Showing posts with label Biographical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biographical. Show all posts

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Analyzing a 2007 UFO Sighting in Mississippi

Through the years, I’ve had a few sightings of strange looking things in the sky. The first time as a boy in mid-afternoon on a warm day around 1968. I was excited to see a UFO, a brilliant cigar-shaped object gliding across the sky. Before it left sight, the angle changed enough for the sunlight to illuminate the wings and tailfin of the plane.

 Illustration: Simulated UFO, Flying Cigar from Gold Key comics, and Jet.

It was quite the letdown. There have been other disappointments, yet there’s one sighting that puzzles me still.

UFO Sighting: 2007, Near Carthage, MS

Date: (Likely) Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007, time, approximately 4:30 P.M, clear skies. Records show sunset was near & P.M., but my impression is daylight had just begun to fade.

Location: Highway 16 near the entrance to Highway 25, west of Carthage, Mississippi.

Sighting Details: Heading home to Jackson from Carthage, MS, I saw unfamiliar objects in the sky to the west of me. The motion is what really caught my eye. Above the horizon in the distance, there were about eight bright objects, and their movement gave me the impression of a cluster of fireflies. I didn’t know the word “frisson” at the time but felt a sudden moment of emotional excitement. The UFOs were far away, and the luminous dots looked star-like and I couldn’t tell anything about their true size or their distance from me.

They were in a loose elliptical-shaped grouping with movement by at least two of them seeming to be slowly “orbiting” counterclockwise along the curve. Some of the others were moving slightly in other directions, and some appeared to be hovering (but could have either been moving far more slowly – or towards/away from me). The apparent speed of the objects around the ellipse was no faster than the sweep of a second hand on a watch.

Simulation based on impression and memory –
Actual objects were proportionally smaller and moving approximately within the dotted arc.

I watched them for several seconds, slowed down the car, on the verge of pulling over to take a picture with my cellphone. However, I was in a rush to get home before dinner, and I felt the lights would show up as tiny specks, if at all. 

Red dots indicate portion of the trip that the UFOs were observed. (About 60 seconds.)

The objects were in view until I lost sight of them when turning to the southwest on Highway 25, about 2500 feet from where I first spotted them. They’d been visible to me for about 60 seconds maximum. Although it didn’t look like anything I’d seen before, I shrugged and figured it was just planes circling for landing approach at either the Jackson or Meridian Airport and didn’t give it much more thought, and it didn’t occur to me at the time to report it to anyone.

In 2011, my interest in UFOs was refreshed and I decided to investigate a bit. My guess about the airports was dead wrong. The UFOs were due west, Jackson was to the southeast, Meridian to the southwest of my vantage point. I did find that there are some small airfields to the west, and checking more recently it would seem unlikely that any of them were conducting an airshow on a weekday afternoon.

What were they? Ufologists often groan at reports of LITS, Lights in The Sky at night, which could be anything - and probably nothing. These were seen during daylight, but still… The objects themselves may not have been producing light, merely catching the light from the afternoon sun. Contrails, clouds, even birds and planes can seem to glow from such lighting.

A Slightly Similar Sighting from 2014

After becoming interested in UFOs again in 2011, I’ve more actively watched the skies. In 2013 I moved to a house with a lakeside view of the sky, but it’s on the flight approach or planes coming from the east to the Jackson airport. That means I frequently see what looks like a planet or hovering distant light that eventually veers off to display navigation lights or flies over to be clearly revealed as a passenger jet.

Actual sighting photo, 2014.

One morning in mid Oct. 2014, I saw a flash of white dots high in the distance against a clear blue sky. I was able to take a few photos. They'd swarm, dim, and reappear. They moved towards me but never got close, but I could count 40 or more of them. I finally could see enough to understand, these were a flock of birds, probably the Canada geese common around here. They were flying in a circular orbit while slowly moving forward. When turning towards me, their undersides flashed white. I documented the sighting in an Oct. 16, 2014 Facebook post.

