Aliens are real and they love Kentucky. They come here all the time. According to the National UFO Reporting Center, about 30 out of every 100,000 Kentuckians have seen some sort of aerial phenomenon that defied earthly explanation. And those are just the ones that took the time to file an official report. Who knows how many actual encounters have occurred here without the public’s knowledge.
Who or what are these things, and why are they so fascinated with us kick-ass Kentuckians? Maybe they’re big fans of The Judds. Maybe they walk among us (Ever been to a county fair?). The truth may be elusive, but it’s out there, y’all, waiting to be discovered. In the meantime, here’s just a few of the thousands of UFO-related incidents that have creeped out the Commonwealth over the years. [Cue The X-Files theme].
1. Captain Thomas F. Mantell Incident - January 7, 1948 - Fort Knox, KY
Considered one of the classic early UFO incidents that shaped public perception of the phenomenon, Capt. Thomas Mantell, a young pilot, was sent from Godman Army Airfield to investigate a massive circular object hovering at an extreme altitude near Madisonville, Ky. Eyewitness descriptions of the object estimate that it was around 300 feet in diameter, possibly metallic, and trailing a gaseous green mist. One observer claimed that it briefly descended before shooting upward to its original height at a speed greater than 500 mph.
Mantell pursued the UFO in an F-51D Mustang to an altitude of more than 25,000 feet before presumably losing consciousness due to a lack of oxygen. His plane crashed near Franklin, Ky., and the object disappeared soon after.
Richard T. Miller, who was monitoring Mantell’s radio talk from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, claims he heard Mantell clearly exclaim, "My God, I see people in this thing!"
2. The Kelly-Hopkinsville Goblins - August 21, 1955 - Hopkinsville, KY
Another internationally known Kentucky UFO incident. A bright streak of light disappeared behind the tree line near the tiny town of Kelly, near Hopkinsville, Ky. Shortly after, a family of five adults and seven children, some of them traveling carnival workers, claim to have been attacked by about a dozen small creatures with large pointy ears, claw-like hands, spindly legs, and glowing yellow eyes. According to the family, they held the creatures off with gunfire as best they could, but their weapons didn’t seem to have an effect. They just made a sound that “resembled bullets striking a metal bucket”.
Police investigated, but couldn’t find any evidence of the “goblins”. However, much of the family was so disturbed by the incident that they packed up and left in the middle of the night when the creatures supposedly returned.
Today, the Kelly community commemorates the anniversary of the mysterious event on the third weekend of every August with a festival called Kelly Little Green Men Days. And in 2017, the path of totality of a rare solar eclipse passed directly over the town on August 21, the exact date of the original encounter.
3. Lights At Big Bone Lick - Florence, KY - 1974-Present
Since 1974, residents surrounding Big Bone Lick State Park in Northern Kentucky have reported seeing inexplicable orbs of erratically moving light above the area. One woman even claims to have witnessed a “mother ship” the size of a football field when she was a teenager. In 2017, that same woman and other corroborating witnesses say they saw strobing red, green, and orange lights dancing over the treetops. Shortly after, the woman says she clearly observed a silver flying saucer with three windows. She installed a motion-activated trail cam on her property that captured these black-and-white images of the UFOs.
4. The Stanford Abduction - January 6, 1976 - Stanford, KY
One of the most credible of all alien abduction stories. Three women were driving home from dinner on US 27 in Stanford, Ky., when they saw what they thought was an airplane on fire falling from the sky. But the object stopped on a dime less than 100 feet from the ground beside them and, the women claim, caused the car to accelerate uncontrollably. They could now see what they described as a disc-shaped craft with revolving yellow lights that maneuvered behind them and began pulling their vehicle toward it. A blue light then filled the car and the next thing the passengers remember was being back on the highway, driving home, but confused and noticeably hot like they had been subjected to powerful sunlamps. They had also lost about an hour and a half of time that none of them could account for.
