- MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Startled by the cry of his chickens and ducks and the
neigh of his father's mule, Horry County resident Lloyd Booth grabbed his
.22-caliber pistol at midnight, Jan. 29, 1953, and went outside to investigate.
- Mr. Booth spotted a gray saucer hovering
10-feet over a row of pine trees, emitting a low hum and moving slowly
across his property.
- Scared for his life, Mr. Booth fired
five shots, each ricocheting off the metallic surface. Unharmed, the saucer
- This is a well-documented case that grabbed
headlines and can be found on most UFO Web sites. UFO investigator George
Fawcett, who has been researching sightings for 54 years, still gets excited
about the case.
- Of the 1,200 cases Mr. Fawcett has explored
-- including 200 in South Carolina -- it's the only one that involved a
- Mr. Fawcett said the Navy claimed it
was a blimp.
- "Booth knew better than that,"
he said. "He was an ex-military man."
- Mr. Fawcett recently donated his life's
work -- more than 40,000 books, articles, journals, documents and photographs
-- to the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, N.M.
- He is keeping 600 items for a book he
is writing about UFO encounters in the Carolinas. In a time when people
are eager to gobble up as much UFO information as possible, Mr. Fawcett
thinks it will do well.
- He calls the Carolinas a hotbed of UFO
activity. North Carolina ranks fourth in the number of sightings, and South
Carolina ranks 14th.
- There are several reasons. For one, the
Carolinas have so many UFO investigators -- 161 at last count, Mr. Fawcett
- Also, large bodies of water, military
bases and power plants are key areas for sightings, he said.
- "(UFOs) may need water for their
cooling systems and for samples, and they could possibly be surveying our
military installations for our response technology potential," he
- The large amount of UFO activity in South
Carolina prompted Jody Pendarvis of Bowman to build a UFO Welcome Center.
The 42-foot-wide wood creation was built to model a saucer and has flashing
- "Sometimes when planes fly overhead
I flash in Morse code, `UFO Welcome Center," he said. "When I
first started doing it, planes would circle the area trying to figure out
what was going on."
- Mr. Pendarvis has never had a sighting
and takes a light approach to UFOs, calling himself a fun-loving guy. But
he said he is counting on UFOs visiting him one day.
- "I want to be an ambassador to the
aliens," he said. "When they arrive, I'll probably ask them how
they are doing and then tell them to leave before F-14s come and blow them
- Cheryl Gilmore, Mutual UFO Network director
for South Carolina, said the number of area sightings has decreased.
- "When they do report, it isn't official,"
she said. "People don't want to give their name. People are scared
of what might happen to them."
- Ms. Gilmore, who had a sighting at age
14 in Ohio, recalled one case in which Bill Herrmann of Charleston said
he was abducted four times from 1978 to 1983.
- "We haven't heard anything about
him in awhile," she said. "I heard he was kicked out of his church
and someone tried to burn his house down."
- Police in Andrews reported two cases
in July 1994. A person who identified himself as a University of Georgia
student reported seeing a UFO hovering over Litchfield Beach. Another witness
claimed to see two at about the same time.
- Myrtle Beach Air Traffic Control said
it may have been a large formation of C-41 cargo planes flying in the area.
- A lot of the sightings can be explained,
Mr. Fawcett said.
- "I have found 78 percent of sightings
to have a perfectly logical explanation, but the other 22 percent do not
have an explanation," he said.