People Who Live in Glass Houses . . . See UFOs
by Donald R. Schmitt and Richard W. Heiden
Ed. Note: The authors, both experienced ufologists, were asked to conduct an on-site investigation of this most interesting case shortly after I received a letter from the primary witness. Her letter was of interest not only because of her vivid account of the UFO event, but because it so well described the bewilderment and dismay of the witnesses, and also because it illustrates a changing attitude of the media toward the UFO subject.
It has long been known to ufologists that the more intelligent, educated, and solidly-based-in-reality witnesses are, the more disturbed and distraught they become when they are unable to find a rational explanation for it. If they can't find a good "answer," a barrier will exist between them and their friends and families; they won't be able to talk about their experience for fear of being thought deranged and "off the wall." In this particular case, the witness wrote and elaborated over the phone that "This didn't fit into my reality...l would not go to bed because I could not categorize this...l decided to watch it (the UFO) until it left because I knew it was not going to be a normal experience. I couldn't place the experience anywhere in my mind. I have never seen anything like this before."
As for the possible changing attitude of the press toward UFOs, she had written to me, "l was encouraged by Paul Hayes, science editor of the Milwaukee Journal, to report the occurrence to you." Of course, she could hardly have known the import of that statement. Not too many years ago, a good friend of mine, who had at one time been a reporter on the Milwaukee Journal, filed a story about an astronaut who told him of his sighting of a mysterious object while piloting a military plane. The reporter's story was killed because: "Our Science Editor does not believe in UFOs!" Maybe we are getting a new, enlightened, breed of science editors who know that open-mindedness is a virtue and not a vice.
DATE: Jan. 3, 1984
TIME: 4:14 A.M. CST
DURATION: One hour
WTNESSES: Three (including one secondary witness)
PLACE: Port Washington, Wisconsin
The primary witness is Ms. A., 30, a writer-artist who lives, with her husband, Mr. L., 38, a commercial artist, in a contemporary house on the shores of Lake Michigan, near Port Washington, Wisconsin. She described the house in her letter as being "almost entirely of glass, so there is an unobstructed view of the water from every room. It’s a fairly isolated area in the winter since most residents are only here in the summer, so aside from us and a man who rents the beach house at the foot of the yard, it's pretty unpopulated." Mr. B., 34, the renter of the beach house, makes it his fulltime residence. We went, with another Milwaukee-area CUFOS Associate, to interview all three witnesses, on the site, on Feb. 5, 1984.
Ms. A. was awakened by a bright light through the bedroom window. As is her habit, she immediately looked at her bedside digital clock to check the time. It was 4:14 a.m. As A. wrote in her Jan. 7 letter to Dr. Hynek: "When I looked through the curtains, I saw a strange craft with exactly three circular lights in a fixed position approximately 50 yards (50 feet, we learned later) from shore. It was lined up with our bedroom window and seemed to be the size of a medium-sized boat, or about 30 or 40 feet long. At first I thought it was the Coast Guard searching for something, but then the center light rotated north, casting a bright light upon the waters, and I noticed the water was rather turbulent."
Despite the rough water, the lights were not moving or bobbing up and down, so she knew that whatever it was, it was not resting on the water. From her past observations of the lake (they moved there in May, 1983), she realized "it was too close to shore to be a barge or carrier and too stationary to be a small boat." The water there is very shallow—only chest high—within 100 yards of shore. We also checked with the Coast Cuard and the Port Washington police department, both of which have access to rescue boats, but all these boats had been taken out of the water for winter.
The three lights were, apparently, slowly turning clockwise around a 30-foot body. One of them was brighter, like a searchlight; it was estimated to be at a distance of 85 to 90 yards and a height of 15 feet. A’s "real-time" description of the searchlight's turning motion gave us a single rotation of 52 seconds.
When the searchlight penetrated the bedroom, A. woke up her husband (L. is a very sound sleeper and he didn't get to bed until after 3 a.m.). His reaction was that it was the Coast Guard. L. is familiar with helicopters from his service in Vietnam; but what he saw out of the window not only didn't look like a helicopter but couldn't be one because of its silence. They could hear nothing but the waves hitting the shore. After three or four minutes L. went back to sleep, telling his wife to keep an eye on the light and give him a report in the morning.
A. thought of calling the police to ask, "Why is there somebody shining their lights in our window?" But, it was now 4:25 a.m. and she thought "it's crazy" for anyone to do that, so she decided not to call.