Residents of nearby counties independently reported the same UFO around the time of the alleged encounter.
In the following months, skeptical investigators subjected the women to polygraphs, which they all passed. And under deep hypnosis all three women recalled being taken aboard a UFO and subjected to a physical examination by small silent beings with large eyes and hands like “jagged wingtips”. One claimed to have been placed in a glass capsule where a skin sample was taken from her chest. And one claimed that her eyes were temporarily removed from their sockets and replaced. Each had symptoms--like burns and eye inflammation--consistent with these statements.
5. The “Bluegrass Triangle” UFO Blitz - 1978 - Central Kentucky
In 1978, a flurry of UFO activity in the Fayette and Madison County area earned the region the nickname “The Bluegrass Triangle”. In one instance, Madison County firemen were called to put out a fire that turned out to be a glowing flying saucer UFO that they pursued for over an hour.
In another encounter, a preacher and his wife claimed that a craft “...about 10 stories high and 20 stories wide, with a zillion lights on it" approached their car while they were on their way to church.
A teenager named Terry Kirby took a Polaroid of what he says was a large, glowing saucer that descended near him while he was chopping wood.
In all, over 20 reputable citizens reported similar experiences in the region during the same timeframe. And the proximity of the Blue Grass Army Depot has led many of them to speculate that it could be the source of the mysterious activity.
6. The Louisville UFO Dogfight - February 27, 1993 - Louisville, KY
In 1993, well before recreational drones were a thing, two experienced Louisville Police pilots took their helicopter out for routine patrol around midnight when they encountered a glowing, pear-shaped orb the size of a basketball. According to the pilots, the orb appeared to study their helicopter, circling it before abruptly ascending at an estimated speed of 600 mph. But the incident wasn’t over. The orb reappeared, circling the helicopter again, and when the pilots tried to evade it gave chase. That’s when, according to the pilots and witnesses on the ground, the UFO shot three baseball-sized fireballs at the helicopter and disappeared.
7. The Paintsville UFO/Train Crash - January 14, 2002 - Paintsville, KY
In 2002, a train was hauling coal and freight through Paintsville, Ky., on its way to Shelbiana. At exactly 2:47 a.m., strange hovering lights appeared on the tracks ahead of them and the train’s electronics went haywire. Above the nearby river, at least three other hovering crafts seemed to be scanning the water with searchlights. These UFOs were described as metallic with no windows or visible openings. The train’s diesel engines lost power and, unable to stop quickly enough, it struck the UFO closest to the tracks.
After reporting the incident, the crew was instructed to bring their damaged engine into the yard at Paintsville. Once there, witnesses describe being greeted by an “army of workers immediately tending to our train” while several people in “weird outfits” rushed around.
Witnesses also claim that the train’s damaged carriages had been removed and placed under a large tent “buzzing with activity”.
After extensive questioning, the workers were transported to Martin, Ky., and allowed to return home. By that time, there was no trace of the activity at the Paintsville yard and the public was told that the entire incident was due to a rockslide on the track.
8. Bright Hovering Tubes - October 16, 2012 - Pike County, KY
In 2012, an amateur astronomer in Eastern Kentucky observed a UFO that he described as “like two fluorescent bulbs, side by side, parallel, shining very brightly."
"It would get so bright they would seem to merge, and you could see it very clearly with the naked eye," he said. "Then, it would dim down almost invisible. It wasn't anything I recognized. Definitely not an airplane, and I've never seen a helicopter that looked like that."
Others in the area reported seeing the same craft, and, despite making national news, government officials could offer no explanations at the time.
The UFO has since been explained as a test flight of a solar-powered internet balloon. But why didn’t anybody know about it?
9. Daytime Sighting - October 20, 2012 - Paris, KY
This UFO was recorded over Paris, Ky., in October of 2012. In a Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) report, the witness stated that he also observed nearby a circular patch of ground approximately 14 feet in diameter wherein the grass was dead, the soil was discolored, and there was a strange orange tint to the rocks in the center.
