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Weird Travels - UFOs & Alien Encounters

UFOs and Weird Beasts

UFOs & Ghostly Phenomena

UFO Files - Texas' Roswell

Conspiracies - A Brief Overview

UFO Files - Brazil's Roswell

Alien Contact - Has It Already Happened?

It’s Not Just UFOs That Intrigue Us!

Mystery of the Crop Patterns

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The Mystery of Crop Patterns

Talk about crop patterns (or crop circles, as they are more commonly known) and most people will tell you that they are formed not by UFOs or Earth energies, but by swarthy people, stealing into farmers’ fields in the dead of night, armed with planks of wood and balls of string.

While the vast majority of crop patterns are the work of clever hoaxsters, there are some that seem to remain a mystery and even recognised ‘circlemakers’ have said that they have had odd experiences, even in formations of their own design, but we shall come to these ‘effects’ later. So what are we to make of these genuine works of art, often hundreds of feet across, that appear in our crops, sometimes in broad daylight in only a few minutes?

Patterns appearing in cereals are not a new phenomenon, although most have appeared in the past twenty years or so, thanks to the circlemakers. One of the earliest accounts dates from around 800AD, when the Bishop of Lyon wrote of ‘flattened circles’ in corn and connected it, naturally, with devil worship, citing ‘magical storms’ as the catalyst for their formation.

In 1678, a woodcut was made, depicting ‘The Mowing Devil’. The story goes that a farmer engaged in an argument with his mower about the cost of mowing his field. Eventually, the farmer said that the Devil should mow the field and stomped away. That night, a strange glow was seen in the field and the next morning, round circles were found in the corn.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, crop circles were reported in fields quite regularly. Were human circlemakers responsible for all of these early incidents?

In 1991, two retired gentlemen called Doug Bower and Dave Chorley claimed that they were responsible for all of the crop circles. They demonstrated their technique, using planks of wood, string and a gizmo attached to their caps that allowed them to create perfectly straight lines.

Of course, Doug and Dave cannot have created the patterns from antiquity, nor could they have made those found in other countries, but their revelation cast a shadow of doubt over the whole phenomenon. It was firmly implanted into the public consciousness that all crop patterns were the work of hoaxers and things only got worse when other circlemakers came forward, claiming responsibility for some of the most complex patterns. These modern day ‘crop artists’ use computers to design their patterns and even a huge, complicated formation can be created in pitch-darkness in only a few hours.

Despite this, people have reported actually seeing crop patterns being formed, usually accompanied by balls of light. Often, these designs have appeared in a matter of a few minutes to an hour.

Colin Andrews, a champion of crop circle research (cereology) for many years, finally admitted that he thought that the complex patterns were the work of man, while the simple formations could be due to anomalous meteorological conditions. While this seems like a reasonable standpoint, many cereologists are still convinced that not all complex designs are the work of the circlemakers. Indeed, there are some fantastic designs for which no circlemaking group has claimed responsibility. Here are just three examples:

1. In 2001, a pair of patterns appeared in a field next to the Chilbolton Radio Observatory in Hampshire. The design seemed to emulate the famous ‘Arecibo Message’ that was broadcast into space in 1974 from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. There were some significant differences, however. Instead of a stylised human form, the Chilbolton design had a large-headed, alien figure; the depiction of our solar system was different, showing two raised ‘planets’ and a star-like object; and whereas the Arecibo message included a representation of the telescope’s dish as the transmitter, the Chilbolton design showed a copy of a crop pattern that had appeared in the same field a year earlier.

In the same field as the ‘message’, there was another pattern that depicted a humanoid face. Some have suggested it is a representation of the ‘Face on Mars’, that mysterious structure in Cydonia first photographed by the Viking orbiters in 1976.



2. A year later, in 2002, another intricate design was found in a field near Winchester, Hampshire. This one had what appeared to be the head of a ‘Grey’ alien, along with a disc with some kind of data and three, small ‘UFOs’. Believe it or not, the dots and dashes in the disc have been decoded and it forms a readable, if bizarre, message:


"Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time. BELIEVE. There is GOOD out there.We OPpose DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING (BELL SOUND)".



3. In August of 2001, what became known as ‘the mother of all crop circles’ appeared overnight (during a rainstorm) at Milk Hill in Wiltshire. This remarkable formation consisted of 409 circles and was almost nine hundred feet in diameter! It remains the largest crop pattern ever recorded.



Of course, the fact that no circlemaking group has claimed responsibility for these designs does not make them the ‘genuine article’. There are legal issues to consider. The creation of the patterns would mean that the designers trespassed onto private land and caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to crops. However, this has not prevented them from claiming ownership of some other impressive patterns.

Either way, whoever created these things deserves a nod, not only for their artistic creativity, but also for their ingenuity in evading capture (the Chilbolton designs were formed in a field right next to a major radio observatory).

Earlier, I mentioned ‘odd experiences’ by people in some crop patterns. As previously noted, strange balls of light have been observed in or near patterns, but other anomalous occurrences have been reported. These range from hearing strange noises, such as buzzing, ringing or beeping, to ailments being cured to electrical devices becoming suddenly inoperative.

Researchers claim that reports of this kind indicate a ‘genuine’ pattern, but circlemakers themselves have claimed to have experienced weird happenings in their own designs. Matthew Williams, a circlemaker who has been prosecuted for his art, has admitted to experiencing paranormal events while creating a pattern. He said that he felt as though ‘something’ was watching him as he went about his stomping. Other circlemakers have admitted to seeing unexplained ‘bright lights’ moving over fields.

So how are ‘genuine’ patterns identified from those made by the hoaxers?

Researchers claim that genuine crop patterns (i.e. those not made by people with planks of wood) demonstrate features that hoaxed patterns do not:

  • The stems of the crop are bent and not broken, so the crop continues to grow, even though it is lying flat
  • The ground appears to have undergone a burst of heat, radiation or ultrasound
  • Nodes on the stems are ‘blown’, as though heated very quickly
  • The structure of the soil itself has been altered, as though by temperatures exceeding 1500C or extreme pressure
  • Genuine circles are not perfectly round, but slightly elliptical
  • The local electromagnetic (EM) field is altered

It must be noted, though, that investigations into known hoax patterns have also found all of these features. Believers maintain, though, that only in a genuine pattern will you find all of the above. It is also worth mentioning that while crop pattern incidents decreased during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001, some patterns still appeared in affected areas.

It has often been pointed out that the damage caused by a large pattern can cost a farmer thousands of pounds in lost revenue, that farmers abhor these attacks upon their crops. That might be true for the most part, but farmers are a canny bunch and know when to turn a situation to their advantage.

In 1996, a pattern appeared in a field next to Stonehenge. It was five hundred feet wide and almost a thousand feet in length in the form of a mathematical fractal pattern known as a Julia Set. Although circlemakers claim to know who made the pattern, no names have been forthcoming. The design appeared overnight and believers claim that people stomping about the field for hours would have been seen by the security guards at the nearby monument.

The farmer who owned the field began charging tourists to view the pattern and within four weeks he had made himself the healthy sum of £30,000, considerably more than the worth of the crop itself!

Think about it. Farmers complain about circlemakers trampling their crops, yet, if they are savvy, can recoup their losses and more (hundreds of times more in some cases) in a short time. I think that many farmers would not only smile when a pattern appeared in one of their fields, but dance a little jig!

This has just been a brief introduction to the crop pattern phenomenon and there is a lot of material out there that goes into great depth on the subject in the form of books, DVDs, magazine articles and websites.

As of the time of writing this article, the first crop patterns of the 2006 season are appearing, so it appears that the enigma is still with us. Whether they are entirely the work of ‘crop artists’, non-terrestrial intelligences, the weather or a combination of any and all of these, it cannot be denied that they are beautiful to behold and it is one field (forgive the pun) in which Britain still leads the world.

© Steve Johnson 2006

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UFOs & Ghostly Phenomena

The subject of UFOs is often lumped together with other paranormal phenomena without much thought. “Heck, it’s unknown, therefore it must be paranormal…” But there are aspects to ufology that are not solely concerned with ‘nuts & bolts’ flying saucers and the physical entities that pilot them. There are numerous cases in which UFOs and ghosts have crossed paths, blurring even more the distinctions between perception and reality in this most fascinating field of study.

Throughout history, unsuspecting victims have yielded to the midnight advances of supernatural creatures such as succubi. These demonic entities appear to their prey often in the form of hideous dwarfs or wizened crones, crouching on their chests in the dead of night. Many researchers have suggested that such stories correlate with today’s reports of alien abduction. Sceptics have argued that the similarities prove that the phenomenon is nothing more than psychological in nature.

What I shall cover here, though, are one or two ghostly apparitions associated with the UFO phenomenon. It is surprising how common such reports there are and how the worlds of spirits and extraterrestrials seem to converge regularly.

A famous, and highly entertaining, example of how these subjects intermingle was demonstrated on Halloween in 2004. The popular LivingTV (a UK cable and satellite channel) programme, Most Haunted Live, was beginning a three-night investigation in the Lancashire town of Pendle. On the first night, the show’s resident psychic and medium, the flamboyant Derek Acorah, picked up on what he said were the spirits of alien beings. He declared that several extraterrestrials had died on the spot where the building they were in now stood. It was a bizarre statement during a show that usually confines itself to seeking out ‘regular’ spirits from an earthly origin and whether or not you believe in Acorah’s abilities, it adds to the subject nevertheless.

Another ghostly experience was recounted by Scottish researcher, Malcolm Robinson. In July, 1998, Malcolm travelled to Devon with BUFORA colleague, Judith Jaafar. They arrived at the family home of the witness that Malcolm referred to as B.P. and he told his family’s story.

Beginning in November of 1991, the entire family had experiences that eventually led them to calling in a spiritualist to perform a ‘cleansing’. Initially, it seemed that what was being dealt with was not connected with UFOs and that they were living in a haunted house. Footsteps were heard in the dead of night; B.P. awoke with pressure on his chest, as though something were sitting on him; figures in old-fashioned clothes were seen; the odd aroma of tobacco could often be smelled, even though nobody in the house smoked.

Then strange creatures began to be seen in the house, ranging from a typical Grey alien, to a hairy beast described by B.P.’s son as resembling Captain Caveman. After several weeks of these kinds of encounters, the spiritualist was called in and his work appeared to do the trick and all became quiet again.

Then, a few days later, when their 26-year old son was away, B.P. and his wife heard strange moaning noises coming from his bedroom. Then obscenity-filled screaming began, terrifying the pair. They entered the room and found it empty.

Things got so bad in the house that the family began sleeping in the same bedroom. One night, B.P. woke up to see a strange glow in the room. He roused his son, who was sleeping on a mattress on the floor, who said he could see what looked like a Grey alien. B.P. could not see this. His wife was apparently still asleep and mumbling something incoherently. After a few seconds, the glow coalesced into a ball and vanished with a ‘pop’ into a funnel of light. Later, B.P.’s wife told them that she had had a dream about aliens in the room and that she had tried to wake them both up.

After the son saw what he described as a ‘laser-light show’ in the house, the spiritualist was called in again and this time his cleansing was successful. The family have seen nothing since, although they say that they can still ‘feel’ the entities around them.

