Weird Georgia: Wayne County UFOs
Maybe it had something to do with the Armageddon Express, a train of 22 white cars, which rolled through downtown Jesup on the afternoon of May 4, 1984, presumably with a load of nuclear weapons.
Perhaps the UFOs had been scouting its route on the evening of April 26, when brothers Warren and Mike Purvis had loaded cabinets in their pickup truck in Screven and were returning to Jesup on U.S. 82 at 8:10 p.m.
“What’s that?” Mike asked, and Warren followed his gaze to a clearing between the highway and the railroad. He saw two bright lights low to the ground-the blinking red lights of a radio tower beyond were above it. As the lights zipped toward them the brothers said “Helicopter.” Then the object stopped and Warren accelerated toward it for a closer look. Suddenly a “huge mass of lights,” a second, round, UFO materialized from nowhere and “moved over the top of that other thing” according to Warren. The smaller UFO then entered the larger one.
“It was like a huge 747 hovering over a Volkswagen,” Warren said. The second UFO was “a big ‘un, I mean it was at least 20 stories tall.”
The enormous UFO flew off toward Jesup and Warren gave pursuit, but the craft easily outdistanced him. The encounter had lasted 10 minutes.
Either it was a secret government project, Warren thought, “or something mighty strange is happening.”
“That thing was round, and that sucker was moving, and I was not drinking, but I did shortly thereafter,” said Warren, a former county commissioner.
Hundreds of UFO sightings followed, the calls flooding the Jesup Police Department, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, and radio station WLOP, where Al Harper called the situation “very mysterious.” He fielded scores of reports and noted that “their accounts are essentially the same.” Among the witnesses was a deputy sheriff and reliable citizens from every walk of life.
The sightings were made across Wayne County-Jesup, Rayonier, Screven, and Midray Springs-primarily on May 25, 26, and 27, just after dark. Witnesses described a pattern of lights, sometimes triangular, which seemed to be attached to a platform. The evenly spaced lights, numbering four to six, were colored an intense orange. The objects moved silently back and forth and up and down before departing at high speed.
In Screven, Ray Poppell and his family were watching two large objects hover above the tree line across a field. “All of a sudden the field in front of our house got real bright, like it was on fire,” Poppell said. “I went to the door and saw these two objects shaped like big ‘W’s’ with lights on every point.”
On the evening of May 25 Robert Thorton was summoned outside by his mother and stepfather to see a UFO. He thought they were kidding, “but I looked up and it was all different colors.” The rotating lights seemed to be attached to a stationary object. At one point during the 45 minute observation, Thorton’s stepfather blinked a flashlight at the UFO to “signal” it. The reaction was a pair of brilliant lights “so bright you could see them shining on the tops of pine trees across the road,” Thorton testified.
Certainly unrelated, but amusing nonetheless was an object found by a child beneath his porch which resembled the neck of a sea monster. The child’s mother took the growth to the local Georgia Extension Service office, where Jim Fountain announced that it was a mushroom, deformed by its efforts to reach sunlight.
Of the UFOs, “I think it turned out to be a weather balloon or something like that,” Wayne County Sheriff Jim Poindexter later said. Hardly, sheriff
UFOs have continued to operate in Wayne County skies. Around 11:30 p.m. on May 17, 2010, a resident of Jesup was in his kitchen when he felt “a low ringing or pressure in my ears.” When the feeling persisted in the living room the witness walked outside and looked into the sky, where he saw two lights, one green, the other orange or red. The object hovered silently, ruling out the possibility of its being an airplane or helicopter.
Abruptly the UFO “disappeared and reappeared closer over my head.” It then crossed in front of the witness “extremely fast,” so rapidly it was “hard for me to track it with my eyes.” The motion was “like if you moved your hand in front of the TV.” The object repeated that motion and “suddenly shot off,” disappearing into the distance. The encounter “had characteristics of a ghost,” the man declared, and left him “terrified.”
It is not unusual for UFOs to display aspects of the paranormal, indicating that they are, at least in certain encounters, less of an alien intelligence operating in our skies and more of a supernatural event.
Jim Miles is the author of nine books about the Civil War and two weird Georgia books. See Jim’s books.