UFO STILL HOVERS IN ANDERSON MAN'S MEMORY
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Jerry McAlister still believes the object that hovered over his house on Broadway Lake more than 20 years ago was a UFO.
"I can still remember everything that happened. That thing was huge," Mr. McAlister said. "It was solid steel. You could even see the rivets in it. We thought, 'It ain't going to land here is it?' But it just hovered and slid off."
Sitting in the living room of his Boston Street home in Anderson recently, Mr. McAlister, who is now 67, recounted his close encounter with an unexplained, large flying object on Sept. 11, 1980. He woke to the sound of a strange noise, like the whirring of a helicopter, at 4:20 a.m. Then he lived in a ranch-style house on Parnell Road, near Broadway Lake.
When he went to the window, he saw a "large flying saucer hovering over the lawn," he said.
Even now, Mr. McAlister can remember watching some of the young pine trees in his yard wilting under the flying object as it hovered, he said. When he saw it, he called the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, and deputies responded.
No one knew then what the object was.
But it didn't take long for news of the UFO sighting to spread through the community and across the nation. Today, Mr. McAlister has a scrapbook of letters, drawings and articles from local and national publications that told his story.
Several of those stories appeared in the Anderson Independent-Mail. Headlines after the sighting was reported read: "Several Anderson residents convinced strange object was UFO" and "Town buzzes with excitement after possible UFO sighting."
In one photo, a local restaurant owner was pictured next to a sign that read "Welcome little green men."
A small clip of the news item even made it into a newspaper in Paraguay in South America. That clip was mailed to Mr. McAlister. He still has it, along with the note that came with it and the stamp that was on it, tucked away in that scrapbook.
Stories also appeared in two national tabloids in 1980, the Globe in November and the National Enquirer in December.
Mr. McAlister also appeared on the television show "That's Incredible!" that aired on the ABC at the time.
"It was a hot thing for a month or two," he said. "Right after it happened, people were calling from all over the place wanting to set up (recreational vehicles) in our yard. They thought it might be coming back."
When asked if anyone ever doubted him about the story, Mr. McAlister said, "No. Nobody said I was crazy, because a lot of people saw it. It was something."
In fact, six days after Mr. McAlister's sighting, a story appeared in The Easley Progress newspaper about a man spotting a UFO there. And on Sept. 16, the Independent-Mail reported that two more people saw "whirling lights" in the sky above Broadway Lake.
Not long after the sighting, Mr. McAlister and his then-wife Faye moved. For a while Mr. McAlister worked for the Iva Rescue Squad. For the last seven years, he has lived alone in a small single-wide trailer on Boston Street. That scrapbook has been stored away in his bedroom.
"Since I've been here, people have asked me about it," Mr. McAlister said. "But I guess over the last four or five years, I haven't said much about it. It was something back then. I ain't never forgot it."