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THE SUNDAY GLEANER MAGAZINE JANUARY 28, 1968 1907. A Eaxnne¢ Yon aaa By JOHN A. KEEL NEW YORK: Twelve unidentified flying objects (UFOs) reportedly appeared in the skies over Point Pleasant W. Va., on December 15, 1967, the evening the Silver Bridge there crumpled into the Ohio River. Mrs. James Lilly, one of the witnesses, described them as “large circular lights bouncing along at treetop level.” Hundreds of residents in the Point Pleasant area had been observing similar lights and a wide variety of other apparently unnatural aerial phenomenon throughout the year. 1967 was, in fact, a banner year for sky watchers all over the world. Unlike previous years the action began early in January when a massive wave of UFO sightings was reported from coast-to-coast, beginning in the early morning hours of January 16. Thousands of people from Canada to Florida, including 30 police officers, several pilots, two ministers, a number of newspaper reporters and a radio announcer, described everything from flying cylinders, balls and bells, to giant cigar-shaped objects cruising around the skies of 30 states that week. All of this was merely a prelude for what followed. On March 1 the sightings soared in every state. By the middle of March, strange things were being seen almost nightly throughout the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. Local newspapers were filled with stories related by frightened motorists who claimed that strange objects had actually pursued their cars. kee From California to the Carolinas, hardened “flying saucer” skeptics were converted overnight after unexpected experiences with the enigmatic intruders. Over 2,000 sightings were published in March, and one can only guess at how many went unreported altogether. (The total number of sightings reported to the U.S. Air Force for the entire preceding year, 1966, were 1,060) April sightings were equally high, particularly in the mid-western states. The UFO's seemed to have a penchant for the flat prairie country and isolated, thinly populated areas. Whereas they had remained at remote altitudes in previous years, they were reportedly flitting about at ground level and thousands of excited witnesses swore they had even seen the things land briefly, often leaving scorched grass and mysterious circular holes in the ground. The USAF seemed stunned into silence and made fewer and fewer attempts to explain the phenomenon. wa Teams from the Air Force-financed UFO project at the University of Colorado, in Boulder kept their bags packed and bustled from one state to another. UFO's turned up night after night around Harrisburg, Pa. beginning in July and a Colorado team moved in for a month. They also ran a scientific blitzkrieg into Missouri and New England, often arriving, within hours after a significant sequence of sightings were reported. When a rash of [more] than 100 sightings broke out near Elmira, N.Y. in the fall, the travel-weary scientists, accompanied by the Air-Force’s longtime UFO expert, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, rushed to the scene and stayed. In Europe, England erupted in a UFO frenzy in the later summer, with constables and even staid astronomers making claims of seeing circular machines and egg-shaped objects, succeeding where the Luftwaffe had failed -- apparently assuming command of the gray British skies. In late June and early July, thousands of witnesses from Italy to Scandinavia described everything from “flying footballs to space ships with portholes.” Simultaneously, South America joined the far-out festival with wave after wave of unidentified objects reported from the tip of Argentina to the Caribbean Sea. In November, The USSR announced that Maj. Gen. Porfiri A. Stolyarov would head an official Russian UFO study project. And scientists at the University of Toronto in Canada began their own effort as the number of Canadian sightings swelled. What are all of these people seeing (witnesses are now numbered in the millions)? The U.S. Air Force insists that over 90 per cent of the sightings are of natural phenomena such as meteors and ball lightning (there was One Honest-To-Goodness Report of Ball Lightning in 1967 -- from Tasmania), or misinterpretations of ordinary aircraft and weather balloons. In the few guarded statements they have released thus far, the Colorado scientists seem to support this contention Dr. Jacques Vallee, a NASA astronomer and leading UFO researcher, disagrees. “The time has come,” Dr. Vallee observed recently, “to give serious consideration to the space hypothesis about UFO’s, by accepting that the objects observed are space sondes (devices for testing conditions on earth) from other worlds. It is possible that they are piloted by intelligent beings or by “thinking cybernetic machines.” There was a sharp decline in UFO reports from 1958 to 1963. But since 1964, the sightings have multiplied so dramatically that many ufologists find the incoming data unmanageable. Whatever they are, it appears that they are now here in large numbers and it looks as if they might be here to stay. -- NANA [North American Newspaper Alliance]