Combing newspaper archives, MendoFever’s MendoThrowback hopes to remind residents of days long gone.
On November 16th, 1973 Ukiah Daily Journal writer Mark Raymond brought a national news story hyper-local. The nation was abuzz with three New Orleans men who told authorities they had been abducted by aliens. Raymond, in response, provided an overview of three incidents where unidentified flying objects were seen in the skies of Mendocino County.
Coast Guard Seaman Brad Roddy based at the Coast Guard Lighthouse Station in Point Arena claimed that on October 2, 1973, he noticed an object about ten miles offshore. Using binoculars, he saw the object “had a red-body light with a whitish light or glow on one end.” Roddy reported that the craft was “moving westward.” He said it “backed up and went forward a couple of times, stopped and went up and down several times.” Seaman Roddy watched a “weird cloud formation” form around the object on an otherwise cloudless night.
The following night, Point Arena Fireman Bill Galyeanwas was visiting Seaman Roddy along with the two men’s wives when they saw the object again. Sergeant Charles Hooper of the Air Force’s Point Arena Radar Station also saw it that night evening, but said he was unable to track the object on the radar “probably because it was flying too low.”
Not far from the Air Force’s Radar Station was the Coast Guard’s Loran Station where Chief William Acklen had his own story of a close encounter. While driving home from Santa Rosa with his wife on October 5, 1973, the couple saw a “bright object that looked like a star.” They noticed something peculiar— when they changed directions driving north then west, the star seemingly “stayed on the same side of the car.” They noticed that one side of their vehicle “became exceptionally bright” and Sergeant Acklen proceeded to stop the car and turn off the lights.
The object floated above their vehicle nearly one hundred feet in the air. Sergeant Acklen described what he saw as a “floodlight only with a diffused center. The object above it looked “like it had running lights; reddish, bluish, and greenish.” His sighting was corroborated supposedly by other “guys at the station” as well as a woman that worked at the post office.
Sergeant Acklen told the reporter that he had spent the last ten years at Loren Station where UFOs were a regular occurrence seen “by all the people there.” Whenever they appeared, their presence messed up the television reception. The most common UFO seen at Loren Station Acklen described as appearing around 7:30 in the evening flying a predictable pattern where “it’ll be about 80 degrees upon the horizon to the south, and then drop to 40 degrees. Less than 15 minutes later, it’s gone.”
The reporter also spoke with then Fifth District Supervisor Ted Galletti who recounted his own sighting of a UFO in 1971, two years previously. Galletti saw an object “steaming up the coast, made a sharp turn, and then kicked out a big light.” He described it as a “Roman candle going up.” He said he “kept waiting for a sound, but there wasn’t any.” Galletti told the reporter a school teacher, a neighbor, and a truck driver also saw the object in the sky.
Galletti also told the reporter his nephew, Joe Schenoni, had seen similar objects “a couple of weeks ago when he was running the cows out of the bar at the Galletti’s ranch in Elk, north of Point Arena.”
The last notable sighting was by three Ukiah Police Department Officers. Dennis Marcheschi, John Griffin, and Richard Boyman were patrolling Ukiah around 2:00 a.m. on October 27, 1973, when dispatch reported a woman “had called the station to report a UFO to the south.” Upon investigation, “one of the officers described the object as green and red in color, but not moving.” That officer would later state he had seen those same lights in the same area before. The reporter characterized this sighting as having been “explained away as a satellite, star, or planet.”
Raymond made a note that a well-known psychiatrist at the time asserted the rash of UFO sightings was nothing more than “mass hypnosis”, but added that “the people who see these alleged UFOs aren’t buying that theory.