The history of ufology is filled with examples of curious sightings by one or two people that soon fade from memory. But then there are the cases where so many people see the same thing that they earn a nickname and frequently show up in the lore. Many are familiar with the tales of Charlie Red Star in Canada. Stories of the famous “Flying V” in New York’s Hudson Valley have been passed down among local inhabitants.
Less well-known but perhaps equally interesting was a series of mass sightings that took place in San Francisco, California in February of 1953. Somewhat ironically, the exact date of the largest sighting was Friday the 13th. For a few days prior, local residents had been calling in reports of a glowing “bulb” or “ball” in the sky that would show up in various locations. It reportedly shifted in color from amber to silver or white and would “turn off” and then back on again. Some of the locals had taken to calling it “Blinky.” But in the late afternoon of the 13th, four Civil Defense Ground Observer Corpsmen stationed on top of Mt. Sutro outside the city would see the same thing approaching from the ocean and passing over their outpost. They later reported that it made a “deep throbbing sound.”
They would be far from the only ones because Blinky seemed intent on putting on a show. A toll collector named Fred Peterson on the Golden Gate Bridge reported seeing it at 5:35 pm. Two police officers driving in separate cars saw it, providing almost identical descriptions. Calls were coming in to the police and various radio stations in large numbers. The next day, the San Francisco Examiner ran a story about it on page 1. (Continued on page 7.) The editors’ description of the UFO’s antics was vivid.