Marfa mystery lights of a different sort viewed
By STERRY BUTCHER
MARFA – Last Saturday night, a few hours after the world had been prophesied to end, David Hollander was gazing at the stars from his backyard. Except, one of them didn’t seem too star-like.
“It was nearly directly overhead,” he recalled this week. “It was white and it started to squiggle around and move quite a bit. We watched for a couple hours. An hour into it, we saw something break off and get larger and travel down to the western horizon.”
The light that broke away blinked red and blue. It zipped across the sky, then slowed and stopped before again picking up speed and disappearing to the west.
“It was spectacular when it shot off,” said Hollander. “It went across the entire sky. It didn’t seem like aircraft of any kind. Weird, huh?”
Well, yeah, that’s weird. What’s weirder is that this isn’t the only strange thing being seen overhead. In the last two weeks, multiple people have seen lights, sometimes in triangular or boomerang formation, gliding silently across the night sky.
Gina Leiss was chatting with a friend not long ago outside Maiya’s Restaurant. It was evening. Suddenly, their attention was drawn to what appeared to be planes flying in formation.
“We looked toward the post office and I could see a triangular formation, white lights,” she said. “I didn’t think much about it until a lot of people asked if we’d seen those weird lights. They looked close enough that we should be able hear them if they were planes, but there was no noise. It was odd, I’ll say that.”
The sightings prompted a flurry of responses on Marfalist.org, which is a kind of online bulletin board.
“Did anyone else see the UFO over Marfa Wednesday night around 9:30pm,” someone with the user name Marfa-radio wrote on May 18.
“I saw something last Thursday night after work!” replied someone called Staggerlee. “It was an object flying really low, going super slowly. It was triangular with a weird light at its bottom and strange coruscation at its edges. It was maybe 300 to 400 feet above and made no noise.”
Staggerlee watched for 15 minutes before encountering a Big Bend Sentinel reporter taking a walk, who also saw the thing blink as it moved over the Methodist church. Full disclosure, reader: I was that reporter. The lights we saw were colored and banked smoothly off to the northeast before disappearing into the great, bright field of stars.
“We’re getting a lot of reports throughout the state but not that type of sighting,” said Fletcher Gray, the state’s chief investigator for the Texas chapter of the Mutual UFO Network. MUFON, according to mufondfw.org, was founded in 1969 as “an international scientific organization composed of people seriously interested in studying and researching the phenomenon known as Unidentified Flying Objects.”
Gray logged into MUFON’s database.
“We had one triangle spotted in Dallas-Fort Worth in the last 24 hours,” he said. “We don’t get many reports from your area. It’s sparse in population and people often don’t have computers.”
He speculated that the light formations were drones that are silent due to their surveillance mission.
“Because of the Border Patrol and stepped-up border security and drug cartels, I think it’s the U.S. government clamping down and using drones to secure our borders,” he said. “That’s my personal opinion.”
Drones aren’t likely, said Bill Brooks, spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Marfa Sector.
“If it were drones, we wouldn’t say one way or another – but, you know, drones wouldn’t be lit,” Brooks said. “I wonder if it’s firefighting aviation stuff? They have a C-131 aircraft and helicopters that could appear odd-shaped.”
Good naturedly, Brooks put in a call to Customs and Border Protection air personnel to see if they knew anything about unusual night flights, domestic or alien.
“They said ‘call Roswell,’” Brooks said when he phoned back. “Sounds like a UFO to me.”
McDonald Observatory runs star parties several nights a week and astronomers spend all night looking at lights in the sky. They haven’t seen anything either.
“Space stations and satellites are points of light passing overhead, which doesn’t resemble anything like what people are describing,” said Marc Wetzel, the observatory’s education coordinator. He, too, called around.
Without pictures or video, he said, “I’m stumped. We don’t have sufficient evidence to suggest what it could be.”
So maybe the blinking formations were aircraft. Maybe, as Fletcher Gray suggested, it’s U.S. military planes experimenting with aerodynamics and heat-seeking capabilities. But what about that light that David Hollander saw, the one that dropped away from the first light source, grew in size and shot to the west, stopping and starting before it could no longer be seen?
“Some of what we see is our own and some is unknown,” said Gray, the investigator. “Now, that doesn’t sound like something we have. That’s definitely an unknown.”
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