Many would perhaps dismiss the account of one-time country-western singer, Johnny Sands, without hesitation, were it not for the corroborating witnesses who saw at least part of the incident, and the lie detector test, which he passed with no faults or discrepancies whatsoever. Furthermore, despite the obvious skeptics to his claims, he refused to speak of certain things he was told by these apparent cosmic visitors as to do so would be a “breach of trust” they had placed in him.
The incident, which unfolded in the opening weeks of January 1976 was then compounded by the strange and suspicious behavior of a film crew who claimed to be interested in telling of his account. In short, the close encounter of Johnny Sands, as bizarre as it indeed sounds, is one that appears to be very true.
Just what did he witness along a lonely road on the outskirts of Las Vegas? And what was the purpose of their very specific questions? And was the incident that followed connected or simply a bizarre coincidence?
The case would first enter the wider public arena in the March 1976 edition of the APRO Bulletin. As their report points out, it is worth remembering that the United States had just been through several “UFO waves”, including two specific waves of humanoid occupant encounters in 1973 and late-1975. It would appear, that the Johnny Sands case fits nicely into these waves.
A “Blimp-Like Object” On The Blue Diamond Road
On the evening of 29th January 1976, 30-year-old Johnny Sands, a transplant to Las Vegas in order to promote his first country-western album, was returning home after visiting several radio stations in the towns surrounding the city. It was a little after 10 pm and the night sky had now taken charge overhead.
As he made his way down Blue Diamond Road, about 20 miles from the city center, he suddenly noticed what he first thought was a brightly lit blimp-shaped object overhead. For Las Vegas, this wasn’t particularly spectacular, so he continued to speed down the road unphased. However, several moments later, and after noticing the strange object appearing to follow him, his car engine began to cut out. He eventually pulled the car to the side of the road and exited the vehicle.
He went to the gas tank and physically shook the car a little. Satisfied he could hear the swoosh of petrol inside, he ventured instead to the hood of the vehicle. As he lifted it, though, his focus drifted upwards. The “blimp-like” object was directly above him.
He would later estimate it was around 60 feet long and approximately at an altitude of 1,000 feet. A “large, round ring” encompassed the middle section, and along its side, in the middle and evenly spaced out, were “windows or portholes”. On each end of the object, red and white lights flashed. He also recalled the color of the craft’s exterior was a “rusty-orange” shade.
The object continued to move, heading south of his direction. As it did so, it lit up the ground and mountains below. Then, it seemed to land on the nearby desert terrain.
Humanoids But Not Human!
Sands began to work on the car engine once more. As he did so, he noticed the low beam of his car headlights was on. He looked into the distance where his headlights faced. To his astonishment, two “figures” were heading in his direction.
Thinking they could be muggers, or worse, but not yet making a connection between the strange object and the two approaching figures, he began to move back to his car. However, try as he might, he was unable to move. He would later describe this as a strange feeling of not quite paralyzed and of wanting to move, but simply not being able to. As if there was a disconnect between the instructions of his brain and his legs.
Then, the two figures were almost upon him. One stopped around eight feet from him. The other, however, came much closer, no more than three feet away. He could now clearly see that although they were humanoid, they were clearly not human.
He would describe them as having the body of a young man at peak physical condition. Their faces, however, were almost ancient-looking, almost as if they were hundreds of years old. He would recall:
…bodywise, he looked as fit as a 21-year-old. But in his face, (and his) facial structure – I don’t know, something gave me the idea that this guy was 300 or 400 years old! It was a very powerful face…not ugly, (just) powerful looking!
Their heads were bald, and they also had neither eyebrows nor eyelashes or no other facial hair of any kind. They had jet black eyes, small with white pupils, a small “flattened” nose, and small mouths that neither opened nor moved, even when they spoke.
Appearance Of Floating Instead Of Walking!
Even stranger was the “gill-like protrusions” on each side of the faces which appeared to be constantly in motion. He would further describe these strange figures as being several inches short of six feet and barely 150 pounds in weight.
On their bodies were “black, silverfish all-encompassing overalls with no visible seams”. Later in their encounter, one of these humanoids would brush against his arm allowing Sands to feel the “rough, heavy duty sandpaper” texture of the strange fabric.
Around their waists was a white belt – the same color and design as a white strap which went from right shoulder to left waist. On the belt, several silver objects hung down about an inch in length.
Perhaps strangest of all, however, was the appearance that they were floating over the ground instead of walking. This could have been due to what appeared to be thick padding over the top and back of their feet. However, the lack of sound would also suggest to Sands that this was the case.
He would estimate a 10-minute conversation then began, much of which, as we mentioned at the beginning, he would not relay the details of the encounter at the request of these strange entities.
“We Know Where You Are And We Will See You Again!”
