Bill Pecha nearly freaked him out when he first saw the UFOs. The sight was so frightening that he flung his family into his pickup truck and drove madly down the road in the middle of the night with his lights off to get away from it.
"I thought we were going to get destroyed," Pecha said as he described seeing a UFO about a hundred and fifty feet wide that was hovering fifty feet above his barn, and then two smaller ones over high-voltage power lines nearby.
"It was just a bad nightmare and I don' t want to go through that again, never! It was very ugly. The more I looked, the worse it got and the more details I started seeing. I just couldn't believe what I was looking at."
Pecha, then thirty-nine, lived in the farming community of Colusa, California, sixty miles northwest of Sacramento. Neighbors vouched for his honesty and truthfulness, saying it was beyond reproach. They described him as a calm, reasonable man who didn’t get upset or frightened very easily.
Pecha’s horrifying experience occurred early on the morning of September 10, 1976, and at least seven other people in town saw a brilliant lighted object at the same time. The incident included these other unusual aspects:
● Seconds before Pecha became aware at the huge, silent UFO just above his head, he felt the hair on his head and body stand on end and crackle.
· A policeman who investigated soon after it happened received a shock that traveled up his arm when he touched the still-frightened and agitated Pecha in an effort to calm him down.
· Pecha said the two smaller UFOs hovering over the power lines seemed to be drawing electricity from them. A power blackout affected the area at the same time, but officials said it was caused by a problem in Los Angeles far to the south.
“I had worked until about eleven-thirty that night welding, getting a bankout wagon ready for the rice harvest,” Pecha said. He worked as a self-employed heavy-equipment mechanic who repaired farm machinery, doing much of the work in his shop next to his home.
TV PICTURE STARTS GOING BAD
He was a slender man, five foot eight and a hundred sixty five pounds. We talked in the dining area of his mobile home just west of Colusa.
"I was too tired to sleep,” he said. “The wife and children were asleep, so I took a shower and decided to watch a western movie on TV. I was lying on the couch and all I had on was my shorts."
About twelve-thirty the TV picture began going bad, getting better and then worse. Finally, it just slowly went out completely. At the same time, his air-conditioner went off.
"I had been welding pretty heavy all evening and I thought the transformer had blown, so I decided to go over and flip the circuit breaker back on. I went outside, started off the step… and I felt real strange. I started feeling real tingly, real bad… I thought maybe I had jumped up off the couch too quick.
"As I started walking along the edge of the house, my hair and the hair an my body began standing just straight up and it was crackling like if you run a comb through your hair.
"It was getting worse… and then I looked up. I don't know what made me look up, but I did, and here was this huge object right over the barn and the house. The more l looked, the bigger it was. I guess I kind of panicked.
"The more I looked, the more details I was picking up on. These flexible type cables hung down and this light like an upside down ice cream cone came out of the bottom – but only so far down and the beam of light never touched the ground.
“It was almost as if this thing knew I was there because the minute I stepped out beyond the house it began to move silently away from me, toward the west.
TWO BEAMS OF BLUE LIGHT
“That’s when I began to see the upper part, the dome. The bottom was spinning rapidly clockwise but a smaller part on the bottom was spinning counterclockwise. And as it began to move away, these six hose-like appendages began moving up and suddenly were gone. At the same time two claw-like hooks just curled up on the bottom.
"As these appendages retracted, two little covers opened on the top of the hull and out comes a pair of lights that shined a beam of blue light on the ground.
“I was horrified by what I was seeing. I was trying to holler for the wife but nothing was coming out. I guess I stood there four or five minutes as it slowly backed maybe a hundred to two hundred yards away. Then I noticed these two smaller objects over beyond ‘Slim’ (John) Davis's house a half mile west of here, but they were hovering above these high-powered lines. The lines were glowing red for maybe fifty to a hundred feet out from the towers.
“The little ones were the same shape as the big UFO and they also had these two small lights on either side with blue light coming out of them.”
The towers were about a hundred twenty five feet tall and nine hundred feet apart. The lines run northwest and then turn west toward the mountains half a mile or so beyond the Davis home. Pecha said each object was between two towers, with an open stretch of power lines between then.
(Above is a sketch that Pecha made of the UFO that was over his barn, and at right is a map that was made by the late Paul Cerny, one of the original investigators.)
"Each of the little ones was shining a light blue light on the metal towers near them and the entire towers were glowing blue,” Pecha said. "But inside those shafts of blue light was a darker, jerky stream of blue light that seemed to be flowing toward the UFOs, as if they were drawing electricity from the wires.
