CIRCLEVILLE — A local UFO group is shining a light on the sightings of things that have not yet been explained in Pickaway County.

Pete Hartinger, a member of the Roundtown UFO Society, said for him speaking about the things he’s seen and sharing stories of unidentified flying objects is not about convincing people that UFOs exist but rather opening up people’s minds to what they could be.

“It seems like there is more and more coming out, especially with the U.S. Navy,” Hartinger, 79, said, citing released videos and information in the New York Times report that such things were studied by the Navy and other intelligence organizations. “Other countries have come out with information too.”

Hartinger has several sightings under his belt himself, including two that occurred in the same week. He said he wasn’t afraid during either sighting.

“We were going out to the fairgrounds coliseum for a county basketball tournament and we saw a red light revolving in the sky,” he said. “We saw the light and as we drove out it was right along side us, maybe 100 feet off the road and a couple hundred feet in the air. It was just above the coliseum. We followed it and I came back and told my brother. Five days later my brother let the dog out late at night and he looked out the window and saw the bright light and he dragged me out of bed to the window and pointed it out. It was the brightest light I’d ever seen in the sky.

“I thought about what it could be and after about 30 seconds a totally different object comes back, a red/orange object, and I’m about ready to crawl under the bed,” Hartinger added. “To me that was the no-doubter.”

Hartinger also likes to tell the tale of the Bruce Stevenson story in which Stevenson in February 1948 saw something in the sky on his farm west of Circleville, he couldn’t explain.

“He told me his story and that I was young enough to find out what all this was about, I was 18 then and that was 62 years ago,” he continued. “People can say he was lying but his integrity was outstanding and he was an honest man. He is either telling a big lie or that’s exactly what he saw.”

As reported in the Aug. 2, 1952 edition of The Circleville Herald, Stevenson recalled what he saw.

“I was keeping a close watch on some hogs I had and as soon as I stepped out the back door I glanced in the general direction of the hog house…immediately I noticed a glow near the top of the hog house and at first thought the building was on fire,” Hartinger recalled. “I hadn’t gone far before I noticed this thing — this saucer, or whatever you want to call it was near the roof of the hog house — as though maybe it had been attracted by the dim lights. It was while it was hanging above the tool shed that I got a real good look at it. I was about 150 feet from it at the time and it looked to be only about 20 feet off the ground.”

Hartinger said he considers himself a religious person and is open to the possibilities that these objects could be anything, and don’t have to be aliens.

“There’s more to life than we know,” Hartinger commented.

Hartinger said the Roundtown UFO Society has complied a binder with Stevenson’s news articles and information if anyone is interested in learning about what he saw.

“They can come on down to the Visitor’s Bureau and look at the binder we have,” he said.

The groups has been meeting monthly for 31 years, usually at the Library once a month, but with the COVID-19 pandemic they’ve been meeting elsewhere, like Canal Park. Meetings aren’t currently open to the public due to the virus but people can join and become members to receive an invite.

The society is meeting this month at the Stevenson farm to talk about Stevenson’s story and as they usually do — talk about newly reported sightings and information that’s made the news. They post their updates on their website

“Ever since 2007, we’ve put updates on there,” Hartinger stated. “It’s really about opening the public to it. People say that the government should just come out and say what these things are but you’d have a panic in a way. I’ve known for 62 years and I’ve had a normal life. Maybe now is the time for it to all come out.”

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