Tri-Cities one of hottest UFO sighting spots in WA state. Latest was last week at Hanford

·5 min read

At 4:40 a.m. Aug. 10 a Hanford nuclear reservation worker driving north across the site was startled by the sight of a vertical, cigar-shaped object with lights hovering more than 500 feet in the air.

“As I was looking at it, it disappeared,” the worker reported to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

But then what apparently was the same object “reappeared much closer and directly on top of me.”

It was estimated to be about 100 to 300 feet long.

The observation was the most recent UFO to be reported at Hanford since workers started seeing them at the site in 1944, according to information from MUFON.

On Saturday, Aug. 20, the public is invited to the group’s meeting at 1 p.m. at the Keewaydin library, 405 S. Dayton St., Kennewick, to learn about its work in the Northwest and how it investigates cases.

Its investigators will be available to take reports, anonymous or otherwise, on UFO sightings, close encounters or other phenomena that can’t be explained.

The Northwest seems to hold an attraction for “strange visitors,” according to MUFON.

The beginning of the modern age of UFO sightings is usually traced back to 1947, when former Tri-City Herald managing editor Bill Bequette, then a young reporter at the East Oregonian in Pendleton, wrote a short story about the strange sight reported by pilot Kenneth Arnold.

Dan Nims, Walla Walla, of the Mutual UFO Network, holds a Geiger-Muller counter, which detects nuclear radiation
Dan Nims, Walla Walla, of the Mutual UFO Network, holds a Geiger-Muller counter, which detects nuclear radiation

Arnold was flying a plane on a business trip between Chehalis, Wash., and Yakima when he saw a string of nine objects speeding in formation past Mt. Rainier at what he estimated was 1,200 mph.

Bequette’s 191-word story was picked up by newspapers across the nation, and was followed by more than 700 reports of UFOs within two months, said Dan Nims, of Walla Walla, Washington state MUFON chief investigator and a retired U.S. Air Force test pilot.

Early Hanford UFO mysteries

But Hanford site reports were made before that in 1944 and 1945, Nims said.

“Of course at that time at the end of the war that was a very sensitive area and was very well guarded, well protected,” Nims said.

In late 1944 an unusual object was seen in the sky and a fighter aircraft was sent up to take a closer look. The pilot radioed that if he went any higher he would burn the motor out, but was told to keep climbing, Nims said.

The pilot got up about 40,000 feet and still was lower than the object. He would report that it was a large oval, orange object about the size of three aircraft carriers, Nims said.

In 1945 more fighters were launched in a similar incident, he said.

“There were other incidents in that same time period where they would track them with radar but they were unprepared to launch a fighter to go up and go after them,” Nims said.

In an undated handout image taken from a video released by the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a 2004 encounter near San Diego between two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets and an unknown object. UFOs have been repeatedly investigated over the decades in the United States, including by the American military.
In an undated handout image taken from a video released by the Defense Department’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a 2004 encounter near San Diego between two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets and an unknown object. UFOs have been repeatedly investigated over the decades in the United States, including by the American military.

The Hanford site area and Benton and Franklin counties remain one of the hottest spots in the state for UFO reports, he said.

Some people think there are an inordinate amount of sighting in the vicinity of nuclear facilities, Nims said, whether power plants, nuclear equipped naval vessels or weapons sites like Hanford, where plutonium was produced for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from World War II through the Cold War.

There is conjecture that one of the things that excited whoever is watching the Earth was the detonation of atomic weapons, marking a transition in technology, Nims said.

Washington a top UFO state

There are 10,000 to 12,000 sightings a year reported to the nonprofit agencies MUFON and the National UFO Reporting Center, which is based just outside Spokane, Nims said.

MUFON investigates each sighting reported to it, including about 200 sightings per year in Washington state.

Dan Nims, Walla Walla, holds his Mutional UFO Network identification badge next to his electromagnetic spectrum detector.
Dan Nims, Walla Walla, holds his Mutional UFO Network identification badge next to his electromagnetic spectrum detector.

Some states with larger populations report more sightings, but Washington has the most per capita, Nims said.

Investigators check out possible UFO sightings with interviews, field visits and by searching for information about aircraft in the area, any meteors reported and reviewing records of past UFO sighting.

Common objects that a witness may consider to be a UFO include Chinese lanterns, aircraft, drones, astronomical objects and light reflections.

Reports of strings of Starlink satellites are especially common, but there are also less common, but explainable events, such as a 2019 Falcon 9 rocket re-entry malfunction that spewed burning debris seen across the Tri-Cities night sky

When there is a logical explanation for a sighting, people are grateful to know the reason, Nims said.

MUFON also investigates “experiencer sightings,” or reports of people who say they were abducted, have missing time or confronted a nonterrestrial entity.

UFO ‘experiences’

“I have been doing experiencer work now for two years, and have probably done 50 cases. These people are not making up stories,” Nims said. “They think it happened to them.”

One of his favorite cases was on a July 4 weekend, when a woman was driving from Seattle to Spokane and called her sister to say she and her children had arrived safely.

Dan Nims, Walla Walla, of the Mutual UFO Network, investigates reports of UFO sightings and experiences, in which people report being abducted or encountering nonterrestrial entities.
Dan Nims, Walla Walla, of the Mutual UFO Network, investigates reports of UFO sightings and experiences, in which people report being abducted or encountering nonterrestrial entities.

Her sister said that was impossible because she had just left two hours ago for what should have been a four-hour drive.

A year later she and her teenage children were watching a television show about UFOs when a picture flashed, and all of them said it looked like the UFO they saw that strange night in Spokane.

“Something can sometimes stir your memory and you can remember,” Nims said.

People who have UFO experiences are often reluctant to talk about them with friends and family. But the Saturday meeting will be a chance for them to sit down with someone who wants to hear about their experience, Nims said.

“These people are completely sincere. They are not nut cases. They are serious professional people ... not some drunk off of skid row who might have had one too many beers,” Nims said.

UFO reports also may be made to MUFON at mufon.com.