An Illustrated Sighting
By James Neff

Click the image above to access a very large 'looping' gif animation (622k) which very closely approximates what was seen, with time compressed. The sighting lasted for well over 3 minutes in its entirety.

It was August, 1969, approximately 9:30 pm and still boiling hot in central Arkansas. For those without air conditioning (or the money to pay for it), it was one of those nights when the doors and windows stayed wide open and a glass of ice tea never far from your hand, while box fans spun wildly trying to make hot air seem like cool. Miserable. Not even the slightest breeze passed through the screen door. The cicadas in the trees were roaring so loudly that it was impossible to hear the TV. You get as close to naked as you can when the humidity is 80+, and some just go the whole hog and don't worry about what others might think. They figure they're serving time in hell, anyway.

But on a night like this, a kid is outside, right in the thick of it. The coolest possible place on all the earth was laying bare backed in your pajama bottoms in the freshly cut St. Augustine which the neighbor gentleman kept so thick and healthy. Like millions of little green air conditioners, you felt like you were on a carpet of cool breezes. That's where I was, along with my older sister and little brother, when I had my first UFO experience; splayed out on the grass in a bowl-like dip in the neighbor's front yard, watching the stars between the veil of two enormous oak trees on either side of us.

At some point in our gazing upward at the infinite, we noticed something twinkle just a bit in the field of stars. I don't recall any of us actually speaking, but it was clear we all saw the same thing in that same moment. By the time the thought "what is that?" passed through the mind, it seemed awfully different to the eye... something was there... something colorful. We strained to make certain with our eyes, what appeared directly above to be a ring of fabulously colored lights rotating counter-clockwise and twinkling wildly, randomly. The brilliance of it suddenly snapped us each out of our heat dulled stupor, and we began to point and nudge one another with little gasps of awe. Then the cicadas in the trees went absolutely silent, at once. A horrible silence. An unnatural silence that was louder than breaking glass and very paralyzing. In those few moments, it had grown much larger, and its black circular form obscured stars and was distinctly evident against the color of the sky in midnight-blue. I'd never seen such beautiful colors... looking washed away any fear; swirling, molding one into the other, rapidly like liquid-color-light in transition from one hue to another to another, around and around, spinning as if to be revealed through what appeared to be forty or fifty small circular openings. But how terrific and bright the colors were! Almost too bright to look at, garish and burning with color, broken up only by the occasional spin of bright white through the portals. It was truly mesmerizing. And still, perfectly silent. There was a crisp, static feeling in the air, either real or imagined. Our mouths were simply agape.

It popped into my mind suddenly, no... it's not getting bigger, it's getting closer. It's coming straight down over us. I realized it was some kind of craft, it's physicality was certain. Then like a snap I realized that something like this certainly would know we were below it... or did it impress upon me that fact? Why would I think such a thing? I didn't even know what this thing was, much less consider in that brief minute or two the concept of it being occupied by anything intelligent... but... the overwhelming impression was that we were "known" to it, and looking at us just as intensely as we were looking at it! My sister, a good six years older than me and certainly wiser, let out a slight prefix of a common middle class obscenity and before I knew it, she had my brother and I by the arms and we were running as fast as we could across the lawn, leaping the hedges into our own yard. "Don't tell Mom!" my sister blurted, as we went bounded up the steps, bolting into the house and flinging ourselves onto the couch in unison. For the first time that whole night, there was a solid gust of wind through the screen door, as if it followed us like a wake.

Our mother looked over at us three and figured we were just pranking her, acting so strangely. "What are you three up to?" she said. We didn't blink. I didn't know why we shouldn't tell her... but, I figured my sister knew what she was doing and followed her lead. As I sat there, I couldn't get the image out of my mind. I wanted so badly to rush out the door and look up and see if it was still there. Just hanging above the tree tops, I imagined, some enormous silent machine showering the neighbor's yard with colored lights. What the hell was that? Where does something like that come from? Five minutes ago I was a normal, average, lower middle-class plump white kid with buck teeth and a bad haircut that watched cartoons and believed the universe was flat. Now I was someone else. I was something else. Forever. Nothing could reverse that. Collectively, the ideas and realities of what had just happened trickled down on my mind and enveloped me in a sense of agitated despair. Something came out of the sky and made me an outcast in this culture, in one instant... and I didn't ask for it. And I resented it as time went by, but I found it impossible for my mouth to stay shut about it. But dread gave way to intense fascination and an insatiable thirst for more information and more truth. And my hands wouldn't keep silent either, and from that day I began to draw and draw and push every medium I could find around until it relinquished some semblance to what I saw and experienced, in hopes that perhaps someone else might also be struck by the same lightning. Soon, I found others who either openly or secretly had experienced the same... or more. And there was some comfort in that.

