The "LEITCHFIELD LIGHTS"
As background for our study of the phenomena that took place near Leitchfield, Ky. during the early to mid 1980s, we're reprinting these excerpts from a 1992 article by Danny Brandenburg which appeared in "UFO Universe." After video of a bright light "flitting" around the skies of Grayson County was aired on Louisville TV, reporter Brandenburg drove to Leitchfield for an on-the-scene investigation. The following is his report.
Arriving in Leitchfield, I contacted the Leitchfield "News-Gazette" reporter Jeanna Carnes, who had written the original story published the day after the occurrence. Carnes told me the New-Gazette had received six or seven phone calls that night.
Afterwards, I went to the Leitchfield Police Station and spoke to the on-duty dispatcher who told me the department had logged several phone calls concerning the lights and had sent officers out to investigate. I asked for the Emergency 911 logs and found that Officer #104, Joe Brad Hudson, had been the closest to the light and had chased it a considerable distance.
I drove directly to the area the residents believed the main and brightest light to have been located. This is where I met Allan and Marlene Sheckles who first saw the light at about 10:00 p.m. after their neighbors, Roger and Julie Casey, contacted them. The Caseys had been watching it for just over and hour before calling the Sheckles. The couple described a blue "halogen-looking" light sitting stationary about 35 to 45 degrees above the eastern horizon. From time to time, explained Sheckles, there would also be some smaller red lights flashing on the object he described as being about two to three times brighter than Venus. He told me he had used his binoculars to view the light but could not see any features or apparent movement.
Over the next few days, I attempted to speak with Officer Hudson several times to no avail. Never would he return my calls. I was, nevertheless, able to piece together part of Hudson's story from television interviews and from information obtained at the police department.
About 15 minutes after the first call to the Leitchfield Police, Officer Hudson rushed down Highway 88 to meet the light. According to one interview, Hudson claimed he did indeed observe the object he described as hovering stationary over him. The officer explained the UFO was probably a weather balloon or an atmospheric distortion of Mars, a theory given to him by another caller to the police station. Even with such an explanation, Hudson appeared to have been very excited about the event. To him, apparently, the UFO did not seem at all a natural astronomical occurrence.
[Brandenburg was unable to interview other 911 callers, Chris Lee and Tim Wilson, but did speak with Tina Hartlage, the first to contact the local police.]
Hartlage claimed she and two of her children, Stacy and Jason spotted an object at about 8:45 p.m. Stacy saw it first, exclaiming, "Look, Mom, a UFO!" In response to her child's cry, Tina slowed the car, looked to the sky and replied, "Oh, my God, I can't believe it's real!" Tina described the rotating craft as "saucer and egg-shaped" with large windows, perhaps three, running from nearly the top to the bottom of the object. The "windows," which appeared only as white lights, seemed to be the only light source. She stopped the car to look at the object for a moment, it appeared to be descending in her direction and then [it] slowly moved away. "It was so close, you could see what it was. You didn't see just lights..."
Frightened, Tina locked the doors on her car and quickly left the scene, heading for the safety of her home where she called the police department. "The lady at the police station asked me if I could have mistaken the lights from an airplane. I lived by an airport for several years and used to watch them waiting to come in and land. What I saw was no airplane!" Hartlage, and her family, went back to the area almost an hour later and didn't see anything.
"When this first happened, my daughter and I had horrible migraines…that was one of the reasons I didn't want to be on camera to be interviewed [on TV] …the headaches were just so bad. Hartlage ended her story by saying, "People will think you're crazy. Ain't nobody gonna believe you unless they see it. There's nobody that can change my mind about what I saw. I know what I saw."
David and Mona Fulkerson heard about the sightings on their police scanner. With their video camera in hand, the Fulkersons went outside and began taping. They described the light as slowly rotating and changing colors from time to time. Their video, although of low quality, like most night videos, shows a white light bouncing quickly around the screen.
The Fulkersons' videotape was handed over to Officer Hudson who allowed Louisville television stations, WHAS and WAVE, to make copies. WAVE magnified the image of the UFO and distributed the video to other NBC affiliates. The police department later returned the tape to its owners.
The Fulkerson couple also mentioned that they heard another report over their police scanner that the Annetta Fire Department chased a light at 5:30 a.m. [the morning after the Leitchfield sightings.]
Austin Wooden, police chief of nearby Clarkson, claimed to have seen up to 20 lights moving randomly through the sky on two different occasions. Police Chief Wooden also described a "jumping and flitting motion." He noted that the largest of the lights was a round object that was changing colors….red, green, and light blue…. "It just kept dancing. It didn't go anywhere, it just moved back and forth."
After driving out in the country to get a better look, Wooden saw the other lights. "We noticed directly over the car about 20 more, but they were smaller. They were the same color and moved around just like the big one. Two of the small ones shot straight across the sky. They weren't falling stars, but it did only take a split second for them to cross the sky."
Leitchfield's police department made several calls to try to identify the UFO. Nearby Ft. Knox, the Indianapolis Flight Center, and the Bowling Green Airport all said they had no aircraft in the area and they simply had no information on the lights.
I spoke to many, many people while visiting Leitchfield and found that their stories, with the exception of a few minor details, all agreed. [Differences in witness vantage points] allow the object's location to be partially triangulated and indicate a relatively low altitude. This excludes a star or high-altitude weather balloon which should always be seen in the same direction.
Using computer calculations, Brandenburg also ruled out the bright planets as possible IFO's; Venus and Mars were below the horizon at the time of the reports, and Jupiter and Saturn, though visible, would have been seen in a part of the sky different from the UFO's position.]
There is still no conclusion on the identity of the lights, though there is clearly enough weight to the witnesses' reports to substantiate a very spectacular event. For now, the Leitchfield sightings are yet another mystery to add to the pages of UFO history.