Miss Doreen Kendall, a practical nurse, and Mrs. Frieda Wilson, a
registered nurse, are employed together on the night shift in the
extended-care ward for elderly patients at the Cowichan District Hospital
at Duncan on Vancouver Island.
Theirs is a position that
requires a special degree of tact, maturity and gentleness of manner for
it is at night that their patients, often unable to sleep, have long
lonely hours in which to contemplate the little that remains for them in
life. A word or gesture of comfort from the nurses on duty is all they
have in their fading world until the routine of morning helps them into
It is immediately apparent on
meeting them that Miss Kendall and Mrs. Wilson, both in late middle-age,
were assigned to their particular work with these qualifications in mind.
In addition to what training obviously has given them, they have an inborn
quality that invites trust, and it was no surprise, after we interviewed
them, that friends and former patients of each told us they would accept
their word under any circumstance. Coming from several who had doubted the
existence of UFOs, this was a significant tribute in light of what the two
nurses (with partial confirmation by two others who arrived seconds later)
said they observed outside the hospital just as 1970 was dawning on the
It was turning five in the
morning of Jan. 1 when Miss Kendall, concerned that one of her women
patients was restless, switched on a light to attend to her. Deciding the
patient was too warm, she went to a window near the bed and parted the
drapes to let in a little fresh air.
"Just as I pulled the drapes a
brilliant light hit me in the eyes," she said. "It was still dark outside,
but about 60 feet away right above the children's ward, there was this
object so big and bright I could see everything clearly."
(Immediately to the left of where
Miss Kendall was standing, a wing of the hospital juts out at right
angles. The children's ward is on the third floor of that wing. With Miss
Kendall on the second floor of her wing, this meant the object was
hovering above her by slightly more than the height of one storey and a
little to her left.)
"The object was circular and had
what I guess you would call a top and bottom. The bottom was silvery, like
metal, and was shaped like a bowl. There was a string of bright lights
around it like a necklace. The top was a dome made of something like
glass. It was lit up from inside and I could see right into it."
Continuing her account in
question-and-answer form, Miss Kendall said there were two male-Iike
figures in the craft, one behind the other, facing to her right away from
the hospital. The one in front appeared taller, or perhaps was positioned
higher, than the other. Their heads were encased in close-fitting dark
As she watched with intense
curiosity, yet completely unfrightened - "I never felt so peaceful in all
my life. I wish I could have talked to them " - she became aware of seeing
more of the interior of the craft and realized it was tilting. In a moment
she could see to a point just below their knees and noticed they were
standing in front of what looked like stools.
"They looked like fine, tall,
well-built men," she said. "They were dressed in tight-fitting suits of
the same material that covered their heads but their hands were bare and I
noticed how human they looked. Their flesh seemed just like ours."
Intrigued as she was by the appearance of the two figures, Miss Kendall
found her interest mainly centered on what looked like an instrument panel
facing the one in front. One reason for this, she thought, was that she
comes from a family of racing-car enthusiasts and automotive mechanics
have always held a special interest for her.
"The man in front was staring at
the panel as if something very important was going on, and I wondered if
they might have had mechanical trouble," she said. "I even thought they
might have landed on the roof of the hospital and then had trouble taking
She described the panel as a very
large one, taking up almost half the interior of the object and reaching
nearly to the top of the dome. The instruments, if that is what they were,
seemed to be inset in the chrome-Iike metal of the panel and there was a
variety of sizes.
Miss Doreen Kendall
The total sight was so absorbing
that at first Miss Kendall's thoughts were lost to everything else, and
for a moment she forgot Mrs. Wilson was in the same room.
"Then when I did think of it, I
guess I hesitated," she explained. "I felt I mustn't make a noise or do
anything that would break the trend of what was happening."
At this point, almost as if her
thoughts were being read, she saw the figure in the rear turn slowly and
face squarely in her direction.
"He seemed to look right at me
but I couldn't see his face. It was covered by a darkish material that
looked softer than the rest of his suit. I'm sure he saw me because then
he touched the other man on the back."
When Miss Kendall parted drapes she saw
brightly-lit object containing two human-appearing males. Apparently
knowing they were observed, one touched other on back
Miss Kendall said that what
followed, again possibly because of her interest in mechanics, made a
sharper impression on her than anything else in the entire incident.
"When the man in back did this,
the one in front reached down and took hold of something like a lever
beside him. I'll never forget how deliberately he did it. He pushed it
back and forth and the saucer, or whatever you'd call it, started to
circle slowly, still close to the building, in an anticlockwise
The motion seemed to break the
spell for Miss Kendall, for then she remembered Mrs. Wilson was there and
called her over.
Later we spoke separately to Mrs.
Wilson, who continued the story from that point.
