Incident in Anita, Iowa

The night I saw a UFO, June 6th 1974

I feel like I’m always taking a risk when I tell this story. I mean, how would anybody take one seriously after they have told you that they saw a flying saucer?

In April of 1974 I planned a cross-country road trip with a friend in which we would drive from my home town of Philadelphia, Pa to Los Angeles California and ‘see the country’ and re-connect with a long lost cousin of whom I really looked up to.

The morning of June 5th we had woke up, both in the front seats of that 1969 Toyota Corolla, wearing parkas and freezing, somewhere west of Wheeling West Virginia. Philadelphia to Wheeling was quite a drive but nowhere near the 3,200 miles we had to cover and planned to cover in one week. So we hit the road and continued west on Interstate 80. Through Indiana, then Illinois and then onto Iowa. Near dinner time we were in eastern Iowa but wanted to make it to Nebraska… Iowa is a bigger state then you might think. At 2:00AM June 6th 1974 we had enough driving and looked up at the road sign and saw an exit for the town of Anita and a KOA campsite.

The good thing about pulling into a KOA campsite at 2AM is that there is nobody there to collect the camper’s fee… so it’s a free stay for our Toyota and we were on a budget of course. By 2:30AM we had parked the car and laid out the sleeping bags on a soft cushion of grass in the middle of very large pasture. There was a tree line but it was distant and low on the horizon. It was very dark and there were billions of stars across that expansive sky … a very warm summer night. We also seemed to be alone. There may have been other vehicles but the lights were out and I just don’t recollect any other activity… except that in the far distant horizon I heard the sound of drag racing. Very faint but distinctive and it lasted for a short while. Other than that, it was dark, quiet, warm and starry.

Let talk more about that starry sky. When it’s so dark and when you’re so far away from terrestrial sources of light then stars in the sky take on a whole new level of perceived energy. Stars have color, they are not all just white… some are red and blue and in this environment you can see the tints of their color. After a while your eyes become accustomed to the low level of starlight and the colors get even brighter. Another feature of a very starry sky is the appearance of the spiral arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. Our Sun is a star that is embedded within the relatively thin plane of a gigantic pinwheel of stars… called the Milky Way. Our entire galaxy is rotating in a single direction and our Sun moves with the other stars so that, within our lifetime, the stars remain fixed in a relative position to each other. Sitting on the Earth and looking up (or out as the case may be) we can look along the plane of the Milky Way pinwheel. As we do look out, we encounter millions even billions of stars within our line of sight and these stars are further and further away. As far as 1200 light years within our own galaxy… so the effect is to see a ‘hazy band of light’ that arches over the sky on a very starry night.

That was the sight of the sky that night in Anita Iowa and it was amazing to a guy who grew up in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

So there I was, lying on my back, on a sleeping bag and looking up into the celestial canopy, watching colorful stars and the occasional meteorite shooting across the sky.

Suddenly on my left I saw it.

The best way to describe this, even 35 years later, was an elliptical shaped oval which had a very dull ‘black light’ purple color. There were no border lights. There was no engine sound. It glided or floated in a straight line from my left horizon to my right horizon. It might have been the size of a jet airliner or maybe it was flying as high but that’s real hard to tell. I saw it clearly for about 5 minutes and couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I just kept saying to myself… “you have to remember what this looks like” so I seared its image into my brain and that’s why I can tell you the details of this story now so many years later.

I challenged myself on what it could have been? It didn’t have any border lights or light sources other than its overall ‘black light’ color. Planes have border lights. It didn’t make a sound… no engine. I did hear drag racing on the horizon but could hear no sound from this UFO. It was oval and had that odd color. Nothing on Earth was like it. As it moved across the sky its oval outline blotted out the stars behind it so it was a solid object… I saw an oval of stars disappearing and then reappearing as it moved across the sky.

I had flashlight and I got it out and pointed at it… no effect… it just kept going.

I found it hard to sleep that night.

The next morning we made it to Omaha Nebraska and had breakfast at a Howard Johnson’s where I remember seeing a local ‘free’ newspaper which had a headline that read “UFO Sighted Across 6 States”… no I didn’t take the newspaper and I don’t have it in my possession. Wish I would have taken it.

You might remember the movie “Fire in the Sky” which was about an incident in the White Mountains of Northeastern Arizona in November 1975. A group of young people, working for the US Forestry Service came upon a flying craft just tens of feet hovering above the ground. The shocked group just watched when one of them decided to walk out to the UFO and right underneath it. That person, allegedly, was taken up into the craft by a light beam and whisked away as the craft left. The horrified group of friends frantically drove off in their truck and then, in a moment of more cautioned reason, drove back to rescue their lost buddy. Who was then gone and nowhere to be found.

The local law enforcement thought that the story was far fetched and reasoned that their friend was actually murdered and the entire group became suspect. Lie detectors were given, everybody passed and nobody broke from the same story. That friend had disappeared so completely that it was almost like he ‘left the Earth’.

A week later the friend reappeared, with scars and puncture wounds in odd places and remade contact with his family from a phone booth at a gas station. His story was fantastic and it is the bulk of the movie that I won’t spoil for you.

November 1975 was about a year after June 1974.

I just keep thinking that I’m glad they didn’t stop for my flashlight.

Alan Reiss 2012