C.I.A., F.B.I. UFOs and Who Was Watching What?

by Charles Lear

The CIA and FBI were interested in UFOs.  It’s on the record and you, the public, can see for yourselves in documents released by both organizations.  What’s not entirely evident is the interest those agencies had in civilian research organizations.  Did the CIA and FBI plant undercover agents among members of certain groups that had achieved a certain level of popular recognition?  Were there operations to discredit prominent researchers and witnesses?  Were wiretaps or surveillance devices utilized to monitor researchers and those who provided them with sensitive information?  If it can be determined that individuals or groups looking into the subject of UFOs were considered a threat to national security then the answer is, “most likely.”

In 1976, a U.S. Senate Committee released a report, “Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans” documenting their findings regarding the illegal activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in the effort to keep our country safe.  The investigators looked at activities from World War II on and what they found was that a key word used to justify certain practices was never precisely defined and that word was, “subversive.”  By labeling any group or individual subversive, various agencies felt free to engage in subterfuge, underhandedness and dirty tricks.  The subversive threat in the late 40’s and throughout the fifties and sixties was communism and, by the sixties, any ideology too far left or right of center was looked upon as possibly dangerous.  Groups who were investigated and targeted ranged from the John Birch Society to the N.A.A.C.P.  In 1956, the FBI began a counterintelligence program or, COINTELPRO, in order to disrupt or neutralize groups or individuals that were considered a threat to “domestic security.”  According to the report, employed tactics included:  inducing employers to fire targets by anonymously attacking their political beliefs, mailing anonymous letters to targets’ spouses to break up marriages, falsely identifying certain members of groups as informants, and setting one group against another with false claims of threats or slander.  Members of the UFO community have reported suspicions that they too were subject to similar intelligence operations and researcher William Moore went so far as to state that he had been used by intelligence agencies as a means of passing disinformation to other researchers.

Read more

UFOs In The 21st Century

by Charles Lear

Throughout the 20th century it was believed by most researchers that UFOs were physical craft driven by extraterrestrials, ghosts were the spirits of dead people and Bigfoot was a large hominid as yet unclassified by primatologists.  In the later part of that era, John Keel, author of “The Mothman Prophecies”, began to consider that all of these might come from a single cause and he began looking for a unifying theory.  Now, in the 21st century, more and more researchers are beginning to think this way and some have focused on what have been called “paranormal hotspots” where there is a concentration of reports with many different varieties of strange activity.  Investigators have included the father and son team of Paul and Ben Eno looking at areas of New England and Pennsylvania, a team from Robert Bigelow’s organization, the National Institute for Discovery Science (using our tax dollars under a contract with the D.O.D.), working for an extended period of time at an area in Utah known as “Skinwalker Ranch” and Ted Phillips looking at an area he calls, “Marley Woods.”

John Keel was a freelance journalist in 1966 and was on assignment for Playboy magazine to “get to the bottom of the UFO mystery” when he happened upon a report on the wire services (while looking into a story of a winged cat named Thomas in Beckley, WV) describing a sighting by two couples in Point Pleasant, West Virginia of a large, winged creature that had a man’s body and glowing red eyes.  When he went to investigate, he found that there were also many sightings of UFOs in the area.  While interviewing witnesses, he took the unusual approach of asking them to tell him about any odd occurrences in their lives and found that many had experienced poltergeists, strange phone calls with mechanical voices, electrical interference, animal mutilations and disappearances, and contact with strange beings who claimed to be from other planets.  He heard some really strange stories from credible people and flying machines with people from other planets didn’t seem to be the answer.  As he thought about what he was being told and what he’d witnessed himself, he came to believe that all of these experiences were generated by some sort of intelligence that coexists with us.  He called this intelligence, “ultraterrestrial”, a term he borrowed from his friend, Ivan Sanderson, a biologist who also coined the term, “cryptozoology.”

Read more

UFOs Spacemen, Ultraterrestrials, or What?: The Strange Case Of Woodrow Derenberger

By Charles Lear

In the annals of UFOlogy there are cases that seem plausible and endure and cases that seem too outrageous to believe and yet endure in spite of this.  The 1966 case involving Woodrow Derenberger is one of the latter.  Derenberger claimed to have been contacted and visited repeatedly by a man from space named, Indrid Cold and later to have met his family and friends and taken for a visit to his home planet, Lanulos.  This case was most famously profiled by John Keel in his 1975 book, “The Mothman Prophecies.”  Because of this, there is a tendency among many chroniclers to treat the Derenberger case as if it were a part of the Mothman case rather than looking at it on its own.  In its time, Derenberger’s story caused quite a stir and was taken seriously by both the media and public officials.  A special feature of this case is that Derenberger was interviewed on a local television station, WTAP, the day after his initial encounter and audio from this interview can be heard on YouTube.  Derenberger wrote a book about his experiences with his friends from space published in 1971 called, “Visitors From Lanulos” and fifty years after the initial encounter Woodrow’s daughter, Taunia, published her own book in 2016, “Beyond Lanulos: Our Fifty Years With Indrid Cold.”