He was, though, happy to speak of several questions the strange humanoids asked him. According to Sands’ claims, they would first ask him why was there in the first place to which he replied he was “an entertainer” and “in Las Vegas to do a show”.
With the glittering lights of the casinos, light shows, and all manner of hedonistic entertainment taking place in the distance, the humanoid enquired why so many people came to the city. To this, Sands tried to explain that many tourists visited the city for many different reasons.
Then, the humanoid asked:
What is your means of communication?
Sands explained that he was confused by this and didn’t fully understand the question. He began to explain there were “several types of communication” available to them. Then, the humanoid interrupted him with an impatient tone telling him to “answer the question”.
Becoming a little unnerved he tried to explain again that he didn’t understand what was meant by the question. After a moment or two, the humanoid turned to face the other. They would simply stare at each other for around two minutes.
This last detail is an interesting point. Although Sands doesn’t state so, it is possible that the two humanoids were communicating telepathically. Especially given their last question. As well as the many cases of similar close contact that state as much.
Then, the humanoid turned back to face Sands, stating in a deep voice with “noticeable spacing” between each word:
Don’t say anything about this meeting. We know where you are and will see you again!
And with that, each figure turned and walked back into the night, towards their waiting craft. Then, a “flash of light came up” and they and the craft vanished.
Lie Detector Answers That Were “Not Consistent With Deception Criteria!”
Sands would estimate the entire scenario took no more than 10 minutes from his car stalling to the flash of light which saw the figures and the craft vanished. As soon as they had left, though, his car started immediately. He started out immediately, making his way back to Las Vegas.
Upon arriving he would make a report of the encounter to Las Vegas Police Department. However, they would send him to nearby Nellis Air Force Base, and specifically, the Office of Special Investigations.
Once there, it became clear, whether intentionally or not, that no one was able, or wished to assist him. The person he spoke with at the Nellis base would claim that they no longer actively investigated UFO reports. And furthermore, their radar didn’t pick up anything out of the ordinary on the night in question.
Incidentally, it would later come to light following APRO investigators efforts with the case that police in the Las Vegas area did receive several reports of an unusual object on the night in question. It not only matched the one described by Sands, but the timeframe of the sightings was also the same as Sands’ encounter.
Before we look at one of the truly bizarre twists, in this case, we should also point out that Sands would take a lie detector test in relation to his sighting, the results of which were passed to the APRO investigator. On all the key questions, including questions such as did he see the strange figure and did he communicate with them, Sands answers were “not consistent with deception criteria”.
In short, it would appear Sands was telling the truth.
The Dave Dunn Productions Incident
Around the same time as Sands’ encounter, a television production company by the name of Dave Dunn Productions were in the Las Vegas region to begin filming a television series on strange encounters. As soon as they heard of Sands’ encounter, they approached him with a view of including it in one of their shows.
On 10th February, less than two weeks after the incident, after dining out with several members of the production company, Sands would return to the site of the encounter with several members of the television crew in order film sections for the program. Once there, however, he was unceremoniously instructed to stay in the car while several members of the production team spoke.
During this time, he managed to hear bits and pieces of the conversation that was taking place outside. It certainly appeared that some kind of disagreement was afoot judging from the animated gesturing taking place.
Then, as one of them gestured towards him, they said:
…what will we do with him, he’s already heard too much!
It was at this point when Sands began to push open the car door to get out. However, with a second of him doing so, two “fuzzy things” and pressed against the door trapping him inside. He would make several attempts at getting out of the car, but whatever the two figures were, they pushed back successfully against him.
The next thing he knew, he was back in Las Vegas. In fact, because he had trouble remembering the evening’s events in their entirety, he began to think he may have been drugged. Most likely, at some point during the dinner earlier in the evening.
A Very Quietly Credible Case
Although it is only pulled together from memory and educated guesses, there are several theories as to what happened to Sands on the evening of the filming of the apparent television show. And if it fits in anywhere with the actual encounter itself.
Were they somehow “in” on the actual incident of 29th January? That’s very unlikely, particularly given the secondary witnesses to the UFO taking off.
What is perhaps a more plausible theory is that they were planning to film a scene with details unknown to Sands. So as to provoke a genuine reaction of fear. The two “fuzzy things” were, some theorized, part of this elaborate illusion. Whether Sands was drugged or not is open to debate. He did admit to “having a few drinks” with his meal on the evening of the television recreation.
Whatever the truth behind the incident, it is one that appears quietly credible. And one that retains the attention of UFO researchers almost half a century later. How might it fit into the big and still unclear picture of the UFO and alien question is still to be determined.
The video below features researcher and author Tim Beckley interviewing Sands. Both about the encounter above and also subsequent Men In Black incidents. Well worth watching if only to gain Sands’ own perspective on things several decades later.