B.P. underwent hypnosis and recalled seeing alien beings with cat-like eyes taking him into a saucer-shaped craft. He had the sensation of travelling in the ship. Prior to this, the family had no interest in UFOs and took their experiences to be a haunting event. 1

Another incident that connects UFO lore with ghosts happened to a friend of mine. He experienced over three hours of missing time one evening in 1992. When he regained consciousness, his clothes were torn and he was covered with scratches. He recalled seeing a strange, green mist, something often reported by abductees. Immediately prior to him losing those three hours, though, he saw the ghost of his grandfather in his house. He has no explanation for what happened to him and a hypnosis session could shed no further light on the matter unfortunately.

In 1977, a case became so famous that it has had several books written about it and ancillary events were reported in the mainstream news media. In that year, south-west Wales, and in particular the Pembrokeshire coastline had a major UFO flap with many witnesses reporting strange craft flying around the skies and even landing. The most notorious of these recorded incidents took place at Ripperston Farm on St Bride’s Bay.

The details of what happened to the Coombs family can be found in such books as The Uninvited by Clive Harold, but the story is a strange one. What began with a light in the sky chasing the family car escalated into electrical interference and drainage, silver craft seen landing and taking off from the fields and even up-close sightings of silver-clad figures of up to seven feet in height.

What we are interested in this instance, though, are the more supernatural aspects to the case (if that is possible!). As well as these visual sightings and physical effects that plagued the Coombs, there were other incidents that bear more similarities with ghost or poltergeist lore. Items would move about the house by themselves, figures were seen passing through solid objects and even a whole herd of cattle was transported from one location to another in a matter of seconds.

The events surrounding the Coombs family may not seem overly surprising, given the fact that Pauline Coombs, the farmer’s wife at the centre of the ‘disturbances’, appears to have a history of supernatural interactions. Before moving to Ripperston Farm, the family lived in a caravan at Pembroke Dock. While here, Pauline, a devout Catholic, claimed to have witnessed not only the Virgin Mary, but Jesus himself, leading to such a stream of visitors that the owners of the caravan ended up destroying it!

So are ghosts and UFOs linked or do the occupants of extraterrestrial craft use ghosts as some kind of cloaking device? Do they, through some form of advanced technique, use recognisable images, such as deceased family members or cartoon characters, to make their targets more relaxed? If so, it doesn’t seem to work very well, as the poor victims are often petrified beyond belief, but it could be argued that the ETs know very little about our psychology and view us in their terms, much as we humans tend to anthropomorphise our view of the universe.

Whatever the truth behind these incidents, it seems that the barriers between the so-called physical world of UFOs and the spiritual world of ghosts and apparitions are not quite as water-tight as many would believe.

© Steve Johnson – 2006


1 - Devon Family: UFOs & Ghosts! (11/07/98) - Joint Investigation with BUFORA.  -

(Originally published in Issue 3 of UFOData Report)

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It’s Not Just UFOs That Intrigue Us!

While we’re all craning our necks and gazing skyward, seeking out those enigmatic UFOs, it is sometimes interesting to look down now and again and look into the bizarre creatures that are reported across the globe every day. Lumped into the category of cryptozoology, these strange animals defy science by remaining hidden and often eluding the gaze of man.

Occasionally, though, stories emerge that remind us that there are still many, many mysteries right here on Earth. Here, we will cover just a few that have made the news recently.

The Porcupine-Monkey

In January, 2006, a story broke that American Navy SEALS videotaped a troupe of strange, ape-like creatures while on a secret mission in the Congo, sometime between 1997 and 2002.

The creatures were described as being about 4.5-5 feet tall, grey in colouring and having long, porcupine-like quills running down their backs. The SEAL team said that the group they videotaped (which has never been released due to the covert nature of the operation – go figure!) were in the act of killing another animal and that in this excited state, the quills stood erect.

The description of these odd, ill-tempered beasts resembles not only that of the legendary chupacabra of the Americas, but also of similar creatures known to the tribes of Madagascar, an animal they call the kalanoro.

It seems that the animals are carnivorous and, indeed, the kalanoro is often blamed for the disappearances of children.

The kalanoro

The Thylacine

Officially, the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, a carnivorous marsupial, became extinct in 1936, when the last known specimen died in the Hobart Zoo on the island of Tasmania.

Since ‘Benjamin’s’ death sixty years ago, though, sightings in the wild of thylacines have continuously occurred and not only on Tasmania. Most recently, on January 2nd, 2006, when a man driving in Colac, in the Australian state of Victoria, says he saw one run across the road in front of his car. He said the stripes on its rear, the distinctive, stiff tail and long, hind legs convinced him that “it was not a dog, feral cat or fox”.

If the thylacine was found to still remain alive in Australasia, it would be one of the most important rediscoveries of modern times, on a par with the discovery of the coelacanth, the primitive fish found alive off the African coast after believed to be extinct for 65 million years.

The Thylacine

“Champ” – The Monster of Lake Champlain

While Scotland has Nessie, the beast said to rear its head from the murky waters of Loch Ness, other countries have their own lake monsters. Probably the most famous after our home-grown beast is Champ, the long-necked monster said to swim in Lake Champlain, a sixty-five mile long body of water along the New York/Vermont border.

Champ is said to resemble Nessie, whom many cryptozoologists maintain is a type of plesiosaur, a marine reptile from the time of the dinosaurs, with a long neck, coils or humps and a length that varies from ten to almost two hundred feet.

The latest sighting made headline news in the States on February 22nd, 2006, when a pair of Vermont fishermen videotaped something strange lurking in the water close to their boat. FBI forensic analysts have said the video is authentic, but of what it depicts, they cannot say.

A still from the February, 2006 video of Champ

The most famous photograph of Champ was taken in 1977 by Sandra Mansi. It appears to show a long-necked creature in the water, but some have said it could be anything from a log to a whale’s fluke.

Sandra Mansi’s famous photo of Champ

Speaking of debunking famous myths, recently a palaeontologist from Glasgow University explained away the Loch Ness Monster as being nothing more than an elephant swimming in the loch.

Neil Clarke spent two years researching Scotland’s famous cryptoid and came to his conclusion after discovering that circuses often used the new road by the loch in the 1930s (when the modern wave of sightings began). He said that the animals of the big top would be allowed to take a dip in the cool waters and an elephant swimming partly submerged could easily be mistaken for Nessie!

An elephantine Nessie?

Stegosaurs in Cambodia?

The magnificent temples of Angkor Wat are one of the wonders of the ancient world. They marked the height of the Khmer Empire between the 8th and 14th centuries and draw tourists from all over the world.

In February, the temple of Ta Prohm raised the eyebrows of cryptozoologists, when a photograph that appeared to show a carving of a stegosaurus appeared on the internet. 

A Cambodian Stegosaurus?

The carving is genuine. It is really there. But does it depict a dinosaur, an animal supposedly extinct for at least 65 million years?

Stegosaurs were herbivorous dinosaurs that had two rows of bony plates that ran along their backs, just as shown in the carving, but what was one doing in Cambodia hundreds of years ago. 

The answer may be more close to home than you might think. Some people have suggested that what is actually depicted on the temple wall is a rhinoceros, that lived in the area in historic times, and that the ‘plates’ are actually representations of a leafy background. Others have also posited that the carving is a modern hoax, put there by artistic pranksters for the enjoyment of tourists. And, of course, some say that it is a dinosaur and proves that the history of our planet is all-to-cock and that dinosaurs and man shared the globe until fairly recently.

Alien Big Cats

The British countryside is famous for its cows and sheep grazing in green fields bordered by hedgerows and dry-stone walls. Its mammalian wildlife ranges from tiny shrews up to the Red deer, while our largest carnivore is the badger. Or is it?

Since the 1960s, reports of large, cat-like animals have come from all over the country, the most famous being the Surrey Puma. In the 1980s, the so-called Beast of Bodmin ripped apart sheep in Cornwall. Things got so bad for farmers that the armed forces were called in to find the predator. Needless to say, they didn’t catch it. The reports carried on, with sightings and photographs coming from city suburbs to the wilds of Scotland. They became so numerous that a new term entered the lexicon: Alien Big Cats. By ‘alien’ we are referring to the fact that these felines are not native to the British Isles, rather than coming from another planet.


The Beast of Bodmin?

The cause of this invasion was put down to the Dangerous Animals Act of 1976, which prevented the public from owning exotic animals ranging from ostriches to big cats to crocodiles without obtaining a special license. What this doesn’t explain is the sightings pre-1976 and also why we aren’t getting reports of wild ostriches and crocodiles by British picnickers!

The release of alien creatures in the UK is not without precedent, however, as wallabies now thrive in Derbyshire, descendants of a group that escaped from a private zoo in the 1930s. The South American rodent, the coypu, also thrives in the wild in East Anglia, after being introduced in the 1920s.

Luckily, nobody has been seriously injured by the alien big cats, although there are reports of people being attacked and terrified by these predators. For the most part, though, they appear to shun human contact.

Sightings still occur and in February, 2006, casts were made of paw prints found in Scotland. Wildlife experts confirmed that the print was made by a big cat, possibly a black leopard.

© Steve Johnson - 2006

(Originally published in Issue 3 of UFOData Report)

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UFOs and Weird Beasts

Everybody knows that the study of the UFO phenomenon mainly concerns the investigation of sightings of lights and unexplained objects in the sky, abduction reports and the like, but there is another aspect to UFO lore that is less well-known – that of the strange beasts (aside from the Greys and other alien-type beings we are familiar with) that often accompany UFO incidents.

Many of these weird creatures are famous in and of themselves, but it is their connection with unidentified flying objects that we shall explore here.


People have been seeing ‘wildmen’ all over the world for centuries, but it is the sasquatch or Bigfoot of the American North-west that is the most notorious. Probably the most famous account of a Bigfoot sighting is that of Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. They captured the creature on film in 1967 at Bluff Creek, California and, though the film is still controversial, this incredible piece of footage has yet to be completely debunked. We are concerning ourselves here, though, with the creatures’ relationship with UFOs.

In February, 1974, a woman was confronted on the doorstep of her Pennsylvania home by a Bigfoot (they are not solely exclusive to the NW Pacific coast states). She shot at it from a distance of about six feet, but instead of keeling over dead, there was a bright flash and the creature vanished. Her son-in-law reported seeing other Bigfoot (the word is both singular and plural) at the edge of nearby woods, with a bright, red flashing light hovering above them.

In 1973, again in Pennsylvania, a 22-year old man saw a red orb come down in a field. Taking two 10-year old boys to investigate, they saw the object hovering just above the ground. Close to the UFO, stood two Bigfoot-like creatures that possessed glowing, green eyes and long, dark hair. The man fired his rifle over their heads and when they failed to react, he fired directly at one of the creatures. It raised its hand and the UFO disappeared. The Bigfoot then walked slowly into nearby woods.

In 1991, Wisconsin farmer, Rita Massman reported that a few days after a UFO sighting, a Bigfoot came onto her land and stole several chickens. Her children reported being chased by a ‘8- or 9-foot tall, brown, 400-500 pound creature having a monkey-like face’.


The chupacabra, or goat-sucker, entered the public eye in the mid-Nineties, but the legend goes back to 1975, when a creature known as the Moca Vampire was held responsible for slaughtering animals on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rica. Ducks, goats and even cows were found completely drained of blood. There was a spate of UFO sightings at the same time. The creature itself, though, was never seen.

Then in 1995, the island was victim to another wave of animal deaths. At first it was mainly goats that were found drained of blood through a single puncture wound, hence the name, el chupacabra – the goat-sucker. It didn’t take long for other animals to be found exsanguinated and this time, there were even sightings of the beasts responsible.

