Have You Seen Yours?

by William M. Slater

To paraphrase the saying, ‘In every person there is at least one good book’ I say, "In every person there is at least one good UFO sighting." So, "I’ve seen mine, have you seen yours?"

This accounting is true. Even the names, as used, are true. Only first names are used out of deference to privacy. As events unfolded I am certain that it was intended that we should see what we saw. I know what we saw only I don’t know what it was we saw. I don’t know what it was but I know what it wasn’t. Having been in aviation all of my adult life as a commercial pilot and a retired flight engineer and having flown all over the world I am not prone to flights of fancy and fantasy. With my sanity in hand I can say, unequivocally, that it was not:

  1. A star, planet, moon, comet, meteor, or any other known visible celestial body.
  2. A weather or research balloon.
  3. An airplane, as airplanes are commonly known.
  4. A rocket launched from earth, manned or unmanned, for space exploratory or military purposes.
  5. An experimental air borne device launched by any country on earth.

It happened late on Christmas Eve, 1966, at 37,000 feet over the North Pacific Ocean between Japan and Anchorage, Alaska. We were in a DC-8-54 (a four engined jet aircraft manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Company) empty freighter ferrying back to our home base in Delaware from Vietnam. On board was Dick (Dickey Bird), the Captain, John, the First Officer, (John was also a captain but was on this trip as a first officer) and I, the Flight Engineer. Aviation technology had advanced to the point where we didn’t use a Navigator anymore.

Up until things started to happen it had been just a normal uneventful flight. I was at my Flight Engineer’s station behind the first Officer’s seat doing my normal things with my left ear cocked and on the ready for any unusual comments from the pilots that would be important for me to hear. Then this - - :

"Look at that, Dick. What do you suppose that is?" John exclaimed. Dick had no idea. I didn’t know at the time that he was talking about what he was watching on radar but it sure perked me up. Then John explained what had excited him: He had been watching a rather bright blip out the right side that he estimated was about 75 miles. It was moving at our speed; not moving ahead or going behind. John said that at first he thought it was a ship down on the water then he realized that was a stupid thought; the blip was going the same speed we were - Mach .80 (for those who don’t know--.80 is 8/10 the speed of sound). Pretty fast for a ship - - huh! He had watched it for several sweeps of the radar then it came out what it was that got him so excited.

That blip had all of a sudden picked up speed, angled to the left a little bit and went off the screen in front of us. After John had explained all this to us it was now question time.

"Hey, John", I asked, "how many sweeps did it take for that blip to go from out there on the right side of us to off the screen up front?" "I don't know exactly but I think about three." John replied. Next question, "How long does it take to make a 360 sweep?" As near as we could figure it took about 10 seconds.

So, some quick arithmetic. I did this quicker on my American Airlines circular slide rule than I can do it here but bear with me; I am going to work in round numbers 'cause that's all I have to work with. (I don't have any square ones) Three sweeps of the radar at 10 seconds each would be 30 seconds. The distance from 75 miles abeam of us to off the radar ahead of us was at least 100 miles. So, anything traveling 100 miles in 30 seconds would be going 200 miles in one minute. 200 times 60 (minutes in an hour) comes out to the astounding figure of 12,000 MPH. As I say, I can't vouch for the exactness of these figures but if you reduce it by 50% that still leaves 6,000 MPH - faster than anything we have around here. And I don't think I was off by any 50%. But the best was yet to come!!

We batted this around for about 15 minutes, relieving Pacific boredom and wondering what it all meant. We were all completely unprepared for what happened next.

All of a sudden John exploded with uncustomary expletives while pointing out through the Captain's window, "crist a mitey, what the hell is that?" Dick and I both immediately looked in the direction John was pointing. I wouldn't even attempt to explain what I saw I can only describe it. As I said, we were not prepared for what we were seeing.

There alongside was the brightest white light I had ever seen - it reminded me of Magnesium burning. It was impossible to tell, in this black of night, how big, or how far away, it was. This demonstrates the inherit stupidity of the human being: when John was describing what he had seen on radar we hadn't thought to look outside and when we saw what we saw outside nobody thought to look inside at the radar. We were so enthralled at what we were seeing nothing else seemed important - who could blame us.

