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.
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.