Police, sheriffs deputies, Highway Patrol officers and Air Force guards reported a rash of sightings of unidentified flying objects in southern California - at least seven in nine hours.

The law enforcement officers reported mysterious bright lights that hovered, cruised and zoomed in the skies over Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

All the sightings were reported Monday night and early Tuesday. A Los Angeles sheriff's helicopter crew - Raymond Davis, 39, and Theodore Roach, 40 - said they were about 600 feet over La Mirada on Monday night when they observed two lights in the Whittier Hills area.

They tried to follow them at 80 miles an hour but the objects were faster.

About eight hours later, at 3.30 a.m. Tuesday, security guards at March Air Force Base in the desert 50 miles east of Los Angeles reported mysterious brightly lighted objects in the sky.

Nearby, two Highway Patrol officers, Robert Scholl and L. Orchard, noted in their log "a bright light with a vapor trail" that hovered over the Box Springs Canyon area north of the air base in Riverside County.

At the same time and 50 miles to the west, Los Angeles sheriff's deputies Lonnie Hicks, 28, and Robert Carr, 34, said they saw a bright light following another light through the sky over Firestone.A resident of the area called the sheriff's station to report the same objects, deputies said.

About 10 minutes later and 12 miles to the south, deputy John McSorley at the sheriff's helicopter station at Long Beach reported two mysterious bright lights eastbound over the airfield.

Another 12 miles to the southwest, and five minutes later, two objects were reported by police in Huntington Beach.

About the same time, officers in Ventura County, some 60 miles to the northwest, reported similar sightings.

Sgt. Vincent Rupp, monitoring radio traffic at the East Los Angeles sheriff's station, said there were many radio reports of such sightings between 3:45 and 4 a.m. in southern California and some from as far away as Salinas and Sacramento - more than 350 miles to the north.

An Air Force spokesman said nothing showed up on radar readings and no rocket or missile testing could have accounted for the strange lights.

He said the Air Force would not investigate the matter further because "the Air Force is no longer in the UFO investigating business."

He said the Air Force stopped its investigation in 1969 when a study of the subject, "Operation Bluebook," concluded that UFOs were not a threat to national security, "did not represent technological developments beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge" and did not likely come from outer space.