Showing posts with label Experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Experience. 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.

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