PREFACE: At approximately 9:24 p.m. (Pacific) on Wednesday, April 22, 1998, an adult male and female, both Canadian citizens, were driving south from Hope, B.C., to Vancouver, B.C., in a convertible sports car with its roof retracted. Suddenly, both occupants of the car became aware of a dramatically bright, and distinctly green, “fireball” in the nighttime sky, which seemed to have come from behind them, and which proceeded to overtake their car at a very high rate of speed. The object, visible to them for only a few seconds, then continued toward the south-southwest, and disappeared from their sight over the southern horizon.
The male driver, a former Royal Canadian Air Force Lockheed CF-104 “Starfighter” pilot, reported during a telephone conversation with the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) that it was one of the most dramatic visual events that he had ever witnessed, and it was so bizarre in nature that he had decided that he would report the event only orally over the telephone; he did not wish to submit a written report, fearing some type of (imagined) official reprisal by the Canadian government, were he to report the event in written form!
The incident was reported by both KING-5 and KOMO-4 television news, which interviewed U. S. Navy personnel at the Bangor Submarine Base. In a conversation with the civilian Public Affairs Officer at Bangor, Peter Davenport was informed by that individual that the National UFO Reporting Center was forbidden to speak to any of the personnel stationed at that base!
I present below a number of the sighting reports submitted to NUFORC, as a result of the sighting event. All times indicated are estimates by the witnesses.
Snohomish, Washington, @ 9:20 p.m.—A young woman, looking west from the City of Snohomish, located approximately 20 miles north of Seattle, noticed a brilliantly bright, white light in the western sky, which immediately drew her full attention. She was one of several people in the greater Seattle area who reported that the object appeared to stop, hover motionless for a few seconds, and then suddenly “jump” to a new location. It then appeared to descend slowly, and proceeded to the south at a much slower speed than it was initially seen to be traveling. She wrote:
“A large, brilliantly white, stationary object, below the cloud cover. Intense brilliant whiteness, with a glowing orange/blue halo around it. Stayed in the sky without moving, then suddenly streaked from the northwest horizon to the southwest, with a tail of mixed color light behind it. Stopped, became stationary again, starting out intensely white, then growing the halo of color around it, for a few seconds, then flashed and disappeared...”
Friday Harbor, Washington, @ 9:30 p.m.—A male high school science teacher (physics/chemistry/astronomy) was sitting in his living room, looking to the east, when he became aware of a bright green light in the eastern sky. He wrote:
“On April 22, 1998, I was sitting in my front room by a south-facing window a little before 9:30. I was alone as it was a Wednesday and my wife was with her quilting group. A bright greenish object streaked into view moving south and was visible for a few seconds until it disappeared over the horizon to the south. The object had the appearance of re-entering space debris from my location. The speed was constant and the direction of travel never changed from my vantage point. I assumed it was a rocket booster or satellite burning up in the atmosphere, as it resembled a re-entering Russian booster I had witnessed some years previous. I mentioned the object to my wife and the next day heard reports that it was space junk and dismissed the sighting as such. I later attended a talk by Peter Davenport and he asked me to file this report with the best possible recreation of directions and elevations for his records. In doing so, I wish to state again that from my perspective, I observed no unusual behavior of the object and I remain somewhat skeptical of claims that these sightings are anything other than events easily explained by familiar events. At the same time, if I can in any way clarify an event with hard data I am more than willing to contribute. What follows is the data to the best of my recollection. Directions and elevations were measured with a Brunton pocket transit, a $200 compass that I used as a geologist. At the time, I was a high school physics/chemistry/astronomy teacher. Because the location of viewing obstructions in the house is fixed I feel that the angles and directions are good to within plus or minus 10 degrees. I wished that I had used the compass that night when all was fresh in my memory but I feel good about the numbers that follow. Apparent direction: due south. Bearing when first seen: 145 degrees true. Elevation when first seen: 30 degrees. Bearing when last seen: 180 degrees true. Elevation when last seen: 0 degrees (at horizon). Speed seemed slower than a meteor and there was a width to the trail. It was not just a narrow streak. I stepped outside and listened for a few minutes afterwards and no sound was heard. Hope this is of some help in piecing together this story.”