"I noticed Miss Kendall standing
at the window and wondered what she was looking at. In fact, I was just
going to see when she beckoned to me, and then I saw this great big light
over the patio outside the children's ward. I'd say it was quite a bit
larger than a car. (By the estimate of both witnesses, the object spanned
a width of about five windows of the children's ward. This gave it a
diameter of at least 50 feet.) It looked circular in shape and the far
side seemed to be higher than the side near us. It was moving around
slowly and then it started to move away. I didn't really see any top or
bottom to it. It was all just tremendously bright. Some people say we were
looking at a plastic bag with candles in it, put there as a joke. But it
would take a million candles to make it as bright as that."
Mrs. Wilson did not see the
"necklace" of lights described by Miss Kendall, nor could she see inside
the object and consequently saw no human-like figures. Since this appeared
to be a serious difference in the two reports, we asked Miss Kendall in a
second interview how she might account for it.
"I think Mrs. Wilson must have
come just a bit too late," she said. " After the thing circled four or
five times, it started going away, farther along by the roof of the
children's ward, and I couldn't see inside it either."
Not being precisely sure how
close the object was when Miss Kendall first observed it, Mrs. Wilson
could not say whether or not this did explain her failure to see the
occupants. But the fact that she came to the window in time to see the
craft circling, and then saw it move away, suggests the explanation of
distance does not quite fill the bill. So without intending to add
anything to the narrative that the witnesses themselves did not observe,
we offer another possible explanation merely for the sake of conjecture.
It has been noticed in UFO
sightings that the object when stationary gives out less light than when
in motion. This rule, of course, is not invariable. UFOs emanating no
light at all have been seen moving at high speed, while others glowing
brightly have been seen to hover and even to land.
But the increase of light with motion does appear to be a general
characteristic, and it is one that may have prevented Mrs. Wilson seeing
the interior of the craft outside the hospital. All of Miss Kendall's
observations in detail were made before the craft started to move. After
that she, like Mrs. Wilson, was conscious only of the light and motion of
the craft. In other words, by the time Mrs. Wilson reached the window the
brightness of the object may have increased to an extent that all details
were obscured. It would have been like staring at the headlights of a car.
All one could have said about the car itself was that its lights were
This in turn may account for
the fact that, unlike Miss Kendall, Mrs. Wilson felt only alarm when she
looked at the object. Some maintain that at times through some kind of
chemistry UFOs are able to exert a calming influence. But in this case it
appears to have been the peaceful manner of the two occupants that
dispelled any fear Miss Kendall might have felt.
At this point two other nurses on the floor, Mrs. Clackson and Mrs.
Appleby, hearing the excited comments of the first two, rushed to another
window of the ward but could only see what they agreed was a "bright
light" receding in the distance. Seconds later two other nurses also
looked out a window but saw nothing. Apparently by that time the object
had moved behind trees that border the hospital.
As nurses watched from window out of sight
on left, UFO with two occupants was seen outside of children's ward on top
story of this hospital wing. It spanned five windows, starting from left.
A significant factor of this
sighting is that none of the witnesses made any effort to publicize it,
yet at the same time made no pretence of being secretive. Knowing of our
interest in the subject, another nurse at the hospital who is a friend of
ours phoned us a little later the same morning and it was through this
connection that we arranged the interview which was later reported in the
Immediately the story appeared,
the two witnesses, like ourselves, started to receive phone calls by
persons who were legitimately and intelligently interested and by others
who professed to have exclusive private information about the incident. It
was here that we acquired information of our own about people who, for
some reason that escapes us, want to establish that they have the inside
dope. We heard about half a dozen different versions of the incident being
a put-up job. We were told by some it was a bunch of school kids having
fun and by others it was a bunch of drunks. In two or three cases names
were even mentioned but in no case did the names agree, and in no case did
our callers explain how so much rowdyism was going on at the hospital
grounds without the police being called.
Also none of our callers
mentioned another extraordinary sighting that occurred at Duncan within
seconds of the hospital incident, obviously because this one was not
reported in the press and therefore offered no one a chance to give us
"exclusive" information about it.
But the authenticity of the
incident is undeniable because it was reported to authorities before the
hospital case had received any publicity whatever.
In other words, completely
unknown to each other, two sets of witnesses were observing a UFO in the
vicinity of Duncan early that New Year's morning.
The second set of witnesses was a
truck-driver and his wife whose names and report, like the nurses', are
officially on record. Although admitting he had a few drinks, the husband
said the experience made him feel cold sober and he was sufficiently
affected by it to make his report though it meant disclosing his condition
The man said he and his wife had
just returned home from a party about five o'clock that morning when their
attention was attracted by a huge white light "as big as a house" hovering
low over their place. The witness described the light as somewhat oval or
rectangular in shape (it will be noted the UFO at the hospital was
circular but, if seen at an angle by these other two witnesses, it might
have appeared oval) and said that three or four shafts of light
extended down at an angle beneath it, converging to form a single shaft.
