April 13th, 1997
Editor: Joseph Trainor
At 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 2, 1997, three U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt fighter planes took off from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Flying an A-10 (tail number 79-1234) was Capt. Craig David Button, 32, of Massapequa, Long Island, N.Y.
At 10:40 a.m., the flight rendezvoused with an airborne tanker over Tombstone, topped off their fuel tanks, and turned west, heading for the Goldwater bombing range south of Highway 9. Each fighter-bomber was equipped with a 30mm Gatling gun and four 500-lb. Mark 82 GP (General Purpose) bombs.
At 11:30 a.m., just east of the Goldwater range, the planes, all from the 355th Fighter Wing, moved into attack formation. At 11:38 a.m., as they passed over Gila Bend, the flight leader asked for a radio check. Capt. Button, who had been in the rear position, failed to acknowledge. When his wingmates turned to look for him, he was gone.
At 12:11 p.m., a farmer saw Button's A-10 flying low over Apache Junction, Arizona (population 9,935), about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Phoenix.
"Western Air Defense Sector military radar in southern Arizona...detected an unidentified aircraft flying straight, low and level on a northeast heading. The military assumes it was Button." (See the Washington Post for April 13, 1997.)
At 12:20 p.m. a retired Navy pilot reported seeing an A-10 north of Roosevelt Lake, flying low at an estimated altitude of 6,500 feet, heading northeast. The A-10 was next seen over Young, Arizona (population 300).
At 12:47, the A-10 crossed the state line into New Mexico at a point 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of Shiprock (population 7,000). After four or five minutes of flight, the A-10 crossed the state line into Colorado, passing over the Ute Indian reservation at Towaoc (population 300).
At 12:53 p.m., radar operators at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) center in Denver picked up Button's plane over Cortez, Colorado (population 7,095)
At 1:22 p.m., eyewitnesses on the ground near Montrose (population 8,722). The FAA Center in Denver again picked up the flight on radar, but the plane suddenly changed direction over the town of Glenwood Springs (population 4,637), flying a heading of 080 through Glenwood Canyon to the town of Eagle (population 801).
The A-10 altered course again, flying a bearing of 175, nearly due south, over foothills known as the Seven Hermits and Hardscrabble Mountain.
Near the ski resort of Aspen, the A-10 changed course twice, heading west and then northeast, crossing Highway 82 and Red Table Mountain. It crossed its own earlier flight path over Hardscrabble Mountain and then flew a bearing 075 into the peaks of the Sawatch mountain range. At 1:40 p.m., the last radar signal from the A-10 was recorded near New York Mountain (elevation 12,580 feet or 3,700 meters).
For 11 days, the U.S. Air Force, the Colorado Air National Guard and the Civil Air Patrol have flown over 200 sorties in search of the missing fighter-bomber. On Thursday, April 10, a U-2 reconnaissance plane from Beale Air Force Base in California overflew the mountainous section of Eagle County and identified five possible crash sites.
At first, the Air Force thought Button might have become incapacitated due to illness or a stroke.
"'We are trained, if we do get disoriented or some other situation, to switch on the autopilot. It's just hitting a switch on the actual stick,' said Capt. Martha McSally, 31, an A-10 pilot also based at Davis- Monthan." (See USA Today, April 10, 1997, page 3A)
Authorities later rejected the theory because the A-10 repeatedly changed course and altitude and performed other flight maneuvers that could not be done by the autopilot.
Col. Barry Barksdale, CO of the 355th Wing, told the media, "This has gotten so bizarre. Anything is possible," adding that, "Everything is speculation until we recover the aircraft and pilot."
The search has been hampered by days of inclement weather, including snowstorms which have added two feet (0.6 meters) of snow to the Sawatch range.
On Friday, April 11, one official speculated that Capt. Button may have become despondent over his parents' conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses and tried to commit suicide.
On Saturday, April 12, the pilot's parents issued a statement to the media, explaining that they had become Jehovah's Witnesses during the 1970s and denying that their son had considered suicide.
