Men Search for Explanations for Strange Lights
- Yukoners have seen several UFOs in the ‘90s

by Caroline Murray, Star Reporter, Dec 30, 1994


Mike Powaschuk will not come straight out and say he saw an Unidentified Flying Object outside of Ross River over a week ago. But to suggest otherwise will just make him angry.

"It was not the Northern Lights, it was not the moon, and it was not a star!" the 36-year-old Ross River man said with firmness in his voice during an interview in Whitehorse this week.

Powaschuk said he saw strange lights in the early-morning sky for several hours while at his Sheldon Lake cabin, about 125 kilometres northeast of Ross River, on Dec. 20.

As a trapper, he had just finished working on his line when he observed the UFO.

"I saw these lights in the sky about 10 to 20 miles away," the community’s volunteer fire chief recalled. "They were green, blue, red, and white."

The amateur photographer proceeded to take snapshots of the eerie lights with his camera equipment. He also began making notes and recording the bearings and elevations of the lights.

Powaschuk admits he had been drinking that night, but maintains he only had three to four ounces of rum over several hours.

The trapper said he tried to communicate with the spectacle of lights by flashing the SOS signal with his flashlight. He said he also placed a lantern and candle on his window-sill.

"I didn’t hide underneath the blankets," said Powaschuk. "I wasn’t scared."

After several hours, the illuminations disappeared, and Powaschuk reported his sighting to the Ross River RCMP.

Later that day, he visited the site where the lights originated, but said there was no indication anything had landed on the ground.

"My nickname is Mad Mike, and I’ve got quite a reputation as a hard-talking guy," he said, "but I swear on Jesus, it’s true. I don’t tell stories."

Powaschuk is not the first Ross River resident to observe far-out-phenomenons. Bill Carson said he saw a peculiar wonder himself about 10 to 12 years ago during late fall and early winter.

"They were glowing bright lights that moved slowly," Carson said.

Asked if he thought it had been a UFO, the non-believer replied, "No."

"I suspect they were some meteors," he said. "There had been quite a storm that night, with clouds, rains, and wind. The lights went from west to east. It seemed as though one had struck the mountains."

A Whitehorse man says he had a similar experience to Powaschuk’s only days later while returning from Anchorage.

The man, who did not want his name published, said he saw bright lights in the sky while driving along the Alaska Highway, just past Haines Junction, at about 5 a.m. on Dec. 24.

"They flew in and out of the mountain tops," he said. "They stayed in the sky until I got to Whitehorse."

He stopped his car several times to further inspect the brilliant flash through his binoculars. He couldn’t determine the shape of the lights.

The Whitehorse resident said he could still see the lights suspended over Whitehorse General Hospital at 7:15 a.m.

"They were brighter than airport lights. It was a weird experience. I couldn’t and wouldn’t guess what it was."

Chris Rutkowski is an astronomer in Manitoba conducting research in ufology (the study of UFOs). He said they release an annual report on UFO sightings in Canada.

"We get reports from everybody," he said in an interview from Winnipeg. "Including pilots, police, air traffic controllers. Many of the people are actually well-trained observers."

Sighting a UFO doesn’t necessarily mean George Orwell’s radio version of The War of the Worlds has taken life, nor does it necessarily mean believing in space aliens or Martians from outer space.

"All it means is a person has seen an object that can’t be identified," said Rutkowski.

Although the astronomer said there were no UFO sightings in the Yukon in 1993-94, there were three reports in 1992, one in 1991, and one in 1990.

About 10 people spotted a triangular-shaped object with lights flying over Whitehorse in June 1992, he said. Similarly another group of Whitehorse residents spotted a globe with blinking lights quickly crossing the valley. Both sightings remain unexplained, said Rutkowski.

There was a sighting of a bright fireball in Whitehorse on Feb. 28, 1991, and another one almost a year later involving a group of people observing rotating lights. But Rutkowski said the first case may have been a fireball, and the second an aircraft.

The national average of UFO sightings is 250, he said, with about three to five per cent of the cases go unexplained. Since they began compiling reported sightings about five years ago, the numbers show an increase.


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