A wave of UFO sightings fascinate a small town in Virginia.
Wytheville, Virginia, is a small town nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Country music station WYVE calls itself the voice of Wytheville. On most days, life there is usually quiet and uneventful. But that was not the case on the morning of October 7, 1987. Radio reporter Danny Gordon checked in, as usual, with the county sheriff and heard an unbelievable tale. According to Danny, three Wythe County sheriff’s deputies all claimed to have seen a UFO:
However, Danny’s “ha ha” piece sparked some unbelievable listener responses. Reports of UFO sightings poured into WYVE. With the switchboard jammed, Danny set up a special call-in program for the following week:
Danny thought the UFOs were most likely experimental aircraft being tested out of Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base. But he was repeatedly told by the military that there was no testing going on. As more and more residents came forward with their stories of UFOs, the military finally came up with one explanation. They said the cause for the UFO sightings was not experimental aircraft but rather planes refueling. But according to Danny Gordon, that explanation was impossible:
On October 21st, just two weeks after the first sighting, Danny and his friend, Roger Hall, drove to the area where most of the sightings had occurred. According to Danny, they brought along a 35-millimeter still camera, as well as a video camera:
The next night, Gordon and Hall went out again. This time they did take photographs. With the film still undeveloped, Danny called a press conference for the following day, October 23, 1987:
After the press conference, Danny discovered that his house had been broken into. Although nothing was stolen, Danny was convinced that someone was looking for his photographs. When developed, the pictures revealed only vague streaks of light in the sky. But six weeks later, Danny had another opportunity to photograph the UFOs. He was out shopping with his wife and daughter when they encountered some unexpected visitors:
The people of Wytheville knew that something extraordinary was happening in their small town. Within a three-month period, there had been more than fifteen hundred sightings. One of the first occurred near Interstate 81, a mile from downtown Wytheville. Eyewitnesses said the craft resembled a brightly lit, spinning carousel. Immediately, other sightings were reported. One local resident, Patricia Aker, experienced a total of ten UFO sightings:
Then there was Mary Jane Williamson’s sighting, which happened directly above her house in the center of Wytheville:
Three months after the initial wave of sightings, Danny was packing for a broadcasters’ conference in Virginia Beach. It was there that he was to speak about his UFO coverage:
Less than one month after the disturbing phone call, Danny had two surprise visitors at his home. The two suited men said they were newspaper reporters and stayed for approximately forty-five minutes. According to Danny, one of the men interviewed him while the other roamed through the house snapping photographs:
A few weeks later, Danny sat down to organize and catalogue his UFO photographs:
Two months later, the stress of the late night phone calls, the home break in, the strange visitors and now the missing negatives finally took its toll on Danny and he had a heart attack. Doctors later determined that the attack was brought on by severe exhaustion. Danny was warned that continued involvement with the UFO controversy could kill him:
Danny Gordon says that today, Wytheville has moved on from its days as a UFO town and is now enjoying its booming arts and business communities. But if history is any indicator, sometime soon, in another small town, someone else will look up and his or her life will never be the same.