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Close encounters of the fourth kind — UFO sightings in the Hudson Valley in 1984

By Ricky Browne

It appears that UFO sightings are being taken more seriously now than ever before.

As the news cycle is dominated today about the ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, the tribulation that the BBC finds itself in over the interview Martin Bashir had with Princess Diana 25 years ago and the continuation of the pandemic, it is news about UFOs that has hit me as the most important and most relieving.

Thanks to a story on the flagship CBS news programme 60 Minutes, and to some remarks from former US President Barack Obama, the issue of UFOs got a lot of attention this week.

OBAMA… we don’t know exactly what they are

In an interview with James Corden on the Late Late Show, Obama took a light-hearted approach when questioned on what he knew about UFOs. But then he said more seriously, “But what is true — and I’m actually being serious here — is that there’s footage and records of objects in the skies that we don’t know exactly what they are.”

Before that, Republican senator for Florida Marco Rubio, speaking about UFOs told 60 Minutes: “I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously,” Rubio said.

Marco Rubio speaks during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill. PHOTO REX/Shutterstock

Well that’s good enough for me.

I for one am very happy about this, as it makes me look slightly less crazy when I say that I saw an Unidentified Flying Object (or perhaps objects) when I was in my first year at Bard College in the autumn of 1984.

The less crazy term for UFOs is UAPs, which means unidentified aerial phenomena. So let me just state that actually saw a UAP.

It was a chilly night, and I had been socialising with two friends Heidi Reischuck and Nick Benson in their dorm room at the Ward Manor on the north Campus where we had played a Yahtzee-like game which used plastic pigs instead of dice.

I know you are probably wondering if I was drinking or taking any drugs. I was not.

So, at around 11:00 I headed back to my room at nearby Robbins, which was a short and lonely walk on a pathway near some tall trees.

I happened to look up into the sky, and there I saw what appeared to be a large disc of lights silently flying below cloud level. I can’t tell you how big the disc was, as there was no point of reference. I cannot tell you how high it was, because I had no real point of reference. But not very high – below cloud level, and below the level of a jet plane.

Looks like a weather balloon to me

I couldn’t see a disc, I could only see lights which appeared to be on the periphery of a disc.

There were at least eight lights visible to me, which appeared to be part of the same object. The speed of the lights did not vary between the lights – and the lights appeared to be close together. The lights were white – and there were no little blinking red lights like the ones you would expect to see on the wingtips of airplanes.

The object or objects appeared to be close enough to me that I would have seen such little red lights if they existed.

The object moved slowly – first towards me from the direction of the main campus, and then continuing on its path away from me. It was never directly over my head.

I looked at this thing and I think I may have got goose pimples, and I thought to myself “Isn’t this just typical – I’d have to be by myself when I saw something like this”.

Ward Manor and Manor Annex on Bard’s north campus

In the near distance was the car park for Manor, and I could see three or four students getting out of a car and happily chatting, blissfully unaware of what was over their heads. I considered for a second yelling out to them and saying “Look! Look at the UFO!” but I knew that they thing would disappear and I would then look like a complete idiot.

So I didn’t say a word, and watched the UFO fly away – kind of relieved that they didn’t beam me up as far as I am aware.

When I got to my dorm, I used the shared phone to call my parents on the in Jamaica to tell them what had just happened. I think that Jamaica would have been an hour earlier than New York, so it wasn’t quite as late there. They were the only people that I thought I could tell this story to and be believed.

I spoke to my mother. “Guess what? I just saw a UFO!” I told her.

My mother replied: “That’s nice dear. And guess what? Suky (my sister’s cat) just had kittens under your bed!”

Not really in the same realm of interest to my mind. Not to mention a little gross.

The next day I went to Kline Commons for breakfast, determined not to say a word to anyone, as I didn’t want to become known as one of the weirdest guys on a campus which celebrated weirdness. As I was still new, I didn’t really know many people.

But I did overhear a group of about three students on the low wall outside the commons. They were apparently based on main campus, (the direction from which the object had come) talking about the UFO they had seen – but described the lights as having been in a V pattern.

Fast forward a couple years later and I was staying at a beach cottage at the Silver Sands Estate on the north coast of Jamaica, with my parents and a few other friends. There were stacks of old magazines around, including many old Discover magazines – which was a Time magazine publication.

Shuffling through them I came across one which had a front cover story with the headline “UFO sightings in the Hudson Valley” – from either late 1984 or 1985.

The magazine cover from Discover magazine

I proudly showed this to my parents, who only then thought that yes, perhaps I really had seen a UFO after all, and I hadn’t been either making a joke or delusional.

Since then I have delicately broached the subject with a few close friends – at least one of whom has told me that he too saw a UFO while flying over Mexico.

So yes. I am happy that Barack Obama has come out now and said that there are official videos of flying objects that the US authorities cannot explain.

A video image showing a UAP taken by the US Navy

Many of my readers know me, and many of them (though no doubt not all) don’t believe I’m a complete idiot, although I may spout views that are diametrically opposed to their own. In this piece I am not expressing a view. I am merely stating what I saw in the sky in upstate New York some 37 years ago. It was for less than five minutes, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

I am sure that at least one person reading this will have had a similar experience. Rest assured you are not alone. And in all probability we are not alone either.

And fortunately, in this day and age of conspiracy theories, and non-vaxxers believing that vaccines are an evil plot which should be avoided at all costs — people who may have claim to have seen a UAP do not necessarily clear the bar of quantifiably crazy. Even if they do, these days they appear to have a billion or so other people to keep them company.

Now – this Unidentified Flying Object that I saw was not necessarily an extraterrestrial aircraft. There are potential logical explanations – including it could have been a hoax, with a group of small aircraft flying in tight formation to give the impression of a flying disc or triangle, or it could have been some (then) new kind of aircraft or drone being developed by the US or by another power. China? Russia? North Korea (lol)?

So while it may not have been extraterrestrial, it was definitely unidentified. And it was flying. And it was an object(s), So that meets the definition of a UFO. Using the more technical term, it was unidentified, it was aerial, and it was a phenomena — or at least I thought it was. One definition of a phenomenon is: a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question. So it meets that definition too.

Now its a lot more fun to believe that it was something extremely advanced, than to believe it was a bunch of hobby pilots having a laugh and possibly risking their lives in the process. Regrettably, that is the more likely answer. But whatever it is I saw, it doesn’t explain away what the US Navy has more recently seen.

My experience was not as Earth-shattering as those imagined in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Mine was more of a less impressive close encounters of the fourth kind-of experience.

I don’t know what the truth is. But the truth is out there.

Congrats for making it to the end of this article!

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