As a person who makes his living writing about the paranormal, I'm often asked whether I've ever personally seen anything unusual. Usually the answer is no—my life has been spectacularly devoid of the various phenomena I write about. Recently, however, I had an experience which forces me to modify my answer when I had my very own UFO sighting right in downtown Denver, Colorado! No, there weren't aliens or flying saucers or anything that neat, and you probably won't hear about it on the news for it was an extremely localized event, but it was an experience that I'll never forget. At the risk of making people think I'm crazy (always a danger when writing about the things I do) I've decided to share my experience with the world via the internet. I don't claim that what I saw was definitely an off-planet vehicle; I only will say that I don't know what it was and believe me, I spent the full five minutes I watched it trying desperately to figure it out. I leave it to you to decide what you think I saw.

My Own Personal Close Encounter

Saturday, January 26, 2008 was an unseasonably warm day in Denver, Colorado—at least as far as Januarys go. Calm, with temperatures in the low fifties and a clear blue sky with only a few fleecy clouds—it wasn't exactly short-sleeve shirt weather, but for mid-winter, I'd take it. My son, John, his girlfriend, Joanna, and I were attending a seminar at the Auraria campus (a coalition of three city colleges—the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD), Metropolitan State College of Denver (MSCD), and Community College of Denver (CCD)—located immediately south of downtown Denver). The lecture? A presentation by Mr. Stan Romanek outlining the evidences for him being a multiple abductee/contactee (more on that later). In any case, during the lecture's intermission, John and I decided to take advantage of the unseasonably mild weather and made our way outside. The time was just a few minutes after 4 p.m.

At first there was nothing unusual to report. The crowd milled around the courtyard in front of St. Cajetan's Center talking among themselves while my son and I got off by ourselves a little further down the walkway towards the Tivoli building. After discussing our impressions of the first part of the seminar, a few minutes later we were beginning to make our way back inside when we noticed most of the crowd staring and pointing into the northern sky. Of course, the only thing to do when something like that happens is to look up and see what all the fuss is about.

At first I had trouble seeing anything unusual in the bright blue sky; just a few clouds and the surrounding buildings. After a few seconds, however, I noticed two tiny dots of light just to the right of one of the clouds. At first I thought they were aircraft or balloons of some kind, but I noticed they appeared to be completely still and silent, looking much like a pair of stars (this was more than an hour before sunset). What struck me most about them was that unlike aircraft or foil balloons, they were not particularly reflective or "shiny" but instead were much the same color as the cloud next to them. However, it was clear that they were not part of the cloud for they were quite small (though they may have of considerable size, depending upon their distance from us); they simply looked like two tiny white dots.

While I was still pondering what these were, I noticed something else out of the corner of my eye: tiny and rapidly moving lights were spinning in a tight clockwise pattern perhaps 100-200 feet overhead. At first there appeared to be three of them, though at times there were only two and at other times as many as five, and they moved with an almost fluid motion similar to the type of movement seen in stingrays and sharks. What was also curious about them was that they didn't appear to be reflecting sunlight but instead seemed to be internally lit. In other words, they appeared to glow at various levels of intensity rather than simply reflect sunlight. But perhaps the most inexplicable aspect of them was their ability to entirely vanish for several seconds at a time only to reappear seemingly out of nowhere. I recall locking on to a single "orb" and tracking it as it went through the air only to watch it vanish entirely and then reappear a few second later. I know that sunlight reflecting off twisting foil material might mimic this effect, but this was too pronounced; the light didn't simply diminish in intensity, but vanished completely. Even a bit of foil material seen end on should still be evident even when it wasn't being reflective.

