Call Paul Spera crazy. He’s used to it. Whenever Spera talks about the lights he sees flashing and circling in the sky, most people dismiss him as a goofball.
And really, Spera doesn’t fault them for it. He knows how it sounds to people who haven’t seen signs of extraterrestrial life themselves. But he is sure the lights he sees aren’t airplanes or satellites, and he knows many people agree with him.
“Saying you believe in it or you don’t believe in it is like saying you believe in the Sears Tower,” said Spera, 36, who lives in Tilton. “UFOs are real, there’s no doubt about that. Now we just have to figure out what they are.”
Spera, a musician and unemployed bartender, said he has seen UFOs for nearly 20 years. Last year, he and his girlfriend started videotaping the sightings to prove it, and they have culled more than two hours of footage.
Spera has a Web site dedicated to his observations, and he has corresponded with people from all over the world who have had similar experiences.
Last month, he sent a letter to the Concord Monitor telling of earthly encounters with multiple spacecraft.
“Many people in this community have known what is happening here for years, and no matter what you do, you can’t stop the truth from coming out,” Spera said in the letter. “Extraterrestrial contact has been made.”
Spera’s letter generated tremendous interest. It was one of the most widely read items in months on the Monitor’s Web site. Since his letter was published, Spera has heard from people who want to know more about his experiences. They often ask questions he can’t answer: Why have the lights from alien craft appeared to him so many times, and why are they here?
He doesn’t know.
Spera is well aware of most people’s attitude toward tales of extraterrestrial contact. Hollywood movies and supermarket tabloid stories about little green men don’t help, he said. But like many who describe firsthand accounts of extraterrestrials, Spera does not believe his stories will be dismissed forever. He said it’s just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up with what he and others believe.
Spera’s mother told him when he was a child about a UFO she saw decades before. He always thought she was nuts, he said, until one night in the late 1980s when he was 18. While driving he saw a triangular formation of lights blinking high above Lake Michigan where his mother had seen them long before. The lights remained for 12 hours, he said, changing colors from green to red, and many people in the neighborhood reported seeing them.
“Pretty much everybody in my family was scared except me,” he said.
Spera and his family moved to Pittsfield when he was 23 and opened a restaurant that he managed for several years. Shortly after moving to New Hampshire, Spera saw more unexplainable sights, most notably a red spherical light, 30 feet in diameter, that he said descended right in front of him while he was on Catamount Mountain.
When he started researching extraterrestrial sightings, he learned North Country residents Betty and Barney Hill, former residents of Portsmouth, were among the first in the country to report contact with aliens. More research led him to sightings elsewhere in the state, and he started watching the skies.
Spera now lives with his girlfriend, Tara Landry, and plays guitar in a blues and rock band. When he and Landry started dating about five years ago, she didn’t believe his stories. But then she had her own sighting, and now, from the back yard of their apartment, they often watch together for lights beaming from sources they can’t identify.
On the videos they’ve made, lights can be seen darting through the sky. They circle in unpredictable patterns, flash in colors, pass behind trees and swoop around the moon and clouds. They certainly don’t look like planes, but it’s difficult to tell how large they are or anything else about them.
Spera wrote to the Monitor on a whim, not expecting the newspaper to print his letter. His distrust of the media’s handling of otherworldly sightings was confirmed by the headline that appeared over his letter: “Extraterrestrials have contacted me.”
Spera said he has never been personally contacted by anything. When he said in his letter that “contact has been made,” he meant with the planet.
“When you say contact, I think of a phone call, some direct communication,” he said. “I’ve never talked to an alien. I’ve never seen an alien. I’ve never been on a spaceship, none of that. What I’m doing is what anyone can do: just looking in the sky.”