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UFO Case 294: President Jimmy Carter’s UFO Sighting from 1969

UFO Case Report:

President Jimmy Carter’s UFO Sighting

Date: January 6, 1969
Location: Leary, Georgia, United States

Jimmy Carter is one of two U.S. Presidents who have reported seeing a UFO before becoming the President. He later said, “It was the darndest thing I’ve ever seen. It was big, it was very bright, it changed colors and it was about the size of the moon.. We watched it for ten minutes, but none of us could figure out what it was. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never make fun of people who say they’ve seen unidentified objects in the sky.”

Carter3
Photo: Former US President Jimmy Carter

Source: Grant Cameron, Presidential UFO

“The Carter UFO Sighting”
Grant Cameron

As previously mentioned, Jimmy Carter is one of two U.S. Presidents who have reported seeing a UFO before becoming the President. In the various recountings of the sighting told over the years, there have been many items about the Carter sighting that have been recorded incorrectly. Later on, there would also be many mistakes made in the evaluation of the investigations of the sighting.

The first mistake made in recording Carter’s UFO sighting related to the date that the sighting occurred. The sighting was first filed by then governor Jimmy Carter on September 18, 1973, based upon a request from Hayden C. Hewes, director of the International UFO Bureau. The date that Carter gave in his sighting report was October 1969. Later research indicated that the actual date was more probably January 6, 1969. Some people reporting on the Carter sighting were even using the 1973, date when Carter filed the details of the sighting as the date for the event.

The second mistake made by storytellers related to the 1969 UFO sighting, was that Carter was not the governor of Georgia at the time of the sighting. He did not become Georgia’s 76th governor until January 12, 1971.

Carter’s UFO sighting began shortly after dark on a windless night. Jimmy Carter was standing outside the Lion’s Club in Leary, Georgia, waiting for a meeting to start. Suddenly, he and ten or more witnesses, sighted a red and green orb radiating in the western sky. Carter described an object that “it seemed to move towards us from a distance, stop, move partially away, return, then depart. Bluish at first; then reddish – luminous – not solid.”

“At times,” reported Carter, “it was as bright as the moon, and about as big as the moon – maybe a bit smaller. The object was luminous; not solid.”

In an interview with the Atlanta Constitution, Carter described the moving nature of the event. He described the sighting as a “very remarkable sight.” This is an important event, because many of the skeptical investigations done on the Carter sighting, have tried to paint the event as a ho-hum occurrence. None of the descriptions Carter has made of the event have ever described it as ho-hum.

Jimmy Carter’s mother Lillian also confirmed that Carter had been very impressed by what he had seen. “The UFO made a huge impression on Jimmy,” she stated. “He told me about the sighting many times. He’s always been a down-to-earth no-nonsense boy, and the sighting by him, as far as I am concerned, is as firm as money in the bank.”

Carter had, in fact, described the UFO sighting many times in the years since it occurred. In every instance, including the latest known telling of the story at Emory University in 1997, Carter has never backed off on the spectacular nature of the event. He has also never conceded that was he saw was some misidentification of a natural phenomena.

Carter estimated that the object was three hundred to one thousand yards away. He estimated that the event had lasted 10 minutes. Then the object disappeared. Carter was so impressed by what he had seen, he recorded his impressions of the event on a tape recorder at the time.

In the ensuing years, there has been a great deal of discussion as to what the UFO had been. Skeptical UFO buffs, such as Robert Sheaffer, struggled to explain Jimmy Carter’s sighting away, by stating that Carter had viewed the planet Venus. Sheaffer, the vice-chairman of the UFO subcommittee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, wrote up his guess as to what the object Carter and the others had seen in the July 1977 Humanist Magazine. Many UFO “researchers” wanting to show that they, too, can be “discriminating” joined in stating Carter had viewed the planet Venus.

Others stepped forward quickly to challenge the accuracy of Shaeffer’s claim. Sheaffer’s response to these challenges ended up taking his Venus explanation from the shaky to the bizarre. For example, Sheaffer argued UFO researchers challenging his conclusions were wrong because they relied on eyewitness testimony, and eyewitness testimony is unreliable. There are, wrote Sheaffer, “volumes of scientific analysis documenting unreliability of unsubstantiated human eyewitness testimony.” Yet Sheaffer, in his own analysis of the case, had used eyewitness testimony for one hundred percent of the data that he collected to come to his Venus conclusion.

