Multiple witnesses, including a local off-duty police officer, watched in wonder as an array of yellow lights flew in formation in suburban New Jersey near New York City late in the evening of July 14, 2001 into the early morning of the following day..
Carteret police told the Record, a Bergen, NJ newspaper, that they received 15 calls from local residents who saw the UFOs, which appeared in the sky just after 12:30 a.m. that morning. The sight was so startling that about 75 drivers took the highly unusual step of pulling off the turnpike and parking their cars on the shoulder so that they could watch.
The earliest witness to the UFOs seems to be one who filed an anonymous report with the National UFO Reporting Center. The witness, who was driving across the Throgs Neck Bridge toward New York at between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., suddenly noticed seven lights in the sky, including six which were very close together and seemed as if they were not moving. The object by itself was larger and brighter than the rest. As the witness drove across the bridge, the objects suddenly vanished, as mysteriously as they had appeared.
A short time later, at around 12:30 a.m., another witness, Carteret police Lt. Dan Tarrant, reportedly received a call at home from his 19-year-old daughter, who was out with friends and had seen strange lights in the sky. Tarrant told the Record and ABC News that he then stepped outside to take a look.
As Tarrant subsequently told ABC News, what he saw was astounding: “16 golden-orange colored lights, several in a V-type formation. Others were scattered around the V."
Tarrant told the Record that the mysterious lights flashed across the sky for about 10 minutes, then faded one-by-one into darkness.
"We see airplanes passing overhead all the time from Newark Airport," Tarrant told the Record. "No, these weren't airplanes."
U.S. government officials and air traffic control at nearby Newark Airport told the Record that there were no space launches or military flights that would explain the phenomenon.
Numerous witnesses—including more than 20 New Jersey residents who filed anonymous reports with NUFORC, and several who gave on-the-record media interviews—also saw the lights. They observed the UFOs for time periods ranging from a few minutes to an hour, though the typical sighting was 15 to 12 minutes long. Though some details of their descriptions varied, most hewed fairly closely to what Tarrant had seen.
One local resident, 38-year-old Paulette Holmes, told the Record she was leaving a party at a club in Carteret when she noticed the strange objects in the sky. She described the formation of lights as bright yellow, rather than the orange described by Tarrant, and said that the objects moved across the skin in a zig-zag pattern for 10 minutes in a southeastern direction before vanishing.
“I can’t really explain what I saw,” said Holmes, who “You had to see it.” Another witness, who filed an anonymous report with MUFORC, described seeing 12 to 18 “yellowish-orange” lights, moving in formation parallel to the New Jersey Turnpike. The objects flew through the sky for 10 minutes, gradually veering away from the witness.
“The lights appeared to move in concert, or in a pack, there was smaller movement between some of the lights, like individual objects speeding up to keep up with each other and/or slowing down to avoid getting too close,” the witness observed. The objects did not make a sound.
Though the witness had observed small planes aloft in the darkness before, these objects were distinguishable by their extreme brightness. “No small plane I had ever seen before at night had ever been lit up like this,” the witness wrote.
"It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen," another eyewitness, Joe Malvasio, told ABC News. "They were just hovering, and then they just disappeared. One at a time, each one started to fade until they were gone."