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Can you solve this UFO mystery?

Posted in SkepticBlog by Skepdude on April 16, 2009

I was visiting my friend Jim (name changed to protect the embarrassed) when he happened to mention that for a few weeks now, his neighborhood had been receiving regular UFO visits.

At first I wasn’t sure if he was pulling my leg or what. I knew Jim to be a reasonable guy, not given over to the supernatural. Moreover, he was the UFOlogists’ favorite type of witness: A pilot. (Because, as we all know, pilots cannot be mistaken about anything seen in the sky.) But I also knew that Jim could be pretty darn stubborn once an idea got into his head. I realized he was quite serious, and from what he said, a lot of people in the neighborhood were equally serious about it. Well, quite obviously, I had to see it.

So he took me outside into the dark, and what a surreal experience that was. He simply said “Let’s go,” and had the mannerism of every expectation that we’d see the UFO. Like it’s always right there for the taking.

As we walked down the little street in his condo complex, he greeted a couple of neighbors standing by the dumpster. “You’ve got to stand right here,” he said, indicating the area in front of the dumpster where his neighbors, cocktails in hand, were already watching. The line of sight was straight back up the street we’d just come down. About a hundreds yards away the street dead ended into a cross street lined with carports along its far side. Beyond the carports were some trees and other regular neighborhood stuff. Far in the distance was a range of low hills, which I knew from experience, though they were not visible in the darkness. The sky was a little murky, there were very few stars visible, and no moon. The condo complex did have streetlights, but they were relatively dim and did not really affect our visibility much.

Jim and his neighbors described the UFO to me. It would always appear as a little squadron of two or three lights, bigger than stars, but not very bright. They would simply appear out of nowhere at the end of the street, above the trees. They’d hover around for a moment, and then shoot off to the left. The UFOs would appear and do their thing once perhaps every few minutes, and would keep doing it for as long as you wanted to watch. The neighborhood had been in contact with their local newspaper, but nobody had seen an article yet. I also gathered that the UFOs only appeared at night.

The woman neighbor believed someone was trying to tell us all something. Her husband was quite curious about what they were and had been trying all sorts of theories that didn’t pan out, everything from cars driving along the hills in the distance to airplanes to laser projections in the clouds. He liked the laser projection theory best, but even it did not fit the observation very well. Jim didn’t seem to have a theory. He accepted the UFOs calmly. I’m pretty sure he believed they were alien spacecraft and just didn’t want to say so. But whatever his idea was, he seemed satisfied with it, and kept it to himself.