Case 6

North East

Spring 1966

Investigators: Craig, Levine

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Three adult women went onto the high school athletic field to check the identity of a bright light which had frightened an 11-year-old girl in her home nearby, and reported that one of three lights they saw maneuvering in the sky above the school flew noiselessly toward them, coming directly overhead, 20 - 30 ft. above one of them. It was described as a flowing, solid, disc-like, automobile-sized object. Two policemen who responded to a telephoned message that a UFO was under observation verified that an extraordinary object was flying over the high school. The object has not been identified. Most of the extended observation, however, apparently was an observation of the planet Jupiter.


The account of an incident which occurred some 16 mo. earlier was sufficiently impressive to a field team investigating current sightings in the general region of The Northeast to cause the team to interview some of the individuals involved in the earlier report.

According to the account, an 11-year-old girl heard a bump outside her bedroom window about 9:00 p.m. and looked out the window to see a football-shaped object with flashing red lights moving in the air. Frightened, she ran downstairs. Her father was watching T.V. and said that its reception was showing the effects of interference. Two neighbor women arrived at that time, saw the red light near the high school, and called the girl's mother. The three women agreed to go out toward the school grounds to show the girl, who stayed in the house, that what she saw was


nothing but an airplane. However, when they got to the field, about 300 yd. from the school building, they saw three separate lights, generally red, but green or white at times, which were not like airplane lights. The center light was darting about over the school building, and the others were "sort of playing tag" with it. Still thinking they might be planes or helicopters, one of the women beckoned the nearest light with an arm motion, whereupon it came directly toward her. She said that as it approached nearly overhead, she could see that it was a metal disc, about the size of a large automobile, with growing lights around its top. She described the object as flat-bottomed and solid, with a round outline and a surface appearance like dull aluminum. The other two women ran. Looking back, they saw their friend directly beneath the object, which was only 20-30 ft. above her head. She had her hands clamped over her head in a self-protective manner, and later reported that she thought the object was going to crush her. The object tilted on edge, and returned to a position about 50 ft. over the high school as the women ran home to call more neighbors. A man and his wife, came out and saw the lights that were pointed out to them. One of the lights appeared to be only 15-30 ft. above the roof of the school building. To this couple, the lights appeared oval-shaped, flashing, mostly red, but changing colors. The lights were star-like in appearance, but looked a little larger than stars. The man ran back and telephoned the police. As the group, now consisting of the three women, the girl, the girl's older brother and handicapped father, and the neighbor couple, awaited the arrival of police, the central object receded in the sky and looked like a star. Its two companions had left the scene unnoticed apparently while the observers' attention was focussed on the receding object. As two policemen arrived, the observers were concerned that the police would think the UFO was only a star. However, the star-like light did brighten and


resume its motion over the high school. The officers reportedly jumped back into their police cruiser and drive down to the school parking lot, where they saw the object at close range before it sped off, with the police in pursuit. The object had been observed for a total of about 30-45 mm. It had made no noise, and the observers felt no heat or wind from the object when it was overhead.


One of the police officers was interviewed. He confirmed the claim by the other observers that he and another officer had responded to the call and, after having the object pointed out to them by the group of observers near the school grounds, drove down to the school parking lot to get a closer look at the object. He said it was neither an airplane nor helicopter, but he did not know what it was. The object seemed to the officer to be shaped like a half dollar, with three lights of different colors in indentations at the "tail end," something like back-up lights. It seemed to have a more or less circular motion but was always over the school. After the officers arrived at the parking lot, the object "flew around" the school two or three more times and departed apparently toward the airport. As it got farther away, it looked like just one light. It took off at a "normal speed," staying the same height in the sky. It dimmed and then disappeared quickly.

The three women, two children, and the girl's father granted a group interview to project investigators. Their story was generally quite consistent with that recorded a year earlier by NICAP interviewers. The fact was brought out that the school parking lot had been filled with cars during the early part of the UFO sighting, since there was a Friday evening basketball game at the school. None of their occupants, having driven away while the UFO over the school building was under observation, reported


seeing an UFO. Some youngsters leaving the school grounds were told about the UFOs by the observers. The observers said the youngsters watched for a while, then left--apparently unimpressed.

Review of all reports indicated that all observers other than the young girl and the group of three women had seen something that looked like a star. Written reports by both policemen stated the object appeared "like a bright star," and the reports of the four said the objects "when standing still, looked like stars." The changing of colors could be due to ordinary scintillation of starlight, and some apparent motion of the object could be accounted for as autokinesis, even if a star were being observed (see Section VI, Chapters 1 and 2).

Descent of the object over the women's heads could not be attributed to autokinesis, or apparent motion of a motionless light. Could all other reported movements be accounted for if one assumed the observers actually were looking at a star or planet? The policeman had been asked how close he was to the object at its closest position when he was in the school parking lot, and he indicated a distance of about 200 yd. As shown in the accompanying sketch, (Fig. 2 ) which was prepared by Raymond B. Fowler, chairman of the NICAP Mass. Subcommittee, the police were about 200 yd. from the high school when the object over the school was first pointed out to them (position marked FENCE on the sketch). They must, therefore, not have reduced the apparent distance to the object when they drove down to the parking lot next to the school building. Mr. Fowler's original report, written a few days after the incident, said of the police, "As they came into the school yard, the object moved off slowly into the SW toward [a factory] and disappeared from view." An observer approaching the school building on the driveway from the road (see sketch), as the police officers did, and looking at a star over the building, would see the same apparent motion of the star as a near object moving to the SW would have.


Fig 2

Figure 2: Map of Sighting Area

Click on thumbnail to see full-size image.


Motion attributed to the object (except for the descent overhead) was typically circular, or "up, down, and around." The object was thus not seen to move far from its original position. In response to the question "How did the object disappear from view?" the woman who had reported being directly beneath the object wrote, "Just vanished in a circular direction in plain view." One of the police officers wrote, "The object seemed to stay at the same height and just move away very smoothly."

As shown in the sketch, in all views except the reported close encounter, the principal object was seen in the same WNW direction. This fact, plus the fact that it stayed in this general direction and disappeared as if going straight away from the observer, in addition to its having the appearance of a very bright star, leads to the conclusion that the observed light was a planet. The nautical almanac shows the planet Jupiter, with a magnitude of -1.6 (eleven times as bright as a first magnitude star), to have been 20°-30° above the horizon, 23° N of W, during the time of this UFO observation. This position exactly matches the location the principal object was reported to have been seen.


No explanation is attempted to account for the close UFO encounter reported by three women and a young girl. All other aspects of this multiple-witness report indicate the observers were looking at the planet Jupiter, with ordinary scintillation effects (the night was said to have been crystal clear) accounting for observed color change, and apparent object motion accounted for by autokinesis and motion of the observer.