Pioneer Astronauts and UFOs

Guernsey Pilot Spots UFO

Roswell 60 Conference 2007 Review

Man-Made UFOs: WWII's Secret Legacy

The Quantum Conundrum

Who Was There First?

Black Triangles

Falling To Earth

 Fire from the Sky

 The Apollo 20 Controversy

National Press Club Conference: Pilots Speak Out About UFOs

Texas Sightings Spark Worldwide Interest

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Texas Sightings Spark Worldwide Interest

In early January, 2008, a UFO story took the world by storm. Residents of the Texas town of Stephenville, about 60 miles south-west of Fort Worth, as well as nearby Dublin and Selden, reported seeing a massive UFO crossing the sky at great speed.  As the story grabbed headlines in the mainstream media across the globe, it became apparent that Texans had been seeing these huge craft over a period of weeks.

Most of the reports appeared to describe bright lights that flashed brightly and changed configuration. While some just reported lights, businessman, Steve Allen, said that what he saw was a mile long and half a mile in width. He has offered a $5000 reward for video footage of what he saw. He described what he saw as rectangular and travelling at about 3000 miles per hour. The lights blinked out, only to reappear 10 minutes later. Military jets arrived and appeared to pursue the object. He told reporters, “It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts.”

Other reports of military jets in pursuit of the objects resulted in Major Karl Lewis from the Naval Reserve base in Fort Worth to deny that any aircraft from his station were in the air that night. Two other nearby bases also denied having planes in the sky during the sightings. This stance was later retracted, with Major Lewis explaining that F-16s were in the area on a training mission and that the earlier, incorrect statement was due to a miscommunication.

A week earlier, Ricky Sorrells of Dublin, about 12 miles from Stephenville, was deer hunting in the woods near his home at about sunset. Speaking to Linda Moulton-Howe, he said: “For some reason, I don’t know what, I look up and look back down. I don’t know what made me look up, but then I realized what I had seen with my eyes and immediately looked back up. There was this thing. It covered from – I could not see the edges in my tree canopy.” The underside of the metallic craft was dotted with circular depressions and emitted heat waves, like haze on a hot road. He said it appeared moulded and had no seams or rivets. Although he could not see its edges through the trees, he estimated it to be about 300 feet above him, making the craft at least 1000 feet across. As he watched, it shot off at a 45-degree angle. He has seen the object on two more occasions, both times from his back porch. He said it appeared like “a thick piece of plate. But it was a long way away, like a 1.5 to 2 miles.”

Speaking to local TV stations, Stephenville resident, Glenda Jackson, said, “It looked like two plates upside down, like a saucer. It was at least as wide as a football field.”

Also from Stephenville, James Huse said he saw large, round objects in the sky that, he estimated, were about the size of conventional aircraft.

Many other sightings were reported both to the media and to organisations such as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). The reports on the MUFON website are generally lacking in detail, but interesting nevertheless. Here are a few:

“I am a resident of Stephenville, TX. I was getting back from buying fireworks in Stephenville, TX on December 31, 2007. It was around 6:00. I was in the car with my dad and my friend; they both saw the thing in the sky also. There was a very bright light in the sky travelling very, very fast, about 2-3 times bigger than a star, a second light popped up, very close to the first one, for about 30 seconds, then disappeared, but the first light was still there. Tuesday the 8th of January wasn't the only day we saw the UFO.” – 31st December, 2007

“We left together from fiancé’s house in Stephenville near HEB (Hard Eight Barbecue - SJ) around Green View Additions. I went the wrong way and turned left on 377. Then went over the bridge and turned left on Harbin Rd. Went over the railroad tracks. Drove past Swan St. and noticed it to the left of us about 500 feet up (I WOULD SAY IT WAS SITTING RIGHT OVER HEB MAYBE.) It was hovering in place. It was amber in color with the color moving throughout it. We didn't stop. I couldn't drive down the road straight because we where looking at it. I called my brother and told him what we saw and where it was so he could see it.” – 19th January, 2008

“At around 8:45 pm I received a call, telling me that there was a strange amber light hovering over Stephenville. After driving around for ten minutes or so, my wife spotted the object towards the north east side of town. As I stopped the car and stepped out of the vehicle, I witnessed the amber light flicker as if on a metallic surface. It was several miles away, and around 1,500ft to 3,000ft (or maybe higher) in the sky. I have no way of describing just how large the light was, but I am guessing sizeable. It moved in the same general direction, but not necessarily in a straight line. There were no flashing aircraft lights, only the amber flicker. It moved slowly, before stopping in mid air. Suddenly it gained several thousand feet in altitude (almost straight up) in a matter of seconds, before turning bright (almost stoplight red) as if on fire, and then vanishing.

“I was unable to take photos, or video.

“The exact duration of time wasn't very long. But I know it was no plane.” - 19th January, 2008

“Driving home from the grocery store I looked up at the sky and saw 3 comet looking things, I commented to my son they looked like comets, but they were going in a horizontal line at 3 different altitudes, not falling and by the time we got home they were gone. He said maybe falling stars, but it wasn't the same. I joked and said maybe they were UFO's, but after seeing the report on Larry King maybe it wasn't a joke. I thought maybe airplanes, but I am a Flight Attendant and have never seen any aircraft look like this or with the bright lighting at the one end like this, nor fly at that altitude with those characteristics?” – 10th January, 2008

“I drive a water transport in the oilfield out of Bono, TX. I drive to and from Stephenville Saturday thru Wednesday. I left work at 5:45pm Tuesday evening January 8, 2008, travelling west on Hwy.67, between Chalk Mountain and Three Way. This is when something caught my eye off in the western sky. I saw two very bright lights shining in no apparent direction. The lights were very bright, like a welding arc. The lights were dancing around and then they split in two different directions at a very fast rate of speed.

“I do not know what it was that I saw, but I don't think that it was a plane, weather balloon, a reflection of the sun or anything manmade.” – 8th January, 2008

Several videos have appeared on the web, claiming to be UFOs over Texas. Most of these are poor quality, though, and simply depict distant lights in the sky.

January saw other reports of large UFOs from outside Texas.

On the night of January 19th, 2008, residents of Guanica, Puerto Rico, saw a huge, round UFO, with hundreds of rows of red lights glide across the sky. Jose Martinez reported: “The object rested for several minutes on a nearby hill, at very low altitude, nearly treetop level, blinding witnesses with its red lights. Among them were Roberto Garcia and wife Patricia, who tried to photograph the object with their cell phone but didn't manage to obtain an image. Other local residents were frightened and unable to sleep that night after the object took off toward Lajas at high speed.”

Brian Vike of received a report from Altoona, Iowa, of an object ‘as big as a house’ that was seen on 22nd January, 2008. The witness stated: “I was getting a drink of water when I happened to look out the window and saw an unknown object with three big white lights flying near my house. I went outside to see it this object was huge, it was probably the size of a house. The back of the object had 2 silverish brown lights, but I can't stress enough how big this object was and the big bright white lights were pretty bright, but not blinding. This object was in sight for about three minutes.”

More recently, the local reporter that broke the story, Angelia Joiner, has been forced out of her job for covering the incident. A staff reporter at the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, Ms Joiner was ordered by her superiors to ‘back off’ from the UFO stories. She tried to do this, but being the ‘point person’ on the case, she still received many letters and emails about the incident. Trying to cope with these on her own time, it became clear to Ms Joiner that something was wrong at work and she offered her two-week notice. She was told to leave immediately. She said: “I had given notice when I realized my boss was unhappy with my performance, but was unexpectedly asked to pack my things and leave.” Ms Joiner has now created her own website which can be found at

Her sacking came after local eyewitnesses reported being harassed by officialdom.

Ricky Sorrells reported that he was contacted by a man claiming to be from the US Air Force, after a heated discussion over the phone, threats were made. Mr Sorrells said: “I said if he was who he said he was, why didn't he stop flying over my air space with all those helicopters. And he informed me that it was not my air space — it was his. He told me if I'd quit talking about what I saw he would stop the helicopters.”

He told Angelia Joiner that he encountered an intruder on his property. She reported in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune:

“I was in bed asleep,” Sorrells said. “I keep my bird dogs on the east side of my house and three others on the west side. The black lab doesn't bark until someone comes across the cattle guard and the Catahoula doesn't bark until she actually sees someone. They were all barking so I got up to see what was going on.”

Sorrells said he walked to his bedroom window and looked out to the top of his driveway - he saw someone.

“I went around the bed and grabbed my rifle,” Sorrells said.

His family was still sleeping, so with one hand on his gun and one hand on his backdoor knob, he peered through the window of the door to see if he could spot the intruder again.

“He had positioned himself in between the car and the pickup 40 to 50 feet from my back door,” Sorrells said. “He stood staring at me rocking back and forth. I didn't think his feet were moving but the next morning when looking at his tracks I could tell they were.”

Sorrels said it was cold and misting rain and it was obvious the guy was “dressed for the elements with a heavy parka-like coat.”

He said he strained to see if the man carried a gun but could not see one but could clearly see the face of someone he thought to be in his late 20s or early 30s judging from the way he “walked and acted.”

“I'm trying to decide whether or not to open the door,” Sorrells said. “We're just standing there face to face looking at each other. I'm thinking he's dressed for the elements and the dogs are raising such a ruckus he must know he's in danger of being caught. That's when I realized he wanted me to see him.”

Sorrells said the trespasser had positioned himself in such a way he decided he could be vulnerable if opened his door. He thought of his family and then the man slowly turned and walked into the woods.

“He walked through an area where I'd cleared the brush so apparently he'd been there before because he knew where to go,” Sorrells said.

Sorrells said shortly after the unwelcome caller disappeared the dogs calmed down and he stayed up the rest of the night to keep watch.

Later, when walking through the woods on his property with Howe, he decided to return to a bare spot where his property line ends at a fence.

“It is washed out there and I like to go there to look for deer and turkey tracks.” Sorrells said. He said he's an avid hunter and keeps abreast of the wildlife on his place. He said he had not been to this particular spot in about a month.

“The first thing I saw was a man's footprint,” Sorrells said. “Ms. Howe videotaped me putting my foot beside it. The sun was going down and I saw something shiny.”

Sorrells said he walked over and picked up a bullet - a shiny new 25-06 Remington - with some dotted tarnished smudges.

“I think the man that I saw that night dropped this bullet and the tarnished spots are from the misting rain that night,” Sorrells said. “I just think it was the military showing me they could get to me if they wanted to.”

A set of new images emerged in February, taken by police constable, Lee Roy Gaiten and his wife. Over several nights, he videotaped an object apparently ‘drawing’ symbols in the sky. His wife took stills with a good quality digital camera. Speaking to Linda Moulton-Howe, he said: “... [It was] throwing off coloured strobe lights. What was so odd about it was when I zoomed in, it looked like a triangle or pyramid inside of the spinning disc.”

A week later, he saw the object again. “I'm at Stephenville working a security job and I see the damn thing again! I see it south toward Dublin. It looks like an object that is spinning and hovering. Well, that was February 9, 2008, OK. Well, that evening at 10:30 PM, I get a phone call from a guy who tells me: ‘Lee Roy, that light is back up in the sky. It’s southeast of your house. I’m watching it through my telescope.’

“I bought my wife a pretty nice still camera and we saw it. The light was travelling southeast towards the little town of Gustine, Texas. We get in the car and travel about 15 miles and my wife takes some pictures.”

“Then about 11:30 PM – I had been at my sister’s house and I told her about it. She lives in town (Dublin) and they can see this light from town and they are all freaking out. Anyway, around 11:30 PM, my wife and I  lost sight of it, but my sister could still see it from town.

“Well, we come into town and the same guy who called me about the first one calls me again. He says, ‘Hey, Lee Roy, there is a second one.’ He says it’s coming in from around the Selden, Texas, area coming towards Dublin. And sure enough, there’s another one – same thing.

“We could see both in the sky at the same time. One was in the southeast and the other was in the northeast sky. We take pictures of the second one also. There are several eyewitnesses: my sister, her husband, my niece, their neighbour. Anyway, we still don’t know what this is.”

UFO DATA Magazine contacted Dick Criswell. He is the co-founder of the International Paranormal UFO Society and has taken an active interest in the Stephenville sightings. He told us:

“A former employee for a government contractor (now retired) told the International Paranormal UFO Society that he worked on F-16s for many years as an electronics engineer and has his own opinion of what happened on January 8, 2008. This informant is known to IPUS and he claims that it would be very unlikely for so many F-16s to be on a evening or night-time training mission at one time. Instead, he believes that the reason so many F-16s were involved in the incident is because the unidentified flying object they were chasing had violated restricted presidential airspace over the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas. IPUS is continuing to investigate the Stephenville Sightings and related matters. We will post any new information that we have on our website at We encourage anyone with information about the Texas UFO sightings to contact us through this website or call our UFO Sightings Hotline at 765-483-9089.”

When asked about Ricky Sorrells’ sighting, he said, “Ricky Sorrell had a classic UFO sighting that many people have each year. Sadly, it probably would not have even made the news except for the inclusion of the other UFO sightings near Stephenville at the time. Sorrell seems like an honest and credible UFO witness.”

© Steve Johnson - 2008

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Who Was There First?

Who was there first? Is this a chicken and egg riddle? No, it’s a valid question raised by those who have studied what appear to be artificial structures on various bodies in our solar system.

We like to think that humankind is at the peak of its evolutionary scale. We have never been so advanced and our technology is the most complex in history. Is this really true? Can we be certain that our race, which has existed in this form for over 200,000 years, has only just made the transition to interplanetary flight in the last fifty years? What if civilisations, lost in the mists of time, also achieved that tremendous leap and have left evidence for their existence elsewhere in the cosmos.

Does this sound impossible? Perhaps, but there are relics right here on Earth that suggest man’s ingenuity was evident in our ancient history.

In 1900, a lump of rusty metal was hauled out of the sea off the Greek island of Antikythera. When analysed, it was found to be some sort of mechanism, consisting of over 30 gears, although more than 70 may have been present originally. It appeared to date from around 150BC and it has been suggested that it was a form of astronomical computer. The level of complexity and miniaturisation of the gears was not seen in the Western world until the 18th Century, almost 2,000 years after the device’s construction.

The magnificent pyramids of Giza, in Egypt, were constructed by a Bronze Age civilisation that had yet to utilise the wheel. Despite this, they managed to construct an edifice, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, which remained the tallest building in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, over 4,000 years after they were raised. Not only were the three pyramids on the Giza plateau astonishing feats of physical engineering, but they were also aligned to the cardinal points so accurately that so-called modern science could not match it until very recently. The internal structure of the Great Pyramid also displays remarkable technological skill. Four shafts rise up from two chambers called the King’s Chamber and Queen’s Chamber, although there is no evidence that anybody was interred here, let alone Khufu’s queen, who got her own pyramid beside her husband’s. The shafts, once described as air shafts, since completely debunked, are aligned to specific areas of the sky that were incredibly important to Ancient Egyptian religion. These shafts were not simply cut into the stone, they were carefully-planned, integral structures within the pyramid. They were included as the pyramid rose and it must have been incredibly difficult to keep them aligned to their astral targets as work around them continued.

It has been suggested that extraterrestrials came to Earth in antiquity and helped our ancestors in many ways. Books by the likes of Erich Von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin have sold in the millions espousing this theory. The Ancient Astronaut Theory (AAT) should not be completely disregarded, as there is evidence as to its veracity, despite what academia might tell us.

Ancient carvings depict flying beings or gods coming to teach man. Often these beings are seen wearing garb that would compliment a modern astronaut. Their ‘chariots’ often appear technological in nature, rather than supernatural. Were these gods really aliens or was there an ancient human civilisation that was much more advanced than our Stone Age ancestors or even than we are today? While Däniken and Sitchin fight for the AAT, authors, such as Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, believe that humanity once achieved great heights of learning, only for this knowledge to be lost in a great cataclysm some 12,000 years ago. Did the lost cultures of Atlantis or Mu really exist?

Whatever your beliefs in this regard, it seems that whoever came before us left their mark not only on Earth, but all around our solar system. We will begin on our closest neighbour, the Moon. Many ‘anomalies’ can be found on that barren world.

The recent, best-selling book by Richard C Hoagland and Mike Bara, Dark Mission, reignited the anomalist community. Did the Apollo astronauts really photograph the remnants of vast, glass domes, rectilinear, artificial structures and robot-like heads? That is for the reader to decide.

It has been mooted that the Apollo 10 image, AS10-30-4421, shows a glass dome in the Mare Crisium. Indeed, if you look closely, it appears that the hill behind the feature can be seen through the translucent, dome-shaped structure. This appears to be an intact dome, but Hoagland and Bara claim that there are many shattered domes that arch over 50,000 feet above the lunar surface, their supporting members being captured by Apollo cameras (see ‘Mitchell Under Glass’ boxout).

Perhaps the most famous lunar anomaly is ‘The Shard’. Captured by the Lunar Orbiter III probe in 1967, this appears to be a colossal, tower-like structure reaching thousands of feet into the sky. The shadow cast by the object seems to confirm that it is real and not a photographic defect. Is it a huge, solid structure or something more transient, such as an outgassing of some kind from below the Moon’s surface? Either explanation is fantastic on this supposedly dead world.

Dark Mission’s ‘smoking gun’ evidence was the artefact they have called ‘Data’s Head’, after the android in Star Trek: The Next Generation. During the Apollo 17 mission, astronauts Schmitt and Cernan were exploring a small crater called Shorty. Found in frame AS17-137-21005HR, Hoagland and Bara enhanced the skull-like object and firmly believe it is the remnants of an android, left behind aeons ago by some advanced, as yet unknown, civilisation. Could it be retrieved and, perhaps, reactivated by future astronauts?

Heading away from the Moon, man’s next port of call will be the planet Mars. But were we the first to land there when the Viking probes set down in 1976? Mars is a favourite for anomaly hunters and there are literally thousands of images that allege to contain artificial structures.

The first probes to reach the Red Planet were the Mariners. Mariner 4 arrived in 1965 with Mariners 6 and 7 getting there in 1969. Mariner 9 entered orbit in 1971.

It was Mariner 9 that first photographed the ‘Pyramids of Elysium’ and the so-called ‘Inca City’. Were these remnants of a lost, Martian civilisation? Another feature snapped by Mariner 9 was dubbed ‘The Airport Terminal’.

When Viking arrived 5 years later, the two landers found evidence of life, but this was dismissed by NASA, even though the experiment that found the evidence had been sanctioned and included in the mission! Besides, why include a flawed experiment in a mission that cost $1 billion? The Labelled Release Experiment’s originator, Dr Gilbert Levin, stands by the findings to this day.

There was also controversy about the first images received by the Viking landers. They appeared to show a blue sky on Mars. These were later tweaked to appear more reddish. Why was this done? If the sky is blue, why not show it as such?

The Viking orbiters circled around the planet, relaying data from the landers and taking photographs of the surface. One of these images has become probably the most famous space photograph in history, the ‘Cydonia Face’. Not only was a peculiar, humanoid face captured, staring enigmatically into space, but nearby, there was a veritable city of pyramids and mounds. These were given names, such as ‘The D & M Pyramid’, ‘The City Square’ and ‘The Fort’. Researchers concluded that all of the structures in the region were connected by geometry, proving that they were artificial and not just ‘tricks of light and shadow’ playing with our imaginations.

Dr Tom Van Flandern calculated that the Face once sat on the old Martian equator and was perfectly aligned to true north (remember the Giza pyramids?). He concluded that the odds of the Face being natural were 1,000 billion to one.

When Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) arrived at the Red Planet in 1997, it was hoped that the controversy about the Face would be put to rest. When the first image was released, it was a huge disappointment. Dubbed ‘The Catbox’, it showed the Face as an almost flat, hardly discernible feature. Later enhancements improved the quality, but it wasn’t until MGS took more images that science could proudly proclaim that it was ‘just a mesa’. This did not satisfy anomalists, who maintained that it resembled no natural mesa on Earth and still displayed evidence of artificiality. The debate rages on.

Shortly before MGS arrived in Mars orbit, a lander called Pathfinder set down in the Ares Vallis in July, 1997. It deployed a small rover, called Sojourner, and took many photographs of the area. Immediately something appeared to be wrong. The images from Pathfinder appeared even redder than those obtained by Viking. Had the boffins at NASA been tweaking the images again? Curiously, an image released from Pathfinder’s planned final day of the mission appears to show the Sojourner in a distinctly blue light. Ultimately, Pathfinder continued long after the planned 30 days had elapsed.

Whatever the colour of Mars’ sky, the Pathfinder mission revealed some intriguing anomalies.  Within range of the probe’s cameras, there appeared to be many regularly-shaped boulders, some rectangular, some other geometric shapes.

On the horizon lies a pair of hills, dubbed the Twin Peaks, which appear to have terracing on their slopes. In front of the left-hand hill sits what some have described as a Sphinx!

Mars has become a favourite location for those studying so-called ‘planetary artforms’. Van Flandern’s MetaResearch website ( features images of many of these huge works of art, only viewable from space. Are these random patterns on the planet’s surface, conjured into recognisable forms by our imaginations, or actual pictograms scratched onto the Martian surface, much like the Nazca Lines in Peru?

No doubt Mars will reveal many more anomalies before humans set foot there. How many will our astronauts find to be genuine, artificial creations?

© Steve Johnson - 2008

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National Press Club Conference:

Pilots Speak Out About UFOs

On November 12th, 2007, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, perhaps the most important public event in ufology took place since Dr Steven Greer’s Disclosure presentation in 2001. Moderated by former governor of Arizona, Fife Symington III, the conference, which was covered by many major media outlets, allowed several international military and civilian pilots, along with intelligence officials and scientists, the chance to speak about their UFO encounters. It was organised by Out of the Blue director, James Fox and Leslie Kean of the Coalition for Freedom of Information.

In all, fourteen men spoke at the press conference, some of them very well known in UFO circles, some not so well known. All of them, though, shared the same goal – to let the public know that UFOs exist and are not only seen by hillbillies out in the boondocks.

First to speak was Wilfried De Brower. Now retired, Major-General De Brower was a leading colonel in the Belgian air force in 1990 when a famous wave of UFO sightings took place. General De Brower said:

“I was Chief Operations in the Air Staff when an exceptional UFO wave took place over Belgium. Indeed, during the evening of 29 November 1989, in a small area in Eastern Belgium, approximately 140 UFO sightings were reported. Hundreds of people saw a majestic triangular craft with a span of approximately 120 feet, powerful beaming spot lights, moving very slowly without making any significant noise but, in several cases, accelerating to very high speeds.”

He concluded: “The Belgian Air Force tried to identify the alleged intruder(s) and, on three occasions, launched F 16 aircraft. On one occasion, two F 16 registered rapid changes in speed and altitude which were well outside of the performance envelope of existing aircraft. Nevertheless, the pilots could not establish visual contact and the investigation revealed that specific weather conditions may have caused electromagnetic interferences and false returns on the radar screens. The technical evidence was insufficient to conclude that abnormal air activities took place during that evening.

“In short, the Belgian UFO wave was exceptional and the Air Force could not identify the nature, origin and intentions of the reported phenomena.”

Dr Claude Poher is a retired astrophysicist and worked with GEPAN, the French study on UFOs, often described as France’s Blue Book. His statement included one notable incident that the group investigated:

“[In] August 1967, two young witnesses were alerted by the agitation of dozens of frightened farm animals at around noon. The witnesses then observed a landed spherical UFO at a distance of 80 yards, with four occupants near it.

“Very high luminosity was reported after slow takeoff, leaving physiological effects on the witnesses’ eyes that were confirmed by the village mayor. The hiss noise described by the two witnesses was also heard by the hunting guard of the village. The UFO acceleration after vertical takeoff was estimated to be about a hundred g’s by GEPAN experts. The occupants were seen floating in the air while entering the craft, from its top, in a hurry.

“Physical traces on the ground from the craft were confirmed by the local police, as well as a sulphur oxide odour. CNES experts in meteorology and space debris worked in the field with the witnesses, along with a judge, a psychologist, an optical engineer and aeronautical engineer. They had full measuring equipment and worked with the police as well.

“The official conclusion of GEPAN in 1979, was that about 15% of cases remained unidentified after careful analysis by our experts. We concluded that the objects, in most of these cases, were compatible with flying machines whose flight physics were foreign to the experts’ knowledge.

Another French contribution came from Jean-Charles Duboc, a retired Air France captain. He described what he saw in 1994 at 1PM:

“During Air France Flight 3532 from Nice to London, on 28 January 1994, I observed, with my crew, a daylight UFO near Paris. We had few passengers on board and none of them had reported that observation to the crew.

“That object had been identified initially by a steward who was in the cockpit and by the co-pilot as a weather balloon, but when I identified it, it looked quite different.

“It seemed to be a huge flying disc.

“This large object was below us at the altitude of 35, 000 ft (we were at 39 000 ft), at a distance of about 25 nautical miles.

“The colour was red-brown with blurred outlines.

“The apparent diameter of this object could be compared to the diameter of the moon, or the sun. That means that it was about 1000 feet wide.

“The most incredible aspect is that it became transparent and disappeared in about 10 to 20 seconds.

“My co-pilot, chief steward and I quickly realized that what we were seeing did not resemble anything known to us, and we reported our sighting to Reims traffic control.

Simultaneously, the radar of the Operational Centre of the Air Defence (the CODA), registered a one minute spot crossing the track of our plane.”

The final statement from France came from Dr Jean-Claude Ribes, a radio astronomer and associate director of National Institute for Astronomy and Geophysics. He was asked to represent GEIPAN at the press conference. GEIPAN is the current body studying UFO cases for the French space agency, CNES. He also contributed to the famous COMETA report. He said:

“The COMETA report was written mainly by high ranking military people from the French High Studies Institute for National Defence. It analyzes the possible explanations for UFOs and their implications in terms of Defence, with the extraterrestrial hypothesis presented as the most logical one, even if not formally proven. Some recommendations are made, including that all managers of the Army, Police, Politics, and pilots be informed about UFOs; that detection systems be modified to take UFOs into account; and that the French government contact the United States and other allied countries to initiate cooperative action on the subject. So far, these recommendations have not been implemented.

“However, last March, my country took a big step forward. Jacques Patenet, current director of GEIPAN, released the French UFO files to the public. They were posted on a website - more than 1,600 sightings spanning five decades. Some cases involved multiple sightings and physical evidence such as burn marks and radar trackings. Others documented UFOs with flight patterns or accelerations defying the laws of physics. M. Patenet told the press at the time that "We do not have any proof at all that extra-terrestrials are behind the unexplained phenomena. Nor do we have any proof at all that they aren't.”

“My personal opinion is that UFOs should be taken seriously and studied without prejudice. There may be several possible explanations, such as rare atmospheric phenomena, but some cases strongly suggest actual flying machines with characteristics well beyond our terrestrial capacities. If these cases could be completely proven as such, then the extraterrestrial hypothesis would probably be the most likely explanation for these advanced craft. Admittedly, it is a fantastic possibility, but not an irrational one, given the data that we have.”

Parvez Jafari is a retired general, formerly with the Iranian air force. In 1976, he was a major and squadron commander and encountered something in the skies above Tehran:

“At about 11 pm on the evening of 18th September, 1976, citizens were frightened by the circling of an unknown object over Tehran, the capital city of Iran, at a low altitude. It looked similar to a star, but bigger and brighter.

“They reported it to the tower and it was seen by the tower man too. He alerted the Air Force command post and Deputy General Yousefi decided to scramble an F-4 jet to investigate.

“The pilot in the first jet lost instrumentation and communications when he got too close to the brilliant object, so he headed back. About 10 minutes later, they scrambled a second jet, which I was piloting. At the time I was squadron commander.

“I approached the object, which was flashing with intense red, green, orange and blue light so bright that I was not able to see its body. The sequence of flashes was extremely fast, like a strobe light.

“We locked on it with radar; it was at 30° left, at a range of 25 miles. The size on the radar scope was comparable to that of a 707 tanker.

“Four other objects with different shapes separated from the main one, at different times during this close encounter.

“Whenever they were close to me, my weapons were jammed and my radio communications were garbled.

“One of the objects headed toward me. I thought it was a missile. I tried to launch a heat seeking missile to it, but my missile panel went out. Another followed me when I was descending on the way back.

“One of the separated objects landed in an open area radiating a high bright light, in which the sands on the ground were visible.

“During my interview at H.Q, after the incident, an American colonel took notes, but after it was over I could not find him to talk with.

“Later, a once-classified document was released here in America through the Freedom of Information Act. The Defence Intelligence Agency documented the event in great detail, and it was sent to NSA, The White House and the CIA. The DIA assessment said “this case is a classic that meets all necessary conditions for a legitimate study of the UFO phenomenon.””

Captain Rodrigo Bravo Garrido is a pilot for the Chilean army. He spoke of his country’s efforts to get a handle on the UFO phenomenon:

“Since the beginning of Chilean history, there have been reports of unidentified phenomena, sometimes called UFOs, observed in our skies.

“Over the years, we have increased our capacity to explain many of the sightings, but some continue to remain without a scientific or logical explanation.

“For that reason, in October of 1997, the Department of Civil Aeronautics, the Chilean equivalent of the American FAA, set up the Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena, known as the CEFAA. This agency handles the best reports of unidentified aerial phenomena in cooperation with aeronautic specialists.

“In 2000, the Aviation branch of the Army of Chile assigned me to research anomalous aerial phenomena, which they knew were real, and their effect on aerospace security. I then graduated to become a military pilot, and learned that the Aviation Amy had in its files many reports of UFO incidents from military pilots.

“A link was then established between our Army office and the CEFAA, and as a result, nine official cases have been documented. This has helped to create awareness among the flight crews about UFOs, and they now cooperate with flight security to report any abnormal situation.

“One of our most important civil aviation cases occurred in 1988, showing that unidentified flying objects can be a danger for air operations. A Boeing 737 pilot, on a final approach to the runway at “The Tepual” Airport in Puerto Montt City, suddenly encountered a large white light surrounded by green and red. The light was moving in the opposite direction of the airplane, coming straight at it. The pilot had to make a steep turn to the left in order to avoid a collision. The phenomenon was observed by the control tower personnel.

“In 2000, the crew of a Chilean plane from the Aviation branch of the Army, flying South of Santiago, observed a long cigar-shaped object, a brilliant grey. It flew parallel to the right side of the aircraft for two minutes and then disappeared at a very high speed. This object was detected by the radar of the Control Centre of Santiago which notified the crew minutes before the incident.

“New cases are being documented by pilots, traffic controllers, operations staff at the world’s airports, and by many others with the proper training to determine if a flying object is something unusual.

“The true origin of these UFOs is unknown, yet they do affect aviation all around the planet, and this must be addressed.”

Now retired, Oscar Alfonso Santa Maria Huertas was a commander in the Peruvian sir force. In 1980, he witnessed something inexplicable:

“On April 11, 1980, at 7:15 in the morning, 1800 men were in formation at the Air Base of La Joya, Arequipa.

“They all observed a stationary object in the sky which looked like a balloon, at about three miles distance, and approximately 1,800 feet altitude. It was luminous because it reflected the sun.

“My unit commander ordered me to takeoff in my Sukoi -22 jet to shoot down the spherical object. It was in restricted airspace, without clearance, and we were concerned about espionage.

“I approached the object and strafed sixty-four 30mm shells at it. Some projectiles went towards the ground, and others hit the object fully, but they had no effect at all. The projectiles didn’t bounce off; probably they were absorbed. The cone-shaped “wall of fire” that I sent out would normally obliterate anything in its path.

“The object then began to ascend, and move farther away from the base. When I was at about 36,000 ft., it made a sudden stop, forcing me to veer to the side since I was only 1500 feet away. I flew up higher to attack it from above, but just as I had locked on to the target and was ready to shoot, the object made a straight vertical climb evading the attack.

“Two more times I had the object on target, when the object was stationary. Each time, it moved away at the very last minute, when I was just about to fire, always eluding my attack.

“I decided to climb at full thrust to get above the object, but it began to ascend almost parallel to my plane, and when I reached 63,000 ft., it stopped.

“At this point, I came to within about 300 feet of the UFO. It was about 30 feet in diameter. It was an enamelled, cream-colored dome, with a wide, circular, metallic base. It had no engines, no exhausts, no windows, no wings or antennae. It lacked all the typical aircraft components, with no visible propulsion system.

“It was at that moment that I realized this it was not a spying device, but that it was a UFO, something totally unknown. I was almost out of fuel, so I couldn’t attack or manoeuvre my plane, or make a high speed escape. I was afraid. I thought I might be finished.

“When I had calmed own, I radioed for another plane to come and have a look, trying to hide my fear. They said no, it’s too high, just come back. I had to glide part way down due to lack of fuel, zigzagging to make my plane harder to hit, always with my eyes on the rear-view mirrors hoping it wouldn’t chase me. It didn’t.

“I had spent 22 minutes manoeuvring with this object. After I landed, the object remained stationary in the sky for two hours, for everyone at the base to see.”

Dr Anthony Choy is a founding member of the Peruvian air force’s official study into UFOs, the Office of Investigations of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (OIFAA), set up in 2001. He said:

“I am the author of Project 33, the first integral study on the UFO phenomenon in Peru. I travelled all over my country for about three years, speaking with witnesses, obtaining audio-visual information such as photographs and videos, and collecting data for this study.

“On October 13, 2001, in the northern city of Chulucanas, and before hundreds of people, eight spheres of light, of an intense red-orange colour, were recorded on video. We were the first ones to obtain this video and we gave it to the air force. These objects were suspended in the air for over five hours, moving in an apparently intelligent manner, and in absolute silence until they disappeared.

“A few days later, on October 25th, the luminous tear-shaped object of some 25 meters diameter (approx. 80 feet), was recorded over the countryside near the city. Within a few minutes, the apparent “landing” of light spheres in the woods was also recorded.”

Officially tasked with investigating the case, Choy said:

“The preliminary conclusion was that the sightings, although being physically real, had no explanation. The case remains open, and the investigation continues independently.”

Captain Ray Bowyer is a pilot with Guernsey-based airline, Aurigny. UFO DATA Magazine reported his sighting last year. Here is some of what he said at the conference:

“I have been invited here due to my sighting last April of multiple as yet unidentified objects over the Channel Islands region of the English Channel. This encounter lasted for 15 minutes with the first object being visible from 55 miles distant.

“On nearing the object a second identical shape appeared beyond the first. Both objects were of a flattened disk shape with a dark area to the right side. They were brilliant yellow with light emanating from them. I estimated them to be up to a mile across.

“I found myself astounded but curious. But at 12 miles distant these objects were becoming uncomfortably large, and I was glad to descend and land the aircraft.

“Many of my passengers saw the objects as did the pilot of another aircraft 25 miles further south. There is also possible radar information still being investigated.

“I have taken note of the differences between the British and U.S. reporting system. It appears that attitudes on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean are very different when it comes to the required reporting and recording of this type of event.

“Air Law stipulates quite clearly that if an operating crew of an aircraft see another aircraft in a place that it should not be, then at the earliest opportunity the whole scenario is to be reported to the relevant authority. In my case the British Civil Aviation Authority knew within 20 minutes of the sighting what was seen, as described in the flight log faxed directly to the relevant CAA office. The military were informed by Jersey Air Traffic Control at the same time. This is not an option; it is an obligation that crews react in this manner.”

He notes that US pilots and airline staff are often afraid to come forward for fear of ridicule or job security. He went on:

“I would have been shocked if I was told that the CAA would obstruct an investigation, or if the CAA told me that what I had seen was something entirely different. But it seems that pilots in America are used to this kind of thing, as far as I can tell.

“I would urge all aircrew to report whatever they see as soon as possible, and to stand up and be counted. It is only when crucial witnesses, such as professional pilots, make reports that the authorities will be kick-started into a broader investigation of these phenomena.”

UFO DATA Magazine contributor, Nick Pope, was next. We all know Nick as ‘the Man from the Ministry’ and he spoke of his experiences while working there:

“Since 1950 the British Government has received over 10,000 UFO reports. Responsibility for this subject rests with the Ministry of Defence, whose remit is to look for evidence of any potential threat to the UK, or anything else of any "defence significance". From 1991 to 1994 I was the desk officer responsible for these investigations.

“Most UFO sightings turned out to be misidentifications of things such as aircraft, satellites and meteors, but in around 5 per cent of cases no explanation could be found. These cases include incidents where reliable witnesses such as police officers and pilots reported structured craft performing speeds and manoeuvres significantly in excess of anything they had seen military jet aircraft perform. Other cases included in this category involved UFOs tracked on radar and incidents where photos or videos were produced and where the MoD's technical experts found no evidence of fakery.

“The MoD takes no position on the nature of the UFO phenomenon but I and some of my colleagues were privately convinced that whatever was going on, there were important defence, national security and flight safety issues involved.

In March 1993 I investigated a case where a UFO was seen by about 60 witnesses, including military personnel at two air force bases. Witnesses included a patrol of air force police, together with a meteorological officer with 8 years experience. This latter witness described a triangular-shaped craft midway in size between a C-130 and a Boeing 747. He said that it was emitting a low frequency humming sound and he said it moved slowly at first, before accelerating away many times faster than a military jet. My Head of Division's brief to the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff concluded: “In summary, there would seem to be some evidence on this occasion that an unidentified object (or objects) of unknown origin was operating over the UK”. The case file - published on the MoD website - also mentions related enquiries from the US authorities, asking if the UK had a black programme that might explain some UFO sightings involving large triangular-shaped craft. That's interesting, given the US government's public position that UFOs are no longer investigated.”

Jim Penniston was the senior security officer at the US air base, RAF Woodbridge in 1980:

“Shortly after midnight on the 26th of December, 1980, Staff Sergeant Steffens briefed me that some lights were seen in Rendlesham Forest, just outside the base. He informed me that whatever it was didn’t crash… it landed. I discounted what he said and reported to the control centre back at the base that we had a possible downed aircraft. I then ordered Airman Cabansag [and] AIC Burroughs to respond with me.

“When we arrived near the suspected crash site it quickly became apparent that we were not dealing with a plane crash or anything else we’d ever responded to. There was a bright light emanating from an object on the forest floor. As we approached it on foot, a silhouetted triangular craft about 9 feet long by 6.5 feet high came into view. The craft was fully intact sitting in a small clearing inside the woods.

“As the three of us got closer to the craft we started experiencing problems with our radios. I then asked Cabansag to relay radio transmissions back to the control centre. Burroughs and I proceeded towards the craft.

“When we came up on the triangular shaped craft there were blue and yellow lights swirling around the exterior as though part of the surface and the air around us was electrically charged. We could feel it on our cloths, skin and hair. Nothing in my training prepared me for what we were witnessing.

“After ten minutes without any apparent aggression, I determined the craft was non hostile to my team or to the base. Following security protocol, we completed a thorough on-site investigation, including a full physical examination of the craft. This included photographs, notebook entries, and radio relays through airman Cabansag to the control centre as required. On one side of the craft were symbols that measured about 3 inches high and two and a half feet across.

