written by Bob Pratt
A UFO that hovered over a golf course in Memphis, Tennessee was truly enormous, say two police officers who stood almost underneath it.
“It was about as long as a football field and fifty to seventy-five yards wide," said Patrolman Troy Todd. He and his partner, Patrolman Jerry Jeter, were definitely impressed.
"It was three hundred to five hundred meters above us and we could see the whole belly of the craft," Jeter said.
The two were members of the police department’s Tactical Squad, men who are specially chosen for their coolness, intelligence and special skills with weapons. Three other members of the squad saw a similar object earlier in the evening but at a greater distance.
“I believe what I saw was an unidentified flying object and I believe it was some aircraft not of this earth,” said Todd, then twenty-nine.
The two men reported seeing the object hovering over a municipal golf course in the southern part of Memphis about three thirty in the morning of May 17, 1977. They got out of their unmarked police van and watched the object for two or three minutes.
As members of the Tactical Squad, they carried special weapons with them. Jeter took a rifle with a telescopic sight out of its case to get a better look at the craft. He said that as soon as he shouldered the rifle and pointed it at the object to look at it through the scope, the object shot off across the horizon in an instant.
It was an awesome sight and marked the end of a strange night for Todd, Jeter and three other officers.
Four and a half hours earlier, three other members of the Tactical Squad – Patrolmen John Birdsong, Michael Davidson and Forrest Bartlett – saw a triangular-shaped object lit up like "a Christmas tree” as it flew over a police substation in the northern part of the city.
TRIANGULAR OBJECT SPOTTED
Birdsong was going off duty at the time and the other two were just going on duty. The three said nothing to anybody at the time about their sighting.
However, later in the night when Jeter radioed the central dispatcher and said he and Todd had sighted a UFO, Davidson asked them by radio if it was triangular in shape and had multicolored lights.
Jeter replied yes. Until then, neither he nor Todd had said anything on the radio about the object's shape or lights and had given no other details. All five officers believe they saw the same object.
Of the two sightings, the one by Jeter and Todd was more spectacular. They had been driving an unmarked police van south on Interstate 240 in the city when Todd spotted something in the sky.
"I was driving and as we approached the Norris Road exit I observed to my left, which would have been to the east, a triangular-shaped series of lights over some high tension towers," said Todd.
"I really didn't know what I had seen. It was a long, triangular-shaped series of lights approximately thirty five to fifty feet above those towers and it tapered down to a narrow point."
He asked Jeter it he had seen it but Jeter said no.
"I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was so we went underneath Alcy Road and turned around on the median and went back up to the same location," said Todd, then an eight-year veteran.
"Both Jeter and I looked over those high-tension wires and we couldn't see anything at all. So we proceeded northbound on the expressway to South Parkway, turned around and came south and this time we both observed it approximately five hundred feet above the Pine Hill Golf Course, which would have been to the west off the expressway.
"This was approximately in the same line where I had a seen it before but it was at a greater height and it was on the other side of the expressway. So I drove the van up onto the Norris Road exit, we stopped and got out and watched it for two or three minutes.
"It was a triangular-shaped object with white, red and green lights on it with a white glow about the silhouette itself."
DEFINITELY NOT A HELICOPTER
Jeter, a police officer for nine years, said that at first Todd thought he’d spotted a helicopter hovering over the power towers.
"When we both saw it he said, 'There it is again!' and I said, 'Well, it's not a helicopter.’ It was elongated and looked like a triangular type shape. This object made its way over to the golf course and turned and was just hovering or standing still over the golf course.
"We pulled up this incline and got out and were looking at this object. In my estimation it was three hundred to five hundred meters high and we were at a slight angle from it, not directly under it but a real slight angle and we could see the whole belly of the craft.
"It had red and green lights flashing alternately on it and it looked like what were either portholes or real dim lights along the side of the craft. I really couldn't tell because they were so dim but it lit up the craft so you could see it, and to me it looked like a metallic craft.
"We had a telescopic rifle sight in the van and I was going to get it out and look at it. By the time I got it out of the case and everything and got it up to my shoulder, this craft turned slightly, two red lights came on on the rear and it just shot out over the horizon.
"This thing moved at such a speed it was unbelievable. It shot out of sight."
Todd said that when Jeter shouldered the rifle, the object "began to move off in a northerly direction at a reasonably slow speed. There was no sound made from the object. The white and green lights went off. They were no longer visible to us but the glow was still visible around the silhouette.
"Then two red lights came on on the rear of it. Whether they were lights or not I'm not sure but when those two red lights came on it sped out at a tremendous rate of speed and disappeared over the horizon in just a second to a second and a half. We were barely able to keep it in our eyesight.
"That night the weather conditions were extremely clear. Visibility was fifteen to twenty miles, I would say, because we were at the top of the expressway looking north."
