UFOs at the Drive-In
100 True Cases of UFO Encounters at Drive-In Theaters.
Starlite Drive-In Theater…11
Fair Park Drive-In Theater…13
Oak Ridge Drive-In Theater…14
Fair View Drive-In Theater…15
Beach Drive-In Theater…16
Yuma Drive-In Theater…17
Universal City Drive-In Theater…21
Starlight Outdoor Theater…22
Six Drive-In Theater Encounters…23
Terrace Drive-In Theater…26
Rodeo Drive-In Theater…29
Family Drive-In Theater…30
Corral & Western Drive-In Theaters…31
El Cajon Drive-In Theater…32
Yucca Drive-In Theater…33
Albuquerque & Biloxi Drive-In Theaters…34
Star-Lite Drive-In Theater…36
Greenfield Drive-In Theater…37
Skyline Drive-In Theater…38
Lakeshore Drive-In Theater…41
Fort Wayne Drive-In Theater…42
Pratt Drive-In Theater…43
Florence Drive-In Theater…44
Oakville Drive-In Theater…45
Piedmont Drive-In Theater…46
Three Way Drive-In Theater…47
King Center Drive-In Theater…48
Waterford Drive-In Theater…49
Your Drive-In Theater…51
Newington Drive-In Theater…52
Tillicum Drive-In Theater…53
Charlottetown Drive-In Theater…55
Ripon Drive-In Theater…57
Wellington Circle Twin Drive-In Theater…58
Southside Drive-In Theater…59
Richland Drive-In Theater…61
Atlanta Drive-In Theater…62
Mount Shasta Drive-In Theater…64
Studio Drive-In Theater…65
Conway Drive-In Theater…66
Mentor Drive-In Theater…67
Dallas Drive-In Theater…69
Southutch Drive-In Theater…71
Bogalusa Drive-In Theater…75
Highland Drive-In Theater…78
Duluth Drive-In Theater…79
Longview Drive-In Theater…80
Foothill Drive-In Theater…81
Kings Drive-In Theater…82
Southside Drive-In Theater…83
Paramount Drive-In Theater…84
Kam Drive-In Theater…86
Winnipeg Drive-In Theater…87
Fort Lauderdale Drive-In Theater…88
Baltimore Drive-In Theater…89
Hinesville Drive-In Theater…91
East Park Drive-In Theater…93
Ascot Park Drive-In Theater…95
Portland Twin Drive-In Theater…99
Belleville Drive-In Theater…101
Mile High Drive-In Theater…102
Riverside Drive-In Theater…103
Boulder Drive-In Theater…104
Yuma Drive-In Theater…105
Twin Drive-In Theater…106
Zhangpo County Theater…108
Wisconsin Drive-In Theater…110
Federal Way Drive-In Theater…111
Century 4 Drive-In Theater…112
Chula Vista Drive-In Theater…113
Blue Ridge Drive-In Theater…114
Albion Drive-In Theater…115
Southwest Twin Drive-In Theater…117
Fountain Valley Drive-In Theater…118
Hollowbrook Drive-In Theater…120
Edgewood Drive-In Theater…122
Spokane Drive-In Theater…123
Wellfleet Drive-In Theater…125
South Bay Drive-In Theater…126
Clearfield Drive-In Theater…127
Wilmington Drive-In Theater…128
Las Vegas Drive-In Theater…129
Autorama Drive-In Theater…130
Wicksburg Drive-In Theater…131
Mansfield Drive-In Theater…132
Knights Action Park…133
Tascosa Drive-In Theater…134
About the Author…152
Books by Preston Dennett…153
“I can cite the exact time I first became interested in UFOs…My mother, my older brother and I were at a drive-in theater…I looked out the righthand side of the car and saw one of the most dramatic, bizarre-looking things I’ve ever seen in my life…The reason I’m the director of the National UFO Reporting Center today is because of that sighting.”
--Mark Davenport, Director of NUFORC
I had investigated UFOs for many years when I first met a young woman by the name of Claudia Blacios. She was a new co-worker at my place of employment. When she found out that I was a UFO researcher, she proceeded to tell me an incredible story. Back in 1972, when she was a young child, her parents took her to a drive-in movie theater in Paramount, California. At some point during the movie, a UFO showed up -- a silver, metallic disc, hovering right next to the movie screen. The crowd of movie-goers panicked and chaos ensued.
