Occurred: 1973-06-15 22:30:00 Local
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
Shape: Triangle
Duration: 15min+
No of observers: 1
Reported: 2006-05-14 21:04:58 Pacific
Posted: 2006-05-15 00:00:00
Characteristics: Lights on object

triangles made of 9 lights--no object seen

I submitted an account of this event two or three years ago. It apparently was not received, as it is not in the website database. Since that submission, my recollection of the event has improved and therefore changed somewhat.

This is a recollection of a sighting of unknown lights in an unusual pattern sometime in the early 1970's, perhaps 1973 or 1974. I have tried to remember details and circumstances as accurately as possible. I am no aviation expert but I have grown up around aircraft, living near Reid-Hillview Airport, well before it was purchased by Santa Clara County and became a FSS, and I was acquanted with the former owner, his daughter and her family, as well as others who worked there or had tiedowns or hangars, so I know more than a little bit about aviation. There are some explanations for those who are unfamiliar with aviation as well as to explain why I do not believe that the lights belonged to any ordinary aircraft.

In the early 1970's I was at home during a late spring or summer evening and looked up to see nine orange/amber lights arrayed in three equilateral triangles which were themselves arrayed as one large equilateral triangle. Each orange light was at the point, or vertex, of each small triangle which themselves were at the points of the larger triangle, nine lights in all.

The night was warm and the smog was thick enough that no stars could be seen. There was no moon. Typically, above the smog, I am told there is a strong Westerly wind in the evening and into the night.

The array maintained perfect equilateral triangles as it headed roughly north-northwest in a straight line, It appeared to move slowly, like a light airplane but seemed to be silent. I watched the lights closely for some time, from when it was almost overhead, as it passed overhead and then was lost in the smog and reflected city lights somewhere over the north part of the city, trying to see the outline of some object and watching the lights to see if any moved independently, as well as for any lateral drift. I never could see any object, just the lights, none of the lights moved relative to the others and no lateral drift was observed. I estimated it could be seen for at least fifteen minutes.

The array was unusual as no navigation lights were seen: No red, no green, no white, no strobe or flashing lights of any kind, just steady orange/amber lights, which I realised later had the same color as low-pressure sodium street lights.

I know what aircraft look like in the sky at night, as I lived next to a small civil airport at that time and lived directly under the southbound departure route for the city's major airport and I often watched aircraft go over, trying to guess what kind it was. Sometimes, because of the smog, all that can be seen are the navigation lights. I have never seen such lights on any aircraft before or since. It occurred to me that the aircraft might have been some of the new SR-12's recently made public but the lights never moved relative to each other, they never drifted from course and there were no navigation lights, as would be required near the airports under VFR rules.

There was no engine noise. At the time, jet engines were still quite loud and some DC9's, 727's and 737's, as well as DC8's from Mexico were still using turbojets instead of the quieter fans. Neither turbine nor piston engines were heard.

The array was viewed through smog which reflected the streetlights so there was only a view of the orange/amber lights. No solid object was seen, no reflections. The smog was thick enough that no stars could be seen, neither could any aircraft from either airport. But somehow those lights could be seen.

Because of the smog, the exceptionally slow speed and the lack of any visible shape I could not determine the altitude or the size of the object or objects attached to the lights.

I asked around to see if anyone else had seen the aray of lights; no one had. The FAA and the local newspaper both pointedly expressed their lack of interest in the event. It remained forgotten until I saw another very unusual sky object while in Monterey.


Witness indicates that the date of the sighting is approximate. PD

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