Editors note: This story was originally published in March 2012.
We are not alone.
Look at the fuzzy video posted on YouTube that shows a colorful spinning orb hovering over the water just off the Pass Christian beach in February. It will make you wonder.
Or read various posts on extraterrestrial watchdog websites such as the Mutual UFO Network or UFO Casebook, that mention South Mississippi sightings.
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Still not convinced we’ve been visited by aliens from outer space?
Read “UFO Contact in Pascagoula,” written by the late Charles Hickson.
Hickson, who died at 80 in 2011, became a Coast celebrity in 1973 after his claims of alien abduction were made public. In the 38 years after, he appeared on TV, spoke at UFO conferences, gave countless interviews, and co-wrote his book. He continued to watch the night skies until the end.
“He believed that one day they would come back. He wanted them to come back,” his daughter Tisha Hurd told the Sun Herald after his death.
But whether E.T. has actually phoned home from the Gulf Coast remains to be seen.
Neither Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam, Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara nor Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd can find reports in the last 12 months of anyone seeing UFOs, although Adam said some on his staff reported the occasional Facebook post by acquaintances that mentioned seeing “something” in the sky.
However, a Vicksburg UFO expert thinks extraterrestrials can be spotted regularly over Mississippi.
Just last week, graphic designer Robert Hood, a 43-year-old husband and father, admits seeing “a nice, bright light in the sky.”
The co-founder of Delta Paranormal Project said an orange star-like entity hovered for a while, then it moved, got dim, then bright, then “suddenly, it just disappeared.”
Hood classifies the sightings into two areas, the unidentified flying objects and the extraterrestrial vehicles.
Anyone can see a UFO, which usually turns out to be an airplane or some other man-made aircraft. It’s the ETVs that are more unusual, and much harder to document or explain, he said.
Still, he believes ETVs are easier to spot in South Mississippi, where the land mass borders the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast offers few obstructions and a clear view of the sky, he said.
He thinks many people have probably seen UFOs and even ETVs, but are unlikely to make a report for fear of ridicule.
“You mention anything about aliens to anybody and it’s an instant, ‘You’re crazy,’” he said.
For those who plan to go public with their sighting, Hood recommends still images and video confirmation. Turn off the auto focus on the camera and keep it steady, he said. It also helps to have additional witnesses for validation.
He is adamant humans are not alone in the universe.
“It would be kind of crazy to look up and say that there is no other life besides ourselves,” he said.
A grainy video posted Feb. 12 on YouTube by someone called UFOParanomalRadio shows a bright light in the sky, supposedly along U.S. 90 in Pass Christian.
The videographer captures the image for almost four minutes before it disappears from view.
“It’s cool looking, whatever it is,” a man’s voice says. “It’s lit up like a Christmas tree.”
He says on the video that the image, which appears as both a spinning orb of light and two blurry, bright lights, is “just sitting there, hovering over the Gulf of Mexico.”
While trying to sharpen the focus, the shooter watches the light disappear into the water.
“It’s completely gone, nowhere to be found,” he can be heard saying.
Pass Christian Deputy Chief James Stewart said police logs do not show anyone making a report of an unidentified object any time that week.
Pascagoula police Lt. Shannon Massey also checked records for the past year, but could find no reports of UFO sightings.
On about.com, however, UFO expert Billy Booth posted about a sighting of a blinking light reported Sept. 22 that hovered for a while, then flew upward and disappeared in the Jackson County sky.
Hood said Pascagoula could be a hotbed for UFO traffic.
It’s where Hickson believes he was abducted in 1973, and it’s close to Gautier, where a UFO was spotted hovering over Hickson home by neighbors years later.
Booth lists 10 Mississippi sightings on his UFO Casebook website, from 1967 in Meridian to Nov. 16 in Oxford, where a mother and daughter told him they saw a cylindrical object hover over the tree tops along U.S. 278.
Among the cases listed is Mike Cataldo, a retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer interviewed by former Mississippi Press reporter Natalie Chambers in 2001.
Cataldo said he and some friends saw a tambourine-shaped object lined in blinking lights, spinning in the sky between Pascagoula and Gautier in 1973, just three days after Hickson’s alleged encounter.
Cataldo says in the case file he saw it again as he traveled west on U.S. 90 in Ocean Springs.
“I think he saw something,” Chambers told the Sun Herald. “He didn’t appear to be fearful, he was just talking about the lights. He was very sure that what he saw was a UFO.”