According to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Button of Massapequa, N.Y., "We just finished spending six days with Craig" in Arizona and "when we left, he was in good spirits."
Capt. Button graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, Old Westport, Long Island, N.Y. with a degree in aeronautical engineering, in 1990. He joined the Air Force in 1991. Prior to his assignment to Davis-Monthan, he served as a flight training instructor at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas.
(Editor's Comment: At the risk of getting nasty email from Hillary Clinton, I'd like to point out two UFO- related aspects to this case. One, the A-10's flight path took it right over Miller Mesa, near the Aldasoro Ranch, where Nancy Brown and her husband spotted a very large UFO at 1:30 a.m. on March 7, 1997.
(See the newspaper The Morning Sun for March 11, 1997). Two, New York Mountain, the site of the A-10's suspected crash, is 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Burns, the site of last November's UFO sighting and resultant cattle mutilations. For more on strange incidents in Colorado, see the next story.)
Mike V. operates a concession stand and trailer park in Alamosa County, not far from Great Sand Dunes National Monument, at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. For years, Mike and his neighbors have been plagued by strange humming noises, very similar to the famous "Taos Hum." But lately things have been getting very strange.
Mike told veteran UFO investigator Christopher O'Brien, author of THE MYSTERIOUS VALLEY (St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1996), that lately the hum has become so disturbing that it forced him out of his underground home.
"We've had numerous reports going back 30 years of hums, vibrations, booms" near Crestone, Mesita, and the Great Sand Dunes National Monument," O'Brien reported. "This is nothing new. What is new is that the reports now claim that the sound is louder and has changed to a higher frequency."
On December 29, 1996, Stephanie Vevea, who lives at the Baca Grande Chalets, reported an "annoying, almost nauseating low-pitched drone that permeated her house." Looking out her bedroom window, Ms. Vevea spotted "a bright white light" from from southwest to northeast over the mountains. The droning persisted even after the UFO left. Despite the continual drone, she returned to bed and went to sleep. When she awoke in the morning, the droning was still going on. Ms. Vevea summouned a friend to her house, and the two women listened to it until 9:40 a.m., when it finally ceased.
On August 13, 1996, at 10 p.m., while walking near the amphitheater at Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Steve Goroki heard the weird hum and saw "a wildly vibrating street sign moving six inches from side to side." (Many thanks to Chris O'Brien for these reports.)
On Saturday, April 5, 1997, at 12:10 a.m., people in Wanguri, near the city of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory (N.T.) saw "a large red fireball travelling quickly overhead." The UFO was described as "a very red color" and had "a small fiery rim." It was "headed south toward the Alice (Springs) and was about the same height as a small aircraft."
The condition of the sky was clear with no wind. No sound was heard from the UFO, which "was larger than the full moon, 12 o'clock high (directly overhead) and moved faster than any aircraft."
The same evening, April 5, at 8:30 p.m., witnesses in Sydney, Australia's largest city, reported seeing "globes of light...orange illuminated light" in the southwestern sky. The illuminations "split into two pairs and speeded off in opposite directions, east and west."
At 9:15 p.m., people in Campbelltown, New South Wales (N.S.W.) saw a luminous orange orb in the southeastern sky. It retreated to the southeast. At 11 p.m., Campbelltown residents spied "up to eight illuminations" approaching the city from the southeast. The UFOs hovered for a few minutes and then changed direction, flying away to the west.
At 9:55 p.m., orange UFOs were also spotted west and southwest of Mount Ousely and the town of Nowra, N.S.W. (Many thanks to Ross Dowe of Australia's National 24-Hour UFO Hotline for these reports.)
Also on Saturday, April 5, 1997, a strange-looking UFO was seen in Tasmania, the island state off the southern coast of Australia.
The UFO appeared at 9:30 p.m. over Bicheno, 192 kilometers (116 miles) north of Hobart, the state capital. Witnesses said the object "appeared like an aircraft with port and starboard (left and right-side) lights. However, the fuselage was like a white flouro tube (flourescent light), and it seemed to have an electrical field around it."
