Something in the Air?

By Roger Hillis
From the Holiday 2014 issue

JeannieMackUFO UFO Sightings - Delaware Beach LifeWhen Matt Zelewsky booked a room at Hotel Blue in Lewes to ring in the new year with his wife, they were told their balcony might offer a view of fireworks after the stroke of midnight. At about 12:15 a.m. this past Jan. 1, Zelewsky stepped outside and had a close encounter of the unusual kind.

“There were nine lights flying north of the canal, and they were going east to west,” he says. “They were flying at different speeds and I could tell they weren’t Chinese lanterns or anything like that. It was kind of surreal.”

Though late-night comedians might joke about yokels sighting UFOs in the heartland, a slew of reports from coastal Delaware and surrounding areas offer a different view. 

“I work for the Department of Defense,” Zelewsky says. “I’ve been in the military for years, and I’ve seen flare drops, drones and every type of aircraft you can imagine. This was something that I couldn’t explain.” He contacted the Seattle-based National UFO Reporting Center, which has been run by Peter Davenport for the past 20 years. Sussex County has added a dozen reports to Davenport’s database this year, including a July 27 report from a veteran police detective who said he and other witnesses observed three triangular UFOs performing odd aerial maneuvers in the sky above the Indian River Inlet bridge.

Davenport says national reports quadrupled in number for some reason starting in May 2012. In July of that same year, Cape Gazette publisher Dennis Forney told of popular local chef Drew Lopuski, who contacted the newspaper to see if anyone else had shared his experience. He reported seeing a mammoth, flying saucer-style UFO fly along Route 1 south of Dewey Beach.

One year later, a local couple observed a similarly sized craft off Long Neck Road on a summer evening. The wife snapped an intriguing photo of an aerial object with about 15 lights in a sort of double oval shape, shown above. The woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she’d rather stay out of the spotlight, says she is “not sure what it is that I saw. I have never referred to it as a UFO — I know it was a light formation. It was very big and very low.”

On May 20, 2014, Carla DiGiacomo of Rehoboth captured a bizarre image over Route 1 north of Dover while she was driving. She initially thought a plane was coming in for a landing at the nearby airbase, as is usual. “The way it hovered was what caught my eye, and honestly, it creeped me out a little,” DiGiacomo says. “I didn’t know what I was photographing, but I figured my husband would get a kick out of it since he always watches ‘Ancient Aliens’ on TV.”

Also this year, a local commercial airline pilot photographed a triangular craft flying over the Peninsula Regional Medical Center in downtown Salisbury on Aug. 30. Most such photos tend to be blurry, which doesn’t help win over skeptics. However, the popularity of smartphones has led to an increase in the overall number of images collected.

Davenport is frustrated that so many people still scoff at his suggestion that extraterrestrial visitors could be responsible for some of the sightings. “I feel like I’m trying to wake people up out of an Ichabod Crane type of slumber,” he says. “I can’t get their attention because they’re so preoccupied with football and the starlets and harlots of Hollywood.”

See For Yourself

YouTube posters chronicling Sussex County UFO incidents haven’t had as much luck as local still photographers, but viewers can make up their own minds about the legitimacy of what’s online. An Aug. 14, 2012, clip filmed on a crowded Rehoboth Beach boardwalk — titled “The Siren - 081412 - UFO Capture” — mainly captures the excitement of those in attendance. Meanwhile, footage dubbed “Fleet of UFOs Delaware Coast June 9, 2013” finds the videographer marveling at “starcraft” overhead — with commenters later posting about the resemblance to the sky lanterns so often launched during outdoor weddings and beach barbecues.

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