On July 4th, 1970, my family and I attended a family reunion at my grandmother's home in Zephyrhills, Florida. After dinner, the kids were sent outside to play.Grandmother's home sat on five wooded acres off Chancey Road. It was just barely dark enough to play kick - the - can. There were the 7 of us cousins, plus my aunt and a friend ( who was a year older than I). Someone in the group, I cannot recall which of us, pointed out a very bright light approaching from the southeast. We thought it might be a helicopter out of MacDill AFB because it was flying very low to the ground and slower than an airplane. (Back note : both my Dad and Grandfather were Air Force Veterans. We were familiar with both airplanes and helicopters). We stopped playing to watch the light. It was very bright, moving just above treetop level. I thought to myself that it must be a HUGE helicopter, until it came to a halt right above a neighbor's barn. That's when we kids began exclaiming over it, because a helicopter would've been audible at that distance. We all walked to the road, out of the trees to get a better look. This put us within 200 feet of the craft. I could see an oval, metallic shape, with a bright light at the bottom central area. A beam shot down, illuminating the barn and yard. The neighbor girl was very upset - it was hovering over her yard and barn. I asked out loud " What IS that?" One of my cousins said she was scared and began crying. I wasn't cared, exactly. More like filled with a frightening awe. We stood there, in the dark, watching this craft for about ten minutes. Suddenly, the craft SHOT up - straight up - at an incredible speed - like a rocket. It was out of sight in a few seconds. My sister said "Nobody's going to believe us." But we all ran inside nonetheless, yelling and screaming, to tell our parents. They DIDN'T believe us. Four of went back outside, I think in the hope we'd see another one. (This was about fifteen minutes later.) Off in the distance I heard that distinctive whop-whop of a helicopter getting closer and I remember us kids said to each other 'Now THAT is a helicopter." Then we heard a second helicopter. They also came out of the southwest, also flying just above treetops, so we heard them long before we saw them. Both had searchlights on, scanning the ground. I was, strangely, more frightened of the helicopters - what they meant just being there - than of the craft I'd seen earlier. Nervously, we all ran back inside. None of us kids talked about what we'd seen. It was obvious no one would believe us. So, I kept quiet about what I'd witnessed when I was twelve years old.
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PA Media December 26, 2021