The Texas sky is full of bewildering and bemusing sights. Here are the most well documented of these. But be careful where you tread. This round up might lead you down a dark, twisty turny Rabbit Hole, home to strange supernatural phenomenons and clandestine government agendas...
Glowing Cigar-shaped Craft Lands on Road, Disables Vehicles
People passing through Levelland, Texas (right outside Lubbock) on the night of November 2nd, 1952, were in a scary place at a scary time.
The first 911 call is made by Pedro Saucedo. His truck has abruptly broken down - the engine and electrical system are unresponsive. But that's not why he's calling. Parked in front of him is a 200-foot glowing cigar shaped object. Before you know it, it lifts up and goes about its way. Pedro's truck starts working again.
This is the first of several calls just like this. The "object" makes its way through the small Texas town, routinely landing on the side of the road, and disabling vehicles in the process. It's not always the same color, though - sometimes it's blue, sometimes it's orange. It eventually disappears for good.
So, what did these frightened Texans witness? So far, the only explanations tossed onto the table - besides, well, aliens - have been ball lighting or some kind of electrical storm. Scientists know very little about ball lightning, but they do know that it does not hop and skip along roadways and disable vehicles.
Strange Lights Haunt Lubbock for Month
It's 9 pm on August 25th, 1951. World War II has turned into a fleeting memory. The Baby Boom is well underway. Things are looking up in America. In fact, Americans are looking up.
Specifically, a group of professors from the Texas technological college in Lubbock. They are hanging out in Dr. W.I. Robinson's backyard when they spot a V or U shaped arrangement of extremely bright lights - brighter than Venus even - zipping through the sky!
But that's not all. The same string of lights is spotted flying over the area for the next month. The lights now have a reputation. Texans are actively looking for them. Some witness bright white lights, while others notice a blue or orange tinge. Some even see a wing, as if the lights are attached to some sort of air craft. Luckily, 16-year-old Carl Hart Jr snaps five photos of the orbs. Now there was hard evidence, not just secondhand accounts, to investigate!
The Air Force is just as bewildered as the witnesses, though. Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the eventual director of Project Blue Book, visits. He doesn't come up with anything.
For a brief period of time, locals toy with the idea that these lights could be plovers, a type of water bird. But that theory is quickly put to bed. Today, the delicious mystery of the Lubbock Lights is still unsolved.
That doesn't mean people aren't theorizing. Although "earthlights," or "earthquake lights," aren't a well-known natural phenomenon just yet, that's one favorite go-to explanation for many UFO sightings. The idea is that our skies are filled with strange electrical energy that can create phenomenal light shows. The Marfa lights (another top Texas UFO sighting) also falls into this category.
Songs have been inspired by them. Movies have been made about them. And ufologists have been writing about them. And until we figure out what they are, people will be fascinated by the Lubbock Lights.
Air Ship Crashes, Witnesses Bury Alien Pilot
In the 1800s, debunking UFOs wasn't really a thing. Believing in UFOs sure was, though. Americans readily accepted that astronauts from other planets visited and sometimes even crash landed on Planet Earth.
That's because if something wasn't a bird, blimp, balloon, or kite... it was a UFO. The Wright Brothers had yet to make anything fly. Drones and top-secret military crafts weren't around just yet.
Although Roswell gets all the attention, the 1897 Aurora, Texas UFO incident... or, crash... is eerily similar to it, and is actually much more dramatic. Legend, old newspaper clippings, and witnesses tell of an air ship hitting a wind mill and crashing, killing the extra terrestrial pilot inside. Witnesses recovered the body and gave it a Christian burial in an unmarked grave at the local cemetery. Shortly afterward, the military swooped in to investigate, but the only thing they appeared to do was get the locals to shut up about it.
For example, when MUFON visited the Aurora cemetery, they did indeed track down an unmarked grave featuring a flying saucer-adorned headstone. When they attempted to exhume the body, however, the city would not let them.
