This report and others like it have made northcentral Montana a
UFO hot spot dating back to the 1950s.
"It's been a pretty active area, and there are a lot of
world-documented sightings going way back," said Jeff Goodrich,
state director of the Montana chapter of the Mutual UFO Network
A video recording of two bright, silvery objects zipping around
the sky on Aug. 15, 1950, brought national attention to the Electric
Nick Mariana, general manager of the Great Falls Electrics
baseball team, noticed the objects and quickly scrambled to record
the incident on the 16-mm camera he kept in his glove box. The
"Montana Movie," as it came to be known, is considered one of the
best UFO films of all time.
More recently, a series of mysterious cow mutilations has locals
baffled and questioning whether space aliens have perhaps paid us
UFOs are for real
It's a fact: UFOs are out there. Astronomers, scientists,
government officials and ufologists all agree on that. The dispute
is whether little green or gray or purple men are piloting these
aircraft, if that's even what the objects are.
Ray Kelly, owner of Kelly Signs, always has been a believer and
even has a few sightings to boot.
"I've always felt this universe is just too vast for us to be the
only people or living creatures," he said.
Kelly's first sighting came in the 1990s. As he pulled into his
alley after work one night, a bright star caught his attention.
Then, suddenly, it shot straight up.
Some years later, Kelly took direction from the popular 1990s
television series "Sightings" and propped his Zenith camcorder on a
tripod in his backyard and focused it on the sun's corona, or
surrounding halo of light. If you block out the main part of the sun
you'll catch bustling UFO activity in the outer rim, the theory
"These objects are kind of invisible to the naked eye until they
fly into the corona," Kelly said.
Sure enough, Kelly captured glowing objects of all shapes and
sizes moving at different speeds and directions in and out of the
corona. He also recorded what he believes to be two UFOs traveling
across the sky. One moves on a straight west-to-east plane. The
other flies the same direction but instantly changes directions at
two different intervals.
The UFO era began in June 1947 when a Boise businessman and pilot
named Kenneth Arnold reported nine mysterious objects flying around
Mount Rainier in Washington. He described them as flying close
together, saying their movement reminded him of a rock or saucer
skipping across the top of water. He is credited for coining the
term "flying saucers."
Following Arnold's sighting and the alleged crash at Roswell,
N.M., where ufologists believe an extraterrestrial spacecraft and
its alien occupants were recovered in July 1947, flying saucer mania
began. The interest and curiosity in UFOs paired with the looming
threat of nuclear attack by the Soviet Union had people nationwide
and across Montana looking toward the heavens.
While the government opened an official investigation of UFOs,
more reports trickled in from all over Big Sky Country. A couple
weeks after Mariana's sighting, two Great Falls men reportedly saw a
silvery mass over the eastern horizon near Geyser. They said the
large, oblong object had a long tail and flew extremely high. It
vanished over the western horizon in about eight seconds. The
following week two Air Force veterans reported six amber-colored
objects flying over Great Falls, passing each other at alternate
In November 1957, a Great Falls woman reported seeing an oblong,
illuminated object that was twice as large as the moon and had a
flashing light on one end. Later that month a Sidney resident
reported a white ball of fire with towering red columns rising up
and green lights projecting from the base moving slowly across the
Several UFO reports have come from MAFB and its missile sites.
The investigation that followed the 1967 missile incidents turned
up no reasonable cause for the missile shutdowns, though a number of
airmen as well as the deputy launch controller from that day have
come forward to credit UFOs. However, the Air Force reportedly
maintains that no UFO incident ever has affected national security.
Public affairs officials at Malmstrom say the base doesn't have
any records related to UFOs.
The hodgepodge of reports over the years indicate that UFOs come
in all shapes, sizes and colors and travel at various speeds. Some
are described as balls of light that explode in the sky. Others
resemble flying cars.
Of course, there also are curious reports of what "visitors"
The first Montana report of a mutilated cow came from the Sand
Coulee area in August 1974. In the few years that followed,
sheriff's deputies investigated more than 65 mutilation reports from
Cascade, Judith Basin, Chouteau, Teton and Pondera counties.
The most recent reported mutilation occurred on Oct. 9 of this
year on a ranch in Valier. There are similarities to the mutilations
of three decades ago.
What's left behind has raised doubt that the killings were caused
by humans or predators.
