As Submitted by: Ken DeCosta
UFO enthusiasts everywhere have read about and examined particular cases that stand out in their
minds above all others. These are the sightings that seem to defy all logic and effort to explain them and
remain the best evidence of visitation by possible extraterrestrial life forms. What follows is one man's
personal list of such events and some details that surrounded them as well as the principals involved.
There, of course, will be some debate over those included and those left off and I wouldn't have it any
other way. So with apologies to David Letterman, here is a list of my Top Ten UFO Encounters Of All Time.
10. THE SOCORRO, NEW MEXICO SIGHTING
Socorro Patrolman Lonnie Zamora
At 5:45 PM on April 24, 1964 a sighting occurred that included two of the elements vital in the
validation of actual UFO contact: 1) a reliable, credible witness and; 2) physical trace evidence. Socorro
policeman Lonnie Zamora, on a routine patrol saw a vehicle speed past him and took off in pursuit. What
seemed at the time like a routine traffic stop would soon become one of the most important UFO sightings
ever recorded and alter his life forever.
While in pursuit of the vehicle, Patrolman Zamora first heard, and then saw what he described as a
loud roar followed by flames rising into the air some distance away. He then made the choice to abandon
the chase and instead rush to the area of the explosion to investigate. At this point he radioed dispatch
and informed them of his intent and location. There was some fear on his part that a nearby shack
containing dynamite had exploded.
Zamora eventually drove his patrol car down a narrow, unpaved gravel road that ran along a shallow
gully. He thought he saw what looked like "an overturned car", reported his observation to dispatch and
drove a bit further to investigate. Upon reaching the "vehicle", he spotted what he described as either
children or small adults standing next to it. His presence seemed to startle at least one of them. he then
reported he heard some loud metallic bangs.
Zamora’s sketch of what he saw
Now having left his vehicle, he walked toward the gully and saw an egg-shaped object that appeared
to rest on landing legs. Now in complete amazement, he heard a loud roar come from the object followed
by a bluish flame that shot out from under it. The legs seemed to retract into the vehicle. Zamora, now
struck by fear, dove to the ground fearing the object was about to explode. When it did not, he ran to the
other side of the gravel road and dove into the gully. When it was about 20 feet off the ground, Zamora
reported the vehicle went silent and moved off that way until it disappeared from view.
Oil Painting of Vehicle
Zamora then excitedly radioed dispatch again, to report what he had just witnessed. Soon another
officer, Sergeant Sam Chavez, hearing Zamora's frantic call, arrived at the scene. Upon investigating the
spot where the object had taken off from, they found four marks in the soil where the "landing gear" had
been resting along with a burned bush and some footprints. Zamora later reported he had seen a symbol
on the side of the craft.
There has been some speculation that Zamora, having lost his glasses in hitting the ground, and not
being able to see properly, may have actually witnessed a prototype of what would evolve into the Lunar
Rover Module on a routine test. (After reading up on that a bit, this explanation is something of a reach in
my humble opinion). The case eventually drew the interest of famed UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, who
after investigating the scene and interviewing the officer, called the Zamora incident one of the most
credible sightings he ever encountered.
9. THE 1952 WASHINGTON, D.C. UFO INCIDENT
Actual footage of UFOs over Capital Building
This series of sightings is also know as “The Washington Flap”. On consecutive weekends, July 19-
20 and July 26-27, 1952, air-traffic control at Washington National Airport picked up seven objects on
radar behaving somewhat erratically in their flight patterns. Crosschecks with other radar operators
confirmed the sightings. There was also visual confirmation from one of the towers of a "bright, orange
object" over the city.
Soon more objects appeared all over the radar screens. Worse, they were now over the White House
and the Capitol Building. A call was made to Andrews Air Force Base and while they reported seeing
nothing on their screens, a pilot radioed in that he was witnessing a strange object in the sky. Soon after,
Andrews AFB also confirmed a visual sighting. In short time, even a pilot on the ground awaiting take-off
from Washington National reported seeing objects in the night sky. They were everywhere, or so it seemed
and traveling at impossible speeds.
