December 21, 1997
Editor: Joseph Trainor
On Tuesday, December 16, 1997, at around 8 p.m., Kevin L. spotted a large triangular UFO in the skies above his hometown of Allison Park, Pennsylvania (Pa.), on the William Flinn Highway (Route 8) just north of Pittsburgh.
"My best description of color would be a dark classical gray," Kevin reported. "There were six large lights on the outer rim of the object. The two lights at the point of the (triangular) objet were red, while the others on the corners were white. The lights on the object were not very bright compared to what you see on aircraft--they looked more like a glow."
"The object was in constant motion. It basically looked like a great granitic slab crossing the sky... My best guess was that the object was between 4,000 and 6,000 feet in the air."
"I looked at it through a pair of binoculars that were 7 X 35mm and rated for a view area of 578 feet at 1,000 yards. The object took up about one-half of the view of the binoculars at full magnification."
Kevin estimated that the UFO approached Allison Park from the east at about 70 degrees above the horizon.
The object then "headed off in a northwesterly direction. This is an unusual route for air traffic. The Pittsburgh airport is 25 miles southwest of my house. When I first saw the object, it was already one-quarter of the way across (the sky) from the horizon. I could see it clearly for about one minute, after that it was too small to see any real details."
As the UFO left, Kevin estimated that it was headed for the Franklin Park section of Pittsburgh and nearby Marshall township. (Email Interview)
On December 2, 1997, at 11:33 p.m., Brian C. was driving west on Interstate Highway 76, the Schuylkill Expressway, just west of Philadelphia. As his car approached the West Manayunk exit (Belmont Avenue--J.T.), he noticed "a green light with my peripheral vision to the right of my car out the passenger side window. My initial reaction was that I thought it was a helicopter. Air traffic copters often fly up the (Schuykill) river for their reports. Almost as quickly, I realized how fast it was moving, because it shot straight up the river parallel to the highway and no more than 300 feet in altitude."
"The whole incident took no more than five seconds," Brian added. "There was no tracer following, no smoke or trail of any kind...It could not have been a meteor because it was so low and flew straight across at a consistent height." (Many thanks to Tim Hagemeister of NACOMM for this report.)
On Wednesday, December 17, 1997, at 10:30 a.m., rancher Ron Gardiner found one of his horses dead and mutilated on his property five miles (8 kilometers) west of Alamosa, Colorado (population 1,359).
Alamosa is at the intersection of Colorado Highways 160 and 285 approximately 228 miles (375 kilometers) south of Denver.
According to Christopher O'Brien, author of THE MYSTERIOUS VALLEY (St. Martin's Press, 1996), "The animal was still warm, and the rancher estimated that the animal was killed and mutilated sometime around dawn."
"The horse was missing its penis and an 8-inch circular patch of hide behind the sheath, which was still intact. The rear end was neatly cored out in a slightly elongated circle to a depth of 8 or 9 inches. Eyes and tongue were intact."
O'Brien visited the crime scene on Thursday, December 18, and secured three sets of incisional samples for forensic tests.
"The animal was found lying on its right side at the bottom of a dry 7-foot-deep irrigation channel or canal. There was evidence of a struggle in broken chimisia bushes." However, other than the horse's own hoofprints, no other tracks of any kind were found at the scene.
O'Brien and investigators of the Alamosa County Sheriff's Department found "a five-inch shallow gash" in the horse's neck. Also, "several drops which appear to be blood were found in snow about 60 feet away, over the fence and across the road."
"The vast majority of San Luis Valley unusual animal deaths occur from last-frost to first-frost, during the warmer months," O'Brien said. "Rarely are these deaths reported during cold sub-zero nights. This may be a new wrinkle" in the ongoing mutilation mystery.
(Many thanks to Chris O'Brien for this report.)
On Friday, December 12, 1997, at about 8 p.m., a UFO described as "a glowing orange or red" sphere was seen over Eyota, Minnesota (population 1,448), a town on Interstate Highway 90 about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Minneapolis.
Within 15 minutes, calls were received in police stations to the south in Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri, reporting "a mysterious flash of light."
Experts said the flash was "probably caused by a meteor."
"It was a good-sized red ball," said Wylie Peterson of Colfax, Wisconsin (population 1,110), a town on Highway 170 about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Eau Claire and 261 miles (418 kilometers) northwest of Milwaukee. "It left a pretty good tail behind it. It was too big to be a flare."
In Boyceville, Wisconsin (population 913), a town 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Colfax, a private plane was reported overdue, and townspeople organized a search of the local woods. The search was suspended after they realized that the glow was "probably from the meteor" and not a crashing aircraft.
