It was a dark and stormy night in Texas in the wee hours of November 3 when two immigrant farm workers, Pedro Saucedo and Joe Salaz, excitedly called the Levelland police department to report having seen a UFO. Levelland is a small prairie town not far from Lubbock.
The two men had been driving on a highway just west of Levelland when they saw a blue flash of light near the road. Their truck’s engine died, and a rocket-shaped object rose from the ground and came toward the stalled truck. “I jumped out of the truck and hit the dirt because I was afraid,” said Pedro. “I called to Joe but he didn’t get out. The thing passed directly over my truck with a great sound and rush of wind. It sounded like thunder and my truck rocked from the flash . . . I felt a lot of heat.” Then, as the object moved away, the truck’s engine restarted and worked normally.
The police officer on duty ignored their story. (“I’m gonna believe a guy named Pedro?”) But then just an hour later, motorist Jim Wheeler, a bona fide Texan, called to report a “brilliantly lit, egg-shaped object, about 200 feet long” sitting in the road east of Levelland, blocking his path. His vehicle’s motor died, and as he got out of his car, the object took off. As it moved out of sight, Wheeler’s car restarted and worked normally.
Then a married couple driving northeast of Levelland saw a bright flash of light moving across the sky, and their headlights and radio died for three seconds. Five minutes later, Jose Alvarez met the strange object sitting on the road 11 miles north of Levelland, and his vehicle’s engine died until the object vanished. A college student, followed by a farmer – two more egg-shaped objects and two more stalled engines. 1 a.m., 2 a.m. 3 a.m. – the calls just kept coming.
Bynow, police officers were investigating the incidents. Among them was the sheriff who saw a brilliant red object moving across the sky and the fire chief who also saw the object and his vehicle’s lights and engine sputtered. Then the sightings ended. During the night, the Levelland police department had received a total of 15 phone calls about the strange object – all 15 with stalled engines and not one of the vehicles was a Studebaker.
The Air Force did a perfunctory investigation, suggesting that “only the saucer proponents could have converted so trivial a series of events – a few stalled automobiles, balls of flame in the sky at the end of the thunderstorm – into a national mystery.” They argued that conditions were ideal for the formation of ball lightning, an atmospheric phenomenon that produces luminous, spherical objects which vary from the size of a pea to the size of a giant pumpkin. Case closed – just a little too conveniently, say conspiracy theorists and all those folks who have been abducted by aliens.