Many witnesses have reported a four or five-feet tall bipedal creature, with large, black eyes, long dorsal spines, large fangs, the ability to fly or jump to great heights and being able to dematerialise at will. They are also often reported at the same time as UFOs are witnessed.

To this day, sightings persist and they are no longer restricted to Puerto Rico. The same or similar creatures have been seen in Mexico, Texas and many other US states, Chile and Brazil.


In the late-Sixties, the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, was the centre of a mystery that became a best-selling book and later, a major motion picture, The Mothman Prophecies.

People began reporting electrical interference with their home appliances and often cars would cut out for no reason. Lights would be seen hovering above the town, but particularly over an old TNT plant. People also reported seeing the Mothman.

This bizarre creature was described as possessing large, red eyes; standing between five and seven-feet tall; having dark, possibly grey or brown, skin; huge, bat-like wings with which it could ascend vertically and hover for long periods; and a terrifying, screeching call.

Although the bulk of Mothman sightings took place in 1966-67 in the West Virginia area, prior to the Silver Bridge disaster that claimed forty-six lives, witnesses are still coming forward with stories of large, bat-like creatures all over the world. Has the Mothman moved on to pastures new?

Curiously, the Mothman of Point Pleasant may have an earlier incarnation. In November, 1963, two young men and their girlfriends were walking near Sandling Park, Saltwood, Kent in the south of England. They observed a bright object that resembled a star descend into trees and begin moving through them. The UFO came to a halt close to them and disgorged a creature that resembles the Mothman reports. It shambled towards them and they described it as black, headless (some Mothman reports suggested that its red eyes were very close to the shoulders) and with wings like a bat.


In Navajo culture, a skinwalker is a medicine man that will don animal skins to perform magical or ritual ceremonies. Other Native American tribes claim skinwalkers to be able to shape-shift into wild animals, such as wolves. Skinwalkers have been known to ‘haunt’ an individual for years until the day the person dies.

One case links skinwalkers with UFOs like no other and that is the case of the so-called Skinwalker Ranch in Utah. For fifty years the ranch has been the site of UFO sightings, Bigfoot reports, ghost and poltergeist encounters and all many of paranormal phenomena.

The ranch was bought by the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) in 1995 from a family that had owned the property for only twenty months. They had reported all of the above phenomena and also cattle mutilations, giant wolves that vanished into thin air and could survive direct hits from rifle fire and the vaporisation of the family dogs after they chased blue orbs.

NIDS set up video cameras that were destroyed by unknown forces; they observed UFOs in the night sky and witnessed unknown animals appearing out of ‘tunnels of light’.

Las Vegas newsman, George Knapp and NIDS scientist, Dr. Colm Kelleher, have written a book about the ranch entitled Hunt for the Skinwalker.

These are just a small selection of the strange creatures that have been associated with UFO sightings over the years. As we continue to receive reports of Grey aliens or Nordic aliens or other beings that to all intents and purposes resemble us, save for cosmetic differences, perhaps we should consider that most intelligent beings in the universe will bear little to no resemblance to us and may have capabilities that would appear nothing short of magical.

© Steve Johnson – 2006

(Originally published in Issue 2 of UFOData Report)

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Has it already happened?

There are many conspiracy theories whizzing around the internet. Most fizzle out after a few turns around the block, but a few remain. Some become giants, with whole websites, books and TV programs devoted to them – 9/11, Princess Diana, JFK etc. Some persist, but are virtually unknown to most people. Whispers are heard, internet forum posts are made, the occasional article (such as this one) is written. But for the most part, they are lost in the raging sea of controversy that preoccupies many of us. While we search for answers to those questions that affect us now (Is climate change real? Am I going to be killed by Al-Qaeda?), truly wonderful stories become subdued.

In 1974, American documentary producer, Robert Emenegger, was asked by the Republican Party to produce a film about UFOs, using only official, government people and files. He was promised footage of an actual ‘flying saucer’ landing that had occurred at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico back in 1964. His film was made and given the title of UFOs: Past, Present and Future.

Unfortunately, the promised footage was never forthcoming, but Emenegger had shot the dramatised parts of the segment beforehand (air force officers answering telephones, emergency trucks driving around, that kind of thing). These would have been used as inserts into the actual landing footage. What he was forced to do instead was use paintings of the alien craft and the meeting that occurred with its occupants.

A few years later, in 1976, the documentary was re-released as UFOs: It Has Begun and again in 1979 (no doubt to cash in on the success of the Steven Spielberg smash-hit movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), with additional material added from French ufologist Jacques Vallee and sections concerned with animal mutilations.

Did the meeting at Holloman AFB actually occur, or was it a ruse, a piece of misinformation with which to taint Emenegger’s otherwise excellent documentary? Rumours abound that Emenegger actually saw the footage for himself, yet in an interview for a History Channel program, he said that he asked about the footage at Wright-Patterson AFB, but he did not elaborate on whether he was shown it or not. It was all very hazy, murky and confusing.

Nevertheless, the stories that a meeting between top US military officials and representatives from an alien race actually did take place in 1964 persist to this day.

In 1974, Robert Emenegger published a book to accompany the release of his documentary. Large sections of it are almost word-for-word identical to the television program and it is an interesting read that expands. When it comes to the Holloman AFB landing, barely three pages are devoted to it! Here is the full text of that segment of the book:

Let us look at an incident that might happen in the future – or perhaps could have happened already.

The premise is that alien contact is made by extraterrestrial beings with representatives of the United States Air Force at Holloman AFB in the deserts of New Mexico.

Early morning is breaking over the cool gray New Mexico desert. We are in the operations tower of Holloman Air Force Base at the landing field.

We hear, over an intercom, a voice: "Check list April . . . Charlie four standing by." From within the tower, we hear a control operator giving some data to a pilot: "Wind, northeasterly—two knots. Temperature sixty-eight degrees, visibility ten miles and clearing." Behind the operator's voice, airmen are making small talk about the lousy coffee.

The day is clear. It's about 5:30 A.M. Traffic is light; one recon plane is on the field ready for takeoff when the tower phone rings and Sergeant Mann is given a report of an approaching unidentified craft.

We shift to the radar hut. On the scope several blips appear as the radar scans the sky. The radarman leans into his phone: "I'll repeat it again—unidentified approaching objects—on coordinate forty-niner—thirty-four degrees southwest following an erratic approach course..."

The controller, sipping his coffee, responds: "Probably a stray—civilian maybe? Keep me informed." He turns to his associate. "Check with Edwards." He scoots his chair up next to the radioman's. "Make contact with him, Bill."

The radio operator depresses the talk button and flicks a control switch: "This is Holloman Air Force Base Control Tower. Identify yourself. You are encroaching on military air space—warning—identify yourself— what is your tail number? You are in a restricted military air corridor." There is a pause and the airman turns to the controller: "No response."

The controller searches the airman's face for a reaction. "My god, what the hell do you make of it?" He pushes the intercom, connecting him to the base commander. He passes his binoculars to the airman, saying, "Here, look through my glasses."

Inside the commander's pale green office, a sergeant picks up the phone: "Base commander's office, Sergeant Whitmore speaking. Yes, yes—hold on. Colonel, for you."

The colonel swivels around in his chair and picks up the line: "This is Colonel Horner. Yes . . . yes, an unidentified vehicle. You warned the craft again? It's a what shape? . . . Check Edwards? . . . The civilian patrol? OK, right." The colonel sits for a moment with the phone in his lap, then makes a decision. Pushing a line on the squawk box, he leans forward: "Sound a red alert—unidentified craft approaching." He rises and calls to his aide, "Bill, make a quick check with Wright-Patterson and Intelligence—it may be an experimental craft from nearby. Alert the fire chief and security and safety." Searching for the plausible explanation, he mutters, "Sounds like a damned lunar module experiment."

Two military interceptors are dispatched to escort the unidentified craft out of the area.

By chance, cameramen, a technical sergeant and a staff sergeant, of the base photographic team, are aboard a base helicopter on a routine photographic mission at the time, and they run off several feet of film of three objects in the sky over Holloman. One of the objects breaks away and begins a descent. A second high-speed camera crew, set up to photograph a test launch, turn their camera toward the object and run off approximately six hundred feet of 16mm color film.

The cameras continued to roll as the extraordinary vehicle comes into view. It hovers, almost silently, about ten feet off the ground for nearly a minute, and yaws like a ship at anchor. Then it sets down on three extension arms.

The commander and two officers, along with two base Air Force scientists, arrive and wait apprehensively. A panel slides open on the side of the craft.

Stepping forward, there are one, then a second, and a third—what appear to be men dressed in tight-fitting jump suits. Perhaps short by our standards, with an odd blue-gray complexion, eyes set far apart. A large, pronounced nose. They wear headpieces that resemble rows of a rope-like design.

The commander and the two scientists step forward to greet the visitors. Arrangements are made by some inaudible sort of communication and the group quickly retires to an inner office in the King I area. There they are met and guided to the end of Mars Street to the west area building number 930. Left behind stand a stunned group of military personnel. Who the visitors are, where they're from, and what they want is unknown.

For an event that ‘might happen’ or ‘may have already happened’, it goes into some detail, giving names, times, amounts of footage shot etc. A big clue in my opinion that dates this to the 1964 event is the comment made by the colonel about it perhaps being a ‘lunar module experiment’. NASA was getting its moon missions into gear during the Sixties, following John F Kennedy’s famous speech of 1961 that set the goal of ‘placing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth’. It has been suggested, though, that the UFO landing actually occurred in 1971, but this would also still place it within America’s Apollo moon program.

One of the people that Emenegger and his partner, Allan Sandler, met during their negotiations for the Holloman footage was Paul Shartle, a senior officer at Norton AFB, California. In 1988, Emenegger and Shartle would appear in a television special called UFO Coverup – Live. Here it was revealed that twelve seconds of the Holloman landing footage was actually used in the UFOs: Past, Present and Future documentary. Shartle stated that the footage was real and that he had seen it in its entirety several times.

The Holloman story took another twist when in late 2005, a former military insider, who goes under the name ‘Anonymous’ began releasing material about a project called SERPO.

‘Anonymous’ claimed that the United States government had been in contact with a race of aliens that were called Ebens by the military. They were from the planet SERPO, a world that resided in the Zeta Reticuli star system, some thirty-nine light years from Earth. The contact had gone so far as to include an exchange of personnel, with a dozen military personnel travelling to SERPO and spending thirteen years there before returning in 1978 (the year that Spileberg’s Close Encounters depicted military officers returning home aboard a UFO, as well as new personnel preparing to leave). Of the twelve people that went, only eight returned – two died on the alien world and two decided to remain there. All of the eight that came home have since died.

Among ‘Anonymous’ revelations was a brief mention of a landing and meeting that took place ‘close to Holloman AFB’ on 24th April, 1964. Two Eben ships were due to arrive, but one landed at the wrong location. The other craft found the meeting site without any problems.

Curiously, according to the SERPO releases, the craft that ‘got lost’ landed at Socorro, New Mexico. Check the date: 24th April, 1964. The same day that police officer Lonnie Zamora saw his egg-shaped UFO outside Socorro, New Mexico!

In 1994, a strange, wooden mask appeared in the public domain. It appears to be an archaeological relic of some sort, but has National Security Agency (NSA) and United States Air Force (USAF) labels affixed to its reverse. Since when did these agencies become interested in archaeology?

