On January 8, 2008, Stephenville gained national media attention when dozens of residents reported observations of unidentified flying objects, UFOs. Several residents described a craft as the size of a football field, while others said they were nearly a mile long, similar to the Phoenix lights mass sightings of March 13, 1997. Some observers reported military aircraft pursuing the objects.
Dozens of credible witnesses report seeing glowing orbs in the Texas sky.
One of the most widely witnessed and well documented UFO sightings in U.S. history occurred on January 8, 2008 in the rural farming community of Stephenville, Texas. Known widely as the Stephenville Lights, the sighting of the brightly lit, mile wide object was witnessed by dozens of local citizens including a pilot, county constable, and several business owners. One witness told reporters it was a life changing experience. Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw was a mile long and half a mile wide told the press: It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts.
Between 6:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. CST, around 40 witnesses reported seeing very bright lights in the night sky near the cities of Dublin and Stephenville in central Texas. The lights moved at unbelievable speeds, changed formation, and made no sound. One witness said the object was the size of a football field, another the size of a Wal-Mart, while one man said he believed it to be about a mile long. Many of the witnesses claimed to have seen military aircraft pursuing the objects, a claim that military officials initially denied. MUFON was called to the scene to investigate and the story was reported in the local Stephenville newspaper two days later. Soon, the story spread across the country.
Many witnesses told investigators they saw military aircraft pursuing the brightly lit object. Despite the large number of witnesses, little to no valid photographic evidence exists of the event, a claim that the public affairs officer for the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base at Carswell Field in Fort Worth, sixty nautical miles away, denied. Later, investigators contacted the FAA to confirm that no F-16s were in the area during the time of the sighting. According to James McGaha, astronomer and retired Air Force pilot, the FAA countered the militaryís claims admitting that indeed, military aircraft were sent into the area during the time of the sightings:
On January 18, a group of four F-16s from the 457th Fighter Squadron entered the operating area at 6:17 p.m. local time. A second group of four F-16s entered the same area at 6:26 p.m. They departed at 6:54 and 6:58, respectively.
Beyond a doubt, military aircraft had entered the area during the event. Caught off guard, officials at Carswell Field acknowledged their mistake and publicly admitted that ten F-16 Fighting Falcon jet airplanes had indeed been flown into the area that evening and suggested that the sighting was nothing more than military flares dropped from aircraft. Witnesses however, cried foul. Locals swore that the object they saw was larger, quieter, and faster than any known aircraft, or flares dropping from the sky. In return, Carswell AFB released the logbook of their 457th Fighter Squadron to investigators, most of the logbook entries had been blacked out.
MUFON arrived in the area on January 19, 2008 and began their investigation in the small town of Dublin, once famous for their original Dr. Pepper soft drink factory. Seventeen different eyewitness reports were obtained including reports from a constable, a chief of police, a pilot, and a former air traffic control operator. Of the seventeen reports, eight reports taken from various perspectives in the area provided sufficient detail to pinpoint the time and direction of the unusual object or objects. Eyewitness reports in hand, the MUFON investigation turned towards radar data provided by the FAA. Using the FAA radar information, MUFON was able to create a detailed report which tracked the F16 flight paths as well as the path of the unknown object. According to their report:
The location of all these aircraft, have been identified during the entirety of their flights. The first eight aircraft participated in military maneuvers in the Brownwood MOAs. No unusual flight changes were seen until the aircraft left the MOA on their return to CAFB. Two jets in each sortie turned on a new transponder beacon and then veered to the east of the normal Military Training Route by 15 to 30 miles. These jets encroached into civilian airspace and the reason for their diverted path is not known. Flights 9 and 10 initially left Carswell to the north at 6:29 p.m. and flew to a MOA in south central Oklahoma. They departed their MOA at around 7:28 p.m. and rather than return to CAFB, they headed south. They did not travel to the Brownwood MOA but instead made a loop around Comanche, Dublin, and Stephenville before returning to CAFB. It is odd why these aircraft flew this circuit far to the south prior to returning to base and why these two aircraft were redacted in the CAFB logbooks.
A group of four witnesses sighted an object around 7:00 p.m., which they described as two, slow moving, yellow glowing orbs, near Dublin. The object was moving southeast on a direct course towards Crawford Ranch, the highly secure getaway known as the Western White House that President Bush used during his presidency. The testimony of all four witnesses matched perfectly and proved to be one of the earliest reports received by investigators.
At 7:15 p.m., a constable saw the object just south of his home which is located about 4 miles southwest of Dublin, Texas. The constable noted the object began as two glowing amber lights which remained near stationary for about five minutes. Suddenly, additional lights came on and the object moved away at a very fast rate of speed towards the northeast. Radar confirmed an object in the area which veered north at 1,900 MPH.
A former air traffic controller reported seeing multiple glowing orbs which suddenly turned off as if someone turned off a light switch. About 15 minutes later he reported seeing military jets fly through the same area.
Another woman reported that she was travelling from Stephenville on County Road 914 just north of Alexander, Texas when around 6:40 p.m. she saw bright lights in the sky. The witness stated that the lights scared her because they were close to her and caused her to move her car toward the roadís shoulder. At first the witness thought the lights were two planes about to collide and then realized that the lights were floating stationary in the sky. According to the witness, then the lights simply disappeared.
