CHILEAN UFOs

by Charles Lear

    For UFOlogists, Chile is an exceptional country in that it has a publicly acknowledged government UFO investigation organization.  This organization is called the, “Committee for the Studies of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena” and its Spanish acronym is CEFAA.  CEFAA is within the Department of Civil Aeronautics under the jurisdiction of the Chilean Air Force and has an active website where citizens can report UFO sightings.  With official recognition of the phenomenon it should be no surprise that the Chilean public is very open minded about the UFO subject.  According to researcher, Rodrigo Fuenzalita in the first episode of the short lived series, “Shaun Ryder on UFOs” “There is not a single family in Chile without, at least, one or two members who have experienced a sighting.”  The first two episodes of the Ryder series provide a colorful overview and present some of Chile’s most interesting cases.  Further investigation reveals that Chile has a remarkable crash retrieval story with an entire town full of witnesses that rivals that of Roswell. Read more

Just the UFO Facts

By Charles Lear

On the subject of UFOs, there is no shortage of outlandish claims that an answer has been found as to who or what operates what are seen as flying craft and what their agenda is concerning Earth and its inhabitants.  There are a lot of people out there who are fine with accepting the speculations of “experts” as truth but some of us like to look at the facts and come up with our own answers or even accept that that we may never have actual answers.  For facts, we depend on disciplined and diligent researchers who keep their egos out of the way while writing the story of an event as any good journalist should.  A researcher who was a stand out in this respect was Kenny Young who was the person responsible for releasing the amazing 911 dispatch recordings during the 1994 UFO encounters by police officers in Trumbull County, Ohio.  Unfortunately, Young died in 2005 at the age of 38 after a long bout with leukemia but he left a legacy to be proud of and made a strong impact of the community of UFO researchers.

Kenny Young was very active as a UFO researcher.  From the bio on his website: “Kenny Young, webmaster of ‘UFO RESEARCH: CINCINNATI!’ is a multi-award winning television producer, director and writer and formerly a State Section Director for M.U.F.O.N. and also a former public relations director of Tri-State Advocates for Scientific Knowledge. He is now an independent researcher and has lectured to large audiences about the UFO mystery and served as a host, panelist and debater on several TV programs including ‘UFO Update: LIVE!’ and the award winning documentary ‘UFO REPORT.’”  He taught himself how to use the Freedom of information Act and obtained 911 audiotapes in addition to the Trumbull County tape (that was provided without a FOIA request by members of that dispatch unit) and other UFO related government documents.  He wrote articles that were published in magazines such as UFO Magazine and Fate, organized and hosted the 39th annual National UFO conference, was a guest on radio shows such as “Coast to Coast A.M. With Art Bell” and “The Jeff Rense Show” and appeared as part of The Sci-Fi channel presentations, “Confirmation” and “Sightings.”

Read more

UFO 911, Part II

by Charles Lear

Last week’s blog was about a case involving police officers in Ohio, who sighted and chased a UFO.  They later cooperated with investigators by agreeing to be interviewed and provided a police dispatch center tape that had recordings of transmissions made during the event.  This week’s blog covers a case so similar, that it’s quite possible to confuse it with the Ohio case but, in some ways, it’s even more extraordinary.

Two states over, in Illinois, a series of sightings by police officers in multiple jurisdictions was started off by a trucker, Melvern Noll.  Noll had stopped on the way back from a delivery to check on a business he owned in the city of Highland, which was a miniature golf course with adjoining go-kart track and video arcade.  It was around 4:00 am on January 5, 2000 and Noll was concerned about the possibility of frozen pipes.  As he exited his vehicle, a light he assumed was a star caught his eye because it seemed to be low.  As he returned, he noticed the light was moving towards him and when it got close he saw it was a craft that was “like a two story house with a little penthouse on top” that had six to eight windows.  The windows were evenly lit with a white light and there was a circle of “custard-red lights” on the bottom.  The object passed slowly in front of him, just above some trees, made no noise and Noll noted that the trees were not swaying.  As the object moved away, Noll noted that its rear also had a series of “windows.”  Feeling that what he had seen was highly unusual, Noll decided to report it at the local police station in the hopes that someone else would see the object and corroborate his story.

Read more

911 UFO

by Charles Lear

 When most people think about UFO sightings and their documentation, it is in visual terms and in the form of photograph, film or video.  There are several cases, however, that were documented and archived as audio recordings.  Two famous examples are the1965 recordings from Edwards Air Force Base made during an incursion of 12 UFOs and a recording made by Lt Col. Charles Halt as he investigated the 1980 occurrence in Rendlesham Forest.  Within recent years, the FAA, despite its history of being uncooperative with researchers, has released numerous recordings between control tower operators and pilots.  What’s special about these audio recordings is that they bring you into the event as it unfolds and you get to experience the first hand emotions of the witnesses.

