FLYING SAUCER ERA
In the early 1960s, local UFO (unidentified flying object) expert Carl Buehler wrote a letter to a ranching couple in Strathmore, California. In it, he outlined his background as a ranger in Sequoia National Park during the 1950s and noted his experience as a member of the Ground Observer Corps, a group charged with sighting and tracking unknown aircraft, prompted no doubt by the Cold War paranoia of the era. Incident at Moose Lake
But the real purpose of Buehler’s letter to Oscar and Kitty Knight was to follow up on something they had told him and to provide background and supporting evidence to their remarkable story.
Buehler told the couple how a “cigar-shaped air vehicle… appeared four days in succession and maneuvered around Moro Rock,” and that “the park superintendent phoned the Fresno National Guard Air Force and jets were scrambled.” He further pointed out how this episode was later recounted in Major Donald Keyhoe’s book, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy. Incident at Moose Lake
Buehler maintained this was around the time of “the experience you have related to me,” suggesting they had witnessed “the ‘Mother Ship’ of a number of smaller UFOs, ‘Flying Saucers’ that were sighted many times by hundreds of persons in the park, and I believe these to be of Extra-Terrestrial origin.” Incident at Moose Lake
What had Oscar and his wife Kitty told Carl Buehler? And could their story have been any more fantastic than what Carl (and many others) were already claiming had happened in the skies above Sequoia? Incident at Moose Lake
To find out, we turn to research conducted by another so-called UFO expert, one who was as responsible as anyone for the flying saucer craze of that era.
It can be said that the modern age of flying saucers began in 1947 when civilian pilot and fire extinguisher salesman Kenneth Arnold saw several disc-shaped objects in the skies near Mt. Rainier, Washington. Arnold described the movement of these objects as like “saucers skipping across water.”
Newspapers reported Arnold’s remarkable experience with the headline “Supersonic Flying Saucers Sighted by Idaho Pilot.” The term stuck. An era was born. Incident at Moose Lake
With his background in aviation and the notoriety that followed his sighting, Arnold became something of an authority on these unidentified flying objects that he himself had helped to label. From the late 1940s through the early 1960s, he travelled the western United States investigating reports of such phenomenon. Incident at Moose Lake
He did this at his own personal expense, evidence of his near obsession with the subject. Perhaps he sought to explain his own experience, to provide proof through sightings by others that he himself wasn’t crazy. Incident at Moose Lake
OSCAR KNIGHT’S TALE
Oscar Knight, upon meeting with Kenneth Arnold, told the researcher that he and his wife were “well-liked and responsible citizens” who were only now telling their story because “people have the right to know the facts and make their own interpretation.” The story he told was a whopper.
On a summer excursion, the Knights, along with another couple, Mr. and Mrs. Ken Halladay, set up camp at Wolverton Meadow. Oscar related how, while the women remained at the campsite, the “men folk adjusted their packs, checked out their fishing equipment, and then made their way” into the backcountry. Incident at Moose Lake
He and Hallady had the trail all to themselves until, after pausing near Panther Gap to admire the majestic view of the Great Western Divide, they were startled to see “a finely dressed gentleman coming down the trail.” Incident at Moose Lake
Oscar then explained to the intrepid flying saucer investigator how “the stranger was not dressed for this wild woodland setting.” He wore low-topped oxfords, a neatly pressed shirt, and an old fashioned wrap-around dress tie. He didn’t have a coat or hat or even a pack to carry food and water.
“His eyes were different from any I had ever seen. They were a clear transparent brown that one looked into, with depth. Not opaque like ours.” Incident at Moose Lake
Oscar commented it was like he was a “ghost from the nineteenth century,” who appeared out of nowhere. According to Oscar, this unusual gentleman then started asking questions in a very odd manner.
“There was courtesy in his well-modulated voice, his clipped and precise phrasing of words, cutting each word separately as he would ask ‘Gentlemen-where-are-you-going?’ ‘Gentlemen,-how-high-is-that-peak?’ It was as if he had recently learned our language.”