After awhile a smaller object, also with three lights, emerged from or appeared over the first object. A. woke up L. again, saying, "You've got to see this."
They both watched this small trio of lights hover for a few minutes over the larger craft before disappearing in the darkness. A. said the smaller lights were pinkish, whereas the main lights were white (L. had reported ‘yellow’). L. couldn't stay awake, again telling A. to "keep watching and see what happens."
A. kept watching another half-hour or so while the lights kept rotating. "Eventually, I made out a slightly visible outline which appeared oval-shaped and rather flat in density" (apparently indicating that there were no large differences in contrast between various parts of the oval). There were no features other than the lights. A. still thought, "it must be something ordinary, but I couldn't recognize it as yet."
A. suddenly felt very conspicuous, what with the "searchlight" periodically aimed at her. The light now seemed to be focused into the bedroom for a longer period, so she decided to clock it the next time it came around. "l watched the digital clock [a “Grand Prix” LED that displays hours, minutes and seconds] and this was the peculiar thing: At 4:57 a.m. the light hit the window, and I watched the clock; I was feeling kind of queer...l don't remember exactly how long it was, because then the clock automatically flipped to 5 o'clock...l didn't think it was three minutes."
There is some confusion here, as earlier A. had written, "Then at exactly 4:57 the light shined very brightly into our room, but instead of rotating, it remained fixed on our window. I ducked down, suddenly feeling very conspicuous...l watched and waited for the light to pass and, when it did, the clocked [sic-clock] clicked to 5:00. At that point I became nervous, thinking that whatever it was, was aware I was there, and I went back to bed."
From the bed she watched the craft begin to glide over the water to the southeast. "It moved about 20 or 30 feet and then stopped again, and remained stationary for another 10 or 15 minutes."
Then, at about 5:15, it started to move again, angling upward to the southeast, and disappeared within seconds. A. now knew it could not be any ordinary boat. "It glided like it was sliding over the water...it usually takes about 10 minutes for a barge to move from one side of the window to the other...but this glided away in seconds."
Quoting from A's letter, the last thing that happened is the most unforgettable. "As I was just beginning to fall asleep, I felt what seemed like a powerful electrical shock penetrate my entire body with a loud, overpowering buzzing sound. It lasted only a few seconds but I'll never forget that feeling." Later, she told Dr. Hynek, "It was far more penetrating than putting a finger in an open light socket...more like a convulsion than a shock...l thought I was going to die...and I said," Oh please God!" L. slept though all this.
Meanwhile, at 5:10 a.m., B. was getting up in the beach house to go to work. He observed, successively, through the east and south windows, a thumb-nail sized (at arm's length) oval, pink stationary light out on the lake above the horizon to the east-southeast. It struck him as odd, but he proceeded to get ready for work. Neither then, nor earlier, did B's dog, a Norwegian wolfhound who sleeps in the kitchen on the "inland" side of the beach house, act up. Neighbors with whom we spoke said they hadn't seen anything, very probably because they were asleep.
During the day following the sighting, A. was plagued by a persistent and unexplainable lassitude and drowsiness.
Both A. and L. drew the position and size of the "UFO" on clear overlays placed on Polaroid photos we took from the bedroom window. Using the known focal length of the Polaroid 440 model camera (114 mm) we could thus determine if the the size they drew, from memory, was consistent with size and distance estimates they gave us earlier. Using the equation:
Focal length divided by estimated image size equals distance of object divided by actual size of object,
we arrived at a distance of approximately 25 ft."
At this stage, the present investigators have not come up with any rational explanation of this UFO event. It would be most difficult indeed to ascribe the whole thing to hallucination or to some sort of mirage; this would not be in keeping with the results of the investigation.
Reference for the above text is: International UFO Reporter (CUFOS), March/April 1984, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 3 & 16, “People Who Live in Glass Houses…See UFOs” by Donald R. Schmitt and Richard W. Heiden.
UFOCAT PRN – 120342
UFOCAT URN – 120342 International UFO Reporter (CUFOS), March/April 1984, pp. 3, 16
UFOCAT URN – 190957 UNICAT computer database by Willy Smith (727) #001, no © date
UFOCAT URN – 168016 *U* UFO Computer Database by Larry Hatch, # 14065, © 2002
North America – United States, Wisconsin, Ozaukee. Body of water is Lake Michigan.
Port Washington Latitude 43-23-14 N, Longitude 087-52-32 W (D-M-S)
Lake Michigan Latitude 44-00-30 N, Longitude 086-45-24 W