“These symbols were pictorial in design; the largest symbol was a triangle, which was centred in the middle of the others. These symbols were etched into the surface of the craft, which was warm to the touch and felt like metal.

“After roughly 45 minutes the light from the craft began to intensify. Burroughs and I then took a defensive position away from the craft as it lifted off the ground without any noise or air disturbance. It manoeuvred through the trees and shot off at an unbelievable rate of speed. It was gone in the blink of an eye.”

In 1980, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Halt was deputy base commander at RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk. He described what he saw in December, 1980:

“ In late December 1980 I was called upon to investigate a strange event that was distracting our Security Police from their primary duties. Early on the morning of December 26, 1980 our police patrolmen discovered strange lights in the forest east of the back gate of RAF Woodbridge. Three patrolmen were dispatched into the forest to investigate. They reported discovering a strange triangular craft sitting on three legs. The craft was approximately 3 meters on a side. The craft had multiple lights. It rapidly manoeuvred and quickly left the area. I was not immediately aware of the details only being told of strange lights and assumed there was a reasonable explanation.

“Two nights later the family Christmas party was interrupted by the on duty police commander. He told of strange events and claimed “it” was back. Since my boss had to present awards I was tasked to go out and investigate. I fully expected to find an explanation. I took two senior Security Police, a Disaster Preparedness expert and the reporting On Duty Police Commander. At the site we found the three 1 ½” indentations in the ground in a triangular pattern.

“We discovered mild radiation, and evidence including broken branches. We suddenly observed a bright red/orange oval object with a black center. It reminded me of an eye and appeared as though blinking. It maneuvered horizontally through the trees with occasionally vertical movement. When approached it receded and silently broke into five white lights which quickly vanished. We moved out of the forest into a pasture and observed several objects with multiple lights in the Northern sky. They changed in shape from elliptical to round.

“Several other objects were seen to the South. One approached at high speed and sent down a concentrated beam near our feet. Another object sent down beams into the weapons storage area. The whole time we had difficulty communicating with the base as all three radio frequencies kept breaking up. This activity continued for about an hour.

“During this entire event I had my pocket recorder and taped the event as it unfolded. A copy of the tape was released without my knowledge. This is the original recorder and tape. I have no idea what we saw but do know whatever we saw was under intelligent control.”

John Callahan was Division Chief for the Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) Accident and Investigation Branch in Washington DC in the 1980s. His testimony follows:

“In early January of 1987, I received a call from the Air Traffic Quality Control Branch in FAA's Alaskan regional office, requesting guidance on what to tell the media personnel who were overflowing their office. The media was requesting information about the UFO that chased a Japanese 747 across the Alaskan sky for some 3 minutes at flight levels between 3,000 and 35,000 ft. on November 7, 1986.

“Japan Air Lines flight 628, a cargo jet with a pilot, co-pilot and one crew member, was just north of Anchorage, and it was about pm when the pilot first reported the UFO. He described it as a huge ball with lights running around it. He said it was about 4 times bigger than a 747, and he saw it with his own eyes. So did the other two crew members.

“Over the course of 3 minutes, the UFO jumped miles in a few seconds, changing places to different spots around the 747, in one sweep of the radar scope.

“After receiving the data from Alaska almost two months later, I briefed my boss Harvey Safer and the FAA Administrator Admiral Engen, and Safer and I went to the FAA Tech Centre to observe the playback. The FAA had developed a program capable of recreating the traffic on the controllers' scope, or plan view display. I instructed the FAA specialist to synchronize the voice tapes with the radar data so we could hear everything the controller and pilot said. I video taped the radar display. Later that day, I requested that the FAA automation specialists plot the radar targets along the route of flight and explain what each target was doing. I videotaped the resulting chart.

“The print out and radar play back displayed primary targets in the vicinity of the 747. These target returns were displayed about the same time and place as the pilot advised viewing the UFO. Both the radar and manual controller observed the primary target. The military controllers also viewed the primary target on their radar and identified it as a “double primary”. The pilot and crew viewed the target on their radar and were able to see the huge UFO at the same time as it approached their aircraft.

“If this craft had been a Learjet or military aircraft at the wrong altitude, that would have been clear. The FAA has procedures that cover tracking unidentified aircraft violating another's airspace - but it has no procedures for UFOs.

“Back at FAA headquarters, I gave Administrator Engen a quick briefing and showed him the video. He set up a briefing with President Reagan's scientific staff, and told me my function was to give them a dog and pony show and hand this event off to them, “since the FAA does not deal with UFO's.” I brought along a copy of the video and all the data print outs available at the time. One of the scientists asked a number of questions, such as, what is the range of the radar, what is the frequency of the radar, what is the band width, what is the formula for the height equipment, etc.

“I was impressed with the response from the FAA experts. At the end, one of the three people from the CIA said, “This event never happened. We were never here. We’re confiscating all this data and you are all sworn to secrecy.”

“Some time after the briefing, the detailed FAA report which included extensive interviews with the pilot and crew, the chart prepared at the Tech Centre; and facility voice tapes arrived at my office and were placed on a small table waiting for the CIA to request more data. The material stayed there until I retired 2 years later, and I've had it ever since. Most people including FAA controllers really aren't familiar with how the FAA radar system works and why all aircraft travelling through our airspace are not caught on radar or displayed on the controllers PVD. But I am. The system and organization of the FAA is not configured to identify and track these types of performances.”

Conference moderator, Fife Symington, then gave his own statement:

“In 1997, during my second term as Governor of Arizona, I saw something that defied logic and challenged my reality. I witnessed a massive delta-shaped craft silently navigating over the Squaw Peak, Mountain Preserve in Phoenix, Arizona. It was truly breathtaking.

“To my astonishment this apparition appeared, and it was a solid structure; dramatically large with a very distinctive leading edge including embedded lights. It was travelling through the Arizona sky. I still don’t know what it was. As a pilot and a former Air Force Officer, I can definitively say that this craft did not resemble any man made object I'd ever seen. And it was certainly not high-altitude flares because flares don't fly in formation. The incident was witnessed by hundreds, if not thousands of people in Arizona and my office was besieged with phone calls from very concerned Arizonians. The growing hysteria intensified when the story broke nationally. I decided to lighten the mood of the state by calling a press conference where my chief of staff arrived in an alien costume. We managed to lessen the sense of panic but at the same time, upset many of my constituents. I would now like to set the record straight. I never meant to ridicule anyone. My office did make inquiries as to the origin of the craft, but to this day, they remain unanswered. Eventually the Air National Guard claimed responsibility stating that their pilots were dropping flares. This is indicative of the attitude from official channels. We get explanations that fly in the face of the facts. Explanations like weather balloons, swamp gas and military flares. I was never happy with this silly explanation. There might very well have been military flares in the sky later that evening, but what I and hundreds of others saw had nothing to do with that.

“I now know that I am not alone in witnessing something extraordinary. There are many high ranking military, aviation and government officials who share my concerns; some of them have joined me here today. There is absolutely no doubt as to the veracity of what these men have told you. They have fought in wars, guarded top secret weapons arsenals and flown countless passengers throughout the world’s skies.

“Incidents like these are not going away. One year ago, Chicago's O'Hare airport experienced a UFO event that made national and international headlines. Pilots and many other airline employees observed a metallic disc hovering over the United Airlines terminal for several minutes. It then shot straight up and cut a hole in the clouds. The FAA did not investigate, dismissing the sighting as “weather.”

“We want the US government to stop perpetuating the myth that ALL UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth, conventional terms. Instead, our country needs to re-open its official investigation that it shut down in 1969. The US government can no longer shun an international dialogue about this, and we invite the government to work in cooperation with the countries represented at this table.

“When it comes to events of this nature dealing with the great unknown, we deserve more openness and a serious pursuit of the facts by our government.”

Despite a lot of press coverage (for what is basically a UFO story), with pieces appearing on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News to name but a few, there has been little reaction to this event. Much the same happened with the Disclosure Project Press Conference in 2001, but that event was soon overshadowed by 9/11.

If a group of highly credible individuals cannot stir up some interest among the general public and mainstream media with their experiences, what is it going to take to push ufology from the ‘loony pages’ to the headlines? Would even a flying saucer landing on the White House lawn be enough, I wonder?

The full transcripts of the witness statements can be read at

© Steve Johnson - 2008

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The Quantum Conundrum

Mention Quantum Physics to most people and their eyes will glaze over or they’ll just admit to knowing nothing about it – or both! Generally considered as a ‘new’ science, Quantum Theory actually has its roots going back almost two hundred years to the experiments of Michael Faraday. In the 1900s, Max Planck and Albert Einstein made further advances in understanding Quantum Mechanics. Quantum Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Theory – there’s confusion right off the bat! What the heck are we talking about? For the rest of this article, we’ll use the term Quantum Theory and abbreviate it down to QT (which, for some reason brings forth an image [perhaps a quantum image?] of Quentin Tarantino, but never mind).

QT is often said to be the theory of very small objects, particles much smaller than atoms. This is true for the most part, except that quantum particles don’t always behave like particles. Sometimes they behave like waves. No wonder we can’t get to grips with QT when things in that realm don’t even know what they are themselves!

Probably the most well-known quantum particle is the photon. A photon is a particle of light and, like all quantum particles (quanta), it can also display the properties of a wave. A wave can be refracted or bent while a particle cannot, being limited to transferring energy when coming into contact with matter. There are also many other types of quantum particles such as quarks, neutrinos, leptons and a hatful of others.

One of the things that differentiates quanta from atomic matter (i.e. you and me or that rose bush in the garden) is its ‘spooky’ qualities. Quanta can seemingly appear from nowhere, they can be in two places at once and an effect on one quantum particle can transfer to other, identical quanta that are totally isolated. For instance, a quantum particle can be made to spin in the opposite direction to its normal state and identical particles completely separate will do likewise. This is what has become known as quantum entanglement. It should also be noted that because of the uncertain nature of quanta (as postulated by Werner Heisenberg in his famous Uncertainty Principle), they are not measured in definite terms, but as measures of probability. This also links in with the so-called Observer Effect (although they are separate theories), where the mere act of observing an object affects the nature or actions of the object.

A famous experiment, known as the Double-Slit Experiment, suggested that quanta can exist in two places at once. Two slits were set in a solid plate. When one slit was opened, and photons were fired through only a narrow diffraction pattern was seen.  When both slits were opened and photons passed through, as expected, they created a wider interference pattern on the photographic plate beyond the slits.

Now here comes the spooky bit. When only a single photon was fired towards the slits, an interference pattern was seen on the photographic plate. This means that, somehow, this single photon had to be in two places at the same time to pass through both slits. Further experiments have led to the theory that the single photon must pass through every point in space-time to get to the photographic plate.

Recently, experiments with larger molecules (fullerenes) have resulted in quantum interference patterns when just one molecule has been utilised. Further experiments are to be attempted (or may already have been attempted) with viruses, which are twenty to three hundred times the size of a molecule. This has led to the notion that QT is not just the theory of very, very small things, but it is also a theory of isolated things. Basically, if you could isolate yourself from the rest of the universe, you could appear in two places at the same time. If Dr Richard Feynman’s calculations are correct, you could actually exist in all of space and all of time simultaneously!

Okay, so how does this affect the study of UFOs?

UFOs and the beings that travel inside them have often been reported as winking out and appearing somewhere else almost simultaneously. The so-called Greys and other entities have been reported as appearing out of nowhere in abductees/contactees houses, often passing through seemingly solid objects. Often the passage of time has been interrupted or affected in some way. All of these effects suggest some kind of manipulation of what we call Quantum Theory. More advanced extra-terrestrial (or perhaps extra-dimensional) species may have gone beyond theory and made practical use of the quantum realm. Heck, given that the laws of space-time as we know them appear to have little or no effect in quantum mechanics, could these aliens exist outside of space-time? Are they from everywhere and nowhere? Are they from the past, the present, the future, or do they exist in all times? If so, what effect would this have on us plebs stuck in a linear timeline? Have they affected our history and, if so, would we know about it anyway?

While this all seems pretty far-fetched and fantastic, it is all very possible within the contexts of QT. Will humanity ever be able to adapt quantum theory into our technology? We already do to a certain extent, with many of our electronic devices displaying quantum mechanics in their operation, such as the laser and the magnetic resonance image (MRI) scanner. Can we go further, though?

There are efforts to create quantum computers, which would be able to perform calculations much, much faster than today’s machines, perhaps being able to give an answer to a question, no matter how complex, as soon as it is submitted.

Looking farther ahead, might QT be able to allow us to travel to other planets? This may be possible. If you can isolate a person from the outside universe, it may be possible to transport them to any place in space and any point in time you desire. In a quantum state, the person would exist in all of space-time simultaneously, getting them to appear where they wanted to go may only be a matter of fine-tuning.

I know, I know, this all sounds like the science fiction of Star Trek, but recall the words of Arthur C Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Or perhaps Einstein got closer to the truth with, “reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”

© Steve Johnson - 2008

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The Apollo 20 Controversy

On July 20th, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, became the first men to walk on the Moon. High above, Michael Collins orbited in the Command Module (CM). Four months later, Apollo 12’s Pete Conrad, Alan Bean and Richard Gordon also made it to our only natural satellite. In April, 1970, the Apollo 13 mission went awry, but Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise made it back safely albeit with frozen sausages. Almost a year later, for Apollo 14, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell landed at Fra Mauro while Stuart Roosa orbited. At the end of July, 1971, Apollo 15 set down on the lunar surface, leaving Alfred Worden circling the Moon. David Scott and James Irwin were the moonwalkers in this mission. Nine months on, John Young and Charlie Duke stepped out onto the Descarte Highlands as Ken Mattingley remained in orbit for Apollo 16. The final Moon landing, Apollo 17, in December, 1972, had Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt landing and Ronald Evans piloting the CM.

The enormous Saturn V rocket that had sent men to the Moon was also used, in a modified form to launch Skylab into earth orbit. The famous Apollo-Soyuz link-up was launched using the smaller Saturn I-B. In that historic mission, Apollo astronauts, Thomas Stafford, Deke Slayton and Vance Brand docked with a Soviet Soyuz capsule containing cosmonauts, Aleksei Leonov and Valery Kubasov. Mentioning this will make sense later…

In all, only twelve men have landed on the Moon, all Americans. Or so we have been told by history and those that perpetuate history’s written form.

In April of 2007, some videos appeared on popular website, YouTube, purporting to be footage from Apollo 20, a mission that set down on the far side of the Moon in 1976! Even more astonishing than the possibility that we continued going to the Moon after 1972 was what was depicted in the footage – an apparent, derelict alien spacecraft. According to the information released by the person, who went under the username, ‘retiredafb’ (his YouTube profile can be found at, Apollo 20 launched on August 16th, 1976, from Vandenberg Air Force base in California and carried a mixed American-Soviet crew. These were Mission Commander William Rutledge, Command Module Pilot, Leona Snyder, and Lunar Module Pilot, Aleksei Leonov.

The alien ship was originally photographed in 1971, during Apollo 15 and the image can be found at

Genuine Apollo 15 photograph of 'The Ship'

Almost universally ridiculed as an elaborate hoax, this remarkable story failed to ignite interest in the mainstream media, but the YouTube links received well over a million ‘hits’.

Although sceptical, Italian journalist, Luca Scantamburlo, contacted the person who had posted these clips. He learned that ‘retiredafb’ claimed to be none other than William Rutledge himself! Now living in Rwanda, that war-torn nation in Africa, he apologised for his bad English, saying that he had not spoken it since 1990, instead speaking French, German and the native tongue of his new homeland, Kinyarwanda. He was born in Belgium in 1930 and remains an American citizen.

Rutledge said that after Apollo 17, Apollo 18 was the Apollo-Soyuz Link and Apollos 19 and 20 were flights to the lunar far side. Both the latter missions were not overseen by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but by the United States Air Force (USAF). Apollo 19 ended in disaster, he said, when all telemetry from the capsule was lost inexplicably. Although the real reasons are unknown, Rutledge believed that the ship hit or was hit by a ‘quasi-satellite’, one of the many chunks of rock that orbit the Earth-Moon system or share our orbit of the Sun.

Both Apollo 19 and 20 had the same objective, to land on the far side of the Moon and explore the ‘alien wreck’ that had been photographed by Apollo 15. According to Rutledge, he and Snyder worked for Bell Labs and were contracted out to the USAF. He had also worked for Avro, the Canadian company that developed the famous Avrocar, and Chance Vought, the aircraft company that developed the ‘Flying Flapjack’ aircraft. Leonov was the first man to walk in space and was the Soviet mission commander for the Apollo-Soyuz link.

When they landed on the Moon, they saw a deserted and ruined city, ‘full of scrap’, as Rutledge put it. He and Leonov entered the derelict spaceship and also a triangular one nearby. It was estimated, he said, that the larger ship was about 1.5 milliard years old. A milliard is another way of saying a thousand million, what we generally now call a billion. I find it odd that this American citizen would use the milliard term when the more common American usage was ‘billion’. Having said that, the word derives from French and Rutledge claimed to have spoken French instead of English for years. The craft was pitted with craters and other damage. Inside, they found evidence of plant-life and ‘triangular rocks [that] emitted “tears” of a yellow liquid which has some special medical properties’.

They also found alien bodies. The remains of small creatures, about 10 cm long, were found in glass tubes that ran the length of the ship and two ‘full-size’ aliens were found. Unbelievably, he claimed that one of them, a female, was still alive and returned to Earth! Here is how he described them:

“Humanoid, female, 1.65 meter. Genitalized, haired, six fingers (we guess that mathematics are based on a dozen). Function; pilot, piloting device fixed to fingers and eyes, no clothes, we had to cut two cables connected to the nose. No nostril. Leonov unfixed the eyes device (you'll see that in the video) [No video has appeared yet – SJ]. Concretions of blood or bio liquid erupted and froze from the mouth, nose, eyes and some parts of the body. Some parts of the body were in unusual good condition, (hair) and the skin was protected by a thin transparent protection layer. As we told to mission control, condition seemed not dead not alive. We had no medical background or experience, but Leonov and I used a test, we fixed our bio equipment on the EBE, and telemetry received by surgeon (Mission Control meds) was positive. That’s another story. Some parts could be unbelievable now, I prefer tell the whole story when other videos will be online. This experience has been filmed in the LM. We found a second body, destroyed, we brought the head on board. Color of the skin was blue gray, a pastel blue. Skin had some strange details above the eyes and the front, a strap around the head, wearing no inscription. The "cockpit" was full of calligraphy and formed of long semi hexagonal tubes. She is on Earth and she is not dead…”

Scantamburlo asked how he had managed to hang on to the footage he had posted. Rutledge said that it had been rescued during the demolition of a building (presumably at Vandenberg) when a security guard had found it and passed it on to the commander of Apollo 20. He bought them from the entrepreneurial security person 15 years ago, along with some photographs and other items.

Rutledge has posted several videos on YouTube, one of the alleged launch from Vandenberg, a flyover of the alien ship before landing, another clip with more detailed shots of the craft as well as interior CM images and a clip of the ‘city’. He also posted other clips that have been removed, in particular a clip of launch preparations at Vandenberg.

There have been several problems with the clips posted by ‘retiredafb’. The clip of the launch of the rocket appears to have had the Apollo 11 audio dubbed onto it. The audio of the flyover of the alien ship seems to have come from Apollo 15 transmissions and dubbed onto the clip. The now-removed video of the launch preparation at Vandenberg is clearly a clip of a Saturn V at Kennedy Space Centre (KSC) that has been flipped i.e. it is a mirror-image. The clip of the city is a fake and appears to be a CG or painted ruin pasted onto a photograph taken by Apollo 17 (which can be found at

Comparison of genuine Apollo 17 photo and Apollo 20 fake

Having looked at the second clip of the flyover, the one that shows great detail on the surface of the alien ship, I feel that it is simply a model. The lunar surface does not look real and the spaceship looks like it is made from play-dough!

