On this day in 1967, eyes were on the skies after reports of UFO sightings in Edmonton.
The May 10 UFO sighting was called into the Edmonton Journal by a couple who withheld their names out of fear of being branded as "kooks." The pair claimed to see an object with red-and-blue flashing lights about 500 feet in the sky. The thing seemed to fly away and then return before leaving again. A photographer was sent but found nothing of note to capture.
It might seem silly that the paper sent that poor, unnamed photographer out on a futile hunt for evidence of alien life. But May 1967 was a time of E.T. enthusiasm in Edmonton due to a detailed and elaborate UFO encounter described by a 14-year-old boy just a few days earlier.
Ricky Banyard claimed he was walking home early one morning when he spotted a strange flying object streaking over Mount Pleasant Cemetery. He claimed he spotted the object again once he reached his doorstep and watched it for the next four hours.
He described a spherical ship split into two spinning halves hovering a couple of hundred feet off the ground. The object was covered in red and green lights and emitted a "muffled whistling noise as it hovered," he said. Eventually, the boy said, the ship let out loud bangs and took off into the sky. He even produced a drawing of what he said he saw.
News of Banyard's close encounter spread, drawing dozens of UFO watchers to the cemetery over the next few days. The May 10 sighting was reported a few days later. And then, a little over a week after that, a couple of people described seeing a bright egg-like object tearing across the sky in the Mount Pleasant area.
The sightings died down for a while after that. But perhaps whatever Banyard saw that night just relocated. According to a government briefing, someone was dispatched from a military research facility in Suffield to investigate possible UFO landing marks in a field near Camrose following reports of strange phenomena. In the end, the investigator concluded that the markings were weird but could not rule out that they were a hoax.
In 2015, Edmonton had the fourth-highest number of UFO reports in the country, behind Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. And 2021 saw a sharp uptick in people calling 911 with claims of alien craft descending from the heavens. (Experts suggested that had less to do with increased interstellar tourism in Edmonton and more that people had a lot more stargazing time during the pandemic.)
You likely won't see any flying saucers, but if stargazing is of interest, the RASC Observatory at the TELUS World of Science is open on Friday and Saturday evenings whenever it's warmer than -10C.
This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.