History Channel Devotes Hour to Tinley Park Sightings
Bob Peterson and son Tyler, 13, left, along with neighbors Bill Dooley and son Nick, 14, are among Tinley Park residents who have seen the balls of light in the sky. (Scott Stewart/Sun-Times)
UFO over Tinley Park

October 28, 2008

BY MISHA DAVENPORT mdavenport@suntimes.com

The skies were clear over Tinley Park on the night of Aug. 21, 2004. Despite the absence of a breeze, the temperature outside was about as agreeable as you get in the Chicago area that time of year. All around the Chicago suburbs, people were having block parties or barbecues and otherwise enjoying the last gasps of summer.

"It was a nice night out," Tinley Park resident Bob Peterson recalls. "Me and my son Tyler were out on the back deck just hanging out when we saw them."

They have come to be known as the Tinley Park Lights: three red orbs that have been seen floating across the suburban sky on at least three separate occasions. They usually float for a distance and eventually stop and seem to hover in a triangle pattern for as long as 30 minutes at a time.

Peterson watched them for a little while. Being in the path of planes flying in and out of Midway, he was used to seeing objects in the sky. These were different, though.

"There was no noise. They just literally floated by real quiet and slow," he recalls.

The lights also caught the attention of neighbor Bill Dooley and his son Nick. Neither Dooley nor Peterson knew what he was looking at for sure.

Hundreds of witnesses have come forward to offer detailed accounts of what they saw that night. Peterson and 17 other people from several Chicago suburbs managed to videotape the mysterious and unexplained objects.

To those absolutely convinced of extraterrestrial life, the Tinley Park Lights are proof-positive that we are not alone. The History Channel's series "UFO Hunters" devotes an entire hour to the event in an episode titled "Invasion Illinois" that airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

"It was a mass sighting that cut across all demographics," says Sam Maranto, the director of the Illinois chapter of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), one of the oldest and largest organizations dedicated to investigating and documenting UFO sightings.

Maranto notes the same pattern was later seen in New York and, a day later, hovering over Australia.

"A lot of the cases we have featured on the show have been older. The witnesses aren't always alive," says "UFO Hunters" co-host and UFO magazine publisher Bill Birnes. "This happened four years ago and there were multiple witnesses available, and that gave us the ability to do a thorough scientific investigation."

Peterson remains skeptical. "I thought maybe it was something tied to a balloon," Peterson says. "They reminded me of LED lights or something you would see at the top of towers and buildings."

He was somewhat reluctant to appear on the TV show, for fear of coming across as the typical overzealous UFO believer.

"Under normal circumstances, people are reluctant to come forward to report a UFO sighting," Maranto says. "It tends to be less of an issue with mass sightings, because when a mass of people all see the same thing, no one can call you crazy."

After reviewing footage, Maranto is convinced they are alien in origin.

"There is something about them; they just don't seem of this world," Maranto says. "These same objects have been depicted historically and in folklore. It's reasonable to assume that curiosity is a driving force in the universe and we're being watched."

Birnes dismisses those notions, though.

"Why would aliens, assuming it is an alien craft, care about Tinley Park?" Birnes ponders. "We know the military are working on a cloaking device and with respect to everything but the speed of the lights, which remain iffy for me, I don't see any technology in the Tinley Park Lights that the military doesn't currently have."

If the craft is some top-secret military project, why would the government take it for a test drive in one of the busiest commercial air spaces in the world?

"Anyone who has ever read Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Letter knows the best place to hide something is out in the open," Birnes counters.

Moreover, he says the CIA has a history of using the mythology of UFOs as a cover for its own secret weapons program.

"My first impression in this case is they are more conventional than they are unconventional," Birnes says.

"UFO Hunters" states that, were the orbs part of one craft, it would be six times larger than the biggest jetliner ever made. Though its scientists succeed in debunking the theory that the lights were flares attached to weather balloons, Peterson still thinks they were some sort of a hoax.

He has managed to tape them three times in the hopes of proving once and for all what they are. He hasn't seen them since 2005.

permanent link: http://www.ufocasebook.com/2008c/ufohunterstinleypark.html

source & references:

http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/television/1244910,CST-FTR-UFO28.article

Archived UFO Articles and News Items, 2008

UFO Casebook Home Page