F-16s at Scene of U.F.O. Sighting in Texas

 F-16 in the sky

As the hype around a U.F.O. sighting in Texas garners an unusual amount of attention, a local Air Force reserve base stepped up on Wednesday with a statement that either completely debunks the story or fuels it further, depending on whom you ask and when you ask them.

In the days since the reported sighting — which one witness said was of an object in the sky “bigger than a Wal-Mart,” with the addition of many, many strobe lights — officials at the airbase initially said that none of their aircraft were flying on the night in question.

But they changed their story on Wednesday: now they say that 10 F-16 fighter jets were indeed airborne between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. local time that night, on a training mission. That includes the 5-minute period when unidentified flying objects were sighted.
So is it time to say, “So much for aliens in Texas dairy country”?

Not if you ask The Associated Press, which published that line in an early version of its report before switching to a much more noncommittal lead paragraph.

One of the people expressing doubts about the F-16 explanation was Kenneth Cherry of the Mutual UFO Network, who asserted, “This supports our story that there was U.F.O. activity in that area.” He was apparently referring to one witness’s claim that the fighter jets were there to chase the U.F.O.
There are several others.

Video images that seem to show strange patterns of lights in the sky have surfaced on local television, but none have been deemed convincing by authorities whether they believe in aliens or not. A $5,000 reward for video proof has been offered by a Texas businessman.

The Dallas Morning News tries to answer an interesting question raised by the military’s announcement: Could 10 F-16’s, doing whatever they were doing, have been mistaken for something else?

In the article, which also runs down some alternate theories from an aviation expert that don’t pan out, the paper puts that question to Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing, which operates out of the airbase. Major Lewis’s door-slamming response will doubtless strike U.F.O. buffs as both unsurprising and revealing in its reticence:

“What we do down there falls under operational procedures that cannot be released because of operations security for our mission,” he said.

He also seemed to slam the door on the long-cherished hope Mr. Cherry expressed to The A.P.: “What we want is the government to admit there are U.F.O.’s.”

Author: Mike Nizza

New-York Times, January 24, 2008