Who Was He Running From?

[Update: several things have changed over the years since this piece was first written. At the War Memorial Park golf course, there is now a paved street which runs through from Fair Park Boulevard to Markham Street. The effect of this, is that there is activity in the park area described below, until after dark every day. A country club is now located across the street from where we turned out onto Markham and I first saw the "object" described. In short, only one who had resided in the area for some time, would recall the state of the area to which I refer. That quiet, dark area no longer exists.--mcs]

On a mild Saturday evening at about l0 p.m., as my woman friend Lynn and I were about to pull out onto Markham Street from North Taylor going toward University, I saw a large formation of lights, similar in configuration to those of a jet airliner when it is coming in for a landing at night--a huge V or A shape of solid white lights.

The lights were large in size, and the configuration broad, and they could only have been so if we had been very near the airport. But we were nowhere near the airport: we were near the intersection of Markham and University.

The size was so remarkable that I paused before turning onto Markham, noticing immediately how "close" that "airliner" was. I attempted to point it out to Lynn (which she recalls my doing, as well as the mild weather). Even after I began to pull onto Markham, I continued to observe it in my rear-view mirror on the left, noticing how huge it seemed, and in such an awkward area: the Children's Hospital helicopter frequently flew over that same corridor and altitude. But the light configuration of the Children's helicopter, I was familiar with, and these lights were definitely much more similar to the lights of a jet airliner.

There was a quality about the thing's flight pattern and manner that was disquieting: it turned rather abruptly, seeming almost to bank sharply to the side in an upward turn, in the limited time I observed before we were over the hill and at the Markham and University light.

As we sat at the red light, at the major intersection, which was fairly busy since it was a Saturday night, we observed a young man running toward the car just to our left at the light. Apparently the driver knew him.

The scene was quite shocking. He was pointing directly back to where I had just observed the "airliner" so low in the sky.

He was gesticulating wildly, apparently disheveled and clearly out of breath from having run over the hill on Markham, down the walk in front of St. Vincent Infirmary, to the light, the median, and the friend's car.

He cried out quite loudly to the driver, "Fran-eee! Ya gotta help me man--ya gotta help me, they're after me man, ya gotta help me!"

His friend in the car seemed to pause, and looked back in the direction he was pointing--again, where I'd seen the lights. Then he was in his friend's car, the light turned green, and we had to go through.

I've often wondered--over the past couple of years since this happened--just what the hell was going on that night. After reading such books as Communion by Whitley Strieber, (which I'd read in l991) orIncident At Exeter by John G. Fuller, (which I originally read in l967, and re-read after this incident), I can't help but wonder what I observed performing such strange aerial acrobatics in such close proximity to Children's Hospital at such low altitude; I can't help but wonder about the young man's startling behavior. And I can't help but wonder about the eerie coincidence of his fear and awe while pointing in the same direction in which I'd have been pointing, (if only to warn someone of an impending airline crash) could I have done so.

Lynn and I continued our drive, but I made a point to return to the area a few hours later that night, to determine what I could. But there was nothing to be discerned. And there was nothing in the news about an airline crash in Little Rock that night.

Since that time, I have sat at the top of the hill where North Taylor runs into Markham, on at least a half-dozen mild Saturday nights, between nine and eleven p.m., and looked across the Fair Park Golf Course, then further across the valley toward Children's Hospital, and tried to observe if there might be an unusually large jet aircraft which might have a flight path or pattern which would carry it so low, or so close to Children's Hospital or the valley between it and Fair Park.

I see the Children's Hospital helicopter occasionally, not bearing a very close similarity in its lighting configuration to the object I saw. And, on the planes that do fly over this area, I see the familiar light pattern--the wing lights in the usual A or V shape, with two blinking red and green, the others solid white. These do resemble what I saw in shape, though the red and green lights were absent. And these planes are invariably much smaller, much further up, than the lights of the "plane" I saw--indeed, almost directly overhead. And, at that altitude, a turn or bank is not so obvious. In short, I have yet to see a plane in that size, flight path, or pattern.

But I have noticed that it might be well-nigh impossible to escape from a pursuer who was between one and the corner of Markham and Fair Park, if one were starting from a point about midway down the Fair Park Golf Course on Markham, by running in any other direction except straight down the sidewalk toward St. Vincent Infirmary and the Markham and University light, where the malls and IHOP finally would provide a feeling of safety.

In that long, in-between, three-quarter-mile block, there is little lighting, relatively light traffic at night and few witnesses.

Sitting out in that dark area, noticing how quiet it can become at times, and realizing how fast things can happen, I also finally realized, after about a half-dozen such attempts, that I wasn't going to press my own luck; whoever he was running from, out of the darkness of the Fair Park Golf Course midway, may still occasion that same area in the same time frame; and, human or otherwise, how was I to cope were I to discover same?

