It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
President Jimmy Carter's widely-reported "UFO sighting," which he made public while Governor of Georgia, was in fact a misidentification of the planet Venus. Several errors of identification within Mr. Carter's report demonstrate that the eyewitness testimony of even a future president of the United States cannot be taken at face value when investigating UFO sightings.
The incident occurred in Leary, Georgia, about forty miles from Plains, on the evening of January 6, 1969. Mr. Carter was the local district governor of the Lion's Club, and had come to Leary to boost the local chapter. While standing outdoors at approximately 7:15 pm, waiting for the Lion's Club meeting to begin, Mr. Carter reported seeing a single "self-luminous" object, "as bright as the moon," which reportedly approached and then receded several times. Mr. Carter reports that his "UFO" was in the western sky, at about 30 degrees elevation. This almost perfectly matches the known position of Venus, which was in the west-southwest at an altitude of 25 degrees. Weather records show that the sky was clear at the time of the sighting.
No other object generates as many UFO reports as the planet Venus. Venus is not as bright as the moon, nor does it actually approach the viewer, or change size and brightness, but descriptions like these are typical of misidentifications of a bright planet. Every time Venus reaches its maximum brilliance in the evening sky, hundreds of "UFO sightings" of this type are made. At the time of the Carter UFO sighting, Venus was a brilliant evening star, nearly one hundred times brighter than a first-magnitude star.
Mr. Carter is in good company in misidentifying Venus as a UFO. Many highly trained and responsible persons, including airplane pilots, scientists, policemen, and military personnel, have made the same mistake. During World War II, U.S. aircraft tried to shoot down Venus on numerous occasions, believing it to be an enemy aircraft. In October of 1973, Ohio Governor John Gilligan made headlines by reportedly sighting a UFO. Governor Gilligan's "UFO" turned out to be a misidentification of the planet Mars.
My investigation revealed that many of the details published concerning this incident were widely misreported. These errors significantly hindered the investigation. The location of the sighting has been widely misreported as Thomaston, Georgia, and the year as 1973. In his handwritten UFO sighting report, mailed to the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, Mr. Carter incorrectly recalled the date as sometime in October 1969. However, official records from the Lion's Club International headquarters in Oakbrook, Illinois, give the date of Carter's Leary Lion's Club speech as January 6 of that year. Attempts to determine the date by interviewing numerous Leary residents had been unsuccessful. Mr. Carter made no mention of any "UFO sighting" in his report filed with the Lion's Club.
Although Carter reports that "ten members" of the Leary Lion's Club also witnessed the event, attempts to locate ten other witnesses proved fruitless. No one else seems to have paid much attention to the "UFO." While most Leary residents interviewed did recall Mr. Carter's visit, even those who attended the meeting generally had no recollection or knowledge of any unidentified object being sighted. The only Leary resident who recalled the incident at all was Fred Hart, 1969 president of the Leary Lions Club, who faintly recalled standing outside with Carter watching a light in the sky. Mr. Hart believed that the object might have been a "weather balloon," and said that the incident did not leave much of an impression on him. He believes the "UFO" to have been some ordinary object and agrees that it might have been a bright planet.