NOTHING ON RADAR
Jeter got on the radio to the central dispatcher. "Todd didn't want to call. He said they'll think we're crazy. I said, what the hell, let's calI. I don't give a damn. So I called the dispatcher and said how about checking with the air control tower (at Memphis International Airport) and see if they have any craft in this area.
"He (the traffic controller) checked and said no, they didn't show anything on radar. He said, 'Why?' and I said, 'Well, we saw what we figured to be a UFO' and everybody started coming on the air," Jeter said, laughing.
"And the catcalls started,” added Todd.
Jeter said the dispatcher told him to switch to Channel Six so Patrolmen Davidson and Bartlett could talk to them.
'We didn't say what shape it was or anything,” Jeter said, “and they came on and said was this object triangular or pyramidal in shape and we said yes it was. They said they were standing out on the parking lot at the substation and it came streaking over at twenty three hundred hours.”
Both Todd and Jeter said the craft made no noise as it hovered above the golf course nor when it moved off.
"It was huge," said Jeter. 'I would say a hundred meters in length. Tremendous. We went back and looked at those towers after it was over and those towers are seventy-five meters apart. This thing was overlapping them.”
Todd described his initial sighting and said, 'It was sitting with the nose off one side of one tower and the tail off the side of the other.
"My first sighting of it was a side view. It was more of a delta-wing shape. It had a flat bottom with a taper from the top of a flat back which I would say was thirty five to fifty feet high and it tapered down to a small point.
"When we observed it the second time, when we both observed it, we were looking at it from the bottom and it was triangular shaped. It was a silvery, gunmetal color."
KIND OF BAMBOOZLED
When asked what he thought when he saw the object, Todd replied: "We were kind of bamboozled but in my opinion it was definitely a flying aircraft from someplace. It was something I had never seen before and it was of tremendous size.
"Something of that size that could hover the way it was would have to make some type of noise. I don't know if the United States has an aircraft that can hover without making noise but I don't believe so.
"When I made the initial sighting it was more of confusion and wonder at what I had actually seen. And then on my second sighting and seeing it cross the horizon like it did, I knew what it was.
“In my opinion I believe what I saw was an unidentified flying object and I believe it was some aircraft not of this earth."
All five men worked out of the North Precinct on Old Allen Road about fifteen miles northeast of the golf course. It was in the substation's parking lot where Patrolmen Birdsong, Davidson and Bartlett spotted the object earlier in the night.
"We were sitting in the parking lot on the west side of the substation talking," said Birdsong. He and Davidson were facing north and Bartlett, sitting on the trunk of a car, was facing them.
"I looked up and saw an object going overhead and told Davidson, ‘Look, there goes a flying saucer,’” said Birdsong. “I didn't know what it was and Davidson looked up and we tried to get Bartlett to look around. He thought we were just kidding.
"He wouldn't look at first and finally he turned around and looked and said, 'It looks like a flying Christmas tree.' It was shaped like a triangle and it had lights all around it and underneath it. It was traveling at a pretty good speed."
Bartlett said that when he did look around he saw “a triangular-shaped object just going by. The point of it was to the front and there were multicolored lights. They were a soft yellow to a bright orange with some greenish tint.
“We Just laughed and wondered what it was. Nobody had any real comment or anything because we heard no sound or anything.”
Some time later Birdsong and Davidson heard Jeter and Todd say on the radio that they’d seen a UFO. “We got them to switch to Channel six so we could talk to them and Davidson asked them if it was a triangular-shaped object and had multicolored lights, and they said. ‘Check.' So then we knew right off it was the same object we had seen earlier.”
The object made no noise, Davidson said. "It was pretty high up. The lights were more or less like a Christmas tree. It had lights around it and in the center also, different colors. Green, white and yellow were the ones I remember distinctly. They were separate, individual lights. They didn’t blend into each other.
"We just shrugged it off. We thought it was something from the naval air station."
A spokesman at the Millington Naval Air Station, located eight miles north of the police substation, said no craft similar to the one the men described was based there. He said the radar at the station is shut down at eleven o'clock each night and would not have picked up anything at the time the officers spotted the UFO.
Memphis Police Capt. Paul J. Acerra, who was the duty officer the night Jeter and Todd reported spotting the UFO, said: "These officers are all mature men with good judgment. To get into the Tactical unit you have to be above average. All of them are responsible citizens. They would not make up anything like this. None of them."
Ed Becton, a supervisor in the Federal Aviation Authority air traffic control tower at the Memphis International Airport, said: "The next day we had calls from maybe fifty different reporters, radios and TV stations about this. We checked with all the air traffic controllers on duty at the time and they had nothing on radar in the area of the golf course and they saw nothing visually."