Thursday, January 24, 2008

Air Force says F-16s were in the area of UFO sightings

Star-Telegram staff writer

Have the flying objects -- at least half of them -- over Stephenville been identified?

The military now says that 10 F-16s from the 457th Fighter Squadron were training between 6 and 8 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Brownwood military operating area, which includes Stephenville and Erath County.

Dozens of people in the area reported seeing UFOs -- and fighter jets -- around dusk on that date. Initially, Air Force Reserve officials said no jets were in the area.

"There was an internal error in communication," said Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at Naval Air Station Fort Worth.

Lewis said he had no information about how or why the error occurred. He also said he did not know whether any of those pilots spotted anything unusual.

The statement adds credibility to witnesses interviewed Saturday in Dublin, near Stephenville, by the Mutual UFO Network, said Kenneth Cherry, the group's state director. He said Wednesday's revelation by the military may have been the result of a request the group made under the Freedom of Information Act.

"They knew they were eventually going to have to tell the truth," Cherry said. "They concocted a ridiculous cover story in the beginning, but now they are coming closer to the truth with another cover story."

Several of the approximately 50 witnesses said they saw fighter jets trying -- and failing miserably -- to catch up to the strange aircraft.

Some said the unidentified flying object was up to a mile long and hundreds of yards high. Others described seeing two to eight lights that flew in formation, changed color and shined with an intensity greater than a welding flame.

One witness who reported seeing military jets chasing a UFO was Steve Allen, a pilot and owner of a freight company in Glen Rose.

"We're on the money 100 percent," Allen said after learning of the military's statement. "Something is going on, and we know about it. It's time for the government to start talking about it."

The group expects to investigate the reports for several months before releasing its findings.

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