Gather ’round and I’ll tell you the tale of a midnight disturbance in J.T.-vale.
Well, technically it wasn’t quite midnight – more like 11:30pm. I was lying in bed trying to drift off to sleep, when from outside my window came the unmistakable hum of an aircraft. Big deal, you say. Considering how busy the skies are, there’s bound to be something flying at night. And right you are. But this aircraft sounded unlike any other one I’d heard in my life.
It wasn’t the boom of a jet, the chop of a helicopter, the whine of a Cessna, the rhythmic droning of a propeller plane, or the sputtering of an older model. It was a hum, low and even and strong. If it had propellers, I couldn’t hear them. Judging by the sound, I placed the aircraft somewhere above the treetops but not as high as helicopters typically fly.
(A good approximation of what it sounded like can be found in this track from Minecraft, at 0:02-0:08 and again from 0:12-0:23. Cut out some of the “bell” sounds and maybe switch the note to D.)
I slipped out of bed, donned some frayed slippers, and stepped out into the cool damp night. I didn’t take a flashlight or phone. The sky was stippled with stars and a few wispy clouds. Clear enough to see whatever was up there. The night was deathly quiet, save for the hum of the plane – even the crickets and neighborhood dogs had gone silent. Since my house lay at the bottom of a valley, bordered by trees on three sides, I ran up the hilltop to get a better view.
At first I didn’t see anything, but then – a piece of night sky detached itself from the darkness on my left and moved across my field of vision, not too far above the treetops. The hum grew louder, but I couldn’t see the routine flashing lights of a helicopter or passenger jet. Instead, it was almost as if the hull of the aircraft had been patterned to look like the stars around it (though it was slightly darker than the surrounding sky, so one could still make out its form). I stood on the hilltop and watched it for a few seconds. The aircraft passed over the treetops and out of sight, the hum receding into the distance with it.
Needless to say, I spent the remainder of the night scratching my head as to what I’d just seen.
The town of M.—, especially its rural quarters, is no stranger to odd aerial occurrences. In my 10+ years of living here, biplanes, triplanes, police helicopters, Ospreys, fighter jets, the ISS, blimps, and gliders have all graced the skies. I’ve watched jets flying in pairs behind my house and a police copter shine its spotlight onto a nearby cornfield at night, presumably looking for marijuana. In 2015, a WWII-era B-17 bomber was spotted flying over a residential area, and the local paper even wrote a story about it (the relic was being flown to a new hangar). Weirdest of all was an occurrence in April of this year: I was sitting in my room when a plane passed low over the house (unseen; sounded large, maybe smth. with four propellers), and at that very moment, my desktop, laptop, and cell phone all crashed/shut off. The two computers restarted once the plane was gone; I turned my phone on manually. (Coincidence?)
However, I’d never encountered a plane that sounded or looked like this before.
My explanation for what the strange aircraft might have been is twofold. First, there’s a small, privately-owned dirt airstrip on the south side of town. On clear days there’s a lot of activity, and people gather to watch Cessnas and biplanes take off. The aforementioned triplane uses this strip too. So the idea that the night-craft was a local enthusiast making a test flight with their new plane doesn’t seem too farfetched. However, the airstrip is small, and it doesn’t seem like it’s meant to handle planes as large as the mystery craft I saw. Why would a local enthusiast, even a wealthy one, want to buy such a large, complicated plane? Why would they fly it so late at night, and why would they want a hull and lights patterned to look like stars?
Hence I also suspect the night-craft might be of military origin. There is an Air Force base in my state, but it’s far to the northeast. I have seen jets and Ospreys pass over my house, but only during the day. Maybe the night-craft was an experimental/recon plane? That would explain everything from the strange noise and starry patterns to the need to fly it at night. But the presence of a weird military plane in little old M.— raises more questions than it answers…
So, what do you think I saw last night, readers? I’m not very knowledgeable about planes, but maybe one of you is. What kind of aircraft was it? Where might it have come from? And is there something amiss in M.—?