Date: November 27, 1976
Location: Milbank, South Dakota, United States
Police radio dispatcher witnesses a large, somewhat egg-shaped object, blue at its base, but flashing multi-colored lights (mostly red) higher up and having two protruding legs or antennae. Object returns again on three separate occasions.
Type of Case/Report: StandardCase
Hynek Classification: ND
Special Features/Characteristics: E-M Effects, Police
Source: William M. Moore, APRO Bulletin, Vol. 25 No. 5 (Nov. 1976)
By William M. Moore Field Investigator
In spite of the fact that he apparently possesses numerous valuable talents, not the least of which is a gift for architectural design, a severe physical problem has forced twenty-seven year old Mike Foss of rural Milbank, South Dakota, to forego a promising career in favor of a less strenuous part-time job as a radio dispatcher for the local Milbank police department. Following a recent divorce, Mike has made his home with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Foss, who live on a farm several miles south and a bit west of the city itself. Although the farm house has apparently been in Mrs. Foss' family for ; cars, the Fosses themselves have on'y occupied the dwelling since June. Norman Foss is a retired nineteen-year veteran of the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
At about 6:30 P.M. (CST) on the evening of November 27, 1976, Mike Foss left a local auto body shop in Milbank intending to return home by car. The weather was clear and crisp — temperature near zero. Travelling south on highway 77 out of Milbank, he suddenly noticed a "tremendously bright, brilliant orange light" - perhaps better described as "a light without a source" -off to the west (right) of him. Almost immediately ruling out the moon, he continued to watch the object for a few moments until turning to proceed westward toward his parents' farm on a gravelled county road. Now realizing that whatever was responsible for the light was hanging over a field alongside the road, Foss stopped for a better look. (Note that he did not leave the car, nor did he notice any peculiar effects on the car's electrical system or engine.) At first thinking that he might be witnessing a helicopter he was not immediately apprehensive about it: however, he soon realized that whatever it was he was observing, was clearly not any sort of helicopter he was familiar with. Now somewhat frightened, Foss "floored the foot feed" and headed for home about a mile and a half away as fast as possible.
Believing he had left the object in the field behind him, he intended to pick up his parents and return to the spot to show them what he had seen. Accordingly, he began blowing his car's horn as soon as he approached the driveway, and, arriving at the house, jumped out of the car and ran into the house yelling to his mother and father to "come quick". They did. Returning back outside with his father, Mike realized that whatever he had left behind in that field was now perched a few feet in the air neatly between the hog house and the barn, about 100 feet from where they were standing(see diagram, figure A). For the next twenty to twenty-five minutes, the three Fosses watched as a large, somewhat egg-shaped object, blue at its base, but flashing multi-colored lights (mostly red) higher up and having two protruding legs or antennae, as it first hovered between the hog house and the barn, and then drifted (or appeared to drift) slowly straight away from them and off to the southwest, diminishing in size and intensity until it finally disappeared in the distance. The changing colored lights on the body of the object were described as being somewhat like a color-wheel used to light up Christmas trees in different colors, except that the colors did not change rapidly, but seemed to "melt" into one another. Orange, white, blue, red, and green were noted. (Mike Foss' concept of the object appears in his drawing of it, labelled Figure B).
Other significant facts in this encounter are as follows:
The distance between the barn and the hog house on the Foss farm is about sixty feet. The barn is located almost due west of the house, and the hoghouse is situated somewhat to the southwest. All three witnesses agreed that when the object was at its closest, it took up fully half the space between these two structures (perhaps 30 feet). Mike Foss' original estimate was that it was "about forty feet wide". Its height above the ground was described as "above the hog house (which is about 15 feet high), but lower than the peak of the barn, which is maybe 35 to 40 feet high".
Just before Mike Foss arrived home from this encounter with the object in the field, Mr. Foss had been watching television in the living room. According to Mr. Foss, just prior to Mike's rushing into the house, the television began to "act up" by rolling vertically. He said that the set had a tendency to do this when a high wind blew the antenna wires around on the roof, and he remembers thinking that a wind must have suddenly come up. (The channel involved was channel 10.) After the object left the area, the television was normal again.
Mr. Foss also states that, upon first going outside with Mike to watch the object, he could hear the sound of what he thought was traffic on the main highway about two miles east of the farm. He felt that "some heavy trucks must have been passing by". He also noticed a jet passing overhead going west, and says that he could clearly hear the aircraft and could see its wing lights. He noticed no other sounds.
All three witnesses recalled that the yard was lit up very brightly - much too bright to have been caused by the moon. Mike and Mr. Foss remembered seeing the moon in an entirely different part of the sky. (Note that the moon was approaching first quarter on the night of the 27th, and would have been riding fairly high in the south at 7:00 P.M.)
Also with regard to the yard being lit up, Mr. Foss recalls that his mercury vapor yard light, located near the barn (see diagram, Figure A.,) was definitely on. (Mike assumed that it was on, but did not notice. Mrs. Foss did not recall) In any event, this is interesting in that the light is operated by a photo-cell which turns it automatically on or off depending on the light conditions outside.
Mrs. Foss, who did not venture outside, states that after a few moments the two men came in to get a pair of opera glasses (6x 1 5) to observe the object better. While they were looking for the glasses, she continued to watch the device from the kitchen window — which faces west and affords a good view of the area in question. She says that at this point the object began to drift away from its original position, moving away from the house at 180° toward the southwest. Then, appearing to have stopped once again, it began to emit, laterally, one at a time, what appeared to be "red balls" of some sort. These seemed to be without substance, were emitted from the sides of the object (but not at the same time) and travelled (or floated) about four of the parent object's diameters from the main body. One ball having reached this distance from the object, it ther "exploded" (noiselessly) into nothing; a which point another"ball" emitted from the opposite side of the device to repi the performance. By the time the men managed to find the opera glasses and return (a matter of perhaps two minutes?) this phenomenon had ceased and the object had begun to recede again slowly to the southwest.