Another problem for the mission would be maintaining communication with the crew on the far side of the Moon. Scantamburlo has suggested, quite correctly, that one or more satellites would be needed in lunar orbit to relay radio signals from the lunar module to Earth.

Would a secret Saturn V launch from Vandenberg AFB be possible? Vandenberg launches more rockets every year than the Kennedy Space Centre, but a rocket capable of carrying a crew to the Moon is much larger than those that deploy satellites into Earth orbit. I cannot believe that this could have been achieved without somebody seeing it. The cities of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc are very close to the base so surely the launch of this massive vehicle would have been noticed.

UFO Data Magazine contacted Luca Scantamburlo by email. He had this to say to us:

“I am still sceptical about identity of ‘retiredafb’ and I do not know what to think about him, but I am convinced that there are some kernels of truth spread by him in this difficult case and that seems to be a real leak of information, in my opinion, in spite of it being contaminated with some fakes and contradictions; whoever William Rutledge is.

“For example, I have found an official NASA reference in which they say that the Apollo capsule of the ASTP (Apollo Soyuz Test Project) was the "Apollo 18". So, NASA uses the term ‘Apollo 18’ in one of its articles. (

“About Leonov, I have found the original NASA photos on the web, in which you can see Aleksei Leonov at the Johnson Space Center in Texas learning the Apollo instruments, during his training by NASA, before the ASTP. And Rutledge told us that the ASTP was the Apollo 18 mission.

“What it is very interesting is that on the JAXA website (, there is an interview to Alexei Leonov, taken place in Japan on October 16, 2003, in which Leonov underpins some important conditions which allowed the mission ASTP (American-Soviet joint space mission, July 1975). Among them Leonov mentions the Academy of Science, and Dr. Fletcher:

Q. I believe the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Project was the first step leading to the current International Space Station. What do you think of that idea?

A. The preceding period, from around 1972 to 1973, was a politically difficult one. We were placed in an explosive and hopeless situation, and a war could have broken out at any moment. The world had been divided into two by the Cold War. Even now, I am frightened by the fact that the world was in that desperate situation.

But having said that, it was also at this period of time that some wise men had appeared, such as Mr. Kosygin, (prime minister) of the Soviet Union, President Nixon of the United States, Dr. Keldys of the Soviet Science Academy, and Dr. Fletcher, Administrator of NASA. [...]”

“In the interview that William Rutledge granted me, he mentioned Dr. Fletcher and the Academy of Science in Ural:

12) L.S. Can you tell me anything about the Russian collaboration to "Apollo 20?”

W.R. James Chipman Fletcher for USA and Valentin Alexeiev for Russia [...]

“From the 13) answer:

[...]  the center of decision was located in the Ural, in the town of Sverdlovsk. The chief of the program was Professor Valentin Alekseiev, who became later president of the academy of science in Ural. Leonov was chosen because of his popularity in the communist leading staff, and secondary only because he was on Apollo-Soyuz.

“Another thing that is very interesting: the presumed W. Rutledge said he was a volunteer for the MOL-Gemini project (USAF), but he was not chosen (he told me he was not chosen in one of our private contacts).  He told us, in the interview, that, before retiring, he worked at the KH-11 project. I have found out later that the MOL-Gemini was also called ‘KH-10’, code name ‘Dorian’. So, as a detail, it is quite logical and correct from the point of view of space history, and from the point of view of somebody who is a test pilot involved with USAF after the MOL-Gemini (KH-10) was cancelled in 1969.

“We can say that at least something will remain in any case: the knowledge of the official NASA ‘Section 508’ (that Rutledge has indicated) [‘Section 508’ is a division of NASA that provides information for people with disabilities. They have a website at - SJ], and the attention on a strange and huge lunar anomaly, not discussed before in the press, as far as I am aware:  a cigar- shaped object that could be an ancient alien mother spaceship, even if the Apollo 19 and 20 missions had never taken place.

“So, if we think that the Apollo 20 is a carefully prepared fake, we have to recognize that there was a great attention to the historical details. But my impression, as I told you, is that this controversial case contains some kernels of truth.”

Luca has written several articles, including an interview with ‘retiredafb’, and these can be found on his website

Another website devoted to finding out the truth about Apollo 20 is

It is up to the reader to decide if ‘retiredafb’/William Rutledge is telling the truth, but I believe that this is an elaborate hoax. I dearly hope not, but something about it does not ring true for me. You decide.

© Steve Johnson 2007

(Article originally appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

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Man-Made UFOs:

World War II’s Secret Legacy

In the latter stages of the Second World War, Allied fighter pilots and, particularly, bomber crews reported encounters with glowing balls of light that flew around their formations and sometimes interfered with their on-board instruments. These objects became known as Foo Fighters and are, undoubtedly, the most well-known UFO phenomena of that turbulent era.

Born in 1924, Renato Vesco was a young Italian aircraft engineer during the war and after the conflict ended, he became interested in UFO sightings and was convinced that they were derived from purely earthly sources, probably of German origin. In 1994, Man-Made UFOs – 1944-1994, 50 Years of Suppression, was released. It was edited and contributed to by David Hatcher Childress and comprised a great deal of Vesco’s earlier works. Vesco died in 1999 in Genoa, Italy.

Now re-released as Man-Made UFOs: World War II’s Secret Legacy, we can look again at the strides the Nazis made in aeronautical engineering and how those remarkable machines and design concepts influenced modern-day and, perhaps, future aircraft.

Firstly, Vesco makes it absolutely clear in the book that he has no time whatsoever for ufology. He believes firmly that what people are seeing are entirely man-made aircraft. Remarkable, yes, but completely earthly in origin. He makes numerous disparaging remarks about ufology and this may out off some readers, but stick with it, because it is a fascinating volume of information.

While German scientists were making huge discoveries before the war about aircraft design, it was only as the Allies invaded Europe in 1944 that the urge to produce machines capable of turning the tide of the war in Hitler’s favour was increasingly, indeed feverishly, fostered.

Many companies fell under the watchful eyes of Himmler’s SS divisions and numerous, top-secret, underground facilities were hewn into Alpine rock. If it seemed that Germany would fall, the Nazi leadership would fall back to this Alpine Redoubt and produce the fantastic flying machines that would finally provide them with air superiority over Europe and snatch victory from the hands of defeat.

Huge research and manufacturing centres were constructed using slaves drawn from the Nazi death camps. There were even covered runways, designed to blend into the natural environment and completely invisible from the air, so that these new aircraft could take off and land.

One of the most successful of the Nazi projects was the Feuerball. Vesco claims that this was the Foo Fighter that had plagued American and British flight crews. He describes it thus:

“It was circular and armoured, more or less resembling the shell of a tortoise, and was powered by a special turbojet engine, also flat and circular,… which generated halo of luminous flames. Hence it was named Feuerball (Fireball). \it was unarmed and pilotless. Radio-controlled at the moment of take-off, it then automatically followed enemy aircraft, attracted by their exhaust flames, and approached close enough without collision to wreck their radar gear.” [pp. 85-86]

During the day, the Feuerball looked like a spinning, silver disc, but at night, it took on the form of a glowing ball.

The success of the Feuerball led the Nazis to investigate the possibility of developing a fighter plane that required no pilot. Flown remotely from the ground and fitted with a television camera, the Krache (Crack) and Donner (Thunder) aircraft resembled the Me-163 jet fighter, the Krache being armed with rocket projectiles and the Donner with rapid-fire cannon. During testing, the planes were found to be incredibly manoeuvrable, but the pilot on the ground could not react fast enough to the images on the small television screen he was looking at. As soon as a target appeared on the screen, it would just as quickly vanish because of the motion of the aircraft.

It was decided that some form of automatic firing mechanism was required. As the war drew to a close, and too late for the Nazis, they developed fuses that would allow their unmanned planes to automatically lock on either visually to a target or by detecting the target’s electromagnetic signature.

Vesco describes the most incredible aircraft the Germans built, the Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning):

“…the principle of the symmetrical circular aircraft was combined with direct gyroscopic stabilization; synthetic fire-damp was combined with the multiple-batteried blower cannon; a gelatinous organic metallic hypercombustible was combined with the total reaction turbine; television-controlled flying was combined with vertical take-off and landing; armour that was sensitive to small-calibre projectiles and radio-control that was free of enemy jamming were combined with the active blinding of enemy radar; infrared search ‘eyes’ were combined with electrostatic weapon firing. This marked the rapid development of the Feuerball, which finally became a weapon. 

“Even if ufologists do not know it or refuse to admit it, the Kugelblitz, older brother of the Feuerball antiradar device, is the second authentic antecedent of the present-day flying saucers and it is with them – and with the other German devices of the same family (spinning bombs, lenticular bombs, ramming fighters and flying spheres) – that the true history or, if you like, the ‘prehistory’ of the UFO question begins.”

Bold words indeed. It must be noted that the Nazis had developed the Kugelblitz self-propelled, anti-aircraft Panzer tank. While this was allegedly still in development when the war ended, it is thought that some may have been deployed in the battle for Berlin in the spring of 1945.

After the war, the Allies carved up Europe and hurried to grab whatever technical materials they could. The Americans famously used their Operation Paperclip to nab the likes of Wernher Von Braun, who would go on to become an American hero for his work for the US space program. Needless to say, it is also likely that the Allied powers got their hands on some of the remarkable German technology.

The United States transported many V2 rockets back to New Mexico, while the Soviets also acquired a number of the Nazi missiles. Thus the race began to conquer space.

The Americans also got hold of the Horton flying wing, a jet-engined fighter bomber that could attain speeds approaching Mach 1. It has been suggested that what Kenneth Arnold saw in 1947 was a variant of the Horton, possibly improved to achieve a speed greater than that of sound, yet seen in flight months before Chuck Yeager’s historic Bell X-1 flight of October, 1947.

Did the Allies also grab the German ‘flying saucers’? Vesco believed so and notes various UFO sightings as evidence for their operation. While the public were wowed by reports of the Canadian Avrocar, the flying saucer-shaped vehicle that appeared little more than a hover craft, secret tests of so-called ‘suction aircraft’ began. Developed by British and Canadian scientists, the circular aircraft utilised nozzles in the leading edges of the airframe to reduce the boundary layer that formed when the plane flew at speed. The lower the boundary layer, the less drag is experienced. Vesco claimed that what Kenneth Arnold saw in June, 1947, was a squadron of circular suction aircraft on a test flight from Canada. This may sound reasonable, but Arnold described the objects he saw as crescent-shaped. Maybe the Hortons were adapted to include suction technology and thus increase their overall speed.

So, according to Vesco, the modern age of ufology was born from a sighting of a squadron of top secret aircraft from Canada, built with British money and flown over Washington State to show off to the Americans!

The book closes with a chapter about a secret base in the Venezuelan jungles, built by electronics genius, Guglielmo Marconi. After faking his death in 1937, Marconi, along with a number of other European boffins, constructed a high-tech city in the caldera of an extinct volcano, where they experimented with solar energy, anti-gravity and other exotic fields. There is even talk of trips to the Moon and Mars. Fantastic stuff and completely at odds with the rest of the book, but fascinating anyway.

UFO Data Magazine contacted the book’s co-author, David Hatcher Childress, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us, David. 'Man-Made UFOs: World War II's Secret Legacy', written with Italian engineer, Renato Vesco, has been re-released, following its initial publication in 1994. Unfortunately, he died in 1999, so is unable to see this new edition hit the bookshelves. How did you become involved with Renato?

Many years ago he sent me a rare hardback copy of Intercept—But Don’t Shoot and said that we should keep it in print. So, we republished it and added some illustrations and other material.

The Nazis made some amazing technological developments during the final stages of the war. Do you think that some of this technology is still around today? Vesco certainly believed that many (if not all) modern UFO reports were actually craft developed from German 'flying discs'.

Well, of course. And greatly improved upon as well. As Vesco would say, “Look at the UFOs of the 1940s and 1950s—they look like flying saucers from the 40s or 50s, just like cars and trucks from that era look like they are from that era. Look at UFOs today: much sleeker and Sci-Fi. Now, they finally “look” like they are from other planets! Flying Saucers are a military secret then as now because they use a different type of propulsion than the mundane civilian world commonly hears about.

In the book, Renato seemed pretty adamant that UFOs were definitely a man-made phenomena and he made some pretty scathing remarks about ufology, in particular the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis (ETH). What are your views on this facet of the subject?

Well, I think like many UFO researchers, I see the whole mystery as one with a broad explanation and non-exclusive “theories” including the ET Hypothesis, Interdimensional Weirdness, Time Travel, hoaxing, and Man-Made UFOs. Certain UFO incidents, to me, clearly indicate that ETs were involved and I believe that there are ET bases on the Moon, Mars and other planets or their moons. See my book Extraterrestrial Archaeology for more on that. Vesco certainly believed that ETs would not crash their saucers at military bases, and thought that stories associated with crashed ET saucers was military disinformation. If the military does have its own UFOs, it would make more sense that it is their flying saucers crashing at military bases—or nearby—rather than craft that have navigated the far reaches of space. 

There are many, many fascinating photographs and diagrams in the book. How were they obtained?

Vesco’s original book was utterly without any illustrations. I began doing some research into German stuff and WWII secret weapons. I paid several researchers as well. Certain previously secret photos and diagrams came out in the 80s and early 90s as well, some of it from Germany and Austria. It was an odd-ball of collection of illustrations, and I wanted to include anything that I could that might be relevant, including Tesla, Marconi, Foo Fighters, Vril Craft, Schauberger and all that.

With the Allied powers grabbing all the Nazi technology and scientists they could after the war (Von Braun, to name but one, who went on to become an American hero!), how do you think the public would react to the knowledge that these strides were made, in part, to the suffering of millions of innocent people. The Nazis used slave labour for their huge building projects where much of this stuff was developed, after all.

Yes, it is terrible that slave labor was often used in Germany’s advanced aerospace projects. Most high-tech inventions are military-driven, especially aerospace. Anti-German feeling understandably ran very high in Britain after the war, and it was unthinkable that Britain would hire a bunch of former Nazi scientists to come and live in the UK and head their projects. But in the U.S. that was all possible, and Operation Paperclip could import German scientists and even give them new identities. Today, so much time has gone by that probably no one cares. It is old news.

Renato Vesco has come under criticism for some of the things he has said in his books, with some quarters pointing out that some of the projects he mentions had nothing to do with aerial craft - the Kugelblitz, for instance, which was an anti-aircraft gun mounted on an unmanned Panzer tank. Where did he get his information from and what do you think of the criticism?

The cover-up by the military on man-made UFOs was so effective that information was difficult to obtain in the 50s and 60s, and I think Vesco would have been amazed at all the things that have come out since he first wrote his book. He was more on the right track than he even knew. In fact, the truth was ultimately more incredible than he ever realized. Still, there is a lot of disinformation out there—from many directions—so it pays to be cautious. Vesco did not know everything—but he had grabbed on to a major piece of the puzzle. It is fair to criticize him, and he probably got many things wrong. The military cover-up is so complete that most people think it is far more credible that aliens from other galaxies are flying around than our military ever thinking up such an idea and technology. The disinformation campaign includes movies, television documentaries, conferences, “experts” and everything else. It is masterfully done. Vesco was a thorn in their side.

This year, 2007, is the sixtieth anniversary of the famed Roswell Incident and also of Kenneth Arnold's sighting. It has been mooted that what was seen in Washington State and what crashed in New Mexico were variations of the German Horton flying wing aircraft. What do you think about this?

Certainly, what Kenneth Arnold saw in 1947 was a flying boomerang-type craft that was virtually identical to the Horton XVIII flying wing that was being built in 1945. While Arnold coined the term “saucers” as in “saucers skipping through the sky” what he actually saw was a flying wing. The new edition of the book has photos of the Horton XVIII and Arnold holding his own drawing of what he saw—they are the same craft. As for the Roswell crash, I’m not sure if this craft was a flying wing or not, but it was probably a man-made craft, and probably made in Germany. Many of these craft must have crashed, in both Europe and the United States (after the war). One has to remember that Roswell is not just some town out in the New Mexico desert, it is a military base town (the main economy, in fact) as well as the secret center for atomic weapons, their testing, and a spot where many captured or hired German scientists were relocated. So… when there is some crash during a test flight, the military covers it up both ways: one that it was nothing more than a weather balloon, or conversely, it was extraterrestrials who had made it across the universe but couldn’t get across New Mexico without crashing. Never is the man-made UFO theory even talked about as a possibility. That is how complete the military disinformation campaign and cover-up is concerning man-made UFOs. Flying wings are interesting to consider as well: we know they were being built and tested by the Germans in the mid-1940s, but for 50 years we didn’t hear about them until they unveiled the B-2 Bomber in the early 1990s. This shows how many years they have had to test and improve this technology—over 50 years since the end of WWII!

Finally, with Vesco being so adamant that UFOs were of an earthly, human origin, do you know if he had any opinion about other phenomena connected with UFOs: abductions, for instance? What are your views on these subjects?

Vesco was an aerospace engineer and a very practical person. Though he had read about some of the early abduction stories, like Betty and Barney Hill, or others, he was able to see beyond the standard dualist explanations for these events: either they were imaginary (but believed by the persons telling the story) or true in the sense that extraterrestrials had to be involved, as the UFO occupants themselves may actually have explained to the abductees. Many of the 50s and 60s UFO incidents often involved flying saucer craft that had landed on a road or someone’s back yard in a remote area—but the occupants were perfectly normal humans, often wearing jumpsuits or overalls, or even some sort of uniform, and asking for mundane things like a pitcher of water or speaking to them in English (sometimes with a German accent) telling the witness that “they will not remember this night very well.” Then there is a flash of light or something and the witness experiences missing time and suddenly finds themselves back inside their car or something. Vesco was sure that much of this was the military itself, and that some incidents were military disinformation to promote the ET hypothesis, which was the most popular among UFO investigators, anyway. Vesco believed, as do many UFO researchers, that the US military—and others—were fully capable of having flying saucer craft, abducting people, beaming them up into craft by some levitation beam, and erasing their memory and giving them false memories, even to the point of dressing up like aliens or creating their own “cloned” organic robotoids that looked and acted like extraterrestrials, but were actually “made” on earth. Still, while Vesco may have had an early insight into the military-origin of many UFO incidents, I don’t think it is an explanation for all UFO or abduction incidents. I believe, as I said earlier, that ETs have been watching this planet for millennia. Also, some of the genetic programs indicated by some of the abduction stories may be a time-travel event as well, where our future “selves” are using time-travel technology to come back to this time for genetic reasons that we don’t fully understand yet. To me, there is no single answer to the enduring enigma of UFOs.

Thank you again for taking the time out to speak with us at UFO Data Magazine. 'Man-Made UFOs: World War II's Secret Legacy' is a fascinating book and well worth reading. We wish you all the best with this new edition.

© Steve Johnson 2007

(Article originally appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

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Fire from the Sky

On September 20th, 2007, a meteorite streaked across the Peruvian sky and slammed into a desolate plain close to the Bolivian border, close to Lake Titicaca. It left a crater more than 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Water that pooled in the depression, according to eyewitnesses, boiled for over 10 minutes. Reports from the area claimed that many locals had fallen ill after visiting the crater, displaying symptoms such as nausea, respiratory problems and headaches.

Scientists from Peru’s Geophysics Institute arrived on the scene and confirmed that the crater had been made by a meteorite, finding magnetic fragments of meteoric iron. Medical teams, however, could find no trace of the illness reported, but they took samples of hair, blood and urine for analysis.