Despite the well-documented witness reports (some made as recently as 1972 - a living witness recalled seeing the alien body as a 15 year old), and military involvement, a theory that the incident was a hoax caught on. Former mayor Barbar Brammer theorized that the journalist who first reported on the story was trying to bring life to a city that had recently endured tragedy after tragedy. But Brammer was either mistaken or trying to cover up the incident. Several of the claims she made were totally wrong.
Military Tries to Cover Up Strange Stephenville Lights
The Stephenville Lights has been one of the most incredible and persistently investigated UFO sightings in the world. In January of 2008, Texans watched a set of glowing red/orange orbs, possibly making up a craft the size of a football field, slowly and quietly fly over their heads. This is very similar to another much talked about UFO case, the Phoenix Lights.
While it took a few years to get the facts straight, thanks to radar evidence, we now know that there absolutely was an unidentified craft passing through Stephenville and it was apparently headed toward President George Bush's ranch in Crawford. Several F16s either pursued or chaperoned it.
We also know that the military was dishonest about it, and that the journalist who broke the story eventually left the local newspaper to pursue the investigation full time.
Strange, Centuries-old UFOs in Real Time: the Marfa Lights
Want to see a UFO? Just driver over to the Marfa, Texas view park at night and there's a decent chance you'll see one... or three. For over a century, people living in this part of Texas have been seeing mysterious lights pop in and out of existence, and sometimes even fly about. They're not always the same color, but they are always a spectacular sight.
Some witnesses describe them as playful, while others are a little more disturbed by them. However you slice it, the Marfa Lights are a real-time UFO attraction.
So, what's going on here? Leading theories include "earthquake lights," a relatively new scientific phenomenon still smothered in mystery. This theory has also been used to describe the Lubbock Lights (also a top Texas UFO sighting).
However, Wikipedia and other sources claim these lights are simply reflections from cars and campfires - they just appear goofy like this due to unusual atmospheric conditions.
However, the Marfa Lights were a reported phenomenon in the 1800s, before the invention of cars.
Flame-Throwing Craft Poisons Witnesses with Radiation
If anyone tells you UFOs aren't real, you might want to tell them about the UFO that gave Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, and Vickie's 7-year-old grandson real radiation poisoning.
On a chilly December night in 1980, the three were driving through the Piney Woods of Texas, north of Houston.
They noticed a bright light in the sky, but didn't think too much of it. However, as they got closer to it, they realized it wasn't just a light, but a large glowing craft - shaped like a diamond missing its top and bottom, and spitting out flames beneath it. Vickie - the older of the two women - thought it was the end of the world. The women then stepped outside the vehicle, and were immediately slapped in the face with intense, burning heat. They hurried back into the car. The dangerous craft then lifted itself up into the air and took off, but now it was joined by over 20 helicopters. All left the scene.
If only that was all there was to the story. Unfortunately, the three witnesses continued to suffer from radiation sickness.
Cash has been pursuing the government for answers - as well as money for medical damages - ever since. The government claims no involvement however, and will not give Cash an answer or a dime.
One theory is that the craft was the military's, specifically a Lenticular Reentry Vehicle, which was only made public by the Freedom of Information Act decades after the incident.
Foo Fighter Pursues Military Jet
One of the most important UFO cases in history was one that some Texans happened to get a glimpse of - however, the main audience was the 6-member crew of the Air Force's RB-47 jet.
On July 17th, 1957, the craft was traveling from Mississippi to Oklahoma. For about 700 miles of its journey, however, it was pursued and attacked by a large glowing orb (or foo fighter, as the military came to know them in World War II).
The orb disappeared and reappeared, changed colors, and eventually zoomed off - it's even possible there was more than one.
Radar confirmed the encounter.
The predatory ball or balls of light were so large that they were witnessed by many on the ground, including folks in East Texas. Eventually the Air Force would acknowledge the event, but claim the RB-47 was simply tracking an airliner, a claim investigator and physicist Gordon David Thayer dubbed "literally ridiculous."