The Strange And Unsettling Mike Foss UFO Encounters

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
March 9, 2024
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

During a drive home to rural South Dakota, 27-year-old Mike Foss witnessed a strange, glowing object one cold November evening in the mid-1970s. As if that wasn’t strange enough, by the time he had arrived home, the object was now hovering close to the property. What followed was a bizarre sighting involving Mike and his parents, which was followed by three further sightings in the space of several weeks, all of which left the Foss family completely mystified.

UFO investigators examined the case in the immediate aftermath of the encounters, and despite their best efforts, no satisfactory explanation was reached. Just what the Foss witnessed remains a complete mystery. The case, though, remains of interest to UFO investigators and enthusiasts still today.

At the time of the sighting, Foss was living at his parents’ home on a farm they owned around seven miles south of Milbank in South Dakota following his recent divorce. Not only that, despite a natural talent for architectural design, a “severe physical problem” meant that Foss had to earn a living as a far “less strenuous part-time” switchboard operator for the Milbank Police Department. Ultimately, though, perhaps because of his job, he was viewed as a credible witness. Perhaps even more so when it is factored in that his father, Norman Foss, also spent almost 20 years as a South Dakota highway patrolman.

A Bright, Orange Object Like A “Light Without A Source!”

It was around 6:30 pm on November 27th, 1976, Mike Foss set off home following a visit to an auto body shop in Milbank. [1] Although it was still early evening, the temperature was already nearly zero, something aided by the clear night. It was as he was heading along Highway 77 that he became aware of a “tremendously bright, brilliant, orange light” which he described as a “light without a source” overhead on his right-hand side.

He kept his attention on the glowing object for the next few minutes, eventually coming to a turn onto a graveled country road towards his parents’ farmhouse. It was as he turned onto this road that he realized the object – whatever it was – appeared to be hovering over a field at the roadside. At this point, although he remained inside the vehicle and kept the engine running, he brought the car to a stop so he could take a closer look.

To begin with, he thought the object was most likely a helicopter, perhaps a police helicopter on patrol or looking for someone. However, the more he watched it the more he realized that whatever he was watching it was something a little more out of the ordinary. This realization suddenly flooded his mind with fear and he immediately stepped on the gas and continued on his way to his parents’ farmhouse as quickly as possible. He decided that as soon as he got home, he would inform his parents of what he had seen, and then return with them to this location to watch the object further.

A Much Closer Encounter

Even before he had reached the driveway of his parents’ house, Mike was blaring the horn of his car to get his parents’ attention. He brought the car to a stop with a screech and ran inside as fast as he could, calling out to his mother and father the moment he opened the front door. He urged them to come with him, telling them as quickly as he could what he had seen. They each came to the front door, and Mr. Foss followed his excited son outside to his car. However, before they could set off, Mike stopped suddenly in his tracks.

There in front and above them, approximately 100 feet ahead of them, was the object that Mike had seen on the lonely road a short time earlier. It had, it appeared, followed him home. From this distance, they could see that the object was distinctly egg-shaped with different colored flashing lights on the top half that seemed to “melt into one another”, and a blue glow at the bottom.

The three of them watched the object for between 20 to 25 minutes. It remained between the hog house and the barn during this time before it began to move away from them calmly and steadily, eventually disappearing into the distance.

The entire family didn’t know what to make of the episode, but all agreed they had seen something completely out of the ordinary. And, although they didn’t know it yet, this would not be the end of the strange events for the Foss family.

Interesting Details Come To Light

Over the coming days and weeks, as UFO investigators examined the case, further details would surface. For example, Mr. Foss recalled that just before his son arrived home on the night in question, he had been watching television when it suddenly began to “act up” with the screen “rolling vertically”. Whether of interest or not, Mr. Foss would further offer that the television only usually acted in such a way during high winds when the antenna was blown significantly, making him think at the time that a sudden wind had gotten up. Also of interest, by the time they returned inside the house following the object’s disappearance, the television reception returned to normal.

It was also Mr. Foss who brought about the realization that the object must have remained completely silent throughout the encounter. He recalled that when he first went outside following Mike’s arrival home, he could immediately hear the sound of the traffic on the highway around two miles away. What’s more, he could also hear a passing airplane (and even recalled seeing its wing lights). Given that he could clearly hear these other sounds, if the object, which was much closer, had been making any noise whatsoever, he surely would have heard it, as would Mike and Mrs. Foss. Both Mr. Foss and Mike also both recalled that the entire yard was lit up by the glow of the object.

Incidentally, Mrs. Foss had watched the events through the kitchen window through a pair of opera glasses. In fact, she continued to watch the object as it drifted off into the distance. She claimed that after several moments, it appeared to come to a stop and emit several “red balls” from its side. These balls “floated” away from the object in various directions. As she was looking at one of these balls, it suddenly stopped before “exploding noiselessly into nothing”. By the time Mike and Mr. Foss had returned inside, the object had all but disappeared.

Mike would also state that despite feeling the initial surge of fear when he witnessed the object from the quiet roadside when he viewed the object a second time – much more close-up – he felt no fear whatsoever, elaborating that he simply felt that “anyone who could produce a thing like that could have harmed him easily the first time if it had hostile intent”.

