of sighting: January 5, 2000
Location of sighting: Illinois, United States
famous UFO case involved the sighting of a huge unidentified
triangular-shaped UFO by police officers and others in
the early morning hours of January 5, 2000, over the state
of Illinois. The officers, from a number of small Illinois
towns, were able to track the unknown object and maintain
radio contact with each other during the event. Their
in-depth testimonies have been fully documented by investigators.
of object by Officer Barton; Lebanon, Illinois Police
of rear of object, by Officer Stevens; Millstadt, Illinois
REPORT SKETCH, Officer Martin; Shiloh, Illinois Police
The UFO passes Milstadt, Illinois police officer Craig
approximately 4:28am. (Video Frame from "The Edge
of Reality: Illinois UFO, January 5, 2000")
reconstruction of Illinios UFO
to the Illinois sighting. Top row: Police Officer Craig
Stevens (left), and Officer Ed
Barton. Bottom row: Melvern Noll (left), and Steven Wonnacott.
(source: The Riverfront Times, St. Louis)
David B. Marler, Illinois State Director, MUFON Journal
No. 383 (March 2000)
police officers track UFO near Scott AFB"
my ten years of investigating UFOs, I have never had a
case like the one that occurred in the early morning hours
of Jan. 5, 2000. The UFO incident involved multiple witnesses,
which mainly consisted of police officers from a number
of small Illinois towns.
officers were able to track the unknown object and maintain
radio contact with each other during the event. Adding
to this, Scott Air Force Base was only two miles away
from the flight path of the UFO. This episode became the
focus of intense media coverage, which continued weeks
after the actual event.
first person to notice anything unusual that early morning
was Melvern Noll. Noll is the owner of a miniature golf
course located in Highland, IL, which is approximately
24 miles from St. Louis, MO. During the off-season he
is a truck driver making deliveries at all hours of the
day and night.
was returning from a delivery run he had just completed
at approximately 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 5. Before returning
home, he thought he would check his miniature golf course
and make sure everything was in order. He parked his truck
in the back of the building and began to exit the vehicle.
While doing so, he noticed a "bright star" over
in the northeast sky. He didn't give it much thought at
the time and proceeded to enter the building, After checking
things inside, he was returning to his truck when he again
noticed the "bright star" in the northeast sky.
This time he stopped and observed it more closely.
noticed the light was, in fact, moving in his general
direction. In just a few minutes, Noll noticed the bright
white light was only part of a larger object. It appeared
to be rectangular in shape and was comparable to the size
of a football field. Noll added that the object was also
object had a series of "windows" that ran down
the side. He also noticed two "floors," each
having two "windows." These were described as
rectangular with an intense white light radiating out
from them. The "windows" appeared to be located
more toward the rear of the object. When the object was
very close, Noll stated he could see a large number of
dim red lights on the bottom. He assumed the exterior
color must have been black or dark gray.
description he used to initially describe the object was
"like a two-story house" in the sky. During
this time, Noll did not notice any sound, odor, or emission
coming from the object. As it moved away to the southwest
he noticed "windows" on the back of the object.
He added that these appeared to have a series of lines
or bars in them that ran up and down.
object appeared to move in a northeast to southwest direction.
The speed was determined to be slow when compared to conventional
aircraft. Noll said he recalls the object slowing down
as it passed close to him before regaining speed as it
moved away. Noll estimated the object was possibly a half-mile
distant when it moved closest to his location. The altitude
was estimated to be approximately 500 feet, and the duration
of this sighting was estimated to be around 5 minutes.
promptly drove his pickup truck to the Highland Police
Station. He thought that nobody would believe him unless
the Highland Police could contact a neighboring town's
police officer who could verify that there was something
strange in the sky.
dispatcher at the Highland Police Department listened
to Noll's account and determined that he was a rational
individual, despite his unusual claim. She then contacted
the Lebanon Police Department. Officer Ed Barton responded
to the call around 4:10-4:15 a.m.
Barton was initially skeptical upon hearing the transmission.
