June 29, 1964
Location: Near Lavonia, Georgia, United States
Beauford E. Parham was returning home late on the evening
of June 29, 1964. "I spotted a very bright light
in the sky . . . coming directly toward my car,"
the witness said in a letter to a NICAP member. "The
next instance it was directly in front of my headlights
spinning like a giant top. It was shaped like a top and
made a hissing sound like a million snakes."
UFO seen by Beauford Parham.
NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon),
'Strange Effects from UFOs', by Donald Keyhoe and Gordon
Beauford E. Parham was returning home late on the evening
of June 29, 1964. He was between Carnesville and Lavonia,
Georgia, in the northeast corner of the state.
spotted a very bright light in the sky . . . coming directly
toward my car," the witness said in a letter
to a NICAP member. "The next instance it was directly
in front of my headlights spinning like a giant top. It
was shaped like a top and made a hissing sound like a
million snakes. The top part of the object was moving
in a clockwise direction and the bottom part ... in a
UFO, "big enough to hold a man," was
amber-colored, about six feet tall and eight feet wide.
A tower-like projection with a dark band was seen at the
top. Vane-like configurations were also observed. Small
portholes dotted the bottom, through which "flames"
could be detected.
in a flash, the strange object reappeared a second time.
stayed directly in front of my headlights for at least
a mile, never touching the car but spinning just in front
of my lights," said Parham.
he was traveling at 65 m.p.h., the UFO kept an estimated
five feet in front of the automobile and only one or two
feet above the road. The top part of the object was tilted
toward the witness. Parham said he followed in a near
the object left . . .," Parham wrote, "it
suddenly went up over the top of my car, leaving a strong
odor . . . like embalming fluid and a vapor which left
an oily substance all over my car."
disappearing, the UFO reappeared for a third time, again
heading directly toward the car. The vehicle's motor began
to miss and the driver stopped the car. After "spinning
like crazy," the object took off and disappeared
in a "split second."
this time, my arms were beginning to burn," Parham
related, "and my only thought was to get somewhere
and let someone know what I had seen."
witness drove to Lavonia, then to Anderson Air Force Base,
South Carolina, to report the incident to FAA officials
and newsmen. Reporter T. F. Acker told NICAP that he found
Parham "intelligent, sincere and sober."
said that repeated cleanings of his car still left the
oily marks and the "burning sensation"
remained even after his arms were washed.
adviser Dan Sheridan, former Marine Corps pilot, interviewed
the witness and found him a "very sober individual."
Sheridan also discovered that Parham's car hood was warped
and "bubbled up paint" was on the body.
Samples were taken for analysis by a local college, but
no results were reported. Parham, in a local newspaper
interview, said that his car radiator had been "eaten
away and his water hose was collapsing.
Myrick and Dean Carpenter, Federal Aviation Agency (FAA)
personnel at Anderson, checked the vehicle for radioactivity.
Reportedly some was detected, but the amount was not disclosed.
the Air Force had labeled the UFO "ball lightning,"
according to The Anderson (S.C.) Independent. The witness,
however, did not accept this.
was not a cloud in the sky," he stated. "Lightning
would not rotate at top and bottom as this object did.
... It was definitely not that because ball lightning
could not have followed my car at least two miles."
Lightning Theory Weak
do the physical characteristics of the sighting correspond
with the ball lightning explanation.
lightning' is the name given to the luminous, roughly
spherical regions of air that with some rarity occur during
lightning storms," wrote personnel of the Westinghouse
Research Laboratories. "They have been reported with
diameters as small as 1 cm [about one-third of an inch]
and as large as 150 cm [approximately 50 inches], but
diameters of the order of 10 or 20 cm [about three and
one-third and six and two-third inches, respectively]
are most common. ... The phenomenon usually lasts for
only a few seconds, but durations of several minutes have
been reported. . . . Ball lightning occurs more often
on high mountains than in the lowlands."
member of the Rocket Power, Inc., Research Laboratories
adds that ball lightning "may be white, blue,
red, or orange in color. . . . When it disappears a pungent
odor is sometimes noted. The ball may vanish silently,
with a hissing noise, or often with a loud bang."
a sister phenomenon, corona discharges, in recent years
used as a frequent explanation for UFO sightings, cannot
account for the report.
discharges usually last only a small fraction of a microsecond
and dissipate no more energy than that consumed by a 40-watt
bulb operating for a second," said an article
in Scientific American.
James E. McDonald, in a concentrated study of top-quality
UFO reports, rejects the ball lightning explanation for
any but a very small percentage of reports.
most obvious difficulty with the ball lightning hypothesis,"
the atmospheric physicist stated, "is that any
plasmoids of that type can be naturally generated in absence
of intense electrical storms.... Hundreds of credible
observers have reported UFO phenomena without any involvement
of power lines (as well as without any involvement with
three months ago, I examined some of the 'ball lightning'
cases in the Project Blue Book files at Wright-Patterson
AFB, while there in the course of a current study of the
entire UFO problem. Not one of the cases categorized as
'ball lightning' in the sample shown to me was at all
similar to what meteorologists would call ball lightning."
is obvious then that the official explanation for the
clearly detailed, spinning-top UFO observed by Beauford
Parham is singularly weak.
Ponders Possible Radiation Effects
member of NICAP's Medical Panel speculated that Parham
himself may have picked up a dose of radiation.
a case like this," Dr. Julian G. Kirchick, of
Hempstead, N.Y., wrote NICAP, "a blood count would
be valuable depending upon the dosage received. . . .
This . . . would have to be done immediately. Depending
upon the dosage . . ., [the blood count] could show no
changes or could evidence transient bone marrow suppression
which would show a drop in the red . . . and . . . white
blood count. This gradually might come back to normal
or, if the dosage was severe enough, the count would not
come back to normal. Also depending upon the dosage and
amount of body exposure or the amount of inhalation of
radioactive particles, the witness could show abnormal
red ... and . . . white blood cells and abnormal platelets.
In a period of a few years, such a person might develop
leukemia. Such a person could also develop anemia or a
leukopenia or thrombocytopenia. It would seem that if
the witness did not complain of such symptoms as headache,
nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, the possibility is that
the exposure was of too small a dose and that no changes
might be found. So you can see that abnormal findings
could very well depend upon the length of exposure and
the strength of exposure to radioactivity. However, a
blood count should be done immediately in all persons
complaining of a burning sensation, following the witnessing
of a UFO."