Eerie Lights Over Early Massachusetts: The First UFO Sightings in the New World

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The account given is a strange one, though not unlike the circumstances popularly reported in conjunction with sightings of strange lights in the skies in modern times. It was, in other words, very much a sighting of an unidentified flying object, though what the actual phenomenon witnessed may have been cannot be easily determined solely from Winthrop’s narrative. Filtered through the puritanical mindset of a pre-Newtonian world, there is indeed much left to the imagination.

There are nonetheless aspects of the report Winthrop gives us that are of interest. Of particular note had been his description of the witnesses, which may imply some degree of disorientation caused by observing the light. As the observers “found themselves carried quite back against the tide to the place they came from,” some might discern from this that something akin to “missing time” had occurred. Indeed, certain similarities to popular UFO reports of the last few decades come to mind here, namely the alleged 1976 Allagash UFO incident, where those involved claimed to have observed a light over the course of several consecutive nights, along with the requisite missing time of many UFO abductions of the era (there have been questions raised about the veracity of this 1976 UFO incident in recent years, which are beyond the scope of the present discussion).

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