It wasn't your typical Tuesday morning for Memphis police officers Lamar Todd and Jerry Jeter. Around 3:30 a.m., on May 17, 1977, the two men emerged from their unmarked surveillance van to get a better look at the enormous object hovering in the dark, early-morning sky above the Pine Hill Golf Course. It was shaped like a Dorito and as big as a football field.
The two officers came in peace, but the craft took off like a shot when Jeter went back to the van to fetch his rifle with a telescopic sight. He only wanted a better look, but in the blink of an eye, the unidentified flying object was over the horizon. The National Enquirer listed the Memphis sighting among the best UFO stories of 1977, which, being the year of Star Wars and rampant 1950s nostalgia, meant quite a lot.
Todd is just one of the many speakers scheduled to appear at Memphis' World UFO Day Festival. He'll be joined by UFO investigator Peter Robbins and extraterrestrial-circuit superstar Travis Walton, the American logger who was allegedly abducted in 1975. Syfy Channel magicians the Close Up Kings will also be on hand to dazzle and mystify.
"This is going to be a family event," says event co-organizer Eddie Middleton, a college professor, UFO investigator, and director of the Tennessee chapter of the Mutual UFO Network."We've got an alien costume contest and an alien pet costume contest.
"We're hoping we break the record for attendance at a UFO conference," Middleton says, anticipating between 1,500 and 2,000 attendees. "Everything is free except for the speakers." And you can see all of them for $10.