Dozens of people say they saw a UFO hovering over their rural community near Stephenville, Texas. The Stephenville Empire-Tribune says at least 40 people have reported sightings of the object, which reportedly appeared in the sky just after 6 p.m. on Jan. 8.
Lee Roy Gaitan, a local police officer, tells the newspaper: I was outside with my eight-year-old son, Ryan, when I saw lights. It was like nothing I've ever seen before. It was dark already. At first it was two red burning glows that went away and then came back on. I went inside to tell my wife. When I came back out I saw something like lights you'd see in a bar. My little boy and I counted and we came up with nine flashes and they were real spread out. But I couldn't see them attached to anything, just the lights. So I went to my pickup and got my binoculars to see if I could see a plane or something. Even with the binoculars there was no outline. It started moving towards Stephenville and moving so fast I had trouble following it with my binoculars. It covered a big area. It sounds crazy but we really saw what we saw.
The paper has more eyewitness accounts, including this one from pilot Steve Allen: The ship wasn't really visible and was totally silent, but the lights spanned about a mile long and a half mile wide. The lights went from corner to corner. It was directly above Highway 67 traveling towards Stephenville at a high rate of speed - about 3,000 mph is what I would estimate.
Chuck Mueller, a helicopter pilot who served in Iraq, says he saw unusual lights on the horizon a few days after the UFO sightings were reported near Stephenville.
Mueller tells KXAS-TV that he was flying a medical helicopter around dusk when "we saw the lights come on, one little orange light, and then another one and another one in sequence across the sky." He was shocked at first, but then concluded that the lights, which appeared to be more than 30 miles northeast of the original sightings, were coming from flares that were dropped over the Brownwood Military Operations Area.
There's just one problem with that theory. The NBC station says the military didn't have any planes in the air at the time of the original sightings.
A spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station tells the Associated Press that he's convinced there's a logical explanation for the lights. "I'm 90 percent sure this was an airliner," Maj. Karl Lewis tells the wire service. "With the sun's angle, it can play tricks on you."
The sightings are big news in rural Texas. The top item on the Stephenville Empire-Tribune's website tells readers where to report a UFO sighting and, below that, the paper notes that a local businessman is offering a $5,000 reward for "video that would confirm a UFO sighting in Selden on Jan. 8."
They're also big news around the world. "The reported sightings have become a catalyst on blogs and in chat rooms, triggering scientific and philosophical debates, religious inquiries, conspiracy charges and bad Texas jokes," the Star-Telegram reports.
The Mutual UFO Network is holding a meeting this weekend for people who saw the object. The non-profit group says its investigators will begin taking statements at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
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(Photo, by Donna McWilliam of the AP, shows a man standing near the area where he saw an unidentified object in the sky.)
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