UFO Flying Saucers, Gold Key comics, 1968, “The Lubbock Lights”

The objects I saw in 2007 didn’t move the same way, but it is a possibility they were birds, maybe a small flock of white egrets so far away that the motion of their wings was not visible. I’ve seen groups of them fly several times but never in a pattern like what I saw in 2007.

Comments from UFO Investigators

More recently, I checked the databases of MUFON and NUFORC but here were no sightings that matched either the time or location of my 2007 sighting. Finding nothing, I asked two colleagues, both seasoned UFO investigators, for their opinions on my belated UFO report. From the USA, Ralph Howard, former MUFON State Director and Chief Investigator for Georgia, currently an associate with the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU). From Canada, science writer Chris Rutkowski,  the author of 10 books on aerial phenomena and his country’s most prominent researcher of the topic.

Ralph Howard:
"Because of the number of years past, it would be doubtful that we could find an event... to suspect might be involved. And it's not just the years, but the exact date too. In more recent years in my investigations, if the [witness] is sure of the exact date, we can even get FlightAware data for the date & time, and place jets in the area and in the correct direction; or, they weren't there, also useful. Exact dates can allow us to rule out/ or keep in play/ known events.

As for what it might have been...
   A) we can always suspect Chinese (aka Sky) Lanterns, but... (in my experience) they are unlikely to Not move together, at least roughly together. The ones 'orbiting,' that's Really odd. I'm skeptical that lanterns could appear white or starlike, even at distance. Of all the reports of them in GA, and there were tons, None were white in color.
   B) Planes or drones... well, conceivably, but the steadiness of the "bright" appearance (i.e. not flashing or varying in brightness) is hard to square with either one, where all surfaces on them are *Not equally reflective. The direction of view (west) isn't really good for the light being reflected from the sun anyway: view direction needs to be more south, or north, of due west, substantially off (maybe 45 degrees) from due west. (Our GA group actually experimented with that.)
   C) A self-illuminated object would suffice... stunt planes is an idea. These are small, and often have a single light on the nose. However, they just Do Not fly around in the motions described. They tend to fly in formation, with small (1- or 2-plane) break-offs of one or 2 to fly loops & stunts. Local press would've been on top of that, announcing an upcoming show. (As we had in Augusta GA, 2015.)
   D) If we had a military ops area (MOA) over in that direction.

Boiling everything down, I have a hard time explaining that one... [but] I wouldn't label it 'Unknown'."
Chris Rutkowski:
“One possible explanation is Chinese lanterns, I suppose, since 8 is a common number for releases of this kind during commemorative events. While these are usually orange in colour, at a distance these could certainly be white or yellow (and the witness only notes they were ‘starlike’).

The other problem is that this sighting was reported 16 years after it occurred, and delays of this long in reporting sometimes cause details to either be embellished or forgotten. (The exact date is also not known with precision.) It would be impossible to investigate this case to a definitive conclusion.

There is enough information in the report that it should not be classified as ‘Insufficient Information,’ but labeling it as ‘Unknown’ is unwarranted. I would list it as ‘Possible Explanation’."

Initial sighting location as photographed Oct. 8, 2023.

Today, I regret not taking the time in 2007 to drive at least a few miles closer to the UFOs. Maybe I’d have been closer to see what they were - or were not. As it was, I had a short look from a distance, in what skeptic Mick West calls the “Low Information Zone.”

I’m in no way claiming the UFOs I saw were anything unearthly or even extraordinary, but the sighting remains unexplained. If anyone reading this happened to have seen the same thing or something similar, please let me know. I’m interested in hearing more, whether it leads to an explanation or not.

. . .

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dateline 1966: A Paranormal Encounter

X? and the witness, circa Fall 1966.

