By Jim Miles
While a single visit to Vidalia will convince travelers that the onion is truly a god there, in the early 1990s a phenomenon persisted which caused residents to raise their eyes from the rich soil and gaze into the heavens.
UFOs Arrive Over Vidalia in the Early 1900
It started with a roar one night in mid February, 1991, when a woman sighted four UFOs. Each craft, measuring 22 feet in diameter, had red and white flashing lights and hovered soundlessly at 800 feet. She summoned police officers to a Wal-Mart near the airport, but they saw nothing. However, Gerry Richardson, disc jockey at radio station WVOP, fielded over 20 UFO sighting reports. The elusive craft had apparently left Wal-Mart for the communities of Uvalda and Charlotte. In neighboring Montgomery County a caller reported observing two UFOs heading for Hazlehurst and two flying back toward Vidalia.
Vidalia Police Lieutenant Paige McNeese drove to the airport where he witnessed what he thought were two high flying airplanes. While he watched, a third craft raced through the night sky at a high rate of speed. He considered it another airplane, but admitted, “it was probably the fastest airplane I have ever seen in my life.”
It was obviously sweeps week in Atlanta, for TV stations WXIA Channel 11 and WAGA Channel 5 sent a van and helicopter, respectively.
The UFO circus had actually started in Vidalia three weeks earlier when Ricky Monroe, a 31-year old minister and UFO investigator, informed the Vidalia Advance that unidentified objects had followed him. He saw another over the Vidalia Post Office. The newspaper had investigated UFO “photos” Monroe claimed to possess, but found they were line drawings.
Monroe continued to be a controversial character in Toombs County, which he described “as a hot spot for UFOs.” A year later he claimed to have had 13 sightings of UFOs, including one that landed in a Montgomery County field planted with pine seedlings, which commenced to grow at a greatly accelerated rate. Ricky and wife Amanda said UFOs danced in the sky, took soil and water samples, and shot red lasers at cars. They also believed that “shape-shifters” were operating in the area.
Asked the motivation of the aliens, Monroe thought they might have been monitoring area military installations or taking power from Plant Hatch, a nuclear powered electricity generating facility located 20 miles away.
In June, 1992, Monroe claimed that an alien named Altrex materialized in his living room and took him aboard a UFO “scout ship.” Monroe was flown to Florida, where an underground installation was toured. Another secret base, located in southeast Georgia, was examined during the three and a half-hour expedition. The aliens told him that there were 70 different species of aliens currently living on earth.
Another year passed before Vidalia was struck by a new wave of UFO sightings. In a four-hour period one night in March 1993 over 50 reports were reported to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), a prominent organization that investigates the UFO phenomenon. Monroe served as its local director.
WVOP also received many sighting reports. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said program director Ed Johnson. “This” included flying discs, some complete with aliens peering out, and streaks of light.
“They’ve come in all shapes and sizes,” Monroe stated. “We have sightings of triangular shapes, the classic disk shape with a dome top, cigar-shaped, every shape imaginable.”
MUFON State Director Christopher Early made a visit to Toombs, but admitted, “What I saw was mainly airplanes.”
As to why UFOs might be attracted to Toombs County, Early suggested: “A lot of people think it’s the minerals there in the earth. UFOs like remote places and it seems the minerals below the surface are what attracts them.”
However, he refrained from ridiculing Monroe’s story. “There are certain people, they’re selected, for the contactee experience,” he said. “I don’t know why.” He noted that the “real problem is ridicule. It puts you in a vulnerable position. People think you’re nuts.”
While addressing a MUFON meeting on Tybee Island in early June 1992 Monroe explained that he had spotted his first UFO at age 17 while bicycling down a Vidalia road. The object, seen in broad daylight, was a metallic cylinder approximately 50 feet long and hovering 100 feet in the sky. Monroe described the encounter to his parents, who dismissed it as teenage imagination.
Monroe let the matter drop until November 1990 when he spotted a second UFO. He contacted the Vidalia Advance, but they refused to report the incident because Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah had not registered the object on radar. Because of this experience Monroe joined MUFON.
From Weird Georgia (Cumberland House, 2000).
Jim Miles is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at email@example.com