Though all of the above examples are worthy of a thorough, individual recounting, there is an extraordinary tape from 1994 recorded by the Liberty Township 911 dispatch center in Trumbull County, Ohio.  The center covered a vast area and was responsible for fielding emergency calls and dispatching emergency and police personnel.  On duty the night of December 15, was police officer, Roy Anne Rudolph. Just after midnight, Rudolph received a call from a man who reported a strange object in the sky that was descending at an angle with what looked like flame coming from its rear.  Thinking this might be a plane in distress, Rudolph alerted the other officers manning the center that there might be a possible crash emergency.  Then three more calls came in from the same area, around a residential road called Sampson drive, including one from a woman describing a large hovering light over her property. This moved the situation away from being a crash incident and they were now dealing with a UFO.

 In addition to the calls from concerned citizens, a woman from the local news station called saying she had received a call from a woman describing a large blue/green object hovering approximately 50 feet above the ground while making no noise.  Rudolph questions why aliens would want to visit Liberty saying, “there’s no intelligent life in Liberty.” Because there was now media scrutiny hanging over their heads, Rudolph chose to contact a trusted officer and friend, Toby Meloro using her mobile phone and have him check out the reports.  As he was headed out to the area of Sampson drive, Rudolph was hopeful that he’d come back with a mundane explanation.

Meloro drove to the area and was stopped in the street by a man who had also seen a large light in the sky and Meloro assured him that he would check on it.  Meloro then saw a light himself and reported over the radio that he was observing it and was attempting to get closer to it.  As he drove, his car suddenly shut down along with his radio.  While attempting to restart the car a huge, red light shone down on him that lit up the area as “bright as daylight” and it seemed to be coming from a structured object that was silent and “as large as a football field.”  The object then moved away from him heading south and as it did, his car and radio came back on.  He heard his call sign, 998, being called out by Rudolph, who had become concerned after he had failed to respond and he picked up the radio to let her know that he was again operational.  He then told Rudolph that he needed a moment to collect his thoughts and this indicated to her that he had experienced something profound. Read more

Rockin UFOs!

by Charles Lear

  When people in the UFO community refer to To The Stars Academy founder, Tom DeLonge, more often than not, the words, “rock star” precede his name.  This seems to serve the purpose of distinguishing him from “normal” UFOlogists but the truth is that he is but one of many rock musicians who have had or have a serious interest in the subject.  What’s unusual about DeLonge is that he has managed to gather the highly credentialed people he has staffing TTSA and that his group has stormed to the forefront of the field overshadowing other long existing research organizations.  For a “rock star” to manage this he has to overcome the big issue all UFOlogists are concerned with and that is credibility.  If a witness was drunk or on drugs during a sighting, a case will most likely be dismissed by an investigator.  As many rockers throughout history have been notorious for their often, extreme indulgence, well, you get the idea of what DeLonge is up against.

Going back to the beginning of rock and roll, founding father, Elvis Presley was a believer and a witness according to his hairdresser/spiritual advisor, Larry Geller.  Among Geller’s claims is that at Elvis’ nativity, his father saw a strange blue light in the sky and knew something special was happening.  Geller also claimed that Elvis was telepathically contacted by aliens at eight years of age and shown his future as the King of Rock and Roll.  Rockers who were witnesses and spoke for themselves include: John Lennon, who, along with his girlfriend, May Pang, saw a craft with a dazzling display of lights in 1974 over a New York apartment building, Jimi Hendrix, who witnessed a UFO in the State of Washington with his brother, Leon, Lemmy Kilmister who had a sighting of an object that hovered and then suddenly accelerated to an extreme speed in 1966 and Keith Richards who not only claimed sightings but was convinced his estate was a UFO landing spot.

Read more

UFO Festival Fever

by Charles Lear

UFO fairs and festivals are popping up everywhere these days and some might think that this is not such a good thing.  People dressing themselves, their children and pets up as aliens and turning their vehicles into flying saucers, bah, humbug!  These activities trivialize the whole investigation and bias the public towards the extraterrestrial hypothesis.  Some of the fairs center around highly questionable cases and possible hoaxes.  The public needs to be informed that this is serious business and a revelation may be just around the corner that this planet is just one of many in the universe that harbors life and that would be the most profound moment in the history human civilization.

Read more

UFOs in the Hudson River Valley

by Charles Lear

The Phoenix Lights is a classic case among UFOlogists and one of those where you quote the date (March 13, 1997) when mentioning it if you want to impress upon your fellows that you know your subject.  It involves a night of sightings by thousands of Arizona residents, including Governor Fife Symington, of a huge V-shaped craft that was defined by lights on it edges and blocked out stars as it passed.  It made national news and became the subject of the 2009 television movie, “I know What I Saw.”  The case was explained away as being a misidentified military flare drop, which happened two hours after the sightings reports.  The flare drop was localized, while the reported craft was said to travel across the entire state and, despite the incongruity, enough of the public accepted the explanation that the case was able to fade into history.

