While the big NICAP-Air Force battle was going on the UFO's were not waiting to see who won. They were still flying.
At Ellington AFB, Texas, a Ground Observer Corps team spotted a UFO and passed it on to a radar crew. Although the radar crew couldn't pick it up on their sets they saw it visually. The lieutenant in charge told investigators how it crossed from horizon to horizon in 45 seconds.
On March 9, several passengers on a New York to San Juan, Porto Rico airliner were injured when the pilot pulled the big DC-6 up sharply to miss a "large, greenish white, clearly circular-shaped object" which was on a collision course with the plane. The pilots of several other airliners in the same airway confirmed the sighting.
Two weeks later jet interceptors were scrambled over Los Angeles to look for a UFO.
According to the records, the first report of the brilliant and mysterious, flashing, red light came from a man in the east part of Pasadena. But his report was quickly lost in the shuffle as more and more calls began to come in. As the flashing light crossed the Los Angeles Basin from southeast to northwest hundreds of people saw it. Traffic was tied up on the Rose Parade famous Colorado Boulevard as drivers stopped their cars to get out and look. As it neared the Air Defense Command Filter Center in Pasadena the filter center personnel, those that could be spared, went out and looked. They saw it. Police switchboards lit up a solid red as it crossed the San Gabriel Valley.
Near midnight a CAA radar picked up unidentified targets near the Oxnard AFB, at Oxnard, California (northwest of Los Angeles), and at almost that identical time people on the airbase saw the light
This did it, and two powerful jets, equipped with all weather radar, came screaming into the area.
But it was the same old story--no contact--the UFO was gone.
The midwest was visited on the morning of May 23rd, when five observers in Kansas City saw four silver, disc-shaped objects flying in formation at extremely high speed. At one point during their flight two of the objects broke formation and veered off but soon rejoined. It took the objects only four minutes to cross the sky.
There were other reports during the first half of 1957, 250 of them to be exact, and many could be classified as "good." But they were nothing compared to those that were to come.
On November 3, 1957, a rash of sightings broke out in Texas and they had a brand new twist. To do things up right the powers that guide the UFO picked
the town of Levelland only 27 miles west of Lubbock, the home of the now traditional "Lubbock Lights."
It was with a tug of nostalgia that I read about these reports because five years before, almost to the day, Lubbock had plunged the Air Force, and me, into the UFO mystery on a grand scale.
According to the best interpretation of the maze of conflicting stories, facts and rumors about these famous sightings the only positive fact is that there were scattered storm clouds across West Texas on the night of November 4, 1957. This was unusual for November and everyone in the community was just a little edgy.
It was early in the evening, at least early for West Texas on a Saturday night, when Pedro Saucedo, a farm worker, and his friend Joe Salaz, started out in Saucedo's truck toward Pettit, ten miles northwest of Level-land. They had just turned off State Highway 116 and were heading north on a country road when the two men saw a flash of light in an adjacent field. Saucedo, a Korean War Veteran, and Salaz didn't pay much attention to the light at first. They only noticed that it was coming closer. "It seemed to be paralleling us and edging a little closer all the time," Saucedo later recalled. Still neither man paid any attention to the light. They drove on, Saucedo watching the road and Salaz talking.
Then it hit.
The first signal of something wrong was when the truck's headlights went out; then the engine stopped. Before Saucedo could hit the starter again he glanced over his left shoulder. A huge ball of fire was "rapidly drifting" toward the truck. Without a second's hesitation Saucedo did what the Korean War had taught him to do when in doubt, he shoved open the car door and hit the dirt.
Salaz just sat.
"The 'Thing' passed directly over my truck with a great sound and rush of wind," Saucedo later told County Sheriff Weir Clem, after he'd started his truck and had driven back to Levelland. "It sounded like thunder and my truck rocked from the blast. I felt a lot of heat."
The "Thing," which disappeared across the prairie, looked like a "fiery tornado."
Five years before and a little east of where Saucedo and Salaz were "buzzed" I had talked to two women who described almost an identical UFO. And it remains "unknown" to this day.
In Levelland, the two men's story would have been enough to keep Sheriff Clem busy for the rest of the night but between the hours of 8:15P.M. and