by Robert Hastings
As far as I am aware, the declassified U.S. government documents relating to UFO sightings near the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory were all generated in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Nevertheless, similar incidents have continued to occur in the lab’s vicinity. On the evening of July 20, 1996, a friend of mine was camping in the Jemez Mountains, some 20 miles west of Los Alamos. As he and his family were settling-in for the night, they noticed a “satellite” traversing the dark, star-filled New Mexican sky. But as they watched, the small white light instantly changed course with a sharp, 45-degree turn. Obviously, the object was not a satellite, meteor, or aircraft.
Puzzled by what they had seen, the campers commented on the strange light, and speculated about what it may have been. A few minutes later, however, something far more dramatic caught their eye. A round, white light, far larger than a star or planet, had seemingly appeared out of nowhere and began to hover directly overhead. Suddenly, five smaller white lights were seen racing across the sky—three from one direction, two from another—all flying directly toward the larger object.
As the family watched in astonishment, the small lights merged with it. Seconds later, two identical lights burst from it and flew away at high speed. Then the larger object simply disappeared. “It sort of expanded or exploded or something,” my friend said, as he described the experience two days later, “Then it just vanished!”
The newspaper reported, “On the video Ortiz took, the white disk had two notches in it and appeared round one minute and saucer-shaped as it moved. Lights blinked at one end, and its color changed from [white to] green to purple. It would hover for a matter of minutes, then move erratically. Ortiz taped more than three hours of the object hovering in the sky.”
Thirteen Years Earlier
After interviewing my friend about his sighting west of Los Alamos, I began to search the Internet, attempting to learn whether other campers had reported sighting UFOs in the Jemez Mountains that July weekend in 1996. While I could find no corroborating reports, another, earlier account caught my eye. Patricia Hoyt, a freelance writer living in Florida, posted this summary of her own experience:
“[A recently-reported sighting in Georgia] reminded me of a UFO I saw near Los Alamos, NM, Monday evening of Memorial Weekend, 1983. A friend and I were camping when we saw a round white light moving slowly on the ground in a zigzag pattern on the side of a hill, several miles to the east. We assumed it was an army tank on maneuvers, as it would go over the hill, disappear, and return to our side of the hill. After about fifteen minutes of zigzagging, it suddenly rose into the sky and hovered over the hill for about five minutes. Not really believing in UFOs at that time, I thought it was a Harrier jet as I groped for a ‘logical explanation.’
“As the white light hovered over the hill, it suddenly expanded so fast, (like a controlled explosion) to about 500 times its original size. It floated obliquely to the south and much nearer to us. My friend and I felt like targets and were terrified. We jumped into our rental car but the car wouldn’t start, it was completely dead. Strangely reasoning that ‘they’ wanted the car, we got back out.
“The object stopped at 2,500 feet up and about 2,000 feet from us. It was shaped like a huge disk with a flat side facing us. I heard a quiet, pulsating, high-pitched hum that almost made my ears hurt. I felt the hair on my head and arms rise, as if static electricity was strong. At arm’s length the object would have been [the length of a yardstick] in diameter. It began to slowly flip over, backwards. As it flipped over, the thin edge of the disk was completely transparent—we could see stars through it. As it flipped over to its other side, it was opaque again and was bright red like a huge neon sign.
“It paused for a second and seemed to ‘take a deep breath,’ then it suddenly zoomed off to the size of a little star and ‘got lost’ among the other stars. Our car started fine after that. It forced me to realize that UFOs are real, and that our conventional science does not have the proper tools or paradigms to study this phenomenon.”
I note here that Hoyt’s description of the UFO suddenly expanding “like a controlled explosion” is quite similar to my friend’s comment about the UFO he saw west of Los Alamos, some 13 years later, having “expanded or exploded or something” before disappearing.
I should add that, one night in 2001, I saw a very similar phenomenon at my house in Placitas, New Mexico, roughly 30 miles south-southwest of Los Alamos. As I sat on my patio, I noticed a single, bright red light in the sky heading on a north-northeasterly flight path from Albuquerque to Placitas.
Just as the light passed east of my house, less than half-a-mile away in my estimate, it suddenly but steadily expanded to perhaps 20 to 30 times its previous diameter and, after perhaps five seconds, steadily returned to its previous size.
While this dazzling transformation was occurring, the light kept moving at a constant velocity, on a course that would have taken it over, or just east of, Los Alamos. There was no noise of any kind. Stupidly, I neglected to record the date of the incident.
UFO Abduction Near Los Alamos?
Another intriguing UFO sighting near Los Alamos came to my attention in 1991. A friend of mine, knowing of my research, had suggested that I contact his sister-in-law, who had recently reported a strange experience while driving home one night.
When I subsequently telephoned the woman, who I will not identify, she seemed surprised to hear from me, but agreed to discuss her experience. She indicated that she routinely drove her husband to work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he was employed as a technician at one of the lab’s remote sites. After dropping him off each night, she would drive back home to the neighboring town of Espanola.
Because her husband worked the “graveyard” shift, which started at midnight, she would usually arrive home at about one a.m.
According to the woman, on one such night some months earlier, she had observed a strange light in the sky as she left the town of Los Alamos.
Moreover, she had the odd sensation that it was following her—staying somewhat behind her and apparently just above treetop-level. At that time of night, there was little or no traffic and she suddenly became very uneasy about being alone on the road.
She assured me that this anxiety was not typical. She had driven that route, at that hour, many times before—and had not experienced it previously.
As she was relating this to me, I reminded myself that many persons who are unfamiliar with the planets or certain bright stars often mistake one of them for a UFO. Furthermore, when one is driving or riding in a car, an astronomical body can seem to “follow” along. This illusion is created when the body is periodically obscured by the trees and buildings that one is passing on the road.
As it emerges from behind such obstacles—due to the continued movement of the car—it can appear as if the planet or star is itself moving in the sky.
After making this mental note, I continued to listen carefully to the woman’s story, without comment or premature evaluation.
She went on to say that she could still see the object in the sky as she pulled into her driveway. She noted that even though it was becoming light—just before sunrise—the object was still quite visible because of its extreme brilliance. At this point in the telephone interview, I interrupted her and asked, “Didn’t you say that you generally arrive home at around one a.m.? She quickly responded, “Yes,” and then paused.
After a few seconds of silence, I heard an audible gasp on the other end of the phone. Without further comment from me, she had realized that something was wrong: Even in mid-summer, the sun would not have risen before five a.m. If accurately reported, how are we to explain this account? In my view, the witness’ description of the anomalous aerial light and her inexplicable loss-of-time strongly suggest a classic UFO abduction report.
Because such cases are out of my area of expertise, I did not follow-up on the report.
I told the woman that she could call me if she wished to discuss her experience further but she never did.