Sunday Surprise

Liberal Translation of Write-up by Bernadette Brand
in FIGU Bulletin #25 (Schmidrüti, Switzerland: F.I.G.U., Dec., 1999)
J. W. Deardorff, April 2011

On Sunday, the 12th of September, 1999, Louis Memper, Eva Bieri, and I, Bernadette brand, together had Sunday service. After we were done with everything, I wanted to do some personal work. I had just plugged in the iron when, through the open door, I saw Billy go in the direction of the garden. I stopped him to ask whether he saw something in the sky. While we talked, we heard the unmistakable sound of hot-air balloons. Billy said it interested him in how many balloons could be seen and where they came from. So I followed him into the garden [see map, No. 4], where we first noticed a yellow Agrola balloon in a southerly direction, followed a short distance behind by a white Sharp balloon. From the east shortly thereafter there came a yellow-red-blue balloon with the lettering "Flugplatz Sitterdorf," traveling like the other two balloons toward the west.

We followed their course through the sky, and apparently, we were not alone, because I heard my son Nathan below the greenhouse talking with Selina, Billy's and Eve's little daughter, and showed him the hot-air balloons. He came up the steps from the greenhouse [see map, No. 6] with Selina on his arm while Billy and I still watched the first two balloons. When Nathan with Selina was just at the level of the monument [see map, No. 7], Nathan suddenly exclaimed,"Look, do you see the bright dot there behind the balloon?" "What is it?"

As I quickly turned around, I saw a whitish-silvery object just behind the blue, red and yellow Sitterdorf balloon. I pointed it out to Billy, and after a few seconds, he spotted it. At approximately 9000 meters height, as Billy estimated, a clearly visible disk-shaped brilliantly glittering object moved leisurely in its path in the light of the soon-setting sun, standing out brightly against the blue sky. It was at this moment exactly 18:24 hours. Always at the same distance, it moved westward seemingly behind the balloon, which was at about 800 meters height. The balloons, whose number had now grown to five, moved slowly in a southwesterly direction; however, the ship, which was uniquely and very clearly recognizable as round- or disk-shaped, continued westward. When the yellow-red-blue balloon was clearly southwest from us, an airliner emerged, which in its south-to-north course at about 5000 meters overflew the balloon. Now, one could compare the size and shape difference of the three airial craft wonderfully. At the lowest level, at approximately 800 meters height, the balloons drifted at about 40-50 km/hr speed; at about 5000 meters height the airliner flew very swiftly; and again, about 4000 meters higher, the bright reflective object moved slowly away in a westerly direction at the same pace [angular pace?] as the balloons. When the airliner overflew the balloon, it occurred to me that it [the airliner], in comparison to the object located high above it, was a lot more difficult to see.

To be sure we could clearly make out the airplane, but through the haze it appeared slightly out of focus and almost transparent due to the haze because it moved below the direct sunlight. However the object, which was very high above the haze and directly illuminated from below by the setting sun, reflected light so brightly that it was absolutely clear and sharply defined, though it was moving significantly away from us as was the aircraft.

During all of seven minutes, from 18:24 until 18:31 hrs, we observed the ship before it lost itself in the increasingly brighter sky in the direction of the sun, and then suddenly disappeared.

Freddy, who in the meanwhile appeared on Billy's call and who had been with us in the garden, came with his 500mm-telephoto camera and tripod, and spotted the beamship only after Billy had long tried to show him its exact location. When he was finally ready to photograph it, he could no longer find it. Eva came out of the greenhouse, took Natan and Selina, and disappeared in the direction of the house. She had no patience to follow Nathan's direction instructions, but sent only a quick look to the sky and withdrew. For this she complained later that she would never see something.

After the ship had disappeared, I wanted to conclude my work, while Billy, Freddy, and Nathan were continuing to talk about the size of the object, which Billy described as football size, Natan as a little dot, and Freddy as not visible. After they had discussed it a few minutes and Louis, who in the meantime had come from the house, had reported of the sighting, Billy called me to the square in front of the monument and wondered whether I was also of the opinion that the object had had the size of the diameter of the contrail of the foregoing aircraft. Nathan and I found this size comparison to be correct, while Freddy claimed that at best he had seen a tiny little dot.

Meanwhile some fifteen minutes passed and we still talked about the object. Freddy was allowed to hear some good-natured proverbs because he had failed to photograph the ship despite having good equipment. "It would be nice, if such an object would appear again, so you could photograph it," I said, standing with my back to the monument. I raised my head and once again saw, high over the birch trees, the same object we had seen fifteen minutes before. "Look, up there, there it is once again!" escaped my lips, and at the same moment I heard Billy say: "Look, there over the birch, it is hard to believe!" I was very excited when I saw, from the corner of my eye, that Billy looked at his watch; it was precisely 18:46 hours.

The heads of Natan, Louis and Freddy spun around their necks, and already a moment later my son rushed towards the house to fetch the binoculars. The beamship was exactly vertically above our heads, as Freddy's camera clicked diligently. Billy told him that he should make sure that he also had the top of the flagpole in the image, for a size comparison.

At left, the totally out-of-focus top of the flag pole. To its right, the beamship,
whose disk shape unfortunately does not show up due to
either its brightness or improper focus.