Out behind this brilliant white light was strung a long red tail of flame of unknown length, but a long, long ways. At the end of this red column was a flame of lesser intensity - red blending into orange. This whole display reminded me of rocket shots from Cape Canaveral except it had a much longer and narrower fire tail and it was going horizontally.

This extremely bright light paced alongside us for a few minutes. No, that's probably not true; I lost track of time - it was probably less than a minute. All of a sudden it took off. I have no idea how fast it was going. All I know is that we were going .80 - 8/10ths speed of sound - and this thing ran off and left us like we were standing still. After it got a ways in front of us it cut over to the right until it was directly in front of us and then corrected to the left, accelerated, and went out of sight straight ahead. Although I had entertained the thought of the existence of UFOs for some time, this was beyond the scope of my reasoning.

This led to some more conversational disagreement. You had to know John. He very seldom agreed with anything anyone said if that person was below his self proclaimed station in life.

After this thing, or things, traveled from alongside to in front of us I noticed immediately that I was now seeing three distinct glowing objects. The best analogy I can think of is if you hold up three fingers spread out in a row off to the side you only see one but if you move those three fingers out in front you now see all three. But good old John didn't let me down; when I said I saw three he insisted there were four. Isn't that something - - here we've just seen something neither of us has ever seen before and we're arguing about how many we saw.

After several more minutes of animated conversation that is impossible to even begin to relate here I finally sorted these things out: Dick had a camera in the bottom of his flight bag but he was so flustered he had not been able to find it - he found it when it was too late.

John had this very profound statement to make: "All my life I thought nothing like that existed - but now I'm not so sure."

The only thing I could think of was, "John, you stupid jackass, you saw it with your own two eyes and you're not so sure. What does it take to make you believe what you saw?"

There was more to come and for this you have to remember it was Christmas Eve: John called Shemya Control (in the Aleutians) to give a position report and sort of as an aside he asked, "have you had any reports of any UFOs tonight?" Shemya's non-descript answer was "Negative" End of conversation. Not only ".", but "period". "Roger" came from John, nothing more and nothing less. And I thought to myself - John, you stupid son-of-a-bitch everybody knows that on Christmas Eve everyone equates UFOs with Santa and his reindeers. Tell them what we saw - - but he never did. And I rode along for the rest of the trip in a state of complete frustration. My only thought, "How can anyone be that stupid?"

In due course we landed at Anchorage, completed our normal customs clearance and preceded to the hotel. I only relate this because later I went to a local pub for a Christmas Eve libation and to relax a little and who should invite me to their table, and quite unknown to me, but an ATC (Air Traffic Control) man from the local center. We discussed what I had seen but he could offer no suggestions. Anyway, we had a long evening of great conversation. His name was Rhodes, and anyone with that name is always known as "Dusty". I saw him several times after that when I had trips through Anchorage but it was never the same. You only experience your first UFO one time, anything after that is anti-climatic. In this regard I can only say "Dusty, if you are reading this, do you remember? I do!"

In retrospect, I have concluded that the maneuver we saw was the same on both sides of our aircraft only by seeing one on radar and one visually they seemed different at the time. This leads to the conclusion that the thing that we saw, what ever it was, was under some type of intelligent control and the maneuver was intentional.

As fate would have it, about two weeks later on a return from Europe, over the Atlantic Ocean, at a time when the Captain was out of the cockpit, the First Officer called my attention to a light about the brightness of a star, far off in the distance, out through the Captain's window. When you are accustomed to looking at stationary stars, one that is moving gets your attention right away. As we watched this light moved from far out on the left, across in front of us, in an apparent straight line, and continued until it went out of sight near the horizon to the right of us. As I considered what we had seen the thought came to me that this could be the same as what I had seen in the Pacific only it was so far away that the red tail was not visible.

Even though this sighting was 30 years ago the information contained here is just as viable now as it was then as there seems to have been no noticeable progress made by the government, or any one else, toward the solving of phenomena of this nature.

Copyrighted 1999 by William M. Slater


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