The Witness: Boy, aged 7.5 years, student in elementary school, second grade. 
Conventional nuclear family, two sisters, one older, one younger. Boy exhibited typical activities and interests for his age and gender, although interests skewed towards fantasy, especially cartoons, comic books, monsters and heroes.

Jackson, Mississippi, USA #pinitdown

1960s satellite photo of neighborhood & shot of house exterior.
Exterior of the sighting location.

The Location: 3735 Lee Drive, Jackson, Mississippi, USA. Modest three-bedroom home in a stable suburban neighborhood. The incident occurred in the front room, a den or living room facing East, with two curtained windows.

Key element to the story, television programs establish year, time and day.

The Date:
The day is verified as a Saturday, a morning, the time, between the hours of 9:00 and 11:00 A.M. Exact date unknown, believed to be early Fall of 1966.

The Incident: A single witness sighting of a “ghost” by young boy. Parents were told, but no police or official report was filed. All case information comes from the witness' memory of incident, collected over four decades later.

Yeah, the boy was me. My introduction to the concept of ghosts may well have been Casper the Friendly Ghost on television. I’d watch it when it was on, but all I really cared about was Batman and other super heroes.

False advertising. No cartoon ghosts appear.
I had seen the Ghost and Mr. Chicken sometime earlier the year, my first scary movie in a theatre. There was some creepy stuff, but I don’t recall an actual ghost being depicted. I can’t be sure if I saw or noticed the one in the advertising, which looked like an evil, four-armed Casper. No nightmares or anything afterwards, though.

The Incredible True Saga

In the Fall of 1966, I saw a ghost-like apparition, or perhaps an indoor UFO. It wasn’t a life changing event, but I’ve thought about it now and then over the years, and finally tried to get the facts together. 

It was a Saturday morning. I was 7.5 years old when this event took place, and don’t remember what had happened earlier in the morning, but speculate that our family had breakfast together and then everyone else went back to their rooms. I pounced on the rare opportunity to get the den television all to myself. CBS had an excellent block of Saturday morning cartoons, and I probably came in during Underdog, but may have begun as early as Captain Kangaroo.

Our TV was B&W.
Schedule for CST. Not mine, we had only 2 channels.
  8:30 AM The Underdog Show
  9:00 AM Frankenstein, Jr. and The Impossibles
  9:30 AM Space Ghost and Dino Boy
10:00 AM The New Adventures of Superman
10:30 AM The Lone Ranger
11:00 AM The Road Runner Show

I settled in and laid on the couch with my head on a pillow, ready to enjoy the full run. Sometime, probably during Space Ghost or Superman, I became aware of a presence, a ghostly form hovering beside the couch to my right. It was if about two feet away from me and about as tall as an adult.

My diagram is based on memory, guesswork and photos (which only show the exterior of the house). I can’t even be certain of dimensions or anything, except the placement of the door, windows, television and couch. There were no lights on in the room, just the TV, and whatever daylight got past the curtains.

It reminded me of this, but no legs.

My impression of the figure was that it was a ghost, and though it didn’t look much like it, the match I made for it in my mind was one of the adult ghosts as seen in Casper.

L, similar to the shape. R, similar to the transparency.

It was roughly six feet tall, but the body mostly formless. There seemed to be a head (but no face), possibly arms, but not legs, and it was completely transparent as if made of cigarette smoke. I found two pictures that somewhat resemble aspects of it, one a bit of the shape, and the other the smoky transparency. However, my ghost was not so billowy as either smoke picture.

My distinct impression was that this thing was hovering over me and silently watching. It scared me, and at that age, I had the notion that if you ignored bad things, they would go just away. 
I froze motionless and silent, and pretended not to see it. I focused my attention into tunnel vision on the television screen.
Two avoidance techniques: Ostritching and Playing Possum, 
Every so often, I’d steal a glance over it at, and see that it continued to hang there in the air motionless. I distinctly remember that it was there during the Lone Ranger program. While it was on, I became so focused on the show, that stopped thinking about the ghost. Sometime after the show was over, I turned to look and the ghost was gone. 

