Monday, January 18, 2016

Odd Observation #6

Night Tech And The New Existential
by Alfred Lehmberg

I had a sighting one Sunday morning.  Sure, and it was hardly anything to write home to Mom about, as sightings of the tres' weird go, and I wouldn't call it the start of a "wave" exactly [g]... but I'm pleased to have something strange to finally report [g]. I'll get to those short details in a moment, but let me tell you about something else first.

I'd been out the Saturday night before to a cook-out at an old friend's home, and I'd had one more beer (or three) than was entirely good for me.  I'm sure that's happened to the reader from time to time.  If it hasn't, it should (assuming informed consent).  Moderation in all things includes moderation.  "Immoderation," if I may coin a word, is sometimes appropriate. 

Though, thank god the Australians weren't there, or I might have been well and truly lost [g]!  Those folks are entirely serious about their "moderation"...

Be that as it may, I was a little worse for wear the next morning when I blew off the alarm set for usual 2:45 Central and slept in 'till four.  To me, it felt like noon.

I looked outside, blearily, that following Sunday morning and was almost disappointed to discover the best visibility I'd seen in about two weeks!  Rats!  I had to go outside now... 

A little disgusted with myself that I had blown off the lion's share of an excellent visual opportunity, I made my steamy cup o' ritual java ("Al's liquid quickening" I call it) and stumbled out the back door, making my way to the usual spot next to a waist-high retaining wall.

I looked up into the sky miserably with a dull headache for company and was just depressed enough to wonder what the bleedin' point was... when I abruptly remembered a conversation I'd had with a fellow aviator at the party the night before.  I perked up a little. 

He'd caught me looking up into the sky over the fire. Knowing something of my interests, he said quietly,  "I... ah... I saw something weird under goggles on Guard drill last weekend..."  

He was apologetic, as many are when he related the rest of his, obviously uncomfortable, tale.  A small digression... where, when, and why did we learn to feel shame at having a truth to tell?

...but back at the ranch, *Mike's* story, and the subject at hand...

He and a brother UH~60 (Blackhawk) driver were parked out on the Fort Rucker military reservation waiting for a night training mission to kick off. They were on standby from flying simulated combat sorties for the Alabama National Guard.  They were alone.

"Mike" (not his real name, he can't afford to associate himself with this twitchy UFO business, like most professional people...) is a highly experienced military aviator and civilian GS-12 working as an instructor pilot at aforementioned Fort Rucker, the sun source of  the World's professional helicopter flying effort.  Like most of his ilk, he is not given to "wild blueberry horse feathers," and besides, no one who remotely knows ME is going to disrespectfully rattle my chain on the subject of UFOs.  They know I'll eat them.  Sincerely. [ "smiley face"...]

Anyway, while he was out there in the darkness under the strictest "light discipline" (it means lives) he used his night vision goggles as I have used them when I can infrequently get my hands on them.  Like myself, he looked (perhaps "too" deeply?) into the near moonless but otherwise unbridled potential of the night sky.  Even without the UFOs, it's still a dazzler as I've written before, and quite a "show"!

It was also very quiet out in the "field"; colder temperatures silenced the insects and the middle of the reservation is a marvelous buffer from the road noise of even distant highways.  As I said, it was very quiet ... a 'quiet' so deep one feels they can float in it.

Around midnight, abruptly, he noticed a "V" formation of seven or eight dim lights moving across his field of vision overhead. He flipped up his goggles to see if the highly strange lights were visible without them.  They were not.  

Puzzled that there would be an unplanned formation of "mystery" aircraft (running without position lights!) flying over the military training area in the middle of this highly canned and orchestrated exercise, he alerted his co-pilot to have a look!  Both pilots were goggle equipped.  With perhaps thirty years of piloting experience between them they watched, mouths hanging open, as the puzzling lights traversed the sky.

"Why don't we hear anything," the astonished co-pilot whispered.  That seven or eight aircraft flying overhead in formation at any reasonable altitude is going to make a significant "sound" is a laughing understatement. There was no sound from the formation of lights overhead...

As Mike and his co-pilot watched these highly peculiar bogeys, both men were astonished to see the lead craft break off insanely and abruptly from the formation and dangerously fly the "long way around" the formation into a trail position on one of the alternative wings of the "V," instead of falling back and sliding over from the inside, which would be safer and more appropriate change of the lead aircraft... The manner in which this maneuver was accomplished raised the hair on the backs of their necks. 

The procedure just described would take 45 seconds to a minute if the pilot was ~hurrying~ unsafely, and even then he'd likely get a reprimand from the ASO (aviation safety officer) for cowboying the aircraft in a hazardous manner!  Turns at night in training are kept to standard rate (three degrees per second) or less, as a safety measure insuring lives and millions of dollars worth of high-tech equipment. 

Helicopters in formation have a singular hazard potential... but this craft made the transition from lead to trail, around the ~outside~ of the flight in under ~three~ seconds...!  That's just not done! It's negligent and irresponsible! This is a protoplasm smearing turn if not near to same!  

Moreover, it's torturous metal stressing and aerodynamically impossible for aircraft of human manufacture! Mike and his co-pilot then watched the formation of lights continue on their way until they were too far away to be seen, even with the goggles.

He asked me, then, what I thought he had seen.  I told him that he had likely seen just what he had thought he had seen, and welcome to the beginning of highly "interesting" times... and my monkey house... here-have-another-beer!

Fascinating, huh?  It's all in the looking up at what is there to be seen.  Of course, sixteen thousand dollars of high-tech assisted night vision between them helped, too.

As I considered Mike's strange story I was idly looking West, just to the south of Ursa Major (about five points to her left) when I had my own sighting.  

About 35 degrees in elevation and almost due west, a bright amber colored light about the magnitude of Sirius blinked on as I watched, and began to transition to the North at a steady rate of one degree in six seconds.  Tres slow!  There was no sound, and the rate of speed, color, and magnitude of the light did not waver.  I watched until it moved behind a large pecan tree in my neighbor's yard...  I watched it travel for several minutes starting about 04:35 Central.

...Just a point of light in my field glasses, an amber star that blinked on as I watched and then inexplicably began to move.  Real enigma on the half shell, boys and girls, dull throb of a lingering hangover or no, and finally, something newly substantive to report. 

I remain watching our skies.  Read on.


MJ Hill said...

Excellent story. It has always amazed me, at how many military men see so much but are unwilling
to share. Even after they retire. One question, and I am very serious about this. Have you considered
Writing Historical Fiction on this subject? My favorite TV show X-Files is returning and it would be
Outstanding to have a story written, by a retired military man, able to tell a story that took place
During the years that X-Files was closed down by the big brass in the FBI. You have such a great
talent for writing with clarity. It is a gift and as with all the gifts of the Soul, and writing is certainly a
gift of the Soul, it must be shared. I realize you are sharing, but I was just wondering if you had
Entertained the idea of spreading the wealth around.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Thank you so much! I pretty much stick to non-fiction. Fiction is hard. See, fiction has to make sense! [g].