PREFACE: One of the gratifying aspects of writing for the UFO Journal is that it allows detailed discussion of UFO sighting reports, which otherwise might go either untold, or unnoticed by the public. One of the frustrating parts of my job as Director of a UFO Hotline is how little time I have to devote to each case. Moreover, appearances in the media, regrettably, rarely allow a person to focus on a case to a sufficient degree to be able to share any but the most salient aspects of the event. It is frequently the case, I observe, that some of the seemingly minor nuance surrounding a UFO-related event often is even more interesting, and potentially more important, than some of the more obvious aspects of the sighting.
This month, it is my pleasure to write about two dramatic sighting cases, which serve to underscore how unpredictable a UFO sighting can be, and how unsettling such sightings can be to the witnesses involved.
Following a full summer of work as carpenters in fish canneries along the southern coast of Alaska, Elger and his teenage friend and co-worker by the name of Peterson (first name unknown), moved north to the Anchorage area, where they quickly were hired by the Civilian Conservation Corps to work on the construction of a C.C.C. residence camp in the village of Eklutna, located approximately 15 miles east of Anchorage. After several months of residence at the camp, Berg and Peterson had gotten into the habit of hitchhiking into Anchorage on Saturday nights to enjoy the ambiance of that city on Sundays, their only day off. At the end of their visits to the city, they typically would catch a ride back to their camp with one of the trucks heading that direction.
One Saturday night in late October, with snow on the ground, they set off walking from the camp, expecting to hitch a ride into Anchorage. However, on this particular evening, no trucks came by, and the two soon found themselves several miles from their camp, uncomfortably cold, and without adequate clothing. They were worried!
Their alarm over their circumstance quickly evaporated, however, when they saw to the west of them a single light, which they assumed to be the sole functioning headlight on an approaching truck, heading back east in the direction of the camp. They had had enough of the cold, and they were looking forward to a comfortable, and warm, ride back home!
However, their relief was quickly replaced by alarm, when they realized that the light was not a headlight at all, but rather a brightly lighted flying object, which they first took to be an unusual aircraft. The object was so bizarre in appearance, in fact, that they quickly concluded that it must be some type of government test aircraft. The most befuddling aspect of the event to the two men was the strange, high-pitched, and ear-piercing, sound emanating from the object.
Within seconds of having first sighted the object, the two men had determined that they were looking at something very unusual, and its strange nature, combined with its proximity to them, gave rise to considerable alarm. In fact, Elger was so alarmed by the situation that he proposed to his friend that they dive into a nearby snow bank to conceal themselves from the object, which for some reason they perceived to be a threat to their safety.
As the object passed overhead, it briefly came to a complete stop, allowing both men to get a very good look at it. Its shape reminded them generally of a flat iron, used for ironing clothes. Its ventral surface appeared to be smooth, with no doors or markings, and the back part of it, as it flew away, appeared blunt or flattened, somewhat like the transom of a boat. In addition, it seemed to radiate an “envelope” of strange, un-earthly, blue-green light, a color that neither man had ever seen before, and which reinforced their perception that they were witnessing something very out of the ordinary.
After what seemed to both men to be just a few seconds, the object began moving off slowly. It went up and over the top of a nearby mountain, and disappeared from their sight. When it was gone, the two men extracted themselves from the snow bank where they had attempted to conceal themselves, and ran the complete distance back to camp, arriving there quite late.
In one of my several conversations with Mr. Berg during the fall of 2000, he shared with me the fact that he had attempted to recount his story to friends and family members, but few people exhibited any interest. In fact, most of his family tended to ridicule him, which led him to cease all attempts to tell anyone about the event. His wife, he thought, was the only other person to know the complete story, aside from Mr. Peterson, the other witness.
Also, Mr. Berg brought to my attention the fact that he had worked for Boeing Aircraft Corporation for the last twenty five years of his working career. He mentioned that fact because every time he heard the unique ear-piercing whine of a turbine engine being shut down, it reminded him of the sound that had emanated from that craft near Eklutna. However, his sighting had occurred long before turbine engines were being used in aircraft, of course.