The grass between those two oaks remained stained hard yellow for many years to follow. There was no room between those oaks for a landing, so something else happened on that spot where we were laying. My sister's instict to grab us and dart was dead-on.

To this day, my brother scarcely remembers the event. Just vagaries and the acknowledgment that "something" was seen and "something" happened. He was just too young, I suppose. My sister and I have never forgotten a microsecond of it. Whenever we talk, we mention it. It's always there, always in the background of our consciousness and conversations. It's a stronger bond between us than our blood. We both went on to have several other UFO experiences each, but 1969 really sticks out as the "biggie" for us. The night the universe got a lot bigger than NASA told us about in school and on television. The night the Bible, the parts I knew of it at least, simultaneously made more sense and yet less sense than ever before. The night I felt akin to Ezekiel and more privileged than John Glenn, and yet not the slightest bit shamefaced before heaven. Something to grow on. A strange seed. An awakening to possibilities in a world thoroughly drunken on the mundane and trivial, and the smerk and sideways glance of the debunker and skeptic ping like sleet off the armor of the truth. Sharing that truth is the only thing left to do.
Dear Mr. Neff,

At long last !! Somebody else is reporting a UFO very similar to mine !! This is a very rare thing------ I am refering to your Dec. 15 article entitled; " an illustrated sighting "

The similarity is very striking ! The main difference being that my UFO did not exhibit any yellow lights------only red, blue , and white-----and they were a little more widely spaced that this one----probably, if every other one were eliminated, it might be about right-----Another insignificant difference is that in my sighting, there were many more stars visible, the UFO was about 5 or 6 diameters wider, and was noticeably blocking out many stars-------But, overall, the resemblance is very striking----and I nearly jumped out of my chair when the image first appeared on the screen ! I called my wife in and had her look at it and asked her what was different about it, as she remembered it, and she said "there were too many colors" ( meaning no yellows ) When I asked her what else was wrong, she was unable to decide---not really remembering about the spacing between each light--- The only thing she could come up with was that , in the picture, the UFO was too high up----which is correct------

If you can visualize that UFO as being 2 or 3 times lower down---with no trees in the picture------only telephone wires,along a 2 lane highway, in open country, you would have an accurate picture of my sighting-------- I have written you before, and I am sorry to be bothering you again, but I just felt I had to comment on such a close similarity------- Thank you,

Dr. Oren Swearingen
College Station, Texas
James, I want to thank you for putting up your own personal experience and the great animation to go along with it. You not only have skill with art but with letters as well. It was finely written. It's funny how for many of us with multiple sightings, we immediately with no equivocation identify with your sentiments. It's as if you are speaking for us all. This has changed my life somehow too but at a much later time in life. I was 40 in '92 when my perspective of the world changed radically, even though I did my share of psychedelic drugs in the '70's, which probably prepared me somehow. I was 7 years clean and sober at the time. Since then there have been several close range sightings. I want to believe there is a deeper meaning to all this and that there was a reason. I know I will be haunted to the day I die unless there is the miracle we all hope for that will reveal everything. That hope seems to grow dimmer with each passing year, sorry to say. Thanks for contributing to this website and making it my mainstay for info on the web. Give my best to Jeff. Happy Holidays,

