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Local ghosthunter turns UFO investigator

New York seems to have more than a fair share of alleged unusual occurrences. Up and down the state, from east to west, there are over 30 organizations that collect, track and investigate a wide variety of paranormal reports from ghosts to Bigfoot to UFOs. And this doesn't include more established investigative outfits like MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) who have been around for decades.

Unknown witness is credited with capturing this image of a UFO over Manhattan, circa 1965.
Unknown witness is credited with capturing this image of a UFO over Manhattan, circa 1965.
stock photo/Creative Commons
Linda Zimmerman is the author of Hudson Valley UFOs and In the Night Sky
courtesy Linda Zimmerman

Most of these organizations are small time operations run by everyday people who work regular jobs and have been drawn into investigating paranormal accounts because something happened to a friend and/or family member, or they experienced something themselves, and they want to get to the bottom of it.

The Hudson Valley has long been notorious for its haunted locations, but the book Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings (1998) which featured the work of respected UFO investigator and astronomer, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, working in cooperation with Philip Imbrogno and Bob Pratt, brought this region worldwide attention for its equally long history of strange lights and objects seen in the skies.

Linda Zimmerman, a committed investigator of hauntings and ghostly encounters, found herself looking into UFO reports and realized that there was much more than she thought.

Her investigations resulted in two books, In the Night Sky (2013) and Hudson Valley UFOs (2014) and an award winning documentary In the Night Sky: I Recall a UFO, detailing the long history of strange sightings in the Hudson Valley.

Describe what got you started investigating UFO sightings/encounters? Was it a specific experience that you had? Stories that others shared? Curiosity? All of the above?

For many years I was lecturing about the paranormal in the Hudson Valley, and people kept coming up to me and telling me their UFO stories. I would listen, but politely say, “Sorry, I don’t do UFOs.” But I heard so many amazing stories from credible witnesses that I realized this was something widespread and needed to be investigated. Plus, I had a very intense sighting of my own in the late 1970s, which certainly put me firmly in the “Believer” category.

Of all the different accounts that you share in your books, is there any particular case that most stands out to you as being truly exceptional; indicating both ‘high strangeness’ and reliability-in terms of witnesses and/or physical evidence?

My first interview was with a man who began having abduction experiences when he was just a kid. These experiences continued throughout most of his life, and also with his children. A few weeks later, I interviewed his mother, just to see if she had been aware of what had been happening, and I was stunned to find out that she had her own very close encounters and missing time experiences going back to the 1930s! They were very credible people, and their stories were absolutely chilling. This was a mind-blowing way to start the research project, with multi-generational abductions taking place not far from where I grew up!

You also investigate hauntings and reported encounters with ghosts. In your research to date, have you found anything that specifically links ghostly encounters with UFO experiences?

A lot of people over the years talked about the connections between ghosts and UFOs, but I don’t see it. However, in areas of a lot of UFO activity, like Pine Bush, there does seem to be a lot of paranormal activity—or at least “high strangeness”—as well. I can only speculate that both types of experiences may increase the level of perception and sensitivity to certain energies. Many people have told me that after an intense UFO sighting or encounter, they suddenly had a sharpened sixth sense, which then might make them more aware of paranormal events.

Both your Hudson Valley UFO books indicate that people have been seeing really strange things around here for a long time. What are your thoughts about why the Hudson Valley appears to be, more or less, a perpetual hotspot for UFO encounters and possible abduction events?

Again, this is pure speculation, but it may have to do with the physical properties of this area; things about the geology and magnetic fields UFOs can utilize. It could be that the Hudson Valley is a great place from which to observe New York City. Perhaps the terrain, with all the lakes, mountains, and of course, the river, provides a lot of hiding spots. I wish I knew! But I can say that I do believe that given the entire history of sightings in the Hudson Valley, going back at least 100 years, this is the #1 Hot Spot for UFO activity in the country.

Linda regularly does presentations on paranormal topics at various locations in the Hudson Valley and her website lists upcoming events. Her website also provides a list of her publications on both ghostly and UFO topics and how they can be purchased.

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