PENDLETON, Ore. (KOIN) — More often than not, when we hear about unidentified flying objects, we think about the Southwest — New Mexico and Roswell, but what about right here in the Northwest? One expert said Oregon has the 2nd-most UFO sightings in the United States.

A UFO was spotted over Pendleton, Oregon in July 2018. (Courtesy of Virgil Bates Jr.) 

The most recent was seen in the skies above Pendleton. 

A small dot in a sea of blue — just a speck in the sky — was spotted by Virgil Bates Jr. The UFO floated above Pendleton, with its historic downtown and cowboy statues, for more than an hour in July 2018. 

“We looked up, you know, you see this white thing. It’s just there,” Bates said. “That got our attention”

The little speck didn’t go unnoticed. A lot of people in town looked up and saw it.

“Yeah it was pretty cool,” Bates said. 

In a landscape that looks somewhat extraterrestrial itself, with an air base not far from town, Bates said there was nothing else flying that day. His only explanation is that it was an unidentified flying object. 

“I think there’s other things out there,” Bates said. “We can’t be the only people around, or whatever you want to call us.”

Tom Bowden is a UFO expert of sorts. He’s the Oregon director for what’s known as MUFON –the Mutual UFO Network, which is dedicated to studying UFO sightings and those who report them.

Tom Bowden is the director of the Oreogn branch of MUFON, the Mututal UFO Network, which investigates UFO sightings and the people who report them. (KOIN) 

“I started looking into this subject matter in 1974, 1975,” Bowden said. “What we do is we investigate the people who say they’ve seen UFO’s. We’re looking to their story and trying to understand that person.”

The volunteer-based group has four investigators in Oregon, which ranks incredibly high in sightings.

There was the famous saucer from McMinnville in the 1950s.

“That was one of the most, I’d say, one of the highest profile cases,” Bowden said 

Before that, something strange was spotted over Mount Adams.

Bowden said this summer was a busy one.

“And they’ve really piled up. I’m not sure what was going on but ever since May it’s been a real hot year,” he said

Watch: Video footage of UFO in Pendleton

Bowden’s most memorable investigation was in August of 2003 near Gresham High School.

“This dark, triangular craft was just hovering right there a few hundred feet above the houses,” Bowden said. 

He posted flyers around the neighborhood and more people came forward to reporting seeing something just like that.

Bowden believes the government knows more than it’s letting on about UFOs.

“It’s pretty certain that there’s, parts of the government do have that, do know more than they’re letting on,” he said

At 71, Bowden hopes a breakthrough will come while he’s still alive. Until then, he’ll keep digging.

Bates said he’ll continue to be on the lookout for any aerial anomalies that may fly overhead.

“You’ve got to take a closer look,” Bates said “They’re probably as curious as we are.”