Whether you're a Scully or a Moulder, some claims of UFO encounters are hard to dismiss. Perhaps there are multiple reliable witnesses or detailed police or military reports. Maybe the eyewitnesses passed lie detector tests. Sometimes there are photographs, audiotape, or videotaped evidence… all of which can be faked, but when you take into account the time, effort, and know-how it takes to perpetrate big hoaxes, sometimes a hoax can seem like a stretch. Several famous UFO encounters can be difficult to dismiss as swamp gas or weather balloons -- especially among claims of humanoid creatures. These fifteen cases can make even skeptics scratch their head.
The Gulf Breeze Florida Incidents
In the winter of 1987, a flap of UFOs were reported and photographed by a number of witnesses in Gulf Breeze, Florida over several months time. A local contractor named Ed Walters took astounding photographs of a glowing craft in the sky and brought them to the local newspaper, along with a story of having been abducted. MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), CUFON (Center for UFO Studies) and the National Enquirer all investigated Walters' claim and the photos, coming to various conclusions. The community of Gulf Breeze seemed divided on the issue: hundreds came forward with photographs and videos of their own, while others claimed that they knew about or had played part in Walters' hoax. A teenager named Tom Smith Jr. submitted similar photos he claimed he faked along with Walters using double-exposure. Strangely, photographic experts found no evidence of double-exposure in Smith's photos. No one was ever able to prove anything either way -- and strange objects in the sky are still reported in Gulf Breeze to this very day.
Whitley Strieber's Communion
In 1987, horror novelist Whitley Strieber of The Hunger fame shocked the world with the publication of a supposedly non-fiction memoir called Communion. The book described Strieber's alleged encounters with a group of non-human entities who repeatedly visited, abducted and interacted with Strieber and his wife while they were living in a log cabin in secluded upstate New York. The creatures Strieber described became iconic -- they are known as "greys" within the UFO community. Strieber claims to have passed barrages of mental and psychological tests while in therapy to deal with his terrifying and surreal experiences. After the publication of the book, hundreds of people wrote to Strieber with similar claims. In 1989, a movie was made based on the book starring Christopher Walken as Strieber.
Dr. John Reed's Alien and Pod in the Woods
The set-up is as follows: In 1996, while out walking his dog in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, Dr. John Reed witnessed an alien creature kill his dog, Suzy. Enraged, he struck the creature with a stick, grabbed the video camera he happened to have with him, and filmed the half-conscious, blinking alien and its free-floating podcraft. He then dragged the alien to his home for further examination. This video is assumed by many to be an elaborate hoax, the podcraft in the woods a set, the alien a mechanized puppet, and Dr. John Reed an alias. But "Dr. Reed" sticks firmly to his story, and nothing has been proven definitely either way. Unfortunately, the alien body disappeared from Reed's keeping in the days following the incident.
The Roswell Crash
On July 4th, 1947, an alien spacecraft may have crashed in the desert of Roswell, New Mexico. During a flap of "flying saucer" sightings throughout the area, the military confirmed retrieval of a crashed flying saucer from a ranch in New Mexico. However, days later, the military claimed a case of mistaken identity: they had merely recovered a ruined weather balloon. In the weeks and months that followed, dozens of claims of other crash sites in the area, some with recovered alien bodies, rose up--and were silenced. By the late 1970's, several witnesses who were present at the original Roswell crash site came forward with tales of flying saucers, little green men, and a giant government cover-up. By the early 80's, a batch of papers from a mysterious government entity known as "Majestic 12" surfaced. Supposedly, Majestic 12 was the code name for a top-secret group of scientists, military and government officials put together by President Truman to deal with recovery of alien spacecraft and / or entities at Roswell. The papers have never been proven authentic or faked.
