Topanga Canyon, a ‘UFO hotspot’


Preston Dennett wrote a book about alleged Topanga Canyon UFO sightings in 1992. He said he has seen unexplained moving lights in the sky on several occasions. So has the Mexican Air Force; pilots recorded strange moving lights earlier this month.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

Preston Dennett is a believer. Dennett says beings from another world are regularly visiting this planet, and he calls Topanga Canyon a “UFO hotspot.” The Canoga Park accountant wrote about this subject in his 1999 book, “UFOs over Topanga Canyon.” In the summer of 1992, Dennett said there was what he called a “UFO wave of gigantic proportions” in Topanga Canyon. A “wave” is UFO lingo for a series of sightings in one area over a short period of time. Dennett said the wave began on June 14 when several people called the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to report unexplained lights and other strange objects in the sky. Former Topanga Messenger editor Colin Penno wrote an article about the alleged sightings in the newspaper. Dennett said the aliens have a purpose for arriving on Earth in waves.

“I think that is a publicity campaign on the part of the aliens,” he said. “They want to be seen.”

Dennett said he also witnessed the UFOs during the Topanga Canyon wave. The most shocking encounter occurred while driving along Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

“I saw this bright light, and I thought it was a plane coming toward me, but it wasn’t,” Dennett described. “It just got brighter as it got closer, and then it suddenly went up.”

Dennett said he has seen several other bright lights that he believes were alien crafts in the sky over the years, although he has never captured any on photographs or film. The UFO believer said he never thought about carrying around a camera, but said he might start doing so after a suggestion that it might be a good idea.

Dennett has converted others into believers. One day he brought his boss at Gess & Associates, David Fleetwood, to an area off Topanga Canyon Boulevard with a film crew to look for alien crafts. Fleetwood said after several hours of waiting, a bright light finally appeared.

“I looked up and I saw a very bright light, with no sound,” Fleetwood said. “I can’t confirm it was a saucer. It was a light that was there, then it was not there. I know it was not a helicopter or an airplane. I have eliminated all possible explanations.”

Fleetwood said the film crew was in the process of switching tapes for the camera when the light appeared, so they were unable to capture the sighting on film. He said after that night he became interested in the UFO subject, and said he believes this planet has been visited by alien spacecrafts.

When Dennett’s book was first published in 1999, he received a great deal of local media attention. He was interviewed by most of the major local television stations and the Los Angeles Times. But Dennett said most of the interviews were done tongue in cheek, and did not take him seriously. This bothers him, he said.

“It annoys me because I take this subject very seriously,” Dennett said. “I believe that saucers have crashed on this planet. I believe that this is a real phenomenon. But it’s very hard to convince people when you don’t have evidence.”

Now, he might have some believers from the Mexican Defense Department.

Earlier this month, the Mexican Air Force released a video showing strange moving lights in the sky. Some of the pilots who taped the incident said the lights were crafts from another planet.

The most famous UFO case in American history took place in July 1947. A spacecraft allegedly crashed near a military base in Roswell, N.M. That incident has inspired several films, books, a television series, and has become part of American pop culture. In 1994, the U.S. military said the craft that crashed in 1947 was actually a military spy balloon. But that did little to persuade true believers. And in 1997, a large festival took place at this Mecca for UFO where extraterrestrial enthusiasts celebrated the 50th anniversary of the crash. Dennett attended the event.

Also, on the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident, CNN conducted a scientific poll that found 22 percent of Americans believe beings have visited Earth. Although less than a quarter of the country’s population believes we have been visited by people from another world, most Americans do believe that we are not alone. A 1996 Gallup Poll found that 72 percent of Americans believe there is life in other parts of the Universe.

Dennett will appear at B. Dalton bookstore in Topanga Canyon on Thursday at 7 p.m. to sign his book “UFOs over Topanga Canyon.”