The Yukon “Giant Mothership” UFO

Thomas E. Bullard: Paranthropology vol.5, n° 1, pp. 4-, January 2014

Dozens of witnesses along a 200-mile stretch of the Klondike Highway, in Yukon Territory, Canada, reported an enormous UFO covered with lights on the evening of December 11, 1996. Five witnesses from the Fox Lake area reported extended rows of lights crossing from west to east. One of these witnesses drew an object shaped like a washtub with a shallow pan on top, covered with multiple lights and bearing two rows of rectangular windows. Four witnesses from the village of Carmacks described multitudes of lights, some flashing and some steady as an object the size of a football field flew from the northwest to the northeast. One witness indicated how large the object appeared by extending his arms toward the sky at a 60-degree angle. Six witnesses from the village of Pelly gave accounts. One, a trapper, saw what he thought was an airplane but soon realized that its movements were too slow. When the object emerged into full view he saw a row of perhaps a hundred small rectangular lights, and above it another row of seven large lighted rectangles. A dark oval form behind the lights blotted out the stars. Beams of light flashed out from the front, rear, and bottom of the object, which appeared to be no more than 300 yards high and three-quarters of a mile long. Another Pelly witness described an object as long as the Big Dipper with a cluster of lights like big stars amid a grid of smaller blue lights; still another saw a square of light followed by several other squares, with the entire formation disappearing behind a hill to the east s1Jasek, Martin. Giant UFO in the Yukon Territory (Delta, BC: UFO*BC, 2000), 1-26; Pegasus Research Consortium: The UFO Files: “Yukon UFO ‘Mothershp’ Incident: December 11, 1996..

In summary, all witnesses reported numerous lights, some large and some small, some square or rectangular and others round or star-like. The lights covered an extended arc of sky in a passage that took between half a minute to ten minutes, according to witness estimates. Most witnesses believed the lights were attached to a structured craft with windows, rows of smaller lights, and flashing beams projecting from it; all agreed that the object was enormous. For most witnesses the object appeared north of them and passed west to east (or northwest to northeast), though one witness reported that the lights turned southward and two others said the object flew nearly over their heads. The times given for the event ranged from 7:00 p.m. till 9 or 10 o’clock, but the two witnesses who actually looked at a clock gave 8:23 and 8:30 as the time. A widely circulated illustration condenses the reports into the image of a huge circular craft with rows of windows and covered with lights.

Martin Jasek, an engineer, began an investigation of the case three years later for UFO*BC. He discovered 31 witnesses and interviewed 19. He was able to gather sufficiently accurate information to triangulate the size of the object and concluded that it was between one-half and a full mile in diameter. In his formal report he considered and rejected alternative explanations like hoaxes, auroras, military aircraft and meteors. The most serious contender was a Russian space probe launched on December 11, but he rejected it as not being visible as far east as the Yukon, and because the UFO was too large and structured for the space probe to explain. Without a viable alternative, the ufological story prevailed—an enormous craft of unearthly origin flew low over the startled witnesses. This happened to be a story that the witnesses found congenial, since all of them agreed that they observed something extraordinary and most of them took the object to be a UFO s2Jasek, Giant UFO , 27-34..

Skeptics Robert Sheaffer and James Oberg took a closer look at the Russian space probe. Oberg contacted Ted Molczan, a Canadian expert on satellite orbits and reentries, who confirmed that the second-stage booster of Cosmos 2335 reentered the atmosphere about 8:30 p.m. on December 11 and should have been visible low on the northern horizon to witnesses in the Yukon. What the people saw was a long train of incandescent debris sparkling and flashing as it passed west to east in the upper atmosphere. This passage may have taken as long as several minutes. The brightness of the disintegrating rocket blotted out the stars and gave the illusion that a solid object blocked their light. For the skeptics this answer brought the case to a decisive close s3Sheaffer, Robert. “’Top Ten’ UFO Case: Yukon, Canada, 1996—Busted!” Skeptical Inquirer 36/5 (Sept.-Oct. 2012), 22-23. (Same title).

Ufologists have objected that the sightings occurred over two or three hours, not the few minutes that a reentry would be visible. They also fault skeptics for ignoring one testimony that the object turned south, another that it stopped and even began to approach the witness s4(Aliens and UFOs. ) “’Top Ten’ UFO Case, Yukon, Canada, 1996—BUSTED!?” (see p.4). Yet the fact remains that the two witnesses who looked at a clock state that their sightings occurred about 8:30, the same time as the reentry, while the subjectivity of time can account for the deviations in other accounts. The west-to-east motion of the UFO is cited in all but one “outlier” instance, and the fact that witnesses over the 200-mile stretch of highway report the same motion offers ready evidence that the UFO was distant and not close at hand. Other details out of keeping with the conventional explanation seem readily understandable as error and illusion on the part of the individual witnesses reporting them. No substantial evidence supports an anomalous identity for the Yukon UFO.