10. Repeat Visitors - February 16-25, 2013 - Falmouth, KY
The following description of UFO activity in Kentucky is taken directly from the MUFON witness report.
I watched two objects come from the east slowly travelling west and southwest at approximately 11:00 pm 2/24/13 through 2:30 am on 2/25/13. Same objects as I have reported on 2/16/13, 2/20/13, and 2/24/13 in the am hours.
They appear as bright stars until you see them move, they have multi-colored lights red, blue, green, and white/yellow that blink randomly and last night I noticed they tip on side revealing a round, disc shape bottom with a ring of green lights rotating around object.
Movements are from a hovering standstill, to slow linear path, to wobbling side to side (possibly small circles), up and down in elevation, usually from east to west southwest or once northwest.
When very close to directly in front of my home last night, my wife standing in front yard observed a military type jet fly at these objects and I heard it pass over our home, the objects disappeared momentarily and reappeared on the west side or behind our house too quickly for normal aircraft.
I contacted district Mufon person to ask for investigators as i am becoming concerned for my familys well being as sightings are more frequent and closer.
11. Louisville UFO Fleet - September 19, 2016 - Louisville, KY
This bizarre video captured in Louisville seems to show one large UFO streak across the night sky followed by a fleet of smaller UFOs travelling in a tight formation.
12. Ghost Craft - December 8, 2017 - Winchester, KY
Another strange case from the MUFON witness reporting database. At approximately 9 p.m., the witness and friends were driving home to Lexington from a concert in Nashville when they encountered a semitransparent hovering object.
We were driving approximately 90 miles from Nashville to Lexington, KY. No drugs and no alcohol at concert. We just crossed the Kentucky state line when we came across three vehicles stopped on the side of the road. And above the vehicles approximately 100 feet in front of them, a good 60 feet in the air, was a very prominent object hovering, with no visible lights, but visible to us. It was transparent, but only enough to make you double take, transparent as Casper in the original film.
As we watched this, for a good minute, we tried to snap a photo, using a Note 8 and an iPhone and were unable to actually capture anything due to lighting and being on interstate at 4 a.m. As we decided we were spooked enough, we decided to continue forward, along with another vehicle that was parked on the side. As we approach the object, which hadn’t made any movement besides the swaying of hovering, we heard this loud, harsh humming. And again, we just left a concert. We are deaf temporarily, so this noise had to be loud. It rumbled and just sucked in all. We didn’t feel any effects from the encounter. We even stopped a few miles up the road at a gas station to verify what we did see. The other car stopped with us to talk about the experience. We lost sight driving away and never turned around.
13. Lights Over Lexington - November 25, 2018 - Lexington, KY
These pulsing, colorful lights recorded over Lexington are definitely hard to explain.
14. Radar Blips - December 11, 2018 - Western Kentucky
Large, storm-like radar blips mysteriously appeared over Western Kentucky in late 2018. The National Weather Service couldn’t explain the anomaly because it wasn’t raining at all. Adding to the intrigue was the blip’s proximity to the Fort Campbell military base and the city of Hopkinsville, which is known for UFO activity.
An unnamed pilot claimed he was told by Evansville, In., air traffic control that the blip was the result of a military aircraft releasing a stream of “chaff”, a radar-jamming material sometimes used to obscure training exercises. However, none of the nearby military bases had any knowledge of such an exercise being conducted on that day.
15. Easter UFO Chase - April 21, 2019 - Glasgow, KY
This clear video taken in Glasgow, Ky., shows a jet flying alongside a circular object with no emissions. Here’s how the observer described the event in his report to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON):
"Fishing alone on a cloudless clear blue sky, Easter sunday. Noticed thick contrails then a circular object moving alongside of jet. Put my rod down began recording on my iphone xf. The video is original with no editing. It speaks for itself."
Written and compiled by Coleman Larkin