I told my family, and they reacted as parents always do, assuring me it was just my imagination, or a shadow etcetera... Parents are the original debunkers. Before there were weather balloons, it was always, “Just the wind blowing.”

Even though I repeated the morning television viewing on many other days, there was never any ghost, cloud or disturbance of any kind, but then the chances to duplicate the event were limited.  In May 1967, we moved to another house on the other side of town.

The Investigation

All we know are the facts.

What was it... a Hallucination?

I remain firmly convinced that what I saw was real, and not a hallucination, dream or my imagination. I’ve caught glimpses of shadows or objects that have fooled me briefly lots of times into thinking I’d seen cats, people or whatever, but this thing remained in place for so long, it was really there. While I can’t recall the plots of the shows I watched today, I could have at the time, I hadn’t fallen asleep and dreamt it.

What was it... a Ghost?

I was under the impression it was a ghost, even though it really didn’t match the depictions of a ghost I’d seen in media. I thought they were spectral people, or maybe looked like Casper’s friends. I didn’t associate it with a spirit of someone dead, but for this project, checked to see if there were any deaths near the sighting. It turns out that in the eighteen months leading up to my ghost, I’d lost three grandparents. At that age, about all it meant to me was those people weren’t around anymore, but it was a bit of a mystery to me why my parents were so worried and sad about it.

I'd recently lost grandparents, but it didn't seem like one of them.
As the ghost experience was happening, I was just afraid of this unknown thing, but never got the sense of an identity or message coming from it. I did feel a sense of menace from it though, mostly due to how near me it was. If this was a messenger from the beyond, they largely failed in the delivery.

The angle of the Sun seems all wrong. 

What was it... Sunlight?

The ghost resembled smoke, but hung motionless for some period of time greater than an hour. My parents smoked, but were in the other end of the house, and there was no source for smoke. Over the years, I’ve often considered sunlight as the best prosaic candidate. The house faced East, and there were windows behind the television. While the curtains were closed, maybe sunlight streamed through a crack and illuminated dust particles floating in the air.

The Sun remains is a "person of interest."

During the part of the year the sighting likely occurred, the sun rises at Approximately 6:45 A.M. and sets at 7:00 P.M.
Adds a bit of color, but no answers.

That might explain how it appeared and then vanished. Maybe. I’ve tried to gather information on the Sun’s position thorough the day, and the angle at the time of the event seems wrong for that theory. Also, the fact that it happened on just that lone Saturday seems to argue against it.

This is the house we used to live in. From Google Maps.

I’d hoped to really test the angles, but the house was abandoned and eventually torn down sometime after 2007. There’s just an empty lot there now, nothing physical to go on, and only one object from the sighting room remains in my possession.

A silent witness.

What do you hope to achieve?

Trying to track down the details  turned out to be an interesting exercise, testing my memory against the facts, and seeing just what can be proven or documented. The memory of the event is a bit unclear, and this point, it’s more like I remember remembering, it, and not so much the original event itself. Checking the facts against my memory revealed several surprises. A whole lot happened to the family in a concentrated period of time, things that seemed spaced years apart as I remembered them. 

One interesting thing about gathering the information: there was an almost irresistible temptation to use imagination to connect one fact to another or use speculation to fill in the blanks. I think many yield to this temptation, and often tell more than they know.

ex scientia vera

Maybe someone can read this and piece together things that I've missed or provide a more professional analysis of how the Sun may have created a ghost effect. I’ve never had another similar experience, and it remains an unsolved puzzle. 
My ghost sighting was not a transformative event, but it has given me some insight into the experiences of UFO and paranormal witnesses, and what they go thorough in not being believed. And I have to wonder, if being scoffed at doesn't somehow make it even more real in one's mind and memory. 

I know it did for me.