A number of people have seen UFOs shoot so high into the sky that theyre lost among the stars. But how high is that? How high can they go?
We dont know the answer to those questions, but UFOs have been tracked on radar at some rather incredible speeds and heights.
One instance occurred in March 1951 and involved the U.S.S. Dyess, a Navy destroyer on picket duty about one hundred twenty five miles southeast of Cape May, New Jersey.
"We were afraid the Russians were going to bomb Washington at that time because we had gone into Korea," Dr. Robert Wood, a former lieutenant commander who tracked a UFO, told me.
"We were plotting all the aircraft going north and south along the coast and inland as far as the Appalachians, and any objects that were coming in from the northeast, the east and the southeast."
At that time, Dr. Wood was the ship's operations officer and an air controller, manning one of the ship's radars.
"On this particular night it was about eleven thirty this object came in from the east and got within about thirty miles of us when it just stopped dead.
"It had been moving rather slowly, about eighty-five to ninety knots. We didn't have the altitude-determining radar on at the time and we had to get one of the operators to come up. When he did, we found the object to be somewhere in the neighborhood of three thousand to four thousand feet.
"This object gave us a blip
on the radar screen about the size of a large aircraft... I phoned the
bridge and they informed the captain, who ordered the ship to head out
in the direction of the object.
"We got within about fifteen miles of that object when it suddenly took off in a northerly direction at a very high rate of speed. It was going so rapidly that as the radar turned we could see the blip just jumping across the screen. We estimated it was going five thousand kilometers an hour, or roughly three thousand miles an hour.
"Then, when it got within thirty five or forty miles of Nantucket, it suddenly just took off and went straight up!
"I called the bridge and said, 'We're losing contact, the object is fading,' And the operator on the altitude-determining radar in the other end of the room said, 'NO! I've got it! It's a hundred miles high and it's going straight up!
The object then faded from the second radar.
"We reported it to the Pentagon, but we never heard anything more about it," said Dr. Wood, who at the time I talked to him was a professor of astronomy and director of the observatory at Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Florida.
"That was in 1951," Dr. Wood said. "I knew radar and I knew what it could do. We didn't have any aircraft that could go that fast, especially after it came and hovered. And then when it got up near Nantucket, it just went straight up and disappeared."
A somewhat similar incident was related to me in May 1975 by Kenneth Leland. At that time he was the principal of an elementary school in Superior, Wisconsin, and a lieutenant colonel in the Minnesota Air National Guard.
The incident he was involved
in occurred in 1959. At that time Leland was the weapons systems officer aboard
a two-man jet interceptor. He held the same rank and responsibilities
He held the same rank and responsibilitieswhen I talked to him in 1975.
"We were scrambled up after a UFO that was over a radar station northeast of Duluth," Leland said. "I was standing alert with the Air Defense Command out of Duluth Air Force Base and at that time there were quite a few UFO sightings.
"On this particular case, the UFO we were involved with was a definite target return on the radar of our plane. That is, we could see it on our radar.
The UFO was actually over the radar station at Finland, Minnesota, about seventy-five miles northeast of Duluth. The people at the radar base had picked it up. We heard on the radio that some of the fellows at the radar site had gone outside and when they looked up it was hovering over the station.
"Then we made radar contact and the people on the ground said the UFO went from a thousand feet to two hundred miles high and left the area completely in a very brief amount of time. We never saw it. By the time we got there, it was gone."
That's a pretty good climb rate, two hundred miles straight up and disappearing in a matter of seconds.
Some skeptics dismiss radar stories, claiming radar is unreliable and will pick up every bird, flea and "anomalous propagation," meaning ghosts of things that aren't there, as a way of explaining away every "unknown."
In both of these cases, however, two radars tracked the UFOs simultaneously, and in the Minnesota case witnesses on the ground saw the UFO as well.
(For similar reports,
see Great Balls of Fire!)
(For similar reports, see Great Balls of Fire!)