UFOs over Michigan's thumb area?
",There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than
are dreamed of in your philosophy" Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
You cant seem to escape them. Resistance is futile.
Unidentified flying objects (or if you
prefer...UFOs, flying saucers,
spook lights, foo fighters,
ghost rockets or swamp gas) are
being sighted in increasing numbers throughout the world.
in our movie theaters and on our television sets. In our
serious mainstream news media and on the covers of
supermarket tabloids. Theyre on your childs
pajama tops and in the think tanks of prestigious
imagery seems to be trying to conquer the planet every
five or so seconds from our VCRs, television sets and
computers. Business-savvy advertising execs are
increasing the visibility of their products by slapping
UFO pictures on just about everything, thus creating a
UFO demographic of consumers to conquer and
rule. You cant help but to have a UFO sighting or
two anytime you set foot into a K-Mart, Meijer or mall.
safe to say that UFOs have invaded almost every facet of
our lives. From doing just an hours worth of
historical research, Ive found that these objects
have been sighted in our skies and tales told of them
from the beginning of recorded history.
cave paintings the world over consistently show odd
flying entities or objects in addition to representations
of the sun, moon and stars.
The Drona Parva, an ancient Sanskrit text from India,
describes aerial dogfights among gods piloting flying
machines called vimanas.
Alexander the Great s army was harassed by a pair of flying
objects in 329 BC.
In the 8th Century AD, King Charlemagne was very concerned
about "tyrants of the air", strange aerial
ships that would appear over the Rhine River region
(present day western Germany and the Netherlands) that
would occasionally kidnap people.
Between 1561 and 1566 residents of Nuremberg, Germany and Basel,
Switzerland witnessed spectacular displays of spheres,
disks and tubes zooming about the sky and engaging in
"an aerial ballet".
From California to New York, in 1896-97, a massive wave of
"phantom airships" were witnessed by thousands.
Michigan had close to fifty such sightings which were
extensively covered in various area newspapers of the
Several recent UFO reports from our own Thumb area have been made
to Seattle, Washingtons National UFO Reporting
Center (NUFORC), Michigans Mutual UFO Network
(MUFON), local police departments and
to local newspapers.
been swamped with Michigan reports" NUFORCs
Peter Davenport said during a recent phone call. "I
cant keep up with them".
Snow, a former MUFON investigator from Marlette, said
that UFO sightings in the Thumb area come and go in waves
("flaps"), during periods of a week or more,
"but theres no pattern to it".
Murphy, a project engineer for one of the Big Three
automakers and a former Michigan MUFON State Director,
notes that "about 90 percent of (UFO) reports are
honest mistakes or misperceptions of fairly conventional,
natural or man-made phenomena" such as satellites,
aircraft, the Planet Venus, lenticular clouds,
meteorites, advertising balloons and ball lightning.
And what about the remaining ten percent of UFO reports?
"Some really strange things are in fact happening in our
skies" Murphy answered with an upwardly searching
Flint (November 27, 1997) - On Thanksgiving Day morning at
6:30 AM, a Genesee County Deputy Sheriff with 19 years
experience, spied something strange low in the sky above
US-23 five miles south of Flint. "I thought it was a
plane and kept driving towards it" he told Michigan
MUFON investigator Frank Bertrand "but it never
moved. I am familiar with air traffic near Bishop
(Airport) and if this were a plane, it was in trouble and
going the wrong way!".
The object, as he approached it, was only a few hundred feet
above the road and consisted of three bright lights, two
white and one red, 40 feet apart.
The Deputy Sheriff continued to close in on these lights that
were still not moving until he drove directly beneath
them. "There was no sound and as I looked in my
rearview mirror it was still sitting there but this time
I saw a row of seven rectangular lights or windows...very
bright. It never moved as long as I watched it in my
mirrors." (sources-MUFON, witness phone interview
and authors file)
Birch Run (December 2, 1997) - Two separate reports
concerning disc-shaped craft with many green and red
lights, virtually silent and gliding at treetop level,
came to Davenports attention from Birch Run
(between Flint and Saginaw on I-75). The two reports
listed similar objects being sighted at approximately the
same time of night and on the same date.
Chief Cramer of the Birch Run Police, through a department
spokesman, stated that no UFO reports were made that
evening. (sources-NUFORC, Birch Run Police correspondence
and authors file).