A day later, National Geographic reported that the impactor was a rocky meteorite. They gleaned this information from Peru's Mining, Metallurgy, and Geology Institute (INGEMMET), who said the samples they received contained no iron. Most rock meteors burn up or break apart before they hit the ground, thus becoming meteorites, but this one didn’t.

The Peruvian scientists said that the impact created a column of steam to rise into the air. This steam was contaminated with arsenic, which is found in the soil and groundwater of the region. This, they said, was likely the cause of the illnesses. However, Lionel Jackson, of the Canadian Geological Survey, speaking to New Scientist, said that the illnesses were probably psychosomatic and that the locals were shocked by “a big explosion in a very quiet area of the world.”

It now seems certain that it was a meteorite that hit this isolated area of South America, but some of the early theories included geological venting causing an eruption or a top secret satellite crashing to the ground.

Of course, the Earth is struck by celestial objects all of the time. It always has been and it always will be.

At the beginning of 2007, a lump of metal fell into a New Jersey house and was generally agreed to be of meteoric origin, although theories ranged from an airplane part to an errant tool dropped by an astronaut!

Probably the most famous impact in history is that of the Tunguska blast of 1908. On June 30th of that year, a huge fireball tore across the skies of Siberia and exploded above the Tunguska river. Over 600 square miles of taiga forest were flattened by the blast, and although there were likely to be many animal deaths, no humans were reportedly killed, save for one trapper who died from an infection contracted into his broken arm caused by the blast.

Many theories have been expounded for what caused the blast, ranging from a flare from passing a comet, to a rocky asteroid exploding in the atmosphere, to a mini black hole, to a nuclear explosion, to a Tesla death ray, to a UFO. The general consensus is that an asteroid or comet fragment exploded high in the atmosphere and caused the devastation below without leaving a crater. One thing is certain, though: had the event happened a few hours later, the city of St Petersburg would have been devastated.

In 1871, a huge fire swept through the city of Chicago in the United States. Over 200 people lost their lives and the city was devastated. The official explanation was that the fire was deliberately started, but in 2004, physicist, Robert Wood, suggested that the fires may have begun as a result of the break-up of Biela’s Comet. Several other fires started at the same time as the one in Chicago all over the American Midwest and over 2000 people died.

In the 1930s, South America suffered two large events, one named the Rio Curaca Event, which took place on the Peru/Brazil border in 1931 and the Rupununi Event, which happened in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1935.

The Rio Curaca object allegedly set the forest on fire, which blazed for months and depopulated a wide area. Afterwards, a fine, white ash descended on the region.

Two years after the Rupununi incident, an American expedition to British Guyana found an area of forest that had been virtually flattened by some huge explosion. Reports from the time of the event indicated that something had fallen from the sky and exploded over the jungle, flattening trees for up to twenty miles around.

Of course, most meteorite impacts are not this large. Many rocks ‘soft-land’, leaving no crater or only a small depression in the ground. Indeed, there are meteor fields all over the world, where enthusiasts can go and hunt for space rocks that are simply scattered about the ground.

Not everything that hits the ground is natural.

The NASA space station, Skylab, fell to Earth in 1979. While most of its 75 tons broke apart and fell into the Indian Ocean, off Western Australia, some fragments were found on land.

In 1978 and 1983, two, nuclear-powered Soviet satellites crashed to Earth in Canada and the South Atlantic Ocean respectively. Cosmos 954 crashed into Northern Canada in 1978 and the resulting cleanup had the Canadian government issuing the Soviet Union with a bill for over $6 million, of which they paid half after three years of negotiations. In 1982, Cosmos 1402 was launched, but a malfunction caused its orbit to decay and it crashed into the ocean less than seven months later.

Both of these incidents illustrate the dangers of using nuclear reactors for powering satellites and space probes. If a mission goes awry, as they sometimes do, then radioactive material might be released into the atmosphere, or contaminate the area where they fell, be that ocean or ground.

In 2001, the 130-ton Mir space station was deliberately de-orbited and it burned up in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean. About 80 tons of the station crashed into the sea, with some fragments the size of a small car.

The Kecksburg Incident of December, 1965, is one of the most famous in UFO lore. A bell or acorn-shaped object was seen to come down in the woods close to the town of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania. While the media said it was a meteor or Soviet satellite that had crashed, eyewitnesses reported that the craft was intact and that the military arrived very quickly to remove it, although the Pentagon announced that nothing had been found.

In 2005, NASA claimed that they had studied fragments from the Kecksburg object and concluded that it was a Soviet satellite that came down. This directly contradicts the earlier statement that nothing had been found, because if nothing had been found, where did the fragments that NASA analyzed come from?

With all of these natural and artificial objects (whether man-made or not!) falling to the ground, one might be forgiven for proclaiming that the sky is falling. While this may not be true in a literal sense, it is true that it is not a matter of IF we will be hit again, but of WHEN. Indeed, it is often stated that we are overdue a large impact event of at least the Tunguska Event’s magnitude, with those predicted at least once every 50-100 years. Larger impacts, such as the strike that ended the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, are thankfully less common, but we may also be overdue for a strike of that size by between 15 to 20 million years!

© Steve Johnson 2007

(Article originally appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

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The Parkside Hotel, Pontefract, UK

20th-21st October, 2007

“The Rebirth of British Ufology”

A packed audience enjoyed our speakers on both days of the conference

A new, larger venue and a line-up of top speakers saw UFO Data Magazine’s annual conference go from strength to strength. Pontefract may not be the UFO capital of the world, but the small, Yorkshire town’s Parkside Hotel hosted the largest UFO conference in the UK for years. Over the weekend more than 500 delegates passed through the doors and they enjoyed all of the lectures that were presented by our host, UFO Data Magazine features editor, Philip Mantle.

The first speaker on Saturday morning was Nick Pope. We all know Nick as the former head of the Ministry of Defence’s UFO desk in the 1990s. His talk asked the question What Would Happen if Roswell Occurred Today?

Nick Pope (left) and Philip Mantle

Is there a contingency plan for UFO crashes? According to Nick, no there is not. He finds this very disturbing, that nobody in government appears to have even considered what to do in the event of the crash of an extra-terrestrial vehicle.

How would we deal with an alien invasion? Could we possibly stand up to beings that possess the technology to travel between the stars? Nick thinks not. He believes that we would stand no chance against such an advanced species if they came here with belligerent intentions.

What about a peaceful first contact scenario? Nick reckons that such a meeting would inevitably be under their terms and not ours. What could we possibly offer them? What could they want from us? Nick believes that such a summit would result in an exchange of technology, cultural information and examples of human and alien art.

Nick believes that first contact will most likely happen via the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Professor Ian Morison of Jodrell Bank might disagree with that, recently suggesting that direct contact is most likely to happen with a physical landing rather than a radio message, like the kinds for which SETI are looking. That said, Nick believes that SETI and ufology should work together. We are both looking for the answer to the same question, after all: Are We Alone?

According to SETI, if a real, extra-terrestrial signal was found and verified by several different observatories, there would be no cover-up – everybody would be told about it. We’ll see. One question is: Should We Send a Message Back? Should we expose ourselves to the outside universe? Well, we’ve been doing that ever since we first began transmitting radio and television signals so they know we are here anyway.

So, what would happen in the event of the crash of a UFO? Well, it would depend on where the crash happened. Nick said that the official reaction to the crash would be different if it crashed in a heavily-populated area rather than a more remote region. He said the first to respond would likely be the police and emergency services, as they would be the ones called by any witnessing members of the public. The area would be cordoned-off and treated like any ‘regular’ plane crash. Essentially, it would be treated as a crime scene and unauthorised people would not be allowed to tramp around the area, destroying or removing evidence.

At some point, the military would be called in under a protocol known as ‘Military Assistance to the Civil Power’. Armed forces personnel would operate under the jurisdiction of the civil authorities. There could be a potential biological hazard from extra-terrestrial germs or even the aliens themselves, if any are present. Would we be able to interact with them physically? Would we have any resistance to the micro-organisms they may carry? Bio-hazard and/or radiation teams should be brought in, just like in the event of a chemical/biological terrorist attack or other emergency.

Nick believes that contingency plans should be drawn up using common sense and all the available scientific data. If no plan is available, any situation could quickly run out of control because of inadequate preparations. A standard operating procedure (SOP) should be made available to all civil authorities.

On the part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the UFO desk would probably be brought in first, depending on the time of day, although there are no plans for what would happen after that! We have an SOP for plane crashes, but not for UFO crashes. Why not? Nick asked.

The government, Nick said, operates under a creed known as ‘A Culture of No Surprises’. This means that politicians need to be told about what is going on. This is why whenever something happens, there is always a politician (usually the ‘on-duty minister’) on the TV or radio news ready to comment, perhaps albeit briefly, and appear to have the situation under control.

A briefing would then be given to ministers, senior civil servants and high-ranking members of the military and a document would be drawn up detailing the known facts, any recommendations and presentational issues (how will it look in the media). This document may be made available to the public or it may not.

Nick believes that the public would be informed, mainly just so that the government appear to be in control of the situation. Information would be released to the relevant departments with answers to certain questions laid out. There would also be what are known as ‘If Pressed’ responses. This would be information that the government would rather not disclose, but would if a particularly eager journalist demanded it.

The phrase ‘extra-terrestrial’ would likely not be used in any early statements, with more generic terms about the crash and the actions undertaken. A decision would have to be made about notifying the Queen and the possible recall of Parliament, if it is not in session.

Nick thinks that a cover-up would not happen, although he admitted that, if it were up to him and depending on the scenario, he might try and keep it from the public. The technology that the crashed object contained would be invaluable to the national interest. If we could study and develop it for our own use, we could be the dominant power on the planet. Scary thought!

In all, Nick is of the opinion that these issues need to be resolved and that proper procedures need to be put into place for a Roswell-style event. He has considered drawing up a plan himself and offering it to the government.

Nick’s talk got the conference off to a terrific start.

After a short break, Malcolm Robinson took the stage. A popular speaker, Malcolm’s sense of humour always pleases the audience. Today, he was talking about one of the most famous cases in British ufology: the Robert Taylor case from Livingston in 1979.

Malcolm Robinson

Bob Taylor was a gardener from Perthshire, Scotland, and he had also been a tank driver in the Second World War. After the war, he helped in the building of Livingston New Town, in West Lothian, and lived there until he died on March 14th, 2007. He had no interest in UFOs whatsoever until the 9th of November, 1979.

That morning, he set off with his red setter, Lara, in his Land Rover pick-up to check on the Dechmont Woods, where he was a forestry worker. He had made the same journey innumerable times, but today would be different. He parked the van and set off into the woods with Lara. As he entered a clearing, he saw, twenty to thirty yards away, a domed or circular-shaped with a flange running around the centre. At times parts of the object appeared to become invisible. Lara was barking like crazy, but Robert stood, transfixed by the bizarre contraption. He said that everything went quiet – a motorway ran close by and he could no longer hear the cars or any noise from the forest.

Suddenly, two round balls dropped down from the UFO, hitting the ground with a strange, sucking sound. They resembled those spiky sea mines from the war that are now to be found in many seaside resorts with kids clambering all over them. They rolled towards him and extended rods which hooked into his trousers at the hips, ripping the thick, serge cloth. They then began dragging him towards the UFO! As he lost consciousness, he remembered an acrid, burning smell and an odd whooshing noise.

When he came round, the UFO, along with its spiky companions had gone. Bob had a terrible headache and he was extremely disoriented. He staggered to his truck and tried calling for help on the radio, but found he couldn’t speak. Leaving the van, he made his way home on foot and was in such a state that his wife thought he had been attacked (which he had, but not in the way she thought!). He told her he had been attacked “by a spaceship.”

He called his supervisor, Malcolm Drummond, who went to check the area of the incident. He found a series of depressions in the ground of two types. There were two rows of ladder-like marks and these were surrounded by two trails of holes, forty in all, one extending clockwise and the other trail going anti-clockwise. The tracks were depressed into the grass of the clearing, but they made no marks on the ground. The holes were shallow and in several areas, grass around the holes had been sheared off. Drummond was convinced that something had landed in that clearing.

The local police looked into the case and they were baffled. They checked all types of machinery that might have left the marks in the clearing, but drew a blank. No helicopters had been in the area and no forestry work had been undertaken. They accepted that Bob believed what he saw, but they were at a loss to explain it. His case was treated as an assault, due to the cuts and grazes he had suffered and his torn clothing, and sent the trousers to the forensic lab. All they could confirm was that the cloth was not torn by any forest debris, such as broken branches, or by barbed-wire fencing.

Malcolm then played a video from a Scottish television programme about the incident. It was called The West Lothian Question and was recorded just before Robert died earlier in the year. We heard from Bob himself and also from his local doctor, who vouched for the forester’s integrity.

Malcolm then told us of the debunking attempts by Steuart Campbell, a former member of BUFORA. Campbell first tried to pin the blame on ball lightning. When it was pointed out that the weather that day was not conducive to the appearance of ball lightning, he came up with the theory that what Bob saw was an astronomical mirage of Venus and Mercury!

Although Venus and Mercury were above the ‘official’ horizon at the time, Malcolm found that they were not visible from the clearing where Bob’s encounter took place. Campbell also suggested that the mirage caused Bob to suffer an epileptic seizure, resulting in his blackout. There has been no history of epilepsy in Bob’s family.

Fortean researcher, Duncan Lunan, posited that what Bob stumbled across was a ‘wheelbarrow’ bomb disposal device. These can run on caterpillar tracks and some have legs. Clearly this is not likely. What would one of those contraptions be doing in a Scottish wood?

Some time after the incident, Livingston Council installed picnic tables in the forest and used the UFO incident in an attempt to popularise the area. In 1992, Malcolm’s organisation, Strange Phenomena Investigations (SPI) assisted with having a plaque commemorating the event being placed on the site. Numerous plaques have been set onto the cairn there, but they keep being stolen!

In the same year, 1992, a psychic visited the site and claimed to see the face of a Grey alien in the trees and a red ball moving through the forest. Psychometry, the psychic reading of objects connected to an event or person, was tried on Bob’s trousers. One psychic, admittedly familiar with the case, described Bob’s experience in detail. Another, also with knowledge of the event, saw three people coming towards Bob. They stuck a needle in his eye and he dropped to the ground. Lara, Robert’s dog, was also rendered unconscious. They also warned Bob about something that would happen in six years.

The final psychic, who had no familiarity with the case, held the bag that had contained the trousers and said that Bob had ‘fought for his life’. A ball and a Land Rover were seen and Bob was dragged towards something. He hit his head on something and was raised into the air and pinned to a tree. Bob was traumatised and lost the power of speech. Malcolm admitted that this psychic got some things right and other things incorrect.

Robert later moved to another village, but strange events seemed to follow him. A crop circle appeared in a field close by and UFO sightings increased in the area, although Bob did not report any. Malcolm is convinced that Robert Taylor was telling the truth about his experience and that something truly bizarre happened to him.

Malcolm’s lively and entertaining talk ended and it was time to break for lunch. As our delegates enjoyed their break, there was a change going on in the conference hall. Sunlight streaming through the ceiling windows had obscured much of the screen upon which slides and videos were projected. So we moved the stage and rearranged all of the seats so that this would not be a problem for the rest of the conference.

Popular German researcher, Michael Hesemann, hit the stage at 2pm. The subject of his talk was ‘KGB UFO Secrets’. This had nothing to do with the popular television special that was hosted by Roger Moore. Michael said that this was a complete fabrication and he provided an explanation: One document used in the show described the 1968 deaths of scientists after a UFO crash. The document was marked with ‘Russian Federation’. In 1968, it was the Soviet Union, not the Russian Federation. The video of the Soviet retrieval team depicted Hummers. This kind of vehicle did not exist in 1968. In fact, they did not enter usage until 1985. UFO footage reportedly from a MiG fighter actually came from an F-16. The ‘top secret medical facility’, where an alien autopsy was filmed, was actually rented for the television show.

Michael Hesemann

Michael spoke to many Russian officials, including Colonel Marina Popovich. She was one of the Soviet Union’s top test pilots and was married to cosmonaut, Major-General Pavel Romanovich Popovich. In 1991, KGB UFO files were released to her husband and Michael received a copy of these files from her. The files included lots of UFO reports, including many over Soviet nuclear facilities with many credible witnesses.

Michael then showed the conference some video evidence. The first was from the filming of a musical concert. As a lovely, young lady sang a song, the cameraman was intrigued by a strange object in the sky. Another video from 1990 captured a cigar-shaped object and another from 1993 captured a strange light. Photographs of a UFO from a northern rocket base were also shown.

General Popovich described how, in 1978, he saw a white triangle while flying over the Atlantic at 36,000 feet. The speed of the object was estimated at 900kph. A clip of the object was played and the triangle is clearly visible.

In 1981, Salyut-6 cosmonaut, Vladimir Kovalyonok described sighting a UFO as he orbited over South Africa. An elliptical object flew in front of their craft before ‘exploding’ into golden light. Then two golden spheres appeared in a different position. As they crossed the terminator into night, the objects vanished.

In 1991, Mir cosmonauts filmed a cigar-shaped object during the approach of their support capsule. The crew were convinced it was not part of a man-made spacecraft or any other form of space junk.

In 1990, during a Soyuz mission, Gennady Strekalov saw a sphere for about ten seconds. He described it as glittering like a Christmas tree decoration. He reported is as ‘a strange phenomenon’, rather than as a UFO. Other Mir missions have also reported UFOs flying in formation above the Earth.

Marina Popovich has found over a hundred reports from high-ranking military officers. One pilot encountered a UFO and requested permission to open fire. The object approached the jet fighter to a distance of only 100 metres. Instead of opening fire, the pilot shot a photograph of the object. Then the UFO flew vertically at great speed. The pilot described it as being about 100 metres in diameter.

The commander of the Soviet airspace between the Urals and the Pacific, a vast area, spoke of numerous UFO encounters by his pilots. UFOs were picked up by automatic weapons systems, but when they locked on, they failed and became inoperable. UFOs were also seen to jump to different positions in the sky just as Soviet jets attempted to open fire.

Michael explained that the Soviet Union had many official study groups devoted to UFOs. Their task was to find out how these objects operated and to see if such technology could be incorporated into the national defence. Unfortunately for them, they were unable to accomplish this, but they continued to log reports by military personnel from all over the USSR. Michael said that all branches of the Soviet military had studied UFOs at some point. General Popovich confirmed that UFOs were considered to be a real phenomenon.

UFOs have been seen over top research centres and contact had been achieved by gesticulating towards them! As witnesses pointed in certain directions, the UFOs would copy the motion, changing shape as they did so. While this sounds fantastic, Michael made the point that these reports come from highly-respected and reliable witnesses. Their word is to be taken very seriously and cannot simply be dismissed. One thing is clear, the Soviets thought there was something to the UFO phenomenon!

After a short break, Roswell researcher Donald R Schmitt took the stage and gave an impassioned lecture. He noted to the audience that as the years went by, more and more of those present during the Roswell Incident of 1947 were leaving us due to old age.

Donald R Schmitt

The first atom bomb test was in 1945 in New Mexico. Did it send a beacon to any curious extra-terrestrials out there? Did they come here from many, many light years away or are they from somewhere much closer? Whatever the answer, just two years after that first explosion, the modern age of ufology began.

After 1947, it seemed that a veritable alien invasion had begun and pilots were sent up with camera mounted on their P-51s to try and catch images of the ‘flying discs’. The term ‘UFO’ did not enter the vernacular until 1952, by the way. Scientists mused about the possibility that these craft came from Mars or Venus. Of course, this was long before we sent probes to those planets and learned of their inhospitable natures. 

