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     The Mystery of UFO Hill
       William Moriaty

A PCR Exclusive! Now, For the First Time, It is Revealed to the Public!

The Legend of U.F.O. Hill - - A Florida Phenomena

The Sunshine State has had its fair share of notable contributions to the unidentified flying object mythos, not the least of which includes the scoutmaster and the strange light incident outside of West Palm Beach (PCR #80, October 1-8, 2001) in 1952; the sighting of a U.F.O. with port holes over Hernando County in 1946 (also issue #80); the incident where gubernatorial candidate Ferris Bryant ordered the chase of a U.F.O. over the skies of Ocala from his own campaign aircraft; and of course the more recent and best known case, that of the multiple sightings by Gulf Breeze resident Ed Walters in the late 1980s.

To the best of my knowledge, the U.F.O. story I am about to tell you has never been made public before. If this story is accurate and truthful, it is one of the strangest U.F.O. incidents that I have ever heard.

I intend to recount this tale as faithfully as I can - - I initially heard it second hand from my former colleague Greg Van Stavern as long ago as December 1980. Many years of course have passed by, so the parts of this story that I can no longer remember well or in great detail will be excluded.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy.

The Legend of U.F.O. Hill
It is December 1980 on a chilly evening in Pensacola, Florida. At that time of the tear, nighttime descends early in this northwest Florida city due to not only the seasonal day length, but also due to its location on the eastern fringe of the Central Standard Time zone. Sunsets as early as 4:00 P.M. or slightly afterwards are not uncommon.

My former colleague, Greg Van Stavern, worked on bank securities systems for a Tampa firm called Foreline at that time. He was sent by the company to a bank in Pensacola that month to repair such a system. As Greg had an interest in aviation, and as Pensacola is home to the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels aerial acrobatic team, he could not help but admire a photo of them posted on one of the bank's walls.

Greg made comment of the photo to the bank's security guard, who at this time, was the only other person left in the building. In short order, the two found themselves engaged in a long conversation on aircraft and then something a little more exotic.

Do You Believe in U.F.O.'s?
After talking well into the early evening, Greg said he could almost sense where their conversation would turn. After a slight pause in the discussion, the security guard asked Greg, "Do you believe in U.F.O.'s?"

Greg responded that he was open to the possibility that man was not alone in the universe, to which the guard began to while away the late night hours telling the following strange tale in the otherwise quiet solitude of the closed bank.

Sadberry Road, Gadsden County, Florida; Fall 1977
The security guard claimed to be a retired Navy Physicist. While still in the service, he enjoyed spending his leisure time hunting in an area of Gadsden County, Florida just west of state Route 267 and southwest of the small town of Wetumpka along Sadberry Road. At that time in the fall of 1977, the rural areas surrounding Sadberry Road were predominantly rolling longleaf pine-turkey oaks hills abundant with wildlife game such as deer, quail and wild turkey. Adding to this abundance of wildlife was that allegedly several years earlier a grid of streets for a planned subdivision that never came to fruition were built, making hunting even more bountiful as the wildlife would scurry across the empty streets between wooded blocks that were meant for human and not animal dwellings.

One afternoon, as the day was drawing to a close, the hunter packed up his gear and headed west past the last existing cracker houses closes to the end of the road in order to determine if there was any game at the small hill that the road circled at its western end. What he did find was more than he had bargained for.

"A Metallic Disc-Shaped Object Was Hovering Over the Hill"
About 300 feet to the south of the hunter, a silver metallic disc shaped object 25'-30' in length was hovering silently above the treetops of the small hill. The hunter was terrified yet transfixed at the sight. After several moments, the object moved slightly higher, and then in a burst of windless blinding speed, shot straight up into the early evening sky and became the size of a star within seconds. It then performed a 90-degree turn and crossed the sky to the horizon and out of sight within scant seconds.

Dazed, yet fascinated, the hunter later informed other buddies of his who frequented the site about sighting. Initially the fellow hunters scoffed, but several days later they drove their pick up trucks to the hill side where low and behold, a silver metallic disc shaped object, possibly the same one originally spotted by the hunter, performed an almost exact same aerial phenomena in front of them that it did in front of the hunter who related this story, almost is if on a schedule.

After repeated visits to the site, the hunter and his friends spotted the craft on several occasions, usually performing the same hovering then rapidly accelerating skyward in total silence, leaving no wake or wind disturbance, virtually at the same time each evening that it was spotted.

