The Piedmont UFO Incident and The 37th Parallel Conspiracy

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
June 25, 2018
Last Updated
October 11, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

While returning home from a high school basketball game in early-1973, several members of the Piedmont High School team, along with their coach, would witness an up-close UFO sighting. They wouldn’t be the only ones, as other, corroborating witnesses would come forward also.

reproduction of the Piedmont UFO incident

reproduction of the Piedmont UFO incident

The sighting would prove to be one of several in the Missouri region during this time. And they themselves, ultimately, part of a nationwide wave of sightings in the United States throughout much of 1973. While the majority of the sightings during the 1973 wave occurred in the latter months of the year, the Piedmont incident took place in February and was perhaps a precursor of things to come. Between late-February and April 1973, Piedmont police would receive in excess of 500 UFO reports.

Perhaps even more bizarre, as we will look at a little later, they seem to occur on a line of latitude that is synonymous with paranormal incidents and unusual activity.

A “Somber” Journey Home

Late in the evening of 21st February 1973, coach of the Piedmont High School basketball team, Reggie Bone, along with two of his staff and three of his players, would board the school bus following a playoff defeat to the underdog Richmond by seven points. [1] The mood on the journey home would be a somber one. At least to begin with.

Once he had everyone on board they would proceed to Highway 60 in southern Missouri on their way home. The road was lined with heavy forest and would twist and snake in places. Aside from the soft glow of their bus, much of the journey was along the typical dark, country roads of the region.

They were around twenty miles outside of Piedmont when Bone first noticed a “bright shaft of light beaming down out of the sky”. Whatever it was, Bone knew it wasn’t a helicopter or an airplane. He asked aloud what the strange glow was, sparking the passengers to turn their attention to the sky. It appeared to be descending, slightly to their left over a field.

They continued towards the Bushy Creek area. As they passed through, one of the players, Randal Holmes, would alert everyone to the object’s presence once again. This time, Bone would pull the bus to the side of the road. Then, he, his two staff, and the players would exit the vehicle to get a closer look.

Edith Boatright’s Simultaneous Sighting

As they all looked on in awe at the fascinating scene unfolding before them they could see the object was only 200 yards away. Although they couldn’t determine an actual shape due to the otherwise pitch-black that engulfed them, they were able to clearly see the lights. Coach Bone would claim to see “four lights that looked like portholes. Red, green, amber, and white”.

They would estimate these lights to be around three-to-four feet apart from each other. Furthermore, they appeared to be in a perfect line, perhaps suggesting a cigar or disc-shape to the craft. It was still in the air, just hovering around 400-feet above the ground. The players and their coaches remained silent and motionless, watching this other-worldly light show. The object remained motionless for about ten minutes. Then, without warning, it would shoot directly upwards and out of sight. All would report it made no noise whatsoever.

Although they didn’t know it at the time, around twelve miles away in Mill Spring, Edith Boatright was just preparing to go to bed when she noticed the strange lights of a low-flying object outside her home.

It was a little after 10 pm when Edith recalled noticing a flash outside the bedroom window. As their home was next to the Highway, she believed the flash might have been the result of a traffic accident. She left her bed and went over to the window.

She could see a strange craft outside, moving almost silently (she would report a “whoosh” sound). Edith would further state, “I think there were people in it. I could see objects moving but could not make out any form of a person”. She watched it for several moments before it vanished from her sight.

The Piedmont UFO Wave

The following evening on the 22nd February came another sighting in the same region as the Piedmont High School team incident. While driving in the Bushy Creek area of Piedmont, Roy and Beth Burch, and Kathy Keith would report strange “green, white, amber, and red” lights. They would even attempt to catch up with the strange object, at one point traveling over seventy miles per hour, but were unable to keep up. Many other people in the creek area would also report the sighting.

On the 26th February, Pat Toney and Will Freeman would report a “luminous object” moving near the Tip Top Mountains. They would report it “was solid with prongs on it” and that it had a red light.

On the 1st March, Earl Turnbough was driving along Highway 49 a little after 9 pm. He would report he had just driven over a hill when an object “lit up like a circus” hovered ahead of his vehicle. In what was only a second, the object vanished out of sight. Turnbough would witness another strange craft on 14th March driving through the same area. As a thunderstorm sent rain crashing on to all below, he would notice an amber light in a field running along the roadside.

