[In recent years, tales of mystery helicopters and strange paramilitary troop movements have gone hand in hand with UFO sightings in the American west, but rarely are those accounts backed by as much multiple eyewitness testimony as presented in the following story, which appeared in the Star Tribune of Caspar, Wyoming on March 22, 1996. It is not clear whether this story represents anything anomalous in the UFO sense, but it might well indicate anomalous and potentially alarming activity of some airborne military-type agency that so far remains unidentified. ISCNI*Flash thanks Wanda Sudrala for sending this story and for securing advance permission for us to reprint it.]
by Jason Marsden and Deirdre Stoelzle
Copyright 1996 Star Tribune. Reprinted with permission.
CASPER - Just off Hat Six Road, dozens of men huddle in the unforgiving winds blowing off of Casper Mountain, peering through night vision glasses, scanning the sky.
Some unknown force has been flying helicopters, sometimes in formation, through the darkness, they say, three nights a week, three hours a night, for more than a year. Even when spied through $5000 night-vision goggles, the men must identify the aircraft by their strobe patterns alone.
Reports of sightings have reached the governor's office, the sheriff's office, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Wyoming National Guard. None of the agencies can explain what's going on. The FAA says it's investigating eyewitness reports, according to Mitch Barker at the regional office in Seattle.
Natrona County International Airport control tower staff have observed on numerous occasions what appear to be slow moving aircraft along the north side of Casper Mountain -- as many as 14 at a time, and probably choppers, the tower told the FAA in a memo.
"Whatever the lights in the sky are, they're not U.S. military -- or, presumably, any other military," says Wyoming National Guard Adjutant General Ed Boenisch, who says he's exhausted every imaginable lead and turned up no proof of training missions or operations, period. He thinks the huge sky and curvature of the Earth may be playing tricks with the men's eyes, fooling them into thinking commercial aircraft hundreds of miles away are something else.
That doesn't square with Casper pawn broker and gun dealer Dave Zerbe, who's spear-headed an impromptu probe into the helicopters. He says he's come right up to one on the mountain top, scraped paint from it, even while evading a bunch of armed soldiers in black garb. Zerbe says his analysis of the paint proves it to be military style, anti-radar coating.
They've stampeded Zerbe's horses through barbed wire at his home near the county line, he claims, damaged his shingles, and hovered as close as 50 feet from his roof. He says he's heard them speaking Russian on radios.
Zerbe's even chartered a plane from Casper Air Service to try to chase down the whirly-birds. He tells a harrowing tale of following him as far as the Colorado line south of Baggs and Dixon, where he thinks they're based, only to be pursued back to Casper by Apache helicopters, just off the wingtips of the rental twin-prop. His hired pilot won't comment on the record, asked that his name not be used and suggests privately that Zerbe is exaggerating.
But other men who've been coming out to Hat Six for months -- including McDonald's franchise owner Greg Hansen -- have laid skepticism aside. Hansen too has seen the craft land on the mountain, could even hear their blades, he said. Lately, they've been staying farther away, he noted.
Natrona County Sheriff Dave Dovala has been out for a look, as have five deputies, but "all you can see are white strobe lights on the horizon," the sheriff said. He doesn't seem to take them seriously.
Ken Erickson, chief of staff to Gov. Jim Geringer, isn't laughing over the accounts -- but hasn't solved the mystery, either. He says if the craft are a special military operation, he wished they'd tip off the local authorities, to prevent a panic -- but they haven't.
At about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night [March 20], Zerbe handed over his night vision goggles to rancher Tom Milne, who runs livestock in the area of Hat Six Road east of Casper. Staring off into the distance, Milne said he could see the flashing strobe lights of two separate unidentified flying objects which had appeared on the northern horizon, right over his family's homestead on Smith Creek.
Milne, who said neither he nor his ranch hands have seen anything of the sort Zerbe and his cohorts have described, said his family and other ranchers are out at all hours and the strangest thing they've seen is the folks looking for helicopters.
On Monday [March 18], BB Brooks ranch owner Russell Gordy said in an interview from Houston that neither he nor his ranch hands -- who are, night and day, working in the vicinity Zerbe and Hansen describe as being the epicenter of the copters' activities -- have seen any unidentified flying objects. Gordy added that he has not given anyone permission to fly over his land, and wouldn't even if they asked. "I don't want them scaring my cows," he said.
Hansen said Wednesday more than one self-described "birdwatcher" -- none of whom he would identify -- has received anonymous telephone threats warning them, "I told you to stop watching the helicopters."
Original file name: CNI - Casper lights 4.8
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