- UFO sightings often come in bunches,
like the spate that tantalized southeast Michigan in 1966.
- After a few days of sighting reports
by civilians, on March 17 two Washtenaw County Sheriff's deputies, Sgt.
Neil Schneider and Deputy David Fitzpatrick, said they saw three or four
red, white and green circular objects oscillating and glowing near Milan
about 4 a.m.
- They called Willow Run Run Airport officials
but radar could not confirm the report.
- Two more Washtenaw deputies, Buford Bushroe
and John Foster, chased the same types of objects three days later. Livingston
and Monroe County residents also reported seeing the objects.
- The Detroit News carried the police chase
story and a drawing of a quilted football-like UFO with lights, dome and
- When Dexter Patrolman Robert Huniwell
saw the object at 9:30 p.m. at Quigly and Brand, Washtenaw County Sheriff
Douglas Harvey ordered all available deputies to the scene. Six patrol
cars, two men in each, and three detectives converged on the area. They
chased the flying object along Island Lake Road without catching it.
- Farm owner Frank Mannor and his family
said they came within 500 yards, "It wasn't like the pictures of a
flying saucer and it had a coral-like surface," Mannor said.
- Carloads of students from nearby University
of Michigan and Eastern Michigan converged on the area after hearing radio
- The Air Force sent in "Project Blue
Book" astronomer and UFO expert J. Allen Hynek, who drove around for
two hours and 45 minutes. "Swamp gas" he concluded.
- "Marsh gas usually has no smell,
but sounds like the small popping explosions similar to a gas burner igniting.
The gas forms from decomposition of vegetation. It seems likely that as
the present spring thaws came, the gases methane, hydrogen sulfide and
phosphine, resulting from decomposition of organic materials, were released."
- But William Van Horn, a local civil defense
director and pilot who claimed he had seen the UFOs, was outraged by the
report. A Hillsdale native, Van Horn said he grew up next to a swamp and
knew more about swamp gas than Hynek.
- "A lot of good people are being
ridiculed," Van Horn concluded.
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