Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2017
A Strange, Flying Light Sighting at Gulf Breeze, FL
by: Sandy Nichols
The beginning of the Gulf Breeze city limits driving in from the west, begins just across the Three-Mile Bridge from Pensacola, FL. The main area of this bedroom community is situated on a spit of land surrounded on three sides by Santa Rosa Sound. A few hundred yards or so past the Gulf Breeze High School, is Shoreline Drive off of Hwy 98. A mile or so down Shoreline Drive is the Shoreline Community Center where MUFON and other UFO meetings are held. Across from the Community Center main building, is a short two-lane drive that leads to Shoreline Park. When I first began skywatching at Shoreline back in 1997, the park was nice with a few picnic tables and a boat launching ramp. Hurricane Ivan devastated this park in 2004, and the city did an excellent job of rebuilding it in a better way that became more appealing for entire families to visit, relax, and have fun on sunny days. As one enters the parking area from the drive, one can see that the park is basically divided into three sections, with an elevated boardwalk in the middle section that leads to a long pier, and a boardwalk to the left. Also located in this middle section is a well maintained, public restroom. At the far left side of the parking area are two boat launching ramps and parking spaces for vehicles pulling trailers. On the right side of the middle section is a covered picnic area, and a short-depth sand beach with a roped off swimming area. We normally set up our folding chairs on the sand facing south, because it gives us an unobstructed view looking south, but also east and west. On the far right-side of the parking area, where the woods begin, is another covered picnic area for larger groups. One can walk along the sand beach bordering the woods, where you can find two more, rather private resting areas.
Looking south across the Sound, one can see famous Pensacola Beach, a very popular area for vacationing tourists and Spring Breakers alike. At the very end of Pensacola Beach to the west, is Fort Pickens. This Fort was built in 1834 to protect the entry way from the Gulf Of Mexico into Santa Rosa Sound and the city of Pensacola. There are camping spots in this area, and we have UFO skywatched from this location a few times, as well as the Gulf Island National Seashore area to the east, but mainly we gather at Shoreline Park. For years, Shoreline Park has been the epicenter and best location where the majority of UFO sightings have taken place.
My first visit to the Panhandle area of Florida was in late 1996, on vacation with my wife in Destin, Fl. I had read Ed Walter's books several years before about the UFO sightings in Gulf Breeze, and in particular Shoreline Park. While my wife stayed in our rented condo and read one of her books, I drove one evening the one hour drive to Gulf Breeze, but could not find neither Shoreline Drive or Shoreline Park. I wound up that night on Pensacola Beach skywatching, not knowing I was just across the Sound from the park. In March of 1997, I attended the Project Awareness UFO Conference on Pensacola Beach. In September 1998, my wife and I once again vacationed in Destin, Fl, and this time around during a daytime drive I found the park. Two nights later I was back in Gulf Breeze and was welcomed at the park by about 30 people skywatching. I learned a lot that night of the sighting encounters in this area, and thus began my regular visits twice a year to the park which continues to this day.
I attended yet another conference in the area in 1999 and 2000. It was at the 2000 Conference that on Saturday night, a group of 20 of us decided that a skywatch at the park was in order. We arrived around 7 pm, and since no one had brought any folding chairs we just mingled around on the sand and in the picnic area while keeping an open eye on the sky. A couple of people walked out on the pier, but the only thing anybody had seen since arriving were a couple of "poppers." Poppers, are simply quick pops of white light that appear from time to time in the sky, near the beach, and sometimes in the woods. Nobody really knows what the pops are or why they suddenly appear and disappear so quickly.
As it neared 10 PM, some suggested that if we moved to another location then maybe we would have better luck at sighting a UFO. At this time everyone of us were lined up on the beach side by side. Celina anchored the far right end of the line, and Lisa the far left side of the line about 30 feet from the pier, with me standing next to Lisa. It wasn't unusual for several skywatchers to be lined up like this while looking in the three directions, but 20 of us seemed kind of strange. Someone mentioned that we all looked like "ducks in a row." Then immediately after this was said, Celina alerted us to a white, ball of light about dime size at arm's length making a curving, zig-zag pattern downward from the west. We all turned and saw what she had first seen. The viewing angle was perfect as the white ball of light descended to just above the water, not more than 1/2 of a mile from us. It then began to move along the beach/water line that bordered the woods. It was heading in our direction and then passed not more than about three feet in front of each one of us, and about five feet off the deck, but there was something very strange as it passed in front of us.
We could all see the light, at this point about tennis ball size, right before it passed in front of Celina, but no one could see the light as it passed directly in front of Celina, except for Celina. Then as it began to pass in front of the second person in line, Celina could not see it anymore, but now only the second person in line could see the light as it passed directly in front of them. In other words, the only person that could see the light as it passed in front of each one of us, was the person that the light was directly in front of at the time...even though we were all standing just mere inches and no more than foot away from each other along the entire length of our line. The only exception to this pattern was when it passed by me and in front of Lisa. Lisa continued to see the light as it passed her, then it made a sharp, right-hand turn over the three steps that led from the sand to the pier, and then down the length of the pier and out over the Sound a couple of hundred feet where it suddenly flared up a bit and simply vanished.
Needless to say this light encounter and the way it transpired surprised every one of us. Explanations then came forth to account for the light. One person wondered if it was a firefly/lightning bug flashing on and off. This was quickly dismissed as this flying bug is nowhere near the size of a tennis ball. Another suggested that maybe we all had an hallucination, but this too was quickly discarded with everyone agreeing fully on what had transpired to the tee. I chimed in my two cents worth, that for me it didn't seem to be a living entity, but more along the line of a mechanical device controlled by an unseen intelligence, maybe to study our physical and emotional reaction. A few minutes later someone suggested that maybe as it passed in front of each one of us, it created a "bell jar" affect that somehow blocked the rest of us from seeing it. This explanation rang a bell with me and a few others since several of us have had various types of "bell jar" experiences in the past, but in truth, we will probably never know exactly what we witnessed that night.