In summer 1992 I was employed by a high-tech firm that manufactured test-and-measurement instruments for university labs, computer firms, and defense contractors. My job entailed data-processing and the nightly back-up of the company’s files on the HP-3000 mainframe. At that time we still used large tape spools, each requiring about an hour to fill. My routine was to insert the first tape, then head out to grab a sandwich to be eaten in the computer room. One night as I was driving back to the site (which probably prefers not to be named), I noticed on my left beneath heavy cloud cover two large, glaring white lights. As an amateur astronomer and fan of all things that fly, I possess good skills at identifying just about anything one might observe in the sky.
The lights were separated by perhaps two or three hundred feet, and at first I thought they were independent of each other. They drifted slowly, much more so than any powered aircraft. I turned onto the long drive that led to the site, stopped my car, and stepped out into a light drizzle. As the lights passed overhead (at an estimated altitude of 1,000 feet) I could see they were not in fact separate, but were attached to some dark, long object. Abruptly, the lights halted, then rotated until they were vertically placed. Beyond the warm drizzle, no sound could be heard. A blimp, I told myself. Has to be. After all, the firm was located about 30 miles north of Akron, Ohio, home to the Goodyear blimps, fixture of many sports events in nearby Cleveland and elsewhere.
What I did not know was that dirigibles (unless covering a sports event) don’t usually fly at night. But even if they did, surely there would be the familiar buzzing drone of engines. All at once cold fear surged through me. I’m looking at a UFO…an old-school cigar-shaped UFO!
Now I understood what witnesses to the unknown meant when they described being “riveted in place.” My heart hammered. The lights slowly, hypnotically, ascended into the clouds and vanished. After a few moments of light panic, I climbed into my car and drove down the dark, pine-walled drive to the company lot. Inside, I wrote in my ever-present journal what I’d witnessed while it was still fresh and alive in my mind. Eating my sandwich, I noticed I could not stop my hands from shaking, and feared being alone. What had I seen? Had it been a genuine UFO? Certainly I was unable to identify the object, and its silence struck me as aggressive.
For what it’s worth, there was nothing in my system stronger than coffee and pastrami. My point here is that the first thought I had was that I saw a UFO. Simply, an unidentified flying object. My fear is evidence that I immediately assumed the thing had to be extraterrestrial, even though, in my intellectual arrogance, I should have known better. But I didn’t. It’s nearly impossible to intellectually control overwhelming emotion.
At home later, I took personal inventory. No “missing time.” No secondary physical effects such as extreme thirst, burning eyes, or feelings of unreality. Caught up in my fear (and, perhaps, desire to see a UFO), I had abandoned all objective reasoning. And I was grateful no one had been there to see me losing it, even though I often wonder, had anyone been in the car, what they might have seen.
Not many people know that military technology is approximately 15 years ahead of what the Department of Defense allows us to see, and read about, in the open literature. Classified, black-ops aircraft often are tested at night. However, as investigator Stan Gordon mentioned to me during a telephone conversation (regarding the huge, triangular UFOs written about by himself and, most prominently, Philip Imbrogno in his Night Siege: the Hudson Valley UFO Sightings), it is illegal to operate classified aircraft over populated zones; though I’m fairly certain this “rule” once in a while is ignored. (On a side note, I am aware that Philip Imbrogno apparently has left the “field,” after accusations of dishonesty regarding facts of his military service and education. Whether Imbrogno faked a few credits is none of my business, and personally I don’t see how, even if true, such regrettable behavior bears on his published material. I do think, however, that in a few of his investigations-—notably the “demon” voice and sounds he claimed to have tape-recorded in 1978-—he could have dug deeper. New to research, though, and much younger, he might have lacked resources.)
So, what did I see? My guess is that the object was not a classified aircraft. Despite what my readers might think, I do not believe any arm of American defense is reckless enough to risk a potential catastrophe—-human and/or legal—-by flying whatever UFO-like vehicles in their arsenal over our cities. Therefore, what I saw either was some very large blimp-like craft or…something else. Though I am not a fantasy-prone type, and suffer no boundary-deficit disorders, I might have hallucinated the incident—-but it didn’t feel that way.
And I behaved poorly by losing myself to self-indulgent paranoia and fear. Had I kept my wits, who knows what I might have seen. Perhaps something more prosaic than a UFO.
Another, much earlier, incident might have been my first experience of a waking dream, or hypnopompic imagery-—though, again, it didn’t (as most claim) “feel” at all dream-like. This, of course, doesn’t prove anything. As John Keel noted in Operation Trojan Horse: “This type of vision is well known to students of psychic phenomena. The immobility or akinesia…is especially common in the ‘bedroom visitant’ cases in which percipients awaken to sense or even see an intruder in their bedroom-—an intruder who melts away after passing along a message or a warning. Psychiatrists tend to dismiss this type of phenomenon as hypnopompic; that is, the vision is thought to be a dream that overlaps into the waking state.”
My experience occurred several years before the “cryptid” sighting I described in Chapter 1, probably 1965. I woke one morning and saw a figure in a long white garment standing with its back to me, leaning over the shelf displaying my collection of plastic model airplanes. I had the impression this intruder held one of my works, and was closely examining it-—then I knew! It had to be my sister in her nightgown, snooping around. I reached for her back, and my hand sank into her as if into fog. I cried out…
That’s the extent of the memory. There was no akinesia, or sleep paralysis. Like my later incident with the strange “bird,” the memory is visually textured with absolute, dead-pan realism. The sun was up, my room bright enough for me to distinguish a solid object from a phantom…for all the good it did in the long-view.
What bothers me, probably as much as not knowing with certainty the source of these experiences, is that many, many others have similar encounters somewhere every day…and due to personal belief systems lock onto one perspective-—for all their lives. I cannot say that about myself, can I? I’m open to several theories regarding my three incidents.
Beyond these, there have been a handful of sightings of “meandering nocturnal lights” too vague to draw any conclusions about, and one striking daylight sighting (with my mother, father, and sister around 1980 driving near Circleville, Ohio, on our way to a cabin at Burr Oak State Park). I have some confusion about the exact date, which may have been earlier, possibly 1978 or 1979. My father had pulled the car off the highway, whether in response to some feared malfunction, or in response to one of us pointing out the object in the cloudless autumn sky. We climbed out, and stood watching a round (as in spherical) object, of some transparent material moving about as fast as a small single-engine airplane. This might have been a balloon, either very large and high, or small and much lower than we thought. What gives the sighting a lingering strangeness is the smooth, precise flight of the object. Balloons, weather and otherwise, bob and pause and react to upper (and lower) winds. I have searched MUFON and sources for reports, but with no success.