Form: 97, National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2008 07:33:13 -0500
From: Francis Ridge <>
Subject: Close Encounter in Arkansas, Nov. 19, 1989

Cat: : CE-II
Distribution: NICAP,CE,SHG

When Interviewing UFO witnesses, it is not unusual to encounter reluctance on the part of many to be identified by name if their account should ever be printed. The deputy sheriff who gave the following report, however, was particularly emphatic about preserving his anonymity. He insisted that he be known only by a fictitious first name, the county he is employed by be designated only as in northwestern Arkansas, and that the details of his background be limited to the fact that he is a veteran law enforcement officer.

Dale, as we shall call him here, is concerned that the public he serves might read his story and thereafter have serious doubts about his integrity and perhaps even about his sanity. "If I had just seen some strange lights or something crossing the sky, it would be a different story," he says. "I would have gotten a little good-natured ribbing from the guys and laughed it off and went on." But what did happen to Dale was much more than that. The incident can only be classified as a close encounter. A very close encounter.

As Dale drove his patrol car down that remote gravel road in the wee hours of Sunday morning, November 19, 1989, he had no inkling that he was about to have such a once in a lifetime experience. He only knew that the shift, which had begun the previous evening, was developing into a long night of inactivity. "There was absolutely nothing going on," he remembers, "so shortly after midnight I decided to try checking some of the back roads. We have the same problem as they do everywhere else with the local teenagers wanting to slip off somewhere and have a few beers. I know they're just looking for something to do, but I know a few of their favorite spots and I decided to go check them out. Not to write tickets, you know—we usually just make them pour the beer out and send them on their way."

At approximately 1:35 A.M., the deputy came around a sharp right angle corner on a narrow gravel road and got a very unpleasant surprise. "The corner there is not only sharp, it has brush growing out where it keeps you from seeing around it until you actually make the turn. When I got around it far enough to see down the next stretch there sat an old Chevy right out in the middle of the road without a sign of a light on it anywhere. It was out where there was no room to get around it and it was just around the corner. I almost hit it. If  I would have been going a little bit faster I probably would have. As it was I had to slide to a stop on the gravel to keep from it. The patrol car's nose ended up not a bit more than ten or twelve feet from the rear end of the other car."

Dale admits readily that his first reaction was one of anger. "I looked up and there were four teenagers standing alongside of the old Chevy, with all four doors open. Two boys on the driver's side and a couple of girls on the passenger side. They were just standing there, and the first thing that ran through my mind was that they had picked the dumbest place in the world to stop and listen to the radio—you know how kids will do, standing there with the door open and the radio on. But then I noticed something really weird. I had slid to a stop that close behind them, making a lot of noise on the gravel, and none of them even turned around and looked at me. They were just staring at something on down the road in front of them. I figured it had to be something mighty interesting, so I put the car in park and opened the door so I could stand up and get a better look. My car had turned just a little bit when I skidded on the gravel, so my headlights weren't pointing straight down the road, but there was enough light that I could just barely make out a dark bulk of some sort that looked like it was kind of across the road a ways ahead of the other car. The first thing that ran through my mind was that a farm truck had lost control and rolled over on its side, crossways in the road. I immediately reached down and turned my spotlight on and turned it around to shine down in that direction."

Instead of the serious accident that he had expected to see, the beam of the spotlight revealed what Dale referred to as "a scene right out of the twilight zone." As he began to describe what he saw, his years of experience took over and he chose his words carefully, as if testifying in court. "The thing looked like it was made out of some sort of metal, but it wasn't shiny like chrome or anything like that. It was dark gray and dull-looking, sort of like galvanized tin or something on that order. The shape was—well, I hate to say it, but it was just exactly like you would expect a flying saucer to look. Two saucers, really, with one of them upside down on top of the other. I remember noticing that I couldn't see any joint where the edge was, which 'really struck me as being odd because it looked like two halves joined together, but it was just smooth, with no line."

Dale's emotion as he continued with his description of the object was obvious. "What really got to me, though, wasn't the looks of the thing. It was what it was doing. It just sat there in the air, not touching anything. It was absolutely motionless, except for a sort of wobbling motion, and not much of that. The bottom of it couldn't have been more than three or maybe four feet above the road, if that much."