Often the tongue, an eye and all or part of the ear are removed
along with a portion of the udder, the genitals and the anus. Facial
skin is scraped off with great precision, and the exposed bones are
squeaky-clean. Many of the animals are drained of blood. There is no
mess, no footprints and no one hears a sound.
What's even more bizarre, hungry predators steer clear of the
carcasses for weeks.
The early cases from around the nation prompted a federally
funded investigation that resulted in a 300-page report concluding
the cows were killed by natural predators. Even still, ideas swarm
about the mysteries, some pointing fingers at satanic cults,
government or military conspiracies and, of course, space aliens.
Local UFO group
Various groups have formed over the years to investigate UFO
sightings, of which a majority are re-classified as IFOs, or
identified flying objects.
"The vast majority of them are misidentified known objects, some
probably classified aircraft," said Goodrich, who's retired from the
military and works for a civilian contractor at MAFB. "I think a
small number of them would very well be alien spacecraft."
Goodrich has been involved with MUFON, a national organization
dedicated to finding scientific explanations for UFOs, for 25 years.
As state director he assigns field investigators to Montana
sightings. But with a dwindling statewide membership (currently
eight members), Goodrich said it's impossible to investigate every
"The ones that are more worthy of investigation are daylight
sightings of metallic objects," he said. "They are much fewer in
Goodrich said that when folks see a UFO they either should fill
out the sighting report form online at http://www.mufon.org/
or call the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) telephone
hotline, 206-722-3000, in Davenport, Wash.
Goodrich said local law enforcement officers and public relations
officers at Malmstrom usually direct UFO-related calls to MUFON or
NUFORC. The NUFORC hotline is staffed 24/7, so it may be the better
route, he said.
And while Great Falls has a reputation for some of the more
credible UFO reports, Goodrich said folks aren't going to get much
attention without a photograph or other physical evidence.
"Anecdotal evidence doesn't really go very far as far as reaching
a firm scientific conclusion," he said.
Arthur Alt, the author of the Tribune's daily Skywatch column who
has a doctorate in science education and nine other degrees, doesn't
believe aliens from outer space are visiting planet Earth, abducting
its inhabitants and flying away with cow teat souvenirs.
"Everybody on this planet sees UFOs — unidentified flying
objects," said Alt, a science professor at the University of Great
Falls. "That does not translate into little green men flying
spaceships. There is not one single solid thread of evidence that
Alt doesn't think the people who report UFOs are gullible or are
telling tall tales. Rather they just have a hard time identifying
what they see. Some of the explanations he offered for the
misidentified objects in the sky include weather balloons, planets,
meteors, iridescent goose wings, and lenticular clouds, which
actually resemble flying saucers.
He added that hallucinations and optical illusions also play
tricks on the brain.
"Our brain works in a linear fashion," he said, adding he teaches
his UGF students to think in a nonlinear fashion and manages to
change most of their minds regarding flying saucers by the end of
Though Alt doesn't believe space aliens are visiting the Earth,
he believes they exist.
"I'm absolutely convinced there is intelligent life in the
universe outside the Earth," he said.
However, Alt theorizes that the amount of energy, time and food
it would take to visit the Earth would not be worth it to any
species. He said the nearest star system is about 4 1/2 light years
away, which would mean a 10-years roundtrip for a vehicle traveling
at the speed of light.
And for what purpose? Ten years is a lot of time just to satisfy
curiosity, he said.
Alt added there's no good reason why aliens would collect samples
of unintelligent animals like cows, noting the missing cow pieces
wouldn't provide much information about reproducing the animal. He
believes people, perhaps cult members, are responsible.
Just another Montana Movie
Kelly doesn't have a theory on the cattle mutilations, but he
does believe his video shows something of an extraterrestrial
Relaxing in his lawn chair while barbecuing one afternoon, Kelly
captured footage of an illuminated object moving across the sky. His
video shows a UFO passing behind limbs of a tree and then eventually
getting lost in the garble.
"I got pretty excited about it," Kelly said. "I showed my wife
He reported the incident to MUFON and the "Coast to Coast" radio
program, but it didn't amount to anything. He didn't pursue the
effort further because he was satisfied enough.
"I finally saw one," he said. "I'm happy."
Kelly believes humans are being observed by other life forms from
other planets or even dimensions.
"A lot of these could be government secret propulsion programs,
too," he said.
And he doesn't believe UFOs pose any threat to himself, his
family or mankind in general.
"I'm not afraid ... as long as I'm not a cow," he said.