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."
3. Portage County Chase
Used as the basis for the UFO chase in the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this chase began in Portage County, Ohio on the morning of April 17th, 1966, when police officers Dale Spaur and Wilbur Neff were investigating an abandoned car on the side of the road.
Suddenly, they spotted a cone-shaped object emerge from behind a hill, floating in the sky about 50 feet off the ground. When they approached to investigate, they reported that object flashed an extremely bright light on them, then proceeded to leave the area.
The officers then gave chase for half an hour, with several other officers from other departments witnessing the same object and joining the chase as it transpired. Eventually, due to dense traffic and low fuel, the chase was abandoned.
Media outlets, who found out about the chase through radio chatter on police scanners, picked up on the story, which quickly gained national notoriety.
Investigators from Project Blue Book would later conclude that the officers had actually been chasing a "communications satellite" and then later, the officers had mistaken the planet Venus for the same object. The misperception by seven different officers of the law was chalked up to their "high rate of speed and excitement."
2. Roswell UFO Incident
One of the most well documented and scrutinized UFO encounters ever recorded, the events that occurred in Roswell, New Mexico on July 8th, 1947, are still shrouded in controversy to this day. Some believe both an intact UFO, as well as the bodies of its extra-terrestrial occupants were recovered by the military, and subsequently covered up by the government. Others believe the eventual conclusion the military provided: that the debris was nothing more than a downed weather balloon.
What is known is that something crashed in the New Mexico desert that July. Wreckage was found to be scattered for miles around and evidence of the crash was documented by dozens of civilians and numerous government officials alike.
Indeed, the July 9th newspaper headlines proclaimed "Roswell Army Air Force Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region," largely because that is the information which the media had obtained from an official press release provided by the military itself.
However, the military officials quickly changed their story, and within a few days explained that the debris found was actually an experimental weather balloon which had ”confused" the personnel at the Roswell base (which had previously been known for being the home the highly trained bombing squadron which dropped both atomic bombs on Japan). The government then provided the media with photographs of military personnel handling pieces of a weather balloon.
In light of what many believe to be a wholly inadequate explanation of what really happened in Roswell, the incident is considered by some to be a vast cover-up by the government, and has been the subject of many books, television shows, and even films related to the incident. Yet no definitive conclusion which satisfies all persons involved has been found to this day.
1. The Battle of Los Angeles
On February 24th 1942, just a few weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor which led to the official U.S. involvement in World War II, the Los Angeles region descended into complete darkness due to a government-mandated full scale blackout because of an unknown craft hovering above the city of Los Angeles.
Suspected of being a Japanese warship, air raid sirens blared and the the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade fired some 1,400 shells at the object over the course of the early hours of February 25th, resulting in the deaths of three civilians from artillery debris and widespread damage to property across the county.
Despite the slow movement of the object, and despite the fact that many witnesses from the media claimed to have seen several direct hits scored, the object was not downed, nor was the object ever identified.
Later that day, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox held a press conference and concluded that the whole incident was a "false alarm" and that it was a case of "war nerves", which resulted in stern rebuttals from other military personnel who were directly involved in the incident.
Indeed, the notion that, if this theory were true, the military would fire heavy artillery shells at nothing for over an hour, resulting in the deaths of three civilians, seemed to indicate that our military was either grossly incompetent or just flat-out lying to the American people about the event.
What do you think?