Strange lights in
the sky |
Editorial - Wednesday, July 11, 2007 @ 09:00
Sixty years ago something crashed at Roswell,
The United States government says it
was a top-secret weather balloon. Conspiracy theorists
contend it was a flying saucer. Further still, they
claim the air force recovered alien bodies from the
spacecraft. This week, 35,000 stargazers flocked to this
desert town to mark the anniversary and hotly debate the
merits of both claims. Roswell, and the alleged
cover-up, is truly the genesis of the UFO phenomenon.
So much is in dispute with Roswell. What did
farm hand William Brazel find when he came upon that
strange wreckage on the Foster ranch in July, 1947? The
large debris field, 200 yards long and brightly lit, was
composed of an odd metallic substance. Brazel reported
what he saw to sheriff George Wilcox who informed the
authorities. News of the discovery quickly reached
townsfolk, with the Roswell Daily Record proclaiming a
spaceship had crash landed. The Roswell Army airfield
even issued a press release stating the base's 509th
Bomber Group had recovered a "flying disc." Later that
same day, the airfield's commanding general denied this,
saying it was an experimental weather balloon. The
controversy has engrossed ufologists ever since.
Before Roswell, there was always this suspicion
we were not alone - that our blue speck in the universe
would attract attention. During the Second World War,
allied fighter pilots reported intercepting strange
lights. Pilots called these celestial intrusions "foo
However, you don't have to poke
around Roswell to uncover UFOs.
substantial evidence to suggest the Ottawa Valley has
had its share of extraterrestrial visitations.
For instance, could it have been a "foo fighter"
that streaked over Pembroke late one evening in
November, 1944? J.
P. Sammon, the night watchman
at the shook mills, was startled by the two balls of
light dancing in the sky above him. He said the balls
were travelling at a terrific speed and appeared to
converge at one point. This was followed by three
violent flashes of lightning. Sammon thought he'd seen
an aircraft breaking up. Only this thing didn't crash.
In the 1950s, a similar sighting was made by
Fred Gates. Driving to work in Deep River with two
fellow employees, the Pembroke man was momentarily
blinded by a blazing light dropping suddenly out of the
sky. Gates lost control of his car and drove off the
highway near Brindle Crossing. The unidentified flying
object grazed the tree tops before disintegrating in a
burst of smoke (an event of Roswellian proportions
considering its proximity to Camp Petawawa). The
Dominion Observatory in Ottawa deduced it was a large
meteor that had struck the Petawawa ranges.
was an unusual cloud, and not a meteor, that was seen by
Jane Chaput on the night of Nov. 3, 1965. Her
11-year-old daughter frantically ran into their Normandy
Avenue home screaming she'd been followed home by a
"dancing light." It was around 8 p.m., so Jane went
outside to investigate. She looked up to see the
shimmering egg-shaped white cloud. She couldn't believe
her eyes. The object drifted slowly over the Petawawa
PMQs before disappearing. The cloud had also been
observed by countless witnesses in Arnprior.
first I thought it was someone playing with a
flashlight," she told reporters. "It was quite high and
quite plain. It moved over a wide area near our home."
An equally bizarre apparition jumped across
valley skies the following spring. Driving from Chalk
River, James Turcotte and his family saw a fireball
streak across the car's windshield. It had a green light
and discharged a multitude of colours before fading
away. He suspected it was a military aircraft, as they
were nearing Camp Petawawa.
On the outskirts of
Pembroke, Orville Wasmund's wife noticed the object from
her kitchen window. She thought it was silver, and
promptly alerted her neighbour, John Murack, who
described it as a "big ball of light." On Chamberlain
Street, Shirley Corrigan saw this spectre, which was
shooting particles and emitting a greenish glow. It
abruptly disappeared somewhere over the Ottawa River.
Scientists observing the same object from Ohio
determined it was probably a meteor travelling at an
orbit 80 miles above the earth.
Were meteors the
answer to all these sightings? Possibly. But then how to
explain away what Leo Chaput saw? One night in May,
1969, the 54-year-old mill worker was sitting in his
summer kitchen when he saw a white light soaring above
the Wabush Line. The "machine," as he called it, landed
in the field behind his Chapeau farm house. Chaput
investigated the next morning and found three crop
circles burned into the grass. The rings were 27 feet in
diameter. The needles on a nearby pine tree appeared
singed off and there was no indication of carbon
deposits. Chaput professed he got a good look at the
"I was standing near the field and watched
this bright object travelling below the tree-line," he
explained to a horde of skeptical reporters. "The front
of it had two large red eyes. I watched it for about 10
minutes, then it disappeared."
The most serious
close encounter occurred weeks later in Petawawa
Village. In the early morning hours of July 13, a woman
ran into the Arrow Taxi stand with an incredible story.
She was in a hysterical state but calmed down long
enough to recount what she saw to the on-duty cabbie,
John Chesson. She had been driving down Black Bay Road
when a huge light swooped down from out of nowhere. It
hovered over the car for a couple of minutes, lighting
up the roadway. What terrified her was the UFO then
followed her for a few miles before bolting from the
scene. Chesson stepped out to see for himself. In the
far distance, he caught a glimpse of what he described
as a "bright star" sailing through the sky.
Meanwhile, panicked phone callers flooded the
police switchboard. Others had seen the entity.
Provincial constables Jack Mackay and Grant Chaplin were
dispatched to investigate. Entering the village, the
officers suddenly stopped their squad car. There in the
sky was the UFO, moving slowly in a south-easterly
direction. The officers were soon joined by a small
crowd of 12 other disbelieving motorists who had pulled
over to watch the anomaly. Mackay figured the object was
cylindrical in shape, hovering some 1,500 feet above the
ground. What puzzled Mackay was it had no solid body or
form. From the main gate of the base, three military
policemen also watched the object in amazement. The UFO
moved in a slow, continuous orbit for another 40 minutes
before it disappeared west of Pembroke.
the Petawawa incident garnered national media attention,
this incredible night was all but forgotten a week
later. Every person on the planet with a television set
was watching American astronaut Neil Armstrong step onto
the surface of the moon.
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