STRANGE GH: 1,000 flying saucers invade Grand Haven

It was an invasion that has been lost to time, but it was reported on the front page of the June 17, 1950, Grand Haven Tribune.
Kevin Collier
Nov 26, 2012

Between 4 and 5 p.m. that day, 1,000 “flying saucers” dropped out of the sky and onto the city.

But it was no Roswell. No aliens were sighted, and the only wreckage recovered throughout the city was made from paper.

The stunt was performed by First Reformed Church as a promotion for their vacation Bible school. The “saucers” were paper plates dropped from an airplane that took off from Grand Haven Airport, commanded by the Rev. Bernard Brunsting, a veteran wartime B-17 bomber pilot.

The co-pilot was Kenneth Lestma, assistant pastor of the church. He flew with a rescue squadron in Japan shortly after World War II.

The mission had been announced in advance, so townsfolk were aware of the “flying saucer” invasion. No panic was reported.

The 1,000 “saucers” bore the message, “Hi, kids! We send you this flying saucer to tell you that Daily Vacation Bible School begins Monday morning at 9. Everybody is welcome! First Reformed Church. Prizes, movies, Bible study, handcrafts.”

Other UFO sightings in Grand Haven remain unidentified and a mystery to this day.

In 1994, a man named Troy Prince, his brother and another man — who all shared an apartment on Sixth Street — noticed lights in the sky and believed they had witnessed a UFO landing or crash.

The trio stepped onto their second-story balcony to get a better view and saw four lights in a circle-shaped formation travel overhead. The lights reportedly would separate and come back together in what looked to them like a big “V-shape.”

“First, there were four (lights) — then three, then two,” Prince said in a published report.

The group of men continued to watch until a line of trees obscured their vision. They felt certain that the objects had gone down, either landing or crashing in a corn field.

A team of Michigan UFO Network investigators walked through the corn-stubble field, searching for markings or debris, but did not find any evidence that indicated a crash or landing.

Other strange encounters involved a Grand Haven man who, in March 1966, reported a UFO landing near his home. However, the report was discounted by authorities and was not believed.

In yet another report, from 1950, a man claimed an unidentified flying object had landed on the surface of Lake Michigan, near Grand Haven, at about 11:45 p.m., causing a glow on the lake’s surface. The account, published in Loren E. Gross’ book, “UFOs: A History,” added the object then “sank beneath the surface.”

However, the saucers of First Reformed Church remains the largest “invasion” of its kind in Grand Haven history, and was anything but a mystery.

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