The global reputation of Nevada’s Area 51 military base has meant that the Silver State is a magnet for UFO enthusiasts.
Thousands of people travel to Nevada each year to look for weird objects in the desert skies.
But the history of the UFO phenomena in Nevada extends far beyond Area 51. A new book is out which details hundreds of strange encounters with unknown objects and a creature of two.
The incidents listed in the book are not so easily explained. They’ve been reported dating back more than a century by credible witnesses from all walks of life.
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In the early 1960s, the X-15 rocket plane flew higher and faster than anything on earth, or so we thought.
During two separate test flights over Nevada’s Mud Lake, X-15 pilots encountered something that flew higher and faster.
“A different pilot saw six objects this time, described as white or silver and they took up a formation around his plane, way, way up there, so clearly these are not ours, if they are doing things that we can’t do. This was a high altitude test, higher than we’ve ever gone,” said Preston Dennett.
One of the pilots stated that he knows there are things out there. Film of the objects was recorded, but never made public. It was ice crystals, the government said years later.
The X-15 incidents are among the hundreds of strange encounters detailed in Preston Dennett’s new book UFOs Over Nevada: True History of Extraterrestrial Encounters in the Silver State.
“There are so many cases,” Dennett said. “I’m guessing one in a hundred people report their sighting officially.”
The I-Team interview took place in front of the aptly named Giant Rock in the California desert. It’s been scarred by fires and graffiti, but was once the site of mass gatherings that made it the center of the UFO universe.
The first big wave of flying saucers was reported in 1947. Dennett says Nevada cases preceded the national UFO hubbub. Weeks before the infamous Roswell incident in New Mexico, two military pilots flying over Lake Mead spotted a weird formation of three odd craft.
“They saw that these weren’t planes at all,” Dennett said. “They were delta-wing shaped craft with no other markings, moving really fast, and they ended up reporting this officially.”
That case remained unidentified, although in later years, the U.S. Air Force did its best to explain away as many UFO reports as it could.
These shape shifting objects were recorded over Las Vegas a few years ago. The book lists dozens of more distinct shapes seen over Nevada military facilities including Nellis Air Force base, Fallon Naval Air Station, Area 51 and the Nevada Test Site (now known as the Nevada National Security Site) during the height of the nuclear testing program.
Officials have always denied ever getting reports of UFOs over those air spaces.
One of the best cases in the book is a report from a military officer whose car died on the outskirts of Tonopah. The officer spotted four flying saucer shaped craft sitting beside Highway 95. He walked toward them to get a closer look.
“All of a sudden, the buzzing sound increases in pitch and all of these objects take off at once and dart away. He’s amazed, he rushes back to his car which now starts fine and reports the sighting to officials,” Dennett said.
Instead of investigating the incident, Project Blue Book assigned a psychologist to evaluate the witness who was said to have suffered from highway hypnosis.
The most spectacular case in the book is from April 1962.
“It’s a fantastic case involving, not only a few hundred witnesses, thousands of witnesses saw this thing as it traveled across the United States,” he said.
A fireball came in over Cuba, traveled up the East Coast, and over New York, made a 45 degree turn to the left, zipped across the U.S. at differing speeds, landed in Utah where it knocked out electrical power, then took off again before exploding over Clark County.”
“The air force labeled it. First they called it a meteor, then they changed their story and called it a balloon.”
The book contains dozens of sightings over the Las Vegas Strip, some of which were photographed, and a smattering of reports from celebrities. Rock drummer Ronnie Vanucci of The Killers saw a red UFO over Highway 95.
Late night radio host Art Bell and his wife saw a gigantic UFO not far from their home in Nye County. Actor and country singer Johnny Sands, in 1973, encountered two of the strangest aliens ever reported while driving near Blue Diamond Road.
Nevada’s UFO godfather, former CIA pilot John Lear, was told by his wife Merilee to give up his passion for flying saucers, that is, until she saw her own.
Filmmaker Jeremy Corbell has been working on a series about Lear and tells about Mrs. Lear’s UFO sighting.
“Then one day she gets called out by her daughter in the backyard right at Sunrise Mountain in Nevada and she sees for herself with her own eyes these two circular flying saucers. She said they were like cans of tuna, tuna fish cans, silver cans, which is not very aerodynamic,” said Corbell, director of Immaculate Deception.
When it comes to UFOs, Dennett says, seeing is believing.
“It really hits people at the core of their being and when they see UFOs are real, it kind of changes your whole world view,” he said.
Between 90 to 95 percent of all UFO incidents are probably explainable — that is misidentifications of known phenomena.
It’s the five percent or so that fuel the imagination. It’s also true that about 90 percent of UFO sightings made by the public are never reported. Also, the stranger the incident, the less likely a person is to tell others about it.