When: 1967, June (day unknown)
Where: Big Sur coastal highway, near Lucia, CA, parked in a Highway 1 mountain-side pullout, about 500 feet above the ocean.
Up to now, I was a hard-nosed skeptic concerning UFOs. I believed Air Force investigations that had ���proven��� all UFO sightings had either been hoaxes or natural phenomena, and reputable scientists had concurred.
Around 3:30 a.m., as I was dozing off to sleep in the rear of our van, an unusual low-pitched, pulsing, hum caught my attention. At first I thought it was a freight train in the distance. Then I realized that the nearest railroad tracks were located in the Salinas Valley, along the east side of the Santa Lucia mountain range. Furthermore, the pitch of the hum was a bit too high to be that of a distant train, and too low to be that of any aircraft I had ever heard. As an aviation enthusiast and licensed private pilot, I had developed a keen ear for aircraft engine sounds, and could identify many airplanes by sound alone.
Climbing out of the rear of our van, my wife and I immediately observed that the low-pitched hum was emanating from a white glowing disk-shaped object a half mile south of us. Initially, the object emerged from a narrow canyon that opened onto a small beach. Then the disk slowly climbed towards the ocean. For the first minute or two, the craft was only a few feet above the beach and slowly ascending, with small yellow flames randomly erupting several places along the bottom of its large glowing disk. Soon after igniting, the burning objects fell off the bottom of the craft and hit the ground, sometimes with a burst of sparks upon impact before flickering out. As the craft continued its slow climb, fewer flames erupted and fell off the craft. By the time the craft was about 200 feet (70 meters) high, the last of the flammable debris had ignited and fallen into the ocean. It appeared that this debris was ground vegetation that had been adhering to the bottom of the craft, for the flames had the same yellow-orange color and flicker as burning brush.
The lack of a nearby reference made it difficult to determine size, but we estimated the disk to be approximately 150 feet long and 25 feet thick in the center. This mysterious object had the same appearance and sound of UFOs in Hollywood movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still.
By this point, we had four observers; two friends in the front seats (Tom and Mary), my wife (Kathleen), and me. I knocked on the two cars parked beside us, disturbing both partially-dressed couples who were making love, oblivious to the excitement outside. Tom and I also flagged down a motorist, so we now had nine witnesses. In amazement, all of us kept our eyes glued to the slow flight of the UFO.
Once the glowing disk was above the ocean, it changed direction and began moving directly towards us at a slowly accelerating speed. The hum grew louder and slightly higher in pitch as it approached us, and the glow of the craft illuminated the nearby mountainside.
When the UFO was several hundred feet away and still slowly flying directly towards us, six of our observers scrambled in terror into a gully on the other side of the road to hide. By now, the UFO was illuminating the three of us who did not flee. Feeling intense fear, my instinct was to run and hide, but the ���scientific observer��� in me made me stay where I was, well, almost. I did back up across the road, along with Tom and the driver we had stopped. As the large UFO came along side and level with us, the surrounding area was illuminated enough by the glow of the craft to cast our shadows on the cliff face behind us. The glow made the area almost as bright as daylight, but with the monochromatic illumination of a full moon. The throbbing hum became faster, louder, and higher in pitch as the speed of the disk slowly increased.
When the glowing UFO was abreast of us and a couple hundred feet away, Tom exclaimed, ���Come take me with you!��� His cry put my nerves more on edge as I did not want to catch the attention of the UFO crew, who were close enough to hear Tom. Even at this close distance, the outline of the object was indistinct and fuzzy. As the disk passed by us, the white glow transformed into a faint yellow hue. The loud hum also continued to increase in pitch in proportion to the increasing speed of the craft. The faint yellow glow of the craft smoothly transitioned to deep yellow, then to orange, and finally to deep red just before it flew out of sight. After passing us, the acceleration of the UFO became exponential, increasing at an ever faster rate, once it began an upward-curving flight path. It was flying almost straight up at an extremely fast speed when it finally became too small to see.
This experience left us all in shock. Repeatedly, we went over the details, finding it hard to believe our senses and needing confirmation that we had not been hallucinating or dreaming. When the UFO was only a few hundred feet from us, we were all filled with an intense tingling, visceral terror that was out of proportion to the experience. We literally felt our hair stand on end. The three of us who remained in the open agreed that it took all our strength to resist sensations of terror and not run and hide with the others in the gully.
I strongly suspect that the physical sensations we felt were related to a strong electromagnetic field coming from the propulsion system. This suspicion was validated in 1984 when I briefly worked in a small metal transmitter room at the base of a broadcast tower. The room was filled with powerful TV and radio broadcasting transmitters and multi-thousand-watt power-supply transformers that created a loud hum from the extremely strong electromagnetic fields they generated. Upon entering this room, I felt my hair tingle, and I experienced an anxiety-producing visceral sensation that reminded me of the similar but more powerful feelings I had experienced when the UFO flew near me.
The morning after our UFO sighting, I called the local Flight Service Station to see if there had been any NOTAMS (Notice To Airmen) or unusual pilot reports in the Big Sur area. There were none. Whenever the military conducted exercises or experiments they always issued NOTAMS in order to close their airspace to civilian air traffic. Fort Hunter-Liggett, a military training base, is on the east side and a bit south of the coastal mountains we were on.
Later that day we met a hippie who had been camped on the beach south of the UFO takeoff. He, too, had been awakened by the loud hum coming from the craft, which he saw take off a few hundred feet from his campsite. His description of events concurred with our observations.
The above account was written when my wife and I returned home from our vacation so we could share our experience with our friends, and capture details of the event while it was still fresh in our mind.