My first thought was that I was looking at a series of kites or perhaps birds chasing each other in a tight formation, but as I studied the display more carefully I was quickly forced to dismiss both explanations. First, if kites (and they would have had to have been pretty small ones—perhaps no more than twelve inches across), they were moving extremely fast in relationship to each other, lacked stabilizing tails, and there were no strings attached either between themselves or between them and the ground. Additionally, to move at the speeds they were going would have required a pretty significant vortex (akin to something one would see in a dust devil) but as far as I could tell, there wasn't as much as a breeze present. Next I considered whether they might be a flight of birds—which can sometimes appear reflective (especially when wet)—but as I studied them more closely I could see no evidence of flapping wings, tail feathers, beaks, etc. Next I considered that the possibility that they were radio-controlled aircraft of some kind, but I had to dismiss that idea as well. First, they were entirely silent while every radio-controlled plane I've ever seen made a loud buzzing noise similar to a mosquito or a bee and, secondly, they appeared to lack any sort of control surfaces (wings, rudders, etc.) If they were radio-controlled devices of some kind, they were of a design and level of sophistication beyond anything I've ever seen before (and they were being operated by a hidden team of highly skilled professionals who were managing to choreograph their moves with an impressive level of coordination). Whatever the "orbs" were (and I am hesitant to use the term considering the often negative connotations the word has taken on within the paranormal community), the display lasted around five minutes before they begin to diminish in number and finally disappeared completely, at which point we all shuffled back into the church to finish the seminar. The entire show lasted an estimated four to five minutes and was seen, by my estimate, by around 75 people, at least three of whom I watched videotape the display (it's also likely it may have been caught on any number of cell phone cameras as well). Clearly, this was either a case of mass delusion, a carefully choreographed hoax, or something else was happening. Let's look at each possibility in turn to consider which is most reasonable.

Mass Delusion?
Now here is where the problem begins. As I stated earlier, the seminar I and my son was attending was sponsored by a local paranormal investigation group heavily associated with MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network), who were presenting a four hour lecture on alien abductions. As such, it's likely almost everyone present was "into" UFOs in general, making the timing and circumstances of the sighting extremely suspicious. Obviously, it would not be remarkable if a group of people already predisposed towards believing in extraterrestrials and many of whom claimed to have had their own encounters with UFOs over the years, after being immersed for two hours in alien abduction stories, might be particularly susceptible to calling any light in the sky or stray bit of floating tin foil a UFO. It would be a sort of "group delusion"—perhaps initiated by a drifting foil balloon or the timely arrival of a flock of playful sparrows—that would quickly grow in scale as each person excitedly pointed towards the sky and declared UFOs to be afoot. In fact, I can't imagine any group that would be more predisposed towards deceiving themselves than the people that were present at this packed lecture, making it easy to simply dismiss the whole thing as a bit of aerial flotsam or avian activity being blown entirely out of proportion.

On the other hand, in contrast to the normal assumption within the skeptical community that every person who attends a UFO event is hopelessly naive and incapable of objective observation, within this group were a number of skeptics (like myself) and people who were still undecided about the entire issue of UFOs. In fact, like many "ghost hunters" and those who deal with the paranormal in general, there is a core group that takes this stuff very seriously and are quick to attempt to debunk any sighting in an effort to get the highest quality evidence possible. I personally overheard a number of people nervously dismiss the display as "a flock of birds" or balloons, usually after which they would turn their backs to the display and return to their interrupted conversation. Additionally, there was no shouting or running about in panic as people are prone to do when confronted with something inexplicable; instead, most simply watched the display quietly—occasionally talking among themselves—until it was over, at which time they dutifully shuffled back into the building. Of course, there was some excited buzz among those who had seen the display and a general air of disbelief among those who had chosen to stay inside and so missed all the excitement, but I did not see fear or hysteria demonstrated by anyone. What I saw instead was a group of people who watched something unusual play itself out overhead in curiosity, with a few showing the presence of mind to film what they saw. At no time did I get the impression that this group was being swept up by the power of suggestion or were acting in any sort of a panicked manner.

As for whether well meaning people may have simply misidentified a balloon, some birds, or a kite, all I can do is reiterate my earlier objections to each possibility: were these simply birds they would have been easily identified as such by anyone who has ever seen a bird in flight. There was not enough wind to get a kite aloft, much less several of them at once and get them to chase each other about without colliding or crossing strings (or displaying strings, for that matter). And they were not foil-covered balloons spinning in place for several minutes on a calm, windless afternoon. Of course, I realize that even slight breezes can be stirred into a vortex by nearby tall buildings, but for this idea to work we must have at least some wind—which was not present in this case—and close in, tall buildings like one would see in downtown Denver. However, the closest buildings were neither especially tall nor particularly close, nor does it explain how this wind vortex would have been able to sustain itself for upwards of five minutes (or why it chose such a particularly curious time to "do its thing") leaving the "swirling wind" hypothesis with no legs upon which to stand. And, finally, I already examined the possibility that these were remote-controlled devices of some kind and found that theory equally lacking.