Frank Altomonte

Hi James!
Just thought I'd write to you and tell you about my sighting.
This happened back in about 1989 in Dover, England.
I was 12 at the time, and it was winter - just after Christmas, so it had got dark early - it was maybe 7/8pm. There was a little car park out the front of the block of flats I lived in, and I took my radio-controlled car (Christmas present) out there to play with. The car park was lit by a single lamp-post inside the car park, and a large lamp-post about 50ft away in the quiet street that ran along side the car park.
While I was playing with the car, I noticed it getting a bit foggy/misty, but that was nothing unusual as Dover is right on the sea, and it happened often.. but something suddenly caught my attention, and I looked directly up. Straight above me in the car park was a ring of multi-coloured flashing lights - there was no sound to be heard at all. I couldn't see the object the lights were attached to because of the mist, and could only see these completely circular lights shining through it. They were flashing fairly rapidly.. maybe about 3-4 colour changes per second and the colours were red, white, green, yellow, and possibly blue - there was no pattern that I could distinguish, it *seemed* random.
I'd estimate that if the "object" was circular and the lights were roughly on the outer edge, then it was approximately 40ft diameter, with each light being approximately 3ft diameter. The distance of the object from the ground was about 30-40ft, so very low - it had somehow descended this low into a built-up area! I imagine the fact it made absolutely no noise and the dense fog (natural or constructed?) were enough to hide it from anyone's view.
Anyway, after staring at it for about 30 seconds in shock, I suddenly got scared, picked up my car and RAN inside! I told my parents straight away and begged with them to come look, but my father put it off as a "weather balloon" and by the time I had got them to take a look, there was nothing but fog.
No-one else in the block of flats saw it, as my mother was the warden and she would be the first person they would have told. It was a block of flats for the elderly.
I don't know if that's of any help! It was certainly a fairly close sighting - I've been a believer ever since! I certainly don't believe it was anything natural, and it was highly unlikely to be any sort of military aircraft. I often wonder if the radio transmitter from the car controller was of some interest to it, and that's why it came down? The lights are certainly a mystery though... why do so many UFOs have such obvious outer lighting like this craft and many others? If you wanted to be undetected, then switch off all the frickin' lights! If you can send a ship from another star system, surely you can navigate without the lights on! :)
Keep up the good work!
> Chaz <

Thanks for your sighting details. Wow, you sure got closer to it than I did! I would say mine was about 200 feet above, but that's guessing on its actual diameter... hard to say. 30-40 ft above you is a close shave! This type of craft with the ring of colored lights is apparently very common. I imagine UFOs are not trying to be evasive at all, at times, considering some of the "mothership" type monstrosities seen around the world. It seems in a lot of UFO cases, the lights, be they stationary or random, are part of its propulsion system and not meant to be "look at me" lights. I know that with my sightings, I got the distinct impression that the lights were sheer energy of some sort, not display lights, per se. It's almost as if they don't care if they're seen or not, but by their very nature, moving about too quickly for most to encounter, they often go undetected. Or... maybe they only want certain people to see them. I don't know.

I had another UFO sighting where a close friend was nearby, but despite his mad dash to where I was to see what I was seeing over the tree tops when I yelled for him to "come quick!" (what appeared to be a set of car headlights, though very bright and flickering, which I thought was at first a small plane approaching until the right light rotated to a position above the left light in a move so quick that if it had been a plane, anyone on board would have been killed), but the second his feet hit the drive way (he literally went skidding across the concrete in his boots), the two lights departed so quickly that they left 'tracers' on my vision (they moved from due south to the farthest point west in one second or less and vanished). He only glimpsed a confusing flash of light. It was kind of funny, because he didn't believe me when I told him what had happened while he wasn't present, and I said "Well, I just hope you get an encounter sometime soon, Mr. Skeptic!" Sure enough, 1 month later, he was driving his commercial rig on the interstate in Kentucky late one night and he and many others on that stretch of highway saw a massive, white, glowing, ball-shaped craft (he said it looked like a ping pong ball with 1/4 of the bottom sliced off it) with intense white light emitting from its underside cross slow and low over the highway. He thought at first it was a commercial balloon being lighted from inside, but as it passed above his rig, he lookup up into the bottom and saw what he described as "completely unrecognizable mechanical elements" along with portholes and the whole underside was rotating slowly; all of this, surrounding what looked like a large hole in the bottom, out of which poured white fire that he said reminded him of the way Alka-Seltzer looks when it's gassing off in water, with glowing particulate matter streaming down... a "cold fire" he called it. Then when it roared out of site at incalculable speed and vanished as a point on the horizon, he knew it was no balloon! -- Neff
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