The year 1973 was a very challenging year for me. I was living in Dayton, Ohio, was newly married, and working as a teacher in a preschool. I was the MUFON State Section Director for the Dayton metropolitan area and in my spare time, did volunteer work for the Air Force Museum. I had been busy trying to get a local chapter in place and conducted meetings in my garage which I had converted into a room. About 20 people would attend my periodic meetings and I started building up a Field Investigations team of about five people. This kept me very busy...until later in that year.
Dayton had reports periodically (around 5-10 cases a month). Many of them had the typical prosaic explanations we see today, namely bolides, the planet Venus, and aircraft from Wright Patterson AFB. By around the latter part of September and into October, that number increased to between 50-60 a week. The usual explanations no longer seemed to fit anything. You would get a call that as many as 20 residents in a community had seen an object performing loops in the sky or hovering for long periods of time only to shoot off at an amazing speed. A police officer in Lebanon, Ohio, watched as an object did unusual moves in the southern sky with many other policemen and residents watching. The officer managed to capture an image of the object as it veered overhead. Later, it was on the cover of the National Enquirer and written up by Bob Pratt, a well know writer who routinely covered the UFO stories for the tabloid.
My team of five Field Investigators and I spent the next 4-5 weeks buried in investigations. I had to take time off of work, and later I had to reintroduce myself to my wife whom I had all but abandoned. Many nights were spent sleeping outside in my car and gazing at the sky in hopes of seeing something, but alas, it never manifested for me. It was a daily routine. Get up, gather your notes and equipment, figure out where the next witness lived, give them a call and ask if you could stop by to meet with them and conduct your investigation. The typical and repeatable patterns would ensue. Have them tell their story uninterrupted. Ask them to do a walk through of every step they took. Let them point to the position in the sky that they witnessed this. Capture every detail in your notes (compass reading, azimuths, angular size, approximate or estimated distance, weather conditions, etc.). I would record their interviews now having done this and again capture every detail asking for clarifications to points made. Next, I would provide them with colored pencils and paper asking them to draw the object(s) and collect these into folders.
It was decided by all that we would go back to the site at daybreak. Patrolman Robert Bales, and my State Director Larry Moyers who had joined me at some point during the week, went to the site of the area in the woods. A tree was now laying on the ground with a hole the size of a half dollar going through most of the trunk. The base had some ash and it was still hot. I moved some of this ash only to see blue sparks jumping off of the tree. We had already measured it with a Geiger counter and had no radiation readings. I had collected all of my samples and took photos of the area. I wrote up my notes and later we all departed. It was weeks before I could stop to write up the notes. Len Stringfield and I were very good friends. We had spent much time together and often were on TV and radio programs, in meetings and in lengthy telephone conversations. In short, we were always comparing notes. Len asked that I provide him copies of my notes and photos which he later covered in his book, Situation Red: The UFO Siege. It highlights the challenges of the 1973 Flap and the cases I mention above along with photos are in it.
As I stated, the year 1973 was very challenging! I survived it, but the cases and the events that took place were on a scale that I have never seen since. My hope is that every dedicated Field Investigator can experience this in their lives. You learn a lot from meeting with witnesses. Many cases that you might write off as being a conventional object, suddenly become an unknown only when you see witnesses face-to-face, listen to their stories and analyze the information first hand. I encourage you to meet them when you can and use whatever means to speak with them immediately after the event.
MUFON Deputy Director of Investigations
STAR Team Manager
Alabama State Director
Science Review Board Top 10 Review Committee Member