It has been suggested that the mask resembles the descriptions of the headgear worn by the aliens at the Holloman AFB meeting. I will leave you to make up your own mind…

So, what is to be done with all of these rumours of human/alien interactions? If the military are really meeting with extra-terrestrials and even travelling to their homeworld on occasion, what is the purpose? No doubt, great scientific discoveries have been made and perhaps shared by the aliens. Are they sharing this knowledge with their new human chums? If these liaisons really do take place, then have we seen any practical applications from any exchanged technology here on Earth?

There have been countless technological breakthroughs in the last fifty or sixty years, but all of them can be accounted to the human geniuses involved in their development. As far as we know, there has been no technological aid given by an alien race to the US military or anybody else on Earth for that matter.

I have to ask: if they are not here to share their knowledge and advancements, then why are they here? Is there a more sinister agenda at work, one that the powers-that-be must keep secret at all costs?

© Steve Johnson - 2006


Thanks to Joshua Shapiro of for granting permission to use the image of the wooden mask.

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Weird Travel:

UFOs & Alien Encounters

The Travel Channel (USA), Sunday 26th March, 2006

Of all the places to expect to see a serious documentary about the UFO subject, the American ‘Travel Channel’, albeit part of the Discovery network, is not one of them. Yet, what was broadcast on Sunday, 26th March, 2006 was one of the better programs on the subject in recent times.

Admittedly, it was made with the general audience in mind, therefore covered material that was well-known to UFO researchers, but it also covered phenomena that are not so widely known, such as the Mexican ‘flying humanoid’ sightings.

Straight off, sceptic, Dr Michael Shermer told us, paraphrasing the late, great Carl Sagan, by informing us that “we no longer live in the demon-haunted world of the Middle Ages”. By this he meant we were a sophisticated people living in a technological age of computers and space exploration, a world in which superstition plays no part.

To counter this, the narrator said that a recent CNN poll had discovered that one in seven Americans had “seen or knew someone who had seen a sign of alien activity”. He also remarked that eighty percent of US citizens believe that the government is hiding the true facts about UFOs.

Our first stop was, of course, Roswell, New Mexico. Stanton Friedman told us that a UFO crashed there, while Shermer reappeared and advised that Roswell was an example of nothing more than myth-making. We all know the story, but to surmise, something crashed at a ranch outside of Roswell in July of 1947. A press release from the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) informed the world that a ‘flying disc’ had been captured. This was hastily recanted and an experimental balloon with radar reflectors was blamed for the confusion.

Roswell investigator, Tom Carey, suggested that saying that the intelligence officer, Major Jesse Marcel, of the 509th Bomb Group, at the time, the only atomic bomb group in the world, could not identify earthly materials from a balloon (tin foil and rubber) was not only ludicrous, but insulting.

A visit to modern Roswell showed how the UFO culture has descended on this out-of-the-way town, with almost every store having some sort of ET item to sell to the many tourists that visit each year. The Crash Site Café even boasts an alien chef! The main attraction in the town, though, is the International UFO Museum. This facility acts not only as a museum, depicting the Roswell Incident and other UFO topics, but also as a research centre, with an extensive reference library.

Despite the official version of events, which put the incident down to a Project Mogul balloon, researchers are still claiming that an extraterrestrial craft came down in 1947. Dennis Balthasar and Stanton Friedman maintain that the authorities’ actions during that time prove that it was nothing like a balloon that crashed. These actions included the threatening of witnesses.

The infamous alien autopsy was covered next (very timely, given the recently-released Ant & Dec movie) and Friedman made it clear that he thought it was a hoax, while Balthasar suggested it was an example of government misinformation.

Our next port of call was Area 51 in Nevada.

Connie West of the famous Little A’le’Inn diner explained how they have had visits from government officials and that, for some reason, the public has a need to know what goes on beyond the mountain range in the distance.

 Friedman divulged that he believed that Area 51 held tests of such projects as Aurora, the hypersonic aircraft, and experiments with Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), some of which are designed for combat scenarios. The base, which was only recently acknowledged to exist, is exempt from federal and state laws and to this day, the government will make no comment about what goes on there.

The difficulty in accessing the base was noted, with explanations about the high fences, motion and other sensors and the many patrols that roam the desert, both on the ground and in the air. Stray into its airspace and fighters will be dispatched to escort your plane to safety…

Of course, Area 51s most famous secret is the claims that alien technology was back-engineered there. Bob Lazar is the most notorious whistle-blower and maintains that he was employed to work out how extraterrestrial craft operated.

Stanton Friedman believes that Lazar is a phoney and that his educational and work background is suspect. Lazar is adamant that he worked there and that the government went to great pains to erase his history.

In the small town of Snowflake, Arizona, an event in 1975 put it on the world map and produced one of ufology’s most famous stories.

A group of loggers were returning home one night in November when they saw a light in the forest. On investigating, they saw a UFO and, against the wishes of his friends, Travis Walton got out of the pickup tuck and headed towards the craft. He was struck by a beam and sent flying. His friends panicked and drove away, but Walton bore no malice and said he would have done the same. When they returned, Travis and the UFO were gone.

They reported what had happened to the local sheriff, but their tale was greeted with scepticism. They were even suspected of murdering their friend.

Walton described what happened when he came to. He was held down by a group of short aliens and something was placed over his face. Then he blacked out again.

He awoke, naked, by the side of a road, with the UFO hovering above him. As he watched, the craft zipped away. He was in the town of Heber, thirty miles from where he had been abducted. Finding a payphone, he called his friends and it was only then that he learned that he had been missing for five days!

Despite the efforts of sceptics to accuse Walton of drug-taking or flat-out hoaxing his experience, he maintains to this day that he was abducted, against his will, by extraterrestrials. In fact, he says that he wished that this thing had never happened to him.

Mexico is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, both for its history and its beautiful beach resorts, but recently it has become more famous for one thing – UFO sightings. More reports come from Mexico than any other country, and more often than not, the sightings are backed-up by video evidence.

It all began during the total solar eclipse of 1991, when millions of Mexicans watched the spectacular event in the skies above them. Camcorders were trained upwards, but they not only caught the eclipse, they also caught something else – fleets of UFOs, metallic, disc-shaped objects that defied explanation.

So many sightings have occurred that even the Mexican military acknowledges that something is going on that they cannot explain.

In 2004, a young police officer from Guadalupe claimed he was attacked by a flying humanoid. He was in his patrol car, when the being dropped down out of the trees and repeatedly rammed into his windscreen. He described it as a hooded figure, like a witch, but without a broom (!). As he frantically reversed away, he said that the creature tried to grab him through the broken glass. He called for backup, but eventually lost control of the car and smashed into a wall and losing consciousness. Later medical tests proved he was fit and well and had no drugs or alcohol in his system, but that he was in a deep state of shock. It was also revealed that he has never been prone to hallucinations or any other psychological disorders.

Many video recordings of these flying humanoids have surfaced, with one showing two figures. One large figure expelled a smaller object, which flew away, then returned and was reabsorbed by the first.

Stanton Friedman is not impressed with the reports, but researcher, Ed Sherwood, believes that the appearance of the beings is a sign that something unprecedented is going to happen soon.

In 1997, something flew over Phoenix, Arizona and was seen by thousands of people and captured on videotape. The tale of the Phoenix Lights became the biggest UFO story since Roswell.

Explained away as nothing more than flares from military aircraft, the residents of Phoenix do not believe this theory and city official, Frances Barwood, was told to drop her inquiries when she brought it up at a meeting. She persisted, but says that the government has stonewalled her constantly.

Jeff Willes photographed the lights three hours before the main sighting and is certain that they were not military flares.

The most famous footage was shot by a local physician, Lynne Kitei. She remained anonymous for almost seven years, but still wanting answers to what she had seen, not only on that night, but on several occasions previously.

She first saw the lights two years previously, in 1995, close to her home. She described them as amber orbs that hovered in the air, but appeared to be intelligently-controlled. There were three of the orbs in a triangular formation. Then in January, 1997, two months before the famous event, she saw them again. She took photographs that showed strange, amber objects.

Lynne’s famous footage of the Phoenix Lights was sent to Village Labs, run by Dr Jim Dilettoso. His team scoured the footage and were able to triangulate a path for the objects. Military officials and Michael Shermer still maintain that what was seen were flares.

Dilettoso’s analysis of the footage, when compared with footage of known military flares, led him to the conclusion that what was seen over Phoenix was not what the authorities claimed it to be. He collected accounts from eyewitnesses over the three hour period that the lights were seen and said that a huge, V-shaped craft had glided over the city, reversed its course and glided back. What was seen, he said, was unknown.

As sightings and videotapes continue to flood in, people like Dilettoso believe that the best is yet to come, but, the narrator explained, UFO sightings are not a solely modern phenomenon.

Historical artworks depict what appear to be saucer-shaped craft in the skies and many, many ancient cave paintings and petroglyphs show what we today would call UFOs. Have aliens been observing us for thousands of years?

Stanton Friedman rounded things off by saying that he believes that extraterrestrials are observing us to ensure that we do not become a danger to the other, more advanced civilisations out there. As we take our first steps into space, the danger is that we will take our weapons and aggression with us. It would be prudent to keep an eye on ‘us primitives’.

This was a great show that was extremely enjoyable and no doubt brought the UFO subject to a whole, new audience. Hopefully, one day it will be broadcast over here in the UK.

The images used are the property of the copyright holders and are only used here for review purposes.

© Steve Johnson - 2006

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Brazil’s Roswell

The History Channel, Sunday 12th March, 2006


The History Channel’s UFO Files continues to prove itself to be one of the best UFO-based documentary series produced for many years. This week’s episode explores the events in 1977 on an Amazonian island that the producers have dubbed Brazil’s Roswell.

Over a period of months in that year, a sequence of events occurred that some have said led, twenty years later, to the apparent suicide (some call it murder) of Brazilian army captain, Uyrangê Hollanda. He was found hanging from his bed, asphyxiated by a tie wrapped around his neck by his daughter in 1997 just two months after giving an interview with Brazilian ufologists about what he experienced on the island of Colares in the Pará region of the country.

The superstitious people of Colares are simple fishermen and their families for the most part, not primitive by any means, but somewhat isolated from the bustling cities only a few hours drive away. Beginning in September of 1977, a technology beyond the ken of even the most sophisticated city-dweller visited this tranquil location.

Emidio Campos Oliveira was settling down to sleep on a warm night in October. Suddenly, a bright light penetrated the roof of his house and burned his thigh before vanishing as quickly as it had appeared.

Several days later, Orivaldo Malaquias Pinheiro was net fishing on the beach with a friend. A bright light began approaching them from the sea and, afraid, they ran. On telling others about their experience, it became clear that dozens of people had witnessed something similar, with some saying that they had been chased and attacked by the lights.

Lucia Helena Marques was a twenty-five year old dentist at the time and she recounted how she and others at the market she was visiting saw strange lights moving erratically out to sea. The lights were mostly red, but green and yellow ones were also visible. Then they simply vanished.

A journalist in the nearby city of Belém, Carlos Mendes, began receiving phone calls from the witnesses in Colares suggesting that his newspaper should visit the island and see the lights that were making the population so afraid. Mendes and his photographer set out to the island and heard the stories of the locals. The photographer took images of marks on the skin that witnesses said were caused by the lights. One woman had been paralysed by the lights and the next day found a group of puncture marks that looked like they had been made with a pin on her chest. Some even said that they thought the lights were sucking their blood!

