|Occurred : 2/4/1989 23:30 (Entered as : 02/04/89 23:30)
Reported: 10/31/2002 12:54:53 PM 12:54
Location: Mahogany Hammock (Everglades Park), FL
|Orange/gold colored glowing metallic disk, 1/4 mile away, only 50-100 ft above ground, slow moving, no sound, no navigation lights.
Mahogany Hammock, Florida has a boardwalk trail popular with hikers and bird watchers. There is a large parking area which is also very popular with local astronomers during 'new moon' weekends. The land is flat with groups of trees being the only things sticking up here and there. (see park map at www.nps.gov/ever/map.htm) WHO.
Approx. 25 people where in the Mahogany Hammock parking area during this sighting although I am not sure if only a half dozen people actually saw it. The rectangular shaped parking area's longest sides run on about east/west orientation, my wife and I were set up on the north side near center with our 12.5" and 8" inch telescopes. Observing conditions were clear and steady, visibility unlimited, very dark, no moon, an excellent and cool nite. Everyone was busy observing or photographing Messier or NGC objects. The usual lone observer, mingling small groups, and muted conversations were all evident. By the way, dark adapted eyes are needed for deep-sky 'visual' observations such as nebulae, distant galaxy clusters, etc. and no white lights were allowed. Only very dim red flashlights were seen around the area. I should mention that deep-sky observers avoid viewing the planets since their brightness will ruin 'dark adaptation' for a long time. If by accident anyone opens a car door and white light is seen...angry screams always follow! Dark adaptation is guarded by all. Anyway, it was one of those perfect nights you rarely get...especially on the weekend...so everyone was head down into sky charts or squinting into eyepieces on their quests to log as many objects as possible on their personal observing "hit lists"! I came to believe this is one reason why only a few of us saw the craft or were even interested enough to look at it! I still can't believe only a few of us said anything about it. Thankfully, my wife was there. We both saw it, and this fact has made my homelife easier as I probably would never mention it if I would have been alone. I mean people think you are crazy or something, you know, because of all the official 'denial' going on about these things.
Anyway, please excuse my ramble, but it does point out the irony that this happened to people who know the sky and know what is up there! WHAT.
The details as I remember them. Sometime around midnite I heard a man's voice to the west of me say, "There's something flying over there!" So I looked about due west and also saw this bright object hovering just over the trees about a 1/2 mile away. It may have actually came up out of the trees we don't know for sure. At first glance it was bright with orangish/goldish color. At second glance, a few seconds later, there were no navigation lights, no strobe lights, no sound! It was a glowing disk and it wasn't flying in the sense of 'aerodynamic' flight. As a former private pilot I am aware of the factors of flight: when lift and thrust overcome weight and drag anything will fly. Also, the FAA regulations require red (left) and green (right) nav lights on the wingtips and white strobes and all aircraft. This disk was a 'craft' but it was not flying. Floating along through our atmosphere in spite of gravity is a better description (than flying). As an amateur astronomer, I can tell you this was not Venus, not Jupiter, not the Moon and not swamp gas. It was a low level sighting of a craft that was moving about 10 mph. We observed it for about 12 minutes or so until the trees obscured it as it slowly disappeared to the south of us in the direction of Flamingo, FL.
I should mention that it changed direction twice. I first saw it above the trees to our west. It was heading east, at us. Then it slowly headed ESE just missing us to the south of our position and only about 1/4 mile or less away. This was our best view as it remained just above the nearby treeline for the length of the parking lot. I quickly lowered my telescope enough to catch a glimpse, but the focuser didn't move enough to focus clearly at this short distance and the guide scope was a Telrad which has no magnification. However, we could easily see, with just our eyes, that the basic shape was a slightly domed disc looking about twice as wide as it was high. It had its own colorful luminosity yet it was metallic looking, sleek and strangely beautiful I thought. My guess at the time was 30 feet diameter craft and about 16 feet high with the domed part being on top. We were on the north side of the parking area and so we had the best angle of view over the trees to the south. This may also explain why the people in the other parts of the parking area didn't or couldn't see it. As I am writing this, I am thinking this may be the biggest reason why not everyone saw it. Also, it is interesting that being among many astronomers that nobody, including myself, hollered out for everyone to 'check this thing out'...fear of ridicule probably..or disbelief at what we were looking at... who knows why! So, by the time it was passing close along the treeline in front of us, I knew this was no airplane, no blimp, no balloon. Oddly, at the same time, there was a small private plane flying (I flew Cessnas) a few miles away to our right and we could hear its engine and see the navigation lights and strobe but the disk shaped craft that was gliding by us was much closer and was not making a sound! Eventually, the disk turned south and went out of my sight. It somewhat paralleled the park road that leads past West Lake and then to Flamingo, FL. My last view of it was when I was standing on the bumper of my van and stre! tching t o see it go behind the distant treeline several miles away. It was at a very low level at that time also.
Feb 1989 PS.
It is funny but we never thought or talked about this sighting for many years. No special reason why. It's just that...you know...you have to get up the next day and go to work, and put the kids through college and all that. So it goes into the back of your mind for later recall if needed. Since then, but only recently, I have been reading up on the UFO topic. When I heard an interview with Travis Walton and Mike Rodgers, it hit me that the description of the craft they saw in 1975 sounds identical to what we saw in 1989 and I just wanted to put it in writing. I realize that this is an old sighting but I just wanted to add my two cents and say, "I know they are out there!", period.
Thanks, and keep up the good work.