TOP UFO ENCOUNTERS BY KEN DECOSTA       UFO enthusiasts everywhere have read about and examined particular cases that stand out in their minds above all others. These are the sightings that seem to defy all logic and effort to explain them and remain the best evidence of visitation by possible extraterrestrial life forms. What follows is a personal list of such events and some details that surrounded them as well as the principals involved. There, of course, will be some debate over those included and those left off and I wouldn't have it any other way. So with that in mind, in no particular order, here is my list of the Top 50 UFO Encounters Of All Time.      THE  SOCORRO, NEW  MEXICO SIGHTING   Socorro Patrolman Lonnie Zamora            At 5:45 PM on April 24, 1964 a sighting occurred that included two of the elements vital in the validation of actual UFO contact: 1) a reliable, credible witness and; 2) physical trace evidence. Socorro policeman Lonnie Zamora, on a routine patrol saw a vehicle speed past him and took off in pursuit. What seemed at the time like a routine traffic stop would soon become one of the most important UFO sightings ever recorded and alter his life forever.            While in pursuit of the vehicle, Patrolman Zamora first heard, and then saw what he described as a loud roar followed by flames rising into the air some distance away. He then made the choice to abandon the chase and instead rush to the area of the explosion to investigate. At this point he radioed dispatch and informed them of his intent and location. There was some fear on his part that a nearby shack containing dynamite had exploded.            Zamora eventually drove his patrol car down a narrow, unpaved gravel road that ran along a shallow gully. He thought he saw what looked like "an overturned car", reported his observation to dispatch and drove a bit further to investigate. Upon reaching the "vehicle", he spotted what he described as either children or small adults standing next to it. His presence seemed to startle at least one of them. he then reported he heard some loud metallic bangs. Zamora’s sketch of what he saw              Now having left his vehicle, he walked toward the gully and saw an egg-shaped object that appeared to rest on landing legs. Now in complete amazement, he heard a loud roar come from the object followed by a bluish flame that shot out from under it. The legs seemed to retract into the vehicle. Zamora, now struck by fear, dove to the ground fearing the object was about to explode. When it did not, he ran to the other side of the gravel road and dove into the gully. When it was about 20 feet off the ground, Zamora reported the vehicle went silent and moved off that way until it disappeared from view.            Zamora then excitedly radioed dispatch again, to report what he had just witnessed. Soon another officer, Sergeant Sam Chavez, hearing Zamora's frantic call, arrived at the scene. Upon investigating the spot where the object had taken off from, they found four marks in the soil where the "landing gear" had been resting along with a burned bush and some footprints. Zamora later reported he had seen a symbol on the side of the craft.       There has been some speculation that Zamora, having lost his glasses in hitting the ground, and not being able to see properly, may have actually witnessed a prototype of what would evolve into the Lunar Rover Module on a routine test. (After reading up on that a bit, this explanation is something of a reach in my humble opinion). The case eventually drew the interest of famed UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, who after investigating the scene and interviewing the officer, called the Zamora incident one of the most credible sightings he ever encountered.     THE  1952  WASHINGTON, D.C.  UFO INCIDENT   Actual footage of UFOs over Capital Building           This series of sightings is also know as “The Washington Flap”. On consecutive weekends, July 19-20 and July 26-27, 1952, air-traffic control at Washington National Airport picked up seven objects on radar behaving somewhat erratically in their flight patterns. Crosschecks with other radar operators confirmed the sightings. There was also visual confirmation from one of the towers of a "bright, orange object" over the city.          Soon more objects appeared all over the radar screens. Worse, they were now over the White House and the Capitol Building. A call was made to Andrews Air Force Base and while they reported seeing nothing on their screens, a pilot radioed in that he was witnessing a strange object in the sky. Soon after, Andrews AFB also confirmed a visual sighting. In short time, even a pilot on the ground awaiting take-off from Washington National reported seeing objects in the night sky. They were everywhere, or so it seemed and traveling at impossible speeds.                                                                                                                         While radar at National and Andrews were all simultaneously tracking the UFOs, F-94 jets were scrambled from Newcastle AFB in Delaware were scrambled. Upon arriving in Washington, all the objects had disappeared. The jets conducted a search of the area and found nothing. Yet when they returned to base to re-fuel, the objects returned leading some to believe they were monitoring communications. While the pilots could actually see the objects, they would speed off and vanish when the jets approached. The following day, newspapers all over the country were breathless in their reporting of the "attack" on the nation's capital by UFOs.            