He asked the dispatchers if they were joking. They stated
they were not joking. He then proceeded to the north end
of town, past Homer Park, on Widicus Road. He did not
see anything in the sky at this time. He then followed
Widicus Road as it turns from the north to the east, heading
towards Illinois Route 4.
halfway to Route 4, Officer Barton observed two large
brilliant white lights in the northeastern sky. The lights
appeared so close together that he thought they were almost
touching each other. He stated the lights were so brilliant
in intensity that the light rays radiated outward like
the symbol of the Japanese Rising Sun battle flag from
World War II. He became curious and decided to drive a
arriving at Illinois Route 4, Officer Barton turned south,
heading back towards Lebanon. He was able to observe the
lights to his left through his driver's side window as
he was proceeding into town. At some point, as he was
alternately watching the lights and the road in front
of him, the two bright lights now appeared to be one bright
light. At this point, he switched on his overhead lights,
now believing this could possibly be an aircraft having
arriving in town, he made a left turn onto East Route
50 and proceeded east to a bridge at the bottom of the
hill. At this point, while he was still driving, he noticed
the one bright light appeared as an elongated cigar-shaped
object. The object seemed to be stationary in the sky
over the northeast end of the neighboring town of Summerfield.
Barton stopped his vehicle on the side of the road, because
he now noticed the object appeared to be heading in his
direction. He stated it was not moving very fast, but
not very slow either. Upon stopping the vehicle, he turned
off all the lights and his squad car's radio in an attempt
to hear any noise possibly coming from the object. No
noise was evident.
it approached, he noticed the distinct shape of the object.
It appeared as a massive, elongated, narrow triangle,
larger in length than width. The apparent size of the
object was conservatively estimated to be approximately
75 ft in length and 40 ft in width. At each corner, Officer
Barton observed a massive bright, white light.
lights did not waver in intensity and appeared to be pointing
straight down. He stated they did not light up the ground,
but were very bright. In addition, there was one smaller
flashing red light situated closer to the two rear white
lights, yet in the midline of the object. He noticed that
the object was blotting out the stars above it as it passed
by him. He still could not discern any noise emanating
from the object.
this time, the object appeared to be closest to Officer
Barton, and he estimated it was no more than 100 feet
distant and approximately 1000 feet above the ground.
Then he observed the object rotating in the sky from a
southerly heading to that of a southwesterly direction.
As it rotated, the object did not bank as is expected
of conventional aircraft. Rather, the object pivoted in
mid-air without tilting to one side or the other and remained
this point, Officer Barton radioed Central Command to
tell them what he was observing, as well as its current
location. In between transmissions, he stopped for a moment
as the craft dramatically increased speed. The object
was moving at a relatively slow pace at the beginning
of his transmission, but accelerated so fast he could
barely track the movement with his eyes.
was able to observe the rear of the object before this
display of velocity, and his best analogy is in comparing
it to the Millenium Falcon spacecraft from the motion
picture "Star Wars." It appeared to be rectangular
and illuminated by white light. Through the middle of
the light, running lengthwise, was a band of multi-colored
illumination. He stated that there were no individual
colored lights visible. Rather, it appeared as a band
of various colors, which blended into each other. He continued
the transmission by informing Central Command that the
object should now be around the town of Shiloh, approximately
8 miles to the Southwest.
David Martin of the Shiloh Police Department radioed that
he could now see something in the sky. Shortly thereafter,
Officer Barton could no longer see the object from his
Martin was driving on the southern end of Shiloh heading
east when he observed the mysterious object, which appeared
to be heading in a westerly direction. He was able to
observe three brilliant white lights, which were shining
downward from the object. However, the light did not illuminate
the ground or objects on the ground. In addition, small
red and green lights were observed on the back end of
the object. At this time, Officer Martin thought the object's
altitude was approximately 1,000 feet. He estimated the
distance from his car to the object to be about a quarter
of a mile. He thought the object resembled the shape of
an extra wide triangle or arrowhead. He estimated the
apparent size to be 75-100 yards wide (Figure 3).
