BRECKSVILLE - The Cleveland Ufology Project (CUP), one of the country’s oldest UFO organizations, held a meeting a the Brecksville Branch Library July 8 for anyone with a personal account of a UFO-related experience to come forward and share their story.
The date was selected to correlate with UFO Disclosure Day and the anniversary of the infamous UFO sightings in Roswell, New Mexico that took place July 8, 1947.
Aaron Clark, a director of CUP and an investigator for the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network (MUFON) of Ohio, said that this meeting is meant to give people with UFO stories to tell, but are nervous to do so, a supportive place to do so.
“There’s a lot of knowledge and information out there that that [some people] have been holding back because of fear of negative affects on their personal lives or their careers,” Clark said. “We’re also trying to promote more cooperation between the different UFO groups. We feel there hasn’t been enough of that.”
Clark said he had his first close encounter with a UFO on a summer afternoon in 1986 while sitting in a car at the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Broadview Roads in Parma with his mother.
They saw what he described as a huge rotating sliver-grayish disk with three rows of lights appear, basically, right in front of them.
“It just came out of the clouds,” Clark said. “It was there for only a few seconds and then disappeared back into the clouds.”
Clark joined CUP in 2000 and immediately began working to bring the organization, formed in March 1952, up to speed with the modern age of the internet. He became a director in 2004.
“Over the years, there have been some really interesting event that happened in Ohio,” said Clark, who grew up in Brecksville and is a graduate of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School. He now lives in Brunswick.
He referenced a case from 1966 where police in Portage County chased what they believed to be a UFO. That incident reportedly inspired a scene in the 1977 Steven Spielberg movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” where Indiana police chase several UFOs eastbound through Ohio and into Pennsylvania.
Tom Wertman, also a director of CUP, told the story of a UFO he witnessed about nine years ago while traveling eastbound on the Ohio Turnpike after dark. He was heading home from teaching night classes at a school in Cleveland, that has since closed, when he made the sighting.
He described seeing the razor-like outline of an object that he estimated to be about 5,000 feet in the air and the length of a football field flying south at an unusually slow speed.
“I was just watching this thing in disbelief thinking ‘how could this not be picked up by, for example, Cleveland Hopkins’ radar,’” Wertman said. “I never saw anything on radar reported, nothing in the news.”
He went on to described the situation and the object in as much detail as he was able to see through the sunroof of his car.
“There were no lights but it was a definite object,” Wertman said. “There was no cloud-cover at all. It was a clear sky.”
He said his interest in UFOs dates back to his childhood, watching old horror movies with aliens and science fiction. That led him to begin reading books on the subject as well long before becoming at active member of CUP and MUFON.
Many former members of both groups attended the July 8 meeting as well.
Richard Lee, a director of CUP in the 1980s, 90s and 00s, first became involved with the group back in the 60s shortly after friends got him hooked on the subject of paranormal events.
“I got involved in all kinds of strange and unusual groups,” Lee said, adding that he’s also taken part in those concerned with proving the existence of Bigfoot, The Lockness Monster, the origins of crop circles and ghost hunting. “The problem is we’re always looking for the hunk of hyde to say it’s real. That’s where these fields all crossover.”
CUP meets at Michelle Star’s Yoga Studio in Middleburg Heights at 7:30 p.m. the third Saturday of every month.
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