I was eleven-years-old in 1947 when the modern era of UFOs began.  Each night that summer, I scanned the open skies above our Iowa farm and wished upon many stars, hoping that one of them might soar away at enormous speed and reveal itself to be a flying saucer.  I finally had my wish granted in 1966 with a sighting that easily surpassed the most brilliant technological efforts of Hollywood to depict the aeronautical superiority of an advanced extraterrestrial civilization.  

I have never written about it until now.

Click here to enlarge top photo.

                UFO Research in the 1960s

In the mid-1960s,  the physical “nuts and bolts” theorists had a firm hold on the general public’s imagination, and respectability in the UFO community demanded strict adherence to the extraterrestrial hypothesis.  And even though I had come to investigate UFO reports from the field of psychical research, my excitement over the possibility that extraterrestrial civilizations were making contact with our own easily made me susceptible to the prevailing consensus that flying saucers from Outer Space had landed.

In the early summer of 1966, my first UFO book, Strangers from the Skies (Award Books), made the paperback bestseller list two weeks after publication.  Just a few weeks before Strangers from the Skies was published, my study of poltergeist phenomena, Strange Guests (Ace Books) was released, and later that same summer, my biography of the great screen lover Valentino  (Macfadden-Bartell) was published with a nationwide publicity campaign.  It is truthful to say that flying saucers jump-started my career.  

My day job at this time was teaching English and creative writing and serving as faculty advisor for student publications in a Midwestern college.  Prior to that, from 1957 to 1963, I had served in the same capacity at the high school in Clinton, Iowa, one of the “quad cities” on the Mississippi River.  

When I was teaching in Clinton, I had become friends with Warren B. Smith, a successful photographer and trade journal writer.  Yes, the same Warren B. Smith who would later collaborate with me on a number of titles, and would write numerous books of his own in the paranormal and UFO fields, as well as a number of novels and other nonfiction books.   

So it was that one warm night in the summer of 1966, that I and my family were enjoying a cookout with the Smith family in their backyard in Clinton when Warren’s wife, Joan, spotted a peculiar, zig-zagging light in the night sky. 

The principal topic of  conversation that evening had been UFOs and the success of Strangers from the Skies. Now it appeared as though a UFO had been eavesdropping and had appeared right on cue. 

“That’s no meteor or satellite,” my wife Marilyn pronounced with earnest conviction as she pointed out the object that was moving rapidly in its erratic course.

“And it is certainly no conventional aircraft,” Warren confirmed.     “Look at the way it moves…those right angle turns.”

Within another few moments, the UFO performing those aerial acrobatics was joined by another lively light in the sky, then another.   

I remember being so excited that I could barely do more than utter, “This is unbelievable,” over and over.

Our combined family of eight kids, ranging from toddlers to pre-teenagers, were shouting and pointing at the sky as if Santa and his sleigh had appeared. 

Warren laughed and teased me that I was finally seeing UFOs after having written a book about them.

This is where I should stress that none of us adults had nothing alcoholic to drink that night.  At that time in my life, I drank nothing stronger than Dr. Pepper.  At the end of a work day, Warren would, on occasion, have a shot of bourbon with a glass of Coca-cola.  Neither of our wives drank alcohol.

                     An Astonishing  Sighting of a UFO Armada

After about fifteen minutes of watching the impossible aeronautics above us, Warren suggested that we might get an even better view of the performance if we were to drive down by the river.

I suggested a spot a few miles from the lights of the city, a clearing where I had gone target-shooting when I lived in Clinton.  It was close to the river and surrounded by a thick growth of trees and brush. 

It was as if a carefully planned aerial pageant celebrating the agile maneuvers of UFOs awaited us.  After a routine of seemingly impossible flight patterns, four brightly glowing UFOs hovered opposite each other and appeared to shoot lightning bolt-like beams of light at each other.  

Were they exchanging energy or trying to shoot each other down? 

The objects did not appear intent on destroying one another, for the crackling-lightning exchange continued for quite some time at a range so close that they could not have missed their target.

After several minutes of  this strange procedure, three of the glowing UFOs descended in what came to be known among researchers as “the falling-leaf motion” downriver.  We watched them closely until the objects dropped below tree level.

Good lord!  The flying saucers apparently had a base here.  Somehow it seemed appropriate that the thick woods near Mississippi would make a good hideaway.

Then, from another area even farther down river, two UFOs began to ascend in that same peculiar falling-leaf movement, only this time they were rising.  Once they had attained a certain altitude, however, the vehicles zoomed off at an astonishing rate of speed.

That appeared to signal the conclusion of their performance.  The four UFOs that remained within the field of vision suddenly moved quickly off to various positions in the night sky and froze, looking now like ordinary stars.

Article continues tomorrow Thursday, February 27, 2014!


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