Mendes never saw the lights for himself, but he appreciated how scared the local people were. Over the next few months, over eighty people would report being attacked by the paralysing beams of light from space. Things got so bad that many of the women and children left the town, while some of the men stood guard around bonfires. Others locked themselves in their homes, fearful of the mysterious invaders from above.

Doctor Wellaide Carvalho was the young local physician and had only been on the island for six months. During the time of the attacks, she saw a sharp increase of patients complaining of injuries caused by the lights. Initially sceptical and at first believing that the town was gripped with mass hysteria, Dr Carvalho found that each patient suffered from the same symptoms – signs of radiation burns and odd puncture marks, usually in the chest and thigh areas.

One night, a woman was brought in and her family explained that she had been attacked by the lights. She was suffering from spasms, her mouth was clenched shut and Dr Carvalho could not get her to respond to stimuli. Unable to stabilise her patient, the doctor could do nothing but have the patient bundled into a car and driven to the regional hospital in Belém.

Five days later, as she waited for a report on the progress of the woman, another patient was brought in, another victim of the lights. She had been attacked whilst standing in her garden. She was so completely rigid that the police officers that had brought her in their car had been forced to drive her there with her legs sticking out of the door. This patient was also sent to the city hospital.

Shortly afterwards, Dr Carvalho received word from Belém that both patients had died. She requested that a cause of death be ascertained, but the report came back, giving no explanation for how the women had died. The young doctor still did not believe that the women had died because of an attack by these supernatural lights, but that the panic that had gripped the town had brought on a heart attack or stroke in both patients.

Hoping to put an end to the hysteria, Carvalho and other town officials pleaded with the mayor for help. A request went out for the Regional Air Command (COMAR) to look into what was happening on Colares. Heading up the investigation was Captain Uyrangê Hollanda.

Carlos Mendes suspected that the government assigned COMAR to investigate the island was because it believed that communist guerrillas were behind the attacks. The rebels had been active in the state for some time. Despite this mundane reason behind Captain Hollanda’s investigation, it was assigned a curious name – Operation Saucer.

The team arrived on Colares and set up camp. They placed cameras on the beaches and ensured that the locals saw everything that they were doing, in the hope that seeing this would calm their fears. Their efforts were in vain, however. Hollanda met with Dr Carvalho and instructed her that she should tell everybody that all that was at work on Colares was mass hysteria and nothing more. From that point, the doctor knew that the investigation was not to find the truth, but to hide it. She refused to cooperate, saying that she would not lie to her patients.

Carvalho’s scepticism about the cause of the injuries changed when she had an encounter for herself. She was walking home one evening when she saw a woman faint. As she tended to her, her attention was drawn to a bright light in the sky. She saw a cylindrical object of a colour that she could not describe. Transfixed, she watched it move in an elliptical manner. Unknown to her, at the same time, a radar station set up on the beach by the COMAR team picked up the object. As they rushed to focus their cameras and telescopes on the object, it headed out to sea and vanished.

Over a four month period, Hollanda’s team took over five hundred photographs and fifteen hours of film footage, depicting strange lights in the sky. They drew diagrams of what they had seen and made out reports, which were sent back to COMAR headquarters in Brasilia.

At the end of December 1977, the order came to wrap up Operation Saucer. Hollanda’s team packed up and left Colares and their reports have never been made public.

Over the following months, the sightings and attacks diminished and eventually became nothing more than a local legend. Operation Saucer was forgotten about until 1997.

That year, Hollanda contacted Brazilian ufologists, AJ Gevaerd and Marco Petit. They travelled to Rio de Janeiro, where they filmed an interview with the former air force officer. Over two days, he gave an astonishing account of what his team saw during their time on Colares.

He described brightly-lit craft in the sky, some of which were over a hundred metres across and making sounds like the thrum of an air-conditioning unit and also clicking noises. He described three encounters and produced drawings of what he had seen, depicting cylindrical, saucer-shaped and triangular craft.

His final encounter included a visit from one of the occupants of the craft while he was in bed. He said there was a bright flash and suddenly, he felt the creature hugging him from behind. It was a metre and a half tall, wearing some sort of mask that hid its features and a suit that reminded him of something an astronaut or diver might wear. Then it spoke to him in Portuguese, but in a metallic, computer-like voice:

“Take it easy. We are not going to do you any harm.”

Then it vanished.

Hollanda then claimed that he had an object implanted under the skin of his left arm. As he demonstrated, something solid, yet flexible could be clearly seen beneath the surface. He claimed the alien had placed it there and an x-ray had shown nothing.

Two months later, Hollanda was dead. Despite having a history of mental illness and previous suicide attempts, some who knew him said that he could not have killed himself. His co-pilot during Operation Saucer, Pinon Friás, said that Hollanda would never have tied a rope around his neck and hanged himself. Gevaerd disagreed, saying that the captain had been depressed, but that his story proved that something went on at Corales and the Brazilian government knew all about it.

In 2004, Gevaerd and Petit fought and won a case to be allowed access to the Operation Saucer files. They found the sketches, reports and photographs taken by Hollanda’s team, however, they claimed that not all the documents were made available to them. Of the hundreds of photographs and reports that were filed, they were shown only a hundred and ten photos and two hundred documents, nor were they allowed to view the film footage shot by the team. The reports they saw, though, were astonishingly detailed and comprehensive, yet they made no attempt to explain the sightings nor did they debunk them. The photos they saw were also puzzling, showing odd lights in the sky.

Officially, Operation Saucer found nothing that can be explained scientifically and that was as far as the Brazilian government would go with regard to the events of 1977. It would be up to independent researchers to try and find their own answers.

Doctor Daniel Rebisso is a ufologist intrigued by the reports of burns and puncture marks inflicting the victims of the Colares lights. He dismissed the theory that the marks were the result of vampire bats, explaining that bats leave completely different wounds when they feed. He also found the theory that what happened was down to mass hysteria and self-mutilation to be wanting. Rebisso also looked into claims that the lights were some form of psychological warfare by the communist guerrillas, in an attempt to frighten away the locals so that weapons could be brought in for their cause. This could neither be confirmed nor denied.

He came to the conclusion that some form of radiation paralysed the victims’ nervous systems and the lights extracted something from their bodies. Marco Petit seemed to agree, suggesting that material was taken so that the aliens could produce vaccines that would protect them against earthly viruses once open contact is finally made.

Whatever happened on Colares, and the files opened by the Brazilian Air Force seem to confirm that something happened and was not only reported, but also captured on film, it is another little-known case brought to mainstream, public light by the increasingly excellent UFO Files. Whether it should be called ‘Brazil’s Roswell’ is another matter. The case bears little resemblance to those events of 1947 and the incident in Varginha in 1996 would likely fit the ‘Roswell’ label better. Perhaps UFO Files will cover this important case at some point?

The images used are the property of the copyright holders and are only used here for review purposes.

© Steve Johnson - 2006

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Russian Roswell

The History Channel, Sunday 5th March, 2006


The History Channel’s UFO Files continues with its theme of worldwide ‘Roswells’, after bringing us Britain’s Roswell, Mexico’s Roswell and Texas’ Roswell. This latest episode tells us all about the Russian Roswell.

Kapustin Yar was the former Soviet Union’s most sensitive air base, even exceeding America’s Area 51 for the levels of secrecy that shrouded it. UFO Files claimed that it was to present never-before-seen footage of the base, reconnaissance photos and even a virtual tour of its hidden depths.

Kapustin Yar was created as the site for the development of the Soviet Union’s space program after the end of World War II. It lies over 500 miles south of Moscow and about 60 miles east of Volgograd, the former Stalingrad. These days it lies close to the Kazakhstan border, but back in those days, the base was deep inside Soviet territory. It was here that captured V2 rockets and the German scientists that created them were set to work with not only the single task of getting into space before the Americans, but also designing and testing new aircraft, missiles and other weapons systems. The base was deemed so secret that the nearby town of Zhitkur was emptied of its population and levelled because it was too close.

In 1948, less than a year after the famed Roswell Incident, the base’s radar operators picked up an unidentified object. At the same time, a fighter pilot flying close to the base had a visual sighting of a silver, cigar-shaped object. Reporting that he was being blinded by rays from the UFO, the pilot was ordered to engage with it and, after a three minute dogfight, a missile successfully brought down the object. It seems that the UFO fired some sort of energy weapon at the MiG and both craft crashed to the ground.

William J Birnes, publisher of the American UFO Magazine, believed that the alien craft fired a particle beam weapon at the Soviet fighter, but a lucky shot with the missile disrupted the UFO’s anti-gravity field, causing it to fall from the sky. Soviet recovery teams quickly gathered up all the wreckage and transported it to the underground facility at Kapustin Yar, which was ironically named Zhitkur, after the former town not far from the base.

Birnes claimed that MiG pilots were ordered to take any measures necessary to bring down extraterrestrial craft because Moscow was desperate to gain any advantage over the United States, whom they believed had made their tremendous advances due to recovered flying saucer reverse-engineering.

Russia has a long history of UFO sightings, dating back thousands of years. Russian researcher, Paul Stonehill, co-author with Philip Mantle of UFO-USSR, described how in about 950AD, Ahmed Ibn Fadlan, an Arab chronicler, was dispatched by the Caliph of Baghdad to engage in diplomacy with the King of the Bulgars. In the Volga region of Russia, Fadlan described how he and his fellow travellers witnessed ‘aerial battles’ between ‘shapes’ that moved through the clouds. Fleets of objects, flying in formations that resembled people and animals, engaged each other, merging and separating for a long period of time. Stonehill described it as being like something from a modern movie.

On 15th August, 1663, a great fiery disc came down from the sky and began shooting beams of light into the Robozero Lake near Belozersk, about 250 miles east of St. Petersburg. It moved from the south to the west, vanished and later reappeared for an hour and a half, terrifying the local witnesses. Fisherman were said to have been scalded by the light and glowing fish leaped from the water, as if to escape the fireball floating overhead.

In 1892, an object appeared over Moscow and shot a ‘pillar of light’ down to the ground for 20-25 minutes. It was described as fiery, much like most other Russian UFO reports through the ages.

One Russian event dwarfs any reported anywhere in the world. On June 30th, 1908, a huge fireball raced across the Siberian taiga and exploded over the forest close to the town of Tunguska. Six hundred square miles of tundra was razed to the ground and the shockwave was felt by seismographs around the world.

At first it was thought that a meteor had impacted with the Earth and when the first expeditions arrived twenty years later, they expected to find a huge crater. No crater was found, but the devastation was evident, with trees laid out like matchsticks in a huge, circular swathe from the centre of the blast. From the pattern of the destruction, it soon became apparent that the object had exploded high above the ground, much like the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945, but much more powerful in terms of magnitude.

Most researchers outside of Russia, including Stanton Friedman, were convinced that this was a natural event and nothing to do with aliens or UFOs, but Russian ufologists, such as Nikolai Subbotin of the Russian UFO Research Station, were not so sure. Subbotin explained how the object apparently changed course twice before exploding, something a natural object such as a meteorite or comet cannot do. Then there were unexplained radiation levels in the region and the fact that plant life appears to have been altered because of this radiation.