Astronomers at the University of Minnesota and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa said "the phenomenon was best explained by a single meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere." They noted that December 12 is the height of annual Geminid meteor shower.
"We are constantly bombarded by fragments of old comets," said Lawrence Staunton, a physics and astronomy professor at Drake University. "They are mostly not seen."
The orange fireball, however, was also seen in Cresco, Iowa (population 3,669) on Highway 9 about 228 miles (365 kilometers) northeast of Des Moines.
(Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr. and Errol Bruce- Knapp for these reports.)
On December 2, 1997, at 4:32 p.m., MUFON member Carolyn S. McNellis was driving south on New Hampshire Highway 12A, along the eastern bank of the Connecticut River when she spotted a UFO.
"I spotted a fireball approximately half the size of a ping-pong ball at arm's length," Carolyn reported, "while driving south on Route 12A at the intersection of (Interstate) Highway 89 in West Lebanon, New Hampshire (N.H.). The road parallels the Connecticut River, which forms New Hampshire's boundary with Vermont. I saw the object in the southwestern sky. I concluded that because the sun was just going down and the object was picking up the golden orange of the setting sun."
"That evening I questioned a local astronomer-friend and he had not heard of a meteor at that time, but December was supposed to be full of meteors. I witnessed (the) Hale-Bopp (comet) in the early spring, and this was MUCH, MUCH larger. It was half the size of a ping-pong ball. Hale-Bopp was the size of a head of a pin and needed binoculars to really be seen clearly."
Ms. McNellis kept the UFO in view until she drove into a wooded area. "Seven minutes later, when I emerged from the woods, it was not to be seen."
(See Filer's Files #50 for December 19, 1997. Many thanks to George A. Filer of MUFON for this report.)
On December 5, 1997, at 8:40 p.m., a man living in Franklin, Georgia (population 876), located north of West Fork Lake on Highway 34, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta, spotted a triangle-shaped UFO moving through the night sky.
"The witness observed a formation of five white-to- amber-color lights," John Thompson, MUFON Georgia state director, reported. "A structured object would have made a triangle 50 feet (15 meters) in size. The UFO flew to the southeast at 2,000 feet altitude or lower."
The witness observed the UFO for 20 seconds before losing sight of the object among the trees.
"He said the UFO flew slowly and made no sound," Thompson added. "The lights did not flash, and he is assuming they were on a strucutred craft he did not see. The sky was clear, with little wind, and the UFO, according to him, was clearly close enough for him to have heard noise, if it had made any." (See Filer's Files #50 for December 19, 1997. Many thanks to George A. Filer and John Thompson for this report.)
On Wednesday afternoon, December 17, 1997, a huge aerial explosion jolted the town of Rogersville, Missouri (population 995).
According to news reports on KYTV (Cable Channel 12 in Florida--J.T.), the blast "rattled windows and blew open storm doors" in the small community on Missouri Highway 60 approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) east of Springfield.
According to KYTV, a U.S. Air Force spokesman denied that the mysterious blast was a sonic boom caused by low-flying supersonic jet interceptors.
The cause of the "sky boom" is unknown.
The mystery deepened when Cal W., a retired farmer living in Ozark, Missouri (population 4,243), a town on Highway 14 just seven miles (10 kilometers) south of Springfield, telephoned a radio talk show and told how he and his wife had seen "five or six high-altitude jets" flying what appeared to be a crisscrossing search pattern across the sky. Contrails were pefectly visible in the clear, cold upper air, he reported.
On Tuesday, December 9, 1997, at 5:15 a.m., fishermen aboard the motor vessels Halton Trawl and Regina C. cruising off the eastern coast of Greenland heard a faint rumbling sound. Looking west, they spied "a giant flash split the darkness."
The bright flash was also seen by fishermen aboard the Timmarut, a Danish motor trawler moored in Greenland's Julianehaab Bay.
"The glow lit up the whole ice cap," Jens P., one of the fishermen, said.
A parking lot surveillance camera in Nuuk, the Danish territory's capital on Greenland's west coast, "also recorded a brief illumination at that time."
"According to the accounts, the flash was so huge that we have good reason to believe that this was a giant meteor," said Bjoern Franck Jorgenson of the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"Jorgenson said it was probably a 'one-piece, solid meteor' that exploded. Most meteors travel at more than 7,400 miles per hour and explode or break up as they enter the atmosphere," the Reuters report noted.
Scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and the Tycho Brahe Planetarium estimated that the meteor struck the Greenland ice cap at a point 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Narsarsuaq airport.
The meteor "can be compared to the Kap York meteorite," which fell in "Melville Bay, Sassivik, south of Thule."