"I thought we were being invaded. I didn't know what was going on. I ran into the house, came to this window and could still see them good.
"By this time the big one had gone right between the two small ones and all the way to the foothills about twenty miles west of here – in just seconds!
SMALL UFOS DISAPPEAR INTO CLOUDS
"I ran down the hall, knocking over a chair, and I guess my wife thought the house was on fire because I was making a pretty good racket, hollering for her.
“She got up and I said, ‘You’ve got to come and look at this.’ She came in and looked out this window. The object was over the mountain but pretty soon it came right back toward us and hovered over ‘Slim’ Davis’s house. He has a crop-dusting service there.
"As it came back to the Davis house, the two small ones shot up into the air at forty-five-degree angles, one going north and the other south and just disappeared above the cloud line.
"By now the beam of light was lowered all the way to the ground and it lit up the whole house, the tree line, the hangars, everything. I could see everything in sharp detail.
"I got worried. I figured if it did that to them there's no telling what's going on. I thought it was zapping them – and then it started across the field toward us!
“I told my wife, 'Don't get dressed, just get the kids and let's get out of here!’ ”
Their children, Chris, then ten, and Debbie, six, were asleep in separate rooms down the hall. "She ran in and got Debbie and I got Chris. As I started out the door the TV came back on and the cooler started running. I flipped the switch on the cooler and shut the TV off."
By this time he also had put his jeans back on. “I still had Chris under my arm and I had his blanket all tangled up and I knocked over some more chairs. When I was in his room I noticed it was getting lighter in his window, much lighter. I guess I panicked. I thought, ‘It's coming pretty close.’ "
When they returned home two hours later, they discovered Chris's mattress on the floor and almost in the hallway, mute testimony to the haste with which he grabbed his son out of bed.
TRUCK SKIDS AROUND TURNS
"My wife and Debbie were already in the pickup,” Pecha continued. “I jumped in and didn't turn my lights on. I was afraid we would attract its attention. I put it in reverse, backed around and zoomed off down the road.
"As I was backing out, the object was pretty close. It was going sort of north and was still only fifty to seventy five feet off the ground. It was very large.
"About a quarter of a mile down the road is a side road and as we went past it I could see the object sitting right there beside the road. I really panicked and the wife says, ‘Turn the lights on!'
"I said, ‘Don’t worry, I can see – I don't want to turn the lights on.’ But in the moonlight they could probably see my white camper and as I looked out the corner of my eye I could see it was right there.
"The pickup will only do ninety-five floorboarded," said Pecha, who had driven racecars in destruction derbies for ten years.
The road takes two sharp turns before it reaches town a mile and a half from the Pecha place. Pecha skidded around both, barely making the turns.
“Later, after it was all over, I told my wife I was sorry I drove like a madman but I said I couldn't help it. I was scared."
The road makes a sharp turn at the edge of town, and just around the corner live Leslie and Gayle Arant, close friends of the Pechas.
"I don't know what made me go to their house – I just wanted to get into town with some more people – but I spun around the corner into their yard and slid right up to their door. I almost hit their steps.
“I ran to the door and beat on it, hollering and Gayle came in to the door right away. She asked me what was wrong and suddenly she said, 'My God, what's that?' Well, it was just going out over the field west of us at the time and I said, 'That's what's been at my house.’”
COP GETS SHOCK UP TO HIS ELBOW
Pecha immediately phoned the Davises to see it they were all right. Mrs. Davis answered and assured him nothing had happened to them, only that she and her husband both noticed the weather seemed very warm and that their two small dogs seemed restless.
Then Pecha called the police. Colusa City Patrolmen Bill Wheeler and Peter Grevie rushed to the Arant home.
“We got a call at one-ten in the morning and when we arrived I talked with Mr. Pecha," said Wheeler, then twenty-seven. He filed a formal police report on the incident.
"All he had on was a pair of pants. No shirt or shoes. He was quite upset and I've never seen him that way before. I reached over to try to calm him down – and as I touched him I got a shock.
“You ever touch a circuit that happens to be closed, like when you were a kid and playing with sockets how you touch it and it shocks you? OK, it was the same type of shock, just a sharp shock, a sensation that went up my arm to the elbow.
“The hairs on his arm were standing up also. I thought that was pretty interesting, especially since he was barefoot and we were out on the grass.”