While radar at National and Andrews were all simultaneously tracking the UFOs, F-94 jets were
scrambled from Newcastle AFB in Delaware were scrambled. Upon arriving in Washington, all the objects
had disappeared. The jets conducted a search of the area and found nothing. Yet when they returned to
base to re-fuel, the objects returned leading some to believe they were monitoring communications. While
the pilots could actually see the objects, they would speed off and vanish when the jets approached. The
following day, newspapers all over the country were breathless in their reporting of the "attack" on the
nation's capital by UFOs.
There were no further sightings until the following Saturday, July 26th. Again radar spotted the
objects and again F-94s were scrambled. The results were much the same as the previous weekend. One
pilot radioed ground control to say, "They've surrounded my plane, what should I do?"
On July 29th, the U.S. Air Force held a press conference conducted by Maj. John A. Samford. He
explained that the phenomena was caused by something called "temperature inversion". A weather
condition where lights on the ground are reflected off clouds, creating the illusion of flying craft. Needless
to say, off-the-record, pilots were amused that they were told they were chasing "ghosts".
It was such a ridiculous claim that Project Blue Book, which reveled in dismissing UFO sightings as
naturally occurring phenomena, labeled the explanation as something of a joke. It remains unexplained
and one of the best cases of UFO activity ever witnessed.
8. THE ILLINOIS UFO SIGHTINGS
On January 4, 2000 at approximately 10:30 pm, a witness in Lake Forest, Illinois, saw a triangular-
shaped UFO slowly and silently drift across the night sky. This UFO was to be seen by four police officers in
four different towns and numerous other civilian witnesses before moving off. The unnamed witness in
Lake Forest remarked that it was as big as a football field.
At 4 am January 5, the object was again seen by a businessman, Melvern Noll, in Highland Illinois.
His report to police said he saw what he thought were windows on the craft which were lit up from the
At 4:12 am, Officer Ed Barton of the Lebanon Illinois Police Department was contacted by a
dispatcher from St. Clair County. She told him that a UFO had been reported and that he should look for it
in his area. At first he thought this was a joke, something out of The X-Files, but was told this was not the
case. To his surprise, he spotted the object heading toward neighboring Summerfield, Illinois. He turned on
his car beacon and headed southeast in that direction.
Barton drove his car in the same direction as the UFO and upon catching up to it, shut off the engine
and siren to determine if he could hear any sound emanating from it and then waited as it headed directly
toward him. Officer Barton reported there were tremendously bright white lights on the craft and a blinking
red light in the bottom center. He also reported the UFO gave off a beam of some kind. The craft hovered
over him for a second, turned silently and moved away.
Sketches drawn by Patrolman Barton of the UFO
At 4:23 am, Barton then radioed the CENCOM dispatch to report what he had seen. While speaking,
he noticed that in mere seconds the craft silently had moved miles away, moving west toward the town of
Shiloh, Illinois. At the same time, Officer David Martin, of the Shiloh, P.D. , who had been listening to the
call from Officer Barton to dispatch, reported he had spotted the triangular object while patrolling in his
cruiser. In his report, Officer Martin also noted the beams of light emanating from the bottom of the craft.
Martin pulled his cruiser to a stop to listen for sounds from the object. It was, as Barton also
reported, totally silent. The underbelly of the craft, according to Martin had structure to it, not a flat
surface. Amazingly, as Officer Martin began to get out of his car, the craft shot off at incredible speed
without making a sound.
Officer Martin's sketch
At 4:28 am, Officer Craig Stevens of the Millstadt P.D. spotted a triangular UFO slowly moving past
his parked cruiser. He, too was monitoring calls and radioed the dispatcher to report seeing the object. The
dispatcher, thinking this was a joke, asked if he was kidding. He replied he was not. The red blinking light
was also noted by Stevens, verifying this was in fact, the same object spotted by the two other officers. In
fact, Stevens description was by all accounts, spot-on. One exception however, was his report that the rear
of the craft had a rectangular bank of lights that went off in straight sequence (think Knight Rider car) and
his observation of a soft hum coming from the vehicle. More strangely, he noted that he could see what
appeared to be stars on the BOTTOM of the craft, as if to cloak it somehow.
