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Wytheville UFO Sightings on Unsolved Mysteries

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posted on Feb, 12 2023 @ 11:51 AM

For those following this series or stumbling on it for the first time, we have yet another UFO story from the TV show ‘Unsolved Mysteries’. All of which are available to watch for free on YouTube. This next case is one I was not previously familiar with. It includes multiple UFO sightings from Wytheville, Virginia that began in late 1987 and harassment from shadowy characters of the news reporter covering the case.

The show first aired : 18th Feb 1992

Direct Link to Segment :

Unsolved Mysteries Show Notes

Wytheville, Virginia, is a small town nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Country music station WYVE calls itself the voice of Wytheville. On most days, life there is usually quiet and uneventful. But that was not the case on the morning of October 7, 1987.

Radio reporter Danny Gordon checked in, as usual, with the county sheriff and heard an unbelievable tale. According to Danny, three Wythe County sheriff’s deputies all claimed to have seen a UFO:

“It was a filler piece that came on at the end of the news which I usually relegate to something that’s may be unusual, like we had one police officer who killed five chickens at once with two shots, and that was a story that ran as kind of a ‘ha ha’ piece, and this was another ‘ha ha’ piece and being a very skeptical newsman, it was definitely not in my lead part of my news.”

However, Danny’s “ha ha” piece sparked some unbelievable listener responses. Reports of UFO sightings poured into WYVE. With the switchboard jammed, Danny set up a special call-in program for the following week:

“Being a brass tacks journalist, I always believe there is a plausible, logical explanation. And I felt at that time that it was military of some nature and that we would find the reason in a short period of time.”

Examples of UFO photos from Wytheville

Danny thought the UFOs were most likely experimental aircraft being tested out of Virginia’s Langley Air Force Base. But he was repeatedly told by the military that there was no testing going on. As more and more residents came forward with their stories of UFOs, the military finally came up with one explanation. They said the cause for the UFO sightings was not experimental aircraft but rather planes refueling. But according to Danny Gordon, that explanation was impossible:

“I called the Pentagon and talked to the Air Force General there, who told me if they’re refueling under 13,000 feet, then somebody’s butt’s in a sling. And to this day, we don’t know if they were refueling at 5,000 feet. But at the same time, I have asked, if it is military, then I’ll back off the story and leave it alone if you tell me because I’m a patriot. And each time I’m told it’s not us, we’re not doing it, and we haven’t been doing it.”

On October 21st, just two weeks after the first sighting, Danny and his friend, Roger Hall, drove to the area where most of the sightings had occurred. According to Danny, they brought along a 35 still camera, as well as a video camera:

“We were headed home, after two hours of fruitless searching… And I just happened to look to my left and saw a very unusual object coming across the horizon. I pulled off to the side of the road in a hurry, jumped out, he got out of the right side, and as he got out I noticed the craft coming at me was very large, it had a dome shape to the top of it, and no wings, and had what appeared to be a strobe putting out multi-colored lights on the right side of the craft. As I watched the sky, from the left came the red ball. As the big mothership went into a small skiff of clouds, the red ball docked with the craft… We looked at each other and realized, no pictures. The camera was not in my hand, the camera was not in his hand, and we both knew we blew it.”

The next night, Gordon and Hall went out again. This time they did take photographs. With the film still undeveloped, Danny called a press conference for the following day, October 23, 1987:

“The night before the press conference, I received a phone call from somebody who refused to identify himself, and he said that I need to be aware that the CIA and the federal government were very much interested in the Wythe County UFOs. I started to wonder what I’d stepped into. And my wife was urging me to back off, to leave it alone, and I was receiving some anonymous phone calls saying… it’s not for your place to be messing in defence matters.”

After the press conference, Danny discovered that his house had been broken into. Although nothing was stolen, Danny was convinced that someone was looking for his photographs. When developed, the pictures revealed only vague streaks of light in the sky. But six weeks later, Danny had another opportunity to photograph the UFOs. He was out shopping with his wife and daughter when they encountered some unexpected visitors:

“We looked very quickly and saw, what I thought, was one large object, which later appeared to be four flying disc shapes. As soon as the objects were photographed, they disappeared from view. When the pictures came out… they showed four definite shapes of objects in the sky, but the most impressive point in the four photographs, the objects appeared to change shape or life formations within one click of the camera. They go from a teardrop shape, to a round ball shape, then they go to a flying saucer-like disc shape, and then they go to an egg shape as they go out of sight.”

