1922 lights in the sky puzzled farm workers and spouses
By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Something atypical was going on in 1922. Local people were seeing strange lights in the sky, according to an article appearing in the Carter County Herald. But what they were, no one could say. The word UFO hadn’t entered the lexicon yet.
The modern UFO era wouldn’t begin for another 25 years after the article in question – almost 25 years exactly, when Kenneth Arnold spotted nine objects flying over Mount Rainier on June 24, 1947 that he described not as saucer shaped, but as moving like “a saucer skipping over the water” inadvertently helping coin the term “flying saucer” – but in July 1922 the Carter County Herald reported on some strange lights spotted on the edge of town by Bennie Gearhart and Willie Sexton. Gearhart and Sexton fetched their wives to see the lights too, which the two couples watched for several minutes as they moved about, merged together, and changed color; behaving for all the world like the strange lights associated today with UFO sightings.
The article is dated July 15, 1922 – a Saturday. It states the witnesses were out on Saturday night when they saw the lights, so the July 15 date could relate to the date of the sighting, or the date of publication, putting the Saturday in question the week before, on July 8. Regardless of what date it was, what the duo saw was initially described as, “a light which appeared in the south with a small light about two feet to the right (west).”
They then lost sight of it for several minutes. When they spotted it again what they saw was, “six lights twelve inches apart in a row.”
This would be when they called out for their wives to join them. While they waited the lights would begin to go out, at least some of them, while others began to move and change color; “went up about two feet, making a complete rainbow,” as the paper read.
Those lights would then go out too, and the last two lights would merge into one before going out and leaving the two couples in darkness.
This wouldn’t be the last report of odd lights in the sky, in Kentucky or anywhere else.
There would be more reports of odd aerial lights in the coming years, even before the 1947 Arnold sightings, as WWII pilots reported being followed by orbs of light they dubbed “foo fighters” while on maneuvers.
There was also a previous trend of odd lights in the sky associated with the phantom airship flap of 1897 – which interestingly enough precedes our 1922 report by 25 years.
It could very well be that Gearhart and Sexton, and their wives, saw something absolutely natural and either meteorological or astronomical in nature on that evening. Or, maybe not. Whatever it was, it warranted mention in the paper. We share it here exactly as presented in the article, with no further speculation.
Editor’s Note: This is the 33rd in a series of articles drawn from historical newspaper clippings.