It was an amazing encounter. I marveled at the audacity of the UFO occupants to brazenly swoop down and show themselves fearlessly to a large crowd of people. I had never heard of anyone seeing UFOs at a drive-in theater before, certainly not like this.
It wasn’t until several years later, when I wrote UFOs over California that I ran into a few other cases. Still, I didn’t think much of it. I continued to write books about other states, and found more cases. But it wasn’t until I was doing research for UFOs over Colorado that I ran into three cases in a row. That’s when I realized that there was something very strange happening here. UFOs were targeting drive-in movie theaters.
Intrigued, I decided to dig a little deeper. Little did I realize what I was getting into. I thought researching this subject might be a fun, breezy little investigation into a curious and unique type of UFO encounter. I was sure there were other cases out there, but I certainly didn’t think they were very common.
To my amazement, I found a huge number of cases. Most of them were not well-known, and yet they were usually very striking low-level encounters. In case after case, the UFOs put on a show that was often far better than the movie itself. In many cases there were bizarre electromagnetic effects. Several of the cases were so dramatic that it caused panic, with people dropping everything and fleeing the theater in terror. In one case, there were human casualties as a result of the panic. There were cases in which police or government officials become involved. Some cases pushed the boundary even further, involving humanoids, missing time, and even one case involving an apparent observed abduction.
It was instantly obvious that there was something unique and special about these types of cases. These were not simple random sightings. When it comes to UFOs visiting drive-in theaters, it appears that the ETs are fully aware that they are being observed, and are intentionally showing themselves. There is good reason to believe, I think, that they are using drive-in movies as an opportunity to announce their presence and show themselves off to groups of people.
As I began collecting and documenting the many cases, I realized that I had stumbled upon an area of UFO activity that had been occurring for at least seventy years, but had somehow been largely ignored, even by the UFO community. This was amazing because the cases themselves were so spectacular.
UFOs behave in ways that, at first look, might appear to be random and unpredictable. An analysis of the massive data base of encounters, however, reveals some truly startling patterns. UFO sightings may seem random, but many of them are not. UFOs often appear for very specific reasons and are drawn toward particular areas or activities. Investigators call these “UFO attractors.” I have already studied and written about several of these. Some examples include graveyards, rocket launches, prisons and mines. My book, Schoolyard UFO Encounters, focuses solely on one type of UFO attractor: schools.
Each of these areas have highly-specialized uses for human beings. Each represent a very important human activity that could be considered vital for a growing, well-functioning society. For whatever reason, UFOs are attracted to them.
And as this book will show, another UFO attractor that has received almost no attention are drive-in movie theaters. In case after case, drive-in theaters have been targeted by UFOs. And not at day, but while the movie is actually playing.
What is it about drive-ins that UFOs find so attractive? Could it be that the gigantic movie screens flashing provocative images are catching their eye? Are they there for entertainment, just like us? Are they studying our movies to learn about us? Could it be, as a few people mentioned to me, that the ETs see the audience members as “easy pickings?” What exactly is going on here? Furthermore, what exactly happens when a UFO suddenly appears unannounced in front of a large crowd of people?
Cases like are both fascinating and numerous. One early drive-in UFO encounter occurred to David Roybal, a journalist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is among the first to speculate on the possibility that drive-ins attract UFOs.
It was the mid-1950s. The Modern Age of UFOs had just begun. “I’ve got to confess to having a special interest,” Roybal writes. “As a kid of thirteen, I spotted lights racing, circling, bobbing, disappearing and reappearing in the night sky between Santa Fe and Los Alamos. I never had seen anything like it. Nor have I seen anything like it since. Until I hear a logical explanation for it, I can’t discount the possibility that we’ve been visited by something extraterrestrial.”
Where did he see them? “They’d need something to do once they arrived,” Roybal says. “Surely the aircraft I spotted years ago near Santa Fe’s southside weren’t hovering over the Yucca Drive-In to get a free look at Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello on the big screen.”
Or were they? At that time, UFOs hovering over drive-ins was still a new phenomenon. Roybal admits that he still has no idea what he saw, and he is okay with that. As he says, “A newspaperman’s life, I guess, wouldn’t be much fun without mysteries.”
