The family consisting of myself, wife, and daughters (ages 9 and 7) had just spent the 2nd day of a mini vacation visiting the northern portion of Death Valley, California and Scottyís Castle. In the late afternoon I decided to drive over to Beatty, Nevada to fill up our diesel-fueled truck and, having done so, proceeded to drive to the site of the old ghost town of Rhyolite with the intent of camping for the night.
We were towing a small camping trailer and found a suitable site next to a mining prospect hole after negotiating approximately 4 miles of rather rugged dirt road from highway 374. This site is tentatively identified as being in the southeast corner of Section 33, Range 46 E., Township 11 S. of the Beatty, NV/CA sheet, 1:100,000 scale (metric) topographic map.
Having arrived at a little past 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon, we explored to the south of our campsite and returned to prepare our supper before it got too dark. The weather was cold, probably in the mid 40ís with a stiff wind blowing erratically from the south. The sky was clear and the stars were clearly visible. Our family has always had a penchant for stargazing and, coincidentally, had just purchased a computer disk containing a star watcherís map at the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station at Death Valley the previous day.
I was cleaning up the cooking area set up on the back of our pickup when I glanced up at the now darkened sky to see a bright light approximately the size of the planet Jupiter moving rapidly (relatively) from just over the mountain ridge immediately to our west (Sawtooth Mountain) toward the east. My oldest daughter pointed out a fainter light trailing the main light a short distance to the rear. The motion of travel was erratic and somewhat zigzagged, as observed by my wife. For lack of a better explanation, I attributed the perceived erratic path as light distortion caused by the cold air.
I grabbed my video camera from the cab of our truck to capture the object from an apex now overhead to itís disappearance over the hills to our east. The total transit of the object from horizon to horizon took something less than one and a half minutes. Observation of small propeller craft and large jet aircraft flying overhead prior to and after this occurrence proved that this object was easily better than 5 times faster than any other observed aircraft, and that audible noise from the engines of high altitude aircraft was easily heard, yet there was no perceptible sound from the object observed. My best guess is that the object was the space shuttle, which we knew was on an active mission at the time.
I video taped the sky just afterwards to establish relative brilliance from the half moon, star field, and jet aircraft which are clearly seen and heard on the video. My narration of the event is part of the video content. The wind became a significant factor as witnessed by the audio attenuation heard on the video tape.
Our camp was several miles north of the Bullfrog Mining Company Mill located adjacent to Highway 374. The noise of the motors and milling machinery were clearly heard at all times during our stay.
What occurred next was to become perhaps the most bizarre occurrence experienced by my wife or me in our well-traveled lifetimes. I had retreated from the biting wind and cold to our travel trailer at about 6:10 pm to read to my daughters from a definitive book on Death Valley of subjects seen by us earlier in our trip. My wife stepped out of the trailer at about 6:20 pm. to secure some of our provisions for the night. I suddenly heard my wife pounding on the outside of the trailer and shouting ...Get the camera!
The tone of her plea was urgent, anxious, and bordering on panic. Iíve heard this cry before, but under more predictable circumstances.
What? I asked, needing confirmation of her demand and time to consider what circumstance might have provoked such an emotion- filled plea from her. Was it an animal? Another person? These and a hundred other scenarios at once filled my head as I decided my next action.
Get the camera!
The adrenaline now pumped as I dropped the book while making for the door of the trailer. I opened the trailer door to witness the source of her anxiety. To the north, just beyond a jagged mountain were two or three lights suspended in a horizontal pattern just above the mountain. They were separated by a distance of about a mile or two. They were a brilliant, steady orange-yellow, somewhat like automotive headlights, only more orange and certainly brighter. They appeared to be no more than 3 to 5 miles from us, relative to the mountain. The sight of these lights hovering above and to either side of a mountain maybe 2 miles distant, the surrounding hills bathed in the half moonlight and depicting clear definition to the mountainous terrain, was at once astonishing and frightening. My wife again admonished... Get the camera!.
I rushed to the locked cab of our truck to get the video camera and, with my back to the lights, realized that my wife had the keys. I shouted back to her to get the keys and as I turned the lights winked and now there were 3 or 4 lights (my wife thought she saw 4; I thought I saw 3), still in the same horizontal line but in different positions and spanning a larger width than before. This phenomenon occurred almost literally in the blink of an eye. There was no flash or burst of energy prior to the split; only the wink. The multiple objects all retained the same apparent size and characteristics.
My recall of the event is that the lights seemed to drift to the south and then winked out, but it should be noted that I was distracted in trying to get the video camera from the truck. My wifeís perception is that they drifted slowly behind the hills immediately to our right. By the time I had retrieved the video camera from the truck cab the event was over.