When the crash at Roswell happened, the military had no idea how to handle the civilian witnesses. It was a completely unprecedented event (note Nick Pope’s lecture earlier in the day!). Sheriff Wilcox was the first authority figure that William ‘Mac’ Brazel went to see about the debris he found on the Foster Ranch. It was Wilcox who suggested that Mac contact the military.

The 509th Composite Group, based at the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF), was comprised of the best military personnel in the world. The finest officers were assigned there, as would be expected for the only atomic bomb group on the planet. They easily knew what a weather or research balloon looked like.

Don told us that Sheriff Wilcox had kept a box of the crash debris for himself and the rest was sent to the RAAF. The military used Wilcox to control the civilian element in this unfolding incident. His daughters would later describe what happened when the armed forces descended upon the Roswell city jailhouse. Military vehicles surrounded the building and Military Police (MPs) flooded inside. They grabbed Wilcox and pushed him to the wall, holding him roughly, with his arm behind his back. They asked him where the rest of the debris was and, on retrieving the wreckage, left. Wilcox was never the same again. He never stood for re-election as sheriff. Why would the military act this way to a civilian of all that was in the box were scraps of a weather balloon?

Don read a quote from a guard at the P-3 hangar on the base. This was his usual post, but as he approached one night to take up his assigned position, he found himself being warned away by other guards, who told him that if he came any closer, he would be shot dead. A weather balloon under lethal armed guard?

Don then showed a photograph of the alleged crash site of the UFO. It is a bluff some two and a half miles from the debris field on the Foster ranch. Timothy Proctor was seven years-old at the time of the incident. Although young, he was an excellent horse rider and often helped Mac Brazel on the ranch. One day, he came home, after having seen the debris field, looking very shaken. He refused to talk about it for many, many years into adulthood. He would even scarper from the house if he saw Roswell researchers such as Don approaching.

One day, when his mother was ill, he took her out in his pick-up truck to the bluff some miles from the debris field. This site is about forty miles north of Roswell. Proctor said to her: “Mom, this is where Mac found something else.”

Don said that there were many stories from officers and men of the RAAF about being ordered to keep quiet about what they had seen – even if they hadn’t seen anything! One said that he accompanied the ‘bodies’ out of Roswell and that there were actually three crash sites. The cover story for the huge amount of vehicles used was that the general’s furniture was being moved to Fort Worth. A bunch of furniture transported under heavily-armed guard?!

Don noted that the debris field was actually located in a different county to Roswell, so why would Chavez county people be sent out to a site in Lincoln County?

Roswell fire-fighter, Dan Dwyer, and his daughter, Frankie, both saw the famous ‘memory metal’. This was tinfoil-like material that could not be cut or burned and when wadded, it would unfold without a crease. Such materials are not even available today, let alone for a weather balloon target in 1947! Frankie described the arrival of the military at the firehouse and how the children were bundled into one room and the parents into another. She recalled one officer speaking to the adults, hitting his hand with a baton, and threatening to kill the kids. Then the children were also threatened and told that they would never see their parents again if they ever spoke of what they had seen. Frankie recalled that the officer had a Brooklyn accent.

Don sent Frankie ten photographs of officers, after discovering that the ‘baton man’ was a Lieutenant Arthur Philbin. She picked him out of the selection, saying: “That was the man who threatened to kill us!”

Frank Joyce, the manager of KGFL Radio in Roswell, was told by Brazel about a terrible smell at the crash site. Joyce suggested that what he had found were monkeys, used in some sort of test gone awry. Brazel was adamant that what he saw were not decomposing monkeys! Don added a note that there were three sites: the debris field, a secondary body site and the final crash site.

Walt Whitmore Sr., owner of KGFL, conducted a recorded interview with Brazel at his (Walt’s) home, where he learned that the rancher had seen bodies. The next day, military personnel showed up, grabbed Brazel (who had spent the night) and confiscated the interview recordings.

While General Roger Ramey was explaining to the press that all that was found was a weather balloon, Brazel was held for five days and forced to endure interrogations and invasive medical procedures. Before he was released, he was taken over to the KGFL station by MPs, where he told radio listeners that it was just a weather balloon he found. Afterwards, Joyce asked him why he changed his story. Brazel replied to the effect that he and his family had been threatened.

“What happened to the little green men?” asked Joyce.

“They weren’t green,” was Mac’s famous reply.

Later, after heavy rains, Mac’s son, Bill Brazel Jr., would drive out to the debris field and find many tyre tracks, large and small. Obviously a huge operation had gone on here – all for the recovery of a weather balloon. Bill Jr. also saw the gouge in the earth, covering a huge area. A weather balloon does not leave a huge tract of ripped-up earth when it comes down. Years later, archaeologists rediscovered the gouge, measuring the differences in soil density.

Don also made the point that one of the incident’s most elusive players, Sheridan Cavitt, the counter-intelligence officer at Roswell, had admitted that what came down could have been a ‘flying saucer’.

Don closed his talk with the story of how the Brazel’s ranch house was turned inside out by the military, searching for any remaining debris, even going as far as ripping up floorboards. This happened in 1949, two years after the incident. All this for a weather balloon?

Following on immediately from Don Schmitt’s excellent lecture was the undoubted star of the conference weekend, Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr.

Jesse Marcel Jr (right) with young ufologist, Sam Willey

Speaking for the first time in the UK, Jesse told of how his father, Major Jesse Marcel, came home one night and got him out of bed. He didn’t know what time it was, but guessed it must have been around one in the morning. In the kitchen there was a pile of junk on the floor. Jesse didn’t recall if the term ‘flying saucer’ was used, but he knew that that was where they thought this material was from.

They searched the debris for signs of technology, vacuum tubes, wiring, that sort of thing, and found nothing. His dad told him about the ‘memory metal’, but he did not see it for himself. He described the famous I-beam with purplish symbols inscribed onto the inner surface. It was not toy store tape on balsa wood, as had been claimed. He also saw a black, plastic-like material that has been likened to bakelite. He affirmed that it was not this common material, but only looked like it. In all he saw this wreckage for about fifteen minutes before he helped his father carry it back out to his car. Jesse saw several more boxes of the stuff in there, but didn’t get the chance to examine it. The next day, when he awoke, his dad had gone, taking the boxes of debris with him and he never saw it again.

Jesse then told of the low-level flight to Fort Worth, in Texas. The plane was unable to fly at altitude because of the armed guards in the unpressurised cargo hold. He also told of the switch that had taken place in Ramey’s office and that what his father was photographed holding was not what had been in the family kitchen. On returning home, Major Marcel told his family to never speak of the incident again, although years later, Jesse recalled he and his father seeing articles on newspaper stands about the incident and his dad saying that they both knew the real story.

Dr Marcel said that the story first got out to the public in 1978, when Stanton Friedman found his dad. After Jesse Sr.’s death in 1986, Jesse Jr. began getting all of the attention. He decided to write his new book, ‘Roswell Legacy’, while in Iraq, where he was a flight surgeon, and, being surrounded by the chaos of war and the death that accompanies it, thought it was time to get his experiences down before he passed away.

In 1984 or 85, Major Marcel visited the area of the debris field with a television crew. They asked him if any debris might still be found, but he told them that the whole area had been vacuumed clean.

Jesse then told the strange tale of being contacted by somebody in Washington DC. They wanted to see him in a secure room, deep underground. Jesse attended the meeting, where he was told that Roswell was real (not that he needed to be told that!). The mystery man asked if Jesse had ever been threatened, to which the answer was no. The man told Jesse that he may yet be, but that he would try and stop that happening. A bizarre addendum to the Roswell story, I’m sure you will agree.

In 1997, Jesse visited Roswell (he now lives in Montana) and was handed some pieces of a radar target. The man that gave them to Jesse was confident that what Jesse handled that night as a child was nothing more than pieces like these. Jesse could not dissuade the man and reaffirmed that he saw no Scotch tape, flowery patterns or balsa wood that night. In fact to suggest that his father could mistake parts of a balloon array for a flying saucer was utter nonsense. Major Marcel had been to radar school and knew precisely what radar targets and balloons looked like.

One of Jesse’s passions is astronomy and cosmology. He believes that it is as a result of his Roswell experience that this interest has grown. He showed slides of some beautiful Hubble Space Telescope images. He also quickly reviewed some possible exotic propulsion systems, including Star Trek-style warp engines. He also showed the famous ‘Ramey Memo’, the piece of paper that the general is holding in his office and has been blown-up and analysing, with the words ‘victims’, ‘crash’ and ‘disk’ being discovered.

Taking questions from the audience, Jesse said that his mother had never spoken of what happened back then. She was an old-fashioned lady and because his dad had told them never to speak of it again, she had done just that. Jesse also pointed out that back in 1947, his school friends had talked about the crash with him and, later, he had also talked with many officers about the incident.

Asked how it felt to hold something that had been manufactured on another world in his hands, Jesse said he felt humbled. To know that you are holding something that came from another civilisation is an astonishing experience. Finally, Jesse was asked, with all the threats that had made to others, if he felt that it was worth the risk in publishing his book. Jesse gave an affirmed yes to that question. It was worth the risk.

Jesse Marcel Jr.’s lecture closed the proceedings for Saturday, but that was not the end of our day. Joined by over a hundred delegates, the Speaker’s Dinner was a great success. The hotel provided a carvery service and very nice it was too. It gave everybody the chance to let their hair down a little and get to know our speakers a little better (I found out Malcolm Robinson is a huge Beatles fan, for instance, while Don Schmitt prefers Elvis Presley. Then they asked me who I liked and the conversation quickly moved on to other matters… heh heh.). At the dinner, Malcolm paid the conference organisers a huge compliment and said that, in his opinion, the conference could mark “the rebirth of British Ufology.”

Sunday began with new UFO Data Magazine co-editor, Gary Heseltine. Gary is a serving detective for British Transport Police and his talk focussed on how UFO reports should be investigated from a police officer’s perspective. The lecture was called “The Police and the Nature of Evidence.”

Gary Heseltine

Gary said that he treats UFO reports in the same way as he treats any police investigation. When he set up his Police Reporting UFOs (PRUFOS) database in 2002, he had only 6 cases involving 10 police officers. Now that has risen to over 220 cases with about 530 police officers giving information.

Gary said that UFO reports consist of quantifiable data, like any other crime report that the police receive. The investigation must analyse all forms of evidence. They include:

Oral evidence – where a witness gives a verbal statement, describing what was seen or done.

Documentary evidence – where physical documents pertaining to the investigation are received.

Real evidence – the production of any physical article or thing.

Circumstantial evidence – evidence not directly associated to the case, but linked in a close way.

Direct evidence – Eyewitness testimony.

Circumstantial evidence can be used to build any given case and some cases are based entirely around circumstantial evidence. It could be that witnesses saw what happened leading up to an incident, but did not see the incident for themselves. The actions of those accused leading up to the incident can be very important when witnessed by others. Witnesses may not have seen the incident, but perhaps heard something or realised that an incident had taken place by other means. A judge once said: “Circumstantial evidence can be excellent evidence providing the pieces of the jigsaw are highly compelling…”

Roswell, Gary explained, has a large amount of circumstantial evidence that makes the case compelling. There is also documentary evidence to prove that the military lied about the incident.

The police should respond in a proper manner to a UFO report and, if applicable, investigate it further. Gary said that in the past, it depended on the officer that took the call whether it was responded to or even taken seriously. These days, the large control rooms with recorded replies mean that every call is treated equally.

Turning to the Livingston case that Malcolm Robinson covered on Saturday, Gary said that PC Bill Douglas had treated it seriously, even saying other officers were afraid to handle it! PC Douglas took a statement from Robert Taylor, which constitutes documentary evidence. He also saw Bob’s serious demeanour and realised that something was very wrong. This is anecdotal evidence.

The case had a physical ‘scene of the crime’ – the clearing where Bob had his encounter. The tracks and holes were physical evidence. PC Douglas could find no vehicle that might have made the marks and concluded that whatever it was must have weighed at least three tons. Gary mentioned later that the Bob Taylor incident is now used as a training tool for new police recruits.

With regard to the Ministry of Defence, the police may complete an MoD-designed sighting report form and forward it to them. If this is the case, the MoD must respond to the report. Gary noted that the form is quite disgraceful, with no room for full details of the incident.

One such report form was completed for a sighting in Bromley, Kent in 2003. The report tells us that a UFO was seen by police officers both on the ground and in a helicopter. The response from the MoD asked if the sighting represented a defence interest. They said that the object had not been detected on radar and therefore the sighting was not of defence interest.

Gary asked us to think back to the Cold War and imagine a Soviet aircraft was seen to hover close to a nuclear facility. Military police would look high and low for evidence. All witnesses would be required to give statements, whether military or civilian, and evidence in the form of radar contacts would be seized. After all this, the conclusion would be that it was a major event and definitely in the national defence interest, so much so that it would likely be stamped ‘Top Secret’.

Ring a bell? Gary just described parts of what happened at Rendlesham in 1980. That incident was handled differently because UFOs are deniable. Hey, they don’t exist, so who cares, right? Yeah, whatever…

Gary then showed some video clips. First up was the Belgian encounter of 1990, when F-16s were dispatched to intercept a triangular UFO.  Here we have physical evidence in the form of radar and video footage, there were many eyewitnesses and there is official documentary evidence that the incident took place.

Then we saw a clip from Anthony Woods’ remarkable footage from his home in Portsmouth. This was the ‘Big Red’ craft that glided through the daytime sky with flashing lights. Here we have physical video evidence as well as eyewitnesses.

The Fleetwood footage of 2003 saw several orange lights appear in the night sky. They manoeuvred into several formations before blinking out. Again, we have video evidence and eyewitnesses.

Finally, Gary showed a clip from a camera on board a police car. As the car drives along a road, a bright light appears near the horizon, winking out and reappearing. This is evidence from a police camera and police eyewitnesses.

The rules of evidence available to the police should apply equally to UFO sightings as they do to any other incident they investigate.

At 11:30, Philip Mantle took the podium and introduced a surprise guest. Spyros Melaris would undoubtedly be the most controversial speaker of the weekend.

Spyros Melaris

Spyros, a filmmaker and illusionist, claimed to be the man who created the Alien Autopsy footage distributed by Ray Santilli and Gary Shoefield. After years of silence, he has decided to go public and the Roswell 60 conference is his first opportunity to spill the beans on this contentious issue.

He visited Roswell in 1995 and heard of the UFO crash, but he was sceptical. He then visited an area that was said to have been the actual crash site and said that there was a certain energy there. He was convinced that something did happen there and filmed interviews with many people.

He began his talk by taking some tinfoil and wadding it into a ball. He then threw it into the audience. The ball was then thrown again by the man who caught it before Spyros asked the final recipient to join him on stage. On the podium, Spyros had an ice bucket filled with stones. He claimed these came from the Roswell crash site. He took one stone and wrapped it in a small piece of tinfoil. He handed it to the audience member, who reported that the stone was becoming very hot. Thanking the delegate, Spyros sent him back to his seat and then proceeded in handing out stones to the rest of the audience – two stones each. He then asked them to hold the stones together as hard as they could and concentrate on the energy of the stones. Then they were asked to pull the stones apart. Some people could not do this, although some could.

Then he owned up, saying that it was simply a trick. The stones were not from Roswell, he had got them from B&Q and had no special properties. It was an illusion, just like the Alien Autopsy film.

Ray Santilli had approached Spyros, saying he wanted to make a documentary based around some footage he had. This would turn out to be the infamous ‘tent footage’. Spyros told him that the film was patently faked and that he could do a better one. His version would look real. Melaris approached his friend, master sculptor, John Humphries, who would create the two ‘corpses’ required for the shoot. No claims would be made about the film, with the viewer to decide what they were witnessing. Then at a later date, the illusion would be admitted, along with an explanation of how it was achieved. Unfortunately, Santilli would not follow up the latter part of the plan.

Spyros said that the autopsy film required him to undertake lots of research. Every detail must be correct and there must be no anachronisms, items that are ‘out of time’. One such object was the telephone, which Spyros claimed was a ‘fuse’. A fuse is a trick in which an object is placed in such a way that it causes people to take notice and question the film, only to find out that it is possibly correct. The telephone had a curly wire and many people pointed out that they were not available in 1947. Spyros, though, found out that the curly wire was available as an upgrade from 1947, but only those with a keen interest in the subject would have known that.

Spyros said the Ant & Dec movie, Alien Autopsy, was a pack of lies. He made everything for the movie, except the alien models. John Humphries played the surgeon and his girlfriend did most of the research. Santilli and Shoefield maintained that there was an ‘original film’ that was ruined, but Spyros said there wasn’t. The ‘original film’ he was shown was the tent footage, a known fake. He completely designed and filmed the alien autopsy film.

As for the Kodak authentication of the film, that was achieved by Spyros purchasing a genuine 1947 reel of a baseball match. The leader of that film contained the necessary markers and all they had on were shots of a wall, a door frame and some steps. Spyros cut these out, based his set design on the walls and door frame, and spliced them to the beginning of his film. This leader was the part that was sent to be tested. When asked for more to be tested, it was claimed that they were unprepared to further cut up the film.

Santilli made the participants of the venture sign a confidentiality agreement. This made it clear that they would not speak about it until the hoax was made public or a satisfactory monetary return was achieved. With the release of the Alien Autopsy movie in 2005 and Santilli and Shoefield’s claims that the film was manufactured, Spyros felt that the agreement had been broken and he was free to speak. He said that a book is being written about the escapade which would tell the true story of the Alien Autopsy film.

Spyros also claimed to have filmed the cameraman’s statement, not Santilli. He said it was not supposed to be released. Spyros travelled to Los Angeles and found a tramp, paid him $500 and asked him to read lines as they filmed him. The tramp turned out to be a former actor and delivered his lines brilliantly. The statement was filmed in normal light, but Spyros turned down the brightness in editing. He knows the name of this tramp and the films he has appeared in. Santilli and Shoefield do not have this information.

A lively question and answer session ensued, with some members of the audience becoming vocally upset by Melaris’ claims. Spyros said that he is concerned that because of his film that any genuine footage would be dismissed, but he is optimistic that by proper analysis, the matter of authenticity could be discovered for any piece of film.

Asked if he was acting as a ‘double bluff’, or not being who he says he is, Spyros answered by saying that he did make the film and that he has lots of inside information that only those involved would know. He also has documents relating to the production of the film, such as developing lab receipts.

Asked if he had any familiarity with the I-beams described by other Roswell witnesses, particularly Jesse Marcel Jr., Spyros said that he had no familiarity with them and that the ‘language’ on the pieces of debris in his film was totally invented by himself. One word was VIDEO and another was FREEDOM. He wrote a full back-story for the aliens, describing their appearance, their world and their language.

How much money did Santilli make? Melaris said that ray had told him that they had made very little money and that people were bootlegging the video. Spyros later found that Santilli and Shoefield had made millions out of the film. Some members of the audience became very angry and yelled at Spyros. He apologised if anybody felt conned, but he had set out to make a film, an illusion. He hadn’t even considered the feelings of the UFO community at the time.

Michael Hesemann asked how he knew of certain information from the cameraman’s statement that only came to public light after the release of the film. This included the story of a fireball seen over Roswell on May 31st, 1947. Spyros said he had no knowledge of this and that that piece of information came from Ray Santilli, not him. Michael was clearly unimpressed with Spyros Melaris, something he would confirm to me in private later.

This brought the morning’s lectures to a close and a buzz of adrenaline-fuelled excitement permeated the conference hall. During lunch, Spyros had many people around him, asking questions and probably demanding answers. Is this man telling the truth? I guess we will find out and be assured that UFO Data Magazine will bring you any news about this explosive development.