The people of Wytheville knew that something extraordinary was happening in their small town. Within a three-month period, there had been more than fifteen hundred sightings. One of the first occurred near Interstate 81, a mile from downtown Wytheville. Eyewitnesses said the craft resembled a brightly lit, spinning carousel. Immediately, other sightings were reported. One local resident, Patricia Aker, experienced a total of ten UFO sightings:

“I’m not mistaken about what we saw. Absolutely not. Because we’d never seen this before. The best way I can describe them is that they sort of looked like a cross between a helicopter and a plane, with no noise.”

Then there was Mary Jane Williamson’s sighting, which happened directly above her house in the centre of Wytheville:

“It had all the white lights, in the front, just a big semicircle of white light, and it was just huge, I mean, it was just absolutely huge. You just had this feeling of something really, really big, just moving, just drifting over your head and no sounds or anything.”

edit on 12/2/2023 by mirageman because: tidy up

posted on Feb, 12 2023 @ 11:52 AM
Three months after the initial wave of sightings, Danny was packing for a broadcasters’ conference in Virginia Beach. It was there that he was to speak about his UFO coverage:

“I received a phone call at home from a retired military intelligence officer, and first he told me to make sure that I taped the conversation, so he could prove it. I said, why do you want to tape this? And he said, "I want your friends to know, that if something happens to you, that I forewarned you".

He told me that because of his investigations into the UFO field that they had hit his son and caused his son to die with some kind of virus connected to leukaemia. He said that he had information that the federal government was not very happy with my UFO investigations… he said, they want to quieten you…”

Less than one month after the disturbing phone call, Danny had two surprise visitors at his home. The two suited men said they were newspaper reporters and stayed for approximately forty-five minutes. According to Danny, one of the men interviewed him while the other roamed through the house snapping photographs:

“They told me when they left they would send me a copy of the article so I could peruse it, and when I didn’t get one I called the newspaper and they said, well, these two guys are not on our payroll. They don’t work for us. So who they were I don’t know, but they were in my house, saw my pictures, saw my negatives, talked to my family, took pictures and then left but they were not with the newspaper.”

A few weeks later, Danny sat down to organize and catalogue his UFO photographs:

“When I got to the canister which had the UFO negatives, I quickly opened it up and found some UFO negatives, but the one negative with the shots from the shopping mall was missing. Now I felt like maybe there was something in those photographs that I was not seeing, so I took the photographs to some other people to look at. We used magnifying glasses and we measured angles trying to find out why these photographs were so important. And we’ve yet to discover why anyone would want to steal that… set of four in a series of photographs of the UFOs.”

Two months later, the stress of the late night phone calls, the home break in, the strange visitors and now the missing negatives finally took its toll on Danny, and he had a heart attack. Doctors later determined that the attack was brought on by severe exhaustion. Danny was warned that continued involvement with the UFO controversy could kill him:

“If I had my choice, I’d not report the UFO story again. It’s just been too hard on my life and created too many problems. Don’t look up. Because once you look up and you tell somebody what you saw, your life is changed forever.”

Danny Gordon says that today, Wytheville has moved on from its days as a UFO town and is now enjoying its booming arts and business communities. But if history is any indicator, sometime soon, in another small town, someone else will look up and his or her life will never be the same.

Beyond Unsolved Mysteries

Normally there’s some follow up on these cases in the 20-30 years after the episode first aired. But in this particular case there’s not a whole lot of new evidence that came to light. It seems to have faded away and been largely forgotten about. UFO journals and books might have reported on the case but no one appears to have thoroughly investigated it that I could find.

There was a TV documentary produced in the late 80s (before UM aired their episode)

Mystery in the Sky Pt1

Mystery in the Sky Pt2

Around a decade ago, a new documentary film was being prepared. But I am not sure whether it has failed to appear, due to lack of funding, or whether it is still in the works.

In 2022, Danny Gordon spoke about the case at the Wytheville UFO Festival

He also finished a book about the affair called Don’t Look Up . Which I have not read and only became aware of today!

I'll leave you with one of the few genuine photos of the UFO taken in 1987 (by Danny Gordon)

posted on Feb, 13 2023 @ 01:07 AM
a reply to: mirageman

A nice post. Thanks.

I think your research will benefit from having a look at the documents titled "Advanced Energy Conversion Concept for Beamed-Energy Propulsion, Final Technical Report, August, 21, 1987", referenced as AFOSR-TR-87-1387, and the one titled "Microwave power transmission and helicopter technologies - Wrap-up" referenced SIGINT-ISR 0004567-BEP.

During the 1980s there were heavy (secret) research on beam-powered platforms, and there were interesting platforms built and tested, precisely in Virginia. A non-secret non-US project was SHARP, short for Stationary High Altitude Relay Platform. It was an experimental aircraft using beam-powered propulsion built by the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS). SHARP used microwaves to provide energy from a ground station that powered electric motors spinning propellers to keep the aircraft aloft. The US concept replaced the ground station by a helicopter where the microwave TX was mounted and guiding the experimental platform. The experimental platform was a disk-shaped unmanned vehicle.

