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Joe Stewart: The Bancroft UFO Incident

Joe Stewart, The Paranormal Nomad

The Bancroft UFO Incident

Photo of Joe Stewart, The Paranormal Nomad

Photo of Joe Stewart,
The Paranormal Nomad


I have spent over thirty years as a UFO investigator for a variety of UFO organizations. During those times I have had the occasion to experience the stranger side of the UFO phenomena on a personal level. The experience that affected me the most was when I was invited to help investigate a local UFO flap in the Bancroft, Michigan area. The investigators involved experienced an influence that I can only describe as mind control.

The Bancroft, Michigan case came to my attention mid-summer of 1982. Dan Wright, then State Director of the Michigan branch of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), was the initial contact for this case. It involved a family of five, the mother Betty N., her three children, and husband John. Betty and her family are devout Catholics and, not surprisingly, put a religious slant to the UFO events that unfolded that summer and early fall of 1982.

The story begins with the family having multiple UFO sightings starting in the spring of 1982. These sightings occurred around their home which was situated in a rural setting near Bancroft, Michigan.

The family members had witnessed a variety of UFO shapes: the classic flying saucer from the 1950's movies, triangles, cigar shapes, spheres, and an ice cream cone shaped object reminisce of the one in Steven Spielberg's 1977 movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The N. family had been observing these UFOs in the field and woods next to their house. On occasion they were able to use binoculars, and a small refractor telescope to view the UFOs in more detail, where a physical structured craft was witnessed by them all.

I was brought on the case after it had been going on for about five weeks. I remember Dan calling me around 11 am one summer day to tell me that Betty was working about the house and heard some excitement coming from her backyard where her children were playing. She poked her head out the upstairs window and saw the children playing with a shiny sphere a foot or two in diameter hovering above her children's heads just out of their reach.

Betty, very concerned, ran outside to her children's aid. Upon entering the backyard, the sphere quickly flew out of sight. The children told their mother that they had been playing with an angel. Betty was beside herself and slow to respond to her children's joy in interacting with an angel of God. She decided to let her children continue with that line of belief since she didn't have any other explanation for herself or the children.

When Dan revealed the case to me, he was quite excited and he told me he was going back out that evening to talk with the family. I was invited to join the investigation but I was unable to attend that night. Dan and I agreed to make plans for a future get together with the family.

In those days, the details of the abduction phenomenon were not known like they are today. Even though Budd Hopkins book Missing Time was published in 1981, the abduction phenomenon didn't hit full force publicly until around 1987 with the publishing of Whitley Strieber's book Communion and Budd Hopkins book Intruders on the abduction subject. MUFON was a nuts and bolts kind of organization.

Abductions only happened to people like Betty Hill and Travis Walton. Unlike the contactees of the 1950's, abductions were viewed as a one-time terrifying event. Today with the clear vision of hindsight, we see the error of our ways; so, with the mindset of the times, our focus was on the physical evidence of the UFO. Our mindset was such that we never considered that there might be a link between the UFO sightings and Betty N's family. In our world view: Betty's family just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

It was nearly fall when the time finally arrived for Dan and me to do our follow up investigation of Betty's family in Bancroft. That particular day I didn't meet Betty or the children, but I did meet her husband John. I remember John had broken his leg and was having trouble getting about as well as having a difficult time driving his car.

Dan and I stood on the dirt road in front of The N. family's house where John proceeded to tell us about the flying objects he had been seeing around dusk. The interesting thing about Betty's family's location is that it was in line with the commercial flight paths out of Bishop Airport located in Flint, Michigan. As we stood outside talking with John, there was an occasional commercial jet flying over. I started to wonder if these people were mistaken in their observations.

After spending some time listening to John's accounts my suspicions lessened. In one account he told how he was down the road from his house at dusk and saw this ice cream cone shaped object rise out of the woods. It had a brilliant array of colored lights. He described the lights as the purist blues and reds he had ever seen. As the darkness settled in, the object rose higher against the starry sky.

Soon after a commercial jet out of Bishop Airport was flying over the field near the UFO. John watched in amusement as the ice cream cone shaped UFO turned its lights off and then switched to smaller white lights John assumed were embedded in the body of the UFO. The smaller lights appeared as stars to the observer on the ground, and then to John's delight, the star like lights formed the constellation of the Big Dipper.

