|Occurred : 7/17/1994 02:00 (Entered as : 07/17/94 02:00)
Reported: 8/23/2013 1:14:02 PM 13:14
Location: Big Bear Lake, CA
|Dark, absolutley silent, exceptionally fast craft streaks across night sky over San Bernardino Mountains/Desert (CA) [~1994]
I have never reported this officially previously, but have thought over the years that I probably should have, and was not sure quite where or to whom to report, so I selected NUFORC.
From the outset I had the feeling that what I saw was probably an experimental military aircraft of some sort – still a UFO (since it was flying and I couldn't identify it), but not necessarily alien or anything like that. Pre-Apologies for missing some of the details below.
Side note: I am an amateur astronomer, a licensed pilot, former military airborne, and former airline employee (currently a college professor). I have lived and worked around aircraft (and the night sky) for decades. This was nothing like I've ever seen. Here is the story: A regular summer outing for me and my family is to climb up into the mountains northeast of Los Angeles for some quality time together with nature and each other. We were camping at our usual spot (Serrano campground on the north shore of Big Bear Lake) in the San Bernardino mountains of Southern California. One reason I enjoy this site so much is the altitude and clear skies make for some exceptional sky-watching.
After turning in to our tents and sleeping bags one night, everything was quite, when in the middle of the night, about 2am, my two dogs started whimpering. Thinking they just needed 'relief', I grudgingly opened my tent and walked out into a clearing with them. The dogs did not do their usual sniffing around and marking every bush, but instead were acting kind of strange. They both were standing perfectly still and looking up to the same point in the sky, near the eastern horizon. I was puzzled at their behavior and when I followed their gaze up toward the east to try and see what they were staring at -all I saw was a beautiful star-filled sky (no moon). I spent a moment or two enjoying the Milky Way and the stars wondering what had my dogs so captivated and was about to head back to the tent.
Quite suddenly and unexpectedly a dark, triangular shaped object appeared from the east-northeast horizon and travelled at incredible speed from roughly east-northeast to west-southwest. It made not even the slightest sound - absolutely silent - both as it was approaching and as it was receding. It had no lights of any sort, certainly none of the typical aircraft lights I'm very accustomed to (navigation lights, anti-collision strobes, landing lights, etc.). This object was completely blacked-out.
I also distinctly remember that it seemed to be wrapped in some sort of shimmering envelope - kind of like the wavy, transparent mirage you see above hot pavement in the desert. What I thought especially perplexing was that this wavy envelope not only completely surrounded the aircraft – but equidistant was even IN FRONT of the craft - something that seemed highly illogical to me (as opposed to say what one might expect to see with sound waves or disturbed air behind the craft).
There was no contrail/vapor trail, exhaust, or any other trace of its passing. I saw no burners or engine nacelles, no indication of a propulsion mechanism of any kind. Truthfully -I'm not even sure of its exact shape - I only say triangular because in the few seconds I saw it that was the only shape that I related with at the time. That and the slight distortion made by the refractive envelope around the craft made it indistinct.
Since I was already standing at about 7,000' elevation, I estimate the craft was flying at an altitude of approximately 15,000' –about a mile or so above me and perhaps a few miles diagonally north of my position. It seemed to be about the size of a typical commercial/military aircraft (not especially large), though my visual judgment may be substantially in error in this regard –after all it was a dark object on a dark background.
The thing that was most amazing to me about the entire experience was the incredible speed this craft exhibited. This object went in a straight line from horizon to horizon in just a few seconds. Almost as fast as I can swing my head from one side to the other. Unlike any aircraft I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen many) this thing zipped across the sky at meteoric velocity. Further, I was dumbstruck at the complete lack of sound. No engine noise, no sonic boom, nothing. Not the slightest sound of any kind. And this was in the dead of the night –up in the mountains – on a very calm, quiet evening. Even when out with my telescope (I regularly use a Meade ETX125 outdoors) or binoculars, I frequently see even very high-flying aircraft – which always leave a faint sound signature as they pass. This craft was not very high at all and made not a sound.
My first thought was UFO. But I rapidly changed my mind and am fairly confident (though I have no way of confirming this) that this was in fact some type of experimental or 'black project' craft. My reasons for this are as follows: The sprawling Edwards AFB which is only about 50 miles to the northwest of my position (and China Lake not much further – and Groom Lake in Nevada not all that much further northeast, among others) – are all now all but notorious for their experimental aircraft testing. My proximity and viewing angle that evening put me in prime time/place for making a sighting of one of these aircraft if in fact that is what it was.
Also – having been in the aircraft industry for so long, I was already aware of some of the experimental aircraft discussed in the literature, etc. Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works” and Boeing’s “Phantom Works” are all nearby – they have to test these craft somewhere. When I did some research I thought that the closest possible craft looked similar to the TR3B and similar triangular-shaped vehicles speculated to be in testing both then and now. I cannot make a close-enough identification, however, as the craft I saw was highly distorted, and traveling at much too high of a speed to get a very good look at it. It is possible, I admit – that I may be entirely mistaken and saw something else entirely.
In any case, as I stood there in my underwear shaking and stunned (it was also a chilly evening!), my mind raced to compare what I saw to anything in my experience and, well, you've heard the rest. No running or nav lights of any sort, pitch black, surrounded by a weird shimmering envelope, absolutely silent, and by far the fastest moving object I've ever seen - I can't imagine anything moving that quickly from horizon to horizon - and I've seen a lot of airplanes - from strike fighters to commercial and a few odd ones at e.g., the EAA, etc. This was definitely different, and certainly NOT following a whole bunch of the 'rules' I was used to regarding aircraft operations.
So me and my 2 German Shepherds went back to bed in the tent, and the next morning, still shaken, I (hesitatingly) relayed the encounter to a few folks. The response was a collection of strange looks, doubts, sighing-giggles, and a bunch of "sure-whatever”. As may be typical with such observers, I felt such unsympathetic, near-ridicule from my friends and family was all the motivation I needed to keep silent and never mention it again. All I could think of was how transparent such experiences are in revealing what others may think –and I instantly understood why pilots and other professionals are advised to never report or mention anything about such anomalies they may encounter. Like most of them, I suppose, I thus kept silent about it after that.
What changed my mind? I was up at Serrano campground recently and recalled the incident. I was fumbling with a little AM portable radio and stumbled upon Peter Davenport speaking on Coast-to-coast radio show. It seemed just a coincidence, but Mr. Davenport was imploring listeners to file a written report, with lots of emphasis on making a clear, detailed, written report on the UFO Center website. I thought, “OK, Mr. Davenport – you’ll get my report”.
So, my apologies in advance for waiting nearly twenty years to pass this on to someone/somewhere. And, like most aviation and academic professionals, I must admit I am instantly nervous for doing so. Yet, I figure that if all of us always kept silent, then the truth would never be discovered, and that such silence would be of greater detriment to all of us than my silence a potential benefit to me alone.
Thank you and good luck to you and your organization…
((NUFORC Note: Witness indicates that the date of the sighting is approximate. PD))