My initial plan for this month’s column was to discuss an event that had occurred over the southwestern United States on the night of August 15, 1999, a dramatic case that I have discussed many times in public lectures. The event, which was reported by hundreds of witnesses, was an unimaginably bright flash of light which occurred over western New Mexico, and which was recorded by a Sandia National Laboratory “sky camera,” located approximately 80-100 miles to the east of the epicenter of the flash. The cause of the flash remains a mystery, although strong evidence suggests to me, and to others who are familiar with the case, that the event appears to have been UFO-related.
However, on Saturday night, November 10, 2012, as I was writing about that event, the Hotline began ringing off the hook, and intriguing written reports started pouring in over NUFORC’s Online Report Form. The reports appeared to address the sightings of clusters, i.e. anywhere from two to 50, of red or orange “fireballs,” allegedly seen by witnesses all across the United States. Given that this “fireball” phenomenon is a subject I have addressed in past months (See the August 2012 issue of the UFO Journal.), I felt that this new and dramatic evidence warranted revisiting the subject of these unexplained colorful “orbs.” The New Mexico “flash” case would have to wait for a future issue of the Journal!
In an attempt to provide the reader with a glimpse into what it is like to run a Hotline on a night like that one, I provide below an edited synopsis of nine of the approximately 30+ sighting reports that were submitted to our Center in rapid sequence, as a result of those sightings. The largely unedited summaries below appear in chronological sequence of their actual occurrence, allowing for the fact that they occurred over four separate U. S. time zones.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA, @ 1830 HRS. (EST) – Observed up to nine reddish orange objects flying in commercial airspace near Orlando International Airport. Daughter outside with friends and wife. They saw two circular-shaped balls orange-red in color. Called me outside, and we then saw four flying in a triangular pattern. No noise. Looked orange/red. Noticed a slight flash to them. Approximately 1500 feet. Not sure. Live near Orlando International Airport and they were flying in the opposite direction as the normal flight patterns. After them, 2-4 more came about one minute after; same height, flight pattern and shape. After those passed, one more came and flew directly over a plane flying east. Looked like a near miss. I have video of objects taken on a digital camera.
ENDICOTT, NEW YORK, @ 1830 HRS. (EST) – Two lights joined by two more moving slowing southeast to northwest. On this dark night, saw two orange/yellow lights moving slowing from southeast to northwest. They were not close enough together to be on the same object yet too close together to be two aircraft.
Considered helicopters but they were low enough that we should’ve heard something.
ELDRIDGE, IOWA, @ 1750 HRS. (CST) – Bright orange/yellow object, with red trim, circular; fast moving, quiet, light. Coming fast from the south, we saw a bright, round orange/yellowish light with an outer red light all the way around it. There weren’t any blinking lights like a plane. It was moving very fast and made no sounds, which was odd because it appeared somewhat close to us, or at least it seemed like it, in the night sky. It continued moving straight north and then just seemed to disappear.
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN, @ 2000 HRS. (EST) – Tonight in Clinton Township, Michigan, at approximately 8 p.m. EST, I was eastbound on Metro Parkway (16 Mile road), and arrived at the intersection of Garfield and Metro Parkway.
As I approached the red light, I noticed three lights, each of them both red and white/clear, like a brake light and headlight (each), in a triangle formation stop over the traffic light/intersection and hover for a moment, and then head northwest (from south east to northwest direction). It moved very slowly over the top of the trees. When I got home, I posted on Facebook that I had seen something strange and asked if anyone else had. One of the leaders from my church posted that her teenage daughter and friends had been at the intersection of 15 and Utica (southeast of where I saw it), and they saw a huge ball of fire fall from the sky, and then break into three separate lights like a UFO and move toward the direction of Metro Parkway and Garfield.
MONTPELIER, VERMONT, @ 2025 HRS. (EST) – Saw a UFO in Montpelier. Walking down Court Street toward Main. To our right near town there were three orange-red dots. The dot closest to us moved upward and then we noticed all three dots seemed to go in the same direction. It banked left and disappeared over what I could say may be Berlin or Barre. Object was silent and moved slowly. Like it was observing. It was weird. And then this mist that smelled like wood smoke was over the town. Toward Hubbard and Barre streets. So weird. Did anyone else report this?
MURRELLS INLET, SOUTH CAROLINA, @ 2030 HRS. (EST)— Fifteen to 20 orange/reddish orb type lights “floating” south and then disappearing and reappearing. There was no sound whatsoever. Smaller orbs were breaking off some of the larger orbs. They were all moving in a similar pattern. Some higher than others. They were moving together in a line but it was not a perfectly straight line. Later that night, I do not know if the lights were related, but there was a green falling flash that came out of an empty sky. The green light happened around 3a.m.