A man reported seeing lights in the sky from his home near the intersection of I-20 and CR-425, 50 miles northwest of the Dublin area. The witness claimed to see bright amber lights which he described as much brighter than the brightest star.
A second constable was outside of his home with his son when he witnessed one reddish orange glowing light in the sky around 7:15 p.m. He explained that the glowing orb, which hovered just above the tree line, would disappear and reappear at intervals. He estimated the light to be about 300' above the ground. He ran into the house to get his wife. When they returned the light was gone and in its place were nine smaller lights which he estimate to be about 5,000' off the ground. He retrieved binoculars from his truck but was unable to make out any detail of the objects. Suddenly, all of the lights shot off towards the northeast in tandem. He noted that the objects moved so fast he had trouble tracking them with his binoculars.
A former air traffic controller and his wife provided expert testimony. The witness also verified that military aircraft arrived in the area shortly after the lights disappeared, he could not make out detail of the military craft but could tell they were military by their movements. Their Testimony:
I am not sure of the exact time. My wife and I had made a trip to a local store. On our way home, 4 blocks, we were crossing Grand Ave. As I looked left, west, for traffic, I saw several strange lights not far above the horizon. The lights were partially obscured by a two story building about 4 blocks away. I stopped in the middle of Grand Ave., blocking traffic and told my wife to look and pointed towards the lights. She looked and saw the lights also. When I first saw them, they looked like white fireworks, without the trailing flame, coming up from the ground. As we watched them, they appeared to fly around one another very quickly and randomly. We watched them for a little more than a minute and they just disappeared, like turning off a light switch. I worked for five years as an Air Traffic Controller, mostly in a control tower at night. I can quite confidently state that these were NOT any known aircraft. I cannot estimate a size, but judging by how large they appeared in contrast to the building they were partially behind and not knowing how much further away they were, each individual light was much too large to be any type of known aircraft. If the lights were all part of a single unit then it would have been more massive than any craft I have ever seen or studied, including the Zeppelins and other lighter than air giants. Approximately 15-20 minutes after we observed the lights, I saw a couple of small jet aircraft in the same area, this after arriving home. The contrast between the small jets and the strange lights is staggering. It would be like comparing the size of grapefruit to a raisin.
Immediately after the sighting became public knowledge, others began coming forward acknowledging that they too saw the Stephenville Lights that night. One witness, now confident that he was not crazy, came forward and told of a similar sighting a few months earlier. Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300' over a pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after reading similar accounts in the local newspaper. Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifleís telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.
You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a different deal, Sorrells said. It feels good to hear that other people saw something, because that means Iím not crazy.
The following appeared in the local Stephenville Empire, Tribune newspaper just two days after the event:
Possible UFO sighting
Thursday, January 10, 2008 11:16 a.m. CST
Four area residents witness mysterious object, lights in Selden sky
By Angelia Joiner Staff Writer
Steve Allen, Mike Odom and Lance Jones were out admiring a beautiful Texas sunset Tuesday evening when they saw something none of them can explain.
Allen called it an unidentified flying object. And, because heís been a private pilot for more than 30 years, he has a little more experience judging air speeds and distances than most.
We all flipped out, Allen said. I didnít sleep a wink last night.
Allen was at the home of Mike Odom in Selden about 6:15 p.m. when they suddenly noticed flashing lights about 3,500' above ground level, he said.
The ship wasnít really visible and was totally silent, but the lights spanned about a mile long and a half mile wide, Allen said. The lights went from corner to corner. It was directly above Highway 67 traveling towards Stephenville at a high rate of speed, about 3,000 MPH is what I would estimate.
Allen said the lights were not those of a normal aircraft. He said they were more like strobe lights, and while they were all watching, the lights reconfigured themselves from a single horizontal line into two sets of vertical lights. The two sets were approximately ľ of a mile apart, Allen said. Then they turned into dirty burning flames. The flames were not blue. They were white in color. About two seconds later it disappeared completely. Allen said they were all scratching their heads and talking about what it could have been, when approximately 10 minutes later, the object flew overhead again. This time it came from the west traveling east towards Glen Rose, Allen said. And it was about two or three miles south of 67, and two military jets, possibly F16s, were in pursuit. I was asking, Are you guys seeing that? Allen said.
Mike Odom said he didnít have trouble sleeping but it was a wild experience.
Itís unexplainable, Odom said. It was something not natural, it was moving way too fast.
Odom said he saw one other unexplainable object in the sky in 1978 when he was in Arizona.
Back then something flew over with lights all around, Odom said. I think this thing bothered all of us, but it probably bothered Steve more because heís a pilot and he flies a lot.
It was neat, Lance Jones said. It was something. Iíve never seen anything like it before but it didnít scare me. I just figured it was military.
Odomís wife, Claudette, said she was previously employed as a flight attendant.
Lights were going up and down the side, she said. There was no sound, just the lights. It was moving so fast. It wasnít a plane. I know how planes move. Honestly, I think it was a UFO. It was so fast you couldnít have put your finger on it and move it fast enough to follow it.
Allen said he has never seen a UFO until now, but he did suspect there was something to UFO stories all along.
I was very surprised to finally get my eyes on one, Allen said. If anybody else saw this and got pictures I hope they will contact me.
Allen said he has already reported the sighting to Washington, and is in the process of writing a report on the event.
The group plans to return to Odomís house and keep an eye on the sky in the near future, hoping to see it again.