Object Mistaken For Emergency Vehicle Dodges FI's
October 4, 1974

21 April 2023

OP-1 (Now called OP-2)

The team was at the lower left at the turnaround. The UFO approached us extremely low from the west over the corn field, then turned and headed south near highway 69.  This was no coincidence. It knew we were there!  That was in 1974. Today we refer to this area as OP-2. OP-1 is the observation site at Norris City, Illinois.

October 4th, 1974. The image above is Bellefountaine Cemetery, one mile north of Mt. Vernon, Indiana. It is on a hill, and in the evening it is dark and the highway to the west is generally free of much traffic. In 1974 most of the trees were not there or were very small, and the circular drive at the lower left now referred to as the "turnaround" was a great spot to set up a skywatch. To the right of the cemetery and highway 69 is a field with a low spot that is basically a ditch running east and west. It terminates at the highway which runs north to south. farmers rotate their crops but In 1974 that area to the right was a cornfield.

There had been no recent UFO sightings, so we were not out there to watch for UFOs. We were out there to see  an IFO, an IDENTIFIED Flying Object. Everybody was reporting it and we wanted to see why it was so interesting. So why would a real UFO show up? I wondered about that for years. Then when I heard about the "tic tac" that knew where the carrier FA-18 hornet's contact point (40 miles away) was and beat the pilots there in less than a minute, it began to make sense.

The IFO we saw that night at 8:20 pm was interesting. But what we saw at 8:45 didn't sink in until the next day, and has haunted us ever since. And it couldn't have just been a coincidence. It knew we were there, and instead of flying over us, it  took evasive action and turned south and headed toward the city.

I had been in Mt. Vernon almost two years. I was the local "UFO expert" and had made the news several times in 1973 during the massive sighting wave that had occurred all over the world, but especially the United States.  Being a store manager I had made friends with two businessmen as well. One was a banker; the other another store manager. UFOs were a new thing to them, but they were interested. We were all amateur astronomers to boot. 

That week there had been several reports of an object with lights around it filed at our UFO Filter Center. One caller made it possible for us to see the object from the front porch of the Center as it moved into the East at an estimated range of 3-5 miles.  The control tower (ARTC) at Dress-Regional advised that a new FAA see-and-be-seen lighting system was being used by a jet airliner, Delta 556, as it came in on Jet Airway 29 from Memphis, Tennessee to Evansville, Indiana. It would come in with what looked like one headlight (far away) that appeared to split in two (now closer) and then as it dropped down to 4,000' and headed for the airport it kicked on the new lights. Pretty awesome to see and no sound that we could discern at that range.  We had made up our minds to go to OP-1 the next few nights and observe this IFO (Identified Flying Object) that people were seeing.

That night of October 4, 1974, the weather was nice and the skies were dark and clear. We had had a report the night before about a cylindrical object in the sky but also had planned a routine skywatch and we had already set up at OP-1, out of our cars. Delta 556 had flown in at 20-minutes after 8:00 p.m. and in the weeks and months down the road we began to refer to it as "the 820". We had been there a while and saw flashing red lights on what appeared to be a police, sheriff or fire department vehicle approaching from the west toward observers over an apparent hill and then turning south on Hwy 69 and heading into Mt. Vernon. No siren was heard. The distance was less than a quarter mile and closing up to turn and the object appeared to be moving at the same speed of an emergency vehicle negotiating this terrain. Keep in mind that up to this point (and for those nights before and after), there was no UFO operating in the area. The source of the reports coming in were solely Delta 556.

But what my team saw the night of on the 4th at 8:45 was real, was at one point less than a quarter of a mile away, was a lighted object flying extremely low, and turned as if to avoid passing over us. The only thing between us and the object was a cornfield and the cemetery.  It would appear that the UFO was there because WE were there. But we were reluctant to file a report on it.  Later, when I was copying reports of re-evaluated incidents to Dan Wright, MUFON's Deputy Director of Investigations, this report was included.

Fran Ridge
MADAR Director