UFO Investigator Probes
'Best Close Encounter' Yet
By Michael Sangiacomo

Denise Knitz saw a strange egg-shaped object in the sky as she drove along Interstate 75 near Bowling Green. It was low and slow, kissing the treetops until it suddenly streaked across the night sky.
At least 17 other travelers say they also saw the object Oct. 31.
John Timmerman of Lakeview, near Lima, was not one of the 18, but he smiles when he talks about it. He says Knitz's sighting may be the best "close encounter" he has investigated in more than 50 years because it had "multiple, credible witnesses giving the same very specific information."
Timmerman, treasurer of the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago, has been investigating mysterious objects in the night sky and silvery discs in the daylight since 1948. Even though he has "never been blessed with the experience" of having seen a UFO himself, the 77-year-old retired banker from Lima is convinced that something is out there.
"I believe that the source of these sightings is extraterrestrial," he said. "We're being visited by something from a place so different that we can't even comprehend it. People always criticize the lack of a perfect, clear photograph of a UFO. Maybe these things cannot be photographed at all."
Skeptics like Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the physics department at Case Western Reserve University, argue that believing UFOs are piloted by extraterrestrials is ridiculous.
"Consider the enormous amount of time and energy that would be needed to get here," he said. "It would take the energy of a star to do it. And why would they do it just to drop in and take off again? Also, the government has a huge amount of software to detect anything entering our atmosphere. They would see it."
When asked about government surveillance of UFOs, Timmerman laughed at alleged disinterest by federal authorities.
"The government pretends not to care about UFOs," said Timmerman. "How could they ignore something with that kind of impact? I think the government has been having high-performance aircraft taking pictures of these things for years. They don't need us to tell them about UFOs; they know all about them."
The official line
Timmerman worked closely with the late J. Allen Hynek, the founder of the Center for UFO Studies. Hynek worked with the U.S. Air Force on Project Blue Book, the official investigation into flying-saucer sightings from 1952 to 1969.
The Air Force concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove the existence of alien visitations. Timmerman said Hynek was unhappy with the reports and complained that the Air Force investigators merely used him for legitimacy in the UFO field.
Timmerman noted the thousands of reports each year from people across the country who say they saw strange things in the sky. The reports come from police officers, pilots, professionals, politicians - people from all levels of the social strata.
Krauss said that in order for scientists to take note of alien life, someone would have to come up with extraordinary evidence, such as a chunk of alien technology, or a chunk of an alien. Photos and eyewitness testimony, no matter how credible, are not enough, he said.
So volunteers such as Timmerman continue to plug along, looking for that unimpeachable sighting. He approaches his job cautiously, looking for logical explanations to the phenomena.
Defying explanation
Over the years, he has interviewed several thousand people who claimed to have seen unidentified flying objects. He said most of the sightings are easily explained as high-flying aircraft; the bright planet Venus (often mistaken for a UFO); advertising blimps; or hoaxes.
"Then there are the sightings that we cannot explain," he said. "Those are the ones I investigate."
Ohio, with 356 sightings, ranks ninth in the nation for the overall number of UFO sightings since the mid-1980s, according to the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle. The Web site at www.nwlink.comᴦocntr/ lists brief reports on all the sightings.
Timmerman, who concentrates on sightings in Ohio, wishes he could conduct more thorough investigations, but he is constrained by time, travel and finances. He has no high-tech laboratory to study soil samples or plant fibers but consults with scientists and astronomers frequently.
"At the very least, I document what happened," he said. "I have thousands of reports filed by people who have seen UFOs and hundreds of taped interviews. I'm just one guy, but I do what I can. I feel I can at least pass on this wealth of information and raw data to someone who will take up where I left off someday."
He said he has become something of an expert in interviewing people who have seen UFOs, and he can spot a prankster in a minute.
It was real'
He was thrilled to speak with Knitz, 42, of Bloomdale, who contacted him because no one else seemed very interested in what she and others saw that Halloween night. "She and the others saw something very extraordinary," he said. "I would love to know exactly what it was."
Knitz said she was making a delivery for Chuck's Pizza in Cygnet and had just gotten off the Cygnet exit of I-75. She looked right, toward a field, and saw something she will never forget.
"This black craft drifted out over the trees," Knitz said. "It was sort of like an egg on its side with this weird blue-white glow at the back. It was about the size of three cars and had no wings, no wheels, no tail. It was perfectly silent. It was headed right over I-75, not very high off the ground, and it just hung there."
"Then it pivoted about 30 degrees and there was a big burst of light from the back of it and it took off," she continued. "It was there one second, gone the next, leaving a trail of light across the sky."
Knitz said she delivered the pizza, then returned to the area, where she met Tim O'Neil, a classical piano teacher from Michigan. He and a friend were driving home from a Florida vacation. The UFO was still visible.
"It was not far from where I was before," she said. "The man [O'Neil] pointed out over the woods and the thing was there, hovering above the trees. This time, it had orange and green lights on it. They said they tried to get closer to it, but when they did, their car started to lose power. They turned around and fled."
She said she was going to report the sight to police, but O'Neil did it first.
"Our bad luck was that it happened on Halloween," she said. "They thought it was just another crazy Halloween stunt. But it was not; it was real."
"People have told me it was a blimp," she added. "I've seen plenty of blimps in my life, and they don't move like that. I wish I had a logical explanation. The shape and the way it moved really freaked me out."
Timmerman said he may never figure out what Knitz saw, but not for lack of trying. His wife, Margaretha, thinks he tries too hard.
"I want to enjoy our retirement, travel, and do things together," she said. "He's working harder now than he ever did."

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