"The flashes observed with the meteorite were so bright as to turn night into day at a distance of 100 kilometers and can be compared to the light of a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere. However, we stress that there is no reason to believe (the flashes) were other than natural causes."
The institute reported a strange discrepancy in the incident, however.
The "meteor" crashed no later than 5:15 a.m. Greenland time or 8:15 a.m. UTC time. Yet, six minutes later, at 8:21 a.m. UTC, a "seismic disturbance," attributed to the meteor, was recorded at Svalbard, Norway. Two minutes later, at 8:23 a.m. UTC, a second "shock wave" was recorded by the seismic detectors at Finmarca, Norway. The readings were announced by the Norwegian Seismic Agency at Kjeller. Similar readings were taken in Finland and Germany.
Yet, according to the Institute, there were no readings of a "shock wave" or "seismic disturbance" at Danmarkshavn and Sonder Stromfjord, Greenland only 380 miles (608 kilometers) west of the meteor strike zone.
Although grounded by a severe blizzard on Monday, December 11, planes of the Danish Air Force continued their search for the meteor crater. It has not yet been found. (Many thanks to the Geophysical Dept. at the Niels Bohr Institute and the Tycho Brahe Planetarium for the news release.)
On Sunday evening, December 14, 1997, a fire broke out in a one-story house five kilometers (2 miles) from Pitalito in Huila province, Colombia, killing four sleeping children, all of whom were under the age of six.
Responding to the call were units of the Pitalito municipal fire department, led by Captain Carlos Augusto Rojas. The children were home alone "in their ramshackle house when the fire broke out, and (Colombian) authorities initially suspected a candle or an electrical short circuit."
Capt. Rojas told the Colombian show Radionet that, as his units were on their way to the fire, they had seen "fireballs raining down from the sky," adding, "We saw three distinct fireballs when we arrived" at the fire.
Fire marshals examined the house after the blaze had been extinguished, noting that "the house had no electricity and other possible causes of the blaze--a candle or a gas lamp--had been ruled out."
"But he said a hole measuring 25 centimeters (10 inches) in diameter was discovered in the zinc roof of the house, along with traces of a sulfur-like substance that was being studied in a local laboratory."
"The hole in the roof had been pushed from the outside, Rojas said, adding that this exactly seemed to indicate that the children were the unwitting victims of a meteorite."
Pitalito is in Colombia's Cordillera Oriental, approximately 633 kilometers (396 miles) southwest of Bogota. (See the newspaper El Espectador for December 16, 1997.)
(Editor's Comment: The height of the Geminid meteor shower was December 12, two days before this incident. Maybe a chemistry major can help us out. At what temperature does zinc completely vaporize?)
Greek Army mountain troops located the wreckage of an Aerosivit Yak-42 jetliner near Fotina, Greece on Saturday, December 20, following an intensive four-day search.
Nearly 4,000 Greek soldiers searched the Mount Olympus area on foot, aided by a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion loaded with weather-piercing surveillance equipment, after the jetliner vanished on Wednesday, December 17, with 70 people aboard.
"The original flight--an Aerosivit charter flight from Kiev, Ukraine, to Salonika aboard a Boeing 737--was scrapped when the plane developed engine trouble after takeoff and landed in Odessa, Ukraine, said Aerosivit president Leonid Pogrebynak." (See the Boston, Mass. Globe for December 19, 1997, "Search for jet slows in mountains of Greece.")
"Pogrebynak said the passengers were transferred to the Yak-42 with a new crew that had never flown to Salonika, which is considered to be a challenging landing site."
Tapes of "the pilot's last conversations with the (Salonika) tower, in which he indicated he was moving into landing position but was apparently heading into the mountains."
The Yak-42's final approach into Salonika would have taken it in a northeasterly direction over Thermaikos Bay. At the point where the pilot said he was approaching the outer marker at Epanomi, he was actually heading northwest, up the Aliakamon Valley toward the snow-capped mountains on the Macedonian border, 320 kilometers (200 miles) northeast of Salonika.
(Editor's Comment: Since the Yak-42 was flying IFR into Salonika, perhaps we should ask what happened to the aircraft's instruments during final approach.)
A SilkAir Boeing 737-300 crashed Friday, December 19, 1997, in a river on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, killing all 106 people aboard.
The twin-engine jet left Sukarno Hatta Airport in Jakarta around 3 p.m. Friday, for a short flight to Singapore. The estimated time of arrival was 6 p.m.
"There were no distress signals. There were no adverse weather conditions. There was no mountainous terrain. It is obviously very puzzling," said Mah Bow Tan, Singapore's minister of communications.
