Or so goes the title of a hit country song.
I watched Chasing UFOs over the weekend.
That must come as no surprise. I really admire James Fox’s UFO documentary, I Know What I Saw and there were aspects of this new TV series that intrigued me. There were also aspects that I could very well have done without. That’s a post for another time. What did grab me about the first episode was the 2008 incident of Stephenville, Texas. In watching the cast’s investigation, I realized that I haven’t quite given this sighting enough of my attention and I mean to rectify that situation.
Stephenville is a town located near the center of Texas. On January 8th of 2008, however, the name Stephenville became associated with one of the biggest mass UFO sightings since the "Phoenix Lights" of 1997. Literally hundreds of people reported seeing a series of spectacular lights in the sky, lights that would be in one location and then appear in an opposite one within the space of a breath. Several witnesses managed to capture these lights on still camera and video, including one police officer using his dashboard cam. A few, such as pilot and outspoken witness, Steve Allen, saw a structured, disc-shaped craft that was “about a half a mile wide and about a mile long.”
After the aerial display, witnesses reportedly saw a number of military jet fighters chase after the UFO. Thus, a logical place to begin with any investigation is once again the US Air Force. And surprise surprise, the Air Force initially denied any involvement in these sightings whatsoever. After a few more weeks of pressure from citizens who understandably demanded an explanation, the Air Force confirmed that a flight of F-16s did indeed conduct a night exercise in the vicinity of Stephenville on the evening in question. The Air Force, as far as I know, never again issued a statement on the matter.
The admission of the F-16s is good for a few reasons. One, it confirms part of the witnesses’ stories. Two, with the F-16s present for comparison, this gave the witnesses perspective. Texas has a large military presence. Residents are no strangers to seeing military aircraft in their skies. These people were truly bewildered, in a few cases disturbed and unsettled, by what they saw. Oh and you can forget about that old standby excuse of “they were flares.” One look at the photos and video should be enough for a rational person to see that fact.
The Texas branch of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) took on the case. They managed to get records of civilian radar from area airports from the night of January 8th. The radar returns confirm the flight of ten F-16s…as well as a massive, unknown contact moving in a direction that corresponds with witness sightings. This radar contact did not have a transponder as required by the FAA. While that alone should be cause enough for concern in this post 9/11 world, there is more to it. The UFO appeared to heading on a direct course for the town of Crawford, the location of the ranch for then-President Bush. Air Force officials deny any incursion into secure airspace took place that night and refuse to release the radio transcripts of the F-16 pilots. They also report to have “lost” their own radar records from that night.
So what was it? I'd say it was, by strict definition, a UFO. Now before anyone gets too uptight, that is not a de facto translation into "alien." The object was in the air and we don't know what it was...ergo, UFO. It was not an F-16. That much is certain given the witness testimony and the photographic and video confirmation. It is not any (unclassified) aircraft in the military inventory that I am familiar with right now.
The arrangement of the lights are not consistent with typical navigational lights. Similarly, the flight characteristics of the UFO, the speed, the maneuverability, the bizarre appearance, etc. do not match any readily identifiable aircraft. This is not to say that this couldn't have been a military test for a highly advanced aircraft, but that is the case, then exactly what kind of physics-bending technology are we sitting on? In fact, a secret military jet might even go a fair way in explaining the absence of a transponder. But why would a test take place so close to the President's ranch? Or was it just showing off for "W" in a command performance?
Unless more evidence comes to light, the Stephenville case will remain a genuine UFO mystery. Sadly, even with all of the media attention the case has been and will get...everything from UFO Hunters to Chasing UFOs to mainstream press like Larry King...we will doubtfully have any better understanding of just what happened that January. That is unless the Air Force comes forward with what they know.
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