There were no further sightings until the following Saturday, July 26th. Again radar spotted the objects and again F-94s were scrambled. The results were much the same as the previous weekend. One pilot radioed ground control to say, "They've surrounded my plane, what should I do?"          On July 29th, the U.S. Air Force held a press conference conducted by Maj. John A. Samford.  He explained that the phenomena was caused by something called "temperature inversion".  A weather condition where lights on the ground are reflected off clouds, creating the illusion of flying craft. Needless to say, off-the-record, pilots were amused that they were told they were chasing "ghosts".          It was such a ridiculous claim that Project Blue Book, which reveled in dismissing UFO sightings as naturally occurring phenomena, labeled the explanation as something of a joke. It remains unexplained and one of the best cases of UFO activity ever witnessed.      THE  ILLINOIS  UFO  SIGHTINGS            On January 4, 2000 at approximately 10:30 pm, a witness  in Lake Forest, Illinois, saw a triangular-shaped UFO slowly and silently drift across the night sky. This UFO was to be seen by four police officers in four different towns and numerous other civilian witnesses before moving off. The unnamed witness in Lake Forest remarked that it was as big as a football field.          At 4 am January 5, the object was again seen by a businessman, Melvern Noll, in Highland Illinois. His report to police said he saw what he thought were windows on the craft which were lit up from the inside.          At 4:12 am, Officer Ed Barton of the Lebanon Illinois Police Department was contacted by a dispatcher from St. Clair County. She told him that a UFO had been reported and that he should look for it in his area. At first he thought this was a joke, something out of The X-Files, but was told this was not the case. To his surprise, he spotted the object heading toward neighboring Summerfield, Illinois. He turned on his car beacon and headed southeast in that direction.          Barton drove his car in the same direction as the UFO and upon catching up to it, shut off the engine and siren to determine if he could hear any sound emanating from it and then waited as it headed directly toward him. Officer Barton reported there were tremendously bright white lights on the craft and a blinking red light in the bottom center. He also reported the UFO gave off a beam of some kind. The craft hovered over him for a second, turned silently and moved away.   Sketches drawn by Patrolman Barton of the UFO            At 4:23 am, Barton then radioed the CENCOM dispatch to report what he had seen. While speaking, he noticed that in mere seconds the craft silently had moved miles away, moving west toward the town of Shiloh, Illinois. At the same time, Officer David Martin, of the Shiloh, P.D. ,  who had been listening to the call from Officer Barton to dispatch, reported he had spotted the triangular object while patrolling in his cruiser. In his report, Officer Martin also noted the beams of light emanating from the bottom of the craft.          Martin pulled his cruiser to a stop to listen for sounds from the object. It was, as Barton also reported, totally silent. The underbelly of the craft, according to Martin had structure to it, not a flat surface. Amazingly, as Officer Martin began to get out of his car, the craft shot off at incredible speed without making a sound.           Officer Martin's sketch            At 4:28 am, Officer Craig Stevens of the Millstadt P.D. spotted a triangular UFO slowly moving past his parked cruiser. He, too was monitoring calls and radioed the dispatcher to report seeing the object. The dispatcher, thinking this was a joke, asked if he was kidding. He replied he was not. The red blinking light was also noted by Stevens, verifying this was in fact, the same object spotted by the two other officers. In fact, Stevens description was by all accounts, spot-on. One exception however, was his report that the rear of the craft had a rectangular bank of lights that went off in straight sequence (think Knight Rider car) and his observation of a soft hum coming from the vehicle. More strangely, he noted that he could see what appeared to be stars on the BOTTOM of the craft, as if to cloak it somehow. Officer Stevens' sketch of the rear of the object            Officer Stevens, thinking quickly, went into the trunk of his cruiser and pulled out a Polaroid camera and shot a picture of the craft as it moved away from him. Although, blurry, an enhanced version (below) bears out the fact that something was there.            The final police sighting was by Officer Matt Jany of the Dupo P.D., who like the others was listening to the calls being made. Jany found himself searching the skies and was soon joined by another officer with whom he shared a laugh about what they have been hearing. After the other officer left Jany spotted a light in the distance. As he was close by St. Louis International Airport, he noted the lights were brighter than normal aircraft landing lights. Calling the control tower there, he was told that they had nothing on radar. At 5:03 am, Officer Jany radioed Officer Stevens in Millstadt and told him what he had seen. The episode remains unsolved.                       