Bicheno residents got out their binoculars and telescopes. While they had no trouble picking out the object's red and green lights, they claimed "they could not focus upon" the white portion--it was too bright.
The UFO hovered for five minutes and then moved toward the crowd of onlookers "at a frightening speed."
A middle-aged witness said, "I was spooked by it. I thought it was coming to get us. I ran inside and hid in the cupboard (closet)." Other witnesses stood their ground and watched as the UFO suddenly changed direction and flew off to the west. (Many thanks to Ross Dowe for this report.)
On Thursday, April 3, 1997, at 7:45 p.m., Dan Robb was driving on Route 532 in Tuckerton, New Jersey (population 2,472), about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Atlantic City. All at once, he noticed "a string of orange lights low in the sky." He estimated that the object was ahead of him, about one mile from Route 72. "It was a group of five or six together," he reported. "I later saw them from Route 72, a group of four lights together with one split off to the right. Later one appeared to stay 45 degrees up from the horizon. I saw them for five seconds, then they disappeared." (Email Interview)
The following evening, Friday, April 4, 1997, two boys, K.C.K. and Erik C., saw "a low-flying, slow- moving group of orange lights. They were too long, fore and aft, to be U.S. planes. Anyway, they were way too low to be a helicopter or a bomber." The boys sighted the mysterious flight in Millstone, New Jersey, on Route 533, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Newark. (Email Interview)
On Saturday, April 5, 1997, at 9 p.m., Therese V. and her husband went for a stroll in their hometown of Rich Square, North Carolina (population 1,057). Rich Square is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the Virginia state line and 115 miles (190 kilometers) northeast of Raleigh.
They were "just enjoying the stars," when Mr. V saw something moving silently through the sky. "We saw an object--kind of spheroid-shaped--in the eastern sky," Mrs. V. said, "Orangeish yellow. It was very fast but did not have any blinking lights, and it made no sound. It approached from the southwest and departed to the northeast." She estimated the size of the UFO as "rather like a dime held at arm's length."
"We went out to the country" to get a better look, she added, "But we saw nothing more" of the UFO. (Email Interview)
On March 16, 1997, at 8:20 a.m., Mike O. spotted a "cigar-shaped object" over the city of Newburgh, N.Y. (population 23,438). Newburgh is located on the west bank of the Hudson River, 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of New York City.
The "cigar-shaped object skipped through the sky behind the tree line behind my house," he reported. "It was about a quarter of a mile away (400 meters), at about 1,000 feet (330 meters) altitude. It looked just like an aircraft fuselage but had absolutely no wings, vertical or horizontal stabilizers, or any other appendages of any kind. I know this because it was a crisp clear morning...It was white along the top length and black along the bottom. I have been in aviation for 28 years, and this was beyond my experience. I might describe it also as a missile but it wasn't really moving that fast. Just silently slipping through the air with no evidence of a propulsion system."
He estimated the object's airspeed at 300 to 400 knots. "That's a guess again, but it 'feels' right from what I saw." (Many thanks to Bruce Cornet for this story.)
Hard on the heels of last week's sighting in Oosterwijk come five reports of UFOs in the eastern Netherlands, close to the border with Germany.
On Wednesday, April 2, 1997, at 10 p.m., "three lightning balls" appeared over the Dutch city of Hengelo (population 67,000). The first witness, a young woman, was sitting in her car when she spied "three objects passing through the northern part of the sky. At first I thought they were satellites, and then the white objects slowed to a standstill and hovered there for a very short period of time." She estimated that the UFOs were 40 degrees above the horizon. Then, she added, they "went away quickly towards the east," seemingly heading for Schuttorf, Germany.
At 10:15 p.m., a middle-aged couple driving from Enschede (population 157,000) to Hengelo spotted "a glowing object" in the northern sky. They watched the UFO for one minute while it zigzagged through the sky.