The Canadian SHARP vehicle could remain aloft indefinitely, and was intended to be used as a sort of low-altitude communications satellite for smaller geographical areas, while the US goal was to build a fleet of small-size disks based on the concept of beamed power for aircraft propulsion. These developments dated back to 1965, the days of the design and development of the so-called High Altitude Powered Platform (HAPP) concept. This research went as far as flying a model helicopter using beamed power in 1965. All of these studies culminated in the a feasible, eery, beautiful model, with a 4.5 meter wingspan, that was tested in 1987, to be precise, on 17 September 1987.

In 2000-2010, microwave power transmission and helicopter technologies were successfully combined to produce a hovering vehicle which is held aloft solely by power derived from a microwave beam. New efficient, and lightweight antenna and rectifier technologies allow the helicopter to support its energy-capture system and a substantial payload in addition to its own weight. In more detail, a microwave-powered helicopter with a six-foot rotor has been flown at an altitude of fifty feet for ten continuous hours. The helicopter was kept over the microwave beam by means of a suitable tethering system.

The new models (2015 onwards) are called Amberglow vehicles and they resemble, to all effects, an orange orb if seen at a distance. They are all operated by the 480 ISR Wing, the guys operating the "Sentinel" weapon system, conducting imagery, cryptologic, and measurement and signatures intelligence activities.

In my view, the events you describe relate to military testing of beam-powered platforms, most likely laser-powered ones, at different frequencies, which explains the different colors seen by the unaware civilian witnesses.

posted on Feb, 13 2023 @ 03:49 AM
a reply to: Direne

Nice find. Danny Gordon always suspected it was something the military was up to.

Unfortunately, with all this B'loon Fever infecting America & Canada at the moment, this thread will probably fade away fast.

posted on Feb, 13 2023 @ 10:57 AM
a reply to: mirageman

You are right. But it is striking precisely how people's capacity for amazement has grown. Before at least one was enraptured by a flying disc full of enigmatic lights in the middle of the night. Nowadays, all it takes is a dull stratospheric balloon to alarm people.

I still prefer the cases and witnesses of yesteryear. They were naive, but honest. Nowadays we are so used to virtual portents and technological nonsense that a balloon seems alien to us...

posted on Feb, 14 2023 @ 05:08 PM
a reply to: mirageman

A fascinating case, and not a little depressing - the personal trauma suffered by Danny Gordon due to outside pressure is quite disturbing, especially the threatening phone calls and the unpleasant visit by purported journalists using traditional MIB-style methods, who stole most of his UFO negatives.

It's a shame that video footage was not taken when Gordon and his friend first witnessed a 'mothership' - you can tell they kicked themselves for being too mesmerised!

Gordon seems an open and honest chap, and his general advice - "DON'T LOOK UP" - is a particularly sour note to end on, but understandable considering the unending interference from authorities in his life at the time.

PS: A shame that Balloonmania is becoming a distraction from excellent threads such as this. Have a Flag, Star(s) and Beer(s) from me.

edit on 14-2-2023 by ConfusedBrit because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 21 2023 @ 11:40 PM
a reply to: mirageman

It seems worth a revisit, especially in light of the orb sightings mentioned by AARO or whatever by that Kirkpatrick fellow.

posted on Jul, 22 2023 @ 05:58 AM
a reply to: BurgundyFold

Since I posted the OP, I have read Danny Gordon's book on the case. He didn't find any definitve answers himself. He was leaning towards the military experimenting with secret platforms. But he also remained open-minded.

This case isn't a well known one outside the local area, and so there isn't much material beyond that presented in the OP. Unsolved Mysteries did a decent job covering many of the details.

There are some old news clips such as this one

Newport News, Virginia • Sat, Oct 24, 1987

The objects were described as

a dome-shaped object flying in tandem with a smaller, roundish object"

And further commentary

Andrew Convery, a systems analyst with the Virginia Beach-based Navy software contractor Computer Dynamics said he believed there had been a crash in the area.

"We have very substantial reasons, we just can't produce any proof," Convery said. Convery said he had come to Wytheville on his own time be cause he for years has followed UFO stories. He said he thinks the military is operating the mysterious flights because other military craft operate routinely in the area. "They fly aircraft over the top while these things are flying down below," Convery said. Gordon said some of the UFOs have swooped down and harassed motorists in the county, at times chasing them down the road with spotlights or even running some off the road.

All very strange and this was over 35 years ago now.

edit on 22/7/2023 by mirageman because: ...

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