Why are UFOs attracted to drive-in theaters? This is, of course, the million-dollar question.
Drive-ins have certainly held a strong fascination for humans. In their heyday of the 1950s, they were extremely popular family attractions. Theater owners used a wide variety of gimmicks to attract customers. Beyond the snack bars and concession stands, there were balloon rides, petting zoos, prize giveaways, and live pre-shows of all kinds. Many had a fully-equipped playground for kids to play. Some had bleachers. All of these “extras” served to make drive-in movies one of the most popular American past-times.
By the 1960s, the drive-in theater’s popularity was still strong, but its reputation began to change. They had always been popular among dating couples, but sometimes the physical relations in various cars became a bit too intimate. The media began to label drive-ins as “passion pits.” Some theaters hired policemen to walk up and down the rows of cars with a flashlight in hand, warning couples to keep their heads above the seat. Drive-in theaters, it seems, are fertile places for all kinds of human experiences.
While people were watching outdoor movies in their cars as early as 1915, the world’s first public drive-in theater opened in June 1933. It never made a profit and three years later, after changing several owners, it closed down. The second oldest is Shankweiler’s Drive-In in Orefield, Pennsylvania. It was opened in 1934 and is the oldest drive-in theater still operating today.
The most popular drive-in theater name is “Starlite.” Not surprisingly, three theaters with this name appear in this book. Currently New York, with about twenty-eight operating theaters, has the most of any state. The largest known drive-in, the Ford Wyoming Drive-in Theater in Dearborn, Michigan can hold up to 3000 cars. But the Swap-Shop Drive-in Theater in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has fourteen screens, more than any other theater.
Today there are approximately 325 drive-in theaters still operating in the United States. Compare that to the 1950s and 1960s when there were at least 4000 operating theaters, and it becomes clear that the golden age of drive-in theaters is now over.
In the 1980s, there was a steep drop in the number of theaters. Many reasons are believed to have caused the decline: the advent of daylight savings time which pushed back the starting time for movies significantly later, and the invention of VHS and CDs, which allowed home movie viewing. Also, advances in technology made it difficult for drive-in movie theaters to transition. Despite making a recent modest come-back, it will probably never be like it used to be.
But this hasn’t stopped the UFOs from appearing over drive-ins to show themselves off. Cases reach back to 1950 and are still continuing today.
The accounts in this book come from a wide variety of sources, including newspaper articles, the massive databases of various UFO organizations such as MUFON, NUFORC, APRO, CUFOS and NICAP, books and articles, the USAF’s Blue Book archives, and of course from firsthand interviews with the witnesses.
A few researchers have provided cases. Peter Davenport, head of NUFORC, is one example. Many other investigators have come across cases like these including (but not limited to) Scott Colborn, Lawrence Fawcett, Loren Gross, Ryan Sprague, John Timmerman, Brian Vike, and Linda Zimmerman.
Because nobody’s ever really looked at drive-in movie UFO encounters before, I’m confident that most people (even those knowledgeable about UFOs) will find these cases brand new. Only a very few of them have ever appeared in book form and some cases are published here for the first time.
This is a small book, but it is also unique and, I think, ground-breaking. It is the first (and only) comprehensive collection and exploration of UFO drive-in theater encounters, and it reveals some intriguing insights into the extraterrestrial agenda. More than 100 cases are presented, each involving an incident in which UFOs visited a drive-in theater. The cases are presented chronologically, as they happened.
Each case is different. They are alternately puzzling, amusing, thrilling, awe-inspiring, concerning, and even terrifying. Each case provides a startling glimpse into a very strange type of UFO behavior that is only rarely seen.
UFOs at the Drive-In will take you on an exciting and surprising journey that is sure to change the way you feel about UFOs.
Starlite Drive-In Theater
The earliest drive-in UFO encounter on record ended up reaching very high levels of military intelligence, perhaps because by lucky coincidence, the main witness, Vernon Gwynne, was a newspaper journalist.
On July 22, 1950, Gwynne and his wife Betty visited the Starlite Drive-In Theater in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The lot was crowded with other cars. At some point midway through the movie, Gwynne noticed a “flying something” overhead. It was to be the first of three appearances.
