There have been a lot of UFO sightings over time in the South. Former President Jimmy Carter’s sighting in 1969 (filed when he was Governor of Georgia in 1973) is perhaps one of the better-known and documented ones. When I had the opportunity to meet him after the best Sunday School class I’ve ever attended in Plains, Georgia, I was itching to ask him about his UFO experience and UFOs in general.
Still, we had been warned by the Secret Service to keep our brief meeting focused only on the photo shoot. I simply said hello and said how much I enjoyed his lesson—one that illustrated how he’d negotiated the Camp David Peace Accords between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin after sharing similarities between religions based on the story of Ishmael, son of Abraham with Hagar To stay partisan, however, Ronald Reagan, too, witnessed a UFO in 1974 in California.
While there have been thousands of UFO sightings across the U.S. and the South, apparently, Native Americans who were in the South long before the European settlers passed down oral traditions of UFO encounters. The Cherokee, for example, even had a word in their native language, “Tlanuwa” (pronounced tlah-noo-wah), that represented giant birds of prey that had impenetrable metal feathers. Other native tribes who handed down stories of UFOs and “star people” or “sky people” include the Zuni, Hopi, Cree, and Lakota, some of whom believe their ancestors come from the Pleiades star cluster.
I didn’t think much about UFOs as a child, even though aunts and uncles told stories on the holidays while sipping coffee and eating pecan pie after a heavy meal. Still, when I saw one on my way to work at an Air Force Base, where I worked in college, my curiosity was aroused. It was the stereotypical disc and hovered over a small Presbyterian church with colored lights flashing. I pulled my car to the shoulder, got out, and watched it hover. If the pilot was an alien from the stars, it didn’t attack me or even abduct me. After just a few minutes, it zipped upward and disappeared with no sound at all. I thought it might be a sign I should convert to Presbyterianism, but I didn’t.