Tuesday, November 25, 2008

UFO Sighting Resolved by TARS Blimp (But the story just keeps getting spookier)

Yesterday, I took a day trip with my dogs to Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge. When the park was getting ready to close I drove back to Fort Davis and decided to take the "scenic route" out highway 166 to Valentine. After dallying around at the road side park, playing with the dogs on top of and around huge boulders, I started taking pictures of the sunset.

Once I got down the road, I stopped to snap the picture above when I noticed something just hanging in the air [the black spot hanging there in the valley between the mountains. Click-on the picture for a better view on Flickr].

There have been lots and lots of UFO sightings out here, an area of West Texas that is south of Roswell, New Mexico, and down on the Mexican border. As you can imagine, I got very excited. Words cannot describe the wonder at what I saw. I began taking pictures. [To the left is an enhanced photo of what I saw. ]

I've uploaded some of the pictures as a set and placed them on my Flickr Site.

It was getting dark and, while taking photos, another motorist stopped to make sure I was okay. I pointed to what I was photographing and asked him if he had a clue about what it might be. He chuckled and explained that it was "the blimp."

Explaining further, he said that it was TARS -- The U.S. Air Force Tethered Aerostat Radar System nearby and he gave me directions for a closer shoot. He explained that the blimp could "take a picture of a bug on your shoulder from several miles out," -- that it was used to aide the U.S. Border Patrol in spotting migrating workers traveling at night and/or drug planes flying in from Mexico; and that they even restricted air space for the entire area nearby.

Well that was that. Or so I thought.

Bobby, an "A-1 Mechanic"

I admitted to my helpful new acquaintance that I was disappointed. I thought I had sighted a UFO and he spoiled my fun by identifying this ominous looking flying object as "the TARS Blimp." But he wasn't finished; he related a UFO story of his own.

Bobby's UFO Story: He said that he was traveling down Texas-166 on his way home on the evening of November 22, 2008, this past Saturday night, when out of the blue...
"Something pulled along side of me. It had two really bright lights shinning through my widow at me. So I sped up trying to outrun it but it stayed right there with me for several minutes. My car will do 200-mph with the chip I installed and I was doing over 130-mph when it suddenly disappeared. I guess I outran it."
Bobby's Souped-Up Chrysler V-16 with "chip" installed

Woahhh! I think I might have looked for an underpass instead. I asked him if it looked like a remote controlled "drone," a small "unmanned aerial vehicle" (UAV) used by the U.S. military to provide surveillance and intelligence data, as well as to launch missiles at suspected Taliban strongholds in western Pakistan. I was surmising that he might have seen an Air Force drone associated with TARS, dispatched to check him out since he described his souped-up engine as having the ability to achieve speeds up to 200-mph on the desert highways of West Texas. He found that interesting theory but said he couldn't identify the object flying beside him because he had been blinded by its lights shining in on him through his window.

The young mechanic gave me directions from Texas-166 to the location of the TARS site on U.S. Highway 90, about 20-miles west of Marfa close to the Texas-Mexican border where I set up at a picnic area close by and got a picture of the underbelly of the beast -- three blinking red lights on a helium-filled blimp. Admittedly, a not very impressive photo. I also got photos of the TARS site entrance just so that I could get the spelling right from the posted signage. :>) The lights in the background of the photo below represent the compound itself, about a nine-square block area (3-blocks x 3-blocks) with rows of buildings all set up to feed migrant workers into the private prison industry). I could not tell if there was a small associated landing strip for UAVs.

United States Air Force Tethered Aerostat Radar Site

Then I drove on into Marfa, home of the other famous "Marfa Lights," and stopped at the Dairy Queen for a bite to eat. There were four TDPS troopers inside taking their evening lunch break and watching the LSU-Ol' Miss game on the big screen TV.

Sitting down at the table next to them, I told them my humorous story of mistaking "the TARS blimp" for a UFO (it was "unidentified" to me at the time, anyway). Of course, they got a big kick out of that and the story I related to them about Bobby's UFO sighting flying down the highway alongside him. I asked them what they made of Bobby's story.

One of the troopers stated humorously, "Yea? He was drunk is what he was!" We all got a big laugh out of that. Unsurprisingly, the tall young trooper added, "I was out there that night; he's lucky I didn't catch him running at 130-mph!"

That said it all! With that comment, the trooper had ruled-out the possibility that Bobby had been pursued by a Texas State Trooper and had simply outrun him not knowing what was after him. (Unless the young trooper has Alzheimer's.) After all, it was his beat.

So I related my theory that an "unmanned aerial vehicle" had been dispatched from the TARS compound to surveil him as a possible drug runner, due to his hot-rodding through the Chihuahuan Desert. The same trooper who had expressed incredulity at the entire story said, "No way; they don't have any drones out there." I then double-checked asking, "You work these highway so I guess you'd know?" "Absolutely," he responded. No UAVs.

That was the end of that. Or was it? I'm still puzzled and until I can get back down there during the day to interview someone at the TARS compound I'll never be convinced that the U.S. Military is not using "UAV spy technology" on American citizens in cooperation with local law enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Notwithstanding the Posse Comitatus Act or the now infamous regulations restricting the use of surveillance systems on U.S. citizens without a warrant [see the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy], even if their excuse is that they thought Bobby was a drug runner, it's a spooky notion (pardon the pun) to think that the U.S. military may be out tracking down and spooking drivers on America's highways.

At any rate, one wonders whether or not policies exist covering such maverick activities regarding the possible surveillance of U.S. roadway traffic at such close quarters by the U.S. Air Force. Accidents will happen, unless Murphy's Law has been rescinded or otherwise trumped by an Act of God exclusion clause by insurance companies -- some of these UAVs are armed.

When I was Bobby's age, I was in a bass boat fishing in a cove on Lake Sam Rayburn in East Texas when a young Air Force pilot in training buzzed me, apparently just for kicks. He was riding along the treetops over the Piney Woods before he came scorching in over my head. I could have scratched his underbelly. I was so startled that I chipped a tooth and later lost it. In fact, I almost fell out of the boat. If this story pans out like I expect it to, it will reinforce the opinion of many West Texans that the only "terrorists" along our borders are the cowboys in the U.S. Military and Border Patrol.

Otherwise, we've had yet another UFO sighting in West Texas.

Tethered Aerostat Radar System
U.S. Air Force Photo

This story has been cross-posted to my blog at Open Salon:
Southern Perspectives


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