Peck and Marlette (December 2, 1997) - While Birch Run was
having their own close encounters the skies above
southern Sanilac County were also filled with strange lights.
A 53 year old Marlette man witnessed a massive bank of several bright white lights
"like giant stadium lights" sitting motionless
above, or just beyond Peck to the northwest, before they
simply "vanished". They were similar in
appearance to the object that the Genesee County Deputy
sighted only a few days before.
Meanwhile, a 31 year old Marlette man was driving north on M-53 near
Peck Road when he spotted a bright golden fireball with
long flaming tail plummet straight down out of the sky.
"It disappeared just before it reached the
ground...it had to have been a meteor or piece of Mir or
All four of the Birch Run and Sanilac County sightings occurred
between 8 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. (sources-MUFON & authors
Brown City (December 13, 1997) - A helicopter explanation
was given to a Sanilac County Sheriffs dispatcher
by Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mt. Clemens, MI
concerning unusual lights sighted by at least five
people, two of them police officers, above Brown City.
At 10:04 p.m. the Sanilac Sheriffs Department received a phone
call from a Brown City area resident who claimed that her
family had been observing a formation of red, blue and
white lights over a long period of time and through
The Sheriffs dispatcher sent a police unit to the
callers residence, arriving at 10:12 PM. The unit
advised the dispatcher that "there is definitely
something in the sky...it moved across the sky and was
The dispatcher then made contact with an unidentified
dispatcher at Selfridge Air Base and was advised
"that it was probably a helicopter...and there was
nothing much that could be done from this end".
the two police officers, who requested not to be
identified, confirmed that he did witness the strange
lights in the sky but was hesitant in identifying them as
a helicopter or as twinkling stars or planets. Knowing
that the Brown City area sits underneath Selfridges
low altitude area of operations, he thought that this
object may have been military in origin, i.e. exotic
aircraft being tested over southern Sanilac County.
Selfridges Public Affairs Chief, Alice Errington, stated that all of
their aircraft were on the ground by 7:30 PM that night
and that the Control Tower or Base Operations Dispatchers
had not recorded any UFO calls from the Sanilac
Sheriffs dispatcher into their logs that evening.
(sources-Sanilac County Sheriffs Department, police
officer phone interview, Alice Errington-phone interview,
& authors file)
Marlette (December 15, 1997) - At 11:30 PM, a 52 year old
Marlette area woman was turning out her Christmas lights
when she spotted a brilliant golden light low in the
looked like a landing light on an airplane...with two
blinking stars, one on each side of it. I knew, though,
that it wasnt an airplane".
As the strange light approached her home she decided to open her
sliding glass doors to get a better look at it.
"I was afraid...so I just stood in the open door thinking I
could shut it if I needed to" she reported to
Michigan MUFON investigator Frank Bertrand. "The
light was quite large...too large to be an
She stepped a few feet onto her patio, looked up to see that
the object was comprised of "two large lights, one
lemon yellow and the other a brilliant red, each larger
than the full moon, perfectly round and seemingly lit
"There were also two small lights on the crafts sides.
Green on the crafts, left and
white on its right. They were much smaller and
brighter than an airplanes wingtip lights and
blinked in unison".
As the lights were directly overhead the woman performed a very
clear and sober observation. She measured the lights
between the fingers of her outstretched arm. "Three
inches from front of the yellow circle to the back of the
red" she told MUFON investigators. "Huge...and
completely silent! I listened for a sound but
couldnt hear any."
The lights then disappeared over the roof of her home.
As in other cases, Selfridge was sent a Freedom Of Information
Act request concerning military traffic above Marlette
that evening, radar data and aircraft transponder replies
(the aircrafts electronic ID that is automatically
returned to the detecting radar facility). Selfridge
stated that they routinely dispose of "all flying
activity records...every six months" therefore the
alleged 12/15/97 event over Marlette couldnt be
researched through them.
(sources-MUFON, Selfridge ANGB/Bonnie Murray and authors file)
Marlette (May 19, 1998) - "Matt", a 32 year old
Marlette man driving south on Butler Rd near Lynd Rd,
spotted a "large reddish-orange light" sitting
a few degrees above the southwestern horizon around 10:15
PM that evening. Being somewhat familiar with astronomy,
Matt mentioned that he first thought that it was a star
or planet as they "tend to look orangish near the
horizon due to our atmosphere". A few minutes later,
to Matts surprise, the light
"suddenly shot straight up and out of sight".