Officer Stevens' sketch of the rear of the object
Officer Stevens, thinking quickly, went into the trunk of his cruiser and pulled out a Polaroid camera
and shot a picture of the craft as it moved away from him. Although, blurry, an enhanced version (below)
bears out the fact that something was there.
The final police sighting was by Officer Matt Jany of the Dupo P.D., who like the others was listening
to the calls being made. Jany found himself searching the skies and was soon joined by another officer
with whom he shared a laugh about what they have been hearing. After the other officer left Jany spotted
a light in the distance. As he was close by St. Louis International Airport, he noted the lights were brighter
than normal aircraft landing lights. Calling the control tower there, he was told that they had nothing on
radar. At 5:03 am, Officer Jany radioed Officer Stevens in Millstadt and told him what he had seen. The
episode remains unsolved.
7. THE 1965 EDWARDS AFB INCIDENT
On the night of October 7, 1965, Tech Sergeant Chuck Sorrells was the air traffic controller at
Edwards Air Force Base. At 1:30 am he noticed a bright green light to the east of the tower. There was a
pulsating red light underneath it and a white light that glowed on top. As there was no other air traffic in
the area at that time, Sergeant Sorrells was able to observe the light for a long period of time. He decided
to call the dispatcher at base operations as well as the meteorologist on duty and the Captain of the
interceptor detachment who were all at the base at that time and asked them to go outside to take a look
at what he was seeing. After discussing it with them for a while, Sorrells checked with radar people at the
base who said they didn't have anything on their screens at that time.
A call was then made to Maj. Struble at Air Defense Los Angeles and the director contacted his sites.
At one point in time they had four different radar sites that were reporting this object in the night sky.
After 2-3 hours of observation and debate about the object, F-106 jets (below) were scrambled in order to
possibly confirm a visual sighting and intercept the object. In a short time, there were as many as 12
objects now spotted in the sky. By now, air bases at Norton, Hamilton, George and March were involved as
well as NORAD (who remained on alert in case the situation became "drastic").
Sgt. Sorrell: "The jet [went] up to take a look at it, and they tried to run him in to intercept these
targets. At the very beginning, I had one—the big, large light. Some time later, it was just sitting there,
mostly stationary, but it was too close to the horizon to be a star or anything like that. It was down below
the mountains [and] the hills and stuff, so it wasn't a star, [and] I couldn't correlate for what it could
possibly be. Then, all of a sudden, there [were] three more objects, and they had similar characteristics as
far as the lighting [was] concerned. But these three stayed together. They stayed in a formation and
stayed together, and then moved down to the south of me and sat there, stationary, for a while. A little
later on, three more appeared], but these three [were] individual ones. They would fly individually around
and go north, south, east, west—a lot of maneuvers. At this point I had seven of them at one time. This is
when they decided to scramble the jet interceptor. It was getting way up in the early morning hours by
"They were having no luck intercepting these UFOs. They kept asking me, in the tower, where was
this object in relation to the airplane? The only thing I could do was line him up with my runway, where I
knew what heading he was on in relation to where I was. Then, as soon as he'd get to the end of the
runway, I'd tell him to turn to a certain heading and head straight forward. Well, about three different
times that night, he'd say "contact", and that "contact" means he had contact with something on his radar
in the cockpit of the aircraft. What it was, we don't know to this day. But they were real."
(a complete transcript of Sgt. Sorrell's statement can be found at:
While flying at 40,000 feet the aircraft approached the objects, where upon which the objects would
accelerate quickly and rise straight up leaving the jets well under them. For the remainder of the night, the
UFOs played tag with our aircraft, rising higher and higher into the atmosphere. Sorrells estimated the
UFOs at given points were 80,000 to 100,000 feet in the air.
To illustrate how serious this event was taking place over a secure air base which also housed
nuclear weaponry, here is a partial transcript of a transmission between Capt. Darryl Clark at Edwards AFB
and LA Air Defense.
"Hello. Uh, this is Captain Clark, Alpha Lima."
"Okay. Captain Clark, uh, Lieutenant Reed?"
