Investigators: Most Texas UFO reports can be explained

This year's sightings in Stephenville and Dublin likely planets or clouds, but some remain a mystery

FORT WORTH — Most of the 300 reported UFO sightings in Texas dairy country earlier this year were probably planets, cloud formations or stars, according to a group that investigates unidentified flying objects.

But some cases still remain a mystery, said Kenneth Cherry, Texas director of the Mutual UFO Network, which examined the January and February phenomenon in Stephenville and Dublin, about 75 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

"The bottom line is: We really do believe something did occur down there," Cherry said Monday. "That doesn't mean we know what it was, who it belongs to or where it came from. But the large number of witnesses in a small populated area is significant in and of itself."

Still, many Erath County residents are unfazed by the group's logical explanations for many sightings.

"We all know what we saw," said Steve Allen, a pilot and freight company owner. "It had so much technology and was just so far advanced. I know I keep saying it, but I just don't think it was from around these parts."

Although some details differed, many folks reported seeing a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some said its lights changed configuration, disputing suggestions that it was an airplane or secret, experimental military aircraft. They also said it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground than an airplane.

Some reported seeing something unusual in the sky as early as November, but most came forward in January after the local media covered a sighting by at least 10 people, including Allen. He and a few others said they saw fighter jets chasing it Jan. 8.

Although Air Force Reserve officials in Fort Worth initially said none of their planes were in the area Jan. 8, they later said they were mistaken and that 10 F-16 fighter jets were training that night in the Stephenville area.

The Mutual UFO Network's Texas officials then began investigating. They took statements, cell phone photographs and even drawings from witnesses including a county constable, preacher, college professor, teacher, truck driver and business owners in four counties — mostly Erath, the state's top dairy county.

The group also obtained, under the Freedom of Information Act, a Jan. 8 radar image from the Federal Aviation Administration. It showed an object — not a passenger plane but possibly a military jet or unknown object — moving at 700 mph about 6:35 p.m. with no transponder, according to a report in the copyrighted May issue of the MUFON UFO Journal to be released this week. Allen's reported sighting was about 6:15 p.m.

Other "hard-core" evidence was the nearly identical accounts by three law enforcement officers in different locations, Cherry said.

Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan said he saw red glowing lights and then white flashing lights moving rapidly across the sky one night in January. But on two nights in February, he said he saw a different object: a large orb with a triangle shape inside it, with white and multicolored lights, moving across the sky.

Gaitan still isn't sure about the existence of UFOs but said the objects were not a plane, weather balloon, planet or star.

"I wasn't as surprised as the first time I saw something, even though it was different," Gaitan said Monday. "To this day I don't know what it was. I just try not to look up in the sky now."

Cherry said that although the witnesses were credible, some of their descriptions varied widely. He said his investigators were able to determine that many people saw planets, cloud formations or a piece of material from a military jet.

"They're not trained observers, and with all the media attention, they reported it — which we want them to do," Cherry said.

He also said his investigators determined that a 12-minute videotape depicted close-up footage of a star rather than a multicolored UFO zigzagging across the sky.

But Allen, who says he was among the first to see the original video while Cherry's group may have received a copy, said it clearly shows the object moving while trees and houses in the background do not. He said he will "absolutely not" change his mind.

"People continue to see things out here, so whatever it is, it must like us," Allen said.

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