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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 9/1/1999 21:30 (Entered as : 09/01/99 21:30)
Reported: 9/23/1999 06:50
Posted: 3/11/2003
Location: Saddleback Fire Lookout- Tahoe Natl. Forest- Downieville Dis, CA
Shape: Unknown
Duration:approx. 30 seconds?
16 Sept 99 5:11 P.M. After hearing Ron (sic) Davenport this afternoon, on the local radio station in Nevada City, CA (KVMR-FM), I decided to give my account of the sighting on 01 Sept 99. Being fairly isolated up on this mountain, I had been wondering if anyone else saw what I saw that evening in the northern sky. Here's the account, word for word, that I wrote the morning of 03 Sept 99 in my journal. Having heard the show, I now think my timing is off for the duration of the event.....having believed it was a group of meteorites when I wrote the following, and couldn't imagine such an event taking longer than 12-14 seconds to traverse that expanse of the horizon. It's easy to lose an accurate sense of time at moments like this. Written on Friday morning, 03 Sept 99 "It was one of two things. I convinced myself they were probably man-made, but now I suspect otherwise. Around 9:30 p.m., after the Drew Carey Show, I went out to ((deleted)) for a change. Looking up in the NNW sky, just below the Big Dipper, marched a gang of light trails headed eastward. I couldn't believe what I was seeing at first.....one of those wonderful all-too-rare gapes. (I think it may have something to do with the surprise of finding myself at the right place - at the right time. Sad, that.) The motion was steady, but slower than most, if not all, meteorites I've seen before....and so many all together at once. At least eight, four in the front group, were visible during the last couple of seconds, which I viewed with the binocs. I wanted to dash for them sooner, but stood transfixed, unwilling to take my eyes off something so amazing for the first 8-10 seconds. As they seemed to head toward Reno, I took a chance, got the binocs, and watched them 'flame-out' one by one. It's through the binocs that I counted the eight.....there could have been a couple more in the progression, earlier. The duration caused me to suspect military craft of some sort, that didn't want to be seen as they approached Reno, so perhaps they cut their engines one by one and flew in a slightly disarrayed order to throw off any observers, and glided back to some secret place in the Nevada desert. But if they were aircraft, they moved fast, albeit subsonic, and the lit-up trails of gas are something I've never seen before at night. Could the smoke particles that have been lingering for over a week cause that? Went out again the next night (02Sept99), and noticed another meteorite lower to the horizon, redder, a little faster and only a few seconds in duration.....but definitely a meteorite. So I've changed my mind....from a conspiricy of craft, to a cluster of rocks....maybe billions of years old, coming into land. So incredibly better than a movie." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A couple of notes in retrospect......using the Osborne Firefinder (using true N), I later approximated the portion of the horizon from when I first noticed the objects, to the time of 'flame out', to go from ~330° to ~80° from my position, or about a 110° span. A very rough guess, but they seemed to be approximately 7° vertical from the mountaintop when due N. The mention of smoke above refers to the large fires that had been raging on the Plumas N.F. for the prior week. I thought perhaps some of the particles might have scattered higher into the atmosphere and caused the light trails, but evidently not if others saw the trails prior to the objects reaching the Sierras. I believe the trails were rather greenish in color, though I'm not sure I trust my hindsight on that. I now believe the duration of the sighting was probably closer to 30 seconds, but still don't quite understand what I was looking at. Were all those objects with light trails, F-15's with afterburners on, as was mentioned in the radio show? Were there really at least eight of them? In any case, it still gives me goosebumps when I recall the amazement of the moment. Now if I can only figure out how to be in the right-place-at-the-right-time more often.......…