The 1976 Colusa UFO Incident: Electrical Faults, Large UFOs, Blinding Lights & Multiple Witnesses
In Colusa, California, 1976, Bill Pecha Jr and his wife claimed to have witnessed several UFOs maneuvering above their home. The unidentified objects hovered around power lines and appeared to cause various electric faults and even a blackout.
At 12:54 am on September 10, 1976, watching television in his home three miles southwest of Colusa, California, Bill Pecha Jr, saw the picture tube crackle, fade, and blackout. At the same moment, the air conditioner died. Assuming the circuit breakers had failed, Pecha stepped out of the house, turned to the right (south), and walked on his lawn. A few feet from the underground cable running between his machine shop and house, he felt the hair on his body rise.
He now thought the cable was shorting out. Yet even when he moved away from the cable, the electrical sensation continued. Looking up, he saw a large domed, disc-shaped object hovering silently about 50 feet away. It was situated just above a television antenna attached to a telephone pole, and part of the rim appeared to be directly above his barn's 40-foot-high gable roof.
The dome had vertical ribs with concave sections. The dome and its base were silver-gray, and the bottom portion looked porcelainlike (possibly an effect of the light, Pecha thought); the outer rim, which rotated in a clockwise direction, resembled stainless steel. From a 10-foot-wide circle in the middle of the underside, a translucent shaft of grayish-white light shone. Strangely, it went only five or six feet downward before ending abruptly in the middle of the air. It did not shine or even reflect on the ground.
At opposite edges of the UFOs perimeter (the left and right sides from Pecha's perspective) two hooklike arms, angled inward, hung down. On either side, roughly between the hooks and the central light shaft, three "cables" extended. They were six to eight feet long and two to three inches thick. The three on the left (north) side were staggered at a 45-degree angle over the sloping south roof of the barn, as if to keep from touching it.
Pecha approached the UFO until he stood just under its southern edge. From his description, an investigative team from the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) was able to estimate the object's size as 85 feet in diameter.
After a short period of time, the UFO began slowly to move toward the west. When it was 75 to 150 feet from Pecha, it retracted the cables. The hooks swiveled upward and inward halfway. Two hatches on the north and south ends opened, revealing a "spotlight" lamp. According to investigators:
"The 'spotlights' were held out by cable-like fixtures. The spotlights came on as soon as they popped out. They emitted collimated shafts of 'lights' that hit the ground at about a 45-degree (outward) angle."
Pecha ran for the house to awaken his wife. His banging on the wall brought Lenda Pecha quickly out of slumber, and she sighted a light when she looked through the dining-room window. It "reminded me," she said, "of an airplane light - like an airplane getting ready to land. Then, all of a sudden, there was light coming from underneath it, and it was shining on the ground beneath it." The frost-coloured light was in the form of a tubular cone.
From his position in the bedroom of their still-sleeping 10-year-old son, Chris, Bill Pecha saw two more UFOs over high-tension electrical power lines a mile to the west. In the words of the APRO team's report: "Each object was between and above two towers. The arrangement was: tower-1, UFO, tower-2, open cables, tower-3, UFO, and tower-4.
Each of these far encounter UFOs emitted two light-like beams that hit the tops of the power transmission towers each object was between. The right hand UFO's beams were blue and all four towers were lit up in blue light. The beams were emitted upwards at 30 to 45 degrees below the horizontal. The towers held up six power lines. One or both of the highest two of these lines glowed bright red from the insulators of towers-1 and 2 out to an estimated fifty to one hundred feet on both sides of the towers, Pecha reported. (These were the same towers lit up in blue light by the UFO on the left.) The beams on towers-1 and 2 had 'darker' (by this Pecha said he meant brighter, or more intense) blue 'jerky' light streams inside them, Pecha said.
He said the 'jerkiness' was unlike lightning or a zig-zag and it did not seem to have a phase velocity or motion. He could not determine if the beams from the UFO on the right had these 'jerky' light-streams or if the power lines near towers-3 and 4 glowed red. The towers and the UFO on the right were more distant than the ones on the left. The left-hand towers were about 4,450 and 5,150 feet away (towers-1 and 2, respectively) - the lines between these towers pointed about 53 degrees off Pecha's line of sight (so he had a good view of them). The right-hand towers were about 6,200 and 7,320 feet away (towers-3 and 4 respectively). But the lines on these latter towers are pointed only 4 1/2 degrees off Pecha's line of sight - hence they would have been difficult to see. (The lines from towers-1 and 2 run southeast to northwest, but turn almost due west at tower-2.) Both objects appear to have had width/height ratios of about 3 (long axis horizontal). Pecha thought he spotted 'spotlight' fixtures on the left-hand UFO that were emitting the beams."
Dashing out of the bedroom, Pecha shouted that they had to get out of there or the UFO would "get" them. When Mrs Pecha glanced out of the window again, the first UFO was now much closer.
Meanwhile, other observers were viewing the UFO, which they perceived as a large moving light, from two miles away. They were able to see it for approximately a minute and a half.
From his dining-room window, Pecha followed the UFO's continuing approach. (The APRO investigators would later judge its altitude to have been between 500 to 900 feet.) As it passed over his neighbours house 2500 feet away, he recalled, "this light (from the bottom center) was lowered. It just dropped on, and it was just as bright as a flash-cube light type. It was really a bright, brilliant, white light." Lenda Percha, whose attention was not on the object at all times (because of her worry about her husband), did not see the light drop but did witness the light as it covered the neighbours house, barn, and aircraft hangar.
Pecha saw the two distant UFOs shoot off at 45-degree angles, one going south, the other north. While Lenda was retrieving their daughter, a reddish amber light in the middle of the nearby UFO brightened. For some reason, Pecha thought it was a spotlight that was about to be aimed at them (two spotlights at either end of the craft were "workin' on the ground" all the while). The UFO was now about 1000 feet away, halfway between the neighbours' property and the Pechas's.
He pulled Chris out of bed, and he, his wife, and their other two children ran for the pickup. Fearing the UFO would see them if he turned the headlights on, Pecha drove at over 90 mph without lights.
On the outskirts of Colusa, Pecha stopped at the house of longtime friends Leslie and Gayle Arant and banged on their door until Mrs Arant opened it. Pecha shouted that she should look up at the sky. She would tell investigators that "over in the west there was this large object with a white - very brilliant white - light underneath. It was dark in the middle, but you could see the outline. And it reminded you of a saucer, and the cup was turned upside down. It went from west to east."
Les Arant got out of bed in time to witness the object's departure to the south. It shot up and disappeared within half a second. The incident ended at 1:03 am.
Later, Bob Pratt, the UFO reporter for the National Enquirer, found another witness, who reported seeing a pulsating, darting orange-red light in the west. It was heading south when she went inside.
The timing of the power blackout and the UFO's appearance apparently was coincidental. Pacific Gas & Electric confirmed that a blackout had occurred at 12:54 am, but the lines over which the two distance UFOs had been seen belonged to the Central Valley Project, a federal power system. A substation had blown an overload transformer.