Although all witnesses agreed that the object had two protrusions or "legs" (Mr. Foss referred to them as "struts"), only Mike Foss noticed white lights on the tips of them. Mr. Foss clearly remembered the tips of the "struts" as being dark -- almost "as if the ends didn't quite touch one-another".
About ten miles southwest of the Foss house is a low range of hills averaging about 1 000' higher than the flat plain on which the area surrounding Milbank is situated. This range of hills is visible in the distance when looking south or southwest of the house. It is significant to note that all three witnesses observed that before the object's final disappearance in the distance, it was below this line of hills, and intermingled with some farm lights which can be seen off in the distance.
Mike Foss related that he was not particularly afraid of the object after his initial encounter with it, because, he said, he felt that "anyone who could produce a thing like that could have harmed (him) easily the first time, if it had hostile intent". He also stated that since this first sighting, he had experienced a strange recurrent dream in which he is alone on a hilltop "on a strange planet with a purple sky" watching a number of strange 'craft' maneuvering in the distance. "Some are silver and some are black, and there seems to be a war going on". In addition, he said he clearly felt that the object would return (it did — three times. See following.) and that it will return again. He was unable to explain why he felt that way.
Immediately after losing sight of the object, Mike suggested to his father that they both take a piece of paper and go into separate rooms to sketch what they had seen while it was still fresh in their memory. When they got together again to compare the sketches, they were strikingly similar.
True to Mike's prediction, the strange object returned again on three separate occasions between the initial sighting on November 27, and its most recent appearance at about 8:00 P.M. Saturday evening, December 11th. On two of these occasions, it was sighted only at extreme distances as a bright orange light maneuvering off to the southwest of the house. Because of this distance factor, no positive identification could be made.
On the third occasion, the sighting was strikingly similar to the first. Again the object positioned itself between the barn and the hog house, again the weather was clear and cold, and as before, it remained in the area twenty to twenty-five minutes following the same pattern of slowly receding to the southwest. On this occasion, Mike's automatic police radio band scanner was on in the living room. At the appearance of the object, Mike noticed that the scanner had locked on to frequency seven and was emitting bursts of static. Frequency seven is a VHF frequency (approx. 140 MHz) used by the Minnesota Highway Patrol.
This time, Mike Foss called Milbank police and asked that a car be dispatched. Police Chief Ben Amsden personally came out but by the time he arrived, the object was only a bright light in the distance. (Amsden, however, did notice an orange glow in the vicinity of the Foss farm while proceeding toward it in the squad car.) Also reported to have seen the object, this time in the area of theKMSD radio tower about two and one half miles from the Foss house, are Mr. Don Adams, bartender at the local VFW club, and his wife.
Because of the fact that all sightings were on a clear evening and all were in a westerly direction, this investigator continued throughout the interview with the Fosses (Dec. 22) to nurture the possibility that this case might have its origins in a highly exaggerated sighting of the planet Venus, which is quite prominent in the southwest sky at this time. Having concluded the bulk of the interview, I suggested we go outside to view the area and to check for any abnormal radiation with a Geiger counter which I had brought along. Immediately upon passing through the door of the Foss home (which faces directly south), 1 sighted Venus hanging prominently in the southwest. "Look", I said, "Is that the object you saw!?". "No", replied Mike, "we've been watching that too, but it's a satellite, or a star, or something. That's not what we saw." A similar question to Mr. and Mrs. Foss upon our return indoois (they had remained inside) produced a similar answer. Mr. Foss explained he was familiar with Venus from having seen it so often while on the road with the Highway Patrol. My check for abnormal radiation produced no exceptional results.
Only three other items in this case seem to be worthy of mention. The first is that on Sunday, December 12, 1976, one day after the last sighting of the object (and the second close approach by it), the Foss' seven year old AKC registered german shepherd became ill. (Mr. Foss had obtained the animal in May of 1973.) On the 13th, the dog was examined by a Dr. Dotney, DVM, from Milbank, who diagnosed the problem as an apparent stroke (the animal's veins had collapsed and the dog was in shock) and recommended that the dog be put to sleep. This was done, and the animal was buried where the old outhouse had stood. (The burial site was also checked for abnormal radiation, but again the results were negative.) The Fosses did not consider that there might be any connection between the appearance of the object and the death of the dog. It is also significant to note that the animal had once undergone an operation for tumors of some sort.
Perhaps more interesting is the question of the silo. Just as I was leaving the Foss home, Mr. Foss wondered out loud if his silo couldn't have had something to do with the repeated return (and apparent curiousity) of the object. Upon pursuing this, 1 discovered that completely housed within the Foss' barn is a twenty-foot diameter, thirty foot high all steel silo made of heavy pieces of boiler plate riveted together. He described it as looking like a "missile silo", and speculated that if the object they had seen was intelligently controlled (he thought it was) and possessed any sort of metal detection devices, it might have been understandably curious about what sort of structure was housed in that barn. Silos housed completely within barns are rare. All steel ones are almost unique!
The final item is that upon arriving home and going through my file, I discovered a copy of an old picture I had once obtained from NICAP. Shown in the photo (reportedly taken from aboard the USS Ramsey off the coast of California in 1957) is an object which is strikingly similar to the one described by the Foss.
Case ID: 352
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