High Strangeness: Gidget & Pinky See a UFO!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gidget & Pinky See a UFO!

As I continue the research for my book on the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, I keep coming across amazing stories...

Take the "swamp gas" incident of March, 1966. Over the course of several nights, hundreds of people in southeastern Michigan saw strange lights and glowing objects in the sky. Witnesses included policemen, Civil Defense Officers, and a whole dormitory full of college coeds. The police gave chase on several occasions, and at one point the local Air Force Base tracked one of the objects on radar.

Everyone in Michigan had UFOs on the brain. People would gather by the hundreds to watch the skies; police forces could barely keep up with reports; and the press -- which was pouring in from around the world, or at least Canada --went nuts. The Air Force received so many panicky phone calls that they sent in their debunker-in-chief, Dr. Hynek, to defuse the situation...

And so he came. There was so much going on, there were so many sightings being reported, so many witnesses to interview that Hynek decided he couldn't adequately investigate everything. Instead, he  concentrated on the two primary sightings, but he wasn't able to to do that very well, either. Pressured by his Project Blue Book bosses to come up with an explanation before he had been able to interview all the witnesses, Hynek held a hurried press conference and said that the people may have seen swamp gas, an explanation that pleased the Air Force but pissed off everyone in Michigan.

The second of the two primary sightings took place at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI, and involved a fair number of witnesses: 87 to be exact. What makes this sighting special is that most of those 87 witnesses were coeds who lived in the women's dormitory, and they all watched the UFO from their second-story dorm room windows. To piece together exactly what happened that night, I contacted the library at Hillsdale College, and Lxxxx, the amazing archivist, turned me on to some fantastic material, including two sensational eye-witness accounts.
Don't mess with the Hillsdale Chargers!
One was written as an official statement to the press by Mrs. K. Hearn, the dorm house mother, and the other was written up as an article in the Hillsdale Collegian newspaper. I prefer the newspaper account, in part because the reporter's name was Gidget. I've got to hand it to her: Gidget Kohn had an keen eye for detail, an almost supernatural gift for drama, and an uncanny way of making you feel as though you're right there in the heart of the dorm as the sighting unfolds...

"UFO! The scream echoed down the hall of the second floor east wing of the New Women's Dorm. It was 10:30, Monday night, March 21st."

See what I mean? This girl could write. She quickly sets the scene, introduces her cast of characters, and records every moment of the next 5 1/2 hours...

"I ran to my window and there it was, radiating intense silver-white light and heading directly for the dorm. A brief flash of lightning illuminated it for just a second, and in that moment I saw what appeared to be a squashed football or basketball. The object nervously darted east -- away from us, stopped in mid-air again and moved in a jerky lateral way first north, then south, then up and down. It seemed to be frantic."

A frantic UFO! Omigod!

The best part comes a few paragraphs later, when Gidget, who has somehow managed to keep her cool after seeing the frantic UFO, realizes that she could be sitting on top of the scoop of the century and she needs to get statements from the other witnesses. And who does she go to first?

"I went down to Pinky Poffenberger's room to get her story since she said she had seen it when it first approached. I took a seat on her bed and began questioning her."

Pinky Poffenberger! Of course! Who else would you go to first but Pinky Poffenberger, who, it turns out, seems to have had some real soul... for when Pinky first spotted the UFO she had been sitting on her bed in the dark for a half hour... watching the lightning.

It's a long story. It's a crazy story. As much as I grew to love Gidget, I found myself wondering at times if she had let her imagination run away with her once she sat down at the typewriter at the editorial offices of the Collegian... But then I read the statement written by Mrs. Hearn, and it matched Gidget's account in every detail.

This case is bulletproof... which makes it all the more odd that Hynek went with the expedient but extremely weak swamp gas explanation. But that's an issue for another blog post, because right now I just can't get this one nagging question out of my head?

Why did Mrs. Hearn allow those 87 girls to be up past 10:30 on a Monday night??

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The people in Michigan saw more than lights in the sky. Police officers near Chelsea/Ann Arbor saw a craft with a "quilted" surface. Some cops saw it up close. For a time it had landed.

The Air Force tried to debunk all of this.