(source-witness interview by author)
PAST THUMB-AREA UFO SIGHTINGS
Lapeer (December 9, 1965) - A fireball was witnessed
traveling south from Canada, over eastern Michigan, Ohio
and Pennsylvania. According to researcher Stan Gordon and
several dozen citizens of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, a
ten-foot tall "acorn-shaped" object with
"strange hieroglyphic-like symbols" crashed
into a wooded ravine outside of Kecksburg late in the
afternoon of December 9th, 1965. Others contend that it
was a Soviet satellite.
If this object were a Soviet satellite, as researchers Gordon and
author Kevin Randle ("History Of UFO Crashes")
believes, we were required by signed international treaty
to immediately return it to its country of origin. The
Soviets have never requested, at least publicly, that
this object be returned to them.
Before the mystery object landed in Pennsylvania, it allegedly
set several fires in the Lapeer area as well as Ohio when
it passed overhead. A sonic boom was registered from the
object near Detroit.
The Lapeer County Sheriffs Department received several
calls that a fireball had crashed into a swampy area
south of Lapeer. These calls came in during the deluge of
reports of a bright object hurtling south across the sky
at about 4:45 PM.
Lapeer County Deputy Lenny Tolly found "about a peck"
of foil in two piles ten feet apart. The strips were 1/16
inch wide and 3/4 of an inch long. Tolly said that there
was foil scattered all over the swamp. He said that
"it looked like it may have come from the deal (the
Another Lapeer Deputy, flying in a plane at the time of the
fireball sighting, said he could see several fires
breaking out in the swamp as he passed over.
The Lapeer Sheriffs Department sent foil samples to the
Air Force and Project Blue Book (their much maligned UFO
study) who later determined that it was aircraft chaff,
foil strips sent out of airplanes to confuse radar.
Nothing was ever found to have crashed in the swampy area south
(sources-Stan Gordon email-interview, Kevin Randle
email-interview, UPI article-December 10, 1965 and
Bad Axe (March 27, 1966) - Peter Torres of the Bad Axe
Police Department, Larry Rigvelski of the Huron County
Sheriffs Department and Frank Best of the Michigan
State Police all observed a bright blue UFO at 5:24 am
EST on Sunday March 27, 1966 southeast of Bad Axe.
Several calls about the UFO were received before the
three officers made their sighting.
(source-Huron Daily Tribune, Vol. 91/#61)
Lapeer (late March 1966) - Many UFO sightings were reported
to The Lapeer County Press following news coverage of the
famous Dexter/Hillsdale, Michigan UFO sightings/"Swamp Gas" incident of March 21,
Lapeer Hospital patient, Mrs. George Burene, and her nurses, all
witnessed an object for 45 minutes. "It was hovering
in the west...it was red and orange at the front, bright
yellow at the center, and bluish-green at the end. When
it moved, yellow sparks seemed to come out the
Clifford Smith, driving on M-24, between Veselys and Lapeer,
saw a "bluish-white" object in the sky to the
north. "It was odd shaped and twice the size of the
sun" the Lapeer resident said. (source-Lapeer County
Press March 31, 1966)
Sanilac County (April 22, 1966) - Several unidentified flying
objects were reported by Sanilac County residents and
police officers were eyewitnesses to them early in the
morning of April 22, 1966.
A Michigan State Police Trooper from Sandusky watched
"a brilliant ball of light" in the pre-dawn sky
today for more than an hour.
The Trooper, Alex Fisher, described the object as having a
green finger of light pointing towards its top and a red
shaft toward the bottom. It hovered "at airplane
altitude", he said, and gradually disappeared over
Lake Huron to the east. (sources-Huron Daily Tribune
Vol.91/#80 and U.P.I.)
Oscoda/Saginaw Bay (October 30, 1975) - Over a two-week period in
late 1975, NORAD bases along the US/Canadian border were
having UFO encounters that were seriously infringing upon
our National Security.
"The UFO Cover-Up" by Barry Greenwood and Lawrence
Fawcett (1984) details NORAD base incursions by UFOs
through official military documents gleaned through the
Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA). These unidentified
craft were seriously infringing upon our national
security by hovering above nuclear weapons storage
facilities and in one case, deactivating the guidance
systems of several ICBMs pointed at the former Soviet
On October 30, 1975 at Wurtsmith AFB in Oscoda, a soldier
reported a 30-foot-wide disc hovering over the weapons
storage facility. The disc was pursued by a tanker plane
over Saginaw Bay but soon disappeared. As the plane
returned to the base, radar showed the disc following it
until the object sped off at about 1,000 knots.