A Hoax?
Obviously, the timing and location of such a display is suspicious, leading some to presume a hoax was afoot, perhaps contrived by the very sponsors of the event in an effort to illicit media attention or some other rationale. Certainly, people are clever and such a prospect wouldn't be unheard of, so the possibility can't be entirely discounted. However, if it were a hoax, the question remains of how it was done. The display I witnessed was not some cheap trick but a highly sophisticated light show that would take considerable resources and coordination to pull off (especially in broad daylight with multiple witnesses). It also remains to be seen what might have been gained by such a display: the event was already sold out so there was nothing to gain financially. Plus, had the display gone off badly and be quickly exposed as a crude sham, it would have not only hurt the reputation of the event sponsors, but would have badly damaged the credibility of the speaker purely for being associated with such a hoax. Clearly, if a hoax, it was not only done in such a way as to remain entirely undetectable to scores of observers but had little or no evident "pay off" in return making it, in my opinion, extremely unlikely.

Extraterrestrial Lightshow?
This leaves only the third hypothesis, and that is that the light show was either a display of highly sophisticated terrestrial or extraterrestrial technology of some kind. I say this only because the nature, speed, and movement of the "orbs" were such that they could only have been a product of intelligent design and appeared to be under some form of control. I don't believe they were mechanical devices of some kind but appeared to be more akin to a manifestation of plasma energy reminiscent of ball lightning or some other type of static discharge. I base this belief not only upon the small size and nature of the "orbs" but because I witnessed them repeatedly and intermittently vanish and reappear, which should be impossible were they solid objects. My overall impression of the event was that I was watching a display of a highly sophisticated nature, perhaps using lasers or holographic imaging devices of some kind. How this was done, of course, remains a mystery, though I would be surprised if human technology would be capable of such a feat. Of course, such a "trick" might well be within the capabilities of an extraterrestrial civilization.

However, the bigger question remains why? If this were a display of extraterrestrial technical prowess, why did these "entities" (for lack of a better term) choose the time and place they did? The only answer I can come up with is that they were putting on a demonstration for a very specific audience, perhaps in an effort to confirm the validity of Mr. Romanek's experiences being recounted inside. I recall that the event's organizer had confided to me some weeks beforehand that he had received "off planet" communication directing him to hold the event. Is it possible the light show was designed to confirm that rather extraordinary claim? Clearly, if true, the beings did a superb job in not only underlining their basic message, but they did so in such a way as to make their intent clear without drawing too much attention to their activities. Keeping the light show confined to such a small area ensured that it wasn't going to create disruptions in the surrounding city and that it would be seen only by event participants. In fact, I can't think of a more elegant method by which they might have made their point.

Anyone who has read any of my books knows that I usually start from the premise that all phenomena has a reasonable, natural explanation before working my way to increasingly complex and/or paranormal solutions. Additionally, I have no history of seeing UFOs or any other inexplicable phenomena, making it difficult to dismiss my sighting as mere "wishful thinking" or evidence of an overly active imagination. I did not come to the event either hoping to or expecting to see a UFO; I came as an objective witness hoping to be impressed by the evidence Mr. Romanek presented in his seminar and nothing more. Seeing a UFO in the sky was as big a surprise to me as it would be to anyone, and one that forced me to carefully question a number of beliefs I had come to assume to be true about the entire phenomena.

Finally, I would be less than honest if I pretended that I had no belief in extraterrestrials beforehand. I freely admit that I consider the likelihood that aliens are and have been observing us for many centuries quite high, and am even willing to entertain the notion that they may be in contact with a select few of us (and, quite possibly, even Mr. Romanek). However, in no way does that translate into an obsession that is inevitably to result in delusions that every light in the sky is an alien craft and every balloon blown about by the wind is a flying saucer. I also admit that I could have been entirely mistaken about what I saw, though if that is the case I can't imagine what it was that I did see. All I can do is report what I observed to the best of my ability and leave it for the reader to decide for themselves if my story is credible to them.

FOOTNOTE: Coincidently, my book on UFOs came out in December, 2008 in case you're interested in my "take" on the phenomenon. It was written before this experience and is a more objective (though some might say skeptical) approach to the subject than you might expect. Also, if you have your own UFO sighting you would like to talk about, feel free to drop me a line. Love to hear it and compare notes.