The Travis Walton Abduction
On Wednesday, November 5 in 1975, 19-year-old Travis Walton was logging in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona with seven other men. They had just piled into a pick-up truck to head home when they spotted a silver disk hovering in the sky and drove closer to get a better look. Walton, fascinated, jumped from the truck and ran toward the object. According to the other men, a blue beam of light shot down and lifted Walton before tossing him to the ground. Terrified, the men fled. A short distance away, they calmed down and decided to return for Walton, but he was nowhere to be found. They went to local police with their astounding tale. Search parties went out, but no sign of Walton -- or strange spacecraft -- turned up. Police suspected foul play: Walton's family, friends, and especially the men in the truck got investigated and interrogated. The eyewitnesses passed polygraph tests. Five days later, Walton called his bother-in-law from a phone booth in Taylor, Arizona. Walton was skinny, unshaven, and wearing the same clothes in which he'd disappeared -- clothes inadequate for the freezing temperatures that week. Walton claimed to have spent the last five days aboard a spaceship, attended by humanoids in orange jumpsuits. He was subjected to polygraphs, some he passed and others he failed. In 1978, Walton published a book called Fire In the Sky: The Walton Experience recounting the experience and its aftermath.
The Derbyshire Flap
Apparently, the skies above Derbyshire, U.K. are a hotbed of UFO activity. In 2001, a housewife named Sharon Rowlands filmed a colorful disk-shaped UFO over her house. The footage was so impressive that it was purchased by a Hollywood producer for roughly $40,000. But the film has, inexplicably, never been released to the public. However, similar home videos, photographs, and reports continue to surface to this very day of flying discs and triangles over Derbyshire.
The Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill
In 1961, a middle-aged couple from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Betty and Barney Hill, called the Air Force with a story which had all the elements of what would later become the earmarks of abduction tales: lights in the sky, missing time, and frightening, fragmented memories. Driving home from a vacation in Canada, the Hills noticed a strange craft in the sky and pulled their car to the side of the road to get a better look. They were surprised and terrified to notice small humanoids staring at them from the craft's windows. Later, under hypnosis, the Hill's recounted being taken on board a spaceship by the humanoids who examined and questioned them before returning them to their vehicle. The Hill abduction story has stood the test of time among ufologists because of the Hills' credibility and normalcy. They were active in the civil rights community, church-going, hard-working folk who showed no interest in science fiction or the paranormal before their alleged encounter, nor did they seek financial gain from their story.
The O'Hare Airport Incident
On November 7, 2006, airport employees at O'Hare Airport in Chicago began calling in reports of a disc-shaped flying object hovering over Gate C-17. According to eyewitnesses (of which there were over a dozen), after several minutes, the object accelerated straight up into the sky at fast speed. The Federal Aviation Administration insisted the event was a weather phenomena, drawing criticism from shaken airport personnel who were quite certain of what they'd seen. Initially, there appeared to be no photographic or videotaped evidence, but videotape and photographs surfaced years later. This late-to-the-party evidence is generally dismissed as a hoax, but the eyewitnesses continue to swear by what they say they saw.
The Varginha, Brazil Encounters
In January of 1996, people in Varginha, Brazil began to report strange, hairless, red-eyed humanoid creatures running around during a series of UFO sightings in the area. After the local police received several such calls, the military was called in. UFO researchers Dr. Ubiraja Franco Rodrigues and Vitorio Paccaccini arrived on the scene, where they claim they were given a taped confession by an officer who admitted that the army had captured a live but injured E.T.. The creature was whisked to a nearby hospital, and several hospital staff members confirmed the reports. However, the researches refused to release the tapes to the public, supposedly to protect the identity of of the sources who were warned to stay silent. Consensus was that the creature died and was autopsied. Soon after the incident, a young policeman named Marco Eli Chereze died mysteriously, supposedly from contact with the alien. Several animals at the local zoo also died mysteriously after one of the creatures was spotted there. The military denied everything.
The Alien Interview
In 1996, a film (sans sound) was supposedly smuggled out of the military facility in Groom Lake, Nevada, known as Area 51. The film shows an alien being interrogated by U.S. military. According to "Victor," the source of the film who wished to remain anonymous for his own safety, he erased the sound to protect the identity of the people in the film. But, Victor provides a disguised voice-over of what's happening. He claims the alien speaks to its interviewer via telepathy, and that during the filming, the creature became distressed and incoherent so medical staff were called in to help. Much has been made of the letters "DNI" on the signature of the film being Department of Naval Intelligence, the group responsible for Area 51. No one has ever claimed responsibility for or knowledge of this "hoax."
