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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fourth calendar year
    PCR #183  (Vol. 4, No. 39)  This edition is for the week of September 22--28, 2003.

UFOs I Have Seen -- Part 1
by Will Moriaty
"National Lampoon's Dorm Daze"
by Mike Smith
Dinosaurs vs The Pirates, A Couch Potato Editorial....The Cure Trilogy DVD and Video
 by Vinnie Blesi
The 9-25 Club....SAG & Oscar News Already!....THE PUNISHER....Mark Wahlberg
 by Ashley Lauren
UFO vs The Creature
 by John Lewis
The Nothing Left To Chance League....Milking It....Congrats....If He's Not back By Wednesday, We Get Clapton....Passing On
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
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Archives 2000
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UFOs I Have Seen -- Part 1
My personal encounters with Unidentified Flying Objects

If there is one thing I know well, I have known what should typically be found in the skies above us.

I can tell the difference between a Boeing 757 and a Cessna 172; between an F-16 and a Beechcraft Bonanza. I can identify most aircraft flying at high altitudes at night simply by determining the configuration of their beacon and fuselage lights.

I can also tell an Anhinga from a Great Blue Heron; a Cardinal from a Roseate Spoonbill; and a Sandhill Crane from a Greater Tern, I have also seen blimps with spectral looking flashboard lettering at night, meteors, green, blue and red lightning, and even one private aircraft falling out of the sky killing all of its occupants.

But on occasion, I have seen objects in the skies over Florida that fit no profile or description that I have ever seen cataloged or indexed on this planet. That is not to say that these sightings were of objects not from this planet or that my observations were not cases of mistaken identity. What I am saying is that these objects were, to the best of my knowledge, unidentified.

Tampa, Florida, June 15, 1973: 7:30 P.M. E.D.T.
My first U.F.O. sighting was in June 1973 shortly after I graduated T.R. Robinson High School. On the night of the 15th I had dinner with classmate Kent Aiken at the infamous "Pizza Hut on Wheels" (see La Floridana issues #149 and #177) when it was actually still a Pizza Hut located on South Dale Mabry Highway adjacent to the bridge over the Seaboard Coast Line (now CSX) Rail Road track in South Tampa.

As the jukebox was playing Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "From the Beginning", Kent decided after dinner to test his mettle at the adjacent go-kart track next door. I was on the west side of the track watching Kent go around and around. Several laps into his trials I quickly glanced to the southeast sky and noticed a metallic object moving slowly over the area just east of Himes Avenue, just north of Gandy Boulevard. At first I thought the object was a KC-135 refueling jet tanker as the typical "plane du jour" at that time at MacDill Air Force Base was the smaller Phantom F-4 fighter jet.

It was a clear, brilliant evening. The skies were burning amber to the west and fading to gentle purple in the east with the onset of night. I refocused my glance to better identify the object. It was definitely NOT a KC-135, or a B-52, or a C-5A for that matter! It was a metallic cigar-shaped object several hundred feet long, quietly hovering about 1,000' above the Interbay peninsula, its bottom reflecting the first beams of light to emanate from the ground below, and its west side reflecting the setting sun.

I jumped up and down pointing at the object so Kent could also see the object. Instead Kent somehow took this to mean that he was doing great and he rewarded my panic and foreboding with a thumbs up and a smile, never seeing the object which slowly faded as it headed northeast over Hillsborough Bay and into history.

Jacksonville, Florida, December 7, 1975: 11:45 A.M., E.S.T.
Two years after my first sighting, I was living in the much cooler winter climate of Jacksonville, Florida. As I was walking from my apartment on Atlantic Boulevard eastward towards the Wendy's on University Boulevard, I happened upon the treeless vista where Atlantic Boulevard crosses the Little Pottsburg Creek. It was a cool, bright and gorgeous, cloudless day, the water of the creek reflecting the electric blue of the crisp winter sky.

Jacksonville is positioned where many "high fliers" (aircraft higher than 10,000 feet above ground level) traverse the skies like a crowded interstate highway between Miami and the northeast. As I continued my walk, I looked to the north and saw a contrail appear led by a tri-jet heavy (a passenger carrying Lockheed L-1011 or McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 - - probably the former as Eastern Air Lines heavily utilized the L-1011 on its New York to Miami run at that time) heading southward. About five seconds later I caught a glint of light to the east over the vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean. Closer observation determined that a boomerang or triangular metallic shaped object was climbing rapidly and heading westward. Within seconds I saw a terrifying "conflict alert' situation unfolding in the skies above Jacksonville.

The boomerang shaped object appeared to be pursuing the tri-jet heavy and was on a collision course with it. I stood transfixed as the two objects came perilously close to each other - - the pilot of the tri-jet heavy unaware of the gravity of the situation as the craft was still at the pilot's six o'clock position. In a heartbeat the craft appeared to merge with the tri-jet heavy. My own heart skipped a beat - - hundreds of people in the tri-jet, as well as people on the ground, could lose their lives! Miraculously the two missed each other but were close enough as evidence by the tri-jets contrail being disturbed by the air displacement that the craft made nearby.

Surely the pilots of the tri-jet heavy did see a cockpit window filled with a close-up view of the mysterious craft immediately before their near miss. I would love to know who or what piloted that strange craft like a suicide jockey on that crisp December day.

Plant City, Florida, April 19, 1999, 9:05 P.M., E.D.T.
While taking a nightly walk, I gazed up in time to see a luminous green orb-shaped object that appeared to be the size of Venus making a straight trajectory from the southeast to the northwest. The object was not a satellite, bolide or meteorite and had no tail. There was absolutely no sound made by the object as it flew over the Plant City landscape.

I summarized the three sightings mentioned above in a series of reports that can be found by linking to the Florida Sightings listed in the National U.F.O. Reporting Center (N.U.F.O.R.C.) web site at http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/ndxlFL.html

Again, these may not have been extraterrestrial in origin, but to my eyes they were definitely unidentified flying objects!

Next Week: Part Two of "UFOs I Have Seen" takes us back to March 1981 when "Mysterious Lights in the Night Skies Over Ginnie Springs" terrified me. All right here in Nolan's Pop Culture Review!

"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.