February 2, 1997
Editor: Joseph Trainor
An AT&T television relay satellite has disappeared from its geostationary orbit, and nobody knows quite what happened to it.
Telstar 401, a $200 million satellite built by Lockheed Martin, was launched in December 1993 and placed in orbit over the Earth at longitude 97 degrees West. The spacecraft functioned perfectly well for three years and then disaster struck.
On January 6, 1997, the sun ejected a coronal discharge, a magnetically-charged cloud of hydrogen and helium 30 million miles wide. This "solar tsunami" rushed outward into the solar system at 1 million miles per hour, reaching the Earth on January 10.
The cloud was tracked by 20 Earth satellites, including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) launched in December 1995, NASA's Polar Wind satellite, the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-8 and GOES-9, Japan's Geotail and Russia's Interball satellites. When the cloud struck Earth's magnetosphere, it released an electrical charge of 1 million amperes.
Astronomer Stephen Maran of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said, "This is the first time a solar event has been captured from cradle to grave."
On January 11, several hours after the event, Telstar 401 suffered a massive power failure. Scientists thought it had been damaged by the solar tsunami, but couldn't understand why other satellites hadn't been affected.
As Joseph C. Anselmo reported in his article in Aviation Week & Space Technology, "Robert Hoffman, a NASA scientist said Telstar 401 was located in an affected area of the magnetosphere. But, he cautioned, 'We have no idea what caused the failure.'"
"Another scientist involved in the observation spoke more bluntly, 'I'm convinced this storm knocked out the satellite,' he said, noting that Telstar 401 appeared to emit a massive electrical discharge several hours before it failed. 'Obviously, in this business nothing is certain. But it would be a very strange coincidence.'" (See Aviation Week & Space Technology for January 27, 1997, page 61, "Solar Storm Eyed as Satellite Killer.")
On Saturday, January 25, 1997, ultra-sensitive radars at NORAD's Combat Operations Center at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado picked up a "bogey" approaching the derelict Telstar 401 on an intercept course.
Dr. Stanton T. Friedman quoted Maj. Gen. John Yancy Jr. as describing the intruder as "a large unknown object." Maj. Gen. Yancy reportedly said, "It looked like a large meteor closing in on 401."
A few seconds later, both the UFO and Telstar 401 vanished from the radar screens. If a collision had taken place, there should have been a debris field still in orbit. NORAD radar is sensitive enough to track gas clouds in orbit. Yet radar sweeps of the orbital zone revealed no trace of any objects, debris or gases.
A more detailed search may be carried out by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Last September, in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force and NASA, the NRL tested its new Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) system, which can detect orbital objects out to 12,635 miles (20,200 kilometers). If Telstar 401 is still out there, the SLR ought to be able to find it. (Many thanks to Dr. Stanton T. Friedman for this story.)
(Editor's Note: Telstar 401 was parked over the 97th meridian when it vanished. The 97th is also known as the "mystery meridian" because of several UFO-related events that have taken place there, notably the York, Nebraska "airship" case of February 1897.)
On Friday, January 24, 1997, Ed Longcope was feeding the cattle on his ranch in Kingsbury, Texas (population 950), off Highway 90 about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of San Antonio when he spotted something shiny embedded in the ground.
Longcope reportedly described the object as "It was a large hollow steel ball, about the size of a medicine ball, and had screws at opposite ends" and "a weld seam around the middle."
The sphere was found half-buried in a nearby cow pasture. The steel showed a few noticeable scorch marks consistent with an object entering Earth's atmosphere from space. Longcope phoned the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Department and told them what he had found.
Sheriff's deputies took the sphere to the National Weather Service station in New Braufels, Texas, but the weathermen could not identify it.
According to Deputy Todd Friesenhahn, a group of U.S. Air Force officers from Randolph Air Force base east of San Antonio took the sphere to the base for tests and analysis.
Two days before Longcope's discovery, at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, police stations in the San Antonio area received phone calls from people reporting "light flashes" in the skies around New Braunfels. (See the Houston, Texas Chronicle for January 26, 1997.)
(Editor's Note: In September 1996, a UFO was videotaped in daylight over New Braunfels, Texas.)
On Wednesday, January 22, 1997, at 8 p.m., Alicia Garwood sat behind the wheel of her car at the intersection of a side street and Main Street in Loveland, Ohio (population 9,106), waiting for the stop light to change color.
Suddenly, a "triangle-shaped object" with lights at all three corners rose from behind Main Street's stores and hovered over the intersection. "The object made a 'wooooosh' sound," she said, "And a second later it disappeared." Ms. Garwood also noticed airplane lights at a much higher altitude.
The following night, Thursday, January 23, 1997, at 8:30 p.m., two women were walking in the parking lot of HQ Hardware Store, located at the intersection of Ridge Road and McLean Avenue in the Oakley section of Cincinnati, Ohio. One of the witnesses was seven months pregnant. All at once, both women noticed a strange flickering light above the parking lot.
Looking up, they spied "a saucer-shaped object that appeared and disappeared in the sky above the parking lot. The object hovered at a low elevation for 3 and 1/2 minutes" prior to leaving along "a zigzag departure path."
