The Top Seven Most Astonishing UFO Encounters
Since the dawn of civilization, mankind has turned to the skies for answers. One of our greatest quandaries has always been the question of what exists beyond our scope of technology and human understanding – what exactly is out there. On a few rare occasions, the Universe just might have tried to answer us.
Photo: Antonio M. Rosario/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
7. The Lubbock Lights
Late into the summer of 1951, people started reporting that they were seeing strange phenomenon in the skies above northwestern Texas. The lights were first reported by three professors from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. After going to the local newspaper with the report, other groups of individuals also began reporting similar findings - groups of lights in the sky which did not resemble conventional aircraft or meteors, but instead followed peculiar movement patterns and traveled at very high speeds.
On August 30th, Texas Tech freshman Carl Hart Jr. noticed the same group of 18-20 lights in the sky in a "V" formation from the window of his room, and quickly grabbed his camera and headed outside to snap some photographs, one of which resulted in the picture above. Hart took the photos to the same local newspaper, the Lubbock-Avalanche-Journal, who agreed to run them after Hart's assurance that the photographs were unaltered.
Those same photographs would circulate to newspapers throughout the nation, and gained even more national attention when they were printed up in LIFE magazine. The labs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base - the home of Project Blue Book - conducted extensive studies of the photographs and the sightings themselves, and could not prove the evidence and the witness testimony was a hoax, nor could they prove they were genuine, either. The government eventually concluded that the witnesses had actually seen a flock of birds, though subsequent photographs purposely taken of flocks of birds at night could not reproduce photographs which resembled Hart's.
6. Mexican Air Force Sightings
On May 13th, 2004, pilots in the Mexican Air Force were on a reconnaissance mission patrolling the skies over Ciudad del Carmen for drug smugglers. While on patrol, the pilots noticed that their infrared footage detected eleven "very hot spheres" which could not be seen by the naked eye, nor could they be detected on conventional radar.
The footage shows the spheres traveling at very high rates of speed and moving erratically in the sky. Skeptics believe these spheres are the result of oil platform burn-off flares from Cantarell oil field, located some 150 miles northwest of the planes' position during the time the footage was taken, but the footage itself seems to illustrate something very different.
5. The Travis Walton Incident
Photo: Paramount Pictures
The basis for the feature film Fire in the Sky, Travis Walton's harrowing story began on November 5th, 1975 while driving home from a logging site with his crew in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. After turning off the road to investigate a bright light coming from behind the tree line, Walton and the other witnesses report seeing a large silvery disc hovering a few feet off the ground. Walton got out of the truck to approach the disc for a better look, and was struck by a beam of light which emanated from the craft. Fearing for their own safety, the rest of the crew fled the scene, only to return shortly thereafter to find no sign of Travis or the craft.
The men went to the local authorities and told them what had transpired, and the local media quickly caught wind of the story. An extensive manhunt was conducted and the witnesses were given polygraph tests, which they all passed.
On November 10th, Grant Neff, one of the members of the logging crew, received a phone call from Walton from a gas station phone booth in Heber, Arizona asking him for help. He arrived to find Walton wearing the same clothing as five days prior and visibly shaken. Walton told him an incredibly detailed story about being abducted after the crew had fled the scene, which included detailed descriptions of his encounter, the alien figures on the ship, and the ship itself. Despite widespread skepticism about the event, it remains one of the most detailed and compelling accounts of alien abduction on record.
4. The Phoenix Lights
On March 13th, 1997, a series of strange lights were seen by literally thousands of people, from Nevada all the way to Mexico. Witnesses, including the then-governor of Arizona Fife Symington, reported seeing a group of lights in a triangular formation traveling slowly overhead.
Symington, like many others, wanted answers, and turned to the military for a possible explanation. He requested information from the commander of Luke Air Force Base, the general of the National Guard, and the head of the Department of Public Safety.
No definitive explanation was ever furnished, and eventually the Air Force concluded that the lights were actually flares from an A-10 Warthog airplane. This explanation didn't sit well with the governor, who responded: "As a pilot and a former Air Force Officer, I can definitively say that this craft did not resemble any manmade object I'd ever seen. And it was certainly not high-altitude flares, because flares don't fly in formation."