Close Encounters and the Plymouth, MN UFO

Visitors 1975 Part 3

Remember the creepy poltergeist quality of Spielberg’s Close Encounters movie? Here’s a similar true story from Plymouth, MN with that same eerie, paranormal vibe. This one features a family harassed by a series of encounters spanning fifteen years, a strange blue light that seems to threaten a child in his crib, an object in the sky, and a case of mechanical-electrical interference with a moving vehicle. It’s like a series of scenes from Spielberg’s iconic movie, but it all happened two years before the movie was made.

Sheila’s Story

Sheila was a thirty-two-year-old housewife when the incident occurred. It wasn’t her first encounter. She and her family seem to have been almost haunted by UFOs. But the night of the blue light left her more frightened than any previous encounter. 

We can understand how others might be skeptical, but we’ve seen so many of them.

She did not report the unnerving encounter until the opportunity arose in 1979 to present her story to Bradley Ayers, a field investigator for Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in Evanston, Illinois. Ayers covered western Wisconsin, Minnesota, the eastern Dakotas, and northern Iowa on behalf of the center from 1975-1979.

Along with reporter Carol Byrne of the Minneapolis Star, Ayers interviewed Sheila and her brother-in-law. The following is an excerpt from the May 8, 1979 Minneapolis Star feature story about the close encounter.

Fifteen Years of Encounters

The paper placemats lie on Sheila’s dining room table in Plymouth. “Go Pro,” they shout to the galloping football player on the front. On the back they are covered with Sheila’s careful, colored pencil drawings of the unidentified flying objects she says have been plaguing her family for almost two decades.

She’s finally decided to talk about them, so Bradley Earl Ayers is off on another investigation. And now it’s Sheila’s turn. She’s a 32-year-old housewife, mother of three children, a beauty school graduate who says she likes the isolation of her renovated farmhouse. Sitting at her dining room table, she goes through the placements, one by one.

People would think we were crazy.

There’s the wheel of lights that sent glowing streamers down to encircle Sheila’s parents on the family farm in Mound back in 1960—the first incident.

And next there’s the purple triangle that Sheila saw hovering over an alfalfa field, changing the atmospheric pressure so that she felt as though she were in the deep end of a swimming pool. The triangle turned in upon itself and disappeared.

Now there’s the football-shaped craft that loomed over Sheila and her high school boyfriend when they were sitting on a haystack in a field.

And the lights that appeared to Sheila’s grandmother, father and mother. And, finally, the place where the electrical systems kept failing in the family car.

Later Ayers talks to the other family members and they all confirm Sheila’s reports. He does a background check on the family and finds nothing out of the ordinary—no history of psychological disturbance, money problems, alcoholism or drug abuse.

“What does your family think about all this?” Ayers asks Sheila. “Did you wonder why you were singled out?”

“Yes. We thought maybe there was some magnetic field they home in on. We thought they were UFOs, all of us. What else could they be? We can understand how others might be skeptical, but we’ve seen so many of them.”

“Did you report them?”

“No. People would think we were crazy.”

The Blue Lights

Blue BeamSheila has one more story to tell, the story of the “blue lights.” It’s the one that really spooked her.

One snowy winter night, she says, her husband worked late, plowing snow in the township. Sheila was reading in her basement bedroom, her young son was asleep in his crib at the foot of her bed.

He became very agitated, pointed out the window, cried, ‘blue light, blue light,’ like it was hurting him.

“About midnight a blue light came into the room through the laundry room window. It was a glow, not a gleam. I rationalized it as the moon reflecting off the snow.” She read on, unwilling to get up and investigate.

“At 2 my son woke up. That was very unusual for him. From his crib he could see out the window. He became very agitated, pointed out the window, cried, ‘blue light, blue light,’ like it was hurting him.


A Similar Scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

I thought I should go look out the window or bring him to bed with me to comfort him, but I did neither. That’s unusual—if I hear a noise in the house I will go investigate.

“But I told him to go to sleep and then I fell asleep. I slept soundly until 8:30 the next morning. That’s unusual too.”


Shelia’s brother-in-law, Jeff, takes up the tale He had been out plowing with her husband and was driving back about 2 a.m. When he came over the hill by Sheila’s house, he says, he saw a blue light suffusing the landscape. The engine in his plow stalled and its lights went out.

Close Encounters
A Similar Scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

He says he looked up and saw that the blue glow was coming from a circular object hovering over him. It dived at his plow and Jeff, terrified, leaped from the cab and drove for a ditch. The blue circle soared up into the sky, and as it disappeared the engine in his plow started up again, its lights came on and it lurched forward.

The blue circle soared up into the sky, and as it disappeared the engine in his plow started up again, its lights came on and it lurched forward.

“I want to know what happened,” Sheila says. “I was scared. I shouldn’t have fallen asleep. Did they put me to sleep?” She says she’d be willing to be hypnotized to find out what happened.

At Ayers’ prodding, the family puzzles together and comes up with the day of the “blue light” adventure: January 1975.

Ayers is quietly excited.

“January 1975,” he says later. “That’s the same time as Kay’s incident. It happened about 20 miles from Sheila’s house, to another young suburban housewife. That could mean two independent reports of UFO activity in this area, corroborating each other.”

Close Encounters Inspiration

That’s where the account in Minneapolis Star article ends. As Ayers notes, Sheila’s frightening story happened the same month as Kay’s story, “They’re Not Human.” It was also the same month as the Durand, WI sighting. Something was definitely in the Minnesota-Western Wisconsin neighborhood that month. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) was involved in all three investigations.

Hynek also served as a consultant on the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Did Sheila’s story have an influence on the film? Not likely. Despite the Hynek connection to the production, Ayers and Hynek did not get her story until 1979, two years after the film was released.

The Missing Ayers Files

There’s probably a lot more to this Plymouth, MN UFO encounter and Sheila’s story of the Blue Lights, but that’s all that the Minneapolis Star article relates. Did Sheila undergo hypnosis to poke around for missing memories? Were there any other corroborating witnesses? To get the rest of the story, we’d need to find the missing Bradley Ayers files.

Ayers was the local field investigator for the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) from 1975-1979 and the center is seeking the files. Read the Bradley Ayers story here. Here’s a message we received at from CUFOS regarding the lost Ayers files:

I wonder if you happen to know the status of his personal UFO files? So many files of investigators have been lost over the years because family members didn’t appreciate the work, and I’m certain that Ayers would have had material in his UFO files that should be preserved. If you have any contact info for his family, please let me know.

If you know Sheila, have more details about her case, or if you know how to find the Ayers files, get in touch with us here at

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