In a response to a letter written to the Skeptical Inquirer by Jon Beckjord, published in the Winter 1980-81 Skeptical Inquirer, Sheaffer cited four books and articles Beckjord could refer to that would show you “can’t take unsubstantiated testimony at face value.”

In the very next sentence of his reply, however, Sheaffer retreated to eyewitness testimony. “I note that Beckjord fails to mention,” Shaeffer wrote, ” that many UFO proponents agree with me that the Carter UFO sighting is a very poor one and that another Georgian standing with Carter, as my Humanist piece makes clear, [was] quite unimpressed with the light they saw in the sky.” Shaeffer’s Venus conclusion relied on the assumption that Carter’s eyewitness testimony was inaccurate, but the other eyewitness accounts were accurate.

In the end, it is safe to conclude that the object was not Venus, no matter how bad witness testimony might have been. A review of the evidence would show:

– Venus was in the southwestern sky on January 6, 1969, not in the west as claimed by Sheaffer. Carter who had spent watches, while in the Navy doing watches in cruisers and destroyers, as a navigation officer, taking star shots with a sextant, stated the object was in the western sky.
– Carter described the object as being the “size of the moon” or “slightly smaller than the apparent size of the moon.” Venus never appears this way.
– Venus at the time was at between 15 and 21 degrees over the horizon at 7:15 p.m. Carter, a trained observer stated the object was 30 degrees above the horizon, or almost double the height of Venus at the time.
– Sheaffer described Venus as “being at it’s brightest” on the date in question. It wasn’t at its brightest.
– The witnesses declared that the object disappeared after 10 minutes or at 7:25 p.m. Venus, on the evening in question, was visible in the clear sky till 9:20 p.m. If it had been Venus, it would still have been visible for another 115 minutes after the witnesses claimed it had disappeared in a clear sky. During these 115 minutes the planet Venus would have increased in brightness (not disappeared) as it approached the horizon. Venus does not disappear, and would have been eliminated as a suspect by a grade six astronomy class investigation.

Regardless of what the future President saw on that cold clear night in 1969, it greatly impressed him. He spoke of the sighting to many people including his Press Secretary Jody Powell. Asked about the UFO event Powell said, “I do remember Jimmy saying that he did, in fact, see a strange light or object at night in the sky which did not appear to be a star or planet or anything that he could explain. If that’s your definition of an Unidentified Flying Object, then I suppose that is correct…I would venture to say he has probably seen stranger and more unexplainable things than that just during his time in government.”

Many years after being President, when asked about the sighting by citizens, Carter would still describe in detail the events that he witnessed. On September 24, 1997, for example, Carter spoke at the 16th annual Emory town Hall Meeting in Atlanta. When the question and answer session began, the first question was about the UFO sighting that Carter had experienced 28 years before. As he had on so many previous occasions Carter described in detail what he had seen. In conclusion to the story he stated that “he knew of no extraterrestrials and he did “not think any were on the UFO he saw.”

Campaign UFO Talk

At a Southern Governors Conference a few years after the sighting Carter stated ” I don’t laugh at people anymore when they say they’ve seen UFOs. I’ve seen one myself. It was the darndest thing I have ever seen. It was big, it was bright, it changed colors and it was about the size of the moon.”

In 1975 Carter again mentioned the UFO as he was campaigning for President. He told a Washington Post reporter, ” A light appeared and disappeared in the sky. It got brighter and brighter . . . I have no idea what it was . . . I think the light was beckoning me to run in the California primary.”

In June 1976, Jimmy Carter was quoted by the National Enquirer as promising, ” If I become President, I’ll make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and scientists. I am convinced that UFOs exist because I have seen one.”

Case ID: 294

Read entire article here

From Wikipedia:

Jimmy Carter UFO incident

The Jimmy Carter UFO Incident is the name given to an incident in which Jimmy Carter (US President 1977-1981) reported seeing an unidentified flying object while at Leary, Georgia, in 1969.

While governor of Georgia, Carter was asked to file a report of the sighting by the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which he did in September 1973.[1] Since its writing, the report has been discussed several times by both ufologists and by members of the mainstream media.[2][3] Carter does not think that it was an alien spacecraft.[4]

Sighting

One evening in 1969, two years before he became governor of Georgia, Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m (EST), one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. It was said to have appeared to have closed in on where he was standing but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance.

