; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The East Bay UFO Landing

Three Contra Costa County, CA boys say they saw an object resembling a flying saucer land in West Pittsburg, CA on the night of May 20, 1977. They fled when unknown creatures came toward them, walking like robots and surrounded by smoke or steam vapor. The Center for UFO Studies, directed by J. Allen Hynek, considered this to be one of only three credible humanoid encounter cases of the year. Since that time there has been some second guessing of this case though it is a lesser recognized close encounter. I have also included 3 other reports during a small flap in 2006-2007 in the same East Bay area of Pittsburg:

On the night of May 20, 1977, three Contra Costa County boys say they saw an object resembling a flying saucer land in West Pittsburg, CA.

They fled in terror when strange creatures came toward them, walking like stiff robots surrounded by smoke or steam vapor.

Police officers and scientists who interviewed the boys said all three told the same story, in detail, in separate interviews, and said the three boys were genuinely and deeply frightened by whatever they experienced that night.

This incident has now gone down in the record books as one of only three apparently credible cases of a "Close Encounter of the Third Kind" reported in the United States last year, according to the Center for UFO Studies in Evanston, III.

The center, directed by J. Allen Hynek, has a number of distinguished scientists as investigators and consultants.

The center was established recently as "a place where people can report UFO incidents without fear of ridicule and with the assurance that there will be a credible follow-up investigation," according to Richard Haines, a psychologist tor a government agency, who as a hobby helped investigate the West Pittsburg UFO sighting.

Haines was impressed by the depth of similar detail in the separate stories told by the three 14-year-old boys. However, he noted, there is no independent corroborating evidence by other eyewitnesses.

The boys are not expert observers (such as pilots or ship navigators). There were no UFO radar sightings that night. There were no obvious marks on the ground or magnetic changes in the earth at the supposed landing site when Haines visted the location a month later.

There is a chance this could be a hoax or some kind of illusion, he said, noting that there are many possible psychological interpretations of such a story told by boys from broken or incomplete homes who were out late at night, in a strange, dark place.

He noted that the boys reported getting only brief, ill-defined views of whatever it was they encountered. Further interviews under hypnosis probably would not produce more details.

For these reasons, Haines concluded, "I do not believe that the evidence which now exists, as of this time, warrants further investigation."

This incident in Contra Costa County has gone into the international record books. People interested in the question of unidentified flying objects will be talking about it and writing about it for years.

For that reason, it is worth examining in some detail.

As a historic event, the incident at West Pittsburg is one of the last reported sightings of allegedly alien creatures to have occurred in the United States before the advent of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." The movie made UFO-watching a popular backyard sport in the United States.

The three boys, then 14-years-old, who reported the sighting are:

• Lennie Young, who then lived with his mother, Mary Clark, at 10 Roberts St., West Pittsburg. He now lives with grandparents in Walnut Creek.

Lennie said he is familiar with the area and has spent "many nights" in the meadow where the sighting happened and "knows" that what he saw was not human beings walking in the darkness.

• George Ferrera, son of Muriel Wilder, of 320 First Avenue South, Pacheoo. He had never before been to West Pittsburg and came to town to spend the night with his friend Patrick, who used to live in Pacheco. Police said George was the calmest of the frightened trio on the night of the sightings. His mother said he still has nightmares about the event. "I think he saw a UFO," Mrs. Wilder said.

• Patrick Morrison, who then lived at 90 Bay View Avenue (around the corner from Lennie Young) in West Pittsburg. The boys fled in terror to Morrison's home after the sighting. His mother, Wanda Morrison, recently remarried and they now live on Clear Land Circle.

Sometime before 11 p.m. the three were at a grassy field north of Willow Pass Road near Mallard Slough Road, in an area between the Santa Fe Railroad tracks and the marsh at the edge of Suisun Bay.

They were considering hitchhiking to the nearby community of Shore Acres or going to "The Pump House," a nearby unauthorized gathering place for local young people.

