A look back at UFO sightings in Georgia


Uncle Sam is trying to decide if he believes in UFOs — Unidentified Flying Objects.

They’re even talking about them in Congress, where some of its members are sounding more and more like aliens as each year passes.

All I know about UFOs I learned as a reporter for newspapers in north Georgia. I’ve talked to several sane people who said they spied things in the sky that didn’t belong there.

I dug into my files to find some examples.

In October of 1952—no, I wasn’t a reporter in ’52—four men fishing from the banks of the Chattahoochee River almost dropped their fishing tackle when they sighted a “huge silver ball” in the eastern sky. Forgetting their fishing, the four watched the object for 20 or 30 minutes. It moved closer, then moved away and finally “disappeared in smoke,” they said.

In July of 1953, two Gainesville men—one of them a minister—spotted an object they said looked like a “flying ice cream cone.” It glowed with a strange blue-green light “brighter than the sun” and made “a sputtering noise like an outboard motor as it disappeared.”

Scattered sightings were reported in northeast Georgia over the next few years, but the most dramatic UFO came in the summer of 1964 in the little community of Turnerville on the northern end of Habersham County.

About 9 o’clock Tuesday night, July 7, 1964, Jimmy Ivester and his wife were visiting his Turnerville parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ivester. They had turned on the TV, but suddenly static drowned out the picture and sound. TV controls had no effect. So the Ivesters decided to sit on the front porch.

Someone pointed out an object in the sky moving directly toward the Ivester home. It sported three lights on top, two red lights and a clear one, all in a row and blinking on and off. The thing was about the size of an automobile, the Ivesters said, and the bottom was shaped like a bowl.

Nine people watched as the object “moved across the horizon and down, moving and hovering, moving and hovering.” At one point, it moved within 200 feet of the Ivester home, then swooped down and hovered over a garden, about five feet from the ground.

Each time the UFO moved, the observers said, the green light would go off, but when it hovered, the light would shine again.

After the thing had flown out of sight, some residents said they felt a stinging or burning sensation, and it left behind an odor similar to that of brake fluid or formaldehyde.

A.J. Chapman, then-sheriff of Habersham County, investigated the sighting. When he arrived, he said, he smelled “the most peculiar odor I’ve ever smelled. … It’s a strange case,” he said, venturing an understatement.

So would members of Congress believe any of this? Maybe not. But some of them have believed other things, many of their own doing, stranger than any UFO ever reported.

Phil Hudgins is a retired newspaper editor and author from Gainesville, Ga.. Reach him at phudgins@cninewspapers.com.

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