A UFO Attack While On Aerial Patrol: The Jefferson County Dogfight

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
February 25, 2024
Estimated Reading Time
5 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

One February evening in 1993, a routine air police patrol shift took a drastic turn for two experienced Jefferson County police pilots, when they encountered an advanced object that was seemingly not of this world. Not only that, but the object would proceed to advance toward the helicopter on several occasions, forcing the pilots to take evasive action, as well as unleashing advanced weaponry of some kind at them.

The events would eventually appear in the Louisville Courier-Journal, generating a reasonable amount of publicity at the time. What’s more, in the face of this publicity, the police officer’s superior officer publicly defended his men’s reports and insisted he believed their version of events in their entirety. Interestingly enough, the account is relatively little known, even in the UFO community.

The events that evening remain a mystery. They are, though, extremely intriguing, and perhaps, if the intelligence behind this apparent attack was extraterrestrial, a great cause of concern.

A Routine Patrol Takes A Drastic Turn

Police helicopter pilots, Kenny Downs and Kenny Graham – both 39 years old – began their shift in Jefferson County, Louisville at around 6 pm on February 27th, 1993, with no idea that the night would prove to be one that would change their perceptions of the world around them. [1] Not long after they clocked on, they were flying over the city as part of their routine air patrols.

On this particular evening, Graham was piloting the vehicle, and Downs was acting as the spotter. The evening was largely uneventful for the first few hours. Then, a short time before midnight, they received a call about a possible break-in near the Appliance Park. By 11:50 pm, they were over their target and began to circle. It was as they were doing so, that Downs spotted what he, at first, believed was a small fire to his left-hand side. He made Graham aware of it, he disagreed with Downs’ assessment that it was a fire.

Downs then proceeded to shine the helicopter’s spotlight in the direction of the “fire”, which proved it to be some kind of solid object. What’s more, this object appeared to be drifting back and forth, almost as if reacting to the beam from the spotlight reaching it. After several moments, the object then began to ascend, covering a distance of around 500 feet bringing it level to the helicopter’s altitude. Then, it “took off” at a speed that neither pilot had witnessed before. They both watched as the craft made “two huge counterclockwise loops” which brought it behind the helicopter, from where it began to approach.

“Three Fireballs” That “Fizzled Into Nothing!”

Graham watched for a second or two more before pushing the helicopter forward at a speed of around 100 miles per hour, convinced that this mysterious craft was about to crash into it from behind. However, seconds later, the UFO zipped past them before beginning to climb rapidly, and steeply, into the air. Moments later, it began to descend, once more flying extremely close to the helicopter as it rushed by them.

Once more, Graham began to speed up, this time in an attempt to close in on this strange craft. However, within seconds, the UFO was approaching once more. And this time, “three fireballs” were sent flying from its center heading straight for them. Although the fireballs eventually “fizzled into nothing”, this course of action was more than enough to alert the pilots to the potential imminent danger they were in.

Graham altered the course of the helicopter, circling backward in an attempt to put distance between themselves and this unknown vehicle. By the time they had circled back around, the object was nowhere to be seen. They remained in the air for a short while, attempting to locate the craft, but it had seemingly vanished.

They eventually made their way back to base. Upon landing, Graham immediately contacted the control tower at Standiford Field requesting any information on anything unusual on the radar screens that evening. To his disappointment and disbelief, he was told that nothing unusual at all had been noted.

Corroborating Sightings From The Ground

While Graham was unsuccessful in acquiring radar confirmation of their encounter, Downs would have no more luck after contacting the police switchboard. He asked the radio dispatchers if they had received any reports of strange activity from other officers on the ground, or even from residents. The reply was negative.

However, as the communications were listened to by other officers on duty that evening, two police officers eventually notified Downs that they too had seen something strange overhead at the same time they claimed to have had their encounter.

Sketch of the encounter

One of those was police officer Mike Smith, who witnessed the aerial anomaly from his patrol car. He claimed to have watched the bizarre object for around a minute before it disappeared from sight.

The other police officer – Joe Smolenski – was driving on patrol when he noticed the bizarre craft in the sky. He claimed he had driven for at least a minute in an attempt to get to the location where the object was hovering, somewhere near the General Electric Appliance Park, the same location that Graham and Downs were hovering over. He would state to the Louisville Courier-Journal that he had “been looking for ‘em for 14 years”, adding that this was “the closest I’ve come to something I couldn’t explain”.

“No Doubt In My Mind There Was Something Out There!”

By half past midnight, Lieutenant David Pope was woken at his home with a phone call by Graham and Downs who felt they should urgently inform their superior of the evening’s events. Not only would take their report seriously, but he also publicly supported the two men, offering that “these guys are totally solid” and there was “no doubt in my mind there was something out there”.

Kenny Graham and Kenny Downs

This support was shared by their fellow officers, perhaps not least as the two police officers from the ground separately corroborated the incident.

Downs himself insisted that both he and Graham were just normal police officers and not prone to make things up, offering that they “both go to church every week”, and following the bizarre nature of the events that evening, he “might start going to church twice a week”.

Both Downs and Graham were more than certain that they had not hallucinated the incident and that what they witnessed was very real. Just what the reason for the UFO’s presence, and for attacking their helicopter are decidedly more uncertain.

A Largely Forgotten Incident With Remaining Questions

It would very much appear, then, that the incident that unfolded over Jefferson County that evening in early 1993 is not only credible but also shows the potentially deadly side of the UFO mystery, if, of course, we assume that the fireballs that were sent hurtling towards the police helicopter was weaponry intended to cause damage. Did the UFO – or the intelligence behind it – feel in danger? Or was the action much more aggressively proactive?

We might also ask if this was an extraterrestrial craft or if it was a highly advanced military vehicle? And if so, whose military? Given the aggressive actions of the craft we might assume it wouldn’t be one of the United States, unless, of course, they were under strict orders to avoid any type of interception. And if that was the case, then we would have to ask who would have the authority to issue such orders?

Ultimately, the events of that evening not only remain a mystery but they remain very much of interest to UFO investigators, researchers, and enthusiasts today three decades later.

The short video below examines some of the most intriguing UFO encounters from history.


1 UFO Puts On Show – Jefferson Police Officers Describe Close Encounter, Gardiner Harris, Louisville Courier-Journal, March 4 1993

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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