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UFOs in the daily Press:

Strange flashing red light seen, Montebello, California, USA, 2003:

This article was published in the daily newspaper San Gabriel Valley Tribune, California, USA, on September 9, 2003.

Neighbors maintain UFO watch

Montebello residents saw red flashing lights Aug. 30

By Ben Baeder

MONTEBELLO -- As he looks up at a bright moon, spindly shadows fall across John Gonzalez's face through the branches of a small tree on his front lawn. It's a Saturday night, and just like nearly every night since they saw a strange red light in the sky on Aug. 30, Gonzalez and a handful of other residents on 20th Street in Montebello are out looking for UFOs.

Twice in late August most recently on Aug. 30 residents say they saw strange, flashing red lights high in the skies above Montebello, triggering the near-nightly vigils on Gonzalez's block.

As he surveys the skies, his friend cleans the lens of a telescope on a tripod. Next door, another neighbor and his son lie on blankets on their front lawn; a video camera perched atop a tripod is at the ready.

While the residents swear they saw something very unusual, nobody not police or local aerospace agencies has given them a satisfactory explanation as to what it was.

"It was something military, or something advanced," Gonzalez believes. He recalled how in the past witnesses confused the stealth bomber with a UFO. "Maybe it will be like the stealth bomber. You know, all these people seeing this strange flying triangle in the desert, then, like 10 years later, we finally find out what it was."

The residents' accounts of the weird light are nearly all alike. They say the light slowly moved up from the horizon, then began to turn onto a path parallel to the horizon. The light then emitted a bright flash and began moving faster. It disappeared and reappeared a few times, then faded away.

According to the National Unidentified Flying Object Reporting Center's Web site, the object was first reported on Aug. 24. Three more sightings were made on Aug. 30, the Web site said.

Several residents videotaped the object.

Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Air Force and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge all said they have no record of anything abnormal in the skies on Aug. 24 or Aug. 30.

Fear of ridicule caused some witnesses to decline to give their names to a reporter. One man, who said he scans the skies now nightly with binoculars, said he's worried people might think he's crazy.

"I have a high-profile job. There's no way I can let you use my name."

Witnesses said they spotted the light as they were looking at Mars, which was closer to Earth on Aug. 28 than it had been in 66,000 years. But they swear the object was not Mars.

George Djorgovski, an astronomer at Caltech in Pasadena, said the light was most likely an airplane, while other astronomers said that Mars can appear to move if stared at for long periods.

Whatever the light was, it hasn't returned since Aug. 30. But that hasn't stopped Montebello's nightly UFO watchers for gazing skyward.

"As long as there are no laser beams coming down, we're cool with it," said Gonzalez.

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This page was last updated on September 13, 2003.