This gave the object the appearance of a top. As they watched in amazement
for a few seconds, the light suddenly shot up and either blinked out or
disappeared in the distance at an incredible speed.
"I may have had a few drinks,"
the man said, "but I know perfectly well that had nothing to do with what
I saw, and my wife saw it, too."
Back at the hospital Miss
Kendall, deciding to put her experience on record, made this entry in the
hospital working schedule:
"At 5 a.m. I saw a flying saucer as low as the third floor of the hospital
when I pulled the curtains. There were two men or figures in the dome
flying towards Victoria. (Miss Kendall, who admits having an uncertain
sense of direction, was wrong in this notation. Victoria lies south of
Duncan whereas the direction taken by the UFO, as established by
reconstruction of events, was northeast.) The bottom of the saucer was
brilliantly lit and also the dome - New Year's morning."
Of the two principal witnesses at
the hospital, Mrs. Wilson was the more alarmed when she saw the UFO - in
fact, as we have noted, the sighting had a peaceful effect on Miss Kendall
- and later reported she had a "tingling" sensation which may have been
caused by excitement or, as in some cases, by some emanation from the
Yet strangely it was Miss Kendall
who was the more lastingly affected by the experience.
When she returned that morning to
her home in Nanaimo, north of Duncan, her brother who was visiting from
out of town immediately noticed something unusual had happened to her and
asked her about it, whereupon she told him her strange experience.
"For at least a week after that,"
she said in our second interview, "I didn't feel quite like my usual self.
I think that normally I am an outgoing sort of person, but now I felt very
subdued and some of the other nurses said I seemed preoccupied.
By the time we saw her again,
however, she seemed completely relaxed and friendly and though, by her own
acknowledgment, she had been through an experience she would never forget,
there was no sign that the incident would alter the composed tenor of her
life in any way.
One would have thought that was
enough excitement for one day in the small town of Duncan but the strange
aerial visitors decreed otherwise. About seven o'clock that evening the
glowing craft - or perhaps another of about the same size - flew at low
altitude through the darkness in full view of a flock of assorted
witnesses at various points in the area. Since the morning visit was not
yet publicly known, there can be no suggestion that people had started
seeing things on that account.
On this second visit the object
appeared so big and bright that at least one group of witnesses could see
it several miles away. The observers in this case were Mr. and Mrs. Arthur
Gillam and friends who were having dinner at the Deer Lodge restaurant
just off the Island highway south of Mill Bay. To them the object seemed
to be over the Saanich Peninsula, about 10 miles to the east, and was
headed in a northeasterly direction.
"All we could see was a large
ball of light moving quite slowly, much slower than an airplane," Gillam
said. "It must have been very bright for us to see it from that distance.
I don't think a helicopter would have been that bright."
Any thought that the object might
have been a helicopter was removed by the comments of two other sets of
witnesses who saw the light, or another of the same general description,
much closer at hand.
One of these groups was Judge
George Hallett, his wife and three dinner guests who, at about 7 p.m. that
New Year's Day, saw a huge orange-colored light passing slowly along the
waterfront opposite the Halletts' home at Mill Bay. Reconstruction of the
scene placed the distance of the light at about half a mile. Since the
object, travelling south at the time, was staying close to shore, it
appears the Halletts' sighting preceded that of the Gillams who saw the
light, if it was the same, moving off in the distance.
"This was no ordinary aircraft,
and it was no plastic-bag trick either," Judge Hallett said. "It was
making no sound that we could detect, it was moving very slowly and it was
enormous. I'm quite sure no one could play a trick with such a large
apparatus without being spotted. We watched it for about five minutes
until it seemed to disappear into the clouds."
Judge & Mrs. George Hallett
Then right on the waterfront we
talked to the Drummond family who for once and all eliminated any idea the
incident was a prank or a normal flying occurrence.
Their startling experience
occurred while Jim Drummond, a shipwright, and his wife, Dianna, aboard
the tugboat which they have converted into a comfortable home, were making
a New Year's visit to Jim's mother who has a house immediately overlooking
the shore at Mill Bay. It was she who had the first hint of what was to
Mrs. Bea Drummond
"It was about seven o'clock and
Jim and Dianna were still on the boat, anchored close to shore, when I
went outside to call them in to dinner," she said. "Then I noticed a light
in the sky moving over the bay. I couldn't tell how big it was, it was so
bright, and it had a yellow-orangey glow like sunlight.
"I got so excited I yelled to my
son to look. I ran out to the other side of my house but I couldn't see
over the trees. I tried to phone some of the neighbors but I couldn't get
through on the party line."
But on deck Jim had received the
"I looked up and saw this light
coming in from the north, just about in line with our boat. It was
skimming right under the overcast which was about 900 feet. I ran into the
cabin and grabbed my telescope and camera, and my wife came out with me to
look. We were really excited."
