LaReeca Rucker has been a journalist for more than 20 years, and her work has appeared in newspapers across the nation. She spent a decade as a features writer and multimedia journalist with The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was also a USA TODAY contributor. She is a freelance journalist and support journalism instructor in the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media in Oxford, Mississippi.

The M Files: Mississippians recount unidentified, unexplained objects

LaReeca Rucker
The Clarion-Ledger

"The X-Files: I Want to Believe," a film based on the popular television series about two FBI agents who investigate paranormal cases, lands in movie theaters today.

And while agents Scully and Mulder explore the X-Files, we decided to take a look at the M-Files - some of Mississippi's unexplained sightings. We asked readers if they had ever seen an unidentified flying object, and received many responses.

Here are some of them:

The glowing orbs

In 1972, 17-year-old Rosa Rogers lived with her family in Smithdale, a rural Amite County community.

"One night, my mother asked me to go out and bring something in from the freezer, and I noticed a round-shaped object hovering over the field next to our home," said Rogers, who initially thought it was the moon, but soon realized it was not. Awestruck, she retrieved her parents.

"It had a bright, yellow-orange color and was the size of a basketball," she said. "When we moved from side to side, it did too, as if it was looking at us."

A neighbor, who lived a quarter of a mile away, had seen the same object and followed it to Rogers' home. The orb eventually moved above a neighboring home and hovered 10 minutes until 12 other glowing orbs suddenly appeared.

"They were coming from everywhere," she said. "They got in a perfect formation. All were on top of each other, and when they got together in one spot, they all left. It was like someone shot them out of a jet, they left so fast."

Rogers, who now works as a process assistant at a New Orleans petroleum company, wasn't frightened by the sighting.

"It was nothing to be scared about," she said. "It was just a little light. You couldn't really say what it was. It just left you with your mouth open. Apparently, that one bright light was waiting for the other ones, and when I came out, I interrupted them."

The triangle crafts

In the summer of 1982, Dave Spangler and his wife were outside their home in Carnes, viewing the stars when Spangler noticed lights over the trees near his grandfather's home about a fourth of a mile away that formed a triangular pattern.

His wife became frightened, so he took her inside to calm her and later returned to get another glimpse. Spangler watched the object move slowly above the highway until it disappeared. Then he noticed a similar object in the distance that changed direction and began moving toward his house.

Spangler said the huge, dark craft with six to 10 lights moved directly over him, and when he looked up, it blended into the night sky.

"Using the size of the home to estimate, I guessed the width at 70 to 80 feet and the length at 90 to 100 feet," he said. "Although it was no more than 20 to 30 feet above the treetops, I never heard a sound."

Spangler said he isn't sure what it was, but doesn't believe it was a military aircraft.

"If my wife had not seen it too, I would question whether I actually saw it or dreamed it, but it was no dream," said Spangler, who now lives in Brandon and works at a car dealership. "I know enough about how things work, and it's not something I expect that someone would have built around here."

The inverted helmet

In 1947, Frank Coogan was a Navy pilot instructor and radar operator flying above Millington, Tenn.

"We used to fly in pairs," Coogan said. "The lead would hone in on the targets, and the other would do intercepts."

Coogan was in a sealed compartment of the second plane when something appeared on his radar screen. When he called the pilot of the other plane to ask what it was, there was a pause.

Coogan said the second pilot later told Tennessee newspaper reporters that he had seen a large object shaped like an inverted World War II helmet.

Could the object have been an enemy aircraft flying in our air space? Coogan, who now lives in Pearl, said that was impossible because the pilots had been trained to identify almost every enemy aircraft, and this did not match any description.

"I don't think it was a false target," he said. "I was pretty good at discerning what false targets were. The thing that gets me the most is the article in the newspaper is nowhere to be found."

Coogan, however, said he doesn't believe in extraterrestrials.

The strange sphere

In the summer of 1966, 17-year-old Billy Ray was spending the night with a friend near Glendora. The two were sitting on Ray's car hood talking around 11 p.m. when they saw an object they could not explain.

"We began to hear a sound that got progressively louder, and we turned to see a bright glow," Ray said. "A round, sphere-looking object was hovering over the cotton field."

The friends got in the car and drove toward the glow.

"When we arrived next to the newly constructed BellSouth relay tower at Glendora, there was a large, sphere-like object hovering adjacent to the tower," Ray said. "It began to ascend skyward at a slow rate of speed until it reached the top of the tower, and at this point, it shot away and was gone in a matter of seconds."

Ray said the object made a humming sound that increased when it moved away from the Earth.

"We never talked about it much, and when I did, not many believed the story," said Ray, who now lives in Nesbit and works as a real estate buyer.

"Me and my friend both just passed it off," he said. "I didn't get really deep with the psychology of it back then. It's not something I dwelled on, but it is one of the most vivid memories of my teenage years."

The blue moon

On June 25, 2008, Wayne County resident Loretta Norris saw something she could not explain between 10 and 11 p.m. near Laurel while returning from a business trip.

She had been driving about 10 hours and was within 25 miles of her home when she saw a blue circular object resembling the moon in the sky.

"It was so large and moving so rapidly, I fully expected to top a hill and find the woods or pastures ablaze before I got home," said Norris, who is positive it wasn't a shooting star. She heard no sound and watched the object 15 seconds before it disappeared.

"I always thought that if I ever saw something like this, I would be terrified, but after my long business trip, I suppose I was just too tired to be scared," she said. "I know I saw something that was not an aircraft we commonly think of as an aircraft, and it was not a meteorite because of the shape, size and the manner in which it moved through the sky."

The mysterious craft

In the early 1990s, Bobby Kearan was lying on a pier with friends enjoying a day at Pelahatchie Lake when he looked up and noticed a commercial airliner. He continued to watch the plane, then saw another craft suddenly appear behind it.

"It caught up with the other plane, passed it, did a big U-turn and zoomed back in the direction from which it came," said Kearan, who now lives in Rankin County and works as a computer analyst.

"Even now, there is no way to explain the speed that second 'plane' had to be doing in order to accomplish what we saw. I've seen jets outpace commercial flights, but nothing to the degree that we saw that night. I always wondered what the pilots saw."


The Journalism Portfolio of LaReeca Rucker