Any true crime obsessed person readily recognizes (I would hope!) an axiom of the genre: Eye witness testimony should be treated with a great deal of skepticism unless further corroborating evidence exists, whether circumstantial or ideally, physical evidence. The problem, often, with UFO sightings, or unidentified flying object sightings, is that the vast majority of the “evidence” is eye witness testimony! However, what makes the second episode in volume three of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries, “Something in the Sky,” interesting is that 300 people across Michigan reported via 9-1-1 calls and recollections somewhat similar accounts of three to four lights moving about the sky, often separating and then reforming and moving at a high rate of speed beyond anything that would seem … human. In addition to that, we have a 9-1-1 call between police and a meteorologist with the National Weather Service supposedly (key word, more on that in a moment) tracking these UFOs on radar. Most other UFO sightings across the United States and the world don’t have those real-time 9-1-1 calls and NWS radar factor.
To back up, on the night of March 8th, 1994, around 9 p.m., residents in Ottawa County, Michigan, from Muskegon to Grand Haven to Holland (and apparently, multiple other Michigan locations), reported lights in the night sky. I mean, to be clear, by their definition, something unexplained would be “unidentified.” My skeptical consternation would be with “flying” and “objects.” We know whatever these people are seeing is “unidentified,” but we can’t say with 100 percent certainty they are either “flying” or “objects.” Nonetheless, the lights are described as stationary, in a straight line, and without sound. They are also described as moving at high rates of speed beyond what humans are capable of and often moving in a “follow the leader” type way, where one breaks out from the grouping, then they re-form, and repeat.
I know I’m one of those people who makes these people frustrated because of the stigma associated with being a “UFO witness,” but I couldn’t help but laugh at Cindy Pravda and Holly Graves being referred to by title as “UFO witness,” respectively. I understand what they are saying, though. They did see something that night! I don’t discount that. That would be weird. What I am skeptical of is what they saw and drawing a conclusion that it was aliens. So, they don’t want to be thought of as cuckoo or mentally ill. Now, to the latter, let’s be careful about not reinforcing stigmas around the mentally ill! You can be mentally ill without thinking cuckoo things and vice versa.
We have the 9-1-1 recordings of more than 60 residents calling the police about these mysterious lights and UFOs, thanks to an enterprising local reporter. I find it interesting people called the police! But that’s perhaps because I am so adamantly adverse to calling the police for any reason whatsoever, I couldn’t imagine calling the police about weird lights in the night sky. To be fair, some of the callers do caveat with, “This isn’t an emergency, but …”
Where it gets especially interesting and what UFO enthusiasts believe sets this case apart from other UFO sightings (in addition to the 9-1-1 calls and eyewitness reports), is that Jack Bushong, a meteorologist with the NWS, was working that night in Muskegon and began tracking the “movements” of the UFOs on radar. The reason I hedged earlier about the radar tracking is three-fold:
- We know that Jack was new to the job. We later learn he retired from NWS in 2016 after a 22-year career. That means he started his career with NWS in 1994, which is the same year he tracked the UFO sightings in Michigan. I’m not saying he isn’t credible or misread the radar, but I do think it’s worthwhile context to consider that he may have misread the radar owing to him being new to the job.
- Wouldn’t there be records of the radar from that night? Where is it? Where is the data to corroborate what Jack seemed like he was doing on that 9-1-1 call (tracking on radar)? I’m not saying Jack is lying, but doesn’t the NWS keep a record of such data? How come there was nobody else working that night to corroborate what he was supposedly seeing on radar? And why did the NWS classify the “sightings” that night as a temperature inversion, where a layer of warm air a few thousand feet above the Earth’s surface could have been the culprit, otherwise known as ground clutter? Is the NWS wrong? Because the alternative that they are trying to cover something up is conspiracy nonsense to me.
- Again, not trying to discredit Jack, but to add further context worth considering: You can find a “scientist” that will confirm quite literally anything. So, trying to make this particular UFO sighting seem extra credible because a “scientist” was involved doesn’t necessarily persuade me much. See the aforementioned Number 2 for why I need more evidence.
Finally, I have to add, the addition of the waterfall eyewitness testimony to the UFO sightings that night is particularly goofy because nobody else reported such a sight; so, that stood out as an outlier that could be readily dismissed.
As you can tell, I am obviously skeptical of UFO sightings. However, like the journalist quoted in the episode, I am open to the possibility that we are not alone in the universe given the size of the universe we occupy. I just don’t think we’ve been visited yet without any hard evidence of the visitation.
What did you think of this episode?