astonishment saw a brilliant glow of light. It was so close to the horizon that it was difficult to tell if it was on the horizon or in the air just above it.
At first the men ignored the light but as it persisted they became more interested. They'd all heard "flying saucer" stories and, they later admitted, this possibility entered their minds.
As they watched they speculated. It could be something natural but all of them had been around this area for months and they'd never seen this light before. About the time they decided to get a telescope and take a closer look the light suddenly faded.
All the next day the men kept glancing off toward the northwest as they worked but the clear blue sky was blank. Then, at 4:00P.M., the light was back. This time they had a telescope.
All the men took turns looking at the object and all agreed that it was about 15 feet long, 5 feet high and solid. It looked like the sun reflecting off shiny metal. It was about four miles away, they estimated, and almost exactly on the horizon.
Now the men's curiosity was thoroughly whetted. Martian spaceship or whatever, they were going after it. But a several-hour search of the area produced nothing. And, as soon as they left the mill they lost sight of the object.
Darkness brought the search to a halt.
The next day at 4:00P.M. a crowd had gathered and the UFO kept its appointment. Again the men studied the object and tension ran high.
Someone had resurrected the stories of UFO's landing in the desert. At the time they'd sounded absurd but now, standing there looking at a UFO, it was different.
A party of men were all ready to jeep out into the desert to make another search when one of them made a discovery. There were guy wires coming out of the UFO and running down into the trees. Other people looked. And then the solution hit like a fireball.
Exactly in line with the UFO, and ten miles away, not four, was a set of antennas for the California State Highway Patrol radio. The sun's rays were reflecting from these antennas. They'd never seen this before because on only a few days during the year was the sun at exactly the right angle to produce the reflection.
The men were right. In a few days the Danby UFO left and it never came back.
Nineteen hundred fifty-eight was not a record year for UFO's. The 590 reports received didn't stack up to the 1178 for 1957, or the 778 for 1956, or the 918 for 1952. But a new record was set when the percentage of unknowns was pared
down to a new low. During 1958 only 9/10 of one per cent of the reports, or 5 reports, were classified as "unknown."
More manpower, better techniques, and just plain old experience has allowed the Air Force to continually lower the percentage of "unknowns" from 20%, while I was in charge of Project Blue Book, to less than 1%, today.
No story of the UFO would be complete without describing one of these unknowns, so here's one exactly as it came out of the Project Blue Book files:
"On 31 October 1958, this Center received a TWX reporting an UFO near Lock Raven Dam. A request for a detailed investigation was sent to the nearest Air Force Base. The following is a summary of the incident and subsequent investigation:
"Two civilians were driving around near Lock Raven Dam on the evening of 26 October 1958. When they rounded a curve about 200 to 300 yards from a bridge they saw what appeared to be a large, flat, egg shaped object hovering about 100 to 150 feet above the bridge superstructure. They slowed their car and when they got to within 75 or 80 feet of the bridge their engine quit and their lights went out. The driver immediately stepped on the brakes and stopped the car. Attempts were made to start the car and when this was unsuccessful they became frightened and got out of the car. They put the car between them and the object and watched for approximately 30 to 45 seconds. The object then seemed to flash a brilliant white light and both men felt heat on their faces. Then there was heard a loud noise and the object began rising vertically. The object became very bright while rising and its shape could not be seen as it rose. It disappeared in five to ten seconds.
"After the object disappeared, the car was started and they turned it around and drove to where a phone was located and contacted the Towson Police Department. Two patrolmen were sent to meet them. The two men told the patrolmen of their experience. The witnesses then noticed a burning sensation on their faces and became concerned about possible radiation burns. They went to a Baltimore Hospital for an examination. Both witnesses were advised by the doctor that they had no reason for concern.
"An extensive investigation was made concerning this incident. However, no valid conclusion could be made as to the possible nature of the sighting and it remains unidentified."
So ended 1958 and in its final tally of sightings for the year Project Blue Book added a new space age touch--earth satellites had accounted for eleven UFO reports.
Nineteen hundred fifty-nine came in with a good one. We used to call these