He would bring his car to a halt and watched the object for around ten minutes. He would later recall, “When the lightning flashed I could see a dome-shape with sort of an antenna at the top”. Turnbough believes the amber light was the tip of this antenna. He would also note how “it wasn’t making any noise at all”.

The following week Turnbough would witness lights of “yellow, green, and red” moving over the Brushy Creek region as he tended to his cattle.

A depiction of a strange red craft

A depiction of a strange red craft

Constant Reports Of Strange Objects

On 14th March, professional photographer, Maude Jefferis, managed to capture a “small reddish ball” that she believed was very high up. Jefferis, who also taught photography at Clearwater High School, claimed to have spotted the object at around 11 pm and would state “I cannot explain the object. (However), It is not a lens flare or light reflection”.

Carl Laxton would also report an object on the same evening as Jefferis captured her picture. He would state it was “like a barrel with protrusions like arms sticking out of it”. He would further state that when the craft would tilt, a white light became visible which, in turn, gave him a “great view of the object”.

On 21st March, Cathy Leach and Jean Coleman were driving over the Clearwater Dam when they witnessed something raise out of the lake. It was a little after 9 pm when they saw a “red flash” on the water. They saw an object rise out of the water, with red blinking lights, as well as constant yellow and white lights. The object made no sound and was visible for around five minutes. Their story was corroborated by Ken Johnson, the owner of the boat docks at Piedmont. Before the object burst through the surface of the water, he and campers at the docks would report a “bright light moving right under the surface of the lake”.

A “Landing” In Broad Daylight?

During the afternoon of 22nd March at around 4:30 pm, two Southeast Missouri State University students, Joe King and Ron Miller, were driving along Highway 34. They were around eight miles outside of Piedmont when each saw an oval-shaped craft in the sky, just above the trees. They could clearly see the craft to be of a “metallic” material. It contained a flat underside and a dome on top.

On the same day, at a 7:30 pm, KPWB Radio newsman, Dennis Kenney, would claim to see a “big orange light, glowing from white to orange”. His work colleague, Gary Sutton, managed to capture several pictures of the object. They were very similar to pictures taken by the aforementioned Maude Jefferis.

The sightings continued throughout March and into April. On 3rd April, however, Mrs. Stucker would witness one of the strange craft land. It was just after noon, and Mrs. Stucker was traveling down Highway 60. As she glided along, her sight caught something shiny in the sky. She would later describe it as “round with the exception of a dome on top” that was split into three “pyramiding domes”. On the bottom of the craft, there seemed to be tripod-like landing legs.

It would vanish into the trees before emerging again shortly after. She would later recall, “The object was hovering just above the treetop level to the right of the road”. The craft was shining as if it were “made of aluminum” and didn’t make a sound. Several days later, Mrs. Stucker would take investigators to the spot of the incident. They would find broken trees in a thirty-foot circle, twisted counter-clockwise. Although there was no radiation count, there was a strange ash discovered in the apparent landing area.

A depiction of a spaceship overhead

A depiction of a spaceship overhead

The Sightings Of Oscar Willis

Although the sightings of Oscar Willis took place in Grand Tower, Illinois, around sixty miles from Piedmont on the Illinois-Missouri border, it shares many details with the sightings in its neighboring state. Willis, an operating engineer, received a call from a fellow employee stating that something strange was above the yard. He would go outside to investigate, and about 200 yards in front of him was a saucer-shaped craft. He estimated it to be around thirty feet wide. Willis also noticed a “high-intensity red light with a lot of lights coming out of what seemed to be portholes”.

The lights would flash in such a way as to cause a “spinning effect”. Willis continued to walk slowly towards it. As he got to within a hundred yards, the object disappeared “behind the power plant almost like a blur”. He would locate it again, briefly, as it hovered over a water pump at the plant. He would take his eye off it for a moment, and when he looked back, it was gone. According to Willis, the object was seen heading towards the Missouri Hills. Even more bizarre were the four jet planes that made repeated passes over the area in the minutes following the object’s disappearance.

