This article was published in the daily newspaper Daily South Town, USA, Sunday, October 2, 2005.
Mysterious red lights appear over Southland
By Lauren FitzPatrick
Those peculiar pulsing red lights reappeared over Southland skies early Saturday morning, causing many a neck to crane upward and many a police switchboard to light up with calls.
A trio of steady red lights seemed to swim across the western night sky starting about 11 p.m. Friday night and reappearing after midnight. The three dots at times formed a triangular shape, but they then seemed to straighten into a line, much like sightings in the same area late last summer and on Halloween, witnesses told the Daily Southtown.
Cindy Evans, of Tinley Park, was out with her kids Friday night when about 11 p.m. her 8-year-old daughter Emily spotted the mysterious lights in the clear night sky near 163rd Street and Prairie Drive.
"It was almost like they were stars — they were far enough away that they were like stars," Evans said.
Nope, she decided. Too red.
In fact, Evans and other witnesses were quick to say what the lights were not: satellites (too low); a reflection (too intense); an airplane (too slow); and a helicopter (too quiet), among other things.
Evans said she called the Federal Aviation Association looking for an answer and was disappointed they couldn't offer one. The FAA did not return the Southtown's calls.
The lights weren't weather-related, either, since the National Weather Service reported nothing unusual, a spokesman said. Had the luminous phenomenon been meteorological, NWS satellites would have picked up something — like the night NWS registered a meteorite that fell into a Park Forest home in 2003.
"One guy was out measuring the rain, checking the rain gauges, and saw the flash," the spokesman said. "It was well heard down here in the Tinley Park and Joliet area."
None of the witnesses wanted to use the word "UFO" to describe what they saw, even though, technically, the lights were some kind of unidentified flying object.
Still, it didn't take long for Southlanders to log onto a national UFO reporting site to quantify what they witnessed, photographed and filmed.
National UFO Reporting Center director Peter B. Davenport said he already had received about a dozen reports of this incident at his Web site, www.ufocenter.com. That didn't mean Davenport, whose site collected hundreds of reports from last year's sightings, had an answer.
"I have absolutely no idea what is causing them," he said.
"I cannot rule out the possibility that these lights are of terrestrial origin (or) of human manufacture."
That deductive reasoning is pretty much par for the course. "All we are able to do is rule out phenomena — celestial bodies, lights — traditionally we're just left with an 'other,' " he said.
Tinley Park police received a number of calls beginning late Friday night. Orland Park police reported three calls about the lights. Police didn't seem to have any answers.
That frustrated a woman who wouldn't give her name.
"They don't seem to care what it is," she said. "I'd like to know what it is — I saw one red light come through the east sky, coming from the south going to the north."
Bill Dooley rode around Tinley Park between 1 and 2 a.m. to look for that single light he said always follows the trio.
"We nicknamed it the 'cleanup crew,'" he said.
This marks Dooley's fourth sighting in the past year or so. He spotted the trio Aug. 21, 2004, last Halloween and two Saturdays ago when he saw a single light.
"They arrange themselves 1-2-3 straight up, then lean a little bit, then group themselves into a triangle," he said. "There's absolutely no noise."
He took numerous photos and videotaped the lights to submit to the local chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, which logs all such events.
But he, too, would not give the lights a name.
Only Evans' other 8-year-old, Abbey, put herself out there with a brave and hopeful suggestion.
"Maybe it's the tooth fairy," the youngster who just lost a tooth told her mother.
Lauren FitzPatrick may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (708) 633-5964.
Did you see it?
Want to read reports of local sightings? Log onto www.ufocenter.com. If you saw the lights, you can file a brief report about what you saw in the Southland skies, or you can e-mail the local chapter of the Mutual UFO Network at email@example.com.