1994 - The Mongo Photo Case, Indiana, August 31
Investigated by: The Indiana Group, MUFON: Francis Ridge (State Director), Linda Dahlkemper, Bruce Engstrom, Robert Taylor, Roger Sugden with additional help from John Timmerman (CUFOS). Analysis by Dr. Richard Haines
Mongo, IN, is located approximately 40 miles NNW of Fort Wayne, approximately 5 miles from the Michigan border. The prime witness (referred to as JK) was an area fire supervisor for the Forest Management Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, residing in Jackson, MI. DB was the firefighter from Howell, MI who took the pictures. FB: Cass City, MI, retired, Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
One of the witnesses was a retired Michigan State Trooper from Carroll, MI. Another was a retiree from the U.S. Postal Service. The latter did not think the object was a UFO. There was one other witness, six in all. The sighting was brief, estimated at 1-3 minutes. Six men, all retirees from age 45 on up, were sitting around a campfire at the Trading Post Campgrounds at Mongo, IN, on Wednesday, August 31st, 1994. The time was approximately 8:30 PM, Indiana time; 9:30 PM Michigan time (EDT).
The UFO Filter Center at Mt. Vernon, IN (also HQ for the Indiana Group, MUFON) received the initial report on 10/07/94, by phone. FIT Linda Dahlkemper had called me (State Director) at 11:00 AM. On the 21st, UFOFC received blow-ups of two photos, #8 and #9, drawings by the prime witness, and some news clippings.
The photos were impressive. Although the images were small and taken at night, one photo looked very much like the famous Trindade Island photo. I attempted contact with Jeff Sainio, Photo Analyst, left message on his recorder.
At approximately 10:00 AM, on 10/22, I conducted a taped telephone interview with the prime witness (JK). A letter and six Form 1's were sent to the prime witness. I requested witness send copy of photos to me AND Jeff Sainio. The following are notes taken from the phone conversation:
"Off to the southwest it looked like the moon, glowing through the treetops, and it was low. I said, 'that can't be the moon', 'cause we are in the last phase. (Moon not visible anyway). Then it started moving. Then it moved right out from behind the trees into an open area near a road and hovered toward us. And it was clear as can be.
It was a flying saucer, just that vivid. The object glided into our area at a shallow angle, turned toward us and began to hover. Standing still, the white glow turned transparent. It looked like a white strobe light on the top of the dome. A bright red flash of light under the bottom flashed 3 or 4 times like a strobe and it disappeared to the south and east very quickly, within 2 seconds."
Before it had gone they got at least four good pictures. One of the individuals who was taking pictures around the campfire that night had a Vivitar fully automatic 35 mm camera, loaded with 400 ASA color film. He was instructed to grab his camera and shoot. He had been out West with a fire crew, fighting fires and had taken pictures out there. The lens was standard, not telephoto.
Blow-up of Mongo Frame 4
Prime witness met and talked with two hunters the following day at 10:30 AM EDT. They had been enroute to the campground from Ft. Wayne, IN, and when they were 1/2 mile south of Mongo they spotted a white object move in front and to the east at low level at a high rate of speed. This was at the same time of 2130 EDT.
Newspaper accounts show at least two other good witnesses (the Martins) testifying that this was no blimp. Reports of a blimp (Family Channel) in area. Finally, a man, his wife, and two daughters saw the same or similar object at Hamilton, IN, and took videos. Their sighting was at 8:45 PM and a little over 20 miles SE of Mongo. The object was less than 100' up and there was no sound. Although some of video was erased, the object in one scene is large, pear shaped, and definitely not a conventional object.
The blow-ups of the Mongo object were received on October 21st and were cropped negatives #8 & #9. JK had another pair of negatives at the time of the interview, #4 & #5. After making prints from #8 & #9 a few days prior to this interview, he had swapped negatives with the camera owner.
The witness says the first photos are more distinct. "You are going to be more impressed with the ones I just got yesterday," he said. Negatives #6 & #7 reportedly did not show the UFO. The blow-ups and prints were made on a department store customer-operated Kodak machine called "Create-A-Print".
Photo #8 shows object (moving west to east in downward course) with illuminated leaves in the foreground due to camera flash. Photo #9 is similar, w/o flash, object still moving west to east and downward. Camera flash had been turned off for #9.
In the first two photos the object had come closer and reportedly looked like a "fried egg".
I requested that he fill out a Form 1 and try to get the others (5) to do the same. Six Form 1's were provided.
A drawing was supplied with the blow-ups of negatives #8 & #9, and witness states that this is what the UFO looked like, as it was very bright and coming in, first like the moon. Object had panels that could be seen when the object was due south. He says drawing/photos don't do justice to the actual event. There was absolutely no noise. Three dogs did not react in any way.
He was out hunting the next day and actually saw the Family Channel Blimp that others had reported. "There is no way in hell (that) we saw a blimp that night."
The object they saw and photographed on the 31st was no further than 1/4 mile away, and from 500' high to as low as 100' at one point. Witness then states the object was more vivid when first coming in. Apparently the object was receding on subsequent shots. At first he thought the object to be a bright meteor. It didn't take long for them to realize that the object was not a meteor. In negative #4 & #5 you "can see a distinct line right around the center", he said.
Source Test, Natural: All natural sources were eliminated. An EZC Skyplot for Mongo coordinates during time slot shows three planets as conspicuous targets. Jupiter and Venus were in the SW, Saturn was in the SE. Description of object, movement, and number of witnesses precludes a misidentification of an astronomical object.
Also, an on-site investigation by John Timmerman of CUFOS failed to show any other natural source that might explain the sighting.
Source Test, Man-Made: Advertising, commercial, military, and private aircraft eliminated. A blimp seemed possible. Witness testimony appeared to rule this out. Later analysis by Dr. Richard Haines effectively ruled out any type of blimp or any other source. We had already eliminated a balloon, fixed structure, hoax (on witness or by witnesses).
Twelve witnesses were reliable, object was real, description and photos (and a video) indicate an unidentified craft was in the area, along with a possible blimp.
Evaluation: Unidentified craft. Berliner Strangeness Scale: 2 (Night object); Berliner Credibility Scale: 7 (Still photo(s) by professional). Speiser Strangeness Factor: S5 (Highly strange; suggests intelligent guidance); Speiser Credibility Scale: P5 (Highly credible, leaving almost no doubt).
The self-luminous aerial object seen and photographed at Mongo, Indiana on August 31, 1994, has remained unidentified after the various evaluations cited above. On the one hand, its overall shape and flight characteristics are not unlike many scores of other UFO reported for more than fifty years from around the world, many of which were captured on photographs.
On the other hand, a blimp definitely was seen during the night of August 31, 1994 in the Mongo area. The aerial object photographed cannot be positively identified at this time. It remains a UFO.
Comments by the State Director
We have been unable to obtain any official flight records for any blimp flights explaining the Mongo event. Two different blimp companies were "identified" (Family Channel & Virgin Lightship) by "authorities". A current and separate investigation is underway involving a video taken the same evening at Hamilton, Indiana just a few miles SE of Mongo!
The witnesses also claim the object at one point was less than 100' over them, was as big as a football field, and made no noise!
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