Mr. Berg died just a few months following our first telephone conversation. I had invited him to appear on an evening radio program to tell his story, but he died just a few days before that appearance. However, shortly before his death, he shared with me how pleased he was to have been able to tell his story to someone who would appreciate it, and how pleased he was to have been able to preserve the information surrounding the experience for all to share in.
La Crosse, Washington, December 29, 1994—A young woman was driving home with her five children in the area of eastern Washington State referred to as “the Palouse,” located just north of the Snake River, and approximately 25 miles to the west of the city of Pullman. The Palouse is known for its remoteness, and for its principal industry, the cultivation of large quantities of wheat.
It was already dark that Thursday night, the mother had endured a long and exhausting drive, and she was looking forward to getting home soon. So, instead of driving the four miles east to the town of Dusty on Highway 127, only to have to double back west an equal distance, she decided to turn north on Zaring Cut-Off Road, saving probably six or seven miles in her trip back to her home in La Crosse. That was a fateful decision, she later admitted to me!
After having proceeded only a mile or two north from Hwy. 127, the mother looked out to her right, and noticed a cluster of very bright lights that seemed to be hovering just above a large, snow-covered field. She commented to her children that there were “18-wheelers” out in the middle of the field, and conjectured on what they were doing out there in the middle of winter! Her children quickly chimed in, asserting that the lights were not attached to trucks at all, but rather seemed affixed to something that the children could not identify.
The mother looked back at the display of lights, more carefully the second time, and she quickly agreed with the children’s assessment of the peculiar nature of the lights.
Intrigued by what she was looking at, the mother stopped her car on the road, and rolled down her side window to determine whether she could hear any sound coming from what she by now had determined were three dark colored, triangular-shaped objects flying slowly in unwavering formation. What she found most unusual was that the objects appeared to be shining shafts of light down to the ground from their “noses,” and the lights were scanning back and forth in rapid sequence, almost as if the objects were searching for something.
As the family sat in their motionless car, they watched as the three objects crossed the road and passed to the west in front of them, with one of the three passing directly above the automobile.
When the objects got to the quartering left of the car, they all suddenly, and in precise synchrony, simply rotated in the horizontal plane, and now began moving to the south over the field on the west side of Zaring Cut-Off Road. The three craft proceeded slowly to the south, apparently without changing their respective positions in the formation, and they quickly disappeared from the witnesses’ sight. However, as they passed along the left side of the car, the mother looked up through her open window, and could see several detailed features on the objects. In addition, she could hear what she described as a high-pitched whine coming from the objects, which she likened to the sound that a refrigerator motor makes.
The mother telephoned the UFO Hotline on January 1st, 1995, to recount her experience, which had left her mortified with fear. In fact, she admitted to me during that conversation that, after the sighting, she had been unable to force herself to go outside after dark!
An interesting aspect of that conversation was the fact that several of the woman’s children apparently were present during the mother’s call to the Hotline, and I could hear their comments in the background. Throughout the conversation, if the mother made a comment that the children were not fully in agreement with, they would blurt out their correction to the mother’s statement. It was a wonderful form of confirmation of the mother’s rendition of the event, I thought!
At my request, the mother prepared a map of the area where the sighting had occurred, together with high-quality drawings of the objects she had witnessed. In addition, one of the daughters, and independently of the mother, prepared a drawing of what the formation of objects had looked like. We provide the mother’s illustration here.
Afterword: In future months, I hope to submit to the UFO Journal articles about cases which exhibit strange coincidences. One of those cases involves the bizarre mutilation of a car, the possible significance of which occurred to me only many months after the event had occurred. Was the event some kind of unbelievably subtle message, intended only for someone who works in the field of ufology, or am I reaching too far? I will discuss my thoughts and observations about the case in a future article.