Reader Submitted ReportThis encounter happened forty years ago, when I was in seventh grade. At that time my family and I lived in Churchville, PA, near Newtown, in Bucks County (I later went on to attend high school at Council Rock High in Newtown). This area was an outlying suburb of Philadelphia - at that time still relatively rural with a lot of active farming happening.
Early on in the school year, mid-September I believe, we had a warm spell and the nights were still a bit stifling. I couldn't sleep, so out of frustration, I lifted the screen of the window over my bed and climbed out onto our garage roof. Earlier that summer our dad had bought the family a 3" reflector telescope which we all used to survey features in the night sky. While the particular night in question I didn't have the telescope on the roof with me (Dad would have killed me), since a few weeks before in August one of my brothers and I had camped out back to watch the Perseids, I was hoping to observe some meteors.
What I saw instead surprised me deeply. Traveling west-to-east, more or less directly over our house was a cylindrical object. It looked very much like one of the early communications satellites, but it was moving far too close to the ground - I would estimate no more than a few hundred feet up. It was silvery, with its sides slightly faceted, as if it was paneled by many narrow vertical strips. Close to the top and bottom edges of the object ran two narrow bands, broken up into a checkerboard pattern. In the center of the two circular end-panels at the top and bottom of the object sprouted two short clusters of antennas - I'd say four on each end. It really did look very much like a satellite.
The quality that really scared me about this object was its utter silence - it tracked steadily across the sky, seemingly close to the ground, but I could hear nothing. I was too scared to shout - my sister was asleep in her bed on the far side of our bedroom. After I lost sight of the thing in the eastern sky, I slipped back into the room and lowered the screen. Eventually I fell asleep.
The next day in science class, I remember asking my teacher if satellites flew close enough to observe details in their shapes. He said no. I then described what I saw and asked him what it was. He said, "You didn't see anything." I was really disappointed that he would brush me aside like that. I did otherwise respect him as a teacher, so his response in this case really blew me away. I suppose he just thought I was looking for attention. I did read later in our papers, and also heard from friends at school that there was a bit of a 'flap' going on in Bucks County at the time, especially around Gravel Hill Road over in Furlong near us.
But for a long time the only other person I told about this encounter was my sister. It was only decades later that I told my parents, who it turned out, had observed weird things occasionally over the years (mostly colored lights). Johnsville Naval Air Station was over in Hatborough near us, where astronauts used to train back when the Apollo series missions were still ongoing - I had visited the training facility there when I was in sixth grade. It was my mother's guess that NASA's activities there were 'drawing attention', so to speak.