My Dad and brother were both pilots. When my nephew got his pilot’s license at fourteen, I watched him land a plane and it brought tears to my eyes. We heard a lot of talk about Cessna 150s in our house growing up. I didn’t understand the fascination at first. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the idea of flying. I just wanted to be able to roll down the window.
Dad had me co-pilot once. With his instruction I took hold of the yoke, carefully turning it a little to the right and a little to the left to get the hang of it. He told me that you pull it out to go up and push in to go down. I yanked it out too fast then immediately pushed it back in to correct my error and made the plane into roller coaster ride. That was fun…
“Your Mom had worked at the Institute of Aviation in the Engineering building at school. She liked it, it was a good job and it was connected to the airport which was the part I liked. Around 1948, the Bonanza came out with its V-tail. I think it still is the best single engine plane you can get, at least it was for many years.The Institute of Aviation bought one—a brand new Beechcraft Bonanza—and they took your Mom along for a ride. Would you believe she got airsick and threw up all over the inside of that brand new airplane?
“My fascination with planes continued and years later I got my pilot’s license so I could fly to jobs easily around the country. To start out, I flew a Cessna 150 two-seater. When I was properly licensed I flew a Cessna 172 which is a four-seater. My first cross country flight was to St. Louis. Because of the length of the trip I got checked out for night flying.
“Several trips later, I was flying back from St. Louis in a Cessna 172. One of the guys from the office, Jim McClintock, was co-pilot and both your brothers were in the rear seat. All of a sudden there was this disc like light out in front of us. So I woke up my co-pilot and told him to turn off his flashlight because I thought it was the reflection of the light in the window.
“The image in the windshield was about the size of a softball. I banked in different directions but it was always in the same location. So I called flight service in Milwaukee to report it and the operator said, maybe I was looking at fireworks from Summerfest. I said, this is not fireworks. The image was very crisp initially then gradually increased in size and got fuzzy on the edges. We all saw it.
“Fifteen years later, the Journal Sentinel did a story on UFOs. I wrote a letter to the newspaper reporting what I had seen. Shortly after that, the author of the article called me. I still had the report from my sighting. It had been sent to me by the US Air Force following my initial report.
“The Journal Sentinel writer asked me many questions and wanted a copy of the report. I sent it to him and he called me back in a week or so to say he had followed up on it. The incident had happened on August 15 but I don’t remember the year exactly—around ’67. Anyway, what the reporter had found out was that the Canadian government had been experimenting with night illumination. So that explained everything we had seen.”
“So, no UFO…”