The jet climbing to its prearranged altitude cruised by without notice. After the jet had passed by, the UFO returned to its original light configuration and slowly flew off towards Lansing, Michigan.

John next described when he witnessed 2 small triangle shaped UFOs about the size of a VW microbus. They met in the middle of the field next to the house at a low altitude. They were all black with fine small blue lights on the craft's body. The triangle shaped UFOs would often meet nose-to-nose like they were communicating in some fashion.

After a couple of minutes of this configuration they would depart in different directions at a walking speed according to John. He also described watching a saucer shape craft from his driveway using his telescope. The UFO sat motionless in the sky while John observed the concentric circles of lights on the craft's underbelly.

Well, these were pretty interesting stories to say the least. This frequency of UFO sightings is what we used to call a local UFO flap. Let me reiterate, the notion of abduction wasn't in our thoughts at that time.

After some consideration I told Dan that maybe I should come back to the area one of these nights. As we talked briefly about our plans, John said that if I did come out that I should be careful that there had been a lot of robberies going on in the area. John gave me the option to park at their house. I really didn't want to do that. I wasn't fully trusting of the stories, so I wanted to come out unannounced to witness any possible deception.

A few weeks had passed and the family stopped asking if I was coming out to Bancroft. The UFOs were being seen every night starting around 8 pm according to Betty. Earlier in the investigation, Dan and I had interviewed the surrounding neighbors; I was puzzled that no one else had witnessed any UFO activity. I decided that the coming Monday would be the time I would make my investigation.

I arrived on the scene about 7:30 pm Monday night. The day was quickly approaching dusk. I parked a block from the house on the dirt road that ran in front of their place. There were lights on at the house, but I didn't see anyone outside.

I was parked next to the field that had all the activity. I also was not that far from the woods bordering the field. I thought briefly what John said about robberies in the area. I had my MUFON Investigators ID with me so I wasn't that worried about getting stopped by the sheriff, hazards of the trade I thought.

I stood outside my car the whole time. All was quiet, a little too quiet I thought. I didn't hear much of anything like insects, or dogs barking. I also noticed that there was no traffic on the road. I started to feel uneasy for no apparent or understandable reason. I had this nagging feeling someone didn't want me there.

The stars were coming out and 8 pm was approaching fast. The anticipation was killing me and I still had that nagging feeling of being watched. In retrospect this was my first sign of mind control. A feeling of dread, not being welcomed is the form it took.

Darkness had engulfed everything and I hadn't seen anything yet. This is when I experienced my next mind control event. "What the hell was that?" I just heard a crashing sound like something really big was moving through the woods heading my way. An image entered my mind of Bigfoot roaming the woods taking exception to me being there.

The image and feeling were exceptionally strong (it is interesting to note here that I knew very little of Bigfoot at the time. It was the furthest thing from my mind and so out of place.) Succumbing to the impulse, I decided that I better move my car a little closer to the house and away from those dark uninviting woods.

I got in my car and turned the key. Nothing happened. I became a little alarmed and thought that I was experiencing an Electro-Magnetic (EM) effect that has been associated with UFOs in the vicinity of a person's vehicle. The EM effect would kill a car's electrical system. "Wait, oh crap!"

When I parked the car I left the transmission in Drive not Park a sign of nervousness on my part. The car started up fine, to my embarrassment, once I moved the shifter to Park. I was also puzzled by why I was so jumpy. It isn't like I haven't done UFO investigation vigils before. I remember at my gut level, I felt some sort of manipulation was going on, and yet I proceeded off guard ignoring the signs.

It is interesting that I recognized that some form of mind control was taking place but I seemed powerless to overcome it. It was like I had surrendered my will. I was aware of mind control taking place but despite that knowledge, the feelings that were stimulated at someone's will, counteracted my desire to do anything about it; and it seemed to reduce my reasoning and logic at the critical moments of decision.

In my new position, I had a better view of the field and house. The noise in the woods continued. I knew something was up, so I decided I wasn't moving no matter what came out of those dark woods. As soon as I produced that conviction the sounds from the woods abated.