Willis would further state the object moved at a pace he had never seen before. And furthermore, it was completely silent – much like the sightings in Piedmont. The video below looks at some of the UFO sightings during 1973. A year that looks increasingly important in terms of extraterrestrial activity.

Connections To The 37th Parallel?

Whether it is coincidence or not is open to debate, but Piedmont sits on the 37th Parallel – the 37th degree of latitude. Some people refer to this latitude as a “paranormal highway”, [2] including alien investigator, Chuck Zukowski. He claims to have undertaken investigations in over 1,000 paranormal cases, of which over 200 sit along this line.

And he might have a point. Area 51 and the alleged Dulce underground base both sit on this line of latitude. As do several cattle mutilation cases in various spots through Colorado. In Taos in New Mexico, Zukowski would investigate a mysterious “humming” sound that residents claim has been audible since the early-1990s. Although not everyone can hear the anomaly, those that can, claim it causes sleep disturbance, dizziness, and even intense headaches. Rumors apparently exist that the hums are the result of the construction of an underground facility of “human-alien” intelligence.

As well as the Piedmont UFO sightings, there are several other UFO incidents on record along this line. The apparent UFO crash and retrieval of Cape Girardeau in 1941, for example. Or the Thomas Mantel incident, who some claim crashed his plane due to pursuing a UFO in 1948. More recent sightings have taken place along the 37th Parallel also.

In May 2011, in Wichita, Kansas, an anonymous witness would report a strange light “different from a star” as he smoked a cigarette in his yard. It would make “small, rapid movements” and was visible for around ten minutes.  Less than six months earlier, in December 2010 in Roanoke, Virginia, came another report. This time of a “disc-shaped orb” moving at a great pace through the clouds. The craft was silent and would glow blue as it changed altitude.


1 Piedmont was “UFO Headquarters” in February 1973, Daily American Republic
2 The man who chases aliens on ‘America’s paranormal highway’, Melkorka Licea, New York Post, September 4th, 2016

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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  • Kellie says:

    I’m from Piedmont. Actually, I’m from the Wayne, Carter, Reynolds County lines, on the north side of Brushy Creek. I attended school in Piedmont some 13 miles away. Illinois is also much further than 60 miles away; Cape Girardeau is around 70. Anyway, I spent my childhood on the banks of Brushy Creek, and much of my adult life as well. Having heard the stories growing up from teachers, my own mother, my uncle, adult cousins, I figured “Hey it was the 70’s, they were probably all smoking some good stuff,” especially as there was the popular tale of our sheriff destroying huge amounts of marijuana in the incinerator at the grocery store, and the wind carrying it all over town. So I was quite surprised when, around 1993-4, I was at Brushy Creek with my young son and his friend, and witnessed something odd. I’d dozed off for s moment in the sun, the boys happily preoccupied with a pool id made of sand, gravel and water and filled with tadpoles and mud bugs for them to play with. All of a sudden I hear the boys screaming “BATMAN!” It was dark (shaded), cool, and a wind was blowing. I opened my eyes to see a plane hovering at the tree tops directly above us. It was obviously a military plane, and resembled one I’d seen at the VP Fair innSt Louis a few years prior that had thrusters on the bottom and had hovered low over the Mississippi River. I had prior, and have dozens of times since, seen military aircraft flying up the creek, up Black River, and even down the Middle Fork north of Lesterville (not far from Tip Top). So it is my educated guess that what all my teachers, my mother, and so many others saw in the early 1970s was merely experimental aircraft.

  • Lloyd Russell says:

    I have somewhat of a story! One afternoon while standing on my front porch I saw this tryangler shape object it was beautiful an it was dark! Ok the whole thing is I live in Iron ton Missouri! At the northern end of town. There is a mountain called Pilot Knob Mountain. Which is about seven tenths of a mile from me.I seen the lights an it was total silence! The only way to measure the size of it was to hold a dime between your thumb and pointed finger over the top of the mountain. I guessed it to be about600 feet across. An double decker. Suddenly it took off just like on star wars it was something else to see! A trail of fire behind it! This is true of what I saw!

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