By Jennifer LitzA recent Air Force Reserve news release claims the UFO sightings in Stephenville, Texas, on Jan. 8 were really ten of their F-16 fighter jets on a nighttime training mission in the area. This flies in the face of their earlier denying of activity in the area. “In the interest of public awareness, Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs realized an error was made regarding the reported training activity of military aircraft," the news release says.
But there are some skeptics.
Carman Wiese is a member of the Del Rio Mutual UFO Network organization, a 30-something strong group that is linked to the national MUFON chapter. The local chapter meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Ramada Sun Blossom Room from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to talk about recent UFO phenomena. Wiese, owner of Del Rio Home Oxygen & Medical Supplies, is one of two local chapter members who is a credentialed field investigator for surveying sightings like the recent one in Stephenville.
Wiese and some of the other local MUFON members have been following the Stephenville case. Her reaction to the military’s recent admission is skeptical.
“This is the same thing the military seems to do, as in the Phoenix Lights case: deny it, and then when they think up a good explanation, they come back with that,” Wiese says. “My opinion is, we had a pilot [witness]. And it concerns me if our pilots can’t recognize regular military aircraft.”
The Phoenix Lights phenomenon happened in the late 90s. People in Arizona, Nevada, and the Mexican state of Sonora witnessed a series of UFOs and strange light formations. Wiese says then-Governor Fife Symington had originally poked fun at the event, but has recently come out as a witness.
Wiese is not the only one to balk at the military’s claim. One of Stephenville’s most credible witnesses is sticking to his guns, even after the military news.
“I’ve had one of the news people read the [Air Force] news release to me over the telephone,” says Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan, who says he saw bright, flashing white lights on Jan. 8 that circled and bounced before aligning in a formation and taking off faster than his eyes could follow.
“I’m a little bit—disappointed that our military could make a mistake,” Gaitan says. “I don’t think it was a mistake. I really believe there was so much pressure put on the military that eventually someone said ‘okay’ . . . I’m not saying this was a flying aircraft, flying spaceship from another universe. I really believe it’s some type of military project, experiment that was going on. And they never expected to have as many people come out, saying what they did. And the media didn’t let it go.
“I believe it was something, in the long run, they were doing something that was in our best interest. Security . . . But I don’t respect the fact that they come back two weeks later and say ‘We made a mistake.’ We are supposed to be a lead military in the world.”
Gaitan says if the military had as many fighter planes in the air as they claimed, they should have just be open about them being the area originally. “Don’t get on the news and say, ‘We didn’t have any planes in the air that night,’” he says. “But I did not see fighter jets. [Those were] certainly not the lights I saw. If [they] were F-16s, they were doing something I’ve never seen them do.”