By MATT FRAZIER and MARK AGEE
Federal Aviation Administration radar appears to confirm the presence of unidentified aircraft on Jan. 8 over the Stephenville-Dublin area, with at least one appearing to head toward President Bush’s Crawford Ranch, the same night that dozens of people reported seeing UFOs, according to a report released Thursday by a national group that studies reports of unidentified flying objects.
According to the Mutual UFO Network report, the FAA radar indicated that several craft were moving in the same compass direction and time frame as those cited by Erath County residents. The craft were not military and did not have transponders that relay information about themselves to radar operators.
Radar tracked a Crawford-bound craft for more than an hour, according to the MUFON report. Witnesses said they saw two large glowing amber lights similar in size and color to the lights on the back of a school bus.
The object seemed to be stationary or moving at speeds of less than 60 mph most of the time, but at one point it accelerated to 532 mph in 30 seconds, according to the report. It did not seem to reach the property.
"The object was traveling to the southeast on a direct course towards the Crawford Ranch," the report states.
"The last time the object was seen on radar at 8 p.m., it was continuing on a direct path to Crawford Ranch and was only 10 miles away. During the entire episode of over an hour, there is no indication that any of the military jets reacted to this unknown craft."
Dozens of people around Dublin and Stephenville — about 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth — have reported seeing something in the sky on or about Jan. 8 that did not move like conventional aircraft. Some witnesses said the objects were accompanied or followed by military aircraft.
Descriptions varied. Some told of objects up to a mile long and hundreds of yards high. Others reported seeing two to eight lights that flew in formation, changed color and shone with intensity greater than a welding flame.
The reports attracted international attention.
On Friday night, a producer from CNN’s Larry King Live program and a six-person production team from Dallas set up in the back yard of Ricky Sorrells, one of the UFO sighters who lives about eight miles west of Dublin.
They were there for a live interview with King, who was in his Los Angeles studio. Their segment of the show was titled "UFOs: Target Texas?"
Others interviewed were Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan; Angelia Joiner, a former reporter for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune; and James Fox, a filmmaker from California.
Gaitan told a Star-Telegram reporter that he felt vindicated by the new report. "You probably think we’re just a bunch of hillbillies out here," Gaitan said. "There were people who did doubt me, but I know I saw something."
Gaitan and Joiner told King that they hadn’t given much thought to UFOs before Jan. 8. Now, it has taken over much of their lives. Joiner said she lost her reporting job because she was spending too much time on the UFO question.
She told King that all the witnesses’ stories are credible. "I used to go the other direction," she said, "But lately I think maybe we’re being visited from another place."
Gaitan said that for a while he was frustrated by all the attention. He said he has given at least 150 interviews.
"I was seeing that thing in my sleep," he said. "I was getting tired of it, but my wife reminded me that what I saw was pretty special and a lot of people would like to see it."
Two MUFON researchers said they got information for the report by filing 10 Freedom of Information requests to the FAA, National Weather Service, all nearby military bases, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the 21st and 30th Air Force Wing Commands. The researchers noted that the FAA and weather service were "very responsive," but most of the others responded that they had no information.
FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said he was not familiar with the radar data and could not comment Friday.
The report was released on the MUFON Web site late Thursday night.
It seems to back witnesses’ stories, including Gaitan’s, who said he saw an unknown object south of his home about four miles southwest of Dublin.
He described it as two amber lights that were initially stationary but changed into about 10 white lights that departed at a high rate of speed.
"Radar detects an object at 7:20 p.m. only 2.8 miles south-southwest of the constable’s home and traveling in a southeastern direction," the report states. "This matches very well with the time and direction of the constable’s sighting. At 7:36 p.m. radar shows the object suddenly veering to the north at 1,900 miles per hour and then returning a minute later to continue on its southeastern course."
Online: The report is available at www.mufon.com
MATT FRAZIER, 817-685-3854
source & references:
Archived UFO Articles and News Items, 2008
UFO Casebook Home Page