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UFO frenzy ignited by Air Force officer
Others report strange phenomenon, digital expert views possible 'pilot'

Posted: January 19, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Joe Kovacs
© 2007

Zoomed image of mysterious orange light seen Jan. 9 near Van Buren, Ark. (photo: Col. Brian Fields, USAF, ret.)

A retired Air Force colonel who photographed mysterious, colorful lights hovering over western Arkansas last week has ignited a frenzy of interest in unexplained airborne phenomena, as WND has received numerous reports of similar sightings across the U.S., while a digital expert has filtered the pictures to reveal startling images of what he says could be the "pilot" of the unidentified craft.

"I believe these lights were not of this world, and I feel a duty and responsibility to come forward," said Col. Brian Fields, who spent nearly 32 years in the military piloting F-16 fighter jets. "I have no idea what they were."

As WND exclusively reported, Fields, 61, was at his Van Buren, Ark., home Jan. 9 when just before 7 p.m., he observed two intensely bright lights as he looked to the southeast close to the horizon.

Zoomed image of mysterious yellow light seen Jan. 9 near Van Buren, Ark. (photo: Col. Brian Fields)

"At first I thought they were landing lights from an aircraft," he said. "As I continued to observe them they began to slowly disappear, then suddenly one reappeared, followed by two, then three. On at least one occasion four or five appeared. Each time they would slowly fade and eventually disappear. This occurred several times and when they would reappear they might do so in differing numbers and in different positions, sometimes in a triangular shape, sometimes stacked on top of each other, sometimes line abreast, etc. When the objects appeared they might stay illuminated 10 or more minutes."

Fields' wife thought the lights may have been ground-based, but Fields says he's certain they were airborne.

"I'm certain it wasn't an aircraft [from Earth]," said Fields, who also ruled out the possibility of flares, saying they didn't descend like flares typically do. "It's not anything I ever had any experience with . ... They were some kind of energy or something."

Fields snapped numerous images of the white, yellow and orange lights using a Canon digital camera with 6 megapixel resolution.

The story received heightened exposure after being posted on the Drudge Report yesterday, and became one of the most-viewed news reports in WND history. That prompted many others to contact WND, saying they witnessed the same or similar phenomenon.

"When I read this story, I literally got chill bumps all over my body, because it was exactly as I remember it also," said Will Childers of Camden, Ark., who says he saw the same lights Jan. 10 at approximately 7:15 p.m. in southern Arkansas.

A pilot from Lancaster, Pa., says he witnessed the mystery lights two years ago over northwestern Arkansas.

"I contacted Air Traffic Control and asked if they were handling or painting any aircraft off my left, and they informed me there no aircraft visible on radar in that direction for a couple of hundred miles," Rick Armellino told WND. "About 15 or 20 minutes after first noticing these two lights, both began changing position relative to one another, and then multiplied into about five or six smaller lights which began orbiting each another fairly briskly, and then simply just disappeared, leaving me very perplexed."

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Richard Mobley, a software developer who commutes from Scottsdale, Ariz., to his home in Tucson, says he witnessed "the same exact thing" Fields described, noting his incident took place Nov. 15, 2006.

Mobley registered the following characteristics about the behavior of the objetcs:

They appeared over the Gila Indian Reservation and moved southeast;

I saw one, then two, then three, then four and five of these objects light up;

Each lit up at a different time and went out at different times;

Sometimes they would be in a row, and at other times they would appear stacked close to each other (bunched up or on top of each other);

They were about 6,000 to 10,000 feet off the ground moving, high enough to flying over the mountain range;

The light (when lit) was a round, super intense amber light which seemed to illuminate the ground below them;

They would light up for about five to seven minutes and then dim down and go out;

After about three minutes of being out, they would light back up, going from dim to intense amber light (not clear color like airplane landing lights);

There was an aircraft in the area which had landing lights on as well a beacon light (red and green on the wings and tail) so to distinguish between these object and a plane was easy;

At the height they were flying at and the amount of light given off, it showed that these objects were quite large.
In Belton, Texas, Jim Martin, a national sales manager for Clear Channel Radio says he, too, "observed a bright, white round light looking exactly like Col. Fields' pictures," but his sighting was Dec. 22, 2006.