Stalin himself seemed convinced that the event was related to some sort of weapon, possibly from extraterrestrials, and he set Sergei Korolev, the father of Soviet rocketry, the task of finding answers. Korolev financed a team to travel to Tunguska in fleets of helicopters. They found radioactive metal fragments and an area that has become known as ‘The Devil’s Graveyard’, an area close to the blast site where no plants will grow and animals tend to die. Although Korolev is believed to have told Stalin that he thought the blast was caused by an alien spacecraft, his official report put the blame squarely on a meteorite.

As rumours began to filter back to Washington DC about UFO wreckage from Tunguska, the 1948 crash and other incidents being taken to Zhitkur, it became obvious to America’s intelligence agencies that they needed to find out what was going on. Their spies informed them that the Soviet Union was building huge rockets that could not only carry large, nuclear payloads, but could also reach space. Indeed, their progress became so rapid, that the Soviets were ahead of their own schedules in terms of advancement.

By the time American U2 spy planes photographed the complex at Kapustin Yar, there were at least four ballistic launch sites, fourteen launch pads, a highly-sophisticated radar tracking facility, three long runways and numerous unidentified areas. There were strange, geometric patterns on the ground. Many UFO researchers believe that these designs are to attract UFOs and are patterned after ancient monuments and cereal glyphs.

What the reconnaissance aircraft could not reveal was the underground Zhitkur facility. UFO Files now took us on a virtual guided tour of the base, recreated from descriptions given from Russian ufologist Anton Anfalov. A quarter of a mile beneath the surface, we were led down dark, dank corridors and tunnels, with numerous chambers containing various types of extraterrestrial craft in various stages of disassembly. There were areas where autopsies of aliens would take place and other sections where perhaps engines were being reconstructed. Finally, there are huge hangars containing not aircraft, but large, cigar- or cylindrical-shaped objects.

The advances at Kapustin Yar enabled the Soviets to leap ahead of America in the space race. In 1957, Sputnik I was successfully placed into orbit. A month later, a dog called Laika became the first animal in space. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth. In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to travel into space. In 1965, Alexei Leonov became the first man to ‘walk’ in space. Russia’s cosmonauts also performed the first rendezvous and docking in space. Apart from the Apollo moon shots, the Soviet Union was winning the space race until the space shuttle was first launched in 1981.

One of Russia’s most well-known ufologists is Vladimir Azhazha (sometimes spelled Ajaja). He took us on a tour of a site close to Kapustin Yar where he claimed a UFO crashed. Dowsing with copper rods, he found an elliptical area where he claimed that an alien craft had plummeted to Earth in 1961. He said that animals avoided the area, no cattle will graze there and strange energies affect your pulse rate and breathing.

A local resident, Zoya Shubenkina, corroborated Azhazha’s story about the 1961 crash, claiming she had witnessed it for herself. She said a big, fiery, red sphere flew over her house and crashed in the valley by the river.

Azhazha explained how many Soviet fighter pilots engaged in dogfights with UFOs. Former Soviet Air Force colonel and cosmonaut, a hero of the state, Marina Popovich confirmed that she had personally witnessed aerial battles between Soviet jets and UFOs.

One such event she described occurred in 1964. During a training mission, two jets came under attack from a UFO and were forced into a spiral dive. In 1980, Colonel Popovich encountered several unidentified objects while on a top secret mission. She said they were three fireball-like lights and she watched as they moved away.

In the evening of the 7th of August, 1967, Colonel Vyatkin Lev Mikhailovic suddenly encountered an object that was projecting a beam of light downwards. He tried to wrestle his MiG away from the beam, but the left wing touched it and he struggled to regain control. The plane shook and his instruments went haywire. As they flew away, his technician exclaimed that the wing was glowing and after they landed, it continued to glow for a whole week afterwards.

As more and more reports came in from across the Soviet Union, the KGB clamped down, opening up its own file on the phenomenon, known as The Blue File. The Blue File would become the most comprehensive and largest study of UFOs ever commissioned anywhere in the world. It ran from the mid-sixties until the fall of the Soviet Union. One of its latest reports was from 1990, when witnesses close to Kapustin Yar described UFOs in the sky for over an hour.

The new freedoms in Russia enabled the producers of UFO Files to obtain ‘top secret’ footage of a supposed UFOs at Kapustin Yar. On June 3rd, 1960, two alien craft allegedly crashed at Kasputin Yar, creating an expanding fireball that caused explosions in the vicinity for over an hour. Figures are seen running from the conflagration, smoke pouring from their clothing. One drops to the ground and lies motionless. One of the UFOs was said to have destroyed three rockets on their launch pads, while the other took out a fuel depot. Once the flames had been doused, the remains of the craft were sent to Zhitkur.

To be honest, to suggest that what was shown in the footage was a UFO is stretching credulity somewhat. All we saw was a big fire. It could have been anything, but the story persists and Stanton Friedman said that he had heard those same rumours about UFOs destroying Soviet rockets in an act of retaliation.

Russia is a land of many mysteries, not just ufological in nature. The programme ended with a report from a US journalist, Kim Murphy of the LA Times, talking about her trip to Russia to investigate a lake that had mysteriously vanished. She wasn’t sure she believed the stories, but when she got there, she found that it was true. An entire lake had vanished, with eyewitnesses saying that a huge whirlpool had formed and the water had vanished like water down a plug hole. What that has to do with UFOs, I don’t know…

Getting back on track, we were told that research is still ongoing at Kapustin Yar, with UFO wreckage being brought to Zhitkur quite regularly and as recently as 1997, when a craft was said to have come down in Poland.

Russian Roswell was another interesting look at the UFO phenomenon. The Soviet Union obviously had a great deal of interest in the subject and, it seems, was prepared to act in an extremely hostile manner towards unidentified craft in their airspace. Was Moscow’s leap into space aided by reverse-engineering alien craft? The evidence would suggest not. Soviet rockets were powered pretty much the same way as American ones i.e. they didn’t get up there by using anti-gravity engines from a crashed saucer. Still, it makes you wonder what secrets might lay in all these underground facilities, not just in Russia, but all over the world.

The images used are the property of the copyright holders and are only used here for review purposes.

© Steve Johnson - 2006

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A brief overview

Almost everybody loves a good conspiracy story. Such tales are the bread and butter for thriller and adventure writers the world over and shift millions of copies of fiction every year. But what about true-life conspiracies? What has caused the massive upsurge in the popularity of conspiracy theories in recent years?

It has often been said that the best conspiracies are the ones we know nothing about. After all, what good is a conspiracy that is common knowledge? However, we cannot talk about something of which we know nothing (although many might argue that point!), so we shall continue.

To begin with, it should be noted that conspiracies have been around for as long as humans have walked the Earth. No doubt Caveman Ugg conspired with his mates to take the credit for Caveman Agg’s discovery of fire, but it was with the advent of civilisation that conspiracies began to hit the headlines, so to speak. When ancient city-states began to spring up, their rulers often found themselves at the sharp end of ambitious conspirators. Who can forget Julius Caesar’s demise at the hands of Brutus and his chums?

It was in modern times, though, that the cult of the conspiracy theorist began to really take off. Arguably, it all began on a sunny, November day in Dallas, Texas in 1963, when the presidential motorcade of John Fitzgerald Kennedy made its way through Dealey Plaza. Shots rang out. People screamed. The president was hit. Thus began a series of events that would perpetuate the most famous conspiracy theory of our time.

It would be pointless to retread all the angles of the JFK assassination, as almost everybody knows the main theories: the lone gunman, the CIA, the FBI, the military/industrial complex, the Cubans/Soviets, even aliens. Almost everybody has had the finger pointed at them over the four decades since that winter’s morning. That the official report by the Warren Commission was met with such scepticism by many only bolsters the conspiracy in many quarters. But the theories persist and this makes the murder of JFK the quintessential conspiracy theory of our time.

Since then, the conspiracy theory has become a part of everyday life. These days, every national and international tragedy births a whole new set of theories, be it the death of Diana – Princess of Wales, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even the Asian Tsunami of 2004. There is one factor that has fuelled the conspiracy network more than any other – the internet.

Countless millions of people across the globe have access to the internet and it has become a fast and easy way to get your views and opinions shared with a worldwide audience. No matter how far-out or wacky your theory may be, there are those who will agree with you. There will also be an equal or greater number who will vociferously disagree, of course. 

So, why is the conspiracy theory such big business? Why do we love to hear them? Is it because, deep down, we have a natural distrust of government and/or authority?

That may actually be closer to the truth than you realise. The modern conspiracy web formed in the sixties, at the height of Flower Power and the Vietnam War. Young people in America had become disillusioned with their government’s foreign policy in SE Asia and the peace marches and demonstrations that occurred were unprecedented in the short history of the United States. Never before had so many voiced their dissatisfaction of their leaders’ decisions and America was shaken to its very core.

With the resignation (and subsequent pardoning) of President Nixon in 1974 after the Watergate Scandal, the public’s malcontent with public office was complete. Never again would the office of President of the United States of America be a symbol of freedom and democracy. Instead, we would see the decline of public trust in elected officials gather pace.

Some have suggested that this decline culminated with the election of George W Bush in 2000, the Floridian ‘hanging chads’ and a Supreme Court ruling handing victory to Bush over the man whom had been declared winner only hours earlier, Al Gore (who garnered more votes than Bush, but still lost due to the Electoral College system).

Then came the first disaster of the internet age – the attack on New York and Washington of September 11th, 2001. With the destruction of the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon severely damaged, within hours conspiracy theorists had set up websites declaring that the hijacked passenger jets had been flown by remote control or that the Twin Towers had been deliberately toppled from within or that it had been a missile that had struck the Pentagon. The lists were endless.

It certainly didn’t help that the Bush government immediately lashed out and invaded Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban government, but failing to catch (to this day!) the leader of the terrorists accused of the attacks, Osama Bin Laden. Then Iraq was blamed for being an ally of Al Qaeda, even though we now know that the US (in the form of the CIA) has more links with that terrorist organisation than Iraq has ever had.

The 9/11 ‘movement’ is gathering pace and there are countless websites and newsletters that explain in graphic details how these terrible atrocities were not only allowed to happen, but may have actually been planned years in advance. George W Bush was so rattled by the theories that he even mentioned in a speech that followed the tragedy that ‘outrageous conspiracy theories should not be tolerated’.

The thing about conspiracies, though, is that they do exist. Everybody knows this. From Guy Fawkes’ conspiracy to blow up Parliament, to the notorious Operation Northwoods, in which the US military had plans to destroy American aircraft and blame it on Cuba, to the Iran-Contra Scandal, conspiracies are part and parcel of modern politics, warfare and espionage.

Conspiracy theories could be said to come in several forms. There are the minor conspiracies (although those involved might argue), which might include things like a newspaper setting up a public figure or celebrity to provoke a scandal (as recently happened with the England head coach, Sven Goran Eriksson). Then there are the middle range of conspiracies, which, while popular, do not really affect our everyday lives, such as conspiracies about governmental liaisons with extra-terrestrials or even the JFK assassination. Then there are the major conspiracies. These are the ones that do affect people, such as the conspiracy to send troops into Iraq based on false intelligence that led to a war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Then there was the Enron scandal, in which a group of conspirators within the upper echelons of the company set out to defraud its investors by making false profit reports. The company collapsed and thousands of people were robbed of their life savings. These events happened. They are not conspiracy theories. They are true conspiracies. A person or persons actually conspired to make these events occur in the hope that they could get away with it.

What angers many conspiracy theorists is that even when their theories become facts, they are still labelled as oddballs or troublemakers, but the truth is that today’s conspiracy theory could become tomorrow’s breaking news headline.

