BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Gene Godzala saw something “very unusual” around 9:05 on the night of May 5.
“A red round light. It stopped. Dead stop. And it turned green,” Godzala, a West Seneca resident, explained as he pointed to the sky from his backyard deck.
He quickly summoned his wife to come out and see what all the fuss was about.
“I was like, oh my goodness. You couldn’t watch it travel,” Sue Godzala recalled. “It just moved and was in a different location… it was a circle.”
They reported the case to the Mutual UFO Network – known as MUFON — which collects and investigates sighting reports from the public.
Jack Fay, a retired captain with the New York State Police who now works as a MUFON field investigator, says the Godzalas are “very credible people.”
“Most people are decent people and they just seen something that they don’t understand and that’s what we’re here for,” Fay said. “Mostly my job a lot of times with this and the paranormal is to try to explain to people well look, maybe this is what you seen. I’m not telling you what you seen. But it could be something like this or this, instead of extraterrestrial. That’s the last place we want to look.”
About a two hour drive to the east of West Seneca is Ovid, New York, in the Finger Lakes region. That’s where David and Trish Reynolds saw something on the night of June 5.
“It was huge,” recalls David, a retired state corrections worker and military veteran. He says he spotted a triangular light formation from his front porch around 9:21 p.m.
He immediately called for his wife Trish who was inside the residence.
“She was extremely surprised.”
Trish joined David on the front porch, armed with a new smartphone camera. She was able to take three quick photographs.
“The distances between the lights never changed through the whole thing. They always remained the same,” David explained.
David and Trish say the lights seen in the photos changed from an “orangish” red to a white color.
Trish concedes that she had always been a UFO skeptic, but is now a believer after seeing the strange lights.
“It really had turned me around 100 percent. I’m a firm believer now. Definitely.”
Like the Godzala family, David and Trish contacted MUFON. The case was assigned to Buffalo area field investigator John Lombardo.
“These people obviously photographed something highly unusual, said Lombardo, an Air Force veteran who spent 30 years in law enforcement. “It seemed to him [David] that the air around the lights themselves seemed to have that ripple effect as they were changing from the red orange to the white.
Trish says had she not seen the object with her own eyes she would have never believed it.
“Yeah, I saw it. So, he’s not cuckoo,” she joked while referring to her husband.
David estimates the size of the light formation was anywhere from 500 to 1,000 feet.
“I don’t know what they were, but I do know what they weren’t. They weren’t anything I’ve ever seen before.”
Both David and Trish say the event lasted about three minutes before the object disappeared quickly.
According to MUFON, there were 900 sightings from the around the world just in the month of May with most coming from the United States. The top five states with the most reports in May include California, Texas, Florida, New York and Ohio.
Other interesting data points involve the shape of the UFOs reported. The most sighted shapes were spheres, discs, triangle and circles.
Interestingly, 84 of the sightings were in the form of a triangle, and 19 reported seeing a boomerang shape.
Cassidy Nicholas, a MUFON archivist and field investigator from Western New York, says everything is looked at “scientifically.”
“Anything that you look up in the sky and you don’t know what it is…it’s unidentified to you so therefore it’s a UFO. That doesn’t mean it’s full of little green men,” said Nicholas, who has appeared on the History Channel’s Hangar 1: The UFO Files.
MUFON has different classifications ranging from unknown to identified. Those classified as IFO (Identified Flying Object) could be man-made or natural. There’s also a category for sightings that lack sufficient data, and those that end being a hoax.
Some in the UFO community say as few as 5 percent of aerial sightings fall into the unknown category.
“All we want to figure out is what it is and hopefully where it came from and track it and learn from these,” Nicholas said.
MUFON, along with the National UFO Reporting Center, provide an online reporting system for the public, and allow users to search for the latest sightings.
The West Seneca sighting in May reported by Gene and Sue Godzala has been classified by MUFON as an IFO — likely man-made.
“I didn’t get the feeling of anything extraterrestrial,” said Jack Fay, the field investigator assigned to the case.
Gene Godzala says he has no idea what the circular light was that he saw from his backyard.
“Definitely not a spotlight. Not a helicopter. Not a blimp. Not a plane. So, I really don’t know what it could be.”
And what about the case of the triangular lights witnessed and photographed by David and Trish Reynolds of the Finger Lakes region?
“It’s very rare that you find a photograph like these where it was zero magnification and quite well done,” said John Lombardo, who investigated the case for MUFON. “This is a good one. This is a very good one.”
But analysis done on the photographs found no evidence of manipulation and no evidence to suggest that the “lights were attached to any main body.” Instead, MUFON found there were four separate point sources of light consistent with “sky lanterns.”
David Reynolds is convinced that he saw something unusual in the sky outside his Finger Lakes residence last month, and he doubts the lights were sky lanterns.
“I served in the military and I’ve been on the Earth for 62 years. I’ve never seen anything like that. I can’t say what they are. I have no idea.”