The pump house, which is near the reported UFO landing, site, is a castle-like structure of i concrete and steel, complete with a moat and a bridge, housing the pumps which during some seasons lift fresh water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the Treated Water Division of the Contra Costa County Water District.

According to the story the boys later told to Haines and to Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff Douglas Pendleton, they saw a group of bright red lights, apparently joined together, with a blue light flitting like a firefly around the other lights. They said the object flew away rapidly (covering what on the map would be more than three miles in about five seconds) and then came back and landed nearby.

The descriptions vary somewhat, but all remember it having a row of square lights, like windows, with one "window" larger than the others. None of the boys call it a "flying saucer.' Young said it was "round but flat." Ferrera compared it to a flying building. Morrison recalls lights blinking on and off and reflecting from the sides of the flying object.

Then, the boys said, emerging from darkness between themselves and the UFO they saw three creatures 50 to 150 feet away, barely visible in the light from two street lamps and a nearby liquor store.

Lennie Young remembers, "'They were like smoke. They were black. They had no faces. I don't know if they had arms or heads. It was like they had no clothes on. They were walking towards us. They were about 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet tall.

"I've stayed out all night in that field several times and I know what people look like walking in the dark. They were not people They were something else."

Pat Morrison said, "They wore weird looking, walking slow. They looked like they were wearing long skirts over their heads. They were black. They walked as if they were linked together," (like figures in a chain gang).

George Ferrera remembers them as "gray objects, with a kind of human shape, but no eyes. They walked like robots.' George's mother said since that night the youth has had nightmares and refuses to go back to West Pittsburg. "His friends had a hard time convincing him to go see the movie 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' Mrs. Wilder said.

Haines said that as the boys fled in terror to Pat Morrison's house, they said they looked back, and for a while the figures seemed to be following close behind.

Mrs. Morrison called the sheriff's office.

Pendleton said all three gave the same story and offered to take a lie detector test. The boys did not appear to have been drinking or using drugs, Pendleton said. The deputy said the boys appeared to be genuinely terrified and one boy was shaking badly.

Haines, who works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and makes UFO investigation his avocation, said he has conducted 3,000 UFO inquiries, concentrating on sightings by pilots. He is writing a book on the subject.

"I found that the three boys had a consistent story with a level of detail present that does not appear to have been manufactured. If they had made up the story, they would have had to remember it very well. Their fright was very real," Haines said.

He determined that the weather was clear and it was unlikely that the boys were seeing their own shadows reflected on ground fog. He said no American airplanes carry the colors described by the boys. He made a magnetometer survey of the grassy field and found no evidence of magnetic changes or scorched grass or holes at the supposed UFO landing site.

While the pyschologist was making engineering surveys, a well-known engineer was trying to probe into young Ferrera's unconscious memories, but found the boy was not a good subject for hypnosis.

James A. Harder, a professor of hydraulic engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, investigated the West Pittsburg sighting in his capacity as director of research for the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization in Tucson, AZ.

Harder said there was no physical evidence at the scene and his talks with the boys Indicated, "There was nothing more we could recover other than what they had already talked about."

Allan Hendry, editor of the International UFO Reporter said, "This is a 50-50 case if there ever was one."

Hendry said he talked to the airport tower supervisors who were on duty at the time at Oakland, San Francisco and Travis Air Force Base and said there were no reports of UFOs-by pilots or on radar that night. He said two aerial advertising firms in Oakland were not flying at the time. - FRED GARRETSON - Oakland Tribune (Oakland, CA), Apr. 2, 1978 - "Eastbay close encounter: Contra Costa UFO rates 'credible third kind' label"


Pittsburg, California (1-15-2007)

Witness statement - unedited: I live in Pittsburg California. At about 6:55 pm I was on my way to the grocery store headed east on frontage road with my 10 year old daughter. I noticed two brigt reddish orange lights moving slow above highway 4, railroad exit, thought it was helicopters, and I ask my daughter what is that? I do not hear any noise, like a helicopter sounds. I noticed these objects, two, turning west very slowly, so I made a u-turn and told my daughter that I wanted to get the binoculars from our home, I noticed the objects were above my vehicle like they were following us? When we arrived at home, I asked my daughter to get her father and and my 16 year old daughter.

