Published: 12:39 AM 1/13/2012
A couple of nights before Christmas Eve a Cloverdale man and his son were driving home along 60 Avenue west from 176 Street in Surrey when they were distracted by some unusual lights in the sky near their house.
The driver pulled over, grabbed his cell phone, and immediately started recording, hoping to capture the strange sight on video.
His Dec. 22 footage – since posted to Youtube – shows several clusters of bright, white lights that appear to change pattern and move against an inky black sky.
“That can’t be planes,” the witness says, his voice tinged with wonder and curiosity.
“Do you see them there?” he continues.
“Some are moving sideways. See that one that was just flashing? What the hell? That’s above our area. This is in Cloverdale,” he remarks incredulously.
It seems there was something unusual over the Surrey skies over the Christmas holidays, but it wasn’t Santa’s sleigh.
As many as nine different eyewitnesses reported seeing strange white and orange lights over Cloverdale between Christmas and New Years Eve, according to B.C.’s premier UFO researcher, Brian Vike.
The Surrey sightings were part of a much larger wave of UFO reports that flooded his email inbox over the Yuletide season.
“All of a sudden, everything started popping up and flying every which way, almost all at once,” he said, adding reports came in from B.C., the U.S., U.K., and even Australia and South Africa.
It’s all fascinating stuff for Vike, an astronomy buff who first began looking into UFO phenomena and other mysteries in 2000.
These days, he runs a blog called The Vike Factor from his home in Houston, B.C., 800 kms northeast of Vancouver, collecting and investigating reports from all over the world.
Normally, most sightings can be explained; stars, planets, aircraft, satellites, and meteors can be all mistaken for UFOs, which he believes was the case with a rash of colourful New Year’s Eve sightings that came in from Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.
Chinese paper lanterns – which can float high into the sky on the heat of a candle – are increasingly popular among celebrants on holidays and weddings, leading him to caution that a number of the nearly 400 reports he’s sorting through from Dec. 22 to Jan. 8 can probably be explained.
But so far, the veteran UFO chaser is stumped by the Cloverdale sightings. “How do you explain these other orange lights going off in other directions? What the heck is it? We just don’t know.”
He sporadically receives reports from Surrey, but never so many in a short time frame.
“In Surrey, Cloverdale, definitely, that was an influx in sightings for whatever reason,” he said. They include a Dec. 22 report from a jogger who was running along 60 Avenue near 171 Street and saw six orange lights.
More reports followed on New Years Eve, when a group of revelers went outside at midnight with the kids to make noise and light sparklers and all saw orange lights in a line zooming at intervals across the sky.
For now, Vike hasn’t determined what the true explanation may be, but he doubts they were paper lanterns or even weather balloons. "They just don't fit this sighting." Maybe the answer lies in the simple fact that people take time off over the holidays, and are traveling at night to socialize.
“They have more time to sit back, they’re more relaxed and have more time to look up. It’s the same when summer time gets here.”
The Cloverdale man who took the Dec. 22 YouTube footage told the Reporter Wednesday he doesn't think the lights he captured using his cellphone were extraterrestrial in origin.
He doubts they were aircraft of some kind – there was no engine or propeller noise, for example. Plus, the lights appeared quite low in the sky, below a layer of low-lying cloud cover that evening.
"They were too close [to the ground] to be stars," he said. "It didn't look like planes."
The episode lasted about 10 minutes, he said.
At around 9:30 p.m. that evening, dozens of lights appeared in the sky to the north of 60 Avenue near 168 Street and moved south towards Highway 10.
"At first they seemed to be in a line and they were moving," he said. The lights then slowed and some stopped, setting into motion again once he'd turned on his cell phone camera.
In coming forward with his sighting, the man is hoping someone will be able to identify what he – and the other people who stopped their cars along 60 Avenue to watch – saw that night.
"I hope someone has an explanation."