What Were Those Lights Over Lake Michigan in 1994? Looking Back at That Odd Evening.

Maps drawn by Jack Bushong days after the sightings representing the flight path of the UFOs. Shown on Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries.

By Isaac Constans

April 18, 2023

It was late winter in 1994 when hundreds of people called 911 with reports of red, blue, and green lights zipping across Lake Michigan.

MICHIGAN—It all started with the mysterious object the US military shot down over Lake Huron.

The pilot who took it down said it appeared octagonal in shape, and about the size of a four-wheeler. And although the US Coast Guard spent 60 hours conducting 23 different searches over 4,000 square miles—aided by the Canadian Cost Guard and the Canadian Royal Mounted Police—the object could not be recovered from Lake Huron.

We’re pretty sure this and the other unidentified flying objects that have floated over the country in recent weeks weren’t sent by aliens, but if you’re skeptical, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that Michigan ranks in the top 10 states in the nation for UFO sightings.

When we at The ‘Gander started digging into the Lake Huron object, we learned that Michigan has one of the most curious UFO cases in US history—so mysterious that a future president asked the federal government to take a deeper look. How could we not go down this rabbit hole?

That’s why, every other week, we’re bringing you “Extraterrestrial Tuesdays: UFO Sightings in Michigan.” So far, we’ve covered the Kinross incident, the Kecksburg UFO, the infamous “swamp gas” sightings.

This week, we’re looking into the curious and unexplainable lights over Lake Michigan in 1994.

Never forget, ‘Ganders: The truth is out there.

The Lake Michigan UFO Sightings

West Michigan—March 8, 1994

It was late winter in 1994 when hundreds of people called 911 with reports of red, blue, and green lights zipping across Lake Michigan. The lights, they said, would zoom apart, converge, and then separate again. One woman who called in reported that they resembled Christmas lights.

“I don’t know if you guys do anything on UFOs at all, but I got the real one,” one caller reportedly said.

The lights pulsed from cylindrical objects that, for many, appeared to be otherworldly.  

Jack Bushong, a meteorologist working at the National Weather Service branch in Ottawa County, received a call from the Holland police station. Officers asked if  he’d seen anything unusual on the radar that night.

“Witnesses are seeing five or six objects, some cylindrically shaped, circles with blue, red, white and green lights. We’ve had reports from south Holland and over in northern Allegan County. Lots of lights moving all over the place,” Holland police officer Jeff Veltman told Bushong, per a recording released to the public.

Bushong took manual control of the radar and started looking up and down the Lake Michigan coastline. Eventually, he registered a blip tracked at 100 miles per hour. He then watched as it ascended tens of thousands of feet straight into the air.

Veltman reported seeing the same thing.

Then, at about 30,000 or 40,000 feet in the air, Bushong saw a triangle form—three separate objects, with a horizontal distance of 20 miles from one to the next. The shapes proceeded to zip up and down, reaching heights up to 60,000 feet, disqualifying any theory that ground interference could have caused the radar readings.

“They were just moving so fast, and two more started coming into play there. I really had little time to describe where they were before they had moved and jumped again,” said Bushong to WWMT 20 years after the incident.

Veltman called the Muskegon air traffic control tower to find out if they had seen anything. Veltman said they had tracked three objects close together in the distance and did not have any flight code information for them.

In the days that followed, more people along the shoreline—as far away as the Upper Peninsula and as late as three days after the initial sighting—called in with UFO reports. Some claimed to have been abducted.

A year later, the Chicago Tribune interviewed Leo Grenier, director of the National Weather Service. “I don’t believe for a minute that it was any kind of alien structure; I think there is a fairly strong earthly explanation for what occurred,” Grenier told the Tribune.

Grenier didn’t elaborate, though he said the Federal Aviation Administration knew more than it was letting on.

To date, the 1994 sightings remain unexplained, according to the Michigan chapter of the Mutual UFO Nonprofit. Many witnesses maintain that what they saw that night wasn’t normal. In 2022, the Netflix show “Unsolved Mysteries” recounted the event.

“It was not like a plane. It was not like a blimp. It was not like anything I’ve ever seen,” said Holly Graves, a witness interviewed on Unsolved Mysteries. “It was a chrome material, cylinder shape, and they were going around in a circle. I saw no windows, and then lights coming out at the bottom.”

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