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UFO Case Report:

Security guard sees oval UFO with bright headlights

Date: October, 1977
Location: Walcott, Iowa, United States

An 18-year-old woman saw a pair of bright "headlights" flashing from an oval object moving silently through the skies over Walcott, Iowa, where she worked as a security guard. Her radio and walkie-talkie stopped working, and cows and crickets in a nearby field stood silent. A television in a nearby farm house went blank, she learned later.

Classification & Features

Type of Case/Report: PressReport
Hynek Classification: ND
Shape of Object(s): Oval
Special Features/Characteristics: E-M Effects, Animal Reaction

Full Report / Article

Source: Moline Daily Dispatch (Moline, IL), Jan. 7, 1978

"Area 'encounter' defies explanation"
By Stacey Burling

She's been laughed at, harassed and ridiculed, but the 18-year-old Davenport woman knows what she saw on that crisp, clear night last October.

She declines to be identified for fear of jeopardizing future employment opportunities.

What she saw, she says, was a pair of bright "headlights" flashing from an oval object moving silently through the skies over Walcott, Iowa, where she worked as a security guard.

GLIDING TOWARD HER as she manned a watchtower at the towns French and Heeht plant, the disc obscured a flashing red beacon light on a grain elevator.

Her radio and walkie-talkie stopped working, and cows and crickets in a nearby field stood silent.

A light-sensitive mercury vapor lamp about 100 yards away.from the woman went dark.

A television in a nearby farm house went blank, she learned later.

"At first I wasn't sure what it was, and I just sort of stood there and watched it," she said.

She thought it was a helicopter until she realized it made no noise.

Terrified, she stood frozen outside the guardhouse and watched, Then she went in search of other witnesses. When she returned, the object was gone.

NOW, THREE MONTHS later, her sighting remains a mystery, according to Hazelton, Iowa UFO investigator Ralph DeGraw.

A celestial object -- like a star or planet — would not have blocked out the flashing red light, he says.

The silent movement through the skies is unexplainable, as is the absence of any running lights, he says.

The television, relatively new, was on the same circuit as several lights in the home. The lights stayed on.

BUT THE WOMAN says few people have believed her story.

"They look at me like I'm nuts," she says. "It's like somebody telling you that they'd seen a green elephant."

Her boss1 told her to report the incident to police, but she says the Davenport policeman in charge and three other officers "laughed hysterically" when she told her story.

They did, however, call the Center for UFO Studies in Evanston, which connected her with DeGraw.

Despite the widespread disbelief, she's still convinced the sighting was not a mistake.

"I know what I saw," she says. "I'm not blind."

THE DAVENPORT WOMAN is one of hundreds of Illinois and Iowa residents for whom "close encounters" with UFOs, as popularized in a current film, are more than fantasies.

Fifty-four percent of Americans believe in UFOs, according to a Gallup Poll, and 11 percent claim to have seen them.

During a five-year period ending April 1977 there were 4,026 U.S. sightings reported to the Center for UFO Study. Illinois residents reported 169 UFO sightings during that same period, 54 of which were unexplainable, DeGraw said.

Four of those Illinois reports contained descriptions of occupants seen with the UFOs.

Iowans reported 68 UFOs, only nine of which were unexplainable.

DeGRAW SAYS THOSE figures, however, do not give an accurate picture of how many UFOs actually are sighted in his state. "I really would say that Iowa is second to none as far as sightings made," he says — but Iowans may be more reluctant to report sightings than people in other states.

DeGraw says that, for almost any state, one can estimate there are 10 un-reported UFO sightings for every one reported.

According to the Evanston Center, which has the largest file of UFO sightings in the country, more people in Pennsylvania and California see UFOs than in any other states in the country. During the five-year period, Pennsylvanians reported 554 UFO sightings to the center. Eighty-eight of those were unexplainable, low-altitude sightings, and 33 people reported seeing occupants.

Californians reported 384 citings, including 89 unexplained and 15 containing occupants.

THE FACT THAT THESE two states consistently have more reports than others baffles officials at another national reporting center, Phenomena Research in Seattle. Southern California does have many military establishments and offices connected with the space program, but Pennsylvania remains a mystery. "We just can't figure that out at all," a center employee said.

UFO sightings tend to be more common in the Eastern half of the country than in the West, DeGraw says, attributing the larger number of reports to the dense population.

There also seems to be a concentration of UFO citings near large bodies of water, including the Mississippi River, he says. Hilly and desolate areas also seem to attract the UFOs.

THE MODERN ERA OF UFO reporting began in 1947, when private pilot Kenneth Arnold of Boise, Idaho saw nine disc-like objects while flying over Mount Ranier in Washington, DeGraw says.

Since then hundreds of people have reported UFOs, many of the descriptions providing the basis for those seen in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind.''

A Seattle UFO expert said he was "very impressed" with the UFOs seen in that movie because they "duplicated" the experience of many people who had seen real UFOs.

SCIENTISTS AND UFO buffs are expecting a new wave of UFO reports in the wake of the movie. The Center for UFO Studies already is seeing an "enormous" increase in calls and letters about UFO sightings from all over the country and even Canada.

The Center is receiving 10 to 15 reports of UFOs a day. compared to three to five before the movie's release, center administrator Estelle Postol says. Many people are reporting old sightings, possibly because they didn't know where to report before or were afraid of ridicule.

"What the movie has done is put the subject in a more serious vein," Postol says. The center's director, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, head of the astronomy department at Northwestern University, was a technical advisor to the movie.

Phenomena Research, however, has not seen an increase in calls, and officials there are surprised. "It's been extremely quiet over the whole country," an official there said. "We have been expecting this to happen (a rash of new reports), but we have seen no activity at all."

Case ID: 440 edit: 440

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