Martin was driving slowly during his observations. He
also rolled down his driver's side window to determine
if the object was emitting any sound. No sound could be
heard. He finally decided to pull over to the side of
the road and exit the vehicle for a better observation.
At this point, the object increased in speed and disappeared
in a westerly direction.
Martin estimated the object's initial speed to be 15 mph.
When it increased in speed, he figured it to be at least
the nearby town of Millstadt, IL, Officer Craig Stevens
was on patrol and heard the radio traffic regarding the
object. His curiosity was aroused, so he drove to the
east end of Millstadt to see this mysterious thing in
the sky. After not seeing anything, he proceeded to Liederkranz
Park on the north end of town.
sitting in his car, he observed a very large object that
was roughly triangular in shape. Officer Stevens estimated
the object to be only 500-1000 feet in altitude. The flight
speed was described as extremely slow. He also stated
that there was no noise with the exception of a "low
decibel buzzing sound" that he could barely discern.
As he watched the object, it began moving to the north.
It had a white light on the left side, right side, and
center of the back end. In addition there was a single
red light on the bottom. The back end also appeared to
be slightly recessed.
4:29 a.m. Officer Stevens contacted his dispatcher to
advise him that he could now see the object. Then he exited
his vehicle and grabbed the Polaroid camera from his squad
car's trunk. He aimed the camera at the object and took
a picture, but the extreme cold temperatures of that morning
(15-20 degrees Fahrenheit) caused the camera to work poorly.
He was able to produce one photo, though poor in quality,
before the object disappeared to the northwest.
last police officer to report seeing the object that morning
was from Dupo, IL. I interviewed him personally, but I
do not have permission to use his name. This officer also
heard the radio traffic that evening and decided to take
a look for himself.
five minutes after Officer Stevens' radio transmission
from Millstadt, the Dupo officer observed an array of
lights. Contrary to the other officers, this individual
stated the object was at a relatively high altitude and
proceeding in a north-northeasterly heading. It was so
high in the sky that the officer said he wouldn't have
noticed it if it wasn't for the radio traffic. He said
it stayed east of Dupo.
altitude was described as being higher than that of a
small plane, but lower than that of a commercial aircraft.
The officer viewed the object through binoculars, but
was able to see only a conglomeration of lights: white
lights at the extreme ends and red lights in the middle.
He could not discern any size or shape, due to the distance
witnesses provide us with enough data to project the flight
path of the object as it traveled over the Southwestern
Illinois area (Figure 6). It apparently came from the
northeast and traveled slowly over Highland to Summerfield.
Once there, it turned to the southwest and drastically
accelerated. It traveled approximately 1-2 miles north
of Scott Air Force Base and slowed as it passed over Shiloh.
it increased in speed again until it arrived near the
town of Millstadt. After slowing, it altered direction
again and turned to the northwest. Shortly after that,
the object then made a drastic turn to the northeast while
also increasing in altitude, maintaining a low altitude
until this final maneuver.
to the location of Scott Air Force Base in relation to
the UFO sightings, I found it necessary to contact them.
Although I was not optimistic, I felt I should pursue
every possible source of information. I wrote a letter
of introduction, requesting answers to four important
questions concerning the recent UFO sighting.
promptly received a courteous, albeit uninforma-tive,
letter of response indicating that (1) the only calls
received at the base were from the media, (2) no ground
observers at the base have come forward with reports,
(3) the base did not track any objects on radar, since
radar services are provided by the FAA at Lambert-St.
Louis International Airport, and (4) the base was not
operating any craft resembling the reports .
better information was provided by the St. Clair County
Sheriffs Office. They released copies of the dispatch
tapes for the morning of Jan. 5,2000. What follows are
the relevant transmissions:
Lebanon, this is a call from Highland P.D. in reference
to a truck driver who just stopped in. He said there was
a flying object in the area of Lebanon. It looks like
a two-story house. It had white lights and red blinking
lights, and it was last seen southwest over Lebanon. Could
you check the area?
officer. Did they say the truck driver was DUI or anything?