Similar sightings of huge V-shaped craft by thousands of witnesses along the Hudson River Valley occurred in the early 1980’s.  This was not just over a single night but over a period of years and should have overshadowed the Phoenix Lights in UFOlogical circles, but many don’t even know where the Hudson Valley is let alone that there was a fascinating series of sightings there which are being investigated to this day.  Even now there is still activity in the small area town of Pine Bush that holds a yearly UFO fair.  To give you an idea where the HRV is located, the Hudson River meets the ocean just past New York City.  The valley runs north up to Albany with New York State to the west. Read more

Dr. James E. McDonald and the UFO Problem

by Charles Lear

By coincidence, two UFOlogists who studied mass sightings by school children ended up dying an untimely death.  One was John E. Mack, an Ariel School sighting researcher who was hit by a truck in London in 2004 and the other was James E. McDonald who researched the Westall sighting in Australia and took his own life in 1971 in Tucson, Arizona.  Both were reputable scientists with careers in psychiatry and meteorology respectively and both suffered attacks on their credibility due to their pursuit of UFOlogy.  Due to different public attitudes towards UFO research during their times, Mack was able to withstand an investigation by the Dean of Harvard Medical School which threatened his position there and write best-selling books on the abduction phenomenon, whereas McDonald endured multiple threats to his career, funded his own research without book deals and was publicly humiliated at a congressional hearing.  Still reeling from this he received the blow of his wife’s request for a divorce, which seems to have led to his suicide.

McDonald, born May 7, 1920, was one of very few scientists of his time who were willing to go on the record and advocate for the extra-terrestrial hypothesis as an explanation for UFOs.  He had a PhD from Iowa State University, taught at the University of Chicago and then the University of Arizona where he helped establish a meteorological and atmospherics program.  His interest in UFOs started with his own sighting in 1954 while driving in Arizona with two other meteorologists.  What was seen was a less than dramatic distant point of light but the fact that three scientists who specialized in atmospheric observation were unable to identify it signaled to McDonald that there was a need for a focus on “the UFO problem” by the scientific community.  He began investigating on his own and joined the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon.  After interviewing between 150 to 200 witnesses from 1956 to 1966 in his home area of Tucson, Arizona he was, in his own words,”far from overwhelmed with the importance of the UFO problem.”  His attitude would change in 1966, sparked by a sense of betrayal felt by himself and many other investigators, witnesses, and members of the general public.  This was brought on by the growing realization that the U.S. Air Force investigation into UFOs had become nothing more than a public relations campaign designed to downplay and debunk as many incidents as possible. Read more

Gray Barker: UFO Prankster

by Charles Lear

Right at the very beginning of modern UFOlogy, researchers had to contend with hoaxes.  This has continuously been an issue and causes great indignity among serious researchers.  From the point of view of an historian, however, hoaxes and hoaxers have provided stories and characters that range from amusing to downright bizarre.  Motivations for hoaxing range from those of the practical joker to those of people with a penchant for making a dishonest living.  A person who was subject to both of those was Gray Barker, who was an early investigator of the Flatwoods Monster case and who had links to the introduction of the Men In Black and the Philadelphia Experiment into the literature.  Barker’s associates included legendary researchers from the fifties and sixties including Ivan Sanderson, Jim Moseley, Morris Jessup and John Keel.  All of these people were writers trying to make a living in a tough market and if there was a scale for measuring truth in journalism, Jessup followed by Sanderson and then Keel would be on the side of truthful whereas Moseley followed by Barker would be towards the opposite.

Gray Barker first became prominent in the world of UFOlogy with his investigation of the September 12, 1952 Flatwoods Monster case which was reported in his native Braxton County, West Virginia. He arrived on the scene just after Ivan Sanderson and both interviewed primary witnesses as well as many residents of the area.  Sanderson was preparing an article for True while Barker was commissioned by Fate.  Barker seems to have been earnest in this early investigation and this is reflected by his recollection of it in his classic 1956 book, “They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers.”  After the Flatwoods case, Barker wrote articles for Space Review, which was a regular publication of the International Flying Saucer Bureau run by Albert Bender and later became IFSB’s chief investigator.  In his book, Barker relates that Bender claimed to have solved the mystery of UFOs but was forced into silence by higher powers and visited by three MIBs.  This is the first mention of MIBs in UFO literature but the story originated with Bender.  Bender abruptly ceased his IFSB activities and Barker seemed to have been impressed that there was a genuine element to the story, which can be discerned from his archived correspondence with Morris Jessup.