This was an indication that my thoughts were somehow being monitored. I would think that the ability to target a person's thoughts seems to me to be a very efficient and effective form of mind control with virtually no chance of resistance while in the area of influence.

It was now 8:20 pm and all was quiet. I strained scanning the sky, not a thing, not even aircraft out of Bishop Airport. Again, I started to feel this really oppressive feeling that somebody didn't want me there. The thing that impressed me the most were the stars, they were huge and bright to the point of where I felt like they were going to descend on me.

In hindsight this was a manipulation of my perception causing me to feel trapped and claustrophobic. I just wanted to escape, run away. By now my fear was getting the best of me. I felt like someone was digging through my mind trying to find out what scared me and planning on using it!

It was now 8:25 pm and nothing was happening except for my anxiety. I refused to get caught up in my fears and stood my ground in the darkness waiting to see what happen next, if anything. The theme of this mind control is fear. I figured my only chance of defense was not to react to my impulses and feelings. I needed to stick to my original goal to remain and observe. Nothing else mattered.

At 8:30 pm I felt a change in the atmosphere. A change in tactics was taking place. All the fear and threatening feelings were gone, (In those days there was a TV show I liked to watch called the Lou Grant show that came on Monday nights at 10 pm) the present atmosphere changed. A train of thought entered my mind not my own in this manner: "You know, if you leave now you will get back just in time to watch the Lou Grant show. You would even have enough time to order a pizza."

Like an eager child without much thought, I jumped in my car and drove away towards home. My mind was being reinforced, filled with the thought that nothing is going to happen in Bancroft tonight except maybe in my imagination. I was about 10 miles from the site when I realized what had happened. I thought about stopping and returning, but something urged me to continue my journey home, so I did without question.

The next day Dan phoned me asking in an excited voice, what I had seen. I told him I saw nothing, the phone line went quiet. He seemed puzzled. He told me that there was a flurry of UFO activity that night. He thought for sure I was in the middle of it. Then he added that Betty thought it was strange that things didn't happen until around a quarter to nine instead of 8:00 pm like previous nights.

Dan wanted to know when I left the site. I told him it was about 8:35 pm. Dan was disappointed to the point of being angry, but not as much as I was. I think I was more pissed than anything, because I was knowingly manipulated and I still let it happen. The mind control tactic of choice appears to be the use of fear. That causes the flight or fight response. Most individuals would probably succumb to flight which would have satisfied their purposes.

In my case, I would rather fight than run. I don't think they were betting on that. Since fear failed to produce the response they wanted, they switched to pleasure. Under the influence of mind control driven pleasure, I don't believe my guard would be up as it would with fear.

I wonder why they just didn't use pleasure to begin with. Maybe it's a timing issue. That is, at the very beginning, I probably wouldn't have responded to the pleasure impulses. However, after being bombarded with fear and the lateness of the hour applying the pleasure tactic would be more effective when the target time of activity approached.

I told Dan I wanted to try again, to which he agreed only this time he would come along. I thought maybe together we had a chance against the manipulation that took place, so we picked a target date.

One a Monday morning I got this impulse to call Dan and inform him that I was going back out to Bancroft. I knew in my mind that there was going to be UFO activity that night. Dan didn't even question why we weren't sticking with our target date and neither did I. At the time I didn't think any kind of manipulation was taking place, mainly because I wasn't at the Bancroft location, the area of influence.

We showed up late that Monday afternoon without letting Betty know we were there. Our little group consisted of Dan, his girl friend, me, and my dad. Dan also brought his cat along for the ride. My father came along with me because he had a great interest in UFOs after he witnessed one for himself in June 1980 in north Lansing, Michigan.

As I turned on to the dirt road that ran in front of Betty's property, I noticed a bright light in the sky towards Bishop Airport as if it had been waiting for us. I told my father to watch that light, that it wasn't a planet, star, or conventional aircraft. There was something strange about the characteristics of its lights and its movement.

I stopped the car and got out. Dan pulled ahead of me and did the same. I pointed to the light coming our way. Dan puzzled over it. The environment in the surrounding area started to feel weird. Dan's girlfriend ran back to the car and locked herself in. The cat dived under the passenger seat. Some dogs started to go crazy howling and barking. We strained listening for an engine sound of the approaching light but there was none.

