Fire In The Skies Over Region 8

November 4, 2003 - Posted at 5:26 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - Many Region 8 residents are still wondering what caused Monday night's terrific light show in the sky and the explosion that followed.

The K8 Newsroom was flooded with literally hundreds of calls that began pouring in around 9:45 p.m. with questions and reports of seeing brilliant flashes of blue and yellow light in the skies.  The Jonesboro 911 dispatch office was flooded with similar calls.  "9:56 p.m., we got the first call at the 911 communications center.  A large boom in the area, then after that we were flooded with phone calls," said dispatch center coordinator Bob Andrews.

Flight instructor Lea Thompson was in the air when she spotted the flying debris.  "All of a sudden, we just saw a bright white light coming in front of the plane.  It came right over the front of the nose and descended down...kind of looked like a shooting star.  It disappeared and we didn't think anything about it," Thompson said.  "We were about 3,000 feet on final, coming in to land.  First I was really confused, didn't know what it was.  Then I just assumed it was a falling star.  I got a bird's eye view this time, instead of on the ground.  So, I didn't think much of it until I got on the ground.

A large "boom" soon followed.  "Explosion and a boom.  We got calls from the Lawrence County area, all the way down to the southern Craighead County area," said Andrews.  The KAIT newsroom received calls from as far south as Brinkley and Oil Trough and as far north and west as West Plains, Missouri.

Although what many saw last night was an unusual phenomenon, it apparently does occur periodically over time.

Dr. Andrew Sustich is the Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences at Arkansas State University, and feels certain the event was a meteorite.  "A meteor, striking through the sky is large enough so that it survives to the lower atmosphere where the air gets thick.  They come down on a very sporadic basis.  There is no good time table.  There's no, you know...this is a good time for an event like last night.  They just happen," said Sustich.