I’m not a believer in the paranormal*, but something legitimately fishy is going in Stephenville, Texas. Dozens residents of the sleepy town of 17,000 reported seeing a UFO dancing through the sky on the same night, at the same time, two weeks ago.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh come on, SD. We all know this is a product of the overactive imaginations of a couple bored wackos.”

You’re probably right, but it’s worth nothing that the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, and the Dallas Morning News have all found the story worth their time. Why? Because the US Military is skulking around like a guilty toddler caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Forty or so people reported they spotted a glowing object “bigger than a Wal-Mart” hovering 3,000 feet in the air for four to five minutes. Some, including a professional pilot and a police officer, said they saw two military fighter jets chase the object away. Officials at the nearby Air Force base originally scoffed at the report and insisted they had no aircraft anywhere near Stephenville at the time of the incident.

Yesterday, they changed their tune. It turns out that 10 F-16’s were flying a training mission over Stephenville during the five minute period the UFO was sighted. The Air Force blamed an “internal communications error” for its original denial–not an implausible explanation from the same organization that accidentally flew nuclear weapons over Arkansas.

The obvious question is whether the presence of 10 fighter jets in the sky resolves the mystery or deepens it. Witnesses say the object they saw was too large, too bright, too fast, and too quiet to be a squadron of F-16’s. The Air Force, citing mission security, has declined to say whether the planes training mission might have included any actions or formations resembling those described in the UFO reports.

Party-pooping astrophysicists have offered a reasonable explanation involving physics and sciency stuff, but it’s not nearly as exciting as aliens.

*Full Disclosure: I did vote for Dennis Kucinich in 2004