10-4, I'm out.... Just a quick question. If I happened
to find it, what am I supposed to do with it? If I see
it, I'm not saying a word....
be advised the last thing that went over Leba-non-this
was approximately five minutes agowas a military
cargo plane. It looked like a C-5.
.Be advised there is a very bright white light east of
town. It looks like it's just east of Summerfield, and
it keeps changing colors. I'll go over there and see if
it looks like an aircraft. It doesn't look like an aircraft,
though.... It's not the moon, and it's not a star.
you would, will you contact Scott Air Force Base and see
if they have anything flying in this area please?
it's a plane or not, it's heading westbound now. It should
be really close to Scott now.... As a matter of fact,
if the Shiloh officer looks up, they can probably see
it by now.
officer: I see something, but I don't know what the heck
it is.... It's probably heading to Lambert (Field).
officer: I've got that object in sight also
Are you serious?
officer: It's huge.
Does it look like a-What does it look like to you?"
officer: It's kind of V-shaped. It looks like it's possibly
headed toward Lambert.
10-4. That's what Shiloh said when it was heading towards
of the officers hums theme song to "Twilight Zone"
over his radio.)
officer: Really. Does Dupo have a Polaroid?
That, I don't know.
officer: I'm not sure what you're seeing. It appears to
be pretty high in the area. When I could first see it
with binoculars, you could see it was different colors.
Now it appears to be white.
officer. Is it very large?
officer: It's hard to tell. It's pretty far off.
officer: This object was above me about 500 feet. And
it was huge.
officer: This thing appears ... it's probably 20 or 30,000.
It's about where planes usually are. It's not low at all.
would now like to discuss some particular aspects of this
case. The first concerns the obvious differences in the
descriptions given by the witnesses. In examining the
figures, we can see there are major disparities between
them, the largest difference being the description provided
by Noll as compared to those of the police officers. Noll
describes a large rectangular-shaped object. Less than
fifteen minutes later Officer Barton reports seeing an
elongated triangle. The other officers report seeing objects
that are roughly triangular.
differences in shape, we also have radical differences
in the lighting configurations that were reported. I believe
there are several possibilities for the inconsistencies.
The first involves the most prosaic explanation. Namely,
witnesses can be wrong in their interpretations of what
they claim to have seen. This is a fact all objective
UFO researchers must never forget. Is it possible the
witnesses made errors in their observations? Of course
that is a distinct possibility.
of the major problems relating to this is the issue of
perspective. From what perspective did the witnesses view
the object? Some witnesses were stationary, while others
were driving at the time of their sighting. In particular,
Officer Barton's descriptions vary as he views the object
from different distances and angles. To compound matters,
the object was moving at various speeds and directions
in relation to the observers.
explanation for the varied descriptions could be attributed
to the notion that there were multiple objects of differing
shapes in the sky that night. This would explain why different
descriptions were received. I tend to refute this idea
due to a couple of facts. The terrain around Highland,
Summerfield, and Shiloh is extremely flat. On a clear
night, like on Jan. 5, you can see for miles in all directions.
This is especially true between Highland and Summerfield.
If multiple objects were in the sky illuminated by an
array of lights, observers would have seen any that were
the timing of the sightings would tend to coincide with
the flight of a single object moving from town to town.
There were only a few minutes between each sighting, which
tends to suggest it was the same object being witnessed
from various locations.
a third possible explanation could involve the object
actually changing shape in flight. This is one of the
more questionable ideas proposed, but a review of the
UFO literature will reveal a multitude of cases which
involve objects that appear to change form. I only consider
it as a possibility.
issue that needs to be discussed is Scott Air Force Base.
I find it hard to imagine that a large unknown object
with bright lights could fly under 1000 feet within two
miles of the base without causing some concerns. I believe
they may have more detailed information concerning this
event. It is a distinct possibility that the object witnessed
was a military craft of some type. Unfortunately, we do
not have any evidence to support or refute this idea.
closing, I would like to extend my thanks to Peter Davenport
of the National UFO Reporting Center for his invaluable
assistance in this case. Also, my thanks to the witnesses
who were willing to come forward and share their experiences
with us. Thanks, also to Forest Crawford who directly