Mexican Air Force Films
On March 5, 2004, the Mexican Air Force videotaped multiple unknown flying objects objects over Campeche. Unlike the U.S. government which invariably denies such incidents, the Mexican government actually released the footage to the press. The video was shot using an infrared camera. Strangely, though there were 11 objects, only 3 showed up on radar. The Mexican government denied that these were alien spaceships, though they gave no answer for what else could have caused the lights.
The Battle of Los Angeles
In the early morning of February 2, 1942, residents of Los Angeles were awakened by air-raid sirens as the city went to blackout. Fearing a Pearl Harbor-type attack from Japan, hundreds of people ran outside and looked to the skies. To their surprise, they witnessed a giant craft floating over Culver and Santa Monica. Within moments, army units lit the object with spotlights and sent in aircraft, guns blazing. Photographs and films were taken of the glowing, lantern-like object before it slowly moved away over Long Beach, seemly undamaged from the U.S. military's artillery fire. The official government line was that the army fired their weapons for 4 hours, killing 6 people with "friendly" fire trying -- and failing -- to shoot down a weather balloon.
Rendlesham Forest Incident
The British equivalent of Roswell occurred in December of 1980 in a pine forest housing two U.S. Air Force bases. USAF personnel began reporting strange lights in the sky on Christmas night. The following evening, security was dispatched to investigate a pulsating light in the trees. They described chasing a glowing, metallic craft through the night. In daylight, accompanied by local constables, they located a clearing where the craft, apparently, had landed, judging by the depressions in the ground. Abnormally high levels of radiation were measured in the area. That night, more objects appeared in the sky and were pursued again by military personnel and local police. Given the official nature of the witnesses, many well-detailed reports were filed during the three-day incident. A report was sent in to the Ministry of Defense. Eventually, these papers were made public, as was an audiotape known as the Halt tape in which an obviously frightened colonel documents chasing a flying object. In time, a few people tried to claim responsibility for the Rendlesham "hoax," but their explanations could not account for all the sightings, nor, believers argue, would U.S. Air Force personnel be so easily deceived.
Lonnie Zamora's Close Encounter
In 1964, Socorro, New Mexico, a police officer named Lonnie Zamora was on patrol when he saw lights in the sky and set out to investigate what he thought was an explosion from an old dynamite shack on a hill. At the top of the hill, he radioed in to the police headquarters to say that he saw what he believed was an overturned car, and he was going to check it out. As he approached the scene, he noted two small beings in white coveralls, one who seemed visibly startled upon noticing Zamora. Upon closer look, Zamora discovered that the "vehicle" was a silvery, oval-shaped object on legs without windows or doors with an unusual red insignia adorning the side. He then heard a roar and a bluish flame shoot out of the underside of the object. Afraid that it was going to explode, Zamora fell to the ground to protect himself. The object lifted off the ground, and head southeast, flying in a straight line for 10 or 15 miles. Other officers began to arrive on the scene to find a very shaken Zamora. FBI and Air Force personnel were called in, and documented finding bent and burned brush in several places surrounding the spot where the object had sat plus indentations in the sand where the object had stood, surrounded by small footprints. Several other eyewitnesses reported strange craft in the skies that night near Zamora's encounter.
Aurora Texas Crash
Local legend says that in 1897, a year known among ufologists as the "great airship" era, in a frontier town called Aurora, Texas, a slow-moving, cigar-shaped aircraft hit a windmill and was destroyed. A "martian" body was found among the debris, and was respectfully laid to rest by the townspeople in the cemetery. At the time, a newspaper article written by S. E. Haydon for the Dallas Morning News told of the event. Soon after, military personnel descended upon the town, and remain to this day. The story was relegated to folklore until the early 1970's, when a local group of UFO researchers began investigating. Supposedly, small fragments of an unusual metal were found near the site. The fragments were iron but possessed no magnetic properties as with earthly iron. The investigators interviewed some old folks who recalled their parents seeing the crash site, spaceship debris, and the little creature that died. The town refuses to allow anyone to exhume the body to find out for sure.