The story last week about an unscheduled flight over O'Hare International Airport generated a universe of opinions from near and very far out.
A man in Aurora said he came home from work on the same day as the O'Hare sighting, looked skyward in his back yard and spied a shiny round object hovering between two masses of clouds. And then it disappeared.A woman from Ireland wrote to asked what the heck was happening at "O'Hara."
It may never be known whether the phenomenon at O'Hare on Nov. 7--which was reported by numerous United Airlines employees--was an actual UFO sighting, or much ado about nothing. But readers don't seem to mind offering their opinions.
Here's a sample from the more than 400 e-mails Getting Around has received:
"For those of us researchers who are convinced that UFO sightings reported by witnesses of the caliber of those at O'Hare are not triggered by errant weather balloons, swamp gas, the planet Venus, atmospheric anomalies, secret government aircraft or outright hallucinations, your ongoing attempt to get to the bottom of what hovered that day over Gate C17 is extremely refreshing."
--C. Scott Littleton, professor of anthropology emeritus at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
"I have a different take on what happened at O'Hare. It's the obvious side-effect of the two-joint coffee break."
--Mike Maday, Spring Hill, Tenn.
"Hmm. Looks like we're being visited by advanced craft from other worlds, and not only is the U.S. government keen to cover up the details, so are many private corporations whose existence would be threatened by the free-energy technology that powers these vehicles."
--Andrew Johnson, United Kingdom
"While not directly admitting that E.T. had indeed phoned home, you appeared at least open to that possibility. It was a nice departure from the norm to see the witnesses treated as respectable observers rather than being portrayed as nuts or inebriated liars. Aliens may not have yet landed on the front lawn of the White House, but they appear to be toying with the idea if the O'Hare incident is any indication."
--John Oathout, Broken Arrow, Okla.
"I wish that people would believe what we know we saw. I'm afraid to go outside, and I can't sleep. I've purchased a large caliber pistol and have installed a top-of-the-line security system. Needless to say, I've also canceled my family's camping trip to Indiana Dunes."
--Scared in Indiana
"I would have laughed at this story about a year ago, but I saw something very similar in the Detroit area. Others saw it too. I am glad people have stood up to the downplay[ing] of this issue. I too had to give myself a reality check, but it happened, and I was on my fifth cup of coffee."
"I sat on a plane at the Port Columbus, Ohio, airport for at least an hour on the afternoon of Nov. 7. This flight was scheduled to arrive at O'Hare at 4:30 p.m. (the same time as the UFO sighting) The flight was further delayed for about another hour and circled the airport waiting to land. The pilot was not able to provide us with a reason for the delays. My daughter said when she arrived at the airport to pick me up around 4:30 that there were very many military personnel at the airport."
--Dennis Goethe, Durand, Ill.
"It should be clear to everyone that the U.S. government has been lying about UFOs since the first reports. They have been here before Earth's civilization began, and they'll be here after we've trashed our planet to death."
"I am a 67-year-old woman who has lived in the Chicago area for 65 of those years. I believe in UFOs because I've seen them--long time ago, when I was about 14 years old, walking my dog on the South Side of Chicago. It was two side-by-side cigar-shaped lights in the eastern sky. I remember that sight as clearly as I remember the exact moment I heard that Mayor [Richard J.] Daley had a heart attack and that Kennedy had been shot."
--Dorothy P. Schmidt
Finally, the mayor of Roswell, N.M., where it was reported in 1947 that an alien spacecraft was recovered on a nearby ranch, said he thinks the saucer-shaped craft at O'Hare must have taken a wrong turn.
"I'm hoping they were on their way to Roswell to help us celebrate our biggest UFO festival to date," Mayor Sam LaGrone said of the event scheduled for July 5 through 8.
"Even if the gates at O'Hare were full, we have plenty of landing space here in Roswell and we welcome any alien visitors to drop in and celebrate the 60th anniversary with us," LaGrone said.
Contact Getting Around at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o the Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. Read recent columns at www.chicagotribune.com/gettingaround