About the time you think you've heard all you ever wanted to know about UFOs and more, along comes something new and intriguing.
I made a special trip to Indianapolis, Indiana, in January 1982 to interview George Lynn Guthrie, then fifty, field supervisor for a large insurance company.
I took a detour of nearly a thousand miles on an auto trip from Florida to Birmingham to Houston to see him. He wouldn't tell me his story over the phone. He wanted to see me face to face before he'd discuss it.
At that time, Guthrie taught computer operations to the secretarial staff throughout the company's one hundred twenty offices in Indiana, and later formed his own technology company. His background, however, is linguistics.
He had been, at one time, a Russian-voice intercept processing supervisor for the Air Force Security Service Command, whatever that means. He wouldn't discuss what he did, but he said he studied Russian at Syracuse University's Skytop College, which was operated by the university for the U.S. Air Force.
Guthrie served in the Air Force for twenty seven years, retiring in 1977 with a rank of master sergeant.
When I interviewed him, he was still subject to the National Security Acts and, because of the nature of the work he did in the Air Force, probably always will be. Although he couldn't discuss his job, he didn't feel that telling me about something he and others saw on a particular flight would violate any of the security oaths he signed.
"It was while I was in the Air Force as crew chief of an airborne intelligence crew flying a mission in the Baltic Sea during the month of November 1970," Guthrie said as we sat at his dining room table. "We had been airborne for perhaps seven or eight hours and the time of the sighting was approximately eleven or eleven thirty p.m. in the evening.
"We were at the far southerly end of our mission orbit leg. We had made a turn off the coast of Gotland Island, which is a Swedish possession in the upper Baltic Sea, and were turning in an easterly direction heading generally towards Copenhagen, Denmark."
was in an RC-135 reconnaissance plane with a three-man flight crew in
the cockpit and a team of specialists in the back under his command.
"I asked what was up and they said they really didn't know but they saw another similar object on the horizon to the south of us over East Germany and that perhaps I could see it in the back of the aircraft out of one of the porthole windows.
"So, without telling the rest of the members of my crew, because I did not want them to leave station, I put my assistant in charge and stepped out into the corridor and looked out the window towards the front of the aircraft, which at this time was beginning its mission turn from almost due south to a westerly course off the southern tip of Gotland Island and turning on a heading more or less towards Copenhagen.
"And at that time I saw three bright glowing objects flying in a triangular formation. Our mission aircraft at the time was doing approximately four hundred fifty or five hundred knots, and these appeared to be closing extremely rapidly on a parallel course to the aircraft.
“We were going at that point in our turn from a southerly to a westerly direction and they were proceeding from the south-southwesterly direction to a northeasterly direction.
"The night was extremely clear. We had good visibility clear to the ground. It was a bright night. The objects I saw were three in number. They were flying in a triangular formation, with a lead man and two point men on either side of the lead man.
“They appeared as round, glowing red fireballs. The nearest thing I can describe to it is an old fashioned cook stove lid that's been overheated and is just glowing red, or like something you'd see on an anvil in a blacksmith's shop, the glowing red of metal.
"I cannot state with any degree of accuracy whether these were relatively small objects seen fairly close to the aircraft or whether they were quite large objects seen at some distance away.
"The one thing that astounded me was the colossal speed. Even after compensating for our forward direction and they were moving in the opposite direction paralleling the aircraft, they would appear on the horizon and had swept across my complete range of vision from the front of the aircraft to the rear and going over the horizon towards the Arctic regions, it was just a matter of two or three seconds.
"I imagine my field of vision at thirty five thousand feet, at a guess, would have been two hundred miles, a hundred miles in each direction, and they were covering that distance at an incredible speed.
"And just as I was sitting there open-mouthed astonished watching this phenomenon flash by, there on the horizon appeared three more identical objects, and I watched no less than five or six groups of these things appear suddenly on the horizon at great speed, pass the aircraft and disappear in the Arctic regions to the rear of the aircraft.
"After five or six of these groups had passed, that seemed to be the end of them. We saw no more of them. They did not return.
“They did not make any maneuvers or deviate left or right or alter course or speed or altitude. They just went in a straight line from one horizon out of sight to the rear of the aircraft over the horizon.
"I would say the time it took them to appear and disappear couldn't have been more than seconds, perhaps three or four seconds we would have each group in sight.
"It was just incredible. I have never seen anything move like that in my life.
“I've been on aircraft as senior airborne crew member for twelve, fifteen years, and I've been around all types of aircraft, flown on aircraft, logged thousands of hours on old World War II B-50s, B-29s, C-47s, B-47s, C-130 A and B models, RC-135Hs.
“I'm familiar with most of the aircraft in the Air Force inventory and I've worked on flight lines of aircraft all my life, helicopters and various types of aircraft, and yet these fit into no known aircraft configuration that I have ever seen in my life.
"They were completely circular. They appeared to be under intelligent control because of the fact they were in formation, an intelligently guided formation.
"As far as the external characteristics, all I can say is to repeat what I said, they reminded me of a round glowing fireball, something like a stove lid that is red hot."
Guthrie saw at least eighteen and perhaps twenty one of these objects, and the flight crew in the front end had seen at least one or two groups before Guthrie became aware of what was happening.
"Everybody was rather stunned,” Guthrie added. “We sat speechless for a little bit because we knew they were not terrestrial aircraft off of this planet, of any nation.
“This was quite obvious to anybody that's flown as many hours as we have, that those craft could possibly exist or belong to any country on this planet. There's nothing that travels that fast that's man-made.
"They were not meteors. Meteors do not fly in formation. Meteors don't fly in a straight line from one horizon to the other.
"They were, I feel, intelligently guided, if not controlled internally, then controlled externally perhaps, as a remote vehicle from some other craft. But even that stupefies the imagination that anything could be controlled at those colossal speeds from a remote viewpoint."
Such speeds are indeed unbelievable. He had no way of knowing how far away the objects were or over what distances he had them in sight. But, if they came and went in four seconds – he had actually started counting, "one thousand and one, one thousand and two…” – they had to have been clipping along at several tens of thousands of miles an hour. That's pretty zippy.
Naturally, that seems impossible, even to those of us living in the fast lane. But, given the present state of acceleration of our own technology, what speeds will we be capable of in a couple of hundred years?