Anyone who has been to Illinois in early January must know how cold it gets when the sun goes down. The night of January 5th, 2000 was no exception.
At around 4:00 am just before sunrise, the first person to spot the UFO was Melvin Knoll who was returning from his work to check on his miniature golf business. He saw a bright white light in a far distance. He then noticed that the light was in fact moving in his direction and in a matter of minutes noticed that the light was only one small part of the huge craft which he described as a big house floating in the dark air. It appeared rectangular, was very tall and could be compared to the size of a football field. The vessel had a lot of windows on it’s sides and it also had 2 floors. The exterior color seemed dark grey or black and it had a lot of bright red lights on the bottom. The windows were densely located towards the rear with bright white lights radiating out of them. The windows also had a series of bars or lines in them. Also he did not notice any odor, emission or sound coming out of the two storied house.
According to Knoll, the object moved in the Southwest direction with a slow and steady speed. The object slowed down as it came close to Knoll and regained speed when it moved away. His sighting of the vessel was for about 5 minutes, with an altitude of approximately 500 feet. He went to the Highland’s nearby police station to lodge a complaint, where the dispatcher contacted Lebanon Police Department’s officer Ed Barton.
At first, Barton did not believe the news until he himself saw 2 brilliant white lights in the northeast sky. Due to the intensity of the lights he could see radiating rays making a symbol of the Japanese rising sun battle flag. For once he thought that it could be an aircraft having some problem. He also noticed that the middle appeared as an elongated cigar shaped object which seemed to be stationary in the sky. He turned off his car engine and radio just to see that the vessel was moving in his direction with no noise, and at a very slow speed. As it got near, the object seemed to have a distinct shape; it appeared as an elongated and massive triangle which was huge in length. As the object moved in the Southwest direction, Barton informed the Shiloh police department that the aircraft was moving in their direction. His official police report contains these sketches:
Shiloh police department Officer David Martin announced that he could see something in the sky. He also gave the same description of the object as having bright white, red and green lights and a triangular or arrowhead shape. Officer Martin estimated the vessel’s speed to be approximately 15 mph and when it increased in speed, it was around 80-100mph.
Meanwhile, Officer Craig Stevens who was on patrol heard the radio news about the object. He got curios and drove to the east end of Millstadt to view the unique object. He also described the object as having white, red and green lights with an altitude of 500-1000 feet. The flight speed was described as really slow with a low buzzing sound emanating from the object. As he watched, it began moving to the north. He retrieved a camera from the police car’s trunk, used for traffic accident documentation, and was able to snap one Polaroid image of the craft as it passed his location.
In the meantime, Officer Johnny Doss was also speeding down the pitch dark deserted streets of St. Clair Country Illinois, chattering on radio when he also spotted a bright star in the northeastern horizon. He got closer and saw something that looked like a giant triangle with bright red and white lights in each corner. Further into the south, Officer Matt Jany after hearing news on the radio got his binoculars out and saw a big and tall vessel with lots of bright red and white lights. The final sighting was made near sunrise by commuter Steven Wonnacott, who described the object as arrow-shaped and motionless, with bright lights.
Therefore, the eye witness evidence suggests that the total flight time of the vessel was around 9 hours. It was sighted coming from Lake Michigan and moved towards Dupo, Illinois. There is also some evidence which suggests that the flight time may have been longer, because the object traveled extremely slowly as compared to an aircraft for most of that time. Furthermore, evidence also suggests that the object was making no attempt to be low profile. All eye witnesses described the lights as being blinding because of the intensity. It flew at altitudes which ranged from around 1000 feet to 2000 feet for much of the flight path, but rapidly gained altitude around Southwest of Millstadt.
Without wasting any time, the UFO community’s representative of Robert Bigelow, Mr John Veiler travelled to Illinois to interview as many eye witnesses as he could, and came up with 2 possibilities of the object. First, that it was a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the other one was that it was a cargo blimp prototype that was built by Aereon. Both of Veiler’s theories were negated, as after investigation it was proven that neither Aereon’s prototype, nor B-2 had been in that area.
Although no possible explanation could be found about that unique object, the news went viral mainly because of the fact that four of the eye witnesses were police officers. The SyFy network in 2004 made an episode on series “Proof positive” by the name of “Evidence of the Paranormal”. The discovery channel also sprang into action and made an hour long special documentary known as “UFO over Illinois”. Peter Jennings also came up with a 2 hour special Peter Jennings Reporting known as “UFO’s – Seeing is Believing”.