More reports come in of unexplained lights in night sky

Several more Tri-Citians have come forward saying they saw unexplained lights in the sky as recently as Wednesday night, and self-described UFO tracking agencies are showing interest in the case.

The reports were similar to that of a Finley man who said he saw three lights gliding slowly from Burbank west over the Columbia River, then heading north toward Kennewick.

An air traffic controller has said the object likely was a military aircraft, and a Port of Pasco employee who saw the lights said he's certain they were military helicopters.

However, Peter Davenport, director of the Spokane-based National UFO Reporting Center who earlier said the sighting was consistent with a commercial aircraft, said Thursday that his interest in the case is piqued.

"I've gotten about eight calls (from witnesses) already," Davenport said Thursday.

Jerry Nelson told the Herald on Wednesday that he and his wife saw three lights -- two red and one white and red -- spaced far apart and gliding through the sky, moving "as slow or as fast as a blimp" between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Nelson said the object made no sound, and the size and slow speed it moved convinced him it was not an airplane. He said he could not distinguish a shape to the object beyond the lights and could not get his camera to focus enough to take a picture.

Joan Wistler said she saw the lights about the same time as Nelson from her bedroom window in west Kennewick, though she saw only red lights, and they were partly obscured by a line of trees. She said she had never seen anything like them before.

Kennewick resident Betty Jones said she watched three lights Wednesday night gliding above the Benton County Fairgrounds through her fieldglasses.

"They would go in a circle and back and forth. It was odd," Jones said. "Like it was bobbing on water."

Sid Gire, a Richland resident and investigator with the Mutual UFO Network, has asked Nelson to file a report on the matter but declined to comment on what he thought the lights could be. Davenport, however, said the descriptions he has heard from other reporters and the circumstances of the case are interesting.

"Now we have multiple independent witnesses at different locations reporting quite eloquently that they saw something," he said. "That's a lot different from lights in the sky seen at a distance."

Not everyone is convinced the lights were something mysterious. One Herald reader sent an article explaining the lights as government satellites, and a few commenters on the Herald's website have dismissed the lights as being military aircraft.

Burbank resident Vicki Cleghorn said she and her husband saw the lights while sitting on their patio. She said they had never seen anything like it before and couldn't distinguish shapes, but they did hear a popping sound that her husband said could be helicopters.

David Garza was working at the Port of Pasco that night when he saw the lights. He said he was startled by them at first but realized they were just helicopters.

"I got my binoculars, and you could see what they were," he said.

Davenport, however, said publicity allows these incidents to be fully investigated.

"All you have to do is shake the blanket, and you don't know what will come out of it," he said.

Davenport encouraged any witnesses to file a report with his agency at www.nuforc.org, "even if it's just a paragraph." Gire's organization is at www.mufon.com.

-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com