After everybody had calmed down after lunch, Russel Callaghan spoke of the evolution of UFO Data Magazine.

After UFO Magazine closed, Russ felt that some form of magazine be made available to those interested in UFOs. He helped Gary Heseltine start UFO and later set up UFO Data with Michael Buckley and Philip Mantle. It soon became clear to him that people wanted a physical magazine to hold and that was when UFO Data Magazine was born. The first year it was printed at UFO Data’s office in Kippax using high-quality, colour laser printers. Then a risk was taken to have the magazine professionally produced at full size and in a glossy format. It was a huge risk, as the magazine is subscription-based and having full colour, glossy magazines printed is not inexpensive. The subscribers list has grown, though, and Russ is optimistic that one day UFO Data Magazine will appear on the newsstands.

Russ was proud to announce that Gary Heseltine has joined with UFO Data as co-editor of the magazine and this can only mean the mag will go from strength to strength. Russ also gave thanks to our cover artist, Rob, who is currently unwell and our thoughts and best wishes go out to him.

On to video footage, for which Russ is famous for presenting, he said that the internet is both a boon and a minefield for UFO footage. Each genuine clip on sites like YouTube is accompanied by dozens more hoax clips. Some of these are astonishing to watch, such as the recent Haiti clip and YouTube is replete with many such hoaxes.

Russ talked about some of the articles that have appeared in the magazine, such as the F-15 encounter with a strange object over the UK earlier in the year. The audio clip from the pilots was played and it’s impressive stuff.

Thanks were also given to contributor such as our resident astronomer, Andrew Pike, and regular columnist, Nick Pope. Both regularly supply excellent articles that are enjoyed by all of our readers.

We were also reminded of the bright object that was seen over Leeds in February, 2007. It was captured on a mobile phone video and shown on BBC television. A superb photograph was snapped by Sacha Christie and included in the magazine. One explanation was that it was a sundog, an effect of sunlight refracting through ice particles in the atmosphere. This doesn’t seem to be the case as it was in the wrong position in the sky. RAF Fylingdales was contacted and Squadron Leader Darling was asked if anything had been detected by their sophisticated equipment that day. She said that nothing had been picked up and they had no idea what is in the photograph. A genuine UFO!

Some clips were played, including the famous Haiti hoax, a video of some spheres, an arrow-shaped UFO which is probably a hoax and a recent clip from the BBC in which, unknown to the Beeb, Israeli F-16s appear to be sharing the sky with two other disc- or cigar-shaped objects.

Russ showed a longer selection of clips from Anthony Woods’ DVD, The Journey, including a longer viewing of the ‘Big Red’ object.

Paying tribute to the late, great Graham Birdsall, Russ drew his talk to a close and we had a short break.

At 3pm, Don Schmitt began his second lecture of the weekend, focussing on the deathbed confessions of Roswell witnesses.

Don Schmitt giving his second talk of the conference

In the United States ‘deathbed testimony’ is admissible as evidence in a court of law and often more regard is given to these statements because they are usually the final words of a dying person.

As with any major event, different eyewitnesses have different perspectives and may see the same event in a different way, or recall it differently. The problem for researchers is in defining the facts from many discrete and sometimes conflicting statements – “Sifting the wheat from the chaff.” While accounts can vary in general terms, they usually describe the same event, but seen from a different perspective.

Don said it is an insult to the participants of the Roswell Incident to suggest that they might forget it or get the time of the event wrong by several years, as was proclaimed in the official statement from the US Air Force. He went on to say that UFO researchers are held to a higher standard than those in other fields. The sceptics demand it. If the debunkers are a hundred percent convinced of their cases, why do they continue debate? Is it because they really are not convinced, perhaps?

The media always tends to side with the sceptical argument and the general public are inclined to accept the ‘official line’ without question. Governments cannot be trusted because they the record has shown that, time and again, they have lied to protect their own self-interest. Investigators should concentrate on the facts and decide for themselves what they should believe, not blindly accept what others say.

The notion that disclosure would send the world reeling into chaos is nonsense. The hundreds of people who were present at Roswell and witnessed things of tremendous import didn’t commit suicide or go crazy or set of on riotous rampages. They got on with their lives. If people could do that sixty years ago, then they most certainly could accept the truth that we are not alone today.

Referring back to the deathbed confessions, Don noted that not one of them made reference to a Mogul balloon! He said that his passion for this subject came from the people involved that he had come to know personally. They became his friends and he acted as an honorary pall-bearer at two funerals of Roswell witnesses.

Sheriff George Wilcox was the first authority figure approached by Mac Brazel. His granddaughter is Barbara Dugger and she lived with George’s widow, Inez, before she died. Inez told Barbara that it was not a weather balloon that crashed and that the military’s heavy-handedness was the reason that her husband had never stood for re-election. She also told her that George had visited the crash site and seen bodies before being escorted away. He was told that if he spoke, his family would be killed.

Don said that a special squad had been brought in to Roswell, similar to the atomic accident team known as S1. This group had the highest security clearance, but everybody at the Roswell Army Air Field already had top clearance, so why the need for this outside team? The squads at Roswell were also segregated during the incident, so that they did not know the men they found themselves with. This would, in theory, result in less chatter between ‘buddies’.

Another confession came from a guard at the P3 Hangar 84 area. He said that he saw wreckage and bodies under canvas. Only the heads were uncovered and he described them as larger than normal. He told this to his wife just before he died in 1976.

I must apologise at this point in the review, because as Don Schmitt continued his fascinating talk, I was asked if I could drive Michael Hesemann to the airport. He had a plane to catch, obviously. As we headed towards Leeds/Bradford airport, Michael and I chatted about various things, including the presentation of Spyros Melaris. Michael confirmed that he was somewhat sceptical about the man’s claims and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me repeating that here, even though we were just chatting in the car. As Michael said, if Spyros’ claims are to be believed, then he must have some solid evidence to back up his story. Michael was also sorry that he didn’t get the chance to question him more in a public forum. Hopefully he will get another chance in the future, as Spyros reveals more of his account.

With Michael safely at the airport, I headed back and just caught the very end of the Speakers’ Q&A session, with Jesse Marcel Jr., Don Schmitt, Russel Callaghan, Gary Heseltine and Nick Pope. It brought the Roswell 60 conference to a close and all present can be happy that it was a tremendous success.

Speakers' Q&A (left to right): Don Schmitt, Jesse Marcel Jr., Russel Callaghan, Gary Heseltine, Nick Pope

UFO Data Magazine would like to thank all of our speakers for providing excellent lectures. Thanks go out to our lively delegates who must have had aching bottoms after sitting through all the fantastic lectures. All the staff at The Parkside Hotel deserve great credit for looking after us. Final thanks go to Russ, Mick, Philip, Gary, Rebecca, Danny, Tony and everybody who helped behind the scenes to put together what was undoubtedly the best UFO conference for many years.

© Steve Johnson 2007

(Article originally appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

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Pioneer Astronauts and UFOs

On May 3rd, 2007, Walter M ‘Wally’ Schirra, one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts, died at the age of 84. These pioneers of American manned spaceflight were John Glenn, Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Alan Shepherd, Donald ‘Deke’ Slayton and Wally Schirra. With Wally’s passing, there are now only two of the ‘Right Stuff’ spacemen left alive, John Glenn and Scott Carpenter.

UFOs have featured often in the careers of these men, both before and during their NASA tenures:

Scott Carpenter took a photograph of an unidentified object during his Aurora 7 mission, during the Mercury Project. It was explained as ‘a tracking balloon’ that was ejected from his capsule. However, Carpenter is reported to have said: “At no time, when the astronauts were in space, were they alone. There was a constant surveillance by UFOs.”

Gordon Cooper’s views on the UFO subject are well known. He reported encountering UFOs while stationed as a pilot in Germany in the 1950s. During the flight of his Mercury capsule, Faith 7, in 1963, he reported seeing a glowing, green object that was approaching his spacecraft. The object was picked up on radar, but Cooper claimed that it might have been the Aurora Australis. He also claimed to have witnessed a UFO landing at Edwards Air Force base in the late 1950s. The entire event was filmed as the craft landed, then took off again. The footage has never surfaced. He also addressed the United Nations, expressing his opinion that the UFO subject is extremely important and should be openly studied.

Wally Schirra joked that he was looking at a UFO during his Gemini 6 flight in 1965. He called it ‘Santa Claus’ and described it as ‘a command module with eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit.’ He also played ‘Jingle bells’ on his harmonica. Schirra was a well-known prankster and smuggled objects onto his flights more than once, the harmonica being one and a corned beef sandwich being another. Earlier, in 1962, during his Mercury 8 Sigma 7 flight, he was serious when he reported an odd glow: "A smog-appearing layer was evident during the fourth pass while I was in drifting flight on the night side, almost at 32° south latitude. I would say that this layer represented about a quarter of the field of view out of the window and this surprised me. I thought I was looking at clouds all the time until I saw stars down at the bottom or underneath the glowing layer." Although widely thought to be a natural phenomenon, it has yet to be identified.

In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in his Mercury 6 craft, Friendship 7. His encounter with the ‘fireflies’ is famous and led to speculation that some form of life exists in low Earth orbit. It was ascertained, however, that the fireflies were particles from the capsule itself that had become dislodged. Alan Shepherd inadvertently banged the inside wall of his capsule and produced the same effect and later astronauts would regularly ‘create fireflies’ for fun.

Deke Slayton reported seeing a UFO while flying a P-51 over Minneapolis in 1951. He described it as a grey disc that flew away at high speed as his aircraft approached.

Gus Grissom was the second American in space, in his Mercury 4 capsule, Liberty Bell 7 in 1961. He also reported ‘fireflies’, but his flight is more famous for the sinking of the capsule when the door blew off early, flooding the interior. Grissom almost drowned, but he would be less fortunate five years later, when an oxygen fire in the Apollo 1 capsule killed him and his crewmates, Roger Chaffee and Ed White. There has been no official enquiry into the tragedy, but it is thought that the men died of smoke inhalation rather than the extensive burns to their bodies. Grissom’s son, Scott, has claimed that his father was murdered because of his outspoken criticism of the Apollo Project and its problems.

As the manned space program continued, sightings of UFOs became almost inevitable and continue to this day. Jeff Challender’s website, Project P.R.O.V.E., found at, is a great resource for the latest, as well as historical, UFO sightings far above the Earth’s surface.

© Steve Johnson - 2007

(Article originally appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

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Guernsey Pilot Spots UFO

A pilot for a Channel Islands airline got the shock of his life when he saw two huge objects on the afternoon of Monday 23rd April, 2007. At about 3pm, Captain Ray Bowyers was approaching Guernsey, coming to the end of a flight from Southampton, when he saw what he described as ‘a very sharp, thin yellow object with a green area’.

Speaking to the Guernsey Free Press and Star, he added: “It was 2,000ft up and stationary. I thought it was about 10 miles away, although I later realised it was approximately 40 miles from us. At first, I thought it was the size of a 737, but it must have been much bigger because of how far away it was. It could have been as much as a mile wide.”

As he continued his approach to Alderney Airport, he saw another, smaller object. He thought that they might have been reflections from a vineyard, but as he was able to see the object for over nine minutes, he discounted that theory.

“As I got closer to it, it became clear to me that it was tangible,” he said. “I was in two minds about going towards it to have a closer look but decided against it because of the size of it. I had to think of the safety of the passengers first. I’m certainly not saying that it was something of another world. All I’m saying is that I have never seen anything like it before in all my years of flying.”

A pilot for another airline also saw one of the objects, but from a different location. His description was almost identical to Captain Bowyer’s, as was its position and altitude.

Local air traffic control received reports from both pilots, but admit that they saw nothing on radar. Paul Kelly, the controller on duty at the time, commented: “If the object was stationary, our equipment would not have picked it up because the radar would have screened it out.”

A photograph, allegedly of the UFO and taken by one of the passengers of one of the planes, was posted on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network forum. It showed a cloud-like object over the sea and, while interesting, offered nothing conclusive.

A few days later, a pilot for the Flybe airline suggested that what was seen was a military test vehicle. Troy Queripel theorised that, as French military airspace is only 20 miles west of Guernsey and British military airspace is 40 miles north of the island, it is highly possible that what was seen was some sort of experimental plane that accidentally drifted into the island’s commercial flight paths.

He said: “I am not trying to discredit anything that Ray said because I saw him 45 minutes after the incident and he was clearly shaken. He obviously saw something. But think about the stealth bomber and the U2 spy plane. They were being tested for years before anyone was aware of them.

“Two per cent of me thinks it was little green men, but the other 98% thinks it was the military testing new technology that we haven’t even heard of.”

On 2nd May, French airline pilot, Captain Jean-Charles Duboc, a witness to a UFO sighting over Paris in 1994, commented that he believed what the British pilots saw was a craft from another world.

“My position about the sighting off Alderney is that an extraterrestrial civilisation wants to develop contacts with our planet and that they deliberately organise UFO sightings. It is a really scary reality, but pilots have exceptional training and are the best qualified observers to identify UFOs.”

Captain Bowyer, in the meantime, had received a great deal of press coverage. He appeared on local television, describing his sighting, and news reports appeared on websites all over the world. He said: “In the profession it’s fairly well known that if you come forward and tell these sort of stories, you become unemployable.

“I think if I had not had eight years with the company it would not have been mentioned. But I’m lucky that I had the security with Aurigny and I want to thank them for their support. It’s really nice that other people have come forward to say that they have had similar experiences.”

UFOData Magazine contacted Aurigny, in an effort to interview Captain Bowyer. They kindly forwarded our request to him, but he has yet to contact us.

Five days after the sighting, an earthquake shook Kent, in southern England, causing damage to property and cutting power to thousands of homes. It has been suggested that what was seen over Guernsey, some 200 miles from the quake’s epicentre, was an example of ‘earthlights’. These occur when tectonic stresses build up, causing plates to rub together and generating a kind of plasma or electrical discharge that can be interpreted as a UFO sighting. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

Dr David Clarke, of Sheffield Hallam University, submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) about the sighting. Their response was published on the MoD’s own website:

“Thank you for your e-mail of 27 April 2007 to the Secretary of Defence regarding an alleged UFO sighting on 23 April 2007 near the Channel Islands. It has been passed to me to answer as I am the responsible officer. I also note that you have placed a Freedom of Information request on the same topic, asking for any documentation held on the matter so I will address both pieces of correspondence at the same time.

“Firstly, I think it may be helpful if I outline the role of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in UFO matters. The Ministry of Defence examines any reports of 'unidentified flying objects' it receives solely to establish whether what was seen might have some defence significance; namely, whether there is any evidence that the United Kingdom's airspace might have been compromised by hostile or unauthorized foreign military activity.

“Unless there is evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom from an external military source, and to date no 'UFO' report has revealed such evidence, we do not attempt to identify the precise nature of each sighting reported to us. We believe that rational explanations, such as aircraft lights or natural phenomena, could be found for them if resources were diverted for this purpose, but it is not the function of the MOD to provide this kind of aerial identification service. It would be an inappropriate use of defence resources if we were to do so.

“However, in this case it was decided to conduct an investigation into the sighting and details were passed to the relevant air defence experts. They stated that the sighting took place in French airspace for defence and therefore this is a matter for the French authorities to deal with. They concluded there was no threat to the UK and, accordingly, the MoD investigation will not be taken any further.”

Also included with the FOIA reply was the original sighting report. This can be viewed at

Captain Bowyer has said that he is surprised at the press coverage that his sighting has received. He wants to collect reports from Islanders and collate them, saying: “The amount of people who have had similar sightings in a similar area has made me want to investigate what has been happening in the Channel Islands.”

Steve Johnson - 2007

(Article originally appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us and answering our questions, Captain Bowyer. The sighting over Guernsey on Monday 23rd April, 2007, has caused quite a stir and our readers would find it illuminating to hear what happened from somebody who actually saw these bizarre objects.

You're a commercial pilot for Aurigny, a private airline based in the Channel Islands. How long have you been a professional pilot?

 Just under 20 years.

What types of aircraft have you flown over the years?

 F27, Bandeirante, Navajo, Trislander

What time of day did you see the objects?

 1400 z for about 12 minutes

Where were they in relation to your position and how far away did you estimate they were?

My 12.30 position. Initially, I thought the first object may be 10 miles away, however, having flown another 40 miles, radar informed me that I was still 10 miles from the contact.

Can you describe what they looked like?

 Like a slightly canted CD from my perspective, laying parallel to the horizon about 1x high to 20x long with a graphite grey band two thirds from left to right. It/they were brilliant light emitting yellow and were identical.

How big do you think they were?

 I initially described them to ATC as the size of a 737 thinking that they were 10 nm distant, however, as they were 50 nautical miles away, I estimate their overall length, possibly diameter to be between half a mile and a mile across.

What did the radar operators that picked up the objects say at the time? Were they as surprised as you to see these objects?

 The radar operator said that he had some anoprop (anomalous propagation – radar reflections caused by atmospheric conditions) to my left but then maintained that he then had intermittent primary returns to the south of the area of Casquettes lighthouse. He also described the position in relation to a Flybe 146 to see if they could obtain a visual contact. I was asked to go to a different frequency to relay a full description.

How long did your sighting last?

 12 minutes approx.

Did they display any motion at all?

 There was no apparent motion.

There have been reports that other pilots and passengers saw the objects and a photograph has begun circulating the internet. Can you comment on any of this?

 Certainly 5 passengers sitting behind me saw at least one of the objects. The gentleman immediately behind said he could see both. They were not prompted by me but offered the information. A Blue Islands Jetstream 32 also [saw the objects] whilst descending through 3500 ft inbound to Jersey from above Sark from the captain’s  8 o'clock position for about 1 minute. The photo I have seen is a fake. No photos were taken from my aircraft.

Have you had any previous interest in UFOs? Have you seen what you would call a UFO before?

 This is my first official contact with an unidentified object although I have seen one other object some years ago near the Isle of Wight. I have not previously had any positive or negative thoughts about this type of thing.

Has your sighting changed any views you may have held about UFOs?

 I have no idea what they were. I have never seen anything like them before anywhere in the world.

Do you have any thoughts about what the objects might have been? Obviously, they are UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects), but what, in your opinion, might they have been: a natural phenomenon, military testing of some kind or even extraterrestrial vehicles?

 I have always held the belief that the universe would be perverse should we be its only inhabitants, so I suspect that I have always held the belief that there may have been travellers circulating the universe although in what form  I have never really previously considered.

There has been speculation that they were simple reflections, lenticular clouds or even 'earthlights' generated by the Kent earthquake. What do you think of those explanations?

 They were not reflections. I was looking at solid objects through binoculars with a 10x magnification. They were not lenticularis. These I have seen many times before. They were not 'sun dogs'.

The earthlights may have some credence and requires further investigation. I am coming to the conclusion after two months that these objects were probably not from around 'here'. If they were military, they were at 2000ft inside controlled airspace in a very busy place in the sky without
permission. If a culprit were found then a Court Martial would surely follow.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us, Captain Bowyer. Everybody at UFO Data Magazine greatly appreciates you bringing your sighting into the public domain.

© Steve Johnson 2007

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Black Triangles

After disc- or saucer-shaped UFOs, the most reported shape for these elusive objects is that of a black triangle or deltoid. Sometimes they are described as V-shaped or similar to a boomerang, but the triangular structure is the most commonly reported of this type. More often than not, they have bright lights at each corner and a larger one at the centre, although some are described as having rows of lights along the edges.

It is often said that Black Triangle (BT) sightings began in the 1940s and peaked in the late 1980s and 1990s, but they have been reported throughout history. Cave paintings, frescoes and woodcuts have all depicted triangular objects, as well as the more common discs, cigars and circles/spheres. Two triangles were observed manoeuvring close to the Moon in July, 1882.

