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Reports of men in black date back to at least the 1940s. Described as dressing in all-black suits and black hats, these shadowy figures are said to deliver veiled threats to those who dare to discuss publicly the existence of UFOs and aliens. Who there are is a mystery, with speculation ranging from government-backed agencies charged with keeping extraterrestrial secrets out of the hands of ordinary citizens, to extraterrestrials themselves, intent on observing those with connections to alien activity.
In early October, 1987, Danny Gordon, a radio journalist for the country music station WYVE, heard a local report of an unidentified flying object in his home town, Wytheville, Virginia. The news came from the Sheriff’s department, and stated that four police officers, three of whom were Sheriff’s deputies and former military men, had witnessed a strange object in the sky the previous night.
Being a “very sceptical newsman”, Danny decided to report the story as a “ha ha piece”, something to conclude his news segment on a light-hearted note. What he could not have anticipated, was the response from his listeners. Reports of similar UFO sightings flooded in, so much so that Danny set up a special call-in programme for the following week.
Discussing the call-in programme on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the sightings, Danny Gordon described it as a “lightning rod” moment. After that, “every day the phone would ring off the hook”. 1
The people of Wytheville had not only witnessed similar sky anomalies as the police officers, but were willing to share what they had seen.
“Well, it kind of looks something ‘bout like an egg shape to me” – caller transcript
“What we could see was red, green and white, sort of flashing lights. We saw a plane go by, with, you know, red, red flashing lights. We knew it wasn’t a jet of any sort.” – caller transcript
Determined that there was a rational explanation for the strange sightings, such as experimental military aircraft, Danny felt the situation would resolve itself in time, and the sightings would ebb away. He was wrong. Local residents continued to witness strange lights in the sky, with their suspicions raised when rumours spread about town that the local military had unconvincingly explained the sightings as planes simply refuelling mid-air above residents’ houses.
To help clarify the situation, Danny states that he called the Pentagon “and talked to the air force general there”, who told him that under no circumstance would refuelling occur “under 13,000 feet”, and that the reported sightings of strange lights and aircraft, which were spotted no more than 5,000 feet above the ground, were simply not the US air force. 2
Danny Gordon and Roger Hall witness a UFO in Wytheville
With the sightings still unexplained, Danny and his friend, Roger Hall, decided to investigate further. They headed out to the location of one of the sighting hotspots one evening. After a fruitless search, on their return to town, about quarter to nine, they “saw a very unusual object coming across the horizon.” Alarmed, Danny stopped the car, and both men jumped out. In a later interview, Danny described seeing a craft which was “very large, it had a dome-shaped top, and no wings, and had what appeared to be a strobe putting out multi-coloured lights on the right side.” Roger Hall stated that the object was “probably less than a 1,000 feet away and a 1,000 feet high at the maximum”. 3
“We guessed it at being at least two football fields in diameter. You could see, three huge, looked like picture windows in the back of it, that were lit from the inside out.” – Roger Hall
“As I watched the sky, from the left came a red ball. As a big mothership went into a small skip of clouds, the red ball docked with the craft.” – Danny Gordon
Dumbstruck by what they were witnessing, neither men were able to photograph the object, despite having gone out that night armed with cameras.
The following evening the men went out again, and this time managed to photograph the anomaly. When they were developed, they only showed vague streaks of light in the sky.
Danny Gordon is warned to leave the Wytheville UFOs alone
Ready to share his findings with his audience, Danny arranged a press conference. The night before, he “received a phone call from somebody who refused to identify themself.” Eerily, the stranger warned Danny that “the CIA and the Federal government were very much interested in Wythe County UFOs” and that it was something that he needed to leave alone, because it was not his place “to be messing in defense matters”. 4
The following night, after the press conference, Danny returned home to discover his house had been broken into. Nothing was missing, however, it seemed as though someone – whoever had broken in – had been searching for something.
“I started to wonder what I’d stepped into, and my wife was urging me to back off, to leave it alone.” – Danny Gordon
More UFOs are spotted in Wytheville
Far from being over, reports of UFOs continued to flood Wythe County.