The winking effect was astounding in that the lights flattened into a thin line of the same apparent hue and intensity and then split into the multiple objects. My wife and I agree that the thin line appeared to connect the multiple objects at the instant of splitting. The entire event occurred in a time span of about 45 seconds to one minute.
I kept our video camera trained in the direction of this phenomenon for several minutes in hope that the event would repeat itself. As I taped, I queried my wife about what she had just witnessed in order to compare my own perception with hers. Since we were both pretty well shaken by this event, I wanted to establish an objective narrative of our experience.
She said that several minutes after stepping out of our trailer she noticed a single bright light just slightly above and to the left of the peak of what I refer to in our video tape narrative as the gunsight mountain, about 2 miles to our north. She watched it for a moment when it suddenly winked and separated into 2 objects, now to either side of the peak and in the same [horizontal] line. Thatís when she began to pound on the side of the trailer and shout ... Get the camera! The objects split once again perhaps 10 seconds later just as I emerged from the trailer.
We both agree that we independently expected an imminent encounter with the source of these lights. My wife felt that the lights would travel to the south behind the range of hills to our immediate right and then come up the long valley toward us from the east. I felt that they would bear straight toward us and would be upon us within the next 45 seconds. My thought was that perhaps these were military jets heading toward us, and that the lights were landing lights that had been turned on as they flew in formation. We have been buzzed by such aircraft on the Nevada deserts on several occasions in years past. But, as a licensed aircraft pilot, Iíve never seen any light or flare that even remotely matched what we had seen.
We saw nothing else that evening. I slept facing the window on the north side of the trailer, video camera at my side so that I could capture any further event. A long, restless night was spent with one eye generally open, hoping for a repeat of the sighting, but it was not to be.
The following morning proved to be cloudy due to a major storm coming in from the northwest. I videotaped the area while narrating an update of the previous nightís events. Using portions of this tape and my computer equipped with a video frame grabber (Miro DC1-tv), Corel 3.0, and Adobe Premiere, Iíve created several reasonable stills and clips depicting what was seen. I did this not to deceive but to depict accurately and objectively what we saw.
My youngest daughter told me several weeks later that she saw the lights too. Doubting her somewhat, I asked her to draw a picture of what she saw. Her rendering of the gunsight mountain and position of the lights convinced me that she had indeed seen the event, although my oldest daughter ducked under the blankets when she heard my wifeís anxious tone that night.
I am not necessarily inclined to relate what we saw to anything extraterrestrial. I have obtained maps of the area and have projected sight lines beyond the gunsight mountain. These lines extend into the northwestern boundaries of the Nellis Air Force Range about 20 miles north-northeast of our camp. Much attention has been given to the eastern boundaries of this test area due to professed secret Military activity. My interest in secret military activities is limited only to general observation and the wonder of advancing technologies. But if what we saw that night of November 9, 1994 is connected with an advancing technology, Iíd like to see it again!
I intend to visit the area to more accurately survey the area and interview some of the folks around Beatty and Springvale. Maybe Iíll discover the source of this most unusual sighting.
(c) 1994, 1995 T.R.F. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thomas Fischer Imsci@aol.com
Date: Sun, Aug 20, 1995 8:34 AM PDT
Subj: Re: Perhaps another Area 51 related sighting
Thanks for the sighting report. Can I post it on the Area 51 page near Kevin Vogt's sighting? (It would be best if I can post it exactly as is, with your name and email at the bottom. If you want me to leave out your name I will, but it is more credible if left on.)
Most important alternate explanation is orange magnesium flares, which are extremely bright and can hover for several minutes. This will wink on, burn a while (suspended on parachute), then go out fairly rapidly. These flares are often launched in groups of 1-4 to illuminate ground exercises. I am unaware of any "spitting" however.
Regardless, the sighting is legitimate and should be made available to others.
Date: Sun, Aug 20, 1995 8:16 PM PDT
Subj: Re: Perhaps another Area 51 related sighting
Thanks for the reply and permission is freely given to post as you see fit. My copy of your text seems to replace apostrophes with small "i". I don't wish to appear any more illiterate than I am!
As a side comment regarding your suggestion of flares, I have reviewed in my mind many times and discussed with my wife the events of that (suprise! Wednesday night!) sighting. If what we saw occured in an area some 23 to 25 miles to our north-northeast, then the dynamics of the apparently instaneous and contigious splitting effect would have spanned a distance of over 5 to 7 miles.
Also, the individual obects sighted prior to the split did not appear to be in the same position after the "wink". My wife also adds that her observation of the lights after the final split was that they moved at a high rate of speed to the right of the "gunsight mountain" (elevation about 7800 feet; about 2300 above our position) and passed out of sight behind the small range of hills immediately to our right in the small valley in which we were camped. In summary, these were not stationary lights except apparently in their horizontal alignment and altitude.
Thanks again for your interest and forum for the posting of these unusual experiences. Best regards,