By Kyle ClarkLITTLETON – A few years back, the Mutual UFO Network was operating out of a home basement here. Now it has an office and a little respect, according to one of its founders.
The network, known as MUFON, is leading the civilian investigation into the sighting of strange lights over Stephenville, Texas on January 9.
The incident was widely reported by dozens of eyewitnesses and has been picked up by national media outlets.
"I'm surprised how much it caught on, but it did," said John Schuessler.
He spoke with 9NEWS in the basement of his Littleton home, surrounded by stacks of paperwork and filing cabinets filled with reports on UFO sightings. He has spent decades collecting information on the subject.
Schuessler, a MUFON co-founder and former aerospace industry worker, once hosted the group's headquarters in his basement. No more. MUFON has moved into an office in Fort Collins and Schuessler says the UFO issue has moved toward more mainstream acceptance.
"Ten years ago, people were very, very hesitant to speak out, but they're not now. People just come out of the woodwork when these things happen," said Schuessler. "I think all of the scandals within government have caused people to be a lot more open about the subject because this subject has always been considered one where the government was covering it up."
A 2007 poll by Harris Interactive found 35 percent of Americans say they believe in UFOs.
"That's very gratifying," said Schuessler.
MUFON has hundreds of trained volunteers around the country who swarm to sites of reported UFO activity. A MUFON spokesperson said volunteers conducted 50 interviews in and around Stephenville on Saturday.
"We have people on the ground as we speak and they will continue as long as there's information to be gathered," said Schuessler.
Schuessler is quick to point out the reported sightings in Texas could turn out to be nothing more than lights in the sky. Or it could be what he's been looking for all along.