It was the post-war years, though, that saw an explosion in BT sightings. Not all triangles are described as ‘black’, with some appearing metallic or luminous. It has been suggested, with merit, that the BTs sighted after the end of World War II may actually be top-secret aircraft flown by our governments. This theory is supported by the various delta-winged aircraft that were developed, as well as the numerous ‘flying wing’ planes like the Northrop YB-35 and YB-49.

Kenneth Arnold’s famous sighting of 1947 could be counted as a triangle sighting, although the objects he saw were described as ‘crescent-shaped’. His description (see photo above right) was very reminiscent of the Horton Ho-229 fighter, although these Nazi-designed aircraft were unable to achieve the 1200-1700 mph calculated by Arnold for the craft he observed.

Although described as a ‘flying disc’ in the official press release, the downed Roswell craft has been depicted by various witnesses as a triangular, winged vehicle. Based upon these descriptions, forensic artist, William Louis McDonald published his technical diagrams of the craft. They created such a stir that model kit firm, Testors, added it to their range of successful scale models.

It is curious that both of the UFO incidents that kick-started the modern age of ufology have craft that are decidedly aircraft-shaped. Over the following decades, more triangle sightings occurred.

In March, 1965, near the village of Skeeby, North Yorkshire, nine triangular objects, each about 100-feet long and flying in a V-formation, were witnessed by a man driving his 1951 Ford. His engine sputtered and died and he climbed out to investigate the fault. It was then that he saw a large object moving about 100-feet above the moor. As he watched, it shot skywards and joined eight other, identical, objects.

In 1969, the British Petroleum (BP) oil tanker, British Grenadier, was sailing through the Gulf of Mexico. Suddenly, a triangular UFO appeared over the ship, described at the time as being like an ‘arrowhead’. It remained above the tanker for the next three days, appearing dark blue during daylight hours and silver at night.

According to the ship’s log, on the first day, at one minute past midnight, the engines shut down and only emergency lighting and steering were operational. Launched in 1962, the tanker was only seven years old and pretty much state-of-the-art for the time. The engines were restarted, but only after a full manual shutdown and restart of the pumps.

On the second day, the food refrigerators failed. No reason was found for this.

The third day of the sighting was the most dramatic.  A crewman noticed that the lights in the air-conditioning room were off. He noticed a door open that led to one of the crews’ sleeping quarters and passed through it. A few minutes later, at one minute after midnight again, the engines shut down. It was discovered that the starter motor for the engines had been dismantled and the parts laid out as though for examination. Twelve hours later, the craft vanished.

The crewman who had noticed the air-c0nditioning room lights being out and passed through the open door into the nearby crew quarters was shocked to discover that the same door had been welded shut before the tanker had left port because of a fault. How could it have been open at the time of the second engine shutdown?

[UFOData Magazine has contacted BP Shipping for more information about this case and, hopefully, will be able to share what we discover later]

In the 1970s, there was a spate of BT sightings over France. In June, 1976, an aircraft mechanic in Pierre-de-Bresse saw a triangular craft with flickering orange and white lights and the forward point and bright, white lights to the rear. The witness observed it moving slowly and silently for five minutes before it disappeared to the north.

A few months later, military personnel saw a similar object over Marseille and just days after that another was spotted over Saint-Nazaire-d'Aude, this time with a red light at the centre.

In December, 1977, a triangle with yellow lights at the tips and a red light at the centre was seen near Brettnach in north-eastern France. The craft moved slowly and silently before angling to 45-50 degrees and vanishing ‘as though into fog’.

On the last day of December, 1981, a retired police officer from Kent, New York, saw several lights to the south. At first he thought that a plane was in trouble, but as it drew closer, he realized that this was no conventional aircraft. It became apparent that the lights were attached to a triangular structure and he was amazed that it was travelling so slowly and almost silently, save for a low hum.

More sightings came in and in March, 1983, a telephone hotline was opened, receiving three hundred reports on its first night! That same night, the police switchboard in Yorktown, New York, was also swamped and a road became blocked as motorists pulled over to watch a triangle flying overhead. Between 1982 and 1986 over 5,000 reports came from the Hudson Valley area.

The Hudson Valley wave led into what is probably the most famous flap of BT sightings – the Belgian UFO Wave.

On November 29th, 1989, two police officers driving between Eupen and Kettenis in eastern Belgium saw a ‘dark solid mass in the form of an isosceles triangle’ over a field beside the road. The object had bright, white lights at each corner and a red light at the centre. They reported what they had seen and discovered from the Belgian military that no aircraft were in the area. A little over an hour later, they saw it again hovering over a watch tower on the nearby Lake Gileppe. They watched it for over two hours before it ascended in a spiral flight path and disappeared.

Over 150 reports came in that night from police officers and members of the public.

On March 30th, 1990, a BT was seen over the city of Glons by a police captain. He reported it to the military and two F-16 fighters were scrambled to intercept. They encountered the UFO and managed to attain a radar lock. The footage of this encounter is now world famous. The jets played cat and mouse with the object for over an hour. Each time they got a lock, the craft would quickly move away. The pilots reported that the UFO executed manoeuvres that were impossible for them to replicate. At one point, the craft descended from 10,000 feet to 500 feet in only five seconds.

An investigation of the incident by the Belgian Air Force came to the following conclusions:

The Belgian Air Force was unable to identify neither the nature nor the origin of the phenomena. However, it had sufficient elements to exclude following assumptions:

a. Balloons. Impossible due to the highly variable speeds (confirmed visually and by radar).

b. ULM. Same as for balloons.

c. RPV. Impossible due to the hovering characteristics.

d. Aircraft (including Stealth). Same as for RPV. No noise.

e. Laser projections or Mirages. Unlikely due to lack of projection surface (no clouds). Light spots have been observed from different locations. Light spots moved over distance of more than 15 NM. Form of inlighted part of spots has been observed with spectacles. Laser projections or mirages cannot be detected by radar.

The man who signed the official report, Colonel Wilfred de Brouwer (now Major General), agreed to write a postface at the end of the Belgian Society for the Study of Space Phenomena’s (SOBEP’s) report into the sightings. His conclusions were:

The day will undoubtedly come where the phenomenon will be observed with technological means of detection and recording which will not leave any doubt as of its origin. This should raise part of the veil which covers the mystery for a long time. A mystery which thus remains whole. But it exists, it is real, and this is already an important conclusion.

More sightings were reported over the following months. One photograph has become synonymous with the triangle phenomenon. It depicts the underside of a triangular object with a bright light on each corner and another at the centre. In all over a thousand reports have come from Belgium and triangle sightings continue to this day.

Three years to the day after the Belgian F-16 encounter, the UK had its own triangle mystery. Known as the Cosford Incident, it was investigated in an official capacity by Nick Pope for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and, for him, remains as one of the best cases in the government’s files.

Nick has written extensively about the case in UFOData Magazine, so we’ll just cover it quickly. On March 30th, 1993, reports came in of triangular craft from locations as far apart as Somerset and Staffordshire.  At RAF Cosford in Shropshire, an RAF police officer reported a craft fly over the base at an altitude of about a thousand feet with no engine noise. A meteorological officer from nearby RAF Shawbury saw a large craft shining beams of light down to the ground before moving quickly away to the horizon.

Nick made out a report that concluded that what was seen was of ‘considerable defence significance’. His superior officer agreed and stated in a memo to the Assistant Chief of Air Staff that ‘there would seem to be some evidence on this occasion that an unidentified object (or objects) of unknown origin was operating over the UK’.

Black Triangles continue to be sighted to this day. One of the most recent was submitted to Brian Vike’s website on June 12th, 2007:

I was outside, walking our dog, about 10:30 p.m. and heard a strange vibration overhead and behind me. I turned around and saw a similar object such as that witnessed by the gentleman in Alabama [a BT case from 2002 that was also submitted to Mr Vike - SJ]. It was approximately 500 feet above our house and moved from west to east, following the river upstream. I could make out the triangular shape of it and also noted that the three lights were there, but they did not illuminate myself or anything else as it passed right over. I did notice some red lights that were constantly on in the rear of the object as it passed over. That has given me the idea that the object was some military plane. But what propulsion it used is beyond me. It only made the strange vibrating sound and there was no sound usually associated with a plane or helicopter, which frequently fly over our house. I asked my wife if she heard the vibrations when I returned to the house and she said she had and was going to ask me what caused it when I came back in. Perhaps it is some advanced military vehicle stationed at nearby McChord airbase. I'd be interested to know if anyone else in the area has seen anything similar.

No doubt BT sightings will continue into the future, alongside all the other shapes and sizes of the UFO phenomenon. Are they extra-terrestrial? Are they Top Secret aircraft? As they have been sighted since before the advent of powered flight, this would suggest that they are not the latter. We all know that there are some very weird and exotic aircraft being developed by our governments, but can they be testing craft that can perform ‘impossible’ aerobatic manoeuvres? Why would they be testing them in areas where they can be detected on radar, witnessed by hundreds of people and entering busy commercial air corridors?

As Major General de Brouwer said it is “a mystery which thus remains whole. But it exists, it is real, and this is already an important conclusion.”

© Steve Johnson - 2007

(Article originally appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of UFO Data Magazine)

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Falling To Earth

While the Roswell Incident, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is the most famous example of the crash of an unidentified flying object, there are countless other cases of alleged extra-terrestrial craft dropping out of the sky. From Roswell to Kecksburg, Tunguska to Shag Harbour, it seems that UFOs hit the ground with surprising regularity. This article will examine just a few of what are perhaps some of the less famous cases.

Benkelman, Nebraska – 6th June, 1884

The small town of Benkelman lies about 300 miles west of Nebraska’s largest city, Omaha and about 250 miles from the state capital, Lincoln. As you travel on Highway 34, it’s the kind of place that, if you blink, you might miss it, being barely a mile from top to bottom.

As the Nineteenth Century wound down and the famous ‘Great Airship Invasion’ was heating up, the Nebraska Nugget published an article that described something remarkable. The event would be revisited in the Nebraska State Journal in 1887.

On June 6th, 1884, a group of herdsmen heard a strange noise in the sky and saw something crash down over a nearby hill. They scrambled to see the site of the impact and were shocked to see ‘cog-wheels and other pieces of machinery’ lying about on the ground.

The object had slid into a deep ravine, but it was giving off so much heat that it was difficult to approach without getting burned. One of the herdsmen, Alf Williamson, remained exposed to the searing heat from the craft for too long and suffered heat-stroke and blisters broke out all over his head.

Unable to do anything about the object, the men returned to their cattle. When night fell, the light from the mysterious object cast a glow so bright that the area around it was illuminated like day.

The next day, more people visited the crash site and examined the scattered pieces of debris: ‘One piece that looked like the blade of a propeller screw of a metal of an appearance like brass, about sixteen inches wide, three inches thick and three and a half feet long, was picked up by a spade. It would not weigh more than five pounds, but appeared as strong and compact as any known metal. A fragment of a wheel with a milled rim, apparently having had a diameter of seven or eight feet, was also picked up. It seemed to be of the same material and had the same remarkable lightness.’

Bizarrely, a rainstorm was said to have melted the object, which was said to have been a 50-60 feet long, 12 feet wide cylinder.

Aurora, Texas – 19th April, 1897

It seems that UFOs have an affinity with small, American towns. Aurora, about 45 miles north-west of Dallas, Texas, certainly counts as one of those, having a population of a little under 900.

On the morning of April 19th, 1897, an ‘airship’ collided with a windmill and crashed to the ground, scattering debris over the immediate vicinity. Apparently, there was one occupant of the craft, as the Dallas Morning News reported:

‘The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.’

A military officer on the scene, Mr. T.J. Weems, stated that, in his opinion, the victim of the crash was from the planet Mars. The poor ‘alien’ was given a Christian burial in the town’s cemetery. The pieces of wreckage were collected and thrown down the well on Judge Proctor’s land, where the craft had come to rest. To this day, a patch of ground close to the well has little plant growth compared to adjacent areas.

Despite claims that the story was a hoax, written by a mischievous journalist by the name of Haydon, researchers found several people that claimed to have been witnesses to the incident. Only children at the time and, when they were interviewed, in their eighties and nineties, they confirm that an object did come crashing down on Judge Proctor’s land and a small body was found.

In 1973, investigators asked to be allowed to exhume the alien, the grave of whom they had found, marked by a small headstone. They were refused permission. When they returned later, they found the headstone had gone and rumours persist that the US military removed the body.

A memorial that tells of the crash now exists in the town.

Spitsbergen, Norway – May, 1946 & June, 1952

In August, 1946, General James Doolittle travelled to Sweden, allegedly to investigate the cases of sightings of so-called ‘ghost rockets’. While there, he travelled to the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, deep inside the Arctic Circle.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Examiner, written by famed US journalist, Dorothy Kilgallen, Doolittle saw wreckage from the crash and, perhaps, up to 17 bodies. It is said that she may have got her information from Lord Mountbatten, who had a famous interest in UFOs. Unfortunately, the article seems to have disappeared completely and even the publication in which it appeared is not certain. Kilgallen allegedly did not mention Spitsbergen in the article and it has been suggested that it was a hoax or disinformation to distract attention from a real UFO crash in Great Britain (hence Mountbatten’s introduction). Kilgallen would enter the domain of the conspiracy theorist when she was found dead in 1965. Although judged a suicide, it is alleged that she was murdered to prevent her publishing an article after interviewing the killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby. Her notes on the interview are said to have disappeared from her room.

Another crash occurred on that chilly, northern island in June, 1952. German newspapers reported that a disc-shaped craft, about 150 feet in diameter came down. The craft was metallic, bluish in colour and appeared to be using a radar direction finder on a different frequency to that used by the Norwegian fighter jets that encountered it. The jets experienced radio difficulties as they flew over the crash site. The pilots saw wreckage on the ground and reported back to base.

Later, several planes were despatched and the disc located. A radar direction finder with a plutonium core was discovered on board, which, according to Norwegian rocket specialist, Dr Norsel, accounted for the radio interference.

According to the newspaper articles, instruments aboard the unmanned craft had Russian symbols on them. Forty-six jets around the perimeter of the disc powered its flight and there was enough space inside for several nuclear bombs. It has been alleged that the craft was a Russian variant of a German V-7 craft.

Later, the story became embellished with new features, such as exotic metals, burned bodies, beam weapons and the like. The location moved from Spitsbergen to the German island of Heligoland. The victims of the crash were bizarrely described as having ‘excellent teeth’!

Along with the 1946 case, this later incident of an alleged UFO crash is mired by rumour, conflicting stories and a lack of evidence.

Eureka, Utah & Las Vegas, Nevada – 18th April, 1962

An object was tracked streaking across almost the entire continental United States on April 18th, 1962. It was seen by thousands of witnesses from New York to Utah and was initially explained as a bolide or meteor. It was described as appearing as a brilliant, yellow flame, giving credence to the natural phenomenon explanation. Other descriptions likened it to a soccer ball with a flame at the rear or ‘slender’ with no trail behind it.

It crashed to the ground near Eureka, Utah, interrupting the town’s electricity supply, before taking off again and, after making a sweeping turn over Reno (something a bolide or meteor cannot do), Nevada, heading towards Las Vegas, some 300 miles south-west of the first crash site.

Kevin Randle, appearing at this year’s Roswell 60 conference in Pontefract, investigated the story and gained access to several official documents. He found that fighters from Nellis Air Force base were scrambled after the object was picked up on radar. He also learned that, despite them explaining the object as a ‘U-2 or high balloon’, the military took an interest in the case and visited at least a dozen eyewitnesses to the Eureka crash. The object was also seen by several pilots at an altitude below their flight level, again despite Dr Robert Kadesch, a physicist from the University of Utah, saying that it was a bolide that exploded 60-70 miles up.

In his book, A History of UFO Crashes (Avon Books – 1995), Randle says: ‘Something extremely extraordinary happened on the night of April 18, 1962. The air force offered a series of explanations ignoring the facts. But the witnesses who were there know the truth. They saw something from outer space, and it was not a meteor. It was a craft from another world.’

Pacific Ocean – 1973

The story goes like this: A US naval destroyer, travelling from San Diego to Hawaii some time in 1973, encountered a UFO over the ocean. It made three passes over the vessel and they fired a surface-to-air missile, hitting the craft, but not destroying it. It crashed and sank in about 350 feet of water.

The ship designed by the Hughes Corporation, the Glomar Explorer, was assigned to retrieve the UFO and it was shipped to Hawaii before being relocated to the Great Lakes Naval Centre, near Chicago. The craft was described as ‘silvery blue and shimmering, it tapered like a teardrop with a flange running along its topside from one end to the other and there were no windows.’

An intelligence officer, who saw the UFO in Chicago, when he was asked to deliver a sealed report to a commander in a restricted part of the facility, later spoke with several crewmembers of the destroyer that shot down the craft. They made drawings of what they had seen and he confirmed that it was exactly the same thing he had seen in Chicago.

Baluchistan, Pakistan – 15th - 27th August, 2000

Unidentified objects were seen in the skies over Baluchistan, Pakistan, close to the Afghan border, on several nights in mid-to-late August, 2000. Initially thought to be flares or missiles in that troubled part of the world, this was later ruled out.

On August 15th, seven unidentified objects were sighted over ‘Noshki, Quetta, Loralai, Barkhan, Maiwand, Kohlu, Hekhtar, Uchli, Maratangi and Fort Munro crossing the provincial boundaries.’ An official statement from the Baluchistan government stated: ‘Due to the technical peculiarities it could very safely be said that the objects were not missiles at all’. Some reports suggested that one of the objects may have landed close to a Pakistan Air Force base in Rajanpur. Wreckage was recovered and removed from the site by ‘appropriate agencies’.

On August 27th, an object landed or crashed in the remote region of Dera Ghazi Khan, east of Baluchistan. The Pakistani media outlet, Dawn, reported: ‘Sources in the office of the tribal area political assistant confirmed receiving the report and said a team had been sent to the area to ascertain the facts.’

Bahia, Brazil – 20th – 21st November, 2006

Editor of Brazil’s UFO Magazine, A.J. Gevaerd, received a photograph on November 25th, 2006, of a disc-shaped object on a flat-bed truck in the Brazilian state of Bahia. It was taken by the magazine’s consultant into abductions, psychologist, Francisco Baqueiro.

Baqueiro reported that on November 20th, he had received a message from an intelligence informant that a UFO had crashed in a sugar cane plantation south of the state capital, Salvador. He was told how it was going to be transported and to where (the city of Feira de Santana, some 100 kilometres north of Salvador).

Despite being ill, Baqueiro and his wife set off in an attempt to find this crashed disc. At 6:30am on Tuesday, November 21st, the found the truck and saw that it did, indeed, have a disc-shaped object loaded on its trailer. They followed the vehicle, which was escorted by four police cars, two in front and two behind, to a petrol station, where the truck stopped.

The object on the trailer was completely exposed and he could see that it projected from the sides of the truck to such a degree that it was forced to drive in the middle of the road, still clipping trees at the side. He tried to get closer, but federal agents prevented him from doing so. Pretending to make a phone call, he snapped an image with his mobile. Later, he returned to the gas station, but the staff there seemed reticent to talk about the strange truck that had pulled into their workplace.

It has been suggested that what is on the truck is nothing more than a lid from some industrial cylinder, but Baqueiro is convinced that it is not, having worked in the oil industry and being familiar with such equipment. It is also interesting that he received notification of the transport of the object the day before he encountered it on the road. Crashed UFO or industrial part? The debate rages.

© Steve Johnson - 2007

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Updated 28th July 2008