"Uh, we have some confirmed reports of, uh, some unidentified flying objects your area. "
"Approximately six or more, uh, from Edwards, uh, just south of Victorville, and we'd like to use-- We
have information from 28th --- We also have some height-finder cuts from anywhere from 3,000 up to 13.
They're moving slowly."
"And they're climbing slowly."
"They're red, white and green flashing lights."
"And, uh, they have been confirmed on radar."
"Uh, we can't use any of the alert birds, but do you have another 106?"
"Well, that's all we have."
"That's all you have?"
"That's all we have, (with) six on alert."
"Okay. Just a moment. I'll let you speak to the Senior Director, and maybe I can go ahead and use one of
your alert birds. Uh, they can't establish what these things are."
"Uh, just a second."
"Okay, so they're still trying to decide here what to do."
"You say you might have one?"
"Well, uh, part of my [UNINTELLIGIBLE]. We had one on [WORD?]
one hour. But I believe that's just because, uh, we don't have
that pilot here for it."
"Oh, I see."
"But I'm pretty sure they're all up and loaded."
"He's, uh, checking that out, the, uh, ground crew now. "
"If he does-- If they do it downloaded, then we could pick one."
"If, uh, not then it, uh, we'd have to have authentication on the scramble with, uh, the weapon aboard."
It should also be noted that Edwards AFB has also been the sight of a number of other famous UFO
encounters, the most notable being an incident in 1954. In this case, the air force chose to classify the
sighting as "unidentified". The fact that one particular staffer at Edwards was called to appraise him of the
situation illustrates how serious the military actually was about UFOs despite their insistence to the
contrary. His official title? UFO Officer.
6. THE EXETER INCIDENT
On the night of September 3, 1965, 18-year-old Norman Muscarello was out hitchhiking on Rte. 150
at 2:00 am just south of Exeter, N.H. Norman at one point noticed a group of five bright red lights that
appeared over a house that was by his estimation 100 feet from where he stood. He recalls the lights were
so bright that they lit up the entire area.
Eventually the lights moved out over a large field nearby and began to behave rather oddly. They
would move behind trees and houses and then suddenly reappear. At one point they seemed to come so
close to Muscarello that he dove into a ditch nearby to avoid being hit. This went on for about 15 minutes
before the lights finally disappeared behind some trees and "seemed to go into a field" according to
Muscarello. At one point the UFO bathed a nearby farmhouse in red light. Rushing to the house, Muscarello
banged on the door, but no one answered. He eventually flagged a car down and caught a ride to the
Exeter Police Station to report what he had witnessed.
Earlier that morning at approximately 1:00 am, Patrolman Eugene F. Bertrand was in his cruiser on
the Rte. 108bypass near Exeter when he noticed a car pulled over to the side of the road. He pulled his
vehicle over and stopped there to investigate. He found a woman inside the parked car who told him she
was too upset to drive because a light had been following her car and then had pulled directly over her car
and hovered there. Patrolman Bertrand stayed with the woman for about 15 minutes and surveyed the
area but saw nothing. He then received a call from dispatch asking him to return to the station. There he
found Norman Muscarello, who related his story to him.
Taking Muscarello back to where he had witnessed the lights, they waited in the car and for a time
saw nothing. Thinking the boy must have imagined the whole thing, he radioed back to HQ, who then
suggested they go out and examine the field before they returned. Doing so, they soon witnessed a group
of five bright red lights rising behind some trees nearby. They flashed on one at a time and began to move
around over a field. They came so close to the two men that at one point they hit the ground and Bertrand
drew his service weapon. Bertrand also noticed that although they moved silently, some farm animals in
the area became quite upset and began making a lot of noise. When the lights came at them again, both
he and Muscarello bolted back to the car.
Bertrand then radioed Patrolman David Hunt who arrived in his cruiser shortly thereafter. Hunt also
observed the lights which now were over the field again. They rose to an altitude of about one hundred
feet and finally flew off into the distance. After this, Bertrand and Hunt drove Muscarello home to his
mother's house. According to his brother Thomas, Norman was visited hours later by men from the
military who suggested he say nothing about the incident.
Officers Bertrand and Hunt