Martin speculated it might have been a meteor headed directly toward him since "it did not vary in location in the sky" and that "it slowly dissipated without losing altitude."

And Jeff Pement of Pensacola, Fla., says he saw the same phenomenon as well.

"Except for the duration of time the lights stay visible, the description of the lights is exactly as I have seen it. Some of my friends think I am crazy. A few have witnessed them as I have taken them to the spot where I would typically see them. When I read Col. Fields' words describing what he saw, it was as if I was relating the event to someone."

A spokesman for the Air Force Space Command headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado told WND he had not heard anything like what was reported, but he would check into it.

In Fields' hometown of Van Buren, comet-watcher Mike Holloway was photographing Comet McNaught in the sky the same night of the colonel's sighting, and he said what Fields had witnessed was apparently something quite different from the comet.

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) soaring over Van Buren, Ark., Jan. 9, 2007 (photo: Mike Holloway, used with permission)

"I do not think this has anything to do with the comet that was visible in the west sky just after sunset," Holloway told WND. "I imaged the comet on the 8th and 9th of January, and these lights look nothing like the comet."

Meanwhile, a digital-production expert in Columbia, S.C., analyzed the photographs taken by Fields, processing both the yellow-light image and the orange-light image through various filters using computer software.

"I was kind of surprised," said Mark Kirby, president and CEO of EIC Research, Inc.

When Kirby did a black-and-white analysis of the yellow light image, he noted "it looks like a clean silhouette of someone sitting behind a console or flight control."

Enhanced image of yellow-light photo taken by Col. Brian Fields shows an image in the center possibly resembling a pilot sitting behind a console (Enhanced image (c) 2007 EIC Research, Inc.)

When he examined the orange light, he said the result was "a bit scary," as he perceived what seemed like a face looking directly ahead.

"You could literally see two eyes and a mouth," Kirby said. "It looked like someone looking at you."

Enhanced image of orange-light photo taken by Col. Brian Fields, with mysterious figure highlighted inside circle (Enhanced image (c) 2007 EIC Research, Inc.)

Enhanced image of orange-light photo taken by Col. Brian Fields, transferred to black and white, with mysterious figure highlighted inside circle (Enhanced image (c) 2007 EIC Research, Inc.)

Kirby, who says he doesn't really believe in extraterrestrial life from elsewhere in the universe, wondered, "Could this be the first actual photo of visitors from another planet?"

He also proffered a more earthly explanation, saying, "It's not far-fetched to believe it's something our military has developed."

Nearly a decade ago, in March 1997, hundreds of Arizona residents witnessed strange illuminations in the sky, which have come to be known as "the Phoenix Lights," a mystery which has yet to be resolved.

Some readers have suggested the possibility of "earthquake lights," which are believed to be flashes or glows of light associated with strong seismic activity.

Still others maintain the "not of this world" lights were definitely nothing supernatural.

"I get a little annoyed by 'prior military people' talking about 'strange lights in the sky,'" said James Whitesell of Greenwood, Ind. "Tell the former Air Force officer to step back and take a deep breath ... . It was likely an illumination round of some type."

Stephen Richard Armour, an American missionary working as a video producer in Brazil since 1977, thinks the event could likely be a hoax similar to one he witnessed.

"Some clever kids had taken a clear [2 liter] Coke bottle, inverted it and cut little breathing holes in the top and one in the exact center of the inverted bottom," he said. "They had then put a lit candle in the cap, stuck a toothpick tied to a string in the center hole and had then hung the string down about 50 feet or so from [a] black kite, hanging from the dark string they used. When they flew the kite up high, it was big enough to pull the candlelit Coke bottle up, which then very convincingly, bobbed up and down (like a yo-yo) with the kite."

Armour suggests Fields, who is honestly reporting what he saw, was simply "suckered."

"No aliens, no demons," he said, "only kids or malicious adults with some multiple kite variation of this trick."