“I first noticed a cloud-like formation that was driving in the opposite direction of the other clouds,” Gwynne says. “This cloud was very low and indistinct. I called Betty’s attention to it and asked her if she noticed anything peculiar about it. As we watched, it took a more definite shape which was rounded on the bottom and fairly flat.
“Since we wanted others to be able to corroborate our story, I got out of the car and asked two fellows in the next car, ‘Look up there and see if you see what we see?’ By the time they looked, the something was gone.
“The second time, I saw the cloud forming in the same place, apparently out of the clear sky. The fellows in the car, Betty and I watched the shape form in the center of the ‘cloud.’ After about two or three minutes, the shape disappeared again.
“About thirty minutes later,” Gwynne continues, “all four of us again saw the shape, only this time it was very clearly lighted and had changed position…The color of the rounded bottom was about the same as a reflected fire on a silver or white surface. The size we would estimate to be larger than any dirigible we have ever seen…We discussed it and asked each other how we are going to describe it. We are convinced that we saw what other people say are ‘Flying Saucers.’”
The object appeared to be about 2000 feet high, though somewhat lower on its third appearance. Gwynne submitted a report to the Air Force.
The case was routed to Project Blue Book, and a long report was written up. The report, titled “Flying Thing,” described the encounter in-depth, and said, “Mr. Gwynne stated that he did not know what the object was, but that he had never seen anything like it before, and that he, his wife, and the other two observers all agreed that its structural appearance, its behavior in the air, and its tremendous size eliminated it being any aircraft known by the four of them.”
The entire report, titled “Unconventional Aircraft,” was forwarded to Colonel John Meade, Commanding General, Air Material Command, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Clearly, the U.S. military was taking reports of UFOs very seriously.
Fair Park Drive-In Theater
The earliest drive-in encounters are relatively tame. While it does appear that the UFOs are showing themselves intentionally, it’s typically only for a short while, almost as if they are “testing the waters,” before diving into the deep end.
The second encounter on record, although, brief, has the earmark “showing off” behavior that is seen so often in drive-in UFO cases.
On the evening of September 25, 1950, deputy sheriff Aubrey Yates of Jefferson County, Alabama, and his wife decided to attend a movie at the Fair Park Drive-In. They were about half-way through the movie when Yates and his wife saw a “cigar-shaped object right above the screen.”
Yates was amazed. “My wife saw it too, and we watched it for about fifteen minutes,” the deputy said. “It looked like a cigar burning on both ends -- two big glows with a kind of soft glow in-between. Then all at once, the thing disappeared. It went straight up and disappeared in about three seconds.”
Yates reported his sighting to the Birmingham Post-Herald. As it turned out, the U.S. Weather Bureau at the local airport received “several” calls describing the same type of object.
These first encounters opened the floodgates. From this point on, UFO drive-in encounters would occur with incredible regularity. In fact, the next case occurred almost exactly one month later.
Oak Ridge Drive-In Theater
This next account, from U.S. Army Intelligence records, provides the third case of a drive-in movie UFO encounter. The incident began precisely at 6:23 p.m., October 24, 1950, when radar operators at the Knoxville Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee detected several small slow-moving targets in a “restricted flying zone” over Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The radar operators tracked the objects for three minutes as they moved from the city area to the eastern boundary. A jet fighter was scrambled and vectored to the target. The pilot, however, was unable to obtain any visual confirmation of the objects.
Meanwhile, about fifteen minutes later, at 6:45 p.m., audience members at a nearby drive-in were enjoying a presentation of the latest film, when one of the UFOs showed up. By coincidence, one of the audience members was William B. Fry, the Assistant Chief of Security at the NEPA Division of Oak Ridge. Fry was there with his wife and child. All three saw “an object” glowing and changing in color from red, green, blue and orange. The unknown object moved back and forth at about thirty degrees height in a horizontal trajectory.
The projectionist was alerted to the presence of the UFO and admitted that he could see it. Another witness who lived nearby, Air Force Major Lawrence Ballweg, observed the object from his residence. At 7:20 p.m., after a long display lasting thirty-seven minutes, the object finally disappeared.
HERE ARE A FEW OTHER ACCOUNTS:
Tillicum Drive-In Theater
Are the UFOs showing themselves to the theater-goers on purpose, or by coincidence? Before you answer, consider this next dramatic UFO display.