So, who are these conspiracy theorists? Are they simply sad and lonely individuals, ensconced in darkened rooms, grinding their axes? Far from it (although I have no doubt that a few are…). Conspiracy theorists come in all shapes and sizes, from government officials, to military personnel, to the average bloke in the street who just wants to find out what the hell is going on. The same can be said for conspirators.

One thing’s for certain, as long as there are people walking this planet, there will be conspiracies and conspiracy theories for years to come.

© 2006 Steve Johnson

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Are We Alone?

BBC Radio 4, Friday 3rd March, 2006

At 11pm on Friday 3rd March, the BBC Radio 4 discussion programme, Off The Page, dipped its toe into the world of ufology. Victoria Coren hosted the half-hour show and the guests were former head of the government UFO desk, Nick Pope, psychologist, Chris French and comedy writer, Charlie Skelton. Skelton was also a close friend of the host and also the fake contestant on the Channel 4 programme, Space Cadets.

Each guest was given the opportunity to read from a written statement that they had prepared and then a discussion ensued.

Nick Pope kicked things off, stating his belief that some UFOs were indeed extraterrestrial craft. He used the 1980 Rendlesham Forest case to affirm his position.

He was immediately pounced upon by Chris French, who began spouting chapter and verse about how the eyewitnesses contradicted themselves, how they saw a lighthouse and how the indentations found in the forest were rabbit holes. Charlie Skelton just made jokes.

Chris French read his statement, reciting from Douglas Adams’ The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy and reminding us that he co-edits Sceptic magazine. Although sceptical about UFO claims, he reminded us that he was a supporter of The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and that it wasn’t just that people like him just poo-pooed UFO stories, it was just that there was no evidence strong enough for them to believe.

French went out of his way to paint abductee experiencers as, well, nutters, despite saying the exact opposite only a few seconds before! He referred to ‘a number of studies’, which declared that most people who reported being abducted by aliens were ‘eccentric’ in some way or had a different psychological profile than ‘normal’ people. Talk about insulting with a smile!

Pope added that all abductee reports could not be dismissed, just as that all UFO reports could not be explained. French fired back, using the Drake Equation as a defence and declaring that even if there were a great many advanced civilisations out there, the distances involved were too great for them to travel – blah blah blah.

Charlie Skelton’s was asked by Coren what he thought about alien abduction. He replied: “I'm against it.” You can see where we’re heading here… To be fair, though, he did add that he thought that some sceptics were as obsessed with debunking as believers were with trying to prove their claims.

The host then asked why aliens did not just land on the White House lawn. French reaffirmed his belief that the distances were too great and that the best hope for proving intelligent alien life was through the SETI project.

Skelton then presented his case, referring with great jollity about his experiences on the Space Cadets show. He said that he was chosen for the programme because of his remarkable ability to lie convincingly. Indeed, he said that the lie was so well-constructed that he almost began believing it himself. Basically, he was telling us that people lie, that they make up stories. Obviously this was to inform us that UFO eyewitnesses were all liars. He said that in the end, it was easier to believe the lie, rather than keep reminding himself that it was all a hoax in an aircraft hangar in Suffolk.

When Coren asked Nick Pope the White House lawn question, he replied that he had no idea why aliens would not land there, but added that we could not understand the motives behind a completely alien life form.

The program ended as we should really expect, with a clip from The Clangers whistling and hooting and the announcer declaring:

“A dropped clanger ending this week’s edition of Off The Page…

Yet again, the UFO subject is ridiculed in the media, but at least Nick Pope did his best not to allow French and Skelton to completely turn the show into a farce, although the Clangers ending did just that, leaving listeners in no doubt that aliens were all a fantasy.

© Steve Johnson - 2006

The program can be listened to by going to the following BBC website address:

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Texas’ Roswell

The History Channel, Sunday, 26th February, 2006


The History Channel’s series, UFO Files, has done Britain’s Roswell, Mexico’s Roswell and now Texas’ Roswell. I wonder if they’ll get round to doing Roswell’s Roswell?

This was another extremely interesting program about, much like the Mexico’s Roswell show, an almost unknown UFO crash story. Despite it being relatively unknown, the incident was made into a movie in 1986, entitled The Aurora Encounter (no, I’ve not seen it either!). What marks this story apart, though, is that this account of a UFO crash and recovery of an alien corpse dates from 1897, fifty years before the ‘modern’ age of ufology began.

On 17th April, 1897, what was described as an ‘airship’ was seen in skies above the small town of Aurora, Texas. According to newspaper reports at the time, it was described as silver and cigar-shaped. At about 6am, it struck a windmill tower on land owned by a local judge and exploded, sending debris flying in all directions.

The object had been sighted flying over Texas earlier, but when it reached Aurora, it was lower than it had ever been and trailing smoke. Judge J.S. Proctor’s flower garden was destroyed – a tragedy to be sure! Locals raced to the site and found debris scattered over several acres. They also found a body that was described as being small in stature, almost child-like, and not of this world.

A local US Army officer, T.J. Weems, described as an authority on astronomy, gave his opinion that the pilot of the craft was from the planet Mars. The alien was given a decent, Christian burial in the local cemetery beneath a small gravestone and fragments of the craft were collected up and tossed down the well on Judge Proctor’s land.

As far as the townsfolk of Aurora were concerned, that was the end of the story and it soon became part of local myth, with some believing that it never happened in the first place.

When Wallace O. Chariton, author of The Great Texas Airship Mystery, began researching the case, he expected it to be big news at the time, but was surprised to find the story buried inside the Dallas Morning News on page five. In fact, in that particular edition, some two days after the Aurora incident, there were at least sixteen ‘airship’ reports.

From late in 1896, ‘airships’ were reported in over twenty US states and from April to May of 1897, there were reports from over thirty counties in Texas alone. These craft were reported as travelling at hundreds of miles per hour, sometimes with lights displayed and performing angular manoeuvres. Remember this was about six years before the Wright brothers made their first powered flight at Kitty Hawk. Hot-air balloons were not uncommon in those days, but none of them matched the descriptions, speed or manoeuvrability of this cigar-shaped ‘airships’. Patents had been registered for a few airship designs, but it is thought that none of them were flying and certainly they would have been incapable of the aerial feats described by witness reports.

Researchers like Chariton and Hayden Hewes, founder of the International UFO Bureau, found that many of the ‘airship’ witnesses from all over the United States were well-respected, credible people, from doctors to senators.

After the Aurora crash, ‘airship’ sightings suddenly ended and many began to believe that it was all part of some elaborate hoax.

In 1973, Hayden Hewes, spurred by an article about the Aurora crash from journalist Bill Case, arrived in the small, Texan town, hoping to find clues still lingering after seventy-six years. What he found was a town that was almost indifferent to the claims. Sometimes they would respond to questioning, often they would refuse to speak about the incident at all. Of course, actual eyewitnesses were a little thin on the ground. Sometimes, Hewes’ team was allowed into the cemetery and sometimes they were barred from entering. He found it most frustrating.

Researcher Jim Marrs managed to get accounts from people that were alive at the time of the incident. Most of them were in their eighties by this time. One of his interviewees declared that the crash was a hoax, however it turned out that she had not been present at the time and had overheard her father saying it was a hoax after hearing of the incident.

Mary Evans saw the crash occur as a child, but her parents forbade her from going to the impact site.

Charlie Stephens was ten-years old when he saw the object fly overhead, trailing smoke and seemingly ‘in trouble’. As it disappeared from sight, he heard an explosion and saw smoke rising into the sky. He wanted to go investigate, but his father ordered him to finish his chores. Such was parental discipline in those halcyon days…

Charlie’s father rode into town the next day and told him about the wreckage that had been lying about. 

Brawley Oates purchased the land where the crash allegedly occurred in 1945. He found that the well that they wanted drinking water from was filled with metal and debris. Subsequently, he developed terrible arthritis in his joints, so bad that they swelled up to the size of golf balls. He told Jim Marrs that he believed radiation from the crash debris that was dumped into his well was the cause of his condition. Oates sealed up the well with an eight-foot by eight-foot concrete slab, leaving it completely inaccessible to researchers.

Undaunted, investigators scoured the crash site with metal detectors. Mostly they dug up old, rusty nails, bolts and other artefacts normal for rural America, but one chunk of silver metal was unlike anything they had found before.

The metallic lump was tested at an aerospace laboratory in 1973, almost immediately after being discovered and found to contain 95% pure aluminium and 5% iron. Normally when an aluminium and iron alloy is formed, the amount of iron generally amounts to less than one percent. Also, zinc is usually found at the same time. No zinc was found in the Aurora artefact.

John Schuessler, of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), next took the sample to the Anastas Labs in Houston, Texas and the previous results were confirmed. Further tests showed that the metal had been molten at some point and then cooled on the ground.

Several pieces of metal arrived on Dr Tom Gray’s desk at Kansas State University, allegedly from the Aurora crash. One was a large, spoked object and the others were small, dark, metallic strips. Dr Gray recognised the large object as a part from a water pump, made from mundane materials.

The dark strips, however, were more perplexing. Dr Gray’s tests showed that they were primarily iron, but they were unaffected by magnetism. He later found out that iron/zinc alloys can be either magnetic or non-magnetic, depending on how they are cooled. He explained this to the university newspaper, but their story failed to mention this, focussing on the ‘abnormal’ nature of the metal strips.

Finding no more pieces of debris, investigators turned their attention to the Aurora cemetery. They began searching for evidence of the supposed grave site of the deceased alien and were eventually told to look for an old, gnarled oak tree with a beehive. They looked around for the small stone that had been placed on the grave. It was said to have had an etching of the ‘airship’ on its surface. When they found the stone, metal detector readings were identical to what they had recorded at the site where the piece of silver debris had been found. This suggested that as well as the alien corpse, some crash debris was also interred there.

The investigators asked for permission to exhume the contents of the grave, but they were refused and eventually ejected from the site. When they were finally abler to return to the cemetery, they found that the stone marker was gone and a tube or cylinder had been driven into the grave and whatever was down there had been literally sucked out of the ground. Metal detector readings now came up negative.

With any physical evidence now gone, sceptics began explaining away the entire episode as a hoax. They claimed that the original story, by S.E. Haydon was a concoction, a practical joke. Haydon was reputed to be a notorious prankster, but Jim Marrs claimed that he found no evidence of Haydon ever writing a joke story. Wallace Chariton found it odd, though, that if the story was true, then why did Haydon not follow it up?

Barbara Brammer, the mayor of Aurora, dug into local records and found that a series of disasters befell the town in the years prior to the crash story. A terrible fire claimed many lives and an outbreak of spotted fever decimated the population. Times were bleak for Aurora. Then it was hoped that the railroad would be built through the town, injecting it with much-needed income, but the railroad never came and the spirits of the townsfolk were crushed. Was the ‘airship’ crash story created to bring fame to this dying, little town?

Whether true or not, one thing both believers and sceptics can agree upon is that the story of the Aurora ‘airship’ crash is a good one. While Aurora’s population may have dwindled from over three thousand to a little fewer than four hundred, it has become famous around the world in the UFO community for this tale.

All that remains in the town to mark the crash is a brief mention on a memorial stone in the cemetery, erected in 1976.

