Residents of a Texas farming community are buzzing over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.
Several dozen people — including a pilot, a county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast over Stephenville, Texas. Some even reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.
While federal officials insist there's a logical explanation, locals swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and closer to the ground than an airplane.
They also said the object's lights changed configuration, unlike those of a plane.
"People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times," said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was about 1.6 kilometres long and 800 metres wide.
"It was positively, absolutely, nothing from these parts," Allen said.
Erath County Const. Lee Roy Gaitan said that he first saw red glowing lights and then white flashing lights moving fast, but even with binoculars, he could not see the object to which the lights were attached.
"I didn't see a flying saucer and I don't know what it was, but it wasn't an airplane, and I've never seen anything like it," Gaitan said. "I think it must be some kind of military craft — at least I hope it was."
Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, said no F-16s or other aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when most people reported the sighting.
Officials at the region's two air force bases — Dyess in Abilene and Sheppard in Wichita Falls — also said none of their aircraft were in the area last week. The air force no longer investigates UFOs.
About 200 UFO sightings are reported each month, mostly in California, Colorado and Texas, according to the Mutual UFO Network, which plans to go to Stephenville, home to 17,000 people, to investigate.
Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering over a pasture behind his Dublin home.
Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he watched it through his rifle's telescopic lens and described it as very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.