All the reports and claims about what seem to be obvious objects--may be ordinary objects being misperceived under unusual conditions.

Let's set all of that aside.

I'm interested in the idea that someone might have observed us in some other manner--perhaps with an advanced telescope along the lines we ourselves already have in the Hubble Telescope? It would make sense that observing us at closer hand without interfering with our culture would require an effort to look like an object which is familiar to us--not stand out as does the classic "object" of tradition.

I've never really seen this point addressed very much--if at all--except in Strieber's book Communion--and even there, only in one report.

The only other report I've read that came close, was the Exeter report, which involved two New Hampshire police officers who observed similar light phenomena at a time when such observations were being blown off by most people to Air Force high altitude maneuvers.

But such maneuvers aren't conducted constantly; they are conducted at certain hours of the day or night, on certain dates; and these are recorded by the squadron commanders. And when lights are observed that simply don't match these times and the observers are mature, reliable individuals with recent experience with aircraft from having been in the military, as in the Exeter case, something is wrong. And though its public statements said they'd observed maneuvers, in its private correspondence with the two police officers the Air Force admitted this.

In the following excerpt from Communion, then, I found a perhaps similar incident:

"In August l986, a man had a remarkable experience while driving toward Great Neck, Long Island, on the Grand Central Parkway. It was 9:30 p.m., and the sky was overcast, with a three-thousand foot ceiling. The man suddenly saw an enormous airplane coming toward him so low that it looked like it was about to land on the parkway. It had two bright lights in the nose, lights that seemed to shine beams directly into his eyes. There was a red light at the tip of one wing, and a green one at the tip of the other. As he passed under the plane, he looked up and saw that there were rivets in the undersurface, which was streaked as if it had scraped along the ground. He saw four engine pods with whirling propellers. The nose of the plane was flat and there was no horizontal stabilizer. The man slowed down and leaned his head out the window, looking up at the bizarre craft. It seemed almost to be standing still, and the propellers made no noise at all. Soon he was past it and taking the Great Neck exit, which makes a horseshoe around a small hill.

Above this hill he saw what appeared to be an advertising sign made of many small lightbulbs. It had an angle in it, suggesting that it was attached to two sides of a building. It was flashing, but the symbols were incomprehensible. As he rounded the horseshoe, and saw the sign from another angle, he realized that there was no building there. Then he concluded that it must be a plane. But it suddenly shot off to the southwest, rising into the overcast with blinding speed.

"What happened to this man? What did he see? It would be easy to dismiss his experiences as a pair of hallucinations. Easy to debunk this one.

"There is, however, a problem. The problem is the man himself, and his extraordinarily apt qualifications. He is a leading perceptual psychologist with encyclopedic knowledge of just exactly how the brain perceives things and what misperceptions mean. What's more, he has a near-photographic memory and eyes so superb that he can see the moons of Jupiter unaided. He is also highly intelligent and exceptionally emotionally stable, having had many hundreds of hours of psychoanalysis as part of his clinical training.

"Anybody can have a hallucination or a misperception. But this highly-qualified man feels certain that what he saw was actually there. Interestingly, other drivers did not react to it at all. I wonder if that might not be because they believed an illusion that this man's mind was too highly-trained to mistake. Most people saw a plane and an advertising sign. But this acute, trained mind saw beyond the camouflage to what was really there--a device of unknown origin and purpose. (Strieber 298-300)."

I'm not attempting to say I've got these men's observational skills--maybe "my" lights were just those of an airliner in an illegal flight path. But this general idea is one which has intrigued me. There can get to be a rut about this whole area, I believe, of extraterrestrial life and Contact and so forth. People get to thinking one certain way, and you are either a believer or not--and there is no other alternative being presented. Either you believe people see shiny objects that flash around all the time, or you don't "believe" at all.

Why should we assume that someone from another civilization is that limited in scope or ingenuity? There may be alternative ways to observe us at a distance with some unknown (to us) technological method that might not involve travel at all--perhaps some advanced form of laser beam involving neutrinos or neutrino-like particles. A neutrino can move faster than light, at least theoretically.

We recently learned how to "march" photons--individual light particles--in a line to form the laser, and we are devising laser-oriented telescopes. Perhaps it is also possible to devise a neutrino-based particle beam, and build telescopes around that. In that case, one could observe a civilization from a distance, contemporaneously, and not as history.

The point is, let's apply our imagination to our imagination, shall we? We now know there's been life on Mars. Let's wake up and start genuinely wondering about ways someone could actually be observing us at this very moment.

Works cited:

Fuller, John G. Incident At Exeter. New York: Putnam, 1966.

Strieber, Whitley. Communion: A True Story. New York: Wilson and Neff, 1987.

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