The unsolved UFO mysteries that I find most interesting are my own. On two occasions, I have seen UFOs, and those two incidents, particularly the first one, are the basis of my certain knowledge that UFOs exist. Were they alien spacecraft? I have no idea. There was nothing in either of my experiences to definitively suggest the origin of the objects I saw, extraterrestrial or otherwise, except that they were not natural phenomena. Hence, they were UNIDENTIFIED flying objects.
My first encounter occurred in the summer of 1974, when I was seven years old. My family lived at that time in the rural eastern part of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The five of us, my parents, my brother and sister, and I, were returning home from a drive-in movie one evening, sometime between 11:00 pm and midnight. We were approximately a mile from our house, on a road that follows the crest of a low ridge that forms one side of a wide, shallow valley directly north of the village of Churchtown, which was about one mile to our south when we saw the UFO.
It was so unusual in appearance that my father stopped the car and we all got out to watch it pass. It appeared as two intensely bright white balls of light, almost as bright as a welder’s arc, a smaller one following behind and slightly above a larger one. We could not see any vehicle, only the lights, but the way they maintained their relative positions made it obvious they were part of the same object. It passed us traveling over the middle of the valley at an altitude of no more than several hundred feet, because it was low enough that the ground beneath it reflected the light from the object with the intensity of dim moonlight (there was no moon at that hour on that night). At its closest approach as it passed us, it was approximately half a mile to our south, traveling from west to east. It moved at a steady speed, fairly fast, and stayed on a straight course until we lost sight of it. If the two lights roughly approximated the length of the object, it was about the size of a small jetliner, like a DC-9. It made no sound whatsoever, and was traveling far too slowly to be supersonic; in any case, we did not hear a sonic boom or any jet noise after it had passed.
Naturally, the sighting sparked a lively conversation among the family, one which we have revisited from time to time through the years. The area where we lived was near, but not directly under, a flight path to the Philadelphia International Airport, so seeing passenger jets passing overhead was common; our UFO was definitely not one of those. Another possible explanation was that it was a light plane (there was a civilian airport in Morgantown a few miles to our east), but it was obviously larger than anything capable of using that airport, was lit differently than any plane we had ever seen, and was silent. And we could not recall, nor did we ever observe afterward, any light plane flying over that area at that altitude. Beyond mentioning it to a few friends, my father never reported the sighting, and we never heard any reports of a similar sighting. As far as I and the rest of the family are concerned, it was a UFO. It could have been an alien spaceship, it could have been a super-secret military craft, or maybe it was some mad scientist’s invention; we don’t know. Unidentified means unidentified.
My second encounter was similar to the first, but happened years later and in a completely different area of the country. In 1995 I was living in Utah, and often spent my weekends fishing. On one morning in the spring, I left before sunrise to try my luck at a place called Rush Lake, south of the town of Grantsville on the edge of the desert west of Salt Lake City. I arrived at the lake just as dawn was beginning to break. A few minutes after I had arrived, while I was still organizing my gear, I saw a group of three lights approaching from the south. These were also intense white lights like I had seen years earlier, but three instead of two, and thanks to a bit of light in the sky, I could see that they were on the bottom of a black, wedge-shaped craft. It passed by to my west, moving from north to south, and was at least several miles away and perhaps several thousand feet off the ground, but still lower than the tops of the mountain range that lies west of the lake. Again, it made no sound. It flew a steady course until it reached the northern end of the mountains, then banked to the northwest and disappeared from my view.
I described this encounter to several friends who suggested a couple plausible explanations, but none which seemed to fit exactly. That area of Utah has several large military facilities, and is not far from the test range used by the Hill Air Force Base, so a military craft would seem to be a likely candidate. My first thought was that it was a Stealth fighter, but the Stealth is relatively small and would be indistinct at that distance, in low light, and against the background of the mountains. And the Stealth has a distinctive and rather loud engine sound, and is subsonic; I have since seen a Stealth both on the ground and in flight, and it just doesn’t quite fit the description of what I saw. The other possibility is that it was a Stealth bomber; that would fit the size of what I saw, but not the obvious triangular shape (as opposed to the B-2’s distinctive bat-wing appearance), nor the craft’s silence. It is possible it was some yet-unrevealed military plane, but on the other hand, it was flying in a valley that is inhabited; why would a secret military plane not be flying over absolutely deserted territory just a bit farther west than where I saw it? So once again I am left with a mystery; I saw a UFO, and that’s as much as I can say with any certainty.
I have spent most of the last several days expressing my skepticism about the existence of UFOs and the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors to Earth, an attitude which seems at odds with most of my fellow writers. That is neither here nor there; I am comfortable with my point of view, and I am certain they are comfortable with theirs. What bothers me is the lack of critical thought in the study of UFO phenomena, and that most people’s beliefs are based on faith, logical fallacies, circular reasoning, and hearsay, rather than scientific proof. It bothers me, because I believe that extraterrestrial life almost certainly exists, and that it is entirely possible that alien visitors have been to our planet. I just don’t accept those two beliefs as certain facts. Not yet, anyway. But I’ve seen enough to at least keep an open mind.