In 2005, Hayden Hewes was told of a bare patch of ground close to the old well where the crash debris was said to have been dumped. Investigating the claim, Hewes found the site and, indeed, there is a large patch of ground where plants seem to have difficulty growing. It is next to the well, but unfortunately, the well is now located in a fenced-off area on private land with no access. Yet again, research is foiled.

If the owners of the land ever allowed the well to be searched, they could find themselves holding possibly the most important discovery of modern times.

UFO Files again has brought into focus another important case that might well have lingered in myth forever. It also shows that UFOs are not the preserve of the late twentieth century and that sightings and incidents have come to us from down through the ages.

The next episode of UFO Files will focus on ‘Russia’s Roswell’, at the top-secret Kapustin Yar military base, where UFOs and aliens are said to have been taken for almost fifty years after World War II. It seems that everywhere in the world has its own Roswell!

The images used are the property of the copyright holders and are only used here for review purposes.

© Steve Johnson - 2006

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Mexico’s Roswell

The History Channel, Sunday 19th February, 2006


In 1974, an incident occurred in Mexico that equals in terms of drama any in the history of the UFO phenomenon. Yet this event, which has become known as Mexico’s Roswell, is almost unheard of.

The History Channel’s UFO Files continues to bring high quality reconstructions and interviews with top investigators, such as Jaime Maussan and Bruce Maccabee, and actual witnesses, while approaching the subject with the seriousness it deserves. While the program uses a sceptical approach, it never resorts to ridicule, thus making it far superior to Discovery’s World’s Weirdest UFO Stories.

On 25th August, 1974, near the small town Coyame in the Chihuahua province of Mexico, about 36 miles from the border with the United States, a civilian plane, flying from El Paso, Texas to Mexico City, appears to have collided with an unidentified flying object and crashed into the desert.

The story begins shortly after 10PM, when US radar tracked an object speeding across the Gulf of Mexico at 2500 miles per hour at an altitude of 75,000 feet. It appeared to be on a course for Corpus Christi, Texas, until it suddenly veered to the left and began a zigzag course into Mexican airspace. After travelling another 500 miles, the object suddenly vanished from their radar screens.

Less than an hour later, a civilian aircraft was reported as missing from the same area that the UFO had disappeared from.

The next day, a Mexican recovery team began a search of the desert for the missing aeroplane. A couple of hours later, US intelligence agencies listened in to Mexican military radio and heard that the plane had been found just outside of Coyame. Shortly afterwards, reports came in of a second wreck, but this was no plane.

What they found was a silver, disc-shaped object, about sixteen feet in diameter and five feet thick. It appeared to be slightly damaged in a couple of places, but apart from this, it was intact. Immediately, the Mexicans ordered for radio silence and the airwaves fell silent.

An offer of help from the US government was refused by their Mexican counterparts. They told the Americans that all they had was a crashed plane and no assistance was required. Unperturbed by this snub, a crack recovery team was assembled at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Surveillance flights monitoring the area from low altitude found that the Mexicans had loaded the UFO onto a flatbed truck, but something appeared to have gone wrong. Bodies were scattered around the area.

The next day, four helicopters (three Hueys and a Sea Stallion) departed from Fort Bliss and crossed the border into Mexico.

On arrival at the stalled convoy of trucks, the Americans, clad in bio-protective suits, found all of the Mexicans dead. While it is not known what killed the men, the theory that the cause was some sort of extra-terrestrial biological agent is a favourite among ufologists.

The US squad found the UFO strapped to the back of the flatbed truck and it was quickly lifted by the Sea Stallion and flown to the United States. When the saucer was safely out of the way, the bodies, plane wreckage and vehicles from the Mexican team were placed together and incinerated with high explosives. The Americans then beat a hasty retreat back to their base.

It is not known where the UFO was taken, but Atlanta, Georgia, Fort Bliss in Texas and Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio have all been suggested.

The Coyame Incident was almost forgotten about for nearly twenty years until the UFO sightings during the Mexican solar eclipse of 1991 brought the subject back to the forefront once more.

Hundreds of witnesses claimed to have seen metallic, disc-shaped objects in the darkened sky and dozens of video-tapes have been released depicting them. It caused a sensation in ufology, but astronomers and sceptics maintained that all that was seen were planets such as Jupiter and Venus, which were visible at the time.

Despite these explanations, Mexico became the worldwide focus for UFO reports for many years and sightings continue to this day. Indeed many researchers claim that such an explosion of sightings was predicted in the Mayan Dresden Codex over a thousand years ago. The Maya were expert astronomers and their calendar was extremely accurate. It was precise enough to predict the Mexican solar eclipse of 1991!

Some have also suggested that the codex also predicted the UFO sightings. Part of the Dresden Codex refers to the coming of the brothers and sisters of the stars, which some researchers have taken to mean extra-terrestrials.

Sceptics, however, suggested that the Mexican UFO wave was a self-perpetuating phenomenon. People were excited by the news coverage given and began reporting anything they saw in the sky that they could not explain, whether it be a spacecraft from Zeta Reticuli or a weather balloon or an aeroplane. Accusations of over-zealousness flew and witnesses were branded as crackpots or simply mistaken.

Reports from trained airline pilots, though, were harder to dismiss.

Captain Raymundo Cervantes Ruano is an airline pilot with over 17,000 hours of flight time under his belt. He thought he had seen it all, until, on the 28th of July, 1994, he witnessed something that he could not explain.

That day, he was piloting AeroMexico Flight 129 from Guadalajara to Mexico City. Their journey was almost complete and permission to land was given by the Mexico City air traffic control centre. The plane was at 5,000 feet and the landing gear was lowered.

Suddenly the plane rocked as though in collision with something. Cervantes thought that they might have clipped a helicopter in this busy traffic corridor, but he had no time to worry about that. He declared an emergency and expected an abnormal landing. The plane landed safely and their fears that the landing gear had been damaged seemed to be assuaged.

On investigating, it was found that no other aircraft had been in the area of Cervantes’ jet and the control tower had detected nothing. Damage was found on the plane, though, in the form of a cleanly-sliced hydraulic line to the landing gear. Worn parts were blamed and the airline denied that any mid-air collision had occurred. Cervantes, however, remained steadfast in his claim that his plane had collided with something.

He gained support from Enrique Kolbeck, one of the control tower personnel on duty that night. He recalled several phone calls during that time. An hour before Cervantes’ jet departed Guadalajara, the Mexico City ATC received several calls from different sources that an unidentified object was seen flying close to buildings that were in the final trajectory for the approach to the airport. The sightings placed the UFO on a direct path to intersect with Flight 129.

On August 8th, 1994, AeroMexico Flight 304 was en route from Acapulco to Mexico City. As the plane approached the capital’s international airport, co-pilot Carlos Corzo Rosales looked out of the window, as his pilot viewed the instruments. As the plane broke through clouds, Corzo was shocked to see a huge object, perhaps 15 or 20 metres in radius, and metallic in appearance, directly ahead. He feared that a collision was imminent and he warned his pilot. The object streaked by very close to the jet.

Flight 304 landed without further incident, but Corzo was told that his was the fifth plane that week to have reported a UFO.

Mexican pilots and air traffic controllers take the UFO subject very seriously, as people’s lives are at stake and any collision with an object, known or unknown, could be disastrous.

September 16th is Mexico’s Independence Day and a lively series of events take place to celebrate this anniversary. For many years, an air show was organised, with the Mexican Airforce performing in and around Mexico City.

In 1993, at that year’s air show, amateur video footage caught a bright, round object apparently manoeuvring in between the helicopters flying in formation in the skies above.  Similar footage was caught in 1991 and 1992. The Mexican military offered no explanation.

On March 5th, 2004, the 501st Mexican Air Squadron was on a routine mission searching for drug smugglers over the Gulf of Mexico. Their radar picked up a target, which they took to be a drug smuggler’s aircraft, and they began a pursuit. The target was flying very erratically and also altering its speed. The military crew switched on the Forward-Looking Infra Red (FLIR) cameras. Although the target was clearly visible on radar, neither the FLIR nor their own eyes could see anything. Low on fuel, they were forced to return to base. The unknown object soon vanished from the radar scope.

Then the FLIR operator began picking up bright objects that seemed to be at cloud level. There appeared to be as many as eleven of these things weaving through or beyond the clouds. This experienced crew had flown this same route many times and had been using the FLIR system for over two years, yet these objects baffled them and the plane’s cockpit recorder preserved their excited chatter for posterity. The objects appeared to surround their aircraft before suddenly vanishing.

A thorough investigation could find no explanation for the sighting and the Mexican military, in an unprecedented move, asked the UFO community for help. World famous Mexican UFO researcher and television journalist Jaime Maussan was given the classified footage from the FLIR camera and asked to officially investigate the sighting and release the footage through the media. He was given access to flight reports and weather records and even interviewed the crew of the plane. Maussan released the footage to the world on the 11th of May and it didn’t take long for the sceptics to provide their explanations: ball lightning, a fleet of top secret aircraft, flames from distant oil wells and even that the FLIR system was faulty.

The oil well explanation seemed the most likely explanation, but a study of the footage by Jim Dilettoso convinced him that what was captured by the FLIR camera were not the fiery plumes from Gulf oil platforms. Dilettoso claimed that if they were flames, the objects caught on film would be flickering and changing shape, but what was recorded was bright and steady. Also, if it had been flames from static oil wells, then the crews would surely have seen them before. They had flown that exact same route many times and never seen similar lights before.

In 2005, Mexico was the location of sightings of vast UFO ‘fleets’. Video footage of these fields of bright objects moving about the sky have been explained away as birds or balloons. Maussan is convinced that these fleets are a form of communication, similar to crop patterns, but in the sky.

While the sceptics stood by their explanations, one sighting on June 24th, 2005, made the headlines. On that day, the governor of Veracruz, Fidel Herrera Beltran, was in Xalapa, attending a ceremony for the presentation of new patrol cars for the local police department. Suddenly, cries of “UFO! UFO!” rang out and everybody looked skyward. The gathered TV crews turned their cameras towards the objects and caught a group of objects hanging in the sky.

The sighting was reported all over Mexico and that the governor had been present gave it a certain air of credibility for ufologists. Soon, though, the objects were explained away as balloons released by local schoolchildren.

Researchers rejected this hypothesis because the objects had appeared static in the sky for over thirty minutes. Fourteen objects were counted, forming a triangle. Balloons would have drifted with the air currents, yet these never moved.

Fifteen years after the 1991 eclipse, Mexico remains a world centre for UFO reports, drawing researchers from all over the globe. The Coyame crash-retrieval case, though, remains largely unknown and uninvestigated. Jaime Maussan claims to have been told about rumours of photographs of the site at the time of the crash and that he has been promised them. He is still waiting for their receipt and fears that those in possession of them are afraid to come into the light.

Mexico’s Roswell was another fascinating and entertaining episode from the UFO Files series. Mexico’s love affair with UFOs appears to continue unabated, despite sceptical attempts to derail the constant stream of clips and photos that seem to emerge every day from that enigmatic nation.

Although most famous for its UFO videos, Mexico has witnessed many other forms of phenomena connected with the subject. In the second issue of the UFOData Report, there is the fascinating account of a Mexican housewife and teacher who experienced something extraordinary while travelling in Central America with her husband. It is a story that will pique the interest of anyone with an interest in alien abduction and it is well worth looking at.

Keep watching for news about this upcoming feature.

The images used are the property of the copyright holders and are only used here for review purposes.

© Steve Johnson - 2006

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Updated 14th July 2006