THE  1965  EDWARDS  AFB  INCIDENT            On the night of October 7, 1965, Tech Sergeant Chuck Sorrells was the air traffic controller at Edwards Air Force Base. At 1:30 am he noticed a bright green light to the east of the tower. There was a pulsating red light underneath it and a white light that glowed on top. As there was no other air traffic in the area at that time, Sergeant Sorrells was able to observe the light for a long period of time. He decided to call the dispatcher at base operations as well as the meteorologist on duty and the Captain of the interceptor detachment who were all at the base at that time and asked them to go outside to take a look at what he was seeing. After discussing it with them for a while, Sorrells checked with radar people at the base who said they didn't have anything on their screens at that time.          A call was then made to Maj. Struble at Air Defense Los Angeles and the director contacted his sites. At one point in time they had four different radar sites that were reporting this object in the night sky. After 2-3 hours of observation and debate about the object, F-106 jets (below) were scrambled in order to possibly confirm a visual sighting and intercept the object. In a short time, there were as many as 12 objects now spotted in the sky. By now, air bases at Norton, Hamilton, George and March were involved as well as NORAD (who remained on alert in case the situation became "drastic").            Sgt. Sorrell: "The jet [went] up to take a look at it, and they tried to run him in to intercept these targets. At the very beginning, I had one—the big, large light. Some time later, it was just sitting there, mostly stationary, but it was too close to the horizon to be a star or anything like that. It was down below the mountains [and] the hills and stuff, so it wasn't a star, [and] I couldn't correlate for what it could possibly be. Then, all of a sudden, there [were] three more objects, and they had similar characteristics as far as the lighting [was] concerned. But these three stayed together. They stayed in a formation and stayed together, and then moved down to the south of me and sat there, stationary, for a while. A little later on, three more appeared], but these three [were] individual ones. They would fly individually around and go north, south, east, west—a lot of maneuvers. At this point I had seven of them at one time. This is when they decided to scramble the jet interceptor. It was getting way up in the early morning hours by that time."          "They were having no luck intercepting these UFOs. They kept asking me, in the tower, where was this object in relation to the airplane? The only thing I could do was line him up with my runway, where I knew what heading he was on in relation to where I was. Then, as soon as he'd get to the end of the runway, I'd tell him to turn to a certain heading and head straight forward. Well, about three different times that night, he'd say "contact", and that "contact" means he had contact with something on his radar in the cockpit of the aircraft. What it was, we don't know to this day. But they were real."          (a complete transcript of Sgt. Sorrell's statement can be found at:          While flying at 40,000 feet the aircraft approached the objects, where upon which the objects would  accelerate quickly and rise straight up leaving the jets well under them. For the remainder of the night, the UFOs played tag with our aircraft, rising higher and higher into the atmosphere. Sorrells estimated the UFOs at given points were 80,000 to 100,000 feet in the air.          To illustrate how serious this event was taking place over a secure air base which also housed nuclear weaponry, here is a partial transcript of a transmission between Capt. Darryl Clark at Edwards AFB and  LA Air Defense. "Hello.  Uh, this is Captain Clark, Alpha Lima." "Okay.  Captain Clark, uh, Lieutenant Reed?" "Yeah." "Uh, we have some confirmed reports of, uh, some unidentified flying objects your area. " "Okay." "Approximately six or more, uh, from Edwards, uh, just south of Victorville, and we'd like to use--  We have information from 28th --- We also have some height-finder cuts from anywhere from 3,000 up to 13.  They're moving slowly." "Uh huh." "And they're climbing slowly." "I see." "They're red, white and green flashing lights." "Uh huh." "And, uh, they have been confirmed on radar." "I see." "Uh, we can't use any of the alert birds, but do you have another 106?" "Well, that's all we have." "That's all you have?" "That's all we have, (with) six on alert." "Okay.  Just a moment.  I'll let you speak to the Senior Director, and maybe I can go ahead and use one of your alert birds.  Uh, they can't establish what these things are." [01:19:05:13] "Yeah." "Uh,   just a second." "Yes, uh,..” "Okay, so they're still trying to decide here what to do." "You say you might have one?" "Well,  uh, part of my [UNINTELLIGIBLE].  We had one on [WORD?] one hour.  But I believe that's just because, uh, we don't have that pilot here for it." "Oh, I see." "But I'm pretty sure they're all up and loaded." "Yeah." "He's, uh, checking that out, the, uh, ground crew now. " "Okay." "If he does-- If they do it downloaded, then we could pick one." "Uh huh." "If, uh, not then it, uh, we'd have to have authentication on the scramble with, uh, the weapon aboard." "Yeah."           It should also be noted that Edwards AFB has also been the sight of a number of other famous UFO encounters, the most notable being an incident in 1954. In this case, the air force chose to classify the sighting as "unidentified". The fact that one particular staffer at Edwards was called to appraise him of the situation illustrates how serious the military actually was about UFOs despite their insistence to the contrary.  His official title? UFO Officer.                                                  
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