In response to a couple of direct questions, Dale gave a little more detail concerning the UFO's appearance. He estimated it to be about thirty feet across, stating he was fairly certain of that dimension due to the fact that it was right down over the road, giving him something of known width for comparison. He also said that the entire surface of the object was smooth, with no dome or windows.

As strange as this sight was, it did nothing to prepare the deputy for what happened next. About two or three seconds after he shined his spotlight on the object, the light died abruptly. Not only that, but the rest of his patrol car's electrical system went with it. The head-lights, radios, and engine all cut off as though some master switch had been thrown, plunging the entire scene into total darkness. "I'm not a bit ashamed to tell you I was scared," Dale said. "Then I heard one of the girls standing up by the other car sort of sobbing and she said, 'Oh, my God, it got him, too.' That didn't help matters any."

(Later, after talking to the four teenagers after the incident was over, he would understand the significance of that remark. About three minutes before he came around the corner, the other vehicle had rounded it and the driver had noticed something which appeared to be on the road just beyond his headlight beams. He had said something to the others and at the same time flipped his lights up on high beam. They had seen the same thing as Dale would be looking at in his spotlight beam minutes later, and had also gotten only a few seconds to look at it before their car had gone dark and silent. They had gotten out of the car and just stood there, wondering what to do and staring at the dark bulk, until the patrol car had arrived on the scene.)

In the absence of noise from his vehicle's engine, Dale was instantly struck by the absolute silence. "I expected to be hearing whatever it was that was holding the thing up, a jet or an engine or something, but there just wasn't any sound at all. Nothing. Not even the normal sounds you here out in the country at night. One thing, though. You know that ringing you get after you fire a gun or there's some other loud noise? You don't really hear it, like it's coming from anywhere or anything, it's more like it's just there in your head. It was like that, my ears were ringing. But there hadn't been any bang or anything to be the cause of it. The ringing wasn't loud, just enough so it was noticeable when it got so quiet." (He also said that he thought maybe the "ringing" was just because of his fear and excitement, but it remained unchanged throughout the UFO's presence, then faded out when the object departed. He has since decided that something from the object was the direct cause of the ringing in his ears.)

The abrupt change from the scene being brightly lit by the spotlight to the total darkness which followed its failure left the officer un-able to see anything at all for a few moments, but as his eyes slowly adjusted to the change he could see the vague bulk of the object still hanging close above the road. He walked slowly up to join the four youths standing beside the other automobile. From this position he first noticed that the darkness in the vicinity of the UFO was not total — there was a soft bluish green glow on the gravel of the road directly underneath the object apparently emanating from the bottom of the thing. It wasn't very bright, just enough to produce an indistinct round spot where the individual stones could be made out and the color was distinguishable.

Dale said that the five of them found themselves talking in whispers. "There was this overpowering feeling that we were being watched, even though we couldn't see anybody and there were no windows on the thing for us to be looked at through," he remembers. "We just stood there like we were waiting for something to happen, but we didn't know what. I tell you, a lot of weird things went through my mind. 1 was scared, but not because it had really done anything to be threatening. When I got to thinking about it, I guess when two different cars came around that corner and shined bright lights on it while it was just minding its own business, whatever that was, maybe whoever or whatever was in that thing might have felt like they were the ones being threatened. After a little while, I was almost wishing, something would go ahead and happen. I guess the waiting was starting to get to me."

Finally, about a minute and a half after Dale joined the teenagers at their car, something did begin to happen. "The first thing I noticed was that the glow on the ground was slowly getting bigger, like it was spreading out. Then I realized it was because the saucer was beginning to go straight up, real slow. There still wasn't any sound, though, except that ringing in my ears, and when the thing got to maybe twenty five feet or so in the air, even that began to fade out." It was also at about that point that the five witnesses got their first look at the source of the glow that they had seen on the ground under the UFO. Dale describes what they saw: "On the bottom of the saucer there was a sort of ring of light, about the color of one of those yard lights. It wasn't made up of little lights, the whole ring was glowing. It looked sort of like a neon, but it wasn't like a tube, it was flat, even with the bottom of the saucer." When he was asked to estimate the size of this glowing circular band, Dale said it was "probably about ten feet across, and the ring itself was about a foot wide."

