Eatonville’s Close Encounter

Janet Ahrendsen and her two daughters
Janet Ahrendsen and her two daughters, Photo from 1975 Dispatch

In 1975, two years before Steven Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind hit the theaters, Eatonville was already the hub of supernatural activity.

In October, Janet Ahrendsen and her two daughters were interviewed by the Dispatch after seeing a UFO firsthand. “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” Janet said. “My two girls and I were very scared.”

The three said the lights were in the shape of a horseshoe and alternating red and bluish-green, with a big red light at the opening.

“All of a sudden it was right over our car,” Janet said. “The girls opened the window and looked up and said, ‘It’s on top Mommy’. The car was then acting funny, like it was missing and had a flat tire. It was about as high as a plane landing at the airbase and made no noise.”

She wasn’t the only one to see the UFO that night. Don Cook, then Operations Director at Northwest Trek and other employees also saw it, but didn’t speak up because they thought people would say they were making it up.

UFO Group Sets up Camp
Also in 1974 (completely unrelated to Janet’s sighting) Major Wayne Aho made an announcement that Eatonville would be the headquarters of his UFO and self-realization group — The New Age Foundation.

Major Aho, a colorful character in his own right, was a retired logger turned UFO cult specialist. In an interview with the Dispatch he said, “In 30 years of research, I have come to the conclusion that the Biblical teachings about the Rapture, the taking up of great numbers of people in the sky or heavens in time of great strife and chaos, will be carried out by space ships which our civilization still calls UFO’s or flying saucers.”

He chose Eatonville in part because of the June 24, 1947 UFO sighting at Mount Rainier by Kenneth Arnold of Boise, Idaho. Arnold spotted nine flying saucers and it became the first time the term “flying saucer” was used.

More Sightings
Maybe The Major was onto something. Maybe Eatonville was a UFO hot spot. A winning Eatonville Daffodil Festival float once featured flying saucers. In 1975 there were several UFO sightings near Clear Lake. And in 1980, (per Edith Erickson’s book Timber Town and Later) well-known Eatonville residents made reports of sightings from Ashford to Centralia. And in 1999, “flying saucers” were seen by thousands atop Mount Rainier.

Keep your eyes to the skies. You never know.

12 responses to “Eatonville’s Close Encounter”

  1. Rick Haughee (former Eatonville physics teacher) added: I have told many people about my meeting “The Major” but I think most thought I was making it up. We had a long talk in the back of the science room after school one day when I had just started teaching, He wanted some pure mercury 10-15 pounds because he was working on an anti gravity device. He was also the person (I think) who told me that Mt Rainier was a hanger for alien space ships.

    I had about 10 pounds or mercury then. We used to do demos of floating things like bricks in mercury. That of course was before it was said to be deadly. The things that I had in the back room in 1970 were amazing to look back on. I recall a large bag of fluffy Asbestos.


    • That was a neat blast from the past. My sister and I were so scared. My mom, Janis (Not Janet) kept mumbling trying to convince herself “it’s got to be an airplane”.But when it practically parked over our car and sucked all the power from our car we all started crying. Then when it shot off out of sight, the car radio started to come back on. My mom started up the car and took off for home. Wednesday were only a few miles away from Henley’s Silver lake Resort where we had just left if I remember correctly. In our panic, we weren’t sure if we should go back to grandpa Henley’s or go straight home and lock the door! Lol


  2. I was telling a friend about my grandfather’s experience, the Maury Island Insident, Harold Dahl It also rememinded me of moving to Eatonville in 1965 into the house accross the street from the old train depot. where the Major held his meetings. When I was in high school, some of us joined the group in an open area, which is, I believe where the Eagle`s hall is now, and joined hands in a circle to summon a ufo. We were eventually told the there was an unbeliever or negative energy or something in our group which prevented contact, and asked to leave. Does anyone else remember this night?


  3. Mr . Aho Lived in the old Eatonville Lumber company store, My Dad had some dealings with him. I remember seeing them sitting on the roof at dusk looking for UFO’s. My Dad said they were weird hippies!


  4. My Mom, Edith Lodén, told me that Lily and Lester Smith who lived on Silver Lake, saw a UFO hovering over the lake! That was probably in the late 60’s or 7O’s.


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