We got the binoculars, my husband and my 10 year dauhgter both said it looked like balls of fire, and my husband said, there is three balls not two, at this time about 7:10pm the objects were abouve us while we were standing on the sidewalk. When I tried to look at these objects, I only seen a second of one of them and it looked like a bright fire ball, then it dissapeared. My 16 year old tried to look thru the bionculars and could not see anything.

After I seen one dissapear, the other two followed after. I did not think of a camera at the time, I was curious about the objects, what they were? I did not know whom to call, I opened the phone book and called 911 non emergency and asked if there was any one I could call about this sighting, and if any one else had called obout it, the reply that the gentleman gave me was he had no idea whom I could call and that no one else had called in. I then went on line to Yahoo and located a number to call,it is called UFO North West, the gentlemans name is William Puckett, phone# 1866-611-8367. My family and I looked up at the sky several times after to see if we could see anything, nothing. Then at 9:30 pm. my husband went out to have a cigar, then yelled, Lisa, Lisa, I see one again! It was east of our front yard, just one this time, I called my 16 year old daughter because I asked her to have her poloroid digital camera ready just in case, she took a picture of this object, had it zoomed in a 3x, I also called my neighbors a husband and wife and their two sons to see this object, they were able to see it for about ten minutes, then it dissapeard. When we looked at picture it looked like three objects instead one? Immediatly I called Mr.Puckett and emailed him the photo.He was kind enough to forward the information to the Mutual UFO Network.

Hopefully someone in the City of Pittsburg seen also what we saw and will report it. I have never seen anything like this before, My family and I were astonished by this sighting, we were quite excited to see what we believe was a ufo. - MUFON CMS

Date of Sighting: January 15, 2007
Time of Sighting: 6:55 PM and Again at 9:30 PM PST
Date Reported: January 15, 2007
Duration of Sightings: First Sighting Lasted 15 to 20 Minutes. (2nd Sighting Was of Shorter Duration, But Exaction Duration is Unknown.)
Location of Sighting: Pittsburg, California (About 50 Miles Northeast of San Francisco)
Latitude: 38.0 Degrees North
Longitude: 121.89 Degrees West
Number of Witnesses: At Least Eight
Number of Witnesses Interviewed: Two
Weather: Clear Skies. Stars Visible.

Description: Three witnesses (parents and 10 year old daughter) saw three bright orange fireballs at two separate times (6:55 PM and 9:30 PM). The witness (mother) was driving home and noticed the fireballs in the sky at 6:55 PM. She said that they were moving very slowly southward at constant very slow speed. They gradually disappeared and were visible for nearly 20 minutes. The witness had arrived home before the fireballs disappeared. The fireballs were viewed through binoculars by one of the witnesses (husband). Apparently the motion was linear and continued southward. No sound was heard. The witness reported the first sighting to me within 20 minutes. Shortly after 9:30 PM I received another call from the witness saying that they saw the fireballs again. This time they were not moving and were hovering (east of the witnesses). This time the daughter managed to take a photo (see above). I interviewed the daughter and she said that when the fireballs disappeared (on both occasions) they exploded into green, blue, and red stars. The fireballs were about twice the size of the brightest star. The photo was taken with a Polaroid Digital Camera Model i533 at 3X Zoom. (The camera had a resolution of 6 megapixels.)

Investigator's Notes: I originally thought that the fireballs were meteors or space debris, but changed my position given the lengthy time of the first sighting (about 20 minutes). The photo above suggests little (if any) movement because there is no apparent "time exposure" in the photo. The drawing provided by the 10 year old witness shows much more detail than what was revealed by the photo. This is quite possible given that the photo was a brief "snapshot" of one sighting and both sightings lasted several minutes. Given available information I have no explanation for what the witnesses saw and photographed.