Strange Dreams And Further Sightings

Over the days and weeks that followed, Mike began to have strange, recurring dreams “in which he is alone on a hilltop on a strange planet with a purple sky”. As he was standing there, he could see strange vehicles moving through the sky, elaborating that “some are silver, some are black, and there seems to be a war going on”. He was always left with the feeling, particularly when he had this dream that the strange object he had witnessed would return – and, ultimately, as we shall see, it did.

Indeed, between November 27th and December 11th, 1976, the object returned a further three times. The first two of these sightings were made from a distance. The third time, however, the object was much closer – just as close, in fact, as it had been the first time the Foss family had seen it, once more hovering between the hog house and the barn. In fact, this third incident played almost exactly the same as the first encounter, with the object remaining in view for around 25 minutes before heading off into the distance.

On this occasion, though, by pure chance, Mike’s automatic police radio band scanner was switched on. As soon as the object appeared a burst of static took over the bandwidth. Whether of consequence or not, the frequency had “locked in” on frequency 7, which is the frequency used by the Minnesota Highway Patrol.

At this point, Mike called Milbank police to report the events, and a patrol car was sent to the property.

It Wasn’t Venus – “That’s Not What We Saw!”

Police Chief Ben Amsden arrived at the Foss property a short time later. However, by the time he did so, the object had retreated considerably and was now nothing more than a dim glow in the distance. The officer did, though, state in his report that as he was approaching the property, he noticed a strange, orange glow that appeared to dim somewhat over several seconds, as if whatever was causing the glow was heading away from the property.

Also during this particular sighting, other corroborating witnesses were found – Don Adams, a bartender at a local club around two and a half miles away from the Foss property, and his wife, also saw the object close to the KMSD Radio tower.

Despite this, investigators considered the possibility that the sightings were nothing more than “a highly exaggerated sighting of the planet Venus”. After all, our cosmic neighbor was “quite prominent in the southwest sky at this time”. However, when investigators ventured outside with the Fosses to point out where Venus was and to ask if that is what they might have seen, Mike responded with certainty that they had already noticed Venus (although they weren’t aware it was Venus and wondered if it was a star or a satellite), stating that it was “not what we saw”.

Considering the radio interference, investigators also checked around the property and near the hog house and barn for any increased levels of radiation – nothing unusual was detected. There were, though, several other intriguing details surrounding these bizarre and mysterious sightings.

An Unsettling Turn Of Events

The day after the last sighting, on December 12th, 1976, the family’s 7-year-old German shepherd suddenly became ill. He was examined by the vet the following day who determined the dog had had some kind of stroke. Further examination seemingly showed that one of the animal’s main veins had stopped working. Ultimately, the dog passed away that day. Whether or not this was a coincidence or a consequence of it being in the vicinity of the apparent otherworldly object or not remains unknown. We might ask, though, if the unfortunate animal suffered such consequences, why were the Foss family themselves not affected?

Also of interest to investigators was a huge 30-foot-high and 20-foot-wide steel silo (used to store grain) that sat in the family’s barn. According to the report, it was Mr. Foss who first mentioned the silo, and whether or not it had some kind of connection to the repeated sightings. This silo was made from “heavy pieces of boilerplate” that had been riveted together. Mr. Foss further contemplated that the UFO – or specifically, the intelligence guiding it – had taken an interest in the metallic structure, perhaps through some kind of advanced metal-detecting technology, and were maybe concerned it might be a weapon if some kind. It is certainly an interesting suggestion.

Investigators also highlighted a UFO encounter that had taken place off the coast of California almost two decades earlier in 1957, when a crew member on board the USS Ramsey spotted, and photographed, a UFO that appeared very similar to the object described by the Foss family. Does this suggest that the same alien intelligence has been visiting Earth since at least the start of the modern UFO era and was doing so, at the very least, well into the 1970s and most likely beyond?

Just What Happened In Late 1976

Ultimately, whatever the Foss family witnessed over the period of several weeks during the final weeks of 1976 remains a mystery. And whether Foss or his family experienced any further strange encounters in the years that followed – perhaps ones that went unreported – also remains unknown. That they saw something strange on those four evenings in the fall of 1976 would appear to be clear, however, perhaps not least as Officer Amsden, and Don Adams and his wife, also saw what appeared to have been the very same object on that last sighting.

We have to ask if it really was just a coincidence that the Foss family witnessed what would appear to be the same UFO on four separate occasions, twice in close proximity in the exact same place on the property, or whether there was some other unknown, perhaps predetermined reason for the appearance of this strange craft.

We also might contemplate just where this craft came from. Is it, as some believe, a vehicle from another world? Or might it be a top-secret military vehicle? If the latter is true, then we have to ask, once more, for what purpose were these otherwise seemingly random appearances? And similarly, why did, as best is publicly known, these sightings only occur during that several-week period in late 1976? What, if anything, was special about this time?

As is most often the case, there are many unanswered questions and many avenues of thought and speculation we could go down. Whether any further information surfaces on this case, or whether an investigator or researcher spots a detail that has so far been overlooked remains to be seen. It is, however, a case that will continue to fascinate those with an interest in getting to the heart of the UFO and alien question.

The short video below examines some of the most intriguing UFO encounters on record.


1 Repeat Sightings In S.D., U.S., William M. Moore, APRO Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 5 (Nov. 1976)

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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