Case 43

South Central
Fall 1967
Investigators: Ayer, Wadsworth

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Confused reports by teenagers of strange lights were attributed to assorted lights on flat countryside and possibly aircraft.


At approximately 10:30 p.m. 5 December 1967, six teenagers returning home from a basketball game detoured in order to drive by a cemetery to frighten themselves. As they approached the cemetery, they saw through the trees a blinking light in the sky beyond. They pulled off the road just past the cemetery, where they had an unobstructed view. The object, low on the eastern horizon, was moving northward with an up-and-down motion. It appeared to be flashing different colors or rotating, or both. The most similar conventional object with which it could be compared would be an aircraft with flashing beacon. This, however, was ruled out by the witnesses because of its up-and-down motion. As soon as they saw it moving north, they turned around and followed, hoping to obtain a better look. Although an accurate estimate of distance could not be made, the witnesses believed the object to be less than two miles away, and heading in a direction they could follow by using country roads.

The remainder of the story is not clear, as individual accounts are highly inconsistent with one another. Generally, witnesses agree that they "followed" the object for several miles, losing sight of it two or three times as they turned down different roads. Finally, they came to a location from which lights, attributed to the original object were seen off to their left, apparently in a field. Later this location could not be determined as four different possibilities were indicated by the witnesses and no one was certain. Lights were seen in the "field", some like car lights, some (or one) green or blue-green; a dim structure is mentioned, and finally spotlight beams


or revolving beams. The structure mentioned turned out to be an extremely marginal perception, leaving essentially lights and little more.

The dramatic element in accounts written by the witnesses seems based on interpretation of the lights as UFO phenomena, rather than on definite evidence. A much less dramatic picture of what they had seen emerged from questioning the witnesses. For example, one witness said that three independent "objects" were possibly involved: the object first sighted, the light which was "followed," and the light(s) in the field. He saw only lights, no structure, and was not sure of what they were. Three others held similar views, except that they were less certain of the sequence of events. The language used in the various reports suggests that they were verbalizing their impressions during sightings and had opportunity to standardize certain descriptive terms.

In addition to written accounts, individual maps showing the areas and locations of various events were obtained through questioning of the witnesses. Wide discrepancies and inconsistencies are apparent in these items.

Two of the witnesses, a girl and her boy friend, produced the most elaborate descriptions and the most dramatic reports. They also appeared to be prone to exaggerate perception of anything fearful or unconventional. The boy had studied UFOs for quite some time, and took them extremely seriously. He was obviously upset about the "experience", and showed very little objectivity about the occurrence. The girl, who drew an elaborate sketch of what she had "seen" in the field, later admitted that she had not actually seen such an object. She said that her sketch was more on the imaginative side and was what the lights suggested to her. As to structure, she said that what she actually saw was so dim she had to look to one side to see it. At the height of the excitement, both witnesses thought the object rose up and was coming at them. None of the other witnesses saw this motion, even though all were looking at the same thing. There was, however, general agreement that a bright light like a


searchlight seemed to shine in their direction, whereupon they rapidly departed.


Certain important factors were noted during attempts to reconstruct the incident.

First, the area was examined in the daytime during unsuccessful attempts to pin down the location of the final incident. The terrain is monotonous -- flat farmland with scattered scrub growth. The few hills are so low and rounded that one would prefer to call them swells or rises. It was immediately clear that one could easily become disoriented in such an area, especially at night.

The same area was examined at night. Again, one feature stood out. Lights were visible in all directions. These were widely scattered, and were of various colors, intensities, and degrees of scintillation. Some were in clusters, some alone. When witnesses were questioned and returned to the area of the sighting, it became clear that no "site" could be agreed on.

Thus we have six conflicting stories as evidence. There is disagreement over what was seen, where it was seen, and what the witnesses themselves did at the time. There is agreement that a flashing light was followed and lost several times, and that lights seen in a field, were presumed to be the original light and watched until a bright light or lights shone at the observers, whereupon they became frightened and left.

As a tentative explanation, one of the possible sites was found to contain a farm with yard light and outbuildings with blue-green and various other lights. The yard light could be seen discontinuously from locations between the cemetery and the farm. Thus this light, which was bright white and scintillated dramatically when viewed from several miles away, could have been "followed" via various routes by automobile. As one approached more closely, the greenish lights became visible below and to the right of the yard light. A car in the vicinity of the farm might account for the "searchlight" effect reported by witnesses. This, however, is not a completely


satisfactory explanation, mainly because the yard light would have been easily recognizable as such by anyone who approached closely. Possibly this light was switched off by the time the witnesses reached the location. Another flaw in this explanation is the northward motion of the original object. This was reported by all the witnesses, and does not sound like illusory motion caused by involuntary eye movement.


At this point we leave the original object as unidentified. The evidence is not sufficient to rule out aircraft, despite statements by witnesses to the contrary.

Additional Sighting:

The only other sighting reported in the area was made by a local radio announcer. He saw an object with red and green flashing lights in the sky northwest of the station at dusk on the same evening as the sighting by the teenagers. The object looked like a small plane; but it was moving very slowly, suggesting a strong headwind. After watching for two minutes, the announcer went into the station and thought no more about the matter until he heard of the other sighting.