We are alone in the universe? Given the astronomical number of planetary systems in our galaxy, let the entire observable Universum, it seems unlikely that biological beings will appear here on Earth and anywhere else. Surely there must be other worlds suitable for life, perhaps a difficult life, perhaps even an intelligent life. But if so, where are all the aliens? This question was famously asked by Enrico Fermi as early as 1950, and for some the answer is obvious.

They are here, among us, disrupting our airspace and sometimes even taking us on their ships.

We on Earth are alone in the universe? Berkshire County

If that sounds light-hearted, it’s not meant to be. There are people who zealously believe this and who even claim to have encountered these aliens. And some of their stories are hard to disprove. Berkshire County in Massachusetts is a great place to live. It is set in the westernmost corner of the state and is typically New England, a very hilly landscape and emerald forests, which turn into a tangle of red and gold in the fall. The landscape is bordered by towns from a picture book, such as Lenox and Great Barrington, which are like a picture by Norman Rockwell. Rockwell actually spent the last years of his life here and lived in Stockbridge.

It was the perfect place to start a family then and today, and it was the case in 1969, when our story takes place. It was just after dusk, on the scorching hot Labor Day on September 1, 1969 (“Labor Day” is actually celebrated in the United States on September 1, author’s note). Jane Green and her friend Mary walked on US Route no. 7 and headed from Stockbridge to their home in Great Barrington. Jane was behind the wheel as she saw a bright light in the distance. At first she thought there must be an accident in front of them, but as she approached, the light blinded her so much that she had to stop at the curb. When she did, she noticed that several vehicles in front of her had done the same.

Several drivers got out and stood on the road. Jane did the same. She now had a better view of the light. It was cylindrical, about two stories high, wide enough, and stretched far beyond both sides of the road. Unbelievable, but this massive disk seemed to be floating in the air. Then he rose silently to the night sky, moved to the right, and flew off with incredible speed and disappeared behind the hills. At the same time that Jane Green experienced this strange encounter, ten-year-old Tom Warner visited his neighbor Jane Shaw in Great Barrington. Tom, a child with artistic inclinations, liked to stop by the Shaws, where Jane’s older sister, Debbie, instructed him in his crayon masterpieces. He had just finished a picture that night when he felt it pulling him to the window. Then he heard what he later described as a “voice in his head,” telling him to go home.

This instruction was so commanding that the boy could not resist him. He left the house and did not even say good night to the hosts. Jane ran after him, terrified, but what she saw made her amazed. Tom stood on the lawn, a beam of light flooding him from above. He ran at full speed. Except Tom didn’t go anywhere. He ran on the spot !! As Jane watched, the boy had his hands on his hips, almost as if he had suddenly encountered a fierce headwind. Then, right in front of Jana’s unbelieving eyes, Tom Warner disappeared. Thomas Reed was as old as Tom Warner that September 1969 night. Unlike his namesake, whose family had six generations of history in Berkshire County, Thomas was an outsider. His family came from New York. His mother, Nancy, moved them here so that Thomas and his brother could grow up far from the crime and filth of the big city. Nancy owned and operated the popular Village Green restaurant in Sheffield.

The family enjoyed dinner there that evening and returned home around nine in the evening. Thomas and his brother sat in the back seat. The boy’s grandmother sat in the front. Nancy was behind the wheel. Just as they crossed the covered Sheffield Bridge, they encountered a UFO.

According to Thom, the vessel soared from the trees lining the Housatonic River. Suddenly the car flooded with light, so clear that Thomas could recognize every detail inside the vehicle. He and his mother later described the UFO in words surprisingly similar to those used by Jane Green – cylindrical, at least a hundred meters wide, quietly two stories high. Despite its enormous size, no sound was heard. In fact, everything calmed down a lot, as if in the eye of a tornado.

