In a place you would hardly expect, just one hour north of New York City, lies the site of one of the most widely observed and yet most unexplainable set of UFO sightings ever seen. The place is the Hudson Valley, and the story of its strange UFO started on New Years Eve, 1982.
The Hudson UFO mystery
A few minutes before midnight, a retired police officer was out in his backyard in Kent, New York when he observed a group of strange lights off to the south. They were colored red, green and white. At first the former officer thought they belonged to a jet aircraft in trouble, but as the object passed over his house at a height he estimated to be about 500 feet, he realized it was moving much too slowly for a jet and made too little noise. Just a distant humming sound. As he watched, he decided the the lights, which appeared as a “V” shape, were connected by a dark, triangular fuselage.
What the former officer had seen would be observed many times in the Hudson Valley area over the next few years by hundreds of different witnesses: A “V” shaped set of multicolored lights moving slowly and silently across the sky. On March 26th, 1983, a front-page story in the Westchester-Rockland Daily Item proclaimed:
HUNDREDS CLAIM TO HAVE SEEN UFO
The article, which told of sightings of a triangular UFO on Marth 24th, got the attention of a group of UFO researchers in the Valley associated with Dr. J Allen Hynek, founder of the Center for UFO Studies. The group started an investigation of the phenomena which was later documented as a book, Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings, authored by Dr. Hynek and Philip J. Imbrogno, with the help of Bob Pratt.
The group opened up a UFO hotline and received over 300 calls from people that had seen the UFO on the night of March 24th alone. One witness cited in the book reported that it had moved up the Taconic Parkway in “sort of a Z pattern.” He described the object as being triangular in shape with thirty to forty colored lights along the back edge. The object, he stated, was huge, “If there is such a thing as a flying city, this was a flying city.”
The object apparently cruised over the community of Yorktown that evening too where the police switchboard became so jammed with reports, officials became concerned that they would be unable to take emergency calls.
On the Taconic parkway people pulled over to watch the object as it moved slowly on its path. One observer estimated it was “as large as an aircraft carrier.”
The UFO researchers estimated that over 5,000 people had seen the object over a period of five years from 1982 through 1986. Often the UFO seemed to glide over large areas causing dozens of sightings in one night. It was never spotted during the day.
Most reports came from people who seemed to be reliable witnesses. As the authors put it “ordinary people who have seen something extraordinary.” The UFO was seen not just over the Hudson Valley, but as far east as New Haven, Connecticut and as far north as Brookfield, Connecticut.
While most reports described the UFO moving at a very slow speed, hovering, or turning slowly like a wheel, a few reports described the object as suddenly zooming away at fantastic speeds, or just disappearing. In some accounts the shape varied so that the lights appeared as more of a circle than a “V”. Often the color and arrangement of the lights changed as the viewers watched. In a few cases reports arrived that put the object at two distant locations at the same time suggesting there might be more than one of them.
One of the most striking reports that the group gathered was from guards at the Indian Point Nuclear Plant. The UFO apparently hovered over an active nuclear reactor for some minutes coming as close to the reactor dome as thirty feet. The security supervisor even considered ordering guards to shoot it down. One guard described it as being the length of three football fields.
The object also seemed to be interested in bodies of water. One observer watched the UFO over Croton Falls Reservoir where it seemed to use a red beam to probe the surface.
The researchers knew that when investigated most UFO reports turn into reports of IFOs: Identified Flying Objects. Often they turn out to be planes, balloons, satellites, or even the planet Venus. They did find evidence that some of the reports of the “V” shape may have been a group of small planes flying out of the Stormville Airport. The pilots seemed to have been flying their planes in a formation in a deliberate attempt at a UFO hoax.
The plane hoax only cleared up a small number of reports, however. Most observers reported that the lights moved together as a solid object. Others could see the body of the UFO between the lights. None of the observers who had seen both the planes and the object thought they were the same phenomenon.
There are few good explanations for most of the Hudson Valley sightings. The only object that moves slowly through the air and hovers almost silently is a blimp. Researchers contacted all blimp operators in the area and could find no matches between the blimp schedules and the UFO reports. It was widely speculated at the time that object was a formation of ultralight planes. This seems unlikely as the UFO was nearly silent, could hover, and carried tremendously bright lights, all things ultralight aircraft are incapable of doing.
The Hudson Valley UFO remains a mystery even today. If you decide to take a trip to the Hudson Valley to try and see the strange UFO for yourself, you may want to stay at one of the excellent local bed and breakfast Inns. One, the Burlingham Inn, has decided to take advantage of the strange nighttime phenomena by featuring a UFO Bed & Breakfast. They welcome UFO watchers and list UFO sighting as one of the activities for which the Inn is especially well located.