The 5 most believable UFO sightings ever reported in North Carolina

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Read about five alien encounters that may forever remain unexplained.

When you think of the most common places where you might hear a UFO sighting reported, what comes to mind? Area 51? The vast plains of the Midwest? Anywhere with a cornfield? 

North Carolina ticks one of those boxes, so perhaps it’s not surprising that our great state lands in the Top 10 states where sightings have been reported, according to the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC).

As it turns out, the number of sightings reported in any given state corresponds relatively closely to where the state ranks in population. So as the ninth most populous state in the country, it could be expected that North Carolina ranks as No. 10 in sightings. (As the 32nd most populous state, Nevada isn’t in the Top 10 for UFO sightings.) 

These sightings get published on the NUFORC’s Data Bank, where they’re indexed based on location, description, and date. In early 2022, WBTW in Wilmington reported that dozens of sightings were logged over just a few months. These reports spanned from two cigar-shaped objects in Edenton to a glowing disc near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. 

But alas, all of these reports are entered anonymously, and as far as we know, none of them are subject to any follow-up investigation. But what about the stories that have names attached, with more details than a brief description in an anonymous database? 

We went looking for those, and here are the most credible — or at least most detailed — accounts we could find. 

The Greys

Sev Tok is an author, co-owner of the Spirit Shack in Oriental, and field investigator for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), an international organization that investigates UFO reports around the world.

In her book, “You Have The Right To Talk To Aliens,” Tok told of her own encounter with extraterrestrials, which she says occurred in Arapahoe. 

“I came [into] face-to-face contact with these beings, they’re what we call The Greys, the small ones with the big eyes,” Tok told Greenville’s WNCT last summer. “I was paralyzed on this bed and I was lying on my side and I could feel there was something behind me.

“When I moved my head and turned around, there was a Grey standing behind me doing something to my back,” she continued. “Then I turned my head back around and I found myself back in my bedroom.”

Tok said the Greys left two red X marks on her back, pictures of which can be found in her book. She sold copies of the book and hosted UFO Talks to discuss alien encounters in a judgment-free space at her shop, The Spirit Shack, though the business sadly closed in November.  

Photo courtesy of Spirit Shack via Facebook.

Lumberton Alien “Attack”

Back in 1975, before the NUFORC Data Bank existed, a string of well-documented sightings sent UFO investigators from around the country flocking to the southeastern NC town of Lumberton.  

People reported more than eight sightings in the course of just a few days in the first week of April that year, including two incidents of UFOs being followed by state troopers. News reports from the area allegedly inspired some of the earlier sequences in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The most credible report came from a soybean field off Philadelphus Road just north of the Pembroke town line on the afternoon of April 6, where The Robesonian newspaper reported a total of seven people, most from the Strickland family, saw something land in a field near their home. 

It reportedly looked like five large, triangular-shaped metallic objects, with some witnesses claiming they flew in formation while others rerpoted seeing chrome-like attachments connecting them. A young boy “said he saw the object kick up a cloud of dust as high as a house” when it landed in the newly plowed field. The object stayed only a few minutes before lifting off again and disappearing into the sky. 

The objects reportedly left circular impressions at the landing sight with a strange blue-gray “ash,” while surrounding plants did not appear harmed or burnt. This and other incidents that week — about 80 witnesses total, 40 of whom were police — led many in the town to believe they were facing an “alien attack,” though sightings dropped off as the month progressed. 

The Asheville School for Boys

In the early morning hours of May 9, 1964, two students at the Asheville School for Boys spotted a silver, saucer-shaped craft with a blue light emanating from its windows hovering over the school’s water tower. A golden disk “moved wildly” atop the craft as it hovered, according to the boys’ matching accounts. Then, suddenly, sparks rained down from the saucer before it took off in the direction of the rising sun at an “amazingly fast speed.” 

Declaring themselves to be of “sound mind and body,” the students attested to their encounter the following day in signed statements, their names and signatures later redacted by the bureaucrats charged with declassifying the case files of Project Blue Book, which was released in 2015. Upon the release of the findings, which included illustrations by the boys, Asheville school administration officials told WLOS it was the first time they’d heard of the sightings.

Investigators at the time chalked the boys’ sightings up to the “imagination of the observers” and the “misinterpretation of conventional objects” like aircraft and various stars and planets.

Illustration courtesy of Fold3.

Salisbury Shapes

Project Blue Book also included around 700 sightings that not even investigators could explain away, including an occurrence in Salisbury in 1966. On Feb. 2 of that year, shortly after 11 p.m., a woman who remained unnamed in the files reported that she had just gotten into bed when her dog began barking in a panicked manner. When she threw open her curtains, she saw a silver, diamond-shaped object hovering just 300 feet away from her window above a cluster of trees in her neighbor’s backyard. 

Though the craft didn’t actually move when she first spotted it, the woman described it as remaining in “a tremendous state of activity,” with a dozen smaller objects “resembling balls” orbiting around the central body, each taking its own path and flashing red, green, and white lights. Small “explosions” emanated from the craft, these also exhibiting fantastic color changes. With pen and paper in hand, the observer sketched as best she could what she saw in the sky.

The craft hovered for three or four minutes before shooting to a new position nearby. “The speed with which it moved was so rapid that I could not begin to estimate it,” said the woman, a trusted teacher in the community who declared that she had been a lifelong skeptic until the incident. 

As time passed, the object slowly moved away, though it remained in sight long enough for the woman’s husband to return home from work close to midnight and also view the object. Viewing the flying diamond through binoculars, the man also reported seeing small, colorful explosions and brilliantly flashing lights surrounding the object. The craft remained in view until around 1 a.m., a full hour and a half after it was first sighted. “I do not know what the object was,” the woman confessed, “but I hereby swear that I saw the object as described.”

Illustration courtesy of Fold3.

Greensboro Balloons

While a series of lights recorded and reported over the Outer Banks in 2019 can most likely be identified as flares from military jets doing exercises nearby, another video captured over Greensboro earlier that year is not as easily explained. 

Photographer Bret Jones, who goes by Space Bret on YouTube, said he went out to try to document the behavior of birds when he spotted a “random flashing” object floating in the sky above. The five-minute video — magnified and slowed down — shows the pill-shaped object soaring through the sky and producing a series of flashes. 

“I noticed a strange flashing light in the sky near an airplane. It was moving slowly in the sky, a little slower than the planes flying around,” Jones said on YouTube. “I did not think I captured it at all, because the focus would only hunt and not lock on.”

He later magnified the video by 900x and saw the pill-shaped object, which appeared to emanate flashes from both ends. The video sparked debate online between those who thought it was a large balloon — a theory strengthened by the sudden appearance of a Chinese spy balloon over the United States in 2023 — or a visit from some other far more foreign entity. 

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  • Ryan Pitkin

    Ryan Pitkin is a writer and editor based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he runs an alternative weekly newspaper called Queen City Nerve. He is also editor of NoDa News, a community newsletter in the neighborhood where he has lived for 15 years.

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