CASTLE ROCK, WASHINGTON, @ 1828 HRS. (PST) – Three glowing, reddish-orange spheres hovering and then maneuvering at fairly close range. UFO Report Location: Three miles east of Castle Rock, WA, approximately one-quarter mile from SR504 and 1000’ east of Si Town Road. Date and Time: November 10th, 2012, 18:28 Pacific Standard Time. Sky Condition: No Ceiling, Clear Sky, Dark Period of time observed: From initial visual acquisition to their departure, approximately one minute. Description of Objects: Three totally silent, solid, reddish-orange, glowing spheres forming an equilateral triangle. Size: Each sphere approximately the size of a dime held out at arm’s length. Event Description: At approximately 18:28 Pacific Standard Time on November 10th, 2012, I was driving southbound on Si Town Road toward my home. Three bright, reddish-orange spheres low to the ground initially caught my eye when I was approximately 1,200 feet south of SR504 on Si Town Rd. Seconds after my initial visual acquisition these objects were momentarily obscured by trees. When I re-acquired these objects about two seconds later I now had an unobstructed view of them. They appeared to be hovering at this point at an altitude of 500 feet or perhaps less above ground level and about 1,000 feet horizontally to the southeast of my location. The ground level at this location is about 700 feet above sea level. The three objects were close enough to my car that I almost stopped my car as I actually feared that they might block the road, but they stayed hovering where they had been the whole time so I continued southbound on Si Town Rd. They were totally silent. They did not blink, rotate or change color. They maintained a constant luminosity until the end of this event. They were each very bright and each sphere was about as big around as a dime held at arm’s length. At this point I was not sure if I was observing one solid triangular craft with lights at each corner, or if I was observing three independent objects. As I turned east onto Ness Road and approached my house about 45 seconds after initially acquiring these objects they began to maneuver independently of each other, but still over the same location. At this point they maneuvered into a straight line, equally spaced from each other and began to ascend. I quickly pulled into my driveway with the car facing basically toward the objects. At this point they all ascended vertically together with no horizontal travel noted. One by one each object faded out and disappeared up into the darkness. At this point I was quite shaken. I ran out of my car and into the house to get my wife. I grabbed my camera and tried to explain what had just happened to my wife, but there was no longer anything to see. I called the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office and Castle Rock City Police Department 15 to 20 minutes after this event to inquire if anyone else had seen what I saw. They both responded in the negative. Let me add that until retiring I was a commercial pilot and I still hold an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. I’ve been flying since 1977. As such I am quite used to identifying and looking at things in the sky. The objects I observed tonight were NOT aircraft navigation lights, emergency lights, landing lights, helicopters, lighter-than-air craft, weather balloons, flares, Chinese lanterns, meteorological phenomena, satellites, swamp gas, or any other nonsense. I know how non-aviation people can often misidentify things they see in the sky. This was not the case tonight. These were real, solid objects and appeared to maneuver under intelligent control. I’m still shaking from what I saw more than an hour and a half ago.
*Mr. James Clarkson, State Director for MUFON in Washington State, met with the witness in Castle Rock on November 12, 2012, to begin a follow-up investigation.
PLACENTIA, CALIFORNIA, @1930 HRS. (PST) – Clusters of orange “lights,” cylindrical in shape, traversing the night sky in the area above our heads. As we entered our automobile, one person looked out the rear view window and commented on seeing strange lights in the night sky. We all got out and looked and above us traversing the sky were about 30 bright orange lights, spherical in shape, moving slowly across the sky, soundless, and soon disappearing as they floated out of view. They were clearly delineated against the dark sky. We could not attribute these objects to anything we had ever seen before.
One witness was a Ph.D. biology professor, one was an engineer, one was a high school teacher; the other two women were college educated and none were inclined to make snap judgments concerning the nature of the objects.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, @ 1940 HRS. (PST) – Three red/orange circles blacking out in the night. On the evening of November 10, at 7:40 p.m., I was taking my dog outside. I saw two red/orange circles in the sky moving SSE slowly at the same speed. It was located to the west of my position. I told my wife to come out and witness the movement. There were no sounds that we could hear of. The lead circle would pulsate slightly and then die off. Because it was dark, we weren’t sure if it blacked out or was masked by clouds. About 10 seconds after, the second blacked out. My wife went back into the house and I continued to walk the dog around the neighborhood. Approximately three minutes later, I saw a third red/orange circle trailing the same route as the first two. After about one to two minutes, the third blacked out as well. I saw regular aircraft in the vicinity of these circles. It was obvious that these red circles did not fit the profile of a normal aircraft. Additionally, the movement was unnatural to a regular aircraft. It would shift mid-air. When I got back into the house, my wife researched this to see if anyone else saw this pattern. On the UFO Reporting Center, the description matched similar reports. I’m a former Marine Corps Officer with an MBA and my wife has a masters as well. We have never witnessed anything like this before. My first assumption was that these might be police unmanned aerial vehicles.