ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
sightings of a massive, triangular object that stretched
across the sky seven years ago have propelled St. Clair County
into the heights of UFO lore.
"I can't explain what I
saw," said Mark Lopinot, an O'Fallon police detective who
watched as the object approached his city. "It was shocking."
Thanks in part to documentaries that get continued
play on cable TV, the sightings by Lopinot and several other
police officers have become legend, and St. Clair County has
become an important place in the UFO debate. Local police
departments often field calls about the 2000 incident and hear
reports of new UFO sightings. The county has become a focus
for the extra-terrestrial-minded.
Lopinot said he has
even been approached by a local retired military officer who
claimed to have been abducted by space aliens.
He said he is contacted by people from all over
the area with their own stories. This week, he was fielding
calls from a Japanese documentary team interested in UFOs.
Whatever it was that Lopinot and the other officers
saw that night in January 2000 emitted a bright, colorful
light. It flew in total silence.
The officers spotted
the flying object above Lebanon, Shiloh, Dupo, O'Fallon and
Millstadt. One officer reportedly hummed the "Twilight Zone"
theme song over his radio as he watched.
Davenport, the director of the National UFO Reporting Center
in Washington state, called the sightings of January 2000
He said the event is important because
it was witnessed by a large number of law enforcement
officials, who described the object as a "floating house with
bright red and white lights."
"The events that occurred
constitute one of the most interesting and well-documented
incidents our center has ever seen," Davenport said.
Davenport, a St. Louis native, talks to dozens of people every
day who have seen things in the sky. He acts as a
clearinghouse for thousands of eyewitness UFO reports every
A stream of UFO sightings have been reported
from the Metro East since 2000. The most recent: A report
filed in June involving a triangular flying object in
Details involving the that sighting — and
thousands of others — are available at www.nuforc.org,
The appearance here last year of
so-called crop circles has also turned heads in the UFO
community. Theories about such unexplained formations made by
flattened crops often involve speculation about
Field investigators from the
Colorado-based Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network flew
over Belleville to investigate the reported circles. They said
that 13 circles, varying in size between 15 feet and 50 feet
across, were visible among the soybean plants on a farm near
But it's the January 2000 sky sighting
that gets the most attention. The National Institute of
Discovery Science, a privately financed research organization
in Las Vegas devoted to UFOs and the paranormal, sent
investigators to the area to learn more about the incident.
Its website classifies the investigation as ongoing.
Officials at Scott Air Force Base in O'Fallon said
nothing like what was sighted is based at the airfield. The
military also does not fly any low-level training or testing
routes in the area, a spokesman said.
To date, there is
no explanation for what appeared above St. Clair County.
Meanwhile, several documentaries involving the sighting run in
heavy rotation on cable. (The Peter Jennings documentary,
titled "UFOs: Seeing is Believing," is set to run again on
Sunday afternoon on the National Geographic Channel.)
Ed Wilkerson, the chief of the Millstadt police, says
his department receives countless telephone inquires about the
incident — along with reports of other strange sightings.
"We get calls from people who have their own stories,"
Wilkerson said. "There is no official policy on handling UFO
sightings. We just kind of look up into the sky and see if we
can see anything." firstname.lastname@example.org |