Bangor Submarine Base @ 9:23 p.m.—A retired U. S. Navy computer specialist was standing outside his home near the base, looking to the west, when he observed a disc-shaped craft pass slowly from his right to left (north to south) in front of him. The disc was moving very slowly, and appeared to him to be headed to that area of the base where hundreds of underground bunkers are located, which are thought to be used for the storage of nuclear weapons. He wrote:
“Entire bottom of disk was glowing except for center circular area approximately 30 percent of the diameter. Total diameter: approximately 100 feet. Object 300-400 feet off ground, moving slowly and silently directly over Bangor Submarine Base. Distance from me – approximately three-quarter mile. The glow on the bottom of disk was totally white - no colors. I seemed to be seeing only the bottom of the disk. Later during same evening (11:15 newscast) on Seattle Television (King 5) there were reports of strange green flashes of light in the sky at 9:15 p.m. to the west of Seattle. This was approximately the same time...yet I saw no flashes...only the disk. There was no sound from the disk. It did appear to be descending slightly as it moved from a northerly to a southwesterly direction across Bangor Submarine Base. I was the only observer in my household. I am 54 years old and an Information Systems analyst with Electronic Data Systems in Poulsbo, and am also a retired government (U.S. Navy) computer analyst.”
Portland, Oregon @ 9:20 p.m. —A young man was driving to work, looking to the western sky, when he witnessed a bright, glowing green “fireball” directly ahead of him. He wrote:
“I work graveyard and was just pulling into the parking lot when I saw a bright green glowing ball in the sky over my work place. It was there and suddenly gone. I was just arriving at my workplace at approximately 9:20 p.m. I had just come over a little hill going west towards Portland and there in the sky was a large, very bright glowing green ball. It lasted for only a few seconds and I could not tell which direction it was going. It just disappeared so quickly I was stunned. Fortunately, my co-worker pulled into the parking lot at the same time. We both got out of our cars and both remarked, “What was that?” I said that I think we just saw our first UFO!”
He was one of several witnesses in the Portland area who telephoned the UFO Hotline. Many of them reported that the object had stopped directly above Interstate 5, where it was seen to hover for several seconds, after which it suddenly seemed to streak to the east.
Yakima, Washington, @ 9:30 p.m. —Deputy Rolland Shaw, a 20-year veteran of the Yakima County Sheriff’s office, was standing outside his home on the south side of Yakima, looking east, when he witnessed a very bright “robin-egg blue” light in the eastern sky. It was moving extremely rapidly from his right to left (south to north), and was visible to him for an estimated 2-3 seconds. During his sighting, he reports, the object instantly changed from blue to bright red, and then suddenly disappeared from his sight. He wrote:
“A strong light, a blue object, no noise, traveling south to north. After hearing Mr. Davenport on the Art Bell program I thought I should pass this on. On or about 4-22-98 but definitely around 2130 hours, something illuminated my backyard as well as the entire area. It was much like lightning but of shorter duration. I looked to the east and saw a round, blue object which instantly changed to red. The object was traveling south to north at a high rate of speed with an altitude estimated to be 1,500-3,000 feet. The downward descent angle I would estimate at 25-35 degrees. There was no noise and the entire incident lasted 2-3 seconds. I have not found another person who witnessed this incident. The night was clear and no storms nearby.”
Deputy Shaw was the last of the witnesses to the event who reported their sightings to NUFORC.
SUMMARY: A bizarre object, of unknown nature and origin, coursed above Washington and Oregon for an estimated 10 minutes, during which time it was observed by multiple independent witnesses to stop on at least three occasions, descend to a lower elevation, ascend to a higher altitude, reverse its course by approximately 180 degrees, and change its appearance.
How many observers on the ground may have witnessed the event is unknown, but a reasonable estimate may be in the thousands to tens of thousands. During its presence above Washington and Oregon, the object covered an estimated distance of approximately 500-600 statute miles, translating to an average velocity of 3,600 miles per hour, or one mile per second. However, given the fact that the object was reported to have both stopped or slowed on several occasions, the object’s peak velocity must have been significantly higher than the average, at various times during the event.