On This Day in 1966: Gov. Haydon Burns Claims Encounter with UFO

Lee Herald Favicon 16On April 25, 1966, at approximately 8:52 p.m., the Florida Gubernatorial Campaign became ethereal.

While returning from a campaign appearance in Orlando, then Florida Governor, Haydon Burns, reported that his airplane was followed by two unidentified objects that lit the evening sky.

Peering out the window of his plane, Burns shouted “It’s a UFO,” according to witnesses.

Shortly after his aircraft took off from the airport in Orlando, at an altitude of approximately 6,000 feet, Florida’s 35th Governor observed two lights trailing the airplane.

Although the incumbent, one must consider the risk associated with a candidate making such claims just one month prior to a Democratic primary runoff against then-Miami Mayor, Robert King High. Haydon Burns subsequently lost the runoff election and Robert King High went on to represent the Democratic party in the November election.

Fortunately for Burns, the Pilot and Co-pilot, a Florida Highway Patrol Captain, six of Burns’ staff members, four newspaper reporters, including Don Meiklejohn of the St. Petersburg Times, and the First Lady, Mildred Burns, all observed the same unidentified object(s).

Co-pilot, Herb Bates, claimed that the object followed the plane for approximately 40 miles. He described them as “two bright yellow globes side by side.” Bates added, “It kept right with us.”

Reportedly, the object(s) remained approximately 15 to 20 miles east of the Governor’s Convair and were moving at the same 230 miles per hour as the airplane. Burns ordered his pilots to pursue the UFO. Upon doing so, the object(s) vanished. The Co-pilot radioed Miami Air Traffic Control who were unable to locate the object(s) on their radar.

“I told you my campaign would be out of this world,” quipped the Governor.

Many attributed the sighting to a meteorite that passed along the eastern coast of the United States and ultimately landed in the Long Island Sound. Reportedly, staff at Washington and Boston airports reported seeing the “lights” but believed it to be a meteorite, as well.

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    1. Thank you for your response! What initially attracted my attention was the number of witnesses and their credibility. While some dismissed the sighting as meteorological, those on board seemed quite convinced it was much more!

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