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On this day in 1994 in West Michigan, flickering lights resembling Christmas lights or a string of airplanes flying close together were reported to authorities by several perplexed 911 callers.
The UFO sightings and subsequent calls came in a frenzy on March 8, 1994 as these mysterious objects in the sky were described as flickering Christmas lights moving in frenetic fashion. Callers, almost second-guessing themselves at times, asked about low-flying planes, military activity and just about anything else they could think of.
“I feel kinda silly calling,” one caller says. “I don’t know if you guys do anything on UFOs at all, but I got the real one,” a more confident witness says. “They’re out there. They ain’t airplanes,” another woman says in the dispatch recording.
The reported UFO sightings grabbed national headlines, served as chatter for late night talk shows, radio shows, and even had its own History Channel special in 2008. While it’s had its fair share of attention in 23 years, the incident remains one of Michigan’s most head-scratching, unsolved mysteries.
Videos compiling the 911 dispatch calls highlight the confusion, disbelief and natural second-guessing between police and witnesses spread between Muskegon, Ottawa, Berrien and Allegan counties.
In a call between police and the National Weather Service, an officer says “we’ve had about 60 UFO calls,” to which the NWS operator audibly sighs and replies “Oh jeez.”
The conversation that starts at around the six-minute mark in the video below begins as light-hearted and dismissive before the NWS operator takes a look at the radar.
“Yeah, there’s something big down there … that’s really strange,” the NWS operator says in the call with police. “It’s moving towards the west-southwest, looks like a big blob. It was up about 6,000-feet or so … it disappears … it’s moving.”
After a brief silence, the NWS operator says “I’m getting it now at about 12,000 feet, it’s a pretty strong return. Oh my God what is this? Now I’m getting three of them and uh, there about separated by about 5,000 feet in height.”
In describing the objects, the NWS operator says “I’m seeing three, they look like a triangle on my scope” one by South Haven, another over Lake Michigan, one east of Benton Harbor near Decatur, and a fourth appears while he’s talking over Berrien County.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, not even when I’m doing storms,” the operator says. “These aren’t storms.”
In the aftermath, researchers were able to say that, whatever it was, it wasn’t a small plane, gas, a blimp, weather balloon, satellite, shooting stars, military aircraft or debris, the Chicago Tribune reports in 1995.
The passionate phenomenon of UFO sightings and seekers has been around for decades, fueled by stories eye-witness accounts, including the famous story of a spacecraft that reportedly crashed in the New Mexico desert in 1947.