|Occurred : 8/5/1967 21:00 (Entered as : 08/05/1967 21:00)
Reported: 10/10/2005 10:20:13 PM 22:20
Location: Fort Smith, AR
Duration:Multiple events over 3-4
|Sixties mass sighiting in Fort Smith recounted by military pilot witness.
This refers to the sighting mentioned earlier in this site over Fort Smith, AR in the Summer of 1966 or 1967. I believe the date to be August rather than July, but otherwise the same event.
I was 11 or 12 years old at the time. I am a retired USAF fighter pilot, so this event has always been a memorable event. I remember the accounts at the time of the three lights, although that is not what I and my parents saw that evening.
A relative called about 2100 all excited about the UFOs that were "about to land out near the airport" (where else?). What the previous writer failed to mention was the significance of the Coca-Cola bottling plant locaton. The Coke plant was within a half mile of the Fort Smith Municiple Airport.
Fort Smith is quite hilly with tall trees. The area around the airport provides the largest view of the sky, Therefore was the area where people congregated to see the sights that evening. Local AM radio station KFSA (there were'nt any FM stations in town yet) had set up a mobile broadcast near the airport to provide a live account of the sightings. As I remember, the first name of the on-air personality was Bill. The station normally ended its daily broadcast at midnight, but stayed on well past midnight for this event. A sizeable crowd gathered there and could be heard in the background on the radio.
My parents and I stepped out into our back yard to take a look at about 2100. We saw only a yellow/orange/white single light moving slowly along the southern sky on a westerly heading. It was moving slowly; about normal final approach speed for aircraft of the day. There was no sound. The radio reporter and people near him were watching the same object. Surprisingly, the object began to accelerate until it was going so fast, I lost it in the trees. This would certainly have been impressive accerlation for any aircraft of the day, or today. Yet I heard nothing like afterburners or any jet noise. My dad went to bed, but my mom and I stayed up to watch and listen to the radio.
It was an extremely clear moonless night. For quite a while nothing happened. The radio reporter was running out of much to say when suddenly at about 0100 the crowd that could be heard on the radio became excited. The reporter stopped mid-sentence to look then said, "Yes, out of the northwest..."
We looked and there was the most fascinating sighting. An object of very distinct shape was traversing the sky on a southeasterly heading at what, even today after all my military flying, I would say was very high altitude and very fast. The shape was razor sharp and clear; a V or boomerang shape. There was no sound and no visible contrail. As an 11-year old, I had chills. It was a little scary at that age.
Interestingly, the object slowed as it neared the southeastern horizon (the direction of the airport from our house), turned west and appeared as the earlier orange slow moving light. Nothing more was seen by us that night or following nights. Local newspaper articles recounted the event the next day. They reported contacting Little Rock AFB about the sighting. They reported no activity in the area.
So, what was it? In all my military flying from 1977 until 1997, I never saw anything like this; nothing not easily explained. So, the memory of this childhood sighting, witnessed by hundreds, has been a mystery.
I have three theories. At the time, Little Rock AFB had a wing of B-58 Hustler strategic bombers. The B-58 was a supersonic delta wing bomber that was one of the first to be built with new structural technologies and materials. The skin of the aircraft when supersonic (certainly the leading edge of the wing) would become extremely hot. I suspect that the 1am object might have been a B-58 on a high altitude night supersonic dash over the city. What we saw was the glowing hot leading edge of the wing.
Another possiblity with regards to military aircraft of the day that this might have been is the XB-70 high altitude experimental supersonic bomber. Only two were built and tested. One was certainly still flying at the time, although one crashed near this time. The XB-70 was also a delta wing, but much bigger and faster than the B-58. Certainly, it could have been this aircraft in a high altitude dash which heated the leading edge of the wing creating the very visible V shape.
Finally, the SR-71 Blackbird (or early variant) was flying by this time and could have done this.
Where was the sound? Too high to be heard. Sonic booms and jet noise dissapate from high altitude (over FL350) before reaching the ground...or so I have theorized. I suspect that there are USAF records (flight logs, training records, maintenance records, etc) available to the public regarding these three aircraft that could be researched to see if my theory is correct that this sighting was one of these historic aircraft...stirring up a lot of Arkansans...and one boy's dream of flight.
((NUFORC Note: Witness indicates that the date of the sighting event is approximate. PD))
((ADDENDUM FROM WITNESS, DATED OCTOBER 21, 2005 @ 12:31 HRS.))
Results of research on Ft. Smith chevron sighting.
This is a follow-up to my recent post here regarding the specific chevron-shaped object. I have since done some research that would dispel two of my theories.
I contacted a retired B-58 crew member who confirmed that the leading edge of the wing did not glow when supersonic.
I have also researched the possiblity of the XB-70. The Final Report on the the XB-70 program published in 1972 lists every flight of each of the giant delta wing aircraft. A/V-2 had already crashed by the time of this sighting. A/V-1 was flying.
I have been unable to determine if the XB-70 did any night flying, or flying significantly away from Edwards AFB, CA. From reading the chief test pilot's summary, I would highly doubt that this aircraft did either. It was a very complex aircraft, often having malfunctions requiring unique support. To intentionally stray from its support base would be doubtful.
Also, it was a very crudely equipped and instrumented aircraft in its experimental form. Its single TACAN worked poorly, requiring the crew to rely heavily on FAA ATC for help with navigation.
There is one long-shot date of possibility. The aircraft flew on 8/24/67 for over two hours, reached over Mach 2, and an altitude of 58,000 feet. If the actual sighting that I witnessed occured on this date, it would be an interesting coincidence.
So, I believe that leaves this sighting on mysterious footing. Other possible aircraft of the day are the CIA A-12 Blackbird and its followers, the YF-12 and SR-71. That will take more research and will probably be more difficult to find records in the public domain.
((NUFORC Note: We express our gratitude to the source of this report for his having done such nice investigative work regarding his sighting. PD))