Six weeks after the press conference, Danny Gordon caught sight of strange objects in the sky for a third time. He, his wife and daughter were leaving the shopping centre when everyone in the area stopped to look up. Danny recalls a group of school children pointing and shouting at the sky. Supposedly, there were “four different aircraft flying in formation, that made no sound”. According to Danny’s estimates, there were 200 people who watched them fly over. 5
Once again, Danny was able to photograph the crafts, in four separate photos.
“We looked very quickly and saw what I thought was a large object, which later appeared to be four flying disc shapes. As soon as the objects were photographed, they disappeared from view. When the pictures came out, they had a lot of grain, but they showed definite four shapes of objects in the sky. But the most impressive point, in the four photographs the objects appeared to change shape, or light formations within one click of the camera. They do from a teardrop shape, to a round ball shape, then they go to a flying saucer-like disc shape, and then they go to an egg shape, as they out of sight.” – Danny Gordon
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Three months after the initial sightings and Wythe County now had more than 1,500 reports of UFOs. Something was clearly going on.
Danny Gordon contacts the Pentagon
Danny once again phoned the Pentagon and pushed for answers. The response he allegedly received was shocking. Speaking with “the spokesman for defense at the Pentagon”, he was told, “We do not deny UFOs exist. The government confirms they exist, but we deny they pose a threat to the populace of Wythe County.” When Danny asked how the spokesman could know such a thing, he was bluntly told that no further information could be given. 6
Another strange phone call, another warning
Danny continued to investigate the UFOs which plagued Wythe County. However, one night, after receiving yet another strange phone call, he began to wonder if he was making the right decision.
He claims to have been contacted by a “retired military intelligence officer”, who asked Danny to record their conversation, so that if anything happened to him, it was on record that he had been forewarned. The man told Danny that he too had been researching UFOs – to a tragic end.
“What I’m tell’ you, Danny is I’ve been pursuing this thing for many, many years, and like I said, I saw my son die, of leukaemia.”
The man claimed that, because of his research, his son had been targeted. 7
“What I’m telling you, is they will try to hit you if they think it’s advisable for their purposes to keep you from further investigating this thing, and then most likely it’d be done through skin contact chemicals It’s be something on the door knob of your car, or on the steering wheel. They could also come up with something, or do something to your children.”
Segments from the original taped conversation were publicly broadcast during an episode of NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries.
Understandably, the conversation left Danny chilled. Regardless, he felt he needed to continue his research and uncover the truth behind the mass UFO sightings.
Men in black visit Danny Gordon in Wytheville
Less than one month later, two strange men in black arrived at his home, supposedly journalists wishing to write an article about Danny and the UFOs for their newspaper.
The men stayed for about forty-five minutes: one interviewing Danny, and the other wandering around the house taking photos.
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As they left, they said they would send Danny a copy of the article when it was published. When it did not arrived, Danny contacted the newspaper they claimed to work for, however, it had no record of the journalists, stating that the two men did not work for them. 8
“So, who they were I don’t know, but they were in my house, saw my pictures, saw my negatives, talked to my family, took pictures, and then left, and they were not with the newspaper.” – Danny Gordon
It was sometime after this meeting that Danny realised the negatives of the photos he had taken outside the shopping centre were missing. Someone had taken the original images of the four UFO photographs. 9
“I felt like maybe there was something in those photographs that I was not seeing, so I took the photographs to some other people to look at, we used magnifying glasses, we measured angles, trying to find out why these photographs were so important, and we’re yet to discover why anyone would want to steal that one specific set of four in a series of photographs of UFOs.”
By now Danny was living alone. His wife and daughter had moved out, exhausted and living in fear of what may happen to them as Danny continued his research. Two months later, Danny had a stress-induced heart attack. He had to stop his investigation. By the time he left Wythe county, he had collected 3,000 sightings from telephone calls and conversations with people in the street. 10 Speaking years later, Danny spoke of his regrets in how he handled the case.
“If I had the choice, I’d not report the UFO story again. It’s just been too hard on my life and created too many problems.” 11
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