Close encounters of the first kind (CE1s) is a category of observation of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), which was developed to help classify
such observations. Compared to another category which is also the title of a well-known movie, this category is less exciting.
In The UFO Experience (1972) astronomer and former Project Blue Book consultant J. Allen Hynek proposed a classification system for UFO reports. For
more info on this see Hynek Classification System. Hynek believed that the UFO phenomenon scope was large and needed new methodology in order to
tackle the problem. He used a "close encounter" category which he divided into three parts. Close encounters of the first kind (CE1s) were reports
in which objects or very brilliant lights appeared less than 500 feet away.
Orginally Hynek was hired by the US Air Force as a scientific consultant to debunk UFO reports in the late 1940s. He worked for Project Sign which
later turned into Project Blue Book. A PhD in astrophysics, Hynek was very skeptical of UFO reports and had no problem helping the military debunk
many reports. As time went on he gradually shifted his stance as he received more credible evidence.
When Project Blue Book closed Hynek went on to continue to study the phenomeonon on his own, writing his first book on the subject matter where he
introduced the concept of the close encounter categories. Close encounters are regarded as special because at close distance Hynek believed the nearer
the witness was to the sighting, the less likely they would be mistaken about what they saw.
The best CE1s are puzzling and hard to dismiss or explain in conventional terms. The following are a couple examples to considered CE1s.
Willoughby Ohio Encounter
On a dark cloudy evening in the summer of 1955, a man from Willoughby, Ohio, W. M. Sheneman, pulled into his driveway. He got out and walked across
the road to check his mailbox. He saw a red light about 1000 feet away coming at him. Although he could make out the outline of the object, only the
big red light was really visible. At first he thought it was a plane which could crash so he ran back across the road to his house. When he got back
to his house his wife, who was at the back door, yelled, "Shall I turn on the outside lights?"
Sheneman said by this time the object was over him and he realized the object was no airplane or anything he had seen before. He yelled back to his
wife, "Hell no, don't turn on the lights - maybe it will miss us." At this point he made his way to the back of the house and met his frightened
wife and children. They asked him what was wrong to which he didn't know how to answer. The thing hovered about 50-100 feet over the garage of his
house and there was no noise but the sound of a big fan humming. The only lights he could see were the big red light and a green light to the rear of
the object. Suddenly the lights went out and Sheneman said the object moved at incredible speed towards the woods where it again stopped and hovered.
It stayed there about five minutes before it slowly moved away. His wife provided her own version of the story which greatly supported her husband's
Cigar in Lapland
At 1:25 A.M. on March 5, 1967, two young men returning to their farm in Lovansen, Lapland were startled to see a "spaceship" behind a barn. They
rushed inside and woke their parents and siblings. Looking through the kitchen window, the family saw a dark cigar-shaped object, 25-40 meters long,
sihouetted against the sky. Some of this features where hidden by the barn (about 60 meters from the house), but it looked as if it was hovering not
far above the ground and wobbling slightly on its axis.
Six minutes went by and someone turned on the kitchen light at which point the object shot off towards the north, emitting a whistling sound, and
vanished seconds later. As the cigar sped away, a smaller object appeared from behind it. Seemed to be a metallic globe about 10 meters in diameter
and turned back towards the house but stopped short over some powere lines, where it hovered for a few minutes before shooting off to the northeast.
The entire sighting took place over a 20-minute period.
Close Encounters movie
Dr. Hynek was a consultant to Columbia Pictures and Steven Spielberg on the popular 1977 UFO movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and made a
brief, cameo appearance in the film.
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Relevant Discussion Threads
Hynek Classification System