'A Great Light in the Night'
- First UFO Sighting
In North America
By Christopher W. Pittman
From UFO UpDates - Toronto <>
c. 2000 Christopher W. Pittman
For the past six years, I have been conducting in-depth research on the history of UFOs in my home state, Massachusetts. In the course of this research, I have come across what I believe is an account of the very first UFO sighting in North America. Though the story originally surfaced in the UFO literature decades ago by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon and published in a book in 1968 (Mysteries of the Skies: UFOs in Perspective), it has not received the same amount of attention given other early cases. I believe that this sighting deserves a second look, as unlike many other archaic UFO events, it contains elements often seen in modern "high strangeness" UFO cases. In addition, information gathered in recent decades seems to indicate that this sighting may have levels of mystery still unexplored after all these years.
The sighting was originally reported in a book by John Winthrop, The History of New England, 1630-1639. At the time of the sighting, Winthrop was the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The sighting was brought to his attention by the witnesses, who wanted to report the strange events to the area's dominant authority. Winthrop retold the following story:
One night in March of 1638 or 1639, James Everell ("a sober, discreet man"- Winthrop) and two companions boarded a little boat and set out for a trip on the Muddy River in Boston. They had been moving downstream for about a mile when the night's mysterious events began. The three men were suddenly confronted with the appearance of a huge, bright light hovering in the sky. The light "flamed up" as it hovered and appeared to be about "three yards square." As they watched, the light "contracted into the figure of a swine" and moved "swift as an arrow" in the direction of Charlton. For two or three hours, the unidentified light moved back and forth in the sky between Everell's location and Charlton. When the light finally disappeared, the men noticed to their dismay that they had somehow been carried against the tide back to the place where they had started their trip! Governor Winthrop noted, "Divers[e] other credible persons saw the same light, after, about the same place."!
Some witnesses said the light was occasionally seen shooting out flames and sparks, and indeed, two UFOs matching that description were again seen in Boston in 1644.
The witnesses' account presents some perplexing aspects. What precisely is meant when the object is described as "the figure of a swine?" It is difficult to imagine anyone seriously reporting a sighting of a flying pig. Could the men have been trying to describe an oval-shaped body with four short legs, similar to the objects with landing gear reported in some modern UFO encounters?
Additionally, it was reported that the object was somehow able to pull the boat against the tide for a mile. This prompts some interesting speculation. Many people who claim to have been taken from their vehicles onto a UFO have reported that at the end of their encounter, they find themselves in their vehicles far away from the place where their experience began. Also, we see that it took the men two or three hours to travel a single mile in the boat. During this entire time, the UFO remained visible, maneuvering at high speed in the sky near Boston. How could this phenomenon have appeared in the sky over a city for such a long time without dozens (if not hundreds) of people seeing it? And is it probable that the three men did not have the opportunity to alert a single other witness in all that time? Why did the group not notice they were moving in the wrong direction until the UFO had disappeared? There may be an answer to this question, but it is only speculation...
Let us look at a widely publicized UFO encounter of the 1970's, the Allagash case investigated by Raymond Fowler. In this case, a group of four men on a camping trip set out in a canoe on the Allagash Waterway in Maine. They built a large bonfire to aid in finding their campsite on the return trip. When they were about a quarter of a mile away from shore, they saw a huge glowing ball of light coming over the trees on the bank. They flashed at it with a flashlight, and it came towards them, beaming light at the canoe. Frightened, the men tried to get away. Then the object suddenly flew away. The men felt that the experience only lasted fifteen or twenty minutes, but back at the camp, the men found that the bonfire had burned down to nothing but glowing coals, which should have taken two or three hours! Years later, under hypnosis, the witnesses told Fowler that they had been taken on board the UFO and been subjected to terrifying medical experiments at the hands of humanoi! d entities.
The parallels between this case and Everell's sighting are obvious. A group of men in a boat witness a huge light in the night sky, are frightened, then find themselves back at their point of embarkation hours later. The Allagash witnesses reported a period of "missing time." What if Everell and the others experienced the same phenomenon without realizing it? Imagine that the three men, upon finding themselves back at the place where they started from, discovered that they had been gone two or three hours, and mistakenly concluded that they had been watching the UFO the whole time. If they had spent this time period inside the UFO and only consciously remembered the beginning of the experience, that would explain why there were apparently no other witnesses, and why the men weren't aware that the boat was going the wrong way. Though this speculation is admittedly far-fetched, James Everell and his companions may have been among the first Americans to experience being take! n aboard a UFO. The Allagash four would never have known the true extent of their encounter had they not undergone regression hypnosis. Although it will never be possible to determine if there is a hidden story behind America's first UFO report, it is interesting to wonder if perhaps, 360 years ago, a group of Boston men may have had an experience beyond their wildest dreams...

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