Notes From Steve Reichmuth (MUFON Investigator in the Local Area): Steve interviewed a total of eight witnesses from two families that saw the lights. Apparently the lights looked much different than what was seen in the photo. Steve said that some of the witnesses looked at the light through binoculars of 50X power. They saw a circular bright light. The additional witnesses from the second family were only privy to the second sighting. I have enhanced the photo above by increasing the brightness. This enhancement shows that the lights may have been joined although the joining could be due to movement that is faster than the shutter speed of the camera.


Date of Sighting: November, 2006 (Exact Date Unknown)
Time of Sighting: 11 PM PST
Date Sighting Reported: May 9, 2007
Duration of Sighting: Witness Took 18 Seconds of Video Footage
Location of Sighting: Pittsburgh, California (About 50 Miles Northeast of San Francisco)
Latitude: 38.0 Degrees North
Longitude: 121.89 Degrees West
Number of Witnesses: One
Weather: Not Known.

Description: The witness sent the video which she said was taken from her residence. She has previously sent several photos of other UFO sightings that occurred on July 5, 2006. Click here to read this report. The witness stated that this object to the east of her residence. She has not provided any further detail. The video was taken with a digital camera. (Many new digital cameras will take videos if they are equipped with a high storage memory stick.)

Investigator's Notes: This is a strange video, but more information needs to be acquired before anything definitive can be said. I have spoken with the witness on the phone a couple of times and she seems quite sincere. She claims to possess some "inituitive" powers to where UFOs will show up. She also stated that she has had received implants in some "encounters." The witness is quite proficient with photo and video editing software. Skeptics might use this argument to discount the authenticity of her footage.


Date of Sighting: July 5, 2006
Time of Sighting: 5 AM PDT (Time Needs to Be Confirmed)
Date Sighting Reported: April 30, 2007
Duration of Sighting: Witness Took 24 Minutes of Video Footage
Location of Sighting: Pittsburgh, California (About 50 Miles Northeast of San Francisco)
Latitude: 38.0 Degrees North
Longitude: 121.89 Degrees West
Number of Witnesses: Three
Number of Witnesses Interviewed: One
Weather: Cloudy Skies. Visibility 10 Miles.

Description: The witness wrote a long description of the experience. For clarity the witness report has been shortened. According to the witness several sightings had been made over a period of time near a power plant in Pittsburgh, California. (The witness did not specify how many sightings occurred and the length of the time period.) The above images were extracted from a 24 minute video taken early in the morning on July 5, 2006. The witness said that she "filled in half of the face by copying and pasting a mirror image" using graphics editing software. The result was the above image of a face which the witness describes as "alien." The other image of "ship" was annotated by the witness to show positions of the "ships" and the nearby power plant. This witness also captured an interesting video of "gold fish" shaped object in November of 2006. Click here to read this report.

Investigator's Notes: The images sent by witness are quite interesting. The one image does indeed resemble a face. However, given that this image has been edited it is difficult to say this image represents anything unusual. The other image extracted from the video with annotations is intriquing. The apparent ship is not evident when you look at the raw image extracted from the video, but when the image is blown up it reveals some sort of structure. This video was taken towards the east at sunrise. There is a possibility that the image could be a reflection of something rather than a real object. More analysis of the area is really needed to check for these possibilities. The witness claims to possess intuition of when and where UFO activity will occur. She that was the case when this video was taken.

UFOs Over California: A True History Of Extraterrestrial Encounters In The Golden State (Schiffer Books)

Supernatural California: A Golden State Guide to Ufos, Extraterrestrials, Ghosts, Hauntings, Cryptozoological Creatures, Psychics, Mediums, Miracles, Mystical Spots, Buried Tr

California UFO's & Extraterrestrials!: A Look at the Sightings & Science in Our State! (Carole Marsh California Books)