|Occurred : 8/25/2003 14:25 (Entered as : 08/25/03 14:25)
Reported: 9/7/2003 1:22:57 PM 13:22
Location: Lompoc, CA
|A shiny, tumbling disk was seen moving slowly to the southeast.
I was just heading out of town (Lompoc, CA, USA) on an overnight trip. I was driving S/E on Highway 1, when I noticed a flashing out of the corner of my eye. I looked out the driver's side window on my left, and noticed a strange disk like object that seemed to be tumbling. The flashing seemed to be from the object reflecting sunlight as it tumbled. I immediately pulled my car over to the side of the road, at the point where Jalama Beach road intersects Highway 1. This is about 8 miles S/E of Lompoc. Vandenburg air force base is about 10 miles to the west of this sighting, and extends to the north.
The object eventually disappeared behind a mountain ridge, the ridge being about 1 mile S/E from my location, and perhaps 1000 feet above my vantage point. I was able to watch this object for about 5 minutes; which gave me enough time to mentally record some facts, which I'll list here: Time: 2:25pm, August 25, 2003 Weather: fair and sunny, warm, no clouds. Wind (at ground level) was calm.
Direction: object was N/E of me, moving S/E, parallel to Highway 1.
Motion: object was moving slowly, possibly drifting in an upper level wind (wind was calm at ground level); moving away from Lompoc, in the general direction of Gaviota or Santa Barbara. The object never changed direction, or speed. It crossed perhaps 90 degrees of open sky over the course of 5 minutes.
Size: object seemed about 1/16 inch in diameter, viewed at arm's length.
Distance: object was greater than one mile away(see above).
Description: object was disk shaped, with a shiny, chrome-like upper side, and a dark, gray or black, non-reflective bottom. The shape was similar to a coin. The flashing I noticed was due to the top side reflecting sunlight as the object "tumbled." No features were visible on the disk itself. The object was completely silent.
Tumbling motion: at first glance, this object seemed to be slowly tumbling as it drifted to the S/E. As I looked more carefully, I noticed that the chrome-like top side remained the top side throughout each "tumble." Perhaps "extreme yawing and pitching" would be a better term than "tumble," with the disk as much as 80 degrees from horizontal at maximum. This "pitching" had a very regular periodicity, lasting about 2 or 3 seconds before repeating. This allowed me to see both the top(chrome-like); and bottom(dark); sides of the object, as well as its' thin cross section, when seen from the side.
Though the object was too far away to be sure, I strongly suspect that the actual motion of the object was a "rotational precession." This is similar to what a spinning coin would do as it slowly comes to rest on the surface of a table. And like a tabletop coin, this would indicate that an upward force was acting on the object.
This object was far enough away to make a positive ID difficult(A pair of binoculars would have been perfect, but I didn't have any). Still, as I watched, I mentally went through a list of what it wasn't. It definitely wasn't: an airplane, a hot-air balloon, a helicopter, a rocket launch (I've seen many from Vandenburg), a piece of mylar scrap, a blimp, or an advertising balloon. It was also flying fairly low over private ranchland, which would make a vehicle of government origin, less likely.
The only rational explanation I could think of was a child's mylar balloon, drifting in an upper level wind. However, a balloon of this type would be far too small for the distance this object was at. They're also too "fat." This object was thin, like a coin. When the object was viewed edge on, it practically disappeared, with only a thin line visible. Also, remember the tumbling? A drifting balloon will remain motionless(no tumbling), as it slowly glides over the ground, since it would be in equilibrium with the prevailing air currents. Was the tumbling then caused by thermals? Probably not, since there was no altitude change, and the motion of the tumbling was quite regular(periodic). I decided, while still watching this object, that the balloon scenario was extremely unlikely.
I searched this UFO database and noticed three other similar cases, oddly enough, all from this general area, one in Laguna Niguel(5/11/2003), one in Goleta(also 5/11/2003), and one in Santa Barbara(8/24/03, one day prior to my sighting). Laguna Niguel is about 150 miles S/E of here, Goleta and Santa Barbara are just down the road, S/E about 30 miles.
Also of note: when viewed on a map, the direction this object was heading was exactly parallel to the Pacific coast, albeit 10 miles inland.
About me: I'm male, 39, 20/20 vision. I have a strong science/math background, and currently work as a teaching substitue at the local high school. I have some flight experience, having once trained as a naval aviator. I've also studied UFO cases for many years, though I prefer to stick with cases involving policeman, military, or pilots. I never expected to see one for myself , though.