Carter felt that the object was self-luminous, but not a solid in nature. Carter’s report indicates that it was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.[1][3]

In 1973 Carter said (Sheaffer 1998:20–21)

“There were about twenty of us standing outside of a little restaurant, I believe, a high school lunch room, and a kind of green light appeared in the western sky. This was right after sundown. It got brighter and brighter. And then it eventually disappeared. It didn’t have any solid substance to it, it was just a very peculiar-looking light. None of us could understand what it was.”

Speaking in a 2005 interview, Carter states:

“all of a sudden, one of the men looked up and said, ‘Look, over in the west!’ And there was a bright light in the sky. We all saw it. And then the light, it got closer and closer to us. And then it stopped, I don’t know how far away, but it stopped beyond the pine trees. And all of a sudden it changed color to blue, and then it changed to red, then back to white. And we were trying to figure out what in the world it could be, and then it receded into the distance.” [3]

Date of the sighting

The exact date on which the sighting occurred has been called into question by investigators. According to the report that he filed with the International UFO Bureau four years after the incident, Carter saw the UFO in October 1969. However investigators have cited Lions Club records as evidence that it occurred nine months earlier (Sheaffer 1998:18–28).

According to a meeting report that he filed with the Lions Club, Carter gave his Leary speech on January 6, 1969, not in October. The setting of his January meeting as described in his report to the Lions Club also matches the setting that he would later describe to the media when speaking about his sighting. His report to the Lions Club made no mention of the sighting itself (Sheaffer 1998:18–28).

Other evidence uncovered rules out the October 1969 date and is consistent with January 1969. First, Carter visited the Leary Lions Club in his capacity as district governor of the Lions Club. His term ended in June 1969. Second, the Leary Lions Club disbanded several months before October 1969 (Sheaffer 1998:18–28).
Object and investigation

According to an investigation carried out in 1976, some seven years after the event, most of those present at the meeting either did not recall the event, or did not recall it as being anything important. According to Fred Hart, the only guest contacted who remembered seeing the object: “It seems like there was a little—like a blue light or something or other in the sky that night—like some kind of weather balloon they send out or something … it had been pretty far back in my mind.” (Sheaffer 1998:21–22).

While puzzled by the object and its origins Carter, himself, later said that while he had considered the object to be a UFO—on the grounds it was unexplained—his knowledge of physics had meant he had not believed himself to be witnessing an alien spacecraft.[3]

On January 6, 1969 the sky was clear in Leary and the planet Venus was near its maximum brightness and in the direction described by Carter. Ufologist Robert Sheaffer concluded that the object that Carter witnessed was a misidentification of Venus[5] (Peebles 1994:205). Ufologist Allan Hendry did calculations and agrees with the assessment of it being Venus (Miles 2006:50–52). This could also be the Venus “Halo” [1], as was discussed on The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast #105[6] in a 2007 interview with Jimmy Carter. In the interview Carter stated that he did not believe the object was Venus, explaining that he was an amateur astronomer and knew what Venus looked like. He also said that as a scientist he did not believe it was an alien craft and at the time assumed it was probably a military aircraft from a nearby base. However, he said that the object did not make any sound like a helicopter would do. Carter also said that he did not believe that any extraterrestrials have visited Earth. He also stated he knows of no government cover-up of extraterrestrial visits and that the rumors that the CIA refused to give him information about UFOs are not true.

Personal impact

The sighting is said to have had a personal impact on Carter and his perception of UFO and UFO sightings. During his 1976 election campaign, he is said to have told reporters that, as a result of it, he would institute a policy of openness if he were elected to office, saying:

“One thing’s for sure, I’ll never make fun of people who say they’ve seen unidentified objects in the sky. If I become President, I’ll make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and the scientists.” [7]

Despite his earlier pledge, once elected, Carter distanced himself from disclosure, citing “defense implications” as being behind his decision.[8]

Read entire article here

As we all know, President Carter was not able to make that promise come true and since the space program became privately funded and owned in 1969 there has been even more secrecy surrounding UFO’s. Here’s a video of him letting us know that he did not think it was aliens from another planet.

Uploaded on Nov 2, 2007 Jimmy Carter talks about when he saw a UFO

Video source: www.youtube.com

Posted by Teri Perticone

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