The Cleveland Lights: Investigating the Mysterious UFOs over the ‘Mistake by the Lake’

The Cleveland Lights: Investigating the Mysterious UFOs over the ‘Mistake by the Lake’

Cleveland Lights

Cleveland is known for some pretty weird things. The city is the home of the Torso Murders, investigated by Elliot Ness himself, and just north of the childhood home of Jeffrey Dahmer (who drank with several people I’ve met before who described him as a “nice, quiet guy”). And strangest of all, the Cuyahoga River earned its nickname “the Burning River” from the dozen or so times it literally caught fire from being so polluted. Perhaps this is why some of us locals lovingly refer to it as the “Mistake by the Lake”.

Yet there’s another strange local oddity that keeps appearing and still mystifies those who are fortunate enough to see it. Known as the Lake Erie Lights, or Cleveland Lights, strange colored balls of light appear at irregular times in the night sky near the city. While many colors are reported—even color-changing lights—it seems the most common experience is seeing red or orange lights (sometimes described as fireballs). Sometimes flying solo, sometimes in a triangular pattern or even appearing in clusters of over a dozen, the Cleveland Lights.

To give you a better idea, here is a partial list of some recent sightings in the Greater Cleveland Area, beginning with the most recent:

  • January 12, 2014ClevelandFifteen red balls of light were seen moving very fast in the western sky, crossing paths of inbound planes landing at Hopkins and disappearing over Lake Erie. They were witnessed from a 6th floor apartment window for approximately four minutes.
  • November 23, 2013ParmaAn “orange fireball…dripping smaller balls” moving slowly from east to west, disappearing and reappearing along a straight path, suddenly shot off and vanished.
  • October 27, 2013LorainEight deep red objects (described as looking like “Christmas ornaments”, possibly round in shape) traveled west to east across Lake Erie moving in synchronized speed as pairs of twos following a cluster of four.
  • October 19, 2013BrecksvilleA school teacher observed “20 large red spherical shapes” traveling east and getting closer together as they neared Wallings Road and I-77.
  • July 27, 2013Seven HillsA Jasmine Drive resident observed four “round orange-red balls” heading north approximately a mile above Pleasant Valley Road. They were followed by two pairs of similar lights following behind them. And unidentifiable aircraft was following to the west of the lights.
  • June 28, 2013Cleveland HeightsAt least six people witnessed five bright orange-red “dime-sized orbs” in the night sky to the east. At different times, they hovered, grew brighter, and moved west. Three of the lights traveled in a triangular formation. The lights were observed for around 20 minutes.
  • July 11, 2012Valley ViewA woman in a movie theater parking lot watched a red pulsating light heading south from the northeast sky. As it approached her location, it stopped and turned southwest, again at a slow constant speed. A “red pointy tail of light” appeared off the rear of the light as it stopped and “blinked out”.
  • November 29, 2011LakewoodA “fireball looking object” traveling straight south to north below the cloud layer crossed in front of the path of a descending commercial aircraft and disappeared over Lake Erie. A similar object, taking a similar path, was observed by the witness’ brother 3-4 weeks prior.
  • October 8, 2010Bath TownshipA pilot observed a bright orange “disc shaped craft”cross the sky from west to east at an estimated altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet MSL (above sea level) traveling approximately 250-300 knots. The object, estimated to be 2-4 miles away, emitted no noise and had no marker lights.

What exactly are people seeing in the night sky over Cleveland? Low-temperature ball lightning? Model airplanes? Alien spacecraft? Maybe even the disembodied souls of Cleveland meteorologists trying desperately to understand Ohio’s unpredictable weather? Or could it be top secret aerospace technology being tested over the Great Lakes?

A 2011 still from footage of the Lake Erie Lights filmed by Michael Lee Hill of Cleveland.

A still frame from footage of the Lake Erie Lights filmed by Michael Lee Hill of Cleveland in 2011.

Interestingly enough, while most people focus on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as being the government installation for space and UFO weirdness, people completely forget about NASA’s Glenn Research Center (formerly known as Lewis Research Center) south of downtown Cleveland in Brook Park, Ohio. Not only is it in close proximity to many “red light” sightings, it’s also where rockets and specialty aircraft are tested and where the Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project was headquartered (think antigravity propulsion and ruminating on the idea of a “warp drive”). Then, or course, there’s the interesting fact that only 30 miles south, there’s a Lockheed Martin facility in Akron, Ohio.

Just another day at NASA Glenn. Nothing to see here, folks!

Just another day at NASA Glenn. Nothing to see here, folks!

This does not mean that NASA Glenn is harboring some form of Roswell wreckage or reverse engineering alien technologies. According to the Coast Guard, what people are seeing are the red flashing aircraft warning lamps on radio towers and wind turbines near the shores. Yet this doesn’t account for the heights and movements sometimes experienced by witnesses. Even beacon lights on aircraft aren’t always a suitable explanation, as these lights blink regularly and are seen on takeoff and landing from nearby Hopkins International Airport on a nightly basis. Most Clevelanders are quite familiar with seeing airplane lights in the sky, though we can’t rule out this misidentification in all cases. And yes, there have been people who’ve captured the lights on video:

Strange red lights flying around Ohio might not be such a new phenomenon after all, though. As early as 1867, reports of “Wizard Lights” appearing like a “vessel on fire” over Lake Erie were reportedHaunted Ohio series author Chris Woodyard recently wrote on her blog about an unexplained red light witnessed in northwest Ohio known as the “Phantom Light of Deakin’s Woods” (a two-part post). Though believed to be a ghost or phantom, the reports sound somewhat similar to modern-day red light sightings in some aspects… except for the fact that they occurred in 1924. Could those bright red lights above the trees 90 years ago be somehow related to modern-day sightings around Lake Erie?

Have you witnessed strange red lights in the skies over Cleveland? We want to hear about it! Share your experiences on FacebookTwitter, or leave your story in the comments below.


Join the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and get awesome perks!

You must be logged in to post a comment Login