(Experts at both Georgia Tech and MIT said that in theory this should not happen. “In theory, a person walking on wet grass should be able to work up a charge of static electricity within his body, but this is only in theory,” said one. "In practice this is impossible. I would say it is impossible to pass any kind of electric charge to another person."
(The other expert said: "Without having studied the case I would say the police officer should not have received a shock when he touched the men. This is so unusual as to be almost impossible except under rare and remarkable circumstances. If you accept the existence of UFOs, then they could have an electrical system that could build a static electricity charge in people exposed to them.”
(The experts were a professor of electrical engineering at Georgia Tech and a research professor at MIT. Both spoke to me only on condition that they not be quoted by name.)
SCREAMING AT TOP OF HIS LUNGS
The policemen had Pecha phone the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle, Washington and describe what had happened to him. It was only then that Mrs. Pecha – who was still upset and very confused about to what had happened – learned the full story herself.
“I had put the kids to bed about eleven and want to bed myself," said Lenda Pecha, then thirty-four, a computer operator for a public accountant.
"The next thing I remember, Bill – he’s a very quiet person who never yells – is standing at the bedroom door and he's screaming at me at the top of his lungs: 'You've got to get up! It’s going to get us! We’ve got to get the kids out of here!’ He was just screaming. He woke me out of a sound sleep and I said, 'What's the matter?' He said, 'You've got to see what I saw!’
"So I came down the hallway and there are no lights on. He follows me to the window and I pull the shade back and look out. There's a mountain range twenty miles from here and above the mountains I can see this big white light.
"I'm standing there and the whole time Bill has got a hold of me, shaking me and screaming, 'We've got to get out of here! It's going to get us!’
"What scared me more than anything was the state Bill was in. I've been married to him for fourteen years and I've never seen him like this. I couldn’t imagine what was the matter with him.
“I'm looking at this light and there is this cone-shaped light coming down from the bottom. I could see the tops of the mountains as it moved, and then it began coming toward us.
“This all happened very fast, and it started scaring me. The more I looked the bigger it got and suddenly it was right over the Davises’ house. The mountains are twenty miles away and it seemed like in seconds it was right there at the Davises!
"I kept thinking, 'I'm not getting into any pickup with him' because to tell you the truth, I honestly thought my husband had flipped. Then all of a sudden this light is coming out, brighter than any light I have ever seen, and it lit up all those buildings over there at the Davises.
‘MY GOD! WHAT’S THAT?’
“The minute I saw that I started moving. I grabbed Debbie out of bed and I came down the hallway. Bill was still at the window but he ran and got Chris. As he hit the front door, the TV came on and he screamed, 'Its going to see us leaving.’
"That day was my birthday and Bill had gone to town about five o'clock to get me a present and when he came back he left the keys in the truck. Otherwise they would have been on my freezer or in my purse. I hate to think what would have happened if he hadn’t left them in the pickup.
“He slammed the door and started the truck and I can see this light coming down a bit closer. From then on I didn’t look at it because I didn't know what I saw. It bothered me but I was scared more by the state he was in.
“He put it in reverse and our backup lights were almost as bright as our headlights and he started again, 'It's going to see us leaving! My God, it going to get us.'
“He tears down the road without any headlights on. I still don't know how we made it around those corners. He skidded into the Arants' lawn, jumped out and began beating on the door. I was getting out of the truck when I heard Gayle say, 'My God, what's that?’ ”
Mrs. Arant, then thirty-five, a senior librarian's assistant at the Colusa Public Library, said: "I had just gotten up because we had a new puppy and it was crying and our air conditioner had gone off. I was in the kitchen when I heard this pickup come flying down the road and slam on its brakes it front of us, which I thought was odd. I looked out the window and saw it was Bill's pickup, so I ran to the door.
"He came running up the steps, screaming at me to ‘LOOK!’ That’s when I stepped out the door and there was this object a mile or so west of us. It was coming from the west and it went east and then it just flew south.
‘REALLY WEIRD EXPERIENCE’
“It was a very large object with a massive brilliant white light on the bottom and a dark dome on top. I watched it for maybe three seconds before it disappeared. My husband came out in time to see it go off to the southeast. I thought it shot straight up but be thought it veered off. It was very large.
“You don't forget something like that. It scares you to death because it’s something unknown. It was a really weird experience. And to see Bill so upset – this is one thing that really got me because Bill is not a person who gets upset. He was just really keyed up and nervous. It was just unbelievable. I’ve known him for years and I’ve never seen him like this.”
