Is the Truth Out There?

While watching an old X-Files episode recently, it suddenly hit me — “Hey, there’s a topic I haven’t covered yet — UFOs.” Hamilton County has certainly had its share of Unidentified Flying Object sightings.

But, first a little general history . . .

Although UFO or UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena) sightings have been around since the dawn of time, prior to the 20th century they were always assigned a supernatural explanation rather than an extraterrestrial one.

That changed 75 years ago.

In late June of 1947, nine shiny discs were spotted flying at a high rate of speed near Mt. Rainier in Washington State. One observer, a private pilot, compared their movement to “saucers skipping on water.” That’s where the term, “flying saucers” originated.

Right away, the country was flooded with reports of “flying discs.”

A couple of weeks after the Mt. Rainier incident, a rancher living near Roswell, New Mexico, took some odd, shiny material he’d discovered in his pasture to the Roswell Sheriff’s office. The sheriff contacted the Roswell Army Air Force base.

The military tried to claim the rancher had found the wreckage of a weather balloon, but not everyone bought that explanation and the conspiracy theory of the alien spaceship crash was born.

Getting back to Hamilton County . . .

The July 8, 1947, Noblesville Daily Ledger noted that, although flying discs had been reported in 38 states since the Mt. Rainier incident, no one in this county had seen one yet.

The very next day, Noblesville resident William Schrader told the Ledger he’d observed a “saucer” flying over the courthouse the previous evening around 8 p.m. He described it as being about the size of a small washtub and the color of a cloud, and said it was traveling “as fast as the fastest airplane.”

That was just the beginning of the flying saucer craze that gripped Hamilton County and the rest of the country for the next ten years.

On June 24, 1948, a Noblesville couple encountered “light colored saucer-shaped objects whirling across the sky, just as plain as day” while driving to Cicero at about 10 p.m.

In 1950, a Jackson Central student woke up around 4:30 a.m. to discover a “large, flat, reddish appearing, disk-shaped object” in the sky southwest of his Arcadia home. The object was accompanied by a sound he thought resembled airplane motors.

Two years later, a basketball-sized “ball of fire,“ with a “short tail casting a yellowish light” was observed over Noblesville by several people. The theory that it might have been a meteor was rejected because it wasn’t traveling fast enough and its movement was horizontal, not descending.

The December 2, 1957 Ledger reported two Cicero women on their way home from work had spotted a round silver object “hanging motionless high in the sky” over Stringtown Pike near the west edge of Cicero. The object disappeared almost immediately.

That same article noted that two “reputable,” but unidentified, Noblesville businessmen told authorities they’d seen a UFO near the Hamilton-Boone County line.

The men first noticed a U. S. Air Force plane flying in tight, low circles, then realized above the plane was a motionless silver disc the size of a manhole cover. That disc also quickly disappeared.

A couple of weeks later, Noblesville’s mayor, Herman Lawson, and two other men watched a “huge global machine” hover in the sky between Westfield and Carmel for over an hour.

The object emitted light from its underside that changed from white to soft amber, but a light on top stayed consistently red.

On five occasions, the men saw the “saucer” disappear in a burst of brilliant light, then reappear a few seconds later in a new location.

More sightings next week!

Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears on Wednesdays in The Times. Contact her at