Throughout the UFO field there have long been certain figures who have served to flutter around to be much discussed and debated. These individuals have managed, for whatever reasons, to draw to them all manner of speculation and discussion, while remaining firmly past our ability to get to any true answers. One of these is certainly a humble man who would have a series of outlandish encounters that has managed to put both him and his city on the UFO map.
It all started in November of 1987, in the sleepy town of Gulf Breeze, Florida. On the evening of November 11, a local building contractor by the name of Ed Walters was at home when he allegedly was surprised by a bright light that seemed to be coming from right out in his front yard. Curious as to what this could be, he ventured outside and claims that he could see that whatever was creating the mysterious illumination seemed to be behind a stand of trees not too far away. He crept closer to the source of the light, and as he did, he could see that it was an enormous, top-shaped craft of some sort, with portholes and rectangular windows along its sides. On its bottom was a blue ring, and it was from this ring that the light was emanating like a giant neon light.
Amazingly, Walters had the presence of mind to go get a camera from his house, after which he began snapping pictures of it. Whatever the strange craft was it did not seem to like having its picture taken, as it purportedly then approached the startled Walters and shot a blue beam at him, even as a voice boomed in his head that he would not be harmed. This telepathic presence then began beaming myriad images into his head, including those of dogs, a woman holding a baby, naked women, and all manner of other surreal scenes like something out of a twisted dream. Walters would then lose consciousness and wake up some time later with the UFO now gone. He had the impression that the blue beam had knocked him out, and luckily when he checked his camera he found that he had managed to capture some photos of it. He would take these photos to the local newspaper, The Gulf Breeze Sentinel, and when they hit the news the whole bizarre story was the talk of the town, all fueled by the paper’s sensationalist retelling of the tale. Walters then tried to put it behind him, but it seems the aliens were not done with him by a long shot.
Walters began to have frequent sightings of UFOs, claiming that there were more than one of them, sometimes managing to take pictures of them, and he would also say that the blue beams would often hit him to send more baffling images into his mind and typically knock him down to leave him unconscious. On December 2, he claims that he finally saw the occupants of the craft, when in the early morning hours he spied a small, 4-foot high humanoid creature standing outside his house, dressed in what seemed to be metal plates and a helmet with a slit to look through, the whole of it akin to some sort of blocky, bulky armor, giving the entity a somewhat robotic look. Upon realizing it had been spotted, the strange being ran away with Walters in hot pursuit, but he would be stopped dead in his tracks by a blue beam that paralyzed him and sent him sprawling to the ground. When he regained control of his body, he saw another blue beam off in the distance and then one of the alien craft ascend over the trees to shoot off into the night. While he was able to get a picture of the UFO as it left, he unfortunately he was unable to get a picture of the being, although he would later make a sketch of it.
Over the course of the coming months, Walters claimed to be constantly followed around by the UFOs and those odd little robotic entities, which seemed to be harassing him and his family. Indeed, among the many photos he took of his ordeal, one of them shows his wife running away from one of the blue beams in terror. On another occasion he claimed that he had been nearly run off the road by one of the UFOs appearing and shooting its blue beam at his car. According to Walters, they would have at least 20 separate incidents involving either the UFOs or those aliens, and they apparently once even once landed on the lawn to leave a cone shaped impression and on another occasion one dropped some sort of liquid on the house for reasons unknown. In the meantime, there were reports from other locals who also claimed to have seen the UFOs, and it was becoming a bit of a minor hysteria at the time, propelled by numerous sensational headlines. In fact, during a six-month period, 135 people reported 80 different sightings in the area, quite a few of them reliable witnesses, such as pathologist Fenner McConnell and city councilwoman Brenda Pollak. This would all go on until July of 1988, after which whatever these things were seem to have either finished their mission or gotten bored of terrorizing this little town, and they left.
Walters had taken quite a few photographs of the objects, a total of thirty seven clear, high-quality photographs, and he also was extensively interviewed by those who considered him to be a reliable witness, he passed two separate lie detector tests, and also passed a mental evaluation with flying colors, which only served to further boost the apparent credibility of the weird case. Before long it was being touted by many ufologists as one of the most amazing and important UFO cases in history, but Walters and his photographs were also the focus of much scrutiny and skepticism. One of the main blows to his believability came after Walters moved away and the new owner of the house found in the attic a model of a UFO made of Styrofoam, cardboard, paper and tinted plastic gel, measuring 9 inches long across the top and 5 inches deep. It also looked suspiciously like the UFO in Walters’ photographs. In fact, it looked so much like the alleged alien craft in Walters’ photos, that a reporter with Pensacola News Journal by the name of Craig Myers was able to nearly perfectly replicate the photos by using the model and double exposures. For his part, Walters would insist that the model UFO had been planted there to discredit him, and that he would have never left something like that behind at the house.
None of this was helped by the rumors from a local teenager who claimed that Walters had approached him to be the one to come forward with the photos and that it had all been staged and a practical joke that got out of hand. He even produced a photograph that looked nearly identical to the ones Walters had taken to back his story up. Walters of course denied it, and none of this stopped him from writing a book on his experiences at Gulf Breeze. The skeptics say that he did it all of this for money and fame and his book, that it is all an elaborate hoax, with the photographs created using models and photographic trickery such as double exposures and photographing the images as a reflection in glass. Others have said that it might have been experimental aircraft from the nearby military base. Yet, the fact remains that hundreds of people also claimed to have seen strange things during the same time period, and there are those who still believe that the photos are the real deal. UFO researcher and physicist Bruce Maccabee has said of this:
I think they're real. I think the model is a hoax. Hoax squared. You had politicians reporting seeing objects. We still get reports of interesting stuff in the area. And in 1987, you had hundreds of people besides Walters reporting sightings. It's always been an interesting area. There were so many sightings that you have to account for, unless you believe there was massive collusion on the part of the residents of Gulf Breeze and Pensacola.
Gulf Breeze has continued to be a hotbed of UFO activity, and we are left to wonder just what happened to Ed Walters. Was this something truly otherworldly? Or was it just a charlatan who sparked a huge urban legend that persists to this day? No matter what one may think, the Gulf Breeze incident has managed to be discussed and debated to this day, and has still not been conclusively resolved.