FREQUENT FLIERS?

Published: Sunday, June 30 1996 12:00 a.m. MDT

For species that supposedly don't exist, aliens sure do get around.

Extraterrestrial beings and the aircraft they purportedly fly have become an indelible part of American and world culture. You can't watch TV for long anymore without seeing some reference to aliens. It's as if they've hired a slick public relations firm to maximize their exposure.Even Hollywood has a new fixation with ETs. The much-awaited "Independence Day," expected to be this summer's blockbuster, is unleashing an alien invasion of earth at a theater near you this week.

Of course, everyone knows that humans are the only intelligent life in the universe, UFOs don't exist, all crop circles are faked by two English blokes, cattle mutilations are carried out by laser-wielding coyotes and bigfoot will have a sizable bill to pay if he ever returns that rental costume.

Well, not everyone.

"My personal opinion, not speaking for Hansen Planetarium or Salt Lake County, is that the universe is teeming with life," said Patrick Wiggins, a spokesman for the planetarium.

"There are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on planet earth. The notion that anybody would say that out of that incredible number of stars there is only one planet that has life on it, that's ludicrous. That's egocentric to the max."

Terry and Gwen Sherman wish some of that teeming intergalactic life would find somewhereelse to hang out.

For more than a year now the Shermans' 480-acre ranch just south of Fort Duchesne in Uintah County has been a hotbed for UFOs and bizarre paranormal activity - weirdness that even the Shermans, who've witnessed the strange happenings with their own eyes and video camera, have trouble accepting as reality.

"For a long time we wondered what we were seeing, if it was something to do with a top-secret project," said Terry Sherman, who reluctantly agreed to speak pub-licly about the activity for the first time. "I don't know really what to think about it."

The Shermans, their teenage son and 10-year-old daughter have seen three specific types of UFOs repeatedly during the past 15 months - a small boxlike craft with a white light, a 40-foot-long object and a huge ship the size of several football fields. They've seen one craft emit a wavy red ray or light beam as it flies along. They've seen other airborne lights, some of which have emerged from orange, circular doorways that seem to appear in midair. They've videotaped two of the sightings.

Mystery circles

They once discovered three circles of flattened grass, each about 8 feet across, in a triangular pattern about 30 feet from each other. In a nearby pasture, other strange soil impressions have been found - circles about 3 feet wide and a foot or two deep with the dirt in the center perfectly flattened.

One of the flying lights followed Gwen's car on her way home from work one night. And while out in one of the fields with the family dogs, Terry heard male voices speaking an unfamiliar language. The voices seemed to be about 25 feet above him, but Terry couldn't see a thing. The dogs were frantic. They barked and growled before running off to the ranch house, Terry said.

The Shermans have linked the sightings with the death or disappearance of seven of their cows. Four have disappeared without a trace. Three others have been found dead and partially mutilated.

"We've seen (the UFOs) enough and we know pretty much what the craft look like, and I think it's definitely associated with the cattle mutilations - when we see the crafts and then the cattle, we have problems," Sherman said.

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