But there were some major differences. This time he was riding in a bus with a group of UFO-story enthusiasts.
And it was nearly five decades later.
What wasn’t different, however, was the level of intrigue and mystery, despite the passage of time.
This week the annual Shag Harbour UFO Festival touches down and will mark the 50-year anniversary of the Shag Harbour UFO incident of Oct. 4, 1967.
Wickens was one of many eyewitnesses to see something in the sky five decades ago, and he’ll be among those taking part in the festival running Friday, Sept. 29 to Sunday, Oct. 1.
Wickens still can’t say with 100 per cent certainty what he saw that night in Shag Harbour, but he’s convinced it was an unidentified flying object – a UFO – which is also how the incident was referred to in Government of Canada documents.
Wickens’ description on the bus tour last year – and more bus tours are planned this year – kept everyone enthralled. He said as he and some friends drove in a 1956 green and white Pontiac they saw lights above the tree line, but heard no sound.
“The lights would come on in sequence – one, two, three, four – then they’d all go off for a while and then start that sequence over,” he described, estimating the length of what he saw to be around 60 feet long, flying low to the horizon.
"They weren't high because we wasn't looking up, we were looking out,” he said about the lights.
Eventually the lights crossed over the road and for a few seconds he and others lost sight of them. But then they watched the lights dive in a rapid 45-degree movement towards the water’s surface. At that point they Wickens and his friends thought they had witnessed a plane crash.
“When I called the RCMP the first thing he wanted to know was what I was drinking,” Wickens said about reporting the incident. But his phone call was followed by other ones, including one from other residents and also an off-duty RCMP officer. It wasn’t long before the RCMP, Coast Guard and fishing vessels had descended on the scene.
The fact that there was never any debris found made Wickens certain it wasn’t a plane crash he has witnessed. But what had left the yellow foam on the water’s surface, and what were the lights they had seen in the sky and then watched for about an hour on the water’s surface?
To this day, that remains the question.
Peter Goreham is another witness to the 1967 Shag Harbour UFO incident. In an interview during last year’s festival he recalled about telling his parents about the incident the next morning. They didn’t believe him until they saw the story on the news.
In the decades that have past Goreham said he continues to wonders about a cylinder-type device found by a lighthouse keeper the following morning. It was damaged, smouldering and had wires or something else coming out from it, he said. Someone from the American military, he claimed, took it away and told the lighthouse keeper not to talk about it.
“That was the last we saw of it,” he said.
The keynote speaker at this year’s festival will be Chris Styles, who has been investigating the Shag Harbour incident for decades and has co-authored two books on the subject: Dark Object, with Don Ledger, and Impact To Contact, with Graham Simms.
“There’s been a lot of updates to the story and more information is now available since he wrote the two books,” Brock Zinck, vice-president of the Shag Harbour UFO Incident Society, told this newspaper a few weeks ago. “I’m really looking forward to his presentation. I don’t want to give away anything, but I think people are going to be surprised by what he has to say.”
For information on festival tickets go online to shagharbourfest.eventbrite.ca
2017 Shag Harbour UFO Festival Schedule
Friday, Sept. 29
• 6-6:45 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: registration and meet and greet
• 6:45-7 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: opening remarks
• 7-9 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Keynote address: Chris Style “Shag Harbour 50 Years On”
• 9-11 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Musical performance by Jon Mullane
• 10 p.m. Impact Site: Dark Skies Stargazing presented by Deep Sky Eye Observatory
Saturday, Sept. 30
• 7-9 a.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Breakfast served by community hall
• 9-10:15 a.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Don Ledger “Pilot Cases & Incident, and Air Canada Flight 305”
• 10:15-11:30 a.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Aaron Gulyas “History of UFO Crashes”
• 11:30 a.m. UFO Interpretation Centre: Vendors
• 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Graham Simms “Maritime Mysteries and UFOs”
• 12:45-1:45 p.m. Lasagna Lunch at Samuel Woods Museum or food trucks at the Interpretation Centre
• 1:45-3:45 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Shag Harbour UFO Incident Witness Panel with Q&A. Panel will include Laurie Wickens, Peter Goreham, Norman Smith, Michael Crowell, Captain Ronnie Newell (Skipper of Coast Guard Cutter 101), Bill Boudreau (Shelburne Witness), Ralph Loewinger (commercial pilot)
• 3:45-5 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: TBA
• 5 p.m. Shag Harbour Community Centre: Dinner Break served by the Chapel Hill Historical Society
• 4:30-6:30 p.m. UFO Interpretation Centre: Live Podcast Recording with Jordan Bonaparte from Night Time Podcast and Martin Willis from Podcast UFO
• 7-8 p.m. Guided Bus Tour #1
• 9 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Dance
Sunday, Oct. 1
• 7-9 a.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Breakfast
• 9-9:45 a.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Hugh Spencer “Roswell, St. Paul, and Shag Harbour”
• 9:45-10:30 a.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Coffee Party with Tim Doucette of Deep Sky Eye Observatory
• 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Alien Abduction Panel with Q&A: Susan Anderson and Ruth Kenney
• 12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch (Served by Woods Harbour Community Hall)
• 1:30-2:30 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Paul Kimball “UFO Filmography”
• 2:30-4 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Q&A with festival speakers
• 4-4:15 p.m. Woods Harbour Community Centre: Closing Remarks: Noah Morritt
• 6:30-7:30 p.m. Guided Bus Tour #2
*Additional bus tours will be added based on level of attendance.