(Sources-Greenwood & Fawcett, The Detroit Sunday
Journal-August 11, 1996 and authors personal file)
Marlette/Burnside area (January/February 1996) - >A 28 year old man, who
asked not to be identified, watched a string of "ten
or twelve weird orange lights" sitting low in the
southern sky around 11 PM on a Saturday night in late
January or early February.
He originally sighted them as he was driving south on M-53
near Clifford Rd. They were almost directly above the
road in front him and slightly higher than the treetops.
He kept them under observation for several miles until he
reached Peck Rd when he lost them behind some trees. The
lights "covered a large portion of the sky". At
arms length he estimated the light display to be
"at least a foot wide".
When he passed through the trees that obscured his sight near
M-90 West the lights were again seen, slightly higher in
the sky and apparently closer. This time he felt that
they were "at least two feet wide" at
"They were amazing! I doubt that they were military flares as I
had this object in sight from Marlette to M-90 and it
never moved. Flares drop, shift in the wind and leave
smoke trails. I also noticed about fifteen cars and
trucks pulled off to the side of the road near M-90. They
mustve been watching the lights too."
(source-witness interviewed by author)
Saginaw (February 27, 1996) - Cleveland FAA Air Traffic
Control was in contact with multiple aircraft over
eastern Michigan that reported unusual "aerial
stimulus". The pilot of a commuter airliner reported
a pulsing ball of light ahead of his aircraft near
Saginaw and had to descend several thousand feet to avoid
Acquired through the Freedom Of Information Act, an audio tape of
the conversations between Cleveland FAA and the aircraft
contain one pilot describing the object as "a
Frisbee type thing" with a "rotating light
going around it". (source-MUFON)
Kingston (Spring 1992) - WDIV channel 4, Detroit (NBC) aired a
"Michigan Unsolved Mysteries" segment about
recent UFO sightings in the Kingston area involving
triangular craft, large orange hovering lights that shook
homes near Plain Road & M-46 and sightings of several
distant orange lights in the northern skies.
Marlette ufologist Bob Snow, formerly of Michigan MUFON, having
heard several reports from all over the thumb concerning
the distant orange lights to the north came up with an
explanation for the aerial phenomena.
Snow surmised that what were being witnessed to the north were
not alien spacecraft but actually high-altitude flare
drops from Selfridge jets performing training maneuvers
above Saginaw Bay. Several area witnesses have agreed
with Snow while some believe that what they observed were
"There were quite a few of us on the docks one night watching
these weird orange lights" said "William",
a Port Austin-area native. "They were doing
maneuvers, disappearing and reappearing. Ive seen
hundreds of jets flying around here coming and going from
Oscoda, dropping flares above the Bay, but I have never
seen them making perfect 90 degree turns without any
Caros Undersheriff, Jim Fyfie, was baffled by the other much
stranger reports from 1992. He checked with the Air
Force, local airports and the FAA and could not account
for a majority of the odd sightings. "So we just
chalk them up as Unidentified Flying Objects" he
told Mike Wendlind of Channel 4s Night Beat.
(source-WDIV and authors file)
Cass City (October 15 & 16, 1996) - The October 23,
1996 edition of The Cass City Chronicle ran a front page
story on two separate UFO sightings made on consecutive
nights and witnessed by at least nine people.
On October 15th, a man returning from work at 4:30 a.m.
spots a strange object in the eastern sky of the
Ellington area (west of Cass City on M-81). He calls his
sister, Sandy K., to meet him outdoors with her video
camera. They claim to have recorded a dome shaped
object...that looked like a brain, with lights that would
alternately dim and brighten".
The Chronicle reporter who covered the story did not view the
video tape and Sandy K., a Cass City hair stylist, has
not responded to several requests to have her video
analyzed by optical physicists. Tuscola County 911
Dispatch logged no UFO reports that evening.
The following evening, at least 7 workers at Anrod Screen and
Cylinder in Cass City, witnessed strange orangish-red
lights "playing leap frog", disappearing,
reappearing and "jumping over each other" in
the northern skies around 8 p.m. on October 16th.