We could now see that it was a physical craft and was getting close. The UFO was about 500 feet up and shaped like a football. It had these rectangular gold lights in perfect lines all over its body. The lights were weird they reminded me of when I would observe a streetlight on a misty night. They were the color of pure gold and extremely intense.

I watched as Dan's mind seemed to be taken over. He turned to me with a vacant look in his eyes. He told me that he was hearing dogs barking and that he was going to investigate and turned and walked away. At that particular moment, I didn't think that was bizarre behavior. Even though I knew things weren't right, Dan walked down the road out of sight. I guess I was under the same influence at that point because I didn't question his actions or mine.

There I stood with my dad in the middle of the road with this strange silent alien craft on top of us and Dan off somewhere looking for dogs and his girlfriend and cat hiding in the car. I then remembered I had my 35mm Pentax camera in my car in the backseat loaded with film and ready to go. The window to the backseat was rolled down so it would be little effort on my part to grab it.

My father just stood there staring at the craft saying nothing. Once I remembered the camera, the manipulation went up a notch. A debate started in my mind if I should take a photo of the UFO. My father seemed to come to his senses and was yelling at me to take a picture of the thing.

That's when the dialogue began in my mind, "Why should you try and take a picture, you know it won't come out." At that moment I totally lost my will to take a picture of the UFO, I felt extremely lazy to the task even though the camera was at arms length. My mind's desire was to take that photo, but I couldn't act on it. I was helpless to the task.

My father was still yelling at me to take a picture but he never made a move to get the camera himself. He was glued to a spot in the road watching the craft pass overhead.

When the UFO was directly overhead, I don't remember what happened next. It was like the event was now unimportant, I totally lost interest in the UFO as it passed over my position on the road. Later when I talked to my dad as to what happened to the UFO, he said that it passed overhead and then moved off towards Lansing. I only remember it directly over us and couldn't remember anymore.

Dan returned after the UFO had left the area. My dad and I were still standing in the road. We tried to get Dan's girlfriend to come out of the car, but she wouldn't budge. The cat had that look in its eyes where it dared me to pick it up. I left well enough alone. The strange behavior on our part was continued. Dan never asked anything about what we saw and we didn't tell him what we experienced. It again seemed unimportant at the time.

I caught a glint of silver coming from the woods. An object in flight appeared to be reflecting the setting sun. I got my binoculars out and focused in the wooded area. There in the tops of the trees was a metal sphere that started to float up into the sky. It acted like a balloon in a way, but it was a controlled flight.

I called out to everyone to look at the UFO coming out of the woods. Everyone gasped when they saw it. I continued to keep my binoculars on the object as it rose. I couldn't make out any details on the body. There were no lights or appendages on it. That's when I noticed the jet airliner coming towards us. I continued to watch the sphere.

As the jet was getting closer to us on its climb out from Bishop Airport, the sphere winked out of sight. I had the binoculars on it and I never took my eyes off that spot. It seemed to wink out of existence. I continued to watch the space where the sphere was just moments ago. When the jet passed over us and moved out of the area, I was amazed to see the sphere wink back into existence in the same spot it was before it disappeared. The whole event flabbergasted me.

That ended up being the whole of the UFO activity for that night. We all headed back to Lansing. My mind drifted back to the events while my father admonished me for not taking a photo. I finally silenced him when I mentioned that he was just as capable of grabbing the camera as I was. He didn't have an answer for that one.

The next event was tragic and like something out of Stephen King's novel The Dead Zone. A few nights later during a rainstorm, John was driving late at night on one of the many dark dirt roads. It so happened that night John came over a hill traveling too fast for the road conditions. Once over the crest of the hill John saw his fate, a semi-truck with trailer parked across the road. Succumbing to his fate, John plowed into the trailer and unlike The Dead Zone where he would have been in a coma for years, he was killed instantly.

Sadly in the following several months, John was laid to rest and the N. family sold the house and moved south. Dan and I found it strange that the UFO flap ended suddenly on the night of the accident. Even though the family had lost a father and husband, they seemed to be adjusting fairly well. Dan and I couldn't help thinking that this isolated UFO flap's focus was on the N. family. Did we witness a deliberate process where the N. family was being prepared for the upcoming tragedy?

Joe Stewart, The Paranormal Nomad.

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