"The last radio contact at 5:15 p.m. gave no sign of trouble. Indonesians alerted SilkAir that the plane was missing about 40 minutes later." (See the Providence, R.I. Journal- Bulletin for December 20, 1997, "Singapore airliner crashes; 104 believed killed.")
"SilkAir said the plane, a Boeing 737-300, was 10 months old and was the newest aircraft in the fleet." (See the Boston, Mass. Globe for December 20, 1997, "Over 100 feared dead in Indonesia jet crash.")
The jetliner, SilkAir Flight M-185, crashed in the Musi River just outside the village of Parit, near Makarti Jaya, 56 kilometers (35 miles) north of Palembang.
"Witnesses said the plane exploded twice in the air and again when it hit the water, a rescue official named Ono said in a telephone interview. There was no way to confirm the report."
"A police officer said the plane crashed into the Musi River, which winds through a large (mangrove) swamp on its way to the sea. Most of the wreckage sank soon after impact."
(See the Providence Journal-Bulletin for December 20, 1997, page 4.)
(Editor's Comment: Shades of the May 1996 ValuJet crash in southern Florida!)
This week we continue our look back at the 1909 airship flap in the USA's New England states. Here are a few actual newspaper stories from Rhode Island.
"Charles J. Greene, who is head gardener at the estate of Colonel Robert H.I. Goddard at Potowomut Neck (now Goddard State Park just south of East Greenwich, Rhode Island--J.T.) noticed a moving light in the sky somewhat north of the Goddard place. He and other employees watched the light until it was out of sight to the southwest. According to Mr. Greene, the light was of rather a bluish tinge...Had the night been darker, with less interference from the moon and stars, Mr. Greene thinks it very likely that he could have satisfied himself that it was an airship. He judged that it crossed the west shore of the bay at a point above Old Warwick." (i.e. the Shawomet section of Warwick, R.I.--J.T.)
On December 22, 1909, at 1:15 a.m., a very large UFO flew over the cities of Providence and Pawtucket in Rhode Island. Two witnesses were Mr. and Mrs. William S. Forsythe of 85 Evergreen Street, Providence, R.I.
The Forsythes were putting up Christmas decorations "when Mrs. Forsythe looked out of the windows. Her attention was attracted by two red lights in the sky which were different from anything she had ever seen before. She called her husband to the window and both watched the strange spectacle. The lights appeared to be covering a course that was varied, now rather close to the earth and then soaring upward, but always making toward the south. They were able to make out an object which appeared to be in front of the lights...It was moving at such high speeds that they could get little more than a superficial view of the object, although what they saw was enough to satisfy them as to the identity of the contrivance. The Forsythes watched until the lights faded out in the haze on the southern horizon. When they arose in the morning, they promptly told all their friends of what they had seen." (See the Providence, R.I. Journal for December 22, 1909.)
In Pawtucket, people "were alerted by a whirring noise in the heavens...and those who looked upward beheld a dark object which was easily discerned by the presence of two red lights. It moved gracefully away in a southerly direction, crossing the city over Woodlawn as if Bound for Newport." (See the Pawtucket, R.I. Times for December 21, 1909.)
And in West Warwick, "The phenomenon which has been perplexing people from Worcester to Willimantic for the past several nights has at last been noticed by the Arctic Centre folks on Quidnick Street. Last evening (December 27, 1909--J.T.) here assembled a cluster of people, many armed with small telescopes, field and opera glasses and each contending as they took a peep at the bright and shining 'Venus' which appeared so brilliantly in the heavens, that the light moved to the westward very rapidly and the shining rays of its searchlight were clearly visible."
"One lady, who was an interested spectator, claims to have seen the light go down and entirely disappear from the heavens. Other claim to have followed the course of the light for fully half an hour and that it changed to many different angles during that time." (See the Pawtuxet Valley Daily Times of West Warwick, R.I. for December 28, 1909.)
For more news on the UFO scene in Brazil, log in at Michael Wismierski's Brazilian UFO Report located at http://www.inbrapenet.com.br/bufor
Kentucky MUFON has a great site. They're at http://www.angelfire.com/ky/ufohome/ring.html
Need a place to go on Christmas? Why not drop in at our parent site, UFOINFO, at http://www.ufoinfo.com/
The year's best UFO stories can be found in back issues of UFO ROUNDUP. Visit our website at http://www.ufoinfo.com/roundup/
To our readers and friends all over the Earth (and beyond), UFO ROUNDUP wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We'll be back next Sunday with more saucer news--and the inevitable reports of red, sleigh-shaped UFOs--from "the paper that goes home--UFO ROUNDUP." Enjoy your holiday season!
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1997 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post items 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 issue in which the item first appeared.