|The North Newark UFO Case:
Anatomy of a Journalistic Investigation
John Gonzalez's mother did not see the lights or the object. "I was
sitting in my chair reading and I had the TV on," says Mrs. Gonzalez.
"I thought it was an explosion. The house shook. My lights kept
blinking on and off. The TV went off. I said to John, 'Was that an
explosion?' He said, 'I don't know.' I didn't go out till later on,
when my neighbors all came out. There were five of them. The police and
fire department was there too."
A few miles away in the center of Newark, a ham-radio operator and auto
parts salesman experienced some unusual radio interference at the same
time as Gonzalez. "I was on the air at home," recalls Ruben Echevarria,
"and all of a sudden I hear a funny noise. We hear all kinds of strange
atmospheric noises on the air. But that evening it was a noise that I
never heard before, and I've been licensed since 1978. I picked it up
on my scanner on my radio. It was a warbling static kind of noise. John
told me to look out the window because he thought the thing was coming
my way, but I didn't do it. I'm a little skeptical about these things.
But this was one strange night. It really was."
Several other ham-radio operators were also involved in the incident,
including two in Manhattan. One was Tom Verdell, a Manhattan dentist
nearing retirement. He lives on the 23rd floor of a high rise on the
west side of the city and can see aircraft landing at Newark airport.
"We were just chewing the fat," he recalls, "then John told us these
things were happening to him. All of a sudden there was this strange
interference on the air. Something I've never really experienced
before. I do a little private flying, a bit of two-way communication
with other aircraft and tower and what not, and being a ham radio
operator for 11 years, I'm used to certain types of interference, but
this was really weird. All of a sudden everything just went out. Total
silence. It lasted about 5 minutes. But it was different than any
silence you ever hear on the air. You couldn't even hear the background
noises you usually hear. But my radio was not off. It happened to
everybody at the same time. The whole evening was strange."
The other Manhattan ham-radio operator did not experience this
interference. "l didn't witness anything personally," says Percy Jones,
the bass player for the group Brand X, "but I was talking to a group of
other people who were experiencing things. There are a group of us who
speak on 10 meters late in the evening on all topics. So when I came
on, John in Newark was saying that something had just struck his
antenna mast. I think he said he just visually saw the tail end of
something disappearing. He was describing all this to the rest of the
people who were on that net. Everybody was getting very excited."
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