Retired meteorologist shares his account of 1994 West Michigan UFO sightings
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — "They were just moving so fast, and two more started coming into play there. I really had little time to describe where they were before they had moved and jumped again," said Jack Bushong, a retired meteorologist describing what he saw on radar the night of March 8, 1994.
Jack Bushong is a retired meteorologist who spent his career working for the National Weather Service. In 1994 he observed unexplained phenomenon on weather radar while he was working in Muskegon. (WWMT/Will Haenni)
Bushong spent his career working for the National Weather Service. On the night of March 8, 1994, he was manning the National Weather Service office by himself in Muskegon on a cold but routine night. The NWS no longer has an office or radar there after the government forecasting agency went through modernization and reorganization in the mid-90s.
The phone rang and Bushong answered to find an Ottawa County dispatcher on the other line who had been fielding reports of strange lights in the sky. They called the National Weather Service to see if anything was showing up on weather radar.
It turns out, over 100 people reported witnessing the strange lights in the sky. Cindy Pravda, who lives in Grand Haven, shared her account with News Channel 3 in March of 2019 on the 25th anniversary of one of of Michigan's most famous UFO sightings.
That's when Bushong took manual control of the Muskegon radar, and began waving its beam back and forth across Ottawa County looking for any objects. The conversation between Bushong and the dispatcher was recorded, which the Michigan chapter of the Mutual UFO Network has shared online.
That night, there weren't any thunderstorms to track on radar, but rather, something else.
“You could pretty much use it like a spotlight," Bushong said when describing the operation of the radar at the time. "I had two cranks to bring it up or down, or side to side. You pretty much sent it out searching for weather: any type of rain, sleet snow; or hail is what we were usually looking for when we took it off of automatic mode.”
Bushong recounts the object first appeared alone on radar returns. "It started as one," he said. "The object was coasting at about 100 miles per hour."
He said as he was watching the object, it stopped and started hovering. "And then it shot up, about 5,000 feet, then 10,000 feet I was getting it, just straight up," Bushong said. "At this point, the police officer was saying that he was seeing the same thing with that same object."
"It was almost as if, it was like it was saying to me, 'hey, I know you can see me,'" Bushong said. "Until that one got up to about 30, 40 thousand feet, and finally I saw it."
He then described seeing a triangle of objects on radar, oriented vertically, before they finally spread out in the horizontal.
"One that’s closest to the radar, so it would look bigger, and then there were two more," he said. "One on the shore of Lake Michigan, and the other inland a little bit. They were all separated by about 20 miles."
He said one of the objects would zip about 20 miles away before the others followed in a geometric pattern. "I either saw them hovering or they were jumping at a high rate of speed over to the next spot. Then there were two other spots jumping to get back into the same triangle, and they kept doing this," Bushong said.
Their heights even topped off close to 60,000 feet at times, according to Bushong. This, he said, disqualifies a theory some used to try and debunk his observations as ground clutter. Ground clutter, caused by a radar phenomenon known as anomalous propagation, occurs when radar beams bend down towards the surface of the earth, echoing back returns from objects close to the ground.
Bushong said this continued to happen until the three and at times four objects made it over southern Lake Michigan, where Bushong said he observed dozens more. For a total of about two hours, he saw a larger cluster of stationary objects with some slowly moving in between them.
This coincidentally was an area of open water on Lake Michigan in a year where the lake was almost entirely covered in ice.
Bushong later called the FAA control tower at the Muskegon County Airport to see if they had observed anything. Bushong said he spoke to an air traffic controller that had observed 3 aircraft in formation off in the distance but didn't have any transponder code.
Bushong's first job after graduating from Florida State was in Grand Rapids with the National Weather Service. He was then moved over to the NWS office in Muskegon until 1994, coincidentally the same year the sightings took place. Later that year he transferred to the NWS office in Atlanta, where he'd eventually retire. He said this had nothing to due with anything involving the incident on March 8, but rather was a promotion and transfer he had been waiting on.
Bushong said he was initially not allowed to speak to the media because they didn't want the wrong message to be relayed to the public. “NWS didn’t want to become the UFO reporting center for the United States, so that’s really why they really had to duck and cover for this one," Bushong said.
He said he's faced ridicule for his account over the years, but has become more comfortable speaking about it after the U.S. Department of Defense released videos confirming what it says are "unidentified aerial phenomena."
The sightings of March 8, 1994 are still labeled as "unexplained" according to the Michigan chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, the world’s largest civilian UFO research organization. If you have information or a story to share from that night, you can email [email protected].
Bushong said he plans to hopefully one day publish more of his account and related documents in some sort of open source format.
Video can be accessed at source link below