‘Flying saucers,’ mysterious lights: A look at Indiana UFO sightings over the years – IndyStar

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UFO report: Pentagon finds no evidence of aliens but can’t rule it out

The New York Times and CNN reported a government report on “UFOs” does not provide evidence of aliens, but also doesn’t rule the possibility out.

STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY

Americans have collectively had their sights set on the sky for decades. 

We’ve been taken out of this world — and brought back home to Indiana — with science fiction films like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” We’ve used the vastness of the universe as our muse, writing books and making movies about the extraterrestrial, engaging in debates about the intergalactic unknown. We’ve looked up and seen things we still haven’t been able to explain.

We’ve pondered the question, “Are aliens really out there?” 

A new government report may shed further light on the topic this week. The highly anticipated Congressional report will compile and publicly reveal “unidentified aerial phenomena,” with intelligence from the FBI, the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Dept. of Defense’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force.

Earlier this month, The New York Times and CNN gave us a glimpse into the report’s new findings: the U.S. government has no evidence that recently-seen aerial phenomena are alien spacecraft — nor did they come from any American military entities, leaving their origins a mystery. 

The possibility of alien spacecraft cannot be ruled out, the report says, and many unanswered questions and unexplainable occurrences continue to elude top scientists and intelligence officials. 

Government UFO report: Here’s what we know and when you can expect it.

Are aliens out there?: Here’s how scientists are searching for intelligent life.

UFOs in Indiana

UFOs have long been a subject of public debate, but the 1950s and 1960s especially appeared to be the heyday for otherworldly sightings. The encounters came with panic fueled by the Cold War stage — so much so, that the Air Force began Project Blue Book to study UFO incidents. Though terminated in 1969, the project reported more than 12,000 UFO sightings during its duration.

From ‘flying saucers’ to mysterious lights, Hoosiers have had their own fix of UFO sightings and speculation over the years.

‘Flying Saucer’ Lands Amid Agitated Cows

In March 1951, an Indianapolis Star headline read “‘Flying Saucer’ Lands Amid Agitated Cows,” after a Marion County farm operator discovered a red paper parachute and some type of foot-long mechanism lying in his pasture, agitating the farm’s chickens and “usually placid cows.” The contraption was later proved to be of this world — a weather observation balloon. 

Hundreds in State See ‘Flying Saucers’

A year later, three “flying saucers” were reported by hundreds of Hoosiers, including military officials and police. News reports described the objects, seen south of Indianapolis, as balloon-shaped with fiery tails as large as a “good sized house.” Hoosiers watching the phenomena in real time said they looked egg-shaped and “glowing like a radium-dialed watch.” The craft apparently performed figure-eight maneuvers and floated off toward Martinsville.  

RetroIndy: The alien ‘invasion’ of 1952

Monticello businessmen welcomed the possible extraterrestrial activity, putting out the welcome mat for any guests with the words: “Come in peace. Let us talk together.”

“Anybody smart enough to build flying saucers ought to be able the read the message,” said businessman Tom Spackman.

‘Rash of UFOs Puzzles Midwest’

In September 1966, the newspaper said reports of unidentified flying objects “abounded” in Indianapolis, Anderson, Richmond and other Indiana cities. Witnesses, including including three deputy sheriffs, reported seeing “a bluish-hazed ball of light” that “increased in size for several minutes, then faded out, leaving an opaque mist.” 

‘Flying Saucer’ Had A Hot-Foot

There were signs on earth, too: In August 1967, the Star reported on two motorists who found what they believed to be “footprints” of a flying saucer on 161st Street, east of North Keystone Avenue. Three circles, each about a foot long in diameter, were apparently “arranged in the form of a tripod.” The asphalt pavement was slightly melted in the middle. State police investigated and concluded the markings were likely due to a cherry bomb being set off.

Close Encounters Being Reported in Culver

In November 1990, the Star reported on strange encounters in northern Indiana. Dozens of residents of small town Culver, Indiana, were “seeing things in the sky.” One local security guard started keeping a log of all sightings after he first saw a “white, triangular shaped light pattern” in the sky. The editor for the local newspaper, the Culver Citizen, said they were receiving “quite a number of calls” about possible UFOs. Some speculated that perhaps the flares came from the nearby Grissom Air Force Base, but officials there dismissed that possibility.

A matter of national security

Historically, some of the UFOs observed across the country ended up being later identified as more mundane objects, like weather balloons or drones. Multiple experts also spoke to USA TODAY recently and agreed that unidentified aerial phenomena are unlikely to be aliens. But the government’s upcoming report is part of a growing movement to legitimize and study unidentified aerial phenomena as a valid national security issue.

Additionally, the report’s conclusion that UFOs did not originate from the U.S. government leaves open the possibility that the flying objects could have originated from foreign powers, like Russia or China, the New York Times reported.

In May, former Sen. Harry Reid wrote an op-ed in the New York Times giving us a lawmaker’s perspective on UFOs and pushing for more public transparency.

“Until recently, many military pilots feared the possibility of retribution for reporting sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena. But I believed that an unofficial taboo regarding the frank discussion of encounters could harm our national security and stymie opportunities for technical advancement,” wrote Reid, who helped kickstart the government project tracking UFOs — the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program — in 2007.  

The original program eventually ended, but last year, the Dept. of Defense launched the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force “to detect, analyze and catalog (unidentified aerial phenomena) that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”  

“I believe that there is information uncovered by the government’s covert investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena that can be disclosed to the public without harming our national security,” Reid wrote. “The American people deserve to know more — and hopefully they will soon.”

USA TODAY contributed to this report.

Contact IndyStar reporter Rashika Jaipuriar at rjaipuriar@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter @rashikajpr.



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