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Joe Stewart: Historical Nomad Journal - The Clare Affair UFO Encounter

Joe Stewart, The Paranormal Nomad

Historical Nomad Journal - The Clare Affair UFO Encounter

Photo of Joe Stewart, The Paranormal Nomad

Photo of Joe Stewart,
The Paranormal Nomad

May 28, 1971

The Clare Affair UFO Encounter

The day started with a vibrant blue sky, as John and I departed Lansing for the small northern town of Clare known then as the gateway to northern Michigan.

During this period, I am a field investigator for APRO, (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) a leading UFO organization. A week ago, I had read in the Lansing State Journal (my local newspaper) of numerous sightings of UFOs in Clare Michigan. It just so happen that some friends of mine owned a cabin just west of Clare and since it was Memorial Day weekend they invited me up to their cabin. They felt a nice little adventure was in order and I was sure I could serve that up for them.

The year is 1971 and UFO sightings are still being reported in the newspapers. The public attitude towards UFOs at that time was that anyone that saw a UFO had to be drunk or smoking the local weed. Worse yet, anyone that investigated UFOs were crazy. Many ufologists were in the closet those days.

This UFO event in Clare had been going on for several weeks. I could only hope that it was still going on. I had read in the newspaper that the residents of Clare were having a lot of UFO activity in an area that was a local lover's lane. It was on Herrick road just off highway US 10.

John and I were now well on our way to Clare. We were traveling up north I-127 in my 1963 VW bug. The plan was to meet John's twin brother Jim at the cabin. As luck would have it, just as we entered the Clare area a Michigan State Trooper pulled me over for some vehicle equipment issues. While we had the trooper's attention, I mentioned the reason I was up there and wanted to know what he knew about the sightings.

At first, I thought he was going to laugh at us and then impound the car for good measure. Instead, he got very serious, told us of what he knew, and confirmed the location of the sightings. The reports involved strange lights that ran up and down the county road named Herrick harassing the local lovers, who on occasion gave chase to these strange lights. He also told us of reports in the late 50's of what the locals called the "deer-man". This was the pre-Internet days, which made research more challenging. Anyway, I had to file the deer-man away for future cryptid investigations.

As luck would have it, the trooper let us go with a warning, which I greatly appreciated. We soon met up with Jim at the cabin and made our plans for the day. John was going to stay behind and open the cabin up while Jim and I scouted the local scene.

I always found that a good rule of thumb is that if you want to find out what is going on in a particular area, find some teenagers. They seemed to know everything that is going on and who is doing what. Jim and I made it our mission to locate some teenagers to gather some intelligence.

We decided it was time for lunch. Jim and I found a local family restaurant and decided to grab a bite to eat. Our waitress Irene was a local teenager who we found out witnessed the lights herself with her friends. She also told us a story about how a male friend of hers would lay on the hood of his car and one of the lights would hover over him for moments at a time before it took off at a blinding speed down the road. Jim and I agreed to meet up with Irene and some of her friends on Herrick road the next evening. They promised to show us all the hot spots of activity.

Later that day since our time up in Clare was limited, we decided we would try and find the spot ourselves and maybe find some more witnesses in the area. We finally arrived at Herrick road on the light side of dusk. After sitting there for a while, a truck drove up and asked us if we needed help. I told the guy I was looking for the spot where all the UFO activity was. He informed us that Herrick road was broken up into two parts. We were on the wrong part. We wanted the road off of US 10.

It was getting dark fast so we quickly drove to the other Herrick road and arrived in the dark. I was hoping that we had gotten there early enough to explore the area in the daylight. Oh well, we proceeded to drive the off shoots of the main road to get a lay of the land. Herrick road was a county road and ran on for miles mostly straight. Swamps, woods, and fields bordered Herrick road up near US 10. We found a farm or two on the off shoots, but for the most part the place was isolated. This was a choice place for lovers. We also found a run down place occupied by a local hermit.

The night moved on into the early morning hours. It was between 1 and 2 a.m. that we first spotted a red light doing a zigzag across the road. We started to drive cautiously towards the light. The light acted like it knew we were coming. The light took off down the middle of the road away from us. I gave chase getting up to 70 miles an hour when all of a sudden the light disappeared.

Looking in the rear view mirror I saw the light about 100 yards behind us hovering over the road. We turned the car around and gave chase again, only to lose it once more. This little game went on for about an hour. It was apparent somebody was having some fun. We finally pulled off to the side of the road hoping the light would approach us when we heard this strange beeping sound. It sounded almost electronic in nature.

I thought that maybe it was some sort of night bird or insect making the sounds. Jim and I got out of the car John stayed behind with the car. Jim and I proceeded down the road about a half-block from the car towards US 10. We had decided to leave the car lights on and took flashlights because it was pitch dark out there. We hadn't seen the light for about 40 minutes.

The beeping sounds seemed to be coming from everywhere; we could not pin point the source. I finally walked off to the side of the road to listen. It sounded like one of the sources was right in front of me. I said to Jim "I wonder what would happen if I flashed my light toward the sound?" I took my flashlight and flashed it once in the direction of the closes sound. All the beeping went deadly silent.

Then I heard one beep in return for my one flash. All the other beeping sounds had stopped except for this area. I repeated it again. Once more it returned my count. Next I tried two flashes it responded by beeping twice. Then I tried three times and it played back with three beeps. I said to my friend. I wonder what would happen if I twirled the flashlight while it was on, so I proceeded to do just that.