(sources-Cass City Chronicle 10/23/96 edition, Tuscola
County 911 Dispatch and authors personal file)
Flint Bishop Airport-FAA Tower (February 19, March 17 & 23,
1995) - On February 19th several air traffic controllers viewed a strange object both visually and on
radar. It did not transmit a transponder signal in
response to the radar beam but it did reflect the signal.
On March 17th five air traffic controllers witnessed four bright
red, pulsating objects hovering in the night sky, the
nearest was located within four miles of their tower, and
initially at an altitude of 4000 feet. The controller
reported that it looked somewhat like a "red road
flare", although it pulsated at regular intervals.
At each pulsation, when the radiated light subsided
somewhat, some sort of object appeared to be marginally
visible in the "cloud" of red light, and it was
a different shape after each pulse!
controller reported that one member of the group flashed
the towers light "gun" at the nearest of
the four objects, at which point it instantly returned to
the shape and size of a small "fireball", and
began darting and zigzagging in the evening sky!! None of
the objects appeared on the radar screen in the tower.
911 lines in the Flint area also reported UFO calls on March
On March 23 NUFORC received a third report from the Flint FAA
Tower reporting a sighting beginning at 10:25 PM. During
this sighting the tower supervisors were allegedly
witness to the object.
The FAA has been sent FOIA requests concerning unknown aircraft
activity on the above dates and an answer is still
pending. (source-NUFORC and authors personal file)
The Sturrock-Rockefeller Panel - This past June 29th, a
50-page review of UFO sightings accompanied by
unexplained physical evidence, was released to the public
by an independent scientific panel under the direction of
Stanford University physicist Peter Sturrock and financed
by Laurance S. Rockefeller. The inquiry also involved
scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cornell and Princeton universities and
institutions in France and Germany.
Some of the cases included inexplicable burns to witnesses, radar
detection of mysterious objects, strange lights appearing
repeatedly in the skies over certain locales, aberrations
in the workings of automobiles, and radiation and other
damage found in vegetation.
One of the cases the Sturrock Panel sited occurred in January
1994, in the skies above Paris, when an airborne crew saw
a "gigantic disk" more than 3,000 feet in
diameter. The disk was detected on military radar for 50
seconds, slowed abruptly from 100 knots to zero, then
The panel suggests the scientific community has suffered a
failure of curiosity regarding UFOs. Despite an abundance
of reports over the last 50 years, "and despite
great public interest, the scientific community has shown
remarkably little interest in this topic".
The panel emphasized that it had found no convincing evidence
of extraterrestrial intelligence or any violation of
natural laws. (sources-The Washington Post-June 29, 1998;
The Journal Of Scientific Exploration and authors
Finally, UFOs have brought about a unique situation: hundreds of
thousands of people claim to have seen something which
hundreds of thousands of other people insist do not
Psychologist Carl Jung, in his book "Flying Saucers", stated
"something is being seen, but it isnt known
what.... This formulation leaves the question of
seeing open. Something material could be
seen, or something psychic could be seen. Both are
realities, but different kinds".
Albert Einstein said that "as far as the laws of
mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and
so far as they are certain, they do not refer to
It is certain that UFOs are being seen by thousands, if not
millions, of people worldwide. Most are misidentified
aircraft, satellites and natural phenomena, yet some are
still inexplicable by our current ways of
knowing (science, psychology and spirituality). In
the near future, as science progresses into areas such as
quantum physics, some UFO questions may finally be
Today, debates rage as to the identities, origins and purposes
of these inexplicable aerial objects. Without this
knowledge we are left to ponder our own thoughts and
ideas, hopes and fears, projecting them into the
phenomena like some big Rorschach test in the sky. The
UFO phenomena truly tells us more about ourselves than it
may ever reveal of itself.
Please contact the author by email at email@example.com or in care of The Marlette
Leader if you have any information on the above cases or
if you have had a sighting of an unidentified flying
object. Your name will be kept in the strictest of
confidence unless you give permission to publish it.
Names used in this article were published previous to the
writing of this article and already in the public realm.
To report a UFO or other related phenomena, you can contact:
The National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) in Seattle,
Washington by phone at 206-722-3000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) in Boulder, Colorado by phone at
The author, Jeffrey S. Westover, is a published artist and
volunteer with Michigans Mutual UFO Network and
frequent contributor to AAER.