Colorado's Stan Romanek claims to have been abducted by aliens multiple times, and his experiences have garnered more attention than any other modern-day case of alleged E.T. encounters. But is he telling the truth, or is it all an elaborate hoax?
At the intersection of Estes Street and Yale Avenue around 8 p.m., Romanek sat at a traffic light while the UFO hovered directly overhead, blinking a bright orange-red color with a patch of green light on the underside. They're targeting me, he thought. Other drivers stopped their cars in the middle of the road and stuck their heads out of their car windows as a beam of light shot out of the bottom of the UFO, striking the ground next to Romanek's van. The beam "scanned" his vehicle before retracting up into the craft.
A husband and wife witnessed the scene. The man, the CEO of a major distribution company in Denver, later reported the episode, in detail, to the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), although he chose to remain anonymous for fear of being ridiculed. "This thing was following the van," he wrote to NUFORC. "[It] scared me to the point of panicking."
Romanek drove to the Stone House, part of Lakewood's Bear Creek Greenbelt, with the UFO still overhead. By then, Romanek had pulled out a video camera he had in the van and was filming the UFO. He wasn't the only one recording what was happening: A woman who was hosting a birthday party at the park for her 10-year-old daughter trained her camcorder on the UFO, too. Everyone at the party watched as the craft silently hovered and then rocketed skyward. Each time it passed through a cloud, the cloud flashed as bright as lightning, without the accompanying thunder. Minutes later, the UFO was gone.
The Denver affiliate of FOX News covered the sighting, and NUFORC eventually received four reports about the incident, and referred the case to the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) for further investigation.
MUFON is a Colorado-based international nonprofit organization, funded primarily through memberships, donations, and volunteers, dedicated to the scientific study of UFO sightings. The organization's goal is to expose hoaxes and to debunk sightings that have ordinary explanations: Stars, planets, airplanes, and weather balloons are all frequently confused as UFOs. In any given year, MUFON will receive more than 100 UFO reports in Colorado. Only the most credible—about 5 percent—will be referred for investigation. Of those, some 75 percent remain unexplained.
George Zeiler was the MUFON investigator assigned to the Romanek case. Zeiler interviewed Romanek, the couple that reported the sighting, and the partygoers. He sent the video footage to a friend in Los Angeles, who passed it on to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. The researchers at Caltech couldn't say what the UFO was exactly, but they could say what it did. Comparing the video footage with the location of fixed objects in the scene (trees and buildings), eyewitness accounts, and meteorological data (the height of cloud bases), it was determined that the UFO went from a stationary location 500 feet above the ground to an altitude of more than 10,000 feet in just 1.8 seconds—meaning it would have been flying at more than 3,500 mph. A typical military jet, such as the F-16 fighter, maxes out at speeds of 1,500 mph.
Stan Romanek, a Colorado native, was raised in a devoutly Christian household, and spent his early adulthood as a strong skeptic of UFOs. That all changed, he says, after the sightings and abductions started. Looking at him—5 feet 10 inches with a stocky build—you'd be hard-pressed to guess that Romanek, 45, has been through all he claims to have experienced. But then, in between his bushy goatee and a mop of graying brown hair, you notice the almost-blank stare of someone who's experienced a disturbing event and just might be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. He speaks with an eerily calm voice. Romanek openly admits to having issues with depression, and since his first abduction he's moved a lot, mostly up and down the Front Range, but also to Nebraska and back. He's also bounced from odd job to odd job, and currently runs a home-based computer repair business.