One summer evening around 1961, “Brian” and his girlfriend decided to see a movie at the Tillicum Drive-in Theater in Victoria, Canada. During the film, two glowing, orange objects appeared above and to the left of the screen. At first, they seemed to be very high up. But over the next thirty minutes, they became bigger and brighter. By the time forty minutes had passed, the objects were so bright that the street lights began to go out, and it was impossible to watch the movie.
“By this time,” says Brian, “I and many, many others that were at the outdoor theater were out of their cars, watching the two objects.”
After a few moments, the objects moved upward, again taking almost twenty minutes to complete the maneuver, becoming smaller and dimmer, and eventually stopping exactly where they first appeared. While it was now dark enough to watch the film, the objects were not moving away.
Then the show began, and it wasn’t on the movie screen. Says Brian, “They sat there for maybe another ten minutes, when one of the objects left the other, going across the sky in a zigzag movement, a back and forth motion…I remember watching it go behind us, all of which took at least five full minutes. My girlfriend at the time wouldn’t even get out of the vehicle. I got back in [the car] to watch the show again, and I could still see the remaining object, still quite bright, watching the show.”
After about ten minutes, the object suddenly shot in the opposite direction. “I remember it leaving in the blink of an eye,” Brian says. “All you could see was a small streak in the direction it went. I’m sure there had to be fifty to sixty people that were out of their vehicles at that time, because there was no show to watch but that one. Funny thing too, I watched the newspapers and listened to the radio for many days, and nothing was ever said about that incident that I could ever find.”
Wellington Circle Twin Drive-in Theater
This next case comes from longtime pioneering researcher, Lawrence Fawcett. It’s a fantastic case containing all the elements of a drive-in theater encounter: low-level objects appearing near the movie screen, performing highly dramatic maneuvers for a long period of time in front of a large group of witnesses.
One evening in May 1963, at around 9:00 p.m., movie-goers at the Wellington Circle Twin Drive-In Theater in Medford, Massachusetts were treated to a UFO display over the theater that was, as one reporter writes, “a better show than the one on the billing.”
Everyone was viewing the film when their attention was drawn to strange activity in the sky above the screen. Looking up, they saw two glowing, orange-red, disc-shaped objects. Suddenly, the two discs were joined by two more, then two more after that. Finally, two more arrived until there was a grand total of eight glowing discs.
By this time, nearly everyone at the theater had exited their cars to watch the fleet of discs, which were clearly putting on a performance for them. For the next forty-five minutes, the objects moved two-by-two, splitting apart and rising up either side of the formation of discs until they reached the top. After forty-five minutes, the objects departed, leaving a very stunned group of witnesses.
The theater had twin screens with a capacity of about 900 cars. It was later doubled in size. Unfortunately, like many drive-in theaters, it didn’t survive the 1970s. Now an office building stands in its place.
Richland Drive-In Theater
“This sighting has never left my mind,” says Gordon (pseudonym.) “I will never forget what I saw.”
It was 1963 (approx.,) and Gordon had taken his girlfriend to see a movie at the Richland Drive-In Theater in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. They pulled into the parking lot and found a good spot. Darkness fell upon the theater. The movie screen lit up and the pre-show began. While teasers and commercials played on the screen, the last few cars continued to trickle in.
The movie was just about to start when it happened; Gordon heard a strange “crackling sound.” As the sound grew louder, Gordon and the others looked around. It was a dark night and nothing seemed to be visible.
Suddenly, the movie screen went black and the portable speakers went dead. At the same time, the cars that were still trying to enter the theater and find a spot also failed, with both headlights and car engines dying simultaneously. The crackling sound increased, but still nothing was visible.
Gordon describes what happened next: “People got out of their cars. And as we looked up, there was an object the size of a football field coming across the sky. It was shaped like a sphere, almost like a Stealth, but five times as big. There was a dome on its bottom that was illuminated and seemed to rotate. There were greenish-blue flames coming off the edges. And it went right down the skyline.”
Gordon was shocked. The entire sighting lasted no more than five minutes, but it left a deep impression on him. Forty-six years after the incident, he finally decided to officially report his sighting to NUFORC.
The Richland Drive-In theater had a 450-car capacity. As of yet, no other witnesses to this event have stepped forward.