One of Georgia’s most reliable UFO sightings occurred in Turnerville, a Habersham County community near Tallulah Falls, on June 29, 1964. Jimmy Ivester was visiting his mother, father, and siblings that night when the television they were watching developed so much interference that they turned it off. As Southerners are wont to do, they walked outside to sit on the porch and chat. There they spotted a UFO at treetop level. It moved to within 300 feet of the house and hovered across the highway, just a few feet over a neighbor’s garden. The bottom of the bowl-shaped craft was clearly visible, but the top of it was dark, broken only by three blinking lights in a row-red, clear, and red. When the lights disappeared, the UFO rose, shining from its bottom a green beam so bright it illuminated the woods.
The sight was unnerving enough, but worst of all was the smell the ship left behind, described as “something like embalming or brake fluid.”
Habersham County Sheriff A.J. Chapman was called after the sighting. He arrived from Clarkston just in time to see the UFO return. He viewed the object flying high overhead as it disappeared, and also experienced the terrible odor. Chapman vouched for the honesty of the witnesses.
The UFO had hovered above the property of Mrs. Russell Hickman, who watched the object with her sixteen-year-old daughter Diane. After the UFO departed, Mrs. Hickman complained of a stinging, burning pain on her arm and face. In the morning Diane’s face was red and drawn, her eyelids swollen nearly shut. Mrs. Hickman told Atlanta Constitution reporter Tom Winfield that she hesitated to take Diane to the doctor because she feared he would think they were crazy.
Another family in the same neighborhood had also observed the UFO, making a total of nine witnesses.
Confirmation of this sighting arrived with Beauford E. Parham, a businessman who was driving home late that evening near Lavonia when he noticed a very bright light in the sky that rapidly flew straight toward his car. Suddenly it had taken station directly in front of his headlights, giving him a clear view of the UFO. It was a spinning, top-shaped object, amber colored, six feet in height and eight feet in width, with what he described as a mast-like object protruding from the top. Through small portholes that ringed the bottom of the craft, “flames” could be seen. The “top” was tilted toward him, and the object issued a hissing sound “like a million snakes.”
The craft vanished, then immediately reappeared again five feet in front of him, where it remained for about a mile at 65 or 70 miles per hour. Parham followed it in what he called a “near trance-like state.” The UFO then flew over the car, emitting a powerful smell described as embalming fluid, and a gaseous vapor. The object reappeared for a third and final time in front of him and again approached the car. This time his motor began misfiring while the UFO spun “like crazy,” then the craft flew off to disappear in a “split second.”
Finally free of the harassing UFO, Parham realized that he had a burning sensation in his arms. He drove to the nearest airport and reported the encounter to the Federal Aviation Administration. Parham repeatedly washed his hands thoroughly, but the burning sensation continued. Despite repeated washings, a mysterious oily film remained on the car’s exterior, and the hood had been warped by the incident. Rubber hoses in the engine compartment also deteriorated rapidly. Traces of radioactivity were also detected on the vehicle.
This was Georgia’s first “physical trace” UFO. It affected three humans and various components of a car, and was witnessed by at least ten individuals, one of them a respected law officer, in three separate locations.
Less than a week after interviewing the UFO watchers in Habersham County, newsman Tom Winfield was called at eleven one night and asked to drive to a hotel in Gainesville, in Hall County, where a UFO was being observed. Pulling into the parking lot of the Gainesville Hotel, employee Whit Embry shouted, “Hurry up! It’s coming back!”
Winfield followed Embry’s outstretched arm and looked to the southeast.
“It was about 500 feet up and moving in a slow arch,” Winfield wrote. “It stopped, hovered for a few brief moments and began to move off in the direction from which it came. Suddenly, it shot up and into the cloudless sky and out of sight.”
The UFO “was bowl-shaped and resembled a top,” he continued, “and appeared to be misty orange in color and seemed to either glow or reflect the light from the ground below.” The object was an estimated three quarters of a mile distant.