The UFO's slow vertical ascent continued until it was approximately a hundred feet or so above the roadway by the deputy's estimate. "It was like it just wanted to be sure it was high enough to clear the trees," he speculated. The glowing ring was the most noticeable feature now, centered on a vague round shape silhouetted against the slightly lighter sky. After seeming to pause and hover for a couple ''Of seconds, the object suddenly shot off in apparently horizontal flight. As Dale put it, "One second it was just sitting there, and the next all you could see of it was a bluish-green streak tearing across the sky toward the northwest."

The already shook witnesses had one more shock coming, however. At the exact same moment as the UFO took off from its hovering position above them, the lights and radios on both vehicles came back to life as suddenly as they had died a few minutes before. Dale laughed about the result. "When the thing had knocked out the kids' car, they had the radio on a rock and roll station with the volume all the way up. I don't have to tell you what happened when it came back on full blast all of a sudden like that. We all jumped like we had been shot at." Both vehicles, when the drivers tried to start them a few moments later, started normally.

The deputy spent several minutes talking to the four young people after the incident was over. All of them were in agreement that they would not report the encounter for fear of being thought crazy. It was only after thinking about it for several days that the officer mentioned seeing a UFO to a member of another department, who knows AUN's editor and assured Dale that he could tell his story without fear of being laughed at or having his name used without permission. He made a phone call and was interviewed in Springfield, Missouri less than three weeks after the sighting.

Dale was obviously shook by his experience. He said that he went back to the scene of the encounter later that same day, hoping that daylight would reveal some evidence of the UFO. All he found was the skid marks in the gravel where he had made his panic stop to avoid running into the old Chevy. He admitted that he had not driven that road after dark since the incident, and indicated that he probably wouldn't for "at least a while yet." His relief at telling someone about what had happened was obvious, but he seemed to be disappointed that the interviewer couldn't give him a firm answer as to what he had seen. He did seem to be reassured by the knowledge that others have had similar experiences in the past, almost as if he doubted his own perception.

Dale paused for almost half a minute when he was asked what he thought about his encounter, gathering his thoughts carefully before answering. Finally, he said, "I was always one who took all these flying saucer stories with a big grain of salt, but I know what I saw, and if others have seen the same thing and had the same thing happen to them it just makes me more sure. What I saw was as real and solid as an airplane, and I looked at it in the spotlight for a little bit from no more than a hundred feet away, at the most. If it would have been a car I could tell you the license plate number. It wasn't just a glimpse of something off in the distance, is what I'm getting at, so it would be awfully hard to convince me it wasn't some kind of plane. As far as where it was from, I don't know. If anyone would have told me before this happened that they believed these things were from another planet I would have laughed at them, but I'm not laughing any more. It would almost be easier to believe that then it would be to think we've got anything like that, that can do things it did without making any noise."

One thing the deputy was completely without hesitation in saying. "Whatever caused the cars to die like that, the saucer or whoever it was on it did it. It was like the lights from the first car bothered them when they shined on the thing, so they got it first. Then when I showed up and shined the spotlight on them, it was like they just cranked the power up on whatever they used to get the kids' car and reached out a little farther and killed mine. There's no doubt in my mind at all that it was done deliberately. I don't claim to know why, but you know how you just get a feeling about something? Well, I got the feeling that they didn't intend to hurt anybody. They just got disturbed while they were doing whatever it was they were up to." Dale smiled as he added a thought that struck him as funny. "Hey, I couldn't figure out what would be back on a lonely road like that in the middle of nowhere to interest a flying saucer, but maybe they were just but parking like our kids do. Wouldn't that be something?"

Before ending the interview, Dale was asked how he would feel if he ever got the chance to see another UFO. His answer expressed the feelings shared by several people who have had close encounters of the type he experienced.

"I guess I'd have to say I'd li'ke to see another one some time, but on my own terms. If I would have driven up on that thing the way I did and it wouldn't have killed my patrol car, I might have even tried to walk up closer. But I couldn't leave because my car was dead. I felt trapped. If I'm going to watch something like that . again, I want it to be my decision."

Source: AUN (Amateur UFOlogy News, Issue 3, June 1992)