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Case closed: Iowa witnesses track circular UFO over 60-mile stretch

MUFON Investigators closed Case 52043 as an 'Unknown' after hearing witness testimony about their sighting that began near Steamboat Rock, Iowa.
MUFON Investigators closed Case 52043 as an 'Unknown' after hearing witness testimony about their sighting that began near Steamboat Rock, Iowa.
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Iowa witnesses driving westbound along Highway 20 near Steamboat Rock reported watching a "circular shape" UFO just above a nearby tree line that vanished and reappeared over a 60-mile stretch during 105 minutes, according to testimony in Case 52043 closed as an Unknown Aerial Vehicle on March 3, 2014, from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.

The case was investigated by Iowa MUFON Assistant State Director Beverly Trout and Field Investigators Larry Moore and Rebecca Miller.

The reporting witness, her boyfriend and two children were traveling to Fort Dodge, Iowa, but first saw the object near the Steamboat Rock exit about 4:15 p.m. on November 1, 2013. The boyfriend noticed it first.

"He pointed to it and asked if I saw what he did," the reporting witness stated. "I said, yes, and we both watched it turn at a 75-degree angle flying south just above the tree line. We then pulled over on the right side of Highway 20 and watched it. It stayed stationary after that for about two minutes and then just vanished, reappearing on the south side of our vehicle in a vertical position. No lights were seen or sound heard."

From the Investigator's notes, they state: "Witnesses first sighted the object near the Steamboat Rock Exit and stopped their vehicle for about 15 minutes to watch. From that vantage point, they estimated the object as 500 feet land distance and at 100 feet altitude, with an apparent size 'bigger than a basketball.' At times, the object assumed an almost vertical position of some 75 degrees, i.e. when it hovered briefly for two minutes at the Steamboat Rock exit, and as it was observed moving during their 60-mile journey westbound until it disappeared."

The Investigators interviewed the witnesses for an object description and then tried to determine the size of the object.

"Silent, oval shaped, gray object. Witness estimation is actual size of 200 feet in diameter or more. Using witness estimate of between 15-20 degrees elevation at 500 feet land distance, and apparent size of 'larger than a basketball,' yields the following examples as actual size possibilities."

  • 20 degrees, 500 feet land distance, 25 degrees apparent size = 225 feet actual size, with altitude possibility of 182 feet.
  • 20 degrees, 500 feet land distance, 30 degrees apparent size = 266 feet actual size.
  • Using 15 degrees @ 500 feet land distance, with 25 degrees apparent size = 219 feet actual size, with altitude possibility of 134 feet.
  • Using both the 20 degrees and 15 degrees elevation examples cited above, yields a possible land distance of 460 - 480 feet, which comes close to witness estimates.

The Investigators provided an overview of the sighting locations:

  • First seen at Steamboat Rock exit; last seen at Fort Dodge exit at a distance of 60 miles during which object was seen several times as it moved in and out, above, and below clouds in the area, for an estimated total time duration of visual contact of approximately 35 minutes.
  • Oval-shaped object, as stated above, assumed an almost vertical position of some 75 degrees as it briefly hovered, and as it moved.
  • At the beginning at the Steamboat Rock exist, object first appeared on the north side of Highway 20, and as it approached from the north over a tree line, witnesses saw it assume an estimated 75 degree nose up angle, then at close approach object stayed stationary for some two minutes. Then object disappeared (or went into clouds) and reappeared on the south side of Highway 20, still in the almost vertical position. Witnesses were stopped at this location for approximately 15 minutes and then proceeded on westbound.
  • At one point, object was seen in a somewhat horizontal position, and then witnesses perceived a profile view of a small cupola on what they assumed was the top of the object.
  • Object then appeared intermittently for the next 60 miles and was last seen at the Fort Dodge Highway 20 exit.

Weather Information: Since this sighting continued over some 60 miles, three weather locations are listed below:

  • Waterloo, 3:54 p.m. @ 52 degrees; 53% relative humidity; 10 miles visibility; wind NW @ 12.7 gusting to 19.6 mph; mostly cloudy.
  • Webster City, 4:55 p.m. - 54 degrees; 54% relative humidity; 10 miles visibility; wind NW @ 15 gusting to 21 mph; scattered clouds. At 5:15 p.m. mostly cloudy.
  • Fort Dodge, 5:35 p.m. @ 52 degrees; 62% relative humidity; 10 miles visibility; wind WNW @ 7 mph; Overcast @ 9,000.

Investigator Conclusions

"This sighting was low and close, and provided opportunity for witnesses to view shape and the angular position it assumed as it hovered and moved. The length of the sighting is also of considerable interest, since object appeared at intervals over a 105-minute time span as the couple stopped for 15 minutes to watch it, and then traveled on for 60 miles during which object intermittently showed itself, so that the total visual contact is estimated as some 35 minutes. It should be noted that no linear missing time is indicated in this current case.

"Case closed a Unknown UAV."

Steamboat Rock is a city in Hardin County, Iowa, population 301. Iowa has a current UFO Alert Rating of 5 with a low number of recent reports nationally. Iowa had 5 UFO reports in February 2014 - the 26th highest reporting state - while California had 59 reports - the highest reporting state in the nation.

You can read more details about other recently reported cases at the UFO Examiner home page.

The above quotes were edited for clarity. Please report UFO activity to

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