Sep 02, 2015 I Micah Hanks

What Was This Massive, Eerie UFO Seen Over the North Pacific?

Among the various recollections of encounters with unexplained aerial phenomena (UAP) that have been presented over the years, perhaps some of the most compelling, and interesting, are those told by members of active or former members of military and other official agencies. Though a general air of “secrecy” is often appended to such circumstances within the UFO literature, often the witnesses to such events are as intrigued or confused by what they have seen, or perhaps as frightened by it as the average civilian.

Nonetheless, the knowledge of various aircraft and other official operations these individuals have may, at times, grant them certain potential advantages in their assessment of the circumstances, which the average civilian observer may be lacking. Thus, one of the most compelling descriptions of UAP to have been personally shared with me came to my attention in the Autumn of 2009, when a man named Steven told me a story that has truly stood out among other similar reports I've received.

Johnston Island 570x324
Johnston Island

His story began in the summer of 1988, when he had been stationed on an atoll in the North Pacific called Johnston Island. This location had served previously in a variety of US Air Force operations, which included being the launch site for the first operational ballistic missile in the United States arsenal, the PGM-17 Thor. This had been one of three missiles the Air Force used to launch live nuclear weapons during tests conducted in the early 1960s.

“There was a small security force of military police out there, along with a lot of civilians,” Steven told me, noting that there had been approximately 1,000 people total on the island while he was stationed there, comprised of Army and Air Force military personnel.

“We did anywhere between 12 and 24 hour shifts out there, and I was a downrange Security Police Officer for the Army-Military Police Corps. We saw a lot of strange things out there.”

One morning in July of 1988, Steven and a small group of other officers were coming back from a 24-hour shift on the downrange area of the island, which at the time housed a maximum-security prison. As the party drove eastbound, at some point one of the officers noticed a small, metallic sphere-shaped object in the sky above them, which appeared to be drifting slightly to the north.

Anyone attempting to fly into the airspace above would easily be spotted on surface or air radar, and Steven and the others knew that anything appearing out-of-the-ordinary was to be reported to their superiors; if a situation ever became a matter of defense, they could rely on the support of both the Navy and the Air Force present on the island. Steven and his crew began communicating with others on the island via radio, and were told that radar operators were unable to spot the object.

“Alpha One jumped on the radio,” Steven told me, “and says he’s got a two-star sitting there. He told us we’d better find this thing because the two of them were looking at it also.” In other words, the Base Commander on duty had apparently been entertaining a two-star retired general that morning at his house on the island, and while breakfasting on the Commander’s outdoor deck, had also observed the object.


Steven and his crew watched as the object began to descend slowly, during which time no sounds appeared to be associated with the object.

In Steven’s own words:

“The object got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. The best way I can describe it to you is if you were standing underneath a piece of glass—a large piece of glass—and someone had a bottle of black ink, and they poured it slowly onto the glass you were standing underneath. That’s what this thing ended up looking like. As the light got brighter, this thing got blacker, and bigger. When you live on [an island] that’s two miles long, you really start to appreciate the size of things.”

Steven and the others were growing concerned that the massive object above them may have actually been attempting to land on the island. However, with the object being so large, this would have presented obvious problems for all of the personnel gathered below, which had grown from being Steven and his small group, to a number of individuals around the base. As the object loomed overhead, radio communications fell silent, and Steven described the eerie silence as he and the others stationed on the island watched the phantom aircraft above them in silence.

As the object filled the sky above them, Steven also said there was a nearly palpable scent that filled the air as the object descended. “You could almost taste it. The best thing I could use to describe it would be like if you were in your shower with salty, steamy water vapor that was ionized; I could smell the ozone like when you electrocute something, or when something burns and shorts out.”

As Steven and the others described watching this enormous object, the unthinkable then occurred, just as the sun rose over the horizon in the distance:

“Then, if this wasn’t weird enough already, the moment the sun cracked the horizon, this thing vanished. And I don’t mean it flew away; I don’t mean it went left or right. This thing just wasn’t there anymore!” Steven said that according to the Coast Guard Station who provided weather for the island, the cloud deck was at 10,000 feet that morning. “We could see the cloud deck behind it where we couldn’t see anything before. The shadow that had been over the island was no longer there, either. This thing didn’t fly anywhere else. It just went… it disappeared.

Steven was adamant that the object he observed had not been any apparent mirage or trick of light, and that all who observed it felt that a real, tangible craft of some kind had been descending over the island that morning.

He concluded that the object, apparently some variety of aircraft capable of advanced cloaking technology, may have experienced a malfunction that allowed he and the others to see it:

“The thing I really want to say about this is that I think all technology—no matter how advanced—that is built by any being, entity, or anything with some degree of intelligence, has its limitations and the potential for failure. And I think that whatever this thing was—whatever “they” are—I think we witnessed a malfunction. I think something went wrong with this thing’s technology for a moment, and it was at the wrong time at the wrong place for itself, and the right time and the right place for us. It’s a wild assumption—as wild as the story itself—but I think we actually witnessed a malfunction of something’s technology, and if you think about it, even if they’re a million years ahead of us, at some point things break, or mistakes are made, so I really think we were at the right place and the right time to see this. They are out there, and they’re huge. Some of these things are enormous.”

What was the aircraft Steven and the others observed, and had its presence that morning in July of 1988 indicated an interest it, or perhaps its occupants, had with regard to the location of Johnston Atoll? Or, had the strange appearance, and subsequent vanishing act, merely been a case of “right place at the right time”?

Regardless of the questions that remain, Steven’s story represents what is perhaps one of the very strangest among purported UFO incidents that this author has encountered. As I usually make a habit of doing, I invite any Mysterious Universe readers with similar stories to email me about them if you like. 

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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