New York Skies (Cheryl Costa)

UFOs of Christmas Past

Columnist Cheryl Costa shares a personal encounter from Christmas past.

Christmas Eve night is a special night for many. On a clear winter’s night, the stars are bright, and if you lean up against a tree or a fence post and lay your head back, it’s easy to get lost in the spectacle of all those stars. In the spirit of the season, let’s explore the UFOs of Christmas past.

It was Christmas Eve 1971. I was an airman first class assigned to the 1881st Communications Squadron at the huge U.S. Air Force base at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. It was about 11:30 p.m. I was walking west on the lane that would take me to the base chapel for midnight mass.

The sky was crystal clear. Cam Ranh Bay was only a couple of degrees of latitude north of the equator. For a kid who grew up in upstate New York, it was bit discomforting, because we were too far south to see common constellations like Ursa Major, aka the Big Dipper, in the northern sky.

As I looked into the western sky, I could see the constellation Perseus and, above that, Taurus. High in the sky above them was the constellation Orion, with its left shoulder star of Betelgeuse bright as ever.

Suddenly I saw a bright star-like object zooming from the north across the western sky just below Taurus. My first impression: “Oh, it’s a meteor or perhaps just some fighter jet.” Then the object just stopped. It hovered there below Taurus for perhaps a minute or two. Then it seemed to dance or dart around before it dashed off toward the south at tremendous speed until it just “winked out.”

I was 19 years old; I didn’t know what to think. About all I could say was, “Wow!” During midnight mass, I was not with the program at all; I was replaying what I saw over and over again in my head. Fearing my Air Force peers would think I was intoxicated or worse, nuts, I kept the sighting to myself for many years until I shared it about 15 years ago to a couple of folks I used to know. Now, I’ve shared with you a deeply personal sighting as a holiday gift.

Here are some of the UFO sightings from our fellow New Yorkers during past holiday seasons:

Christmas Day, 1999: At 7:30 p.m., a Poughkeepsie resident had received a telescope for Christmas and was on their home’s deck attempting to star-gaze, as the sky was partly overcast. Suddenly, in the northeastern sky, he saw a large boomerang shape moving slowly under the cloud layer. The object had a slight orange glow and was absolutely silent. The observer lost sight of it as it passed beyond the tree line.

Christmas Day 2000: At 6:30 p.m., a Buffalo woman went outside to fill the bird feeders and witnessed a boomerang-shaped object traveling westward quite fast; its shape defined only by its slight glowing white luminance. She lost sight of it when it just “disappeared.”

Christmas Eve 2006: At 7:30 p.m. near Arcadia, a motorist and their passengers saw a craft gliding across the top of a hill from one cornfield into another. It was dark gray with no lights and massive. They reported that they could not see the beginning or end of it. It moved more smoothly than anything any of them had ever seen. Then it disappeared.

Christmas Day 2007: At 2 p.m., a Copiague resident went outside for a smoke. He looked up and saw a spherical white object leisurely cruising along in the northeastern sky moving west. He watched it for perhaps 20 seconds, then glanced away to get his phone to record it. When he looked back, it was gone. A veteran observer, he comments, “There are really truly some strange things in the skies over Long Island!”

Christmas Eve 2007: At 2 p.m., an Astoria, Queens, resident made a 12-second sighting from the East River shore. The sighting involved a large, dull, wingless object moving westward “20 times faster than any other craft in the sky.”

Christmas Day 2008: At midnight, a New York City resident on his building’s roof observed a bright object in the southwestern sky. It was observed as stationary in the sky and wasn’t moving across the sky like the stars. Members of his household observed the bright stationary object for about an hour until it disappeared.

Christmas Eve 2009: At midnight, a motorist and passenger in Fairview saw two odd lights. Upon closer observation, it was clear to them that it wasn’t airplane or helicopter. They had pulled over and saw other people looking at the two UFOs flying together. The sighting gave the two of them the creeps, so they promptly left the area.

Christmas Eve 2011: At about 7:30 p.m. a motorist and their passengers in the Brewerton area witnessed in a clear sky a yellow-orange fireball object flying east to west, low in the sky. They reported that the object appeared to have helicopters following it. The object appeared to stop, and as they watched, the fireball object they noted, “… suddenly shot to the sky at a great speed and disappeared.”

If you are interested in joining a monthly UFO discussion group in the Onondaga County area, drop Cheryl an email [email protected] If you have a UFO sighting to report, you can use either one of the two national database services: or Both services respect confidentiality.

Cheryl Costa would love to hear the when, where and what of your New York sighting. Email it to [email protected]. The names of witnesses will be omitted to protect their privacy.


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