Lights in night sky puzzle Burbank man (w/ video)

By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman, Tri-City HeraldApril 1, 2012 

BURBANK, Wash. -- Mike Klug is used to seeing lights in the night sky -- every airplane that lands at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco flies over his Burbank Heights home.

But what the 52-year-old former Hanford technician saw last week has him scratching his head.

Just before midnight on March 24, Klug saw what he described as an orb with a bright light inside of it.

"It looked like a glass ball with an arc welder's light inside of it," said Klug, who grew up in Pasco and has lived in Burbank for 26 years.

Two nights earlier, just after midnight on March 23, Klug noticed some odd lights near his house and grabbed his videocamera. At first, he thought they were helicopters but realized they were several ultralights soaring over a nearby farm.

"That's identifiable," he said. "I knew what those were."

What he saw on the 24th is a mystery, however. Klug described it as being no more than 500 feet off the ground and moving at 15 mph east toward Walla Walla.

"It dawned on me that nobody was going to believe this," he said.

So he went inside to grab his videocamera, and he began to film. Klug captured about five minutes of video as the reddish-orange orb slowly moved away. Because his camera was still set on night vision from two nights prior, the orb shows as a bright white light on the video. The camera he used is about 25 years old, a Sony camcorder that uses "Hi8" tapes.

"It was moving slower than an aircraft," he said.

Krug should know, as his house is directly under the path every plane takes when it heads west into the Pasco airport, he said.

Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center outside of Spokane, said he had not received a recent report from Eastern Washington.

"We look at many, many, many photos and videos and 99.99999 percent of them are not UFOs," he said from his home in the Palouse farming town of Harrington. "Most of them are photographic hogwash."

The definition of a true UFO, according to Davenport, is "an alien spacecraft. Those are craft with flying characteristics that are not from the planet Earth."

Davenport said he took a quick look at Klug's video on Friday. The appearance of what seem to be aviation lights on wings led him to largely dismiss the initial recording.

"The first object I believe, and I'm not 100 percent, acts like an aircraft making a left-hand bank, and given how steep the bank is, my guess is that it is a military aircraft," Davenport said, noting that only a skilled pilot would attempt such a nighttime maneuver because of the threat of vertigo.

Klug's "glass orb," Davenport said, could possibly be Sirius -- also known as the Dog Star-- based on the body's position in the sky.

Davenport also cast doubt upon Klug's estimated distance of the "orb." He said it is physically impossible for the human eye to look into the sky at night and determine the elevation or distance of an object in the sky.

Most of the reports Davenport said he sifts through can be chalked up to a contrail behind a high-altitude jet, a helicopter with a "hush kit, the type that went into get Bin Laden" or a celestial body such as Venus.

"They report that planet to us all the time," he said.

March 24 resulted in 23 reports to Davenport's website, with alleged sightings from around the world, including Australia and the United Kingdom.

Two of those made to his site -- www.nuforc.org -- were generated from the Puget Sound cities of Burien and Lakewood.

The control tower at the Tri-Cities Airport did not respond to a voice mail requesting comment, and a woman who answered the phone at the Walla Walla Regional Airport control tower said company policy forbids her from talking to the media.

A Pasco airport official told the Herald on March 15 that another report about unusual lights were likely from low-flying aircraft. Two C-17s, which are military transport aircraft, were flying in formation that evening.

Air traffic controllers routinely are sought out by those who see something in the sky, and often people breathlessly try to phone their local airport to share their stories, Davenport said.

"People who work in the control tower and airport security have more important things to do," Davenport said.

Davenport said it is not uncommon for him to receive reports in the days following one of his segments on the late-night national radio program Coast-to-Coast AM. The University of Washington graduate, who has been with the National UFO Reporting Center since 1994, estimated he's been a guest about 110 times on the program carried by Premier Radio Networks during the years.

"I did a two-hour program on Monday the 19th," Davenport said. "When that happens, you get a pulse of reports. Most people want to talk and talk and talk, but what I want to do is to get people to write things down -- even if it is just one paragraph. But it is almost impossible to get people to do that these days."

On the National UFO Reporting Center's website, it claims to be "America's foremost UFO Reporting Agency" and said it has been in "continuous operation since 1974.

"Virtually everything that is published in newspapers about UFOs are not worth the time it takes to read it," Davenport said. "If it makes it makes it into a newspaper, it's probably not a real case."

And he is dubious of those who seek to share their story with news organizations.

"Out of the 20,000 Americans with good vision who claim to have seen a UFO or what could have been a UFO, only one will ever come forward," Davenport said. "The benefit of a news article is that if it is done properly and it encourages other people to come forward, it can be useful."

The National UFO Reporting Center hotline is 206-722-3000. It is intended for only those sightings made in the past week. The group reports that its database contains more than 32,000 cases.

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