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1994 Ottawa County UFO sightings remain unexplained

Kevin S. Collier • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:57 PM

Blue, white, red and green lights — sometimes attached to cylindrical objects and sometimes performing unusual maneuvers — were reported.

“I glanced out to the backyard and noticed four bright lights just above the tree line over our horse pasture,” Grand Haven-area resident Cindy Pravda recalled in an interview. “I had been watching the lights for about 10 minutes when one of the lights slowly moved to the left. It looked like it traveled over the highway next to our house and then slowly moved back in formation.”

Pravda, who watched the lights for about 30 minutes, was not sure if they comprised a much bigger object. In 2008, she recounted the event for the History Channel’s television show “UFO Hunters,” in an episode titled “UFO Emergency.”

That night, 911 operators began receiving calls around 9:30 from eyewitnesses who were reporting something that looked like “a string of Christmas lights” in the sky.

It wasn’t just people in Ottawa County reporting these things. Eyewitnesses in counties up and down Lake Michigan phoned in similar reports. Some sources say 300 witnesses, including several police officers, saw the lights.

Scott Ruiter, of Grand Haven, said he saw the lights in Grand Haven Township at 10:30 p.m.

“It looked like about five airplanes following each other fairly closely,” he said in a news report. “One would blink, then the other — right to left.”

There were so many reports coming in that one of the Ottawa County 911 operators decided to call the National Weather Service radar operator at Muskegon. Similar conversations that 911 operators had with the weather bureau operator that evening were taped and later made their way into the media.

On the recordings, the radar operator’s voice could be heard describing abrupt movements of the object and multiple objects appearing on the radar screen. It was reported that what he was seeing could not be precipitation, especially at that height.

One object was tracked moving 20 miles in 10 seconds.

“He said he had three things on his radar, and they were in a triangular shape,” Holland police officer Jeff Vellhouse reportedly stated to the Muskegon radar operator. “He said they hovered over Holland and moved southwest. He said that one would move out of the triangular pattern, then move back in.”

The radar operator also reported there were “three and sometimes four blips,” and they weren’t airplanes. It was noted planes show as pinpoints on the scope, but the returns on radar were the size of half a thumbnail. The objects were said to range from 5,000 to 12,000 feet at times, and in rapid motion. Three were reported to be moving toward Chicago.

The operator claimed he never saw anything like it before.

It was initially said that there were no weather bureau written or taped records of the radar contacts themselves, but Dave Reinhart of BIMUP (Bureau of Investigators of Mysteries & Unusual Phenomena) claimed to have received copies of the NWS radar operator’s report in late 1994.

He also said that he had spoken to an individual referred to as “Fred,” who worked at Area 51, and was claimed to have knowledge of what had occurred on the night of March 8, 1994. Apparently “Fred” said that it was some sort of rendezvous of UFOs from the east, west, north and south.

The National Weather Service later tried to downplay the radar trackings.

“There is no relation between the UFOs and the radar tracks,” Dean Gulezian, the weather service’s area manager for Michigan, was quoted in a published report.

Gulezian relayed that, although the radar did show some echoes, eyewitnesses had seen these objects at tree-top level. He explained radar echoes captured were from an altitude of 10,000 feet or higher.

Serious discussion about the UFOs over Ottawa County continued for several days. A former Ottawa County 911 dispatcher said random calls of UFO sightings continued throughout the summer, but were mostly ignored.

To this day, the sightings were never adequately explained.


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