At 11 p.m., a man in Delden "saw two light-balls." He watched them for several seconds as "they flew away to the northeast."
Another woman saw "three objects moving and hovering in the sky above Hengelo." She described the UFOs as "like the brightest stars (first-magnitude)." She watched them "only for a few seconds before they flew away." (Many thanks to Jeroen Kumeling and UFO-Werkgroep Oost-Nederland (UFOWON) for these reports.)
On March 24, 1997, at 10:06 p.m., a mysterious explosion rocked South Yorkshire. The boom, confirmed by Edinburgh University, was attributed to a sonic boom from an RAF jet flying too low at supersonic speed or to a bolide or exploding meteor.
Now two men, one a ufologist who wishes to remain anonymous, claim they saw a black triangular UFO pass over their house near Sheffield and Dronenfield, Yorks. just prior to the blast.
The ufologist's friend claims he looked out the window at 9:45 p.m. on March 24 and saw a large object fly over the house. He described it as a triangle, "200 feet in size, with a light at each tip and a large blue intense light in the center bottom."
He also claims to have seen the object followed by six RAF Tornado jet fighters, "first two, then two more, then two more. Following that, helicopters began to appear."
Hearing the explosion, the friend told the ufologist, and together they drove down Highway A57, also known as Snake Pass Road, hoping to find the crash site. They then ran into a police roadblock, which prevented them from entering "the barrens" beyond Sheffield.
Rumors of a "Black Triangle" (BT) crash persist in Britain, despite the official denials. Supporters of the theory cite an alert that evening at the Royal Hospital at Halamshire to expect the arrival of "plane crash victims." Also, there are unconfirmed reports of UFO radar contact at the bases RAF Cosford and RAF Shawcross. Investigation of these reports by Britain's UFO community continues. (Thanks to Errol Bruce-Knapp for forwarding this story.)
Letter FROM the Editor
The newspaper The Bee in Fresno, California needs the help of UFO ROUNDUP readers. Reporter James S. Howard at The Bee is doing a feature story on the UFO sightings at Sacramento, Modesto and Marysville in 1996, and he would like to talk to anyone who has witnessed a UFO over California's Central Valley. Jim assures me that this is no Hillary Hatchet Job on the UFO community but a straight feature on the continuing UFO phenomenon in the Fresno area. So if you're a reader from the Central Valley, and you don't mind talking about your UFO experience, you can reach Jim at this number...1-800-877-7300, extension 6208. I'm not going to advise our readers either way. It's your decision to make. Just remember, there may be unforeseen consequences if you do go public with your story.
FUN UFO WEBSITES
Between the missing A-10 and the weird hum at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, UFO author/ investigator Christopher O'Brien really has his plate full. But he does take time out to update the news at his Website. Follow the quests of Chris and his brother, Brendan, at this URL: http://rainbow.rmi.net/~tmv/
Tony O'Neil, who tracked the UFO over Hardwick, Vermont on March 20, just opened his site. If you like UFOs, and know your way around Radio Shack, try out http://www.pioneerplanet.com/
Newcomer BDC Andy has a new UFO site on the Web. You'll find him at http://members.aol.com/lodmirage/home.html
The UFO Page, better known as TUFOP, has a new home. You'll find TUFOP at this address: http://www.geocities.com/Area51/7595/
The new Crop Circles and Cattle Mutilations Message Board just opened this week. Log in at http://www.ufonetwork.com/public/crops/wwwboard/
"The Last UFO" is a page operated by both
Brian Scott and Josh McKee. So you'll find it at
Again, don't miss our parent site, UFOINFO. John Hayes makes certain we have the latest, most up-to-date information available. It's at http://ufoinfo.com/index.html
And, for back issues of UFO ROUNDUP, try our site at http://ufoinfo.com/roundup/index.shtml
That's all for now. More news next Sunday from "the paper that covers the saucers--UFO ROUNDUP." See you then!
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1997 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post any item from UFO ROUNDUP on their Websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of the newsletter in which the item first appeared.