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When Planets Attack.... (Illinois UFO sighting)

Loy Lawhon, About.com

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: A summary of the Illinois UFO sighting, including a description of events and excerpts of transcripts from the police officers who witnessed the events.


Southeastern Illinois
January 5, 2000
4:01 a.m.

It had been a cold night, and Melvin Knoll, the owner of a miniature golf course in the area, had driven to his business to make sure nothing had frozen. When he got out of his truck he noticed what appeared to be a star on the northeastern horizon. Thinking nothing of it at this point, he went on about his business. When he returned to his truck a short time later, he noticed the light in the sky again. This time he looked at it a little more closely, because it seemed to be coming towards him. As he watched, the object came closer and closer, and he could see red lights shining down from it. As it drew closer, the object grew in size until it seemed to as tall as a two-story house and as long as a football field, with windows and a bright light on the inside, shining towards the front of the object. The object moved silently and very slowly as it passed near him, continuing on its leisurely way in a southwesterly direction. As it passed his position, he noticed that from the rear the light was dimmer.

Thinking that no one would believe him unless he could show the object to another witness, he got in his truck drove to the local police department in Highland. He told the dispatcher what he saw and requested that she notify the next community in the path of the object to determine if they could see it. The police dispatcher from Highland contacted the Central Communications dispatcher from St. Clair County, who in turn asked the Lebanon Police Department to look out for the object.

At 4:10 a.m., having heard the announcement about the incident, a Lebanon police officer looked to the southeast from his location, where he noticed a bright object suspended in the sky. It looked like two very bright lights close to one another. The two lights were so bright that the officer said it looked like "the Japanese 'Rising Sun' symbol on the horizon.'

The officer took off south and east with his lights flashing in an attempt to approach the object. After few minutes, the two lights appeared to merge into one light, and the object seemed to be traveling toward him. He stopped his vehicle and rolled down the window on the passenger side of his vehicle. As he watched, a triangular-shaped object silently passed over him at an altitude of about 1,000 to 1,500 feet, headed in a northwesterly direction. Changing its leisurely pace, the object suddenly accelerated off to the west at high speed, covering several miles in just a few seconds. This behavior was also seen by a Shiloh police officer, who reported the object as shaped like a large black arrowhead.

The Lebanon officer advised St. Clair County Emergency Dispatch, of the direction that the object was moving and recommended that they contact units in Millstadt and Dupo, to the west.

The next to see the object was Officer Craig A. Stevens' of Millstadt. His report is on the Millstadt Police Department Homepage:

On January 5, 2000 at approximately 4:28am 1, Officer Craig A. Stevens was on Patrol in the Village of Millstadt. I was monitoring radio traffic when I heard a report via CENCOM, that the Highland Police Department had a report of a large object flying in the air. CENCOM dispatched Lebanon P.D. to respond. I heard Lebanon state, is the guy 10-55. Later I heard Lebanon state that he observed the object, and that it headed in the direction of Shiloh, and to have Shiloh P.D. be on the look out for it. I then heard that Shiloh had spotted the object.

I drove to the east end of town to see if I could observe the object. Then I drove to the north end of town, in the Liederkranz Park parking lot. While I was sitting there I observed a very large flying object coming from a southward direction. The object was flying very low from 500 to 1000 ft., and was flying very slowly. The object was making no noise. I could only hear a very low decibel buzzing sound. Then the object began banking to the north east direction, and continued to cruise away from me toward the area of Dupo.

I contacted dispatch, and advised them that I had spotted the object. I exited the patrol car, and took the Polaroid camera from the trunk, and attempted to take a picture. The camera was very cold. The temp was only approximately 18 to 20 degrees outside, and the picture did not seem to exit the camera properly.

I heard Dupo P.D. advise CENCOM that they quite possibly observed the object, but it was at a very high altitude.

I returned to the station, and drew a rough sketch of the object, typed a report of my observations.

Officer Stevens' photo and drawing may be seen at UFO Cincinnatti.


Below are excerpts from a seven-minute recording of the St. Clair County police dispatcher talking to officers:

Dupo officer: 6004, this is 3923 on County (radio channel)2.

Millstadt officer: 6004, go ahead.

Dupo officer: I'm not sure what you're seeing. It appears to be pretty high in the area. When I could first see it with binoculars, you could see it was different colors. Now it appears to be white.

Millstadt officer: Is it very large?

Dupo officer: It's hard to tell. It's pretty far off in the distance.

Millstadt officer: This object was above me about 500 feet. And it was huge.

Dupo officer: This thing appears.... it's probably 20 or 30,000. It about where planes usually are. It's not low at all.

According to the testimony from the police officers, the flight path of the object was in a southwesterly direction from Highland, over Lebanon, Shiloh, Millstadt and then turning northwest to Dupo. The NIDS site has a map of the flight path. That flight path would have taken the object almost directly over Scott Air-Force base. Officials at Scott AFB denied that they had anything in the air at that time. There is some indication that this same UFO may have been seen coming in over Lake Michigan late on the night of January 4.

In the March Skeptics UFO Newsletter (SUN) #62, Philip Klass suggests that what was seen was... (don't be shocked...)...Venus! Well, there's an excellent rebuttal of that hypothesis by NIDS, but anyone with a good astronomy program on their computer can check this hypothesis, as I did:

Let's see.... the UFO was first sighted on the northeastern horizon at 4:01 a.m. by an observer in Highland, Illinois. Where was Venus at that time? According to my astronomy program, Venus was 4 degrees below the southeastern horizon. Even if there were a refraction layer, creating a looming effect, it wouldn't move a superior image from southeast to northeast. The object grew closer until it seemed to be the height of a two-story house and as long as a football field. Sound like Venus? At 4:10, when Venus was still 2 degrees below the southeastern horizon, the object flew in from the south and then banked to the northeast, as seen by an observer in Lebanon. (Johannes Kepler would roll over in his grave at the thought of Venus banking to the northeast!) Finally, the object flew over Millstadt at 4:28 and then disappeared to the northwest after being spotted from Dupo. Where was Venus? Venus rose in the southeast at 4:25 a.m., but it wouldn't have been visible to most observers until 4:30 or later, because the horizon was mostly obscured by trees or buildings. At 4:28 a.m. the police dispatcher was alerting officers to the west and northwest of Millstadt, because that's the direction the object was seen to be heading. Venus would have been barely above the southeastern horizon.

The National Institute of Discovery Scienceis continuing to investigate the Illinois sightings. Visit their site for updates.

This area of Illinois and just across the river in Missouri were also the location of a number of reports of a blue or green UFO on the night of July 4, 1997.


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Illinois UFO Sighting