Her husband, Leslie, then thirty-seven and a price clerk at a wholesale plumbing house in Yuba City, said:
"By the time I got to the door, the object was taking off to the south at a rapid rate of speed, climbing as it went until it just disappeared. It was a brilliant white light and I probably saw it no more than fifteen to twenty seconds. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen.
"I've never seen Bill like that before and I’ve known him since we were kids. He was very excited, and by nature he's a pretty calm individual. I was astonished by all this, but I believe him. I have absolutely no reason for not believing him.”
Nor did a number of people in Colusa. Lieutenant Frank Hubbell of the Colusa County Sheriff's Department said:
"Mr. Pecha is well known in the community and his reputation for truthfulness and honesty is beyond reproach. He's not the type to make up something frivolous. He’s a good citizen of the community. He saw something. There's no doubt in my mind about that."
Colusa City Police Chief Raegene (Rae) Cation said: “I’ve never known him to stretch the truth or make anything up. I've had him work on police cars and he's reliable. He wouldn't make anything up. He’s not the type."
OTHER WITNESSES SAW THE BIG UFO
Wilmer Brill, publisher of the Colusa daily newspaper, the Independent Sun Herald, said: “Mr. Pecha has a good reputation – the best."
And Officer Wheeler, who investigated the incident, said: "I’ve known Mr. Pecha for a long time and I’ve never known him to make up stories or even to tell tales. He’s not that type of person."
Pecha was not the first person to report a UFO that night. Fred Harris, seventeen, had gone to the Sheriff’s Department a few minutes earlier to report that he and his mother had seen a strange object in the sky west of their home. The Pecha home was almost due west of their house.
"My mother was in bed and I was watching TV when the power went out,” young Harris said. “She came in and we lit the hurricane lamp and went out to see if it was just our house or our block or the whole town that was out.
“We saw this bright light in the sky off toward the west. It moved toward the foothills and then it came back and it took off down the valley toward Sacramento. We watched it for maybe ten or fifteen minutes.”
His mother, Mrs. Elaine McGowen, who worked for an ambulance service, said: "It was out in the same area where the Pechas live. It was just a great big bright light. We watched it hovering, then it moved off a bit, came back and then all of a sudden it went southeast. When it went southeast toward Sacramento, it was like somebody turned a light switch. It went off.
"My son reported it to the sheriff's office and we found out the next afternoon that we weren’t the only ones who had seen it and other people had seen it a lot worse. So we thought we were quite fortunate."
A woman who lives half a mile south of the McGowen home also saw the object but would not let her name be used. “I was awake when the power went off and I walked out to the street to see what was going,” she said.
‘MASSIVE, BRILLIANT LIGHT’
“When I turned around and walked back to the house, I could see this big light pulsating in the sky west of here in the direction of the Pecha house. I watched it go off toward the mountains and come back and then it disappeared in the south. I called Mr. Pecha the next day to tell him he wasn't the only one who saw it.
"I didn't report it to the police because people make fun of you. I know of at least one other woman who also definitely saw it because I talked with her and she didn’t report it either. And I've heard of a few others who also reportedly saw it but I haven't talked with them yet.”
When I talked to Gayle Arant, she drew a sketch (below) showing an object with a round, disc-shaped bottom and a large dome on top.
"I'm really bad on how large things are but it was really a very large object,” she said. “The whole bottom was a massive, brilliant white light. And the top of it was dark in the middle. You couldn't see any windows or anything but you could definitely see the whole outline of the object.
“I don't know if this was from the light being so bright and throwing a glare so I could see the outline of the top or because of the type of metal it was made of. But it was very clear that the outline of the dome was there."
The power lines where Pecha saw the two small UFOs are part of the Central Valley Project, a federal power system, while the company that supplies electricity to the Colusa area is the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
A PG&E spokesman in San Francisco said a number or communities throughout California experienced a blackout ranging from two to fourteen minutes that night.
He said it was caused by something that had happened in Los Angeles. He said the power normally came into southern California from Arizona but because of a disturbance of some kind in Los Angeles, an overload was caused at a substation in Victorville, west of Los Angeles. This in turn caused the power to be re-routed north through Nevada and down into northern California, thus affecting Colusa and other areas.
Another PG&E official said there was no connection between the Central Valley Project power lines and those of PG&E and that if something affected the CVP lines, it would have no affect on those of PG&E.