Boy was I taken by surprise. Instead of getting a beeping sound back, I got a whirling sound. I was stunned. I turned to my friend to comment and found him running as fast as he could back to the car. It was getting towards dawn, so we decided to vacate the area for the night and returned to the cabin we were staying at. We would get some sleep and do some recon on Herrick road during the daylight hours.

May 29, 1971

Late the next morning we returned to Herrick road and started retracing our steps as best we could remember. We spent the whole day walking in the woods and swamps trying to find the source of the beeping sound we heard the night before. We found nothing. It was getting late, so we decided to return to town and get some supper before coming back out to meet with the girls from town.

That night Jim and I returned Herrick road to meet up with Irene and her girl friend. Irene had an old 1962 brown Chevy Impala she called Tony the Tiger. Don't ask me why. They took us to all the spots where they had their encounters. They pretty much covered all the ground we had the previous night. We decided earlier not to tell them of the lights we had chased. As darkness fell, once again, the beeping sounds started again.

The girls told us that this happen quite often, but not everyone was privy to the beeping sound. I didn't understand what she was saying and started to ask Irene some questions when a car came down the road and stopped. It was friends of the girls. We tried to bring their attention to the beeping sounds, but the beeps suddenly stopped. They replied, "What beeping sounds."

Now I understood what Irene was talking about. As soon as Irene's friends drove off, the beeping sounds started once more. I started to wonder to myself why this phenomenon was getting selective. We all sat in Irene's car and talked a while about what has been going on. We got more information on the people involved and some good stories. I thought about repeating my experiment with the flashlight, but my friend thought better of it.

Jim and I decided to split up to cover more area. Irene came with me and Jim stayed with her girl friend in Irene's car. The night continued on, other than the beeping sounds, nothing was happening. We decided to call it quits and say our farewell to the ladies.

Once they left Jim and I decided to go back to the cabin and collect John and return to Herrick road. We still had some investigating to do.

Once back we started to cruise the road again when I saw some sort of light on the road in front of us move off into the swamp. I asked if my companions had seen the light. Neither of them had. I got out of the car and ran up to the spot where it shot off the road. I thought everyone had followed me when I heard yelling coming from behind me.

I looked back down the road at the car and saw a small black disk about 5 feet in diameter hovering over the car making a humming sound. Both the brothers inside the car were frantic. I ran back down the road towards the car. The disk silently slipped into the darkness and I lost sight of it. Apparently my companions had enough adventure and wanted to leave. Reluctantly I agreed.

We proceeded slowly homeward bound looking for the balls of light, when I saw a disk in my headlights sitting in the middle of the road blocking our exit. I decided to get out and investigate, but the others pulled me back into the car. I finally convince them that we didn't have any choice it was blocking our way. I got out of the car and approached the object.

My investigator friend decided to join me while his brother remained in the car. It was the blackest thing I had every seen. The lights seemed to get sucked up into it. I could hear a faint humming sound. I got within two feet of it and attempted to touch it. As I got closer the humming got louder, so I stopped.

As I stood up the disk slowly moved off the road into the swamp. I marked the area it left the road and returned to the car. I wanted to track the disc through the swamps but my companions wanted to return to the cabin. Their courage had all but abandoned them. After arriving at the cabin, I told them I was going back out there this was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so off I went into the night with them pleading with me to stay echoing in my ears.

I found the area I marked. I took a compass reading and started to navigate the swamp with a flashlight to see what I could find. I went quite a ways but found nothing. Maybe I would have better luck during the daytime. As I turned to leave, I saw a faint green glow deeper in the swamp. I turned my flashlight off and started feeling my way towards the light. There seemed to be some sort of clearing in the middle of the swamp. The green glow was getting brighter as I crept closer to the source.

Then without warning the light went out throwing me in total darkness. I crouched near the ground and quietly listen. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Every insect and animal in that swamp went totally silent. That's when I heard the humming sound again. Even though it was a moonless night, the Milky Way provided enough ambient light to see the same 5-foot disk hovering 4 feet off the ground and slowly heading right for me.

I still had my flashlight off and wondered if it knew I was there. The disc crept slowly towards me by inches humming all the way like a transformer. I decided to bury myself into the swamp floor. The area I was in was quite dry. As I lay there, I saw the black disc stand out against the starry sky since it was almost on top of me. My skin started to crawl like I was covered with ants.

I thought it might be some sort of electromagnetic field I was physically feeling. It slowly passed with a humming sound I could feel it more in my chest than hear. When it was about 30 yards beyond me I started to follow its path through the swamp. I had a hard time following it. All of a sudden, it was like somebody lifted the cone of silence. The humming sound was gone and the swamp seemed to come back to life. As far as I could tell the disk was gone.

I turned my flashlight back on and made a sweep of the area. There was nothing to be seen or heard. I made my way back to the road where my car was parked. Actually the disc had almost taken me straight back to my car. It made me wonder if that was the plan all along.

I continued to drive the roads to almost dawn, but all was quiet the rest of the night. I returned to the cabin at sunrise.

May 30, 1971

Needless to say it was time for us to return home. We had plenty of material from the investigation to file a report with APRO, so I left that fine sunny morning leaving the boys to their sleep in the cabin.


For the next three years, I returned to Clare and old Herrick road at the end of May. I never heard the beeping sounds or saw the lights again. It appeared that neither birds nor insects cause the beeping sounds.

Joe Stewart, The Paranormal Nomad.

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