees and it was real cold and it looked like it was above the trees.
"It had a yellow glow on the edge. It was red in the center but it was yellow along the edge. It wasn't stable. I watched it and it kind of floated off to the side and disappeared.
“The road was kind of low where I was and I thought maybe when I came up on this little rise I could see it. So I was looking but I didn't see anything red. I saw what looked like a blue glow just over the hill.
"I wasn't scared then. I kept looking and looking and there’s this little house and all at once these blue balls of light just kind of oozed up from behind this house! There were six of them. They went parallel to the road and there is no road there.
“I kept looking out the side window and they just kept right beside me. That’s when I got scared. It scared me real bad. Every time I'd look, it would be right beside me, staying with me.
“My aunt and uncle live right up at the state line there and I decided to stop and maybe they could help me. So I stopped. I looked back and the lights were gone. When I got home I could hardly stand up I was so scared. I wouldn't even get out of the car until my husband came out.”
(For more on sightings of triangular-shaped objects, click here.)