Read more

Good Old Fashioned UFO Photo Analysis

By Charles Lear

  From the early days of Project Sign to the final days of Project Blue Book, photographs played an important part in the Air Force’s UFO investigation.  On July 4th, 1947 just weeks after Kenneth Arnold’s June 24th sighting, a woman in Seattle took a picture of a UFO and this would be the very first photograph that the Army Air Corps soon to be Air Force received.  It was identified as a balloon, and perhaps it really was, but at the time, personnel assigned to the project were still figuring out how to actually approach their investigations.  They were soldiers trying to think like scientists and photo analysis in the military was historically focused on reconnaissance.  Analysis of UFO footage has different challenges and these were met by private researchers who continued investigation after the end of Project Blue Book in 1969.

The use of photography for reconnaissance didn’t become practical until cameras became small and portable following the invention of film in 1885 by George Eastman.  Aerial photography over enemy lines was the dream but with highly vulnerable balloons and kites being the only available means of flight at the time, truly effective aerial reconnaissance would have to wait.  Two inventions in the early 1900’s would change things.  The first was the well-known 1903 invention of the airplane by the Wright brothers.  The second, lesser-known invention was the pigeon cam patented in 1907 by German apothecary, Julius Neubronner.  The pigeons and the planes were both used in World War I and the planes proved more effective as they were guided by a human as opposed to pigeon brain.

By the end of the war, military planning was rarely done without photo reconnaissance.  Analysis was primarily done through the use of magnification and enlargement in concert with ground surveillance.  Accurate interpretation came from education and experience and it was often that many lives depended on it.  By the end of World War II, photo analysis had become quite sophisticated and would continue to play a part in the cold war with the advent of spy planes and long-range cameras. Read more

Maury Island Madness

by Charles Lear

June 21, 1947, three days before Kenneth Arnold had his historic sighting, a man named Harold Dahl and his crew allegedly saw six one hundred foot diameter donut shaped craft while on a salvage mission in Puget Sound near Tacoma, Washington.  According to the claim, as they approached the shore of Maury Island, one of the craft seemed to experience mechanical troubles and the other five circled it and appeared to be aiding it in some way.  The craft then rained molten metal on Dahl’s vessel, injuring his son and killing his dog, before all six objects flew away.  The case was investigated by Arnold himself as well as the US Army Air Corps and Dahl claimed that a Man In Black also poked his nose in.  The story made headlines when the plane that was to carry the Air Corps investigators back to their base with a box full of saucer slag caught fire and crashed.  The papers noted that a cover-up might have been the reason.  A case with the very first saucer and Man In Black report is exciting and the fact that it comes before Arnold’s seems to add credibility to it because no one had heard of “flying saucers” before a reporter covering Arnold’s sighting coined the phrase.  It seems like a good case until one looks into the characters involved and, in particular, a man named Fred L. Crisman.  To say that Crisman was colorful is quite an understatement and that he ends up involved in the Kennedy investigation/conspiracy circus adds a red nose and fright wig to his persona.

The story was originally dismissed by a local reporter but came to light through lovable strange tale publisher and truth boundary stretcher, Ray Palmer, publisher of Amazing Stories.  Palmer was having a good run with a series of “true” stories written by Richard Shaver, involving detrimental robots, “deros” that lived inside the earth and flew through tunnels in disc shaped craft.  Palmer received a box with some metal fragments in it and an account of Dahl’s sighting from Crisman who had previously written Palmer a letter claiming he’d fought with deros himself in a Burmese cavern during World War II.  Crisman also offered to go to a cave in Texas to retrieve dero machinery if Palmer would provide $500 to cover his expenses.  In spite of his doubts, Palmer enlisted Arnold, with whom he now had a relationship, to go to Tacoma and investigate.  In addition to working for Palmer (for which he was paid $200) Arnold also seemed to have made arrangements with a local paper, the Boise Statesman in his home state of Idaho, to provide them with a story as well.

Read more

UFOs and the Scientists Who Love Them

by Charles Lear

Scientific study of the UFO phenomenon has had a sporadic history for the last 70 plus years for reasons ranging from lack of funding to the fear of the loss of standing within the scientific community.  There have been government funded studies and academics brave enough to research, but politics and rejection out-of–hand by peer reviewed journals have impeded the production of researchable literature that could lend credibility to a subject of study languishing in the realm of pseudoscience.  As a result, many researchers with academic credentials have moved to form their own study groups as a means to research and publish.  While there have been and are some admirable groups out there, what amounts to self-publishing bypasses the review process.  The review process is important in that it demonstrates that an argument has stood scrutiny by disinterested parties.  Work that has not undergone this is the poorer for it.  A solution would be to have reputable scientists, interested in the subject, establish a journal with peer review that publishes the work of outside contributors.  Are there scientists willing to risk their reputations in order to do this?  Apparently there are because a journal exists today that is staffed and supported by scientists with serious cred that was created specifically to give a voice to real research on subjects considered too out there for mainstream science, UFOs included. Read more