The Hunter Decides To Go It Alone
After observing the craft or crafts on now numerous occasions, the hunter became obsessed with the strange turn of events that he stumbled upon only several weeks earlier. One day he decided to take a sleeping bag, brave the night cold, and sleep on the summit of the hill in hopes of getting a more close up and personal observation of the craft.

Although the usual "departure time' at early twilight do not occur on this fateful evening, something even more spectacular did. After a freezing and fitful sleep, the hunter awoke. He had a feeling of terror and foreboding. He got out of his sleeping bag and briskly stood up. He claimed that something or someone in his own mind was ordering him in a non-verbal, yet understandable way, to leave the summit of the hill as quickly as possible. He looked upward into the diamond-studded heavens and noticed that one of the "stars" was moving from the western horizon to a point directly above him where it became temporarily stationary. The small pinpoint of light started descended as the terrified hunter ran, tripping through dense vegetation, down the hill until he could reach the road and his pick up truck below.

Once at the vehicle, he looked at the hill where the now-familiar metallic disc shaped object was again hovering at tree top level above the hill. Astonishingly, the object started emitting an almost blinding pinkish light and started to simultaneously reduce in size until it was a ball of brilliant pink light, slightly smaller than a grapefruit. Mouth wide open, he watched the ball of light descend between the trees and appear to enter the ground itself where it then disappeared. This incredible activity would end up being the hunter's last sighting at this location.

Did Somebody Rearrange the Furniture?
That was not the end of the story. The hunter had noticed during each visit to the hill that the vegetation look slightly altered. For example, a four-foot tall oak sapling would be ten feet tall two days later, or a mature 90-foot tall longleaf pine in one spot was not there three days later, and there was no physical evidence that the tree had been removed. Driven by this observation, the hunter obtained aerial photographs dated each five years going back some twenty years, from the Gadsden County Property Appraiser's office. Each photo demonstrated changes to the vegetation and tree canopy that were too significant to have occurred naturally. He was left perplexed by this and finally mustered up the courage to talk to one of the crackers who lived nearest the site and tell them about what he had witnessed there and uncovered. In a thick Southern drawl, the multi-generational resident who lived life-long on Sadberry Road said, "You mean them weird lights in the sky 'n such? Well, Hale, thay's bin doin' that fo so long so offin' in this neck of the woods that we ignores 'em!"

The Visit, Summer 1981
Driven by my own curiosity, Greg Van Stavern and another colleague of mine, Bob Scheible, rode in my 1973 Chevrolet Impala station wagon (endearingly nicknamed "The Golden Mothership Whale" by Scheible) on a July 1981 road trip to Tallahassee, which is about twenty miles east of Wetumpka. It was on our itinerary to visit "U.F.O. Hill" as I had by then nicknamed it. Greg still had the originally hand drawn map of the site given to him by the hunter/security guard/physicist back in December 1980.

We made it to Sadberry Road on a clear but swelteringly hot day. As we passed the few existing houses and proceed west, we could see the hill in the distance, but could not access it. Why? A 10-foot tall electrified fence with a United States government emblem on it, along with a metal attached sign that stated to travelers that this was a "Restricted Area" cordoned off the road. The fence ran from the north to the south horizons. This perplexed us even more as we soon left the area and headed back to Tampa.

What Really Happened There?
In July 1993 when I started with the Florida Department of Transportation, I mentioned this strange story to my new boss, Mister Jerry C. Sanford, who sadly after 43 years with the Department, passed away this past January.

Mister Sanford, who was one of the most down to earth wonderful human beings I had ever had the honor and pleasure to know, raised his eyebrows upon my recollection of this story as he had a hunting cabin built on Sadberry Road in 1984. By his own admission, nothing unusual had ever happened in that area since he had started to visit up there during the advancing hunting seasons. When I asked him about the electrified fence and the hill, he simply stated that by 1984 there was no such fence, but that the hill was leveled, mine for silica sand, and several hundred feet deep. Did the hunter/security guard/physicist that Greg met in December 1980 truly witness something of significant high strangeness along Sadberry Road in the fall of 1977, or were Greg, myself and possibly others simply shucked and jived by some lower Alabama good ol' boy who had a knack for spinning some fantastic campfire stories?

The world may never know.

La Floridiana Reaches #100!
I wanted to let our esteemed readers know that this is the 100th edition of "La Floridiana"! I have had great satisfaction writing this column, and hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing them. I look forward to writing hundreds more about my jealous mistress, the State of Florida!

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.