A characteristic and reliable aspect of the UFO phenomenon is its ability to manifest itself in rural and forested areas, and frequently over farm fields and back roads. Debunkers take great delight in this information, consequently offering their own guffaws and questions like, well, how come it's always some farmer in the back woods who sees these things? This is, of course, blatantly untrue (and offensive to farmers), but such questions always evoke a few laughs from any unknowing audience.
Many years ago, amidst newspaper reports of cattle mutilations allegedly caused in some way by UFO activity around the country, I wrote a newspaper letter to the editor and cautioned that supposedly untouched living animals in the immediate areas may be just as important for research as the dead and mutilated ones -- perhaps more so. A suspected relationship between low-flying or hovering objects and animal populations has long been documented, and one might easily wonder if major, as yet unknown, UFO-related influences upon our lives, animal lives, vegetation or the planet occur under cover of darkness, during anticipated secret moments in out-of-the-way places.
If we look at the UFO in this way, then any and all of those isolated little reports from sparsely populated areas should always be of interest.
I thought of the importance of smaller UFO events this week when I happened upon a couple of newspaper clippings from the 1970s and, as it turns out, I had been able to get some witness cooperation in completing report forms for one of the major UFO organizations. Today's information comes from The November 9 and 11, 1976 editions of The Geneva Times of Geneva, NY, and concerns an object apparently witnessed by several people in the area of Phelps, NY. Newspaper reporter Paul Moderacki, who investigated and wrote both articles, had kindly sent the clippings to me (It's difficult to believe nearly 34 years have passed! Seems like only yester. . .).
Events unfolded as high school student Dan Webb was driving home at about 10:30 p.m. on a November, 1976 evening from his job at a K-Mart. He suddenly heard a "whirring" sound that he at first interpreted as the wind, but then he saw a glowing saucer-shaped aircraft moving across the fields at a height he estimated to be 70 yards. Webb went on to explain how he used various neighbors' houses as reference points, and he first spotted the thing over a road surface directly in front of him.
"I could see it as plain as day," he said. "It had huge windows with a very bright yellow light inside, on the top were green lights, and the bottom had alternating red and blue lights." Driving slowly, Webb kept his eyes on the object all the way home.
His mother, Linda Burns, had been waiting for his return and related that "I saw some bright lights coming toward the house. . .and I figured it was Dan, but now I don't think it was. About five minutes later, he came running into the house looking white as a ghost, and dragged me outside." She saw the object, but not as well as her son because by that time it was over the woods. When it disappeared, she recalled, snapping her fingers, "it didn't move off slowly. It was gone like this."
Webb, a high school senior, called the sighting "the weirdest experience I've ever been through," and quickly drew a sketch of the saucer (see drawing) while the sight remained fresh in his mind. He likened the object's width to the size of his house's roof and its height to half the size of the two-story house.
But the story didn't end at Webb's home. Two days after Moderacki's initial newspaper article, he wrote another (Nov. 11), this time including two more witnesses who came forth to report what might have been the same UFO. Molly Leitner and Paulette Stowell were riding home from work together at about 11:15 p.m. that Monday when they saw an object with red and blue lights on its bottom and a yellow glow on top. They saw it from a distance, but felt it was the same thing Webb viewed because of the flashing colored lights and their position relative to the object.
So, one more UFO sighting for the bucket. Now what? Now nothing. You take the reports, you file them away and. . .and? At least this one featured multiple witnesses and an indication of noise involvement (the "whirring"). What was that thing and what was it doing? It was doing what UFOs do out over country roads, fields and forests -- whatever that is.