Published: 10:56 AM 7/9/2012
By ERIC VERONIKIS, The Patriot-News
Rachel Sudak and some friends recently visited the Audubon Hawk Watch near Wagoner’s Gap in Cumberland County to take in the Carlisle lights below and the stars that seemed within arm’s reach that night.
The view from the popular bird spotting post the evening of June 27 was amazing, Sudak said.
But what happened there about 11:45 PM was even more amazing, the 18-year-old Camp Hill resident said.
“This huge dome light shot up from the ground. It was all green, and it looked like it was near Harrisburg,” Rachel Sudak said. “Around the top, it looked like a cylinder; Even from far away, it was blinding. We all think it’s a UFO.”
Sudak’s story is similar to that of Noel Heitmann, a Millersville University math professor who said he saw the same neon green light that filled the sky in the same area, around the same time on the same night.
Heitmann’s account was first reported in the July 4 edition of The Patriot-News.
Heitmann and his family were traveling home from vacation on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and were 10 to 15 miles west of Harrisburg when he was shaken by what he saw.
Heitmann stopped short of calling the light a UFO, however.
“I wasn’t scared, but I was a little freaked out,” Heitmann said this week. “We’re really baffled by it.”
Sudak and Heitmann said the light stretched from one end of the horizon to the other, and after a few seconds it was gone.
Both said it emanated from the ground, and according to Heitmann, the light morphed into the shape of a silo before it disappeared.
After reading about Heitmann’s experience, Sudak and Mary Stamos of Swatara Twp. contacted the newspaper to share their experiences.
Stamos said she saw what might have been the same green light three years ago as she peered through the window of her house.
Stamos looked east toward Hershey for about a minute before she turned away from the light.
“It was glowing, and it was like a laser light. It was not real wide; it was real long,” said Stamos, 68. “I thought it was Indiantown Gap.”
Stamos doesn’t think she saw a UFO.
She thinks the U.S. military has something to do with the light she saw.
“I know the military does experiments,” Stamos said.
A spokesman for Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County said the Air National Guard had no flights over the Carlisle area on June 27.
And a spokesman for the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks did not return several interview requests for this story.
Harrisburg International Airport is near the origin of the light that Heitmann and Sudak said they saw, and in 10 years with HIA, airport spokesman Scott Miller said he has received reports of three similar sightings.
Miller said the green light probably came from an airplane arriving to the airport that evening.
It might have even been Jupiter or Venus the two saw, said Brock Pronko, a founding member of the Central Pennsylvania Observers, a State College-based nonprofit whose members study the night sky.
Pronko believes there are UFOs, but that all of them are explainable.
The light might have been a rocket booster disintegrating as it returned to Earth, Pronko said.
The Federal Aviation Administration does not dismiss any report it receives, but FAA spokesman Jim Peters said he could not immediately retrieve any information about the time and place Sudak and Heitmann said they saw the mysterious light.
Sudak was with six friends when she saw the green light cover the sky.
Her friends recorded video of the light on their phones, but when they played back the video, the light wasn’t there, Sudak said.
“It was just so weird how it happened,” she said. “All of us were in shock. We were just like, ‘What the hell was that?’”