A minute later Nathan came rushing around the corner of the carriage house, and now Billy and he observed the ship alternately with the binoculars, while we followed its path with the naked eye.

This second ship was "only" about 6-7000 meters above sea level and was therefore definitely easier to see than the first object. Shiny like the first object, it reflected the light of the below-horizon sun. Just as with the first object, this ship was clearly recognizable as a disk -- and it was also moving in a westerly direction. Again, a plane flew from south to north across the sky, and we could well compare the size, shape and speed of the two objects. While the aircraft quickly jet-propelled itself across the sky, the ship moved extremely slowly along its way. After about three minutes, it tipped its angle to about 45 degrees to the left, and was then clearly recognizable as an ellipse, before it increased the angle to 90 degrees and then appeared almost cigar-shaped.

With the changing of its tilt angle, it also changed its direction of flight to a south-westerly direction. The whole maneuver went with great slowness, for it flew no faster than about 40-50 km per hour. After it had completed this change of direction in a wide arc, it moved back to its previous horizontal orientation and again appeared as a disk-shaped object. We could also observe this second ship on its slow demonstrative flight until it almost merged with the bright shimmering western sky. And just before it was so far away that we could no longer see it, it disappeared from the sky simply without a trace, from one fraction of a second to the other.

Now we naturally puzzled greatly over this topic of conversation for the next few days, for two daytime sightings within only a quarter of an hour had not occurred until then. We saw the second sighting actually only 15 minutes after the first, and it lasted barely a minute less long, namely from 18:46 to 18:52. Who may it probably have been? Billy was of the opinion that it had been two different ships, while I tended more to think it could have been the same ship both times. On one thing, however, we were all but certain: It could only have been our friends -- it was of course also possible that one could have been a foreign object. We waited outdoors for about another 15 minutes observing the sky in all directions in the "modest" hope of seeing something once again, but unfortunately all for nought. So I went and "finished" my ironing, while Billy and Freddy still talked outside. Somehow, I was completely "out of it," because my last daytime sighting had been 17 years ago, and at that time I only briefly got to see Quetzal's ship at the very end of the sighting.

Soon, we would but again experience a surprise, because hardly had I hung up the first blouse on the coat-hanger when I heard Billy and Freddy striding urgently past my door. Quickly, I slid into my slippers and followed them a few steps while I asked whether they had seen something once again. Billy called back that he had seen a figure in a gray garment on the promenade, and that they were now keeping a lookout for whomever it involved. In my worn sandals I could not catch up with the two men, for they were too fast. I stayed a few minutes out there and kept the road in sight, before I then gave up, because I saw no one and could hear nothing more, which is why I assumed that the walker we had heard had already disappeared in the direction of Schmidrüti.

Had he made a turn on his way, he would have come into my field of vision. Shortly after I had given up, Billy returned and told me that he saw a figure in a gray garment on the promenade during his conversation with Freddy. Because the grey of the wearing apparel was known to him, he wanted to know who was on the road towards Schmidrüti, which is why he immediately started towards the biotope [an ecologically natural pond-like area; see map, No.2]. Freddy followed him. He had heard steps on the way, but not seen anything, because he had turned back the other way on the road. Although Billy and Freddy had hurried outside, they could find no one. Also, I had heard the steps before the two men had zoomed past my open door, but while I stood outside and looked out at the road, there was nothing to see or hear -- the figure had just suddenly disappeared without a trace. Freddy, who came back to the promenade as a security precaution, found only a ruptured balloon with an attached map -- there was nothing and no one to find.

Only on Friday evening, September 17th, did the puzzle solve itself, when Billy asked Florena whether she knew something about the events of the previous Sunday. She told him that the first beamship had been her own and that Tauron was with her. She was flying at an altitude of 9500 meters with a speed of 40 kilometers per hour over the Center. In the second ship, which we observed 15 minutes later, were Zafenatpaneach and Samjang, and they flew at an altitude of 7500 meters and at the same speed over the Center as Florena. The aircraft we had seen during the sighting were located at an altitude of between 4500 and 6000 meters.

The mysterious walker, who simply disappeared without a trace, was Samjang, who was for the first time at the Center and wanted a closer look at the surrounding area. He had noticed that he became observed, and because he didn't know Freddy at all, he was a bit apprehensive, so he made sure that he could no longer be seen. Samjang's name means "lucky," and professionally he's engaged in subatomic vacuum technology, subatomic crystal physics and crystal technics. In appearance he belongs to the people of Taljdas, because he is likewise yellow skinned -- and the sound of his name reminds me somehow of the names of peoples who are based in the far East.

In a certain sense I felt richly rewarded and childishly joyful, that it had been granted to me to be the first to see the second object. Also I was happy as well for Nathan and for all the others who had been present at the two sightings. It especially warmed my heart that Louis was included, because it was his first daytime sighting of this kind.

For me, some of the magic of old times had returned with these events -- from the late 70s and early 80's, when we at night often "beat ourselves around the ears," to see something, as our knowledge and the mounting evidence for the presence of our distant and yet-so-close friends welded us together and helped us to accept the assaults and withstand the heavy storms, despite all the differences of our tasks. Perhaps some of this magic will return in the future -- in any case I am happy for all those who are lucky enough to be in on a sighting.

Bernadette Brand