Then there was a sudden drop in pressure (“as if you were underwater,” Nancy described) and an eruption of local fauna noise frogs and crickets and other insects that croaked and chirped. Then the passengers in the car remembered nothing. They woke up more than two hours later in the parking lot at the drugstore in Sheffield. The car’s ignition was off and there was another peculiarity. Nancy was in the passenger seat, her mother behind the wheel. An older woman has never driven a car in her life. On the night of September 1, 1969, Melani Kirchdorfer was twelve years old.

The last thing she wanted to do on a wonderful late summer evening was to go for ice cream with her parents. Still, Melanie couldn’t talk. He and his sister were taken to the family car and taken to the Dairy Queen in Great Barrington. From there, their father took them to nearby Mansfield Lake, where they could enjoy their delicacy under the stars. He was backing into the parking lot when the car suddenly lit up from above. Melanie later mentioned that she was terrified.

When her father decided to chase the light, they begged his sister not to do so. Another thing Melanie remembered was that she was inside a huge “ship” with hundreds of other children. She lay sprawled on her back, apparently levitating. Then she suddenly woke up again and was back in the parking lot at Lake Mansfield. Except that now she was alone, her parents and sister (and car) nowhere. Melanie had to walk home that night. Neither the parents nor the sister remembered the incident but the light they saw. Her mother was sure it was a shooting star.

Around the same time that Melanie Kirchdorfer woke up alone at Lake Mansfield, Tom Warner reappeared in front of the frightened eyes of his friend Jane Shaw. According to Jane later, he was gone for seven minutes. Like Melanie, Tom later remembered that he was on board a vessel. “Inside the huge hangar,” he described. He also remembered seeing Melania there. They had never met before. When they first met, years ago, Melanie described the immediate connection with Tom. Tom and Melanie, Thomas and Nancy, Jane Shaw and Jane Green experienced something special that night.

And they weren’t the only ones. From all places lying on the road no. 7 – UFO sightings came from Pittsfield, Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Egremont, Sheffield, and North Canaan, Connecticut. The local radio station “WSBS” was flooded with them and moderator Tom Jay received calls late into the night. Unfortunately, the station did not consider the recording of this program important enough to preserve it. The recordings were replayed until the next night’s broadcast, erasing dozens of first-hand testimonies of a possible encounter with the aliens.

The local Berkshire Eagle newspaper looked at the observation with a similar contempt and the story, which the editors considered a fraud, did not pay even an inch of the column. As for the police reports, there were none. In the midst of the most unusual event in the county’s history, no one seems to have called the authorities. Great Barrington police records that night show only a few minor complaints and not one about the lights in the sky. Maybe those who saw them were afraid to report, they were afraid of ridicule. And these are legitimate concerns. The people who spoke about their experiences that September night were mostly rejected, despised, even harassed. Jane Green mostly kept her story to herself, even telling her children about it when they were adults.

Meele Kirchdorfer had at least a sister and a friend who trusted her, but she didn’t talk to anyone else about the incident. Tom Warner talked about it, he even drew a picture of what he saw. The Reed family suffered perhaps the greatest persecution. Thomas was the most open of those who saw UFOs and was bullied at school. His family was also the target of attacks. Nancy became a victim of persecution on the road and was harassed at her company. She eventually sold it and left Sheffield. The events of September 1, 1969 remain one of the most problematic records of UFOs. But what did the people of Berkshire County see that night? Was it really a vessel from another world? Without evidence, whether for or against, this question cannot be answered.

All we know is that the usual explanations that arise in these circumstances – that it was swamp gas, a meteorological balloon or some experimental military aircraft – seem to be insufficient. Remember that hundreds of people in the 75-kilometer corridor witnessed this phenomenon, and they all told essentially the same story. Can everyone really lie, be confused or get involved in some conspiracy? Definitely not.

NOTE: In February 2015, the Great Barrington Historical Society officially recognized the September 1969 observations as genuine and designated them as the “first alien” 🙂