Oscar noted that following this odd trailside encounter, he and Halladay hiked on, but their minds were “searching for answers as to whom our meeting had been with.” Little did they know that a deeper mystery would come to light.
BLOBS OF LIGHT
Their hike that day took them to the north rim of rugged Buck Creek canyon, a precipice just south of Moose Lake. It was there they finally laid down their packs as the shadows were creeping in to warn of night’s approach.
In view to the east, far across the deep chasm, was the towering Triple Divide Peak, catching the last dying glow of daylight. Before long, darkness.
“Suddenly, five or six moving blobs of light rose up… and near these a long string of softly glowing lights,” Oscar recounted. “They appeared as if they were coming from some sort of portholes. The smaller lights came to rest on the big rock surface; while the huge object, which I estimated to be about a quarter of a mile long, began to very slowly rise up to a point up the shoulder of the peak. And there it stopped!”
They judged the lights to be about a mile distant. When they eventually climbed into their sleeping bags, the lights were still in the canyon, but had not further approached and so they were finally able to go to sleep, at an utter loss for words, wondering what they had seen.
The next morning, they saw no evidence of anything strange in the region below them. They didn’t catch any fish on that trip. But little did they care. All they could think about was the appearance of the oddly dressed gentleman and the phosphorous blobs of light. Incident at Moose Lake
On their way back down the trail to rejoin their wives at Wolverton Meadow, the story took an even stranger turn. Incident at Moose Lake
COMES A HORSEMAN
“On our way back, our astonishment could not have been greater, for whom were we to see in almost the same spot, but our genial friend, coming up the trail, this time on a horse!”
Oscar recounted the conversation that ensued. He and Halladay asked the stranger if he had climbed Alta Peak. He replied in his odd, clipped manner “Yes,-gentlemen,-I-climbed-it-yesterday.”
They also took notice of the apparently awkward, though gentle manner the stranger had with his horse. Incident at Moose Lake
Oscar then dropped a bombshell in recounting his tale. He noted that when asked his name, the mysterious stranger replied “You-can-call-me-Arthur.”
Oscar then claimed that before he could then ask where he was from, “I received an impression in my mind, as if by thought transference, that he was from the planet we know as Venus. When I asked him what he was doing here, he said that he and his friends often visit this canyon, as well as other wilderness spots on earth. ‘The-seclusion-of-this-area-makes-it-an-ideal-place.’”
At this point, one can imagine even flying saucer expert Kenneth Arnold becoming a bit skeptical of this story. Incident at Moose Lake
“I really want to believe you,” he told Oscar. “If only I could speak to a Venusian, face-to-face, then I, too, would be convinced of what you have told me this day.”
I think we can all share that sentiment. The story is beyond fanciful. Perhaps Oscar really did encounter an oddly dressed, peculiar gentleman on the trail to Moose Lake. Any experienced hiker knows it’s not uncommon to meet odd people along the trail. Incident at Moose Lake
And we can certainly imagine that Oscar and his fishing companion really did see strange, unexplainable lights emanating from deep in the high country canyon. After all, similar lights had only recently made headlines. Even the park superintendent was among those who had witnessed this phenomenon. Incident at Moose Lake
More recently, the friend who first sent me the account of this story himself recalled about 15 years back, “sitting in our Thermarest chairs looking out towards Black Kaweah and the Kaweah range, when all of the sudden the entire range was lit up in red for about five seconds. It was stunning.”
So seeing strange lights in Sequoia’s backcountry isn’t unprecedented. It happened in the 1950s, and it happens these days, too.Incident at Moose Lake
But being told telepathically that this stranger is from Venus? That part I just don’t buy.
But maybe, just maybe, this extraterrestrial tourist said (telepathically) Venus because he didn’t want to try and explain where Proxima Centauri b, or some-such distant planet, was located.
And this is just one of so many stories of high strangeness to be told in future installments of Sierra Paranormal… stories that might be hard to believe but impossible to ignore.