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Cloverdale UAP Project: Investigating the “Spooklights” UFO phenomenon in Alabama

Most ufologists are keenly aware of the frequent reports of what people often refer to as “orbs” which lacks much clarity. The term is often used to describe objects that turn out to be everything from Chinese lanterns, to ball plasma, and even navigation lights on aircraft. The term is also used to describe lens flares created from pointing cameras towards a bright light source, an out of focus light, and is also a dust particle that floats in front of a camera with a bright light seen in ghost investigations.

There exists another class of objects that science has yet to fully explain which seem to be a naturally recurring phenomena that are seen in certain geographic areas with increased frequencies (almost nightly) than the objects previously mentioned. In 1973, Piedmont, Missouri experienced a rash of sightings of luminous phenomena and documented by Dr. Harley Rutledge in his book, Project Identification. Dr. Rutledge had a team conduct a field study over a period of years, capturing scientific data, video and photographic evidence in the hopes of learning more about its nature. His summary report of these lights are consistent with other observations in other areas.

Spooklights Book CoverMissouri was not the only location that experienced this phenomena in 1973. In Cloverdale, Alabama, a small town located in the northwestern part of Alabama, similar lights were being seen almost nightly and appeared to be balls of luminous lights of varying colors. Residents saw these objects so frequently that they just ignore them – “it’s those dang lights again”. The Cloverdale phenomena continues to appear even today. Wyatt Cox, a former native of the area, now residing in South Carolina has documented and classified many hundreds of sightings that him a friend observed in his book, Spooklights, The Amazing Cloverdale, Alabama Spooklight Mystery.

Wyatt has done an excellent job in creating a classification system for the variations seen (e.g., colors tend to be blue, yellow/orange, white). The lights vary in size, speed and duration based on the colors noted. White lights are generally seen during warmer months, where yellow/orange lights tend to be seen during cooler months (October through April). The Spooklights, now referred to as “Earthlights” by Wyatt, tend to be 8 foot in diameter (the blue and white ones are 2-4 feet in diameter), travel in straight line paths (east to west or reversed), and can be at ground level and rise to altitudes of several thousand feet. They move at 20 mph, but can also stop and then proceed in their path. The lights can go out and then come back on as they proceed on their path and they generally disappear by fading out.

Wyatt Cox
Wyatt Cox

Every serious UFO researcher and field investigator needs to get a copy of the books mentioned here along with the works of William Corliss on Luminous Phenomena. Corliss has done an excellent job of categorizing, referencing and even illustrating the myriads of types of luminous phenomena observed on the earth. Both Corliss as well as Cox see these objects as naturally occurring phenomena, not alien spacecraft. They are very similar to the lights in Hessdalen, Norway, the Marfa Lights, the Paulding Lights, Crossett Lights, Gurdon Lights and dozens of other areas around the globe and it this author’s opinion that it can explain a vast number of UFO sightings even outside of these geographic areas reported by witnesses as “orbs”.

One of many time-lapsed photos of an Earthlight.
One of many time-lapsed photos of an Earthlight.

Similar to the field study conducted by Dr. Rutledge, a scientific field investigation is being planned for the Cloverdale area this fall. We are seeking to secure the best equipment possible (spectroscopes, gravimeters, magnetometers, cameras capturing images in multiple parts of the EM spectrum, and other data collection tools) along with trained users of that equipment to see what we can learn. Plans include the possible use of a drone to see if we can get close-ups of the lights, equipped with sensors. The outcome will be to deliver a report on our findings and sharing our data collected. We have already begun collecting geological data, earthquake zone data, and weather data for the area.

For further information or interest in the study, please contact this author by writing him at ufoxprt@gmail.com.


Richard Hoffman

Richard Hoffman is an IT professional who has researched the UFO phenomenon since 1964, when he was in the eighth grade. Formerly the Alabama and Mississippi state director for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), as well as their Director for Strategic Projects, Rich is now a researcher with the Scientific Coalition for Ufology.

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  1. Dear Terry the censor. I know you are seeking to provide us with some brilliance here, but if you read the literature mentioned above; knew that the camera was stabilized on a tripod, and there are multiple phenomena that were recorded doing the same thing; and that the team took pictures of aircraft to compare against, you might have made a more intelligent guess based on better information than looking at just this one photo.

  2. I have observed UFO’s on three occasions. (I may have observed other such occurrences but they were not obviously UFOs.
    1. Phoenix lights
    Lights skimmed beneath a cloud (North of Apache Junction) for about 15 minutes – shooting from side to side in all directions but not leaving the parameters of the cloud. Then – it just stopped…. paused…. and then shot up through the cloud (and into space?). I never saw it after it suddenly shot through the cloud so I imagine that it went into space.
    3. Cottonwood Arizona (2005). two blinking lights sat overhead and blinked on and off randomly for over 15 minutes or more – went blank for a few minutes and then started over again just a bit more to the north than the earlier position. THEN – nothing. Haven’t seen them since.

  3. My nephew and I saw this exact thing at Allegheny State Park camping this last summer. It was as if the sky was was a massive piece of black paper and a pen was writing on it with a tip of white light. My nephew asked me what it was and I said it must be some sort of upper atmospheric light phenomenon. It was amazing.

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