Joedy Cook of Cincinnati, an investigator and founding member of Tri-States Advocates for Scientific Knowledge (T.A.S.K.) said the condition of the sky that night was "clear with a full moon." Cook also checked with the Oakley precinct of the Cincinnati P.D. and the Hamilton County 911 communications center, but there were no other reports of UFOs. Cook said the pregnant woman "was taken aback by the event, which she calls an 'incident.'" (Many thanks to Kenneth Young, T.A.S.K.'s public relations director, for this story.)
At 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 1997, a bright green fireball lit up the sky over the central United States. The light was seen in five states, including Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.
Wayne Wyrick of the Kirkpatrick Planetarium in Oklahoma City said, "It looked like an airplane on fire and crashing."
Major Steve Boylan, a spokesman for NORAD, said the object was the "remnant of a Delta II rocket" used to launch a satellite in December.
A woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma said the fireball "appeared to crash just west of the city." (See the newspaper The Daily Oklahoman of Oklahoma City for January 25, 1997. And thanks to Jim Hickman, Oklahoma state director of Skywatch International for this story.)
A strange incident took place in Cali, Colorado the night of January 16, 1997. Several witnesses reported seeing "a yellow-orange glow" and "a bright light in the clouds."
Disc jockey Melody Barenda of radio station KKXK-FM reportedly told listeners that she had seen "three balls of light and a center light coming right at them" as she was driving to work. She disputed the NORAD explanation, adding, "No way was it a missile."
At 7 a.m. on Monday, January 27, 1997, a green fireball was sighted over Cortland, Nebraska, near the South Dakota state line. A shock wave emanating from the object "shook the ground" at several farms.
That night, there were reports of mysterious lights seen in the vicinity of Grand Junction, Colorado. At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 28, an unmarked UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was seen flying low north of Grand Junction. The following day, January 29, also at 2 p.m., a CH-47D Chinook helicopter was seen flying the same course and heading. (Thanks to Tim Edwards and Ola Heien for these stories)
On January 30, 1997, the Aircraft Charter Group of Connecticut posted a $10,000 reward for the recovery of its Lear jet, which vanished from the radar screen six miles north of the airport at Lebanon, New Hampshire at 10 a.m. on December 24, 1996.
Two weeks of intensive air and ground searches of the upper Connecticut River Valley around Lebanon, N.H. and White River Junction, Vermont failed to find any trace of the white twin-engined Lear jet. Still missing are Johan Schwartz, 31, and Patrick Hayes, 30, both of Connecticut. (See USA Today for January 31, 1997.)
On January 14, 1997, a memorial service was held in Duluth, Minnesota for Major Peter Woodbury, 38, the Air National Guard pilot whose plane vanished from the radar screen over Lake Superior January 7.
The wreckage of Major Woodbury's F-16 jet fighter was discovered days later in a bog near Greenwood Lake, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Two Harbors, Minnesota. Major Woodbury and three other pilots of the 148th Fighter Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard were simulating "2 on 2" air combat maneuvers when Woodbury's F-16 mysteriously lost power and its lights as it began its descent.
Woodbury was the "top gun" of the 148th Fighter Wing and its training officer. Employed as a full-time pilot for Northwest Airlines, Woodbury joined the U.S. Air Force in 1981. He first flew A-10 ground assault aircraft and then qualified for F-16s. He served in the Air Force for nine years and then switched to the Air National Guard in 1990.
The three-day search for the crashed F-16 failed to locate Major Woodbury's body. However, according to Colonel Ken Stromquist, the wing's CO, discovery of the pilot's life raft and parachute fastener, items that would have been on Woodbury's person had he ejected, have convinced them that the body is somewhere at the crash site. The site has been declared a "national defense zone" while the Air Force continues its search and excavation of material. (See the Duluth, Minnesota News-Tribune for January 12, January 13 and January 14, 1997.)
Ufologists in Israel are now investigating a possible abduction case that took place in December 1996 at Rishon Lezion.
A teenaged boy named Alex Lemkin was walking through the town park at 11 p.m. when he saw "a little girl of six acting strangely." Thinking the girl was lost, he made his approach and was stunned to see that the "girl" had "albino-white skin and long hair of the same color."
While he watched, the girl suddenly "broke into dozens of small lights." Alex thought he was having a hallucination, and that's all he remembers.
Next thing he knew, he was lying on the park's grass and had "a few unexplainable scars" on his back. Investigating the case are Israeli ufologist Derrel Sims and journalist Barry Chamish. (Many thanks to Barry Chamish for this story.)
FUN UFO WEBSITES
Kenneth Green's "UFO Sightings and More" has plenty of great articles and material. Check it out at http://www.mother.com/~green3/ufo.htm
Not to be missed is Patricia Reece's new site at http://members.tripod.com/ufo7/
Up-to-date UFO news clippings can be found at http://www.schmitzware.com/IUFOG/iufog-headlines.shmtl
Want to check out the UFO news in Tasmania? Set your browser for this URL operated by the Tasmanian Unidentified Flying Object Investigations Centre (TUFOIC). You can find it at this address: http://server.netspace.net.au/~tufoic/
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That's it for now. Here's wishing all our readers a pleasant week from "the paper that goes home--UFO ROUNDUP."
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1997 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post any portion of UFO ROUNDUP at their websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and editor by name and cite the date of the newsletter in which the story appeared.