Guessing that on film the object
would merely look like a blob against a black background, Jim did not
bother with the camera but studied the thing carefully through his
"It was sort of egg-shaped, in a
vertical position, but the top and bottom were indistinct," he said. "It
seemed to be transparent on top, and inside it I thought I could see a set
of lights but I couldn't really make out any details."
To make it easier for her son to
bring his wife and little boy ashore, Mrs. Drummond had switched on a
flood light on the porch of her house. Whether this had anything to do
with what followed is impossible to say, but for some reason the object
dropped about 300 feet as it passed between the house and the tugboat. It
was almost as if it was curious about the strong light shining from the
Then something happened that on
Jim made the sharpest impression of all.
"Just at that point something
came out of that thing which by then had slowed down almost to a stop," he
said. "It was a ray of light like a very thin neon tube, and it was in
pieces, something like the dots and dashes of morse code. It came down in
a curve and then it flashed right out, all of it at the same time. My hair
just stood up on end. I couldn't imagine anything like it."
As Drummonds watched a ray like "thin neon
tube" divided into pieces flashed from object. Jim, looking through
telescope, felt his hair stand on end.
After this weird performance the
object climbed back to its former height and passed out of sight to the
south. It was at this stage that the Halletts might have seen it, their
house being in that direction. Significantly the wind was blowing from the
southwest at the time. If the object had been a balloon this would have
driven it in the opposite direction.
Like other people in the Maple
Bay area near Duncan where he normally keeps his boat, Jim Drummond a few
days later had another sighting. But this time it was obviously some part
of a game that pranksters had started to play, perhaps stimulated by the
UFO publicity which by then had swarmed into the local press.
"The second one wasn't the same
thing at all," he said. "You could see it was a kids' job, not a fraction
as bright, and it was just bobbing around without really going anywhere."
Seen in front of tugboat which they have
converted into comfortable home, Jim and Dianna Drummond were treated to
spectacular New Year's display when giant UFO flew close to vessel. Jim's
mother, whom they were visiting, was first to sight object.
The rash of reports that cropped
up for the next month or so made it difficult to distinguish between what
might be real and what was clearly fake. Eventually we decided that, in
our book at least, only the Jan. 1 sightings had the true flavor of
Yet there were others that made
us pause. Phoning James Quaife, the mayor of Duncan, on a tip, we learned
that one night in January, he and his wife and several neighbors, watched
a light many times brighter than a star perform spectacular manoeuvres in
the sky, including dead stops and reversal of direction.
Mayor James Quaife
A month later after the
excitement seemed to have died, John Vanderhoek, who lives on a farm by
the Vancouver Island highway, phoned to say that motorists were crowding
up in front of his place to watch a "red thing in the air" that was
putting on quite a performance. He described it as rising and falling, and
changing in intensity as it did so. Above the reddish light there appeared
to be a white one, and the object was in motion despite a complete absence
of wind. As he spoke the light moved toward mountains to the west and
That apparently marked the end of
the Vancouver Island flap, at least for the time being. But it might be
well to explain that the Jan. 1 sightings did not really mark the
beginning. In December there had been a scattering of sightings north of
Duncan, and in one case the object sounded very similar to that reported
by Vanderhoek. It was glowing white on top and red on the bottom.
But the most striking of these
earlier incidents occurred one morning above Duncan's Alexander elementary
school. The object in this case was ring-shaped and, as it moved silently
overhead, was observed by a teacher, two aides, the school secretary and
"The ring definitely looked as if
it was made of some solid substance," Mrs. Edith Beiling, one of the
aides, told us. "It was like a very large heavy hula hoop and the material
looked like thick rolled-up plastic. It seemed to change in size slightly,
perhaps because it was moving up and down, and we didn't have any real
idea what size it was but I'd say a large plane could have fitted into it
about 15 times.
"We saw it through a window from
inside the school at first, then we rushed outside to get a better look.
We were all pretty excited, and I think there was one who was even quite
frightened. I felt like ringing the school bell but decided I had better
Mrs. Beiling explained the day
was heavily overcast at the time and consequently it was difficult to say
whether they were staring through open space in the middle of the craft,
or whether the center was made of some material matching the clouds in
color. But there was no doubt in the witnesses' minds that they were
looking at a solid object, not at a smoke ring. After about three minutes
the object was lost from sight.
Mrs. Edith Beiling
The ring-shaped object is not a
newcomer to UFO reports, and there are cases in which it has been proved
beyond doubt to be of the smoke variety. But here we have the puzzle of a
ring being seen as an introductory feature to a UFO show of classic
quality. It is difficult to believe the two events were not in some way
But, like so much of the UFO
story, we must wait for other similar instances before we can begin to
guess what the association might be.