According to Woodrow Derenberger, on November 2, 1966, around 7:25 PM, he was driving a Ford Econovan on I-77 south towards Parkersburg, West Virginia.  He was an appliance salesman and was headed home after a day of work to his farmhouse in Mineral Wells.  A car passed him followed by another vehicle, which pulled in front of him and then turned fully sideways, blocking the road and forcing him to stop.  When he did so, he saw that the vehicle was not a car but a craft, hovering just above the road, that was 30-35 feet long (in the book it becomes 45 to 60 feet) charcoal grey with no lights or windows and shaped like a kerosene lantern cover, flared on both ends with a bulge in the middle.  A door opened on the side and a man stepped out with a pleasant grin, black, slicked back hair, average height and weight and heavily tanned.  Derenberger understood that the man wished him to roll down his window and when he did, a conversation ensued during which Derenberger noticed the man’s mouth wasn’t moving.  Derenberger realized he was being communicated to telepathically and despite being told not to be frightened, he was very much so.  The man asked him if he worked and if he had to and Derenberger replied, “Yes.” to both.  The man asked about the lights in Parkersburg and Derenberger told him that that was a town and the man said that where he was from, such places were called, “gatherings.”  The man told him to report his encounter to the authorities and that he would appear later to confirm his story.  He said his name was Cold and that he would see him again.  During this time the craft had ascended and hovered fifty feet above the car and at the end of the conversation it descended and the door reopened.  The man went inside, Derenberger saw another figure help him in and then the craft flew away with a faint “fluttering sound.” Read more

The UFO Archives of the University of Manitoba

BY CHARLES LEAR

 

On October 31st of this year, the University of Manitoba announced that a huge collection of UFO reports and books was being donated to its archives by Canadian researcher, Chris Rutkowski.  The collection includes over 20,000 reports filed to private UFO research organizations, nearly 10,000 Canadian government UFO related documents and over 1000 books from Rutkowski’s personal library.  Rutkowski has a long history in UFO research and is a champion of Canada’s most famous cases that, in his opinion, surpass the Roswell case because the Canadian government has acknowledged them.

Chris Rutkowski began researching and investigating UFOs in the mid 70’s as high school student and then as a student at the University of Manitoba studying astronomy.  His professors had been receiving UFO reports on a regular basis and they were becoming a distraction from their studies of astronomy.  Rutkowski offered to take on the responsibility of logging the reports, talking to the witnesses and attempting to find explanations for their sightings.  He soon amassed a great deal of material and when a speaker scheduled or a regular Friday afternoon faculty meeting (during which a presentation was normally given by professors or graduate students) cancelled, Rutkowski was asked if he could fill in and talk about UFOs.  Word got around and his talk needed to be moved to the largest lecture hall on the campus.  There, he found himself speaking before over 500 people, which included T.V. cameras and members of the press who were there due to the novelty of a UFO lecture being given at a university.  Rutkowski got through this “test by fire” and went on to become a prominent researcher and investigator, has written 10 books on the subject and continues to lecture. Read more

Westall UFO

by Charles Lear

Having multiple witnesses to a UFO with similar descriptions of the object seen adds to the credibility of the sighting.  Having over 200 witnesses with similar descriptions should, therefore, make even non-UFOlogists stop and take notice.  But, if you wanted to make such an event go away in the name of national security, and all but a handful of those witnesses were school children, your job would be easier.  This seems to be the unfortunate circumstance with a sighting that took place in Westall, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, April 6, 1966 that many UFOlogists place highly in their top ten lists of credible and convincing cases.

The case was investigated shortly after the events by local UFO groups, American researcher and activist, James McDonald, and was recently re-examined by nearby Australian resident, Shane Ryan.  Ryan’s investigation was documented on film by filmmaker, Rosie Jones in her 2010 documentary,  “Westall ’66.”  Ryan’s investigation was thorough and he not only found and interviewed former schoolchildren and teachers but, was able to draw out previously unknown witnesses from the surrounding area by dropping flyers in mailboxes and stating a request for witnesses during television coverage.  Those who came forward gave compelling testimony, which indicated an organized and methodical cover up operation by military and paramilitary personnel. Read more

UFOs Over Scotland

by Charles Lear

In listings of top UFO hot spots around the world, the small town of Bonnybridge, Scotland is frequently included.  Bonnybridge lies within an area known as “The Falkirk Triangle” which is described variously from being a large area defined by lines drawn between Edinbugh in the east, Glasgow in the west and Stirling in the north to a smaller triangle formed by three roads: the M8, the M9 and the M80.  The area has a history of many sightings and episodes that were exceedingly strange and the citizenry of the town of Bonnybridge has petitioned a succession of British Prime Ministers for an explanation.

Notoriety first came to the area in 1979 with the November 9, encounter in Dechmont Woods in Livingston, West Lothian by Robert Taylor.  Taylor was a forester and was on his rounds at 10:30 AM in the company truck with Lara, his Irish Setter.  According to him, he went into a section just south of the M8, got out of his truck and walked down a path with the dog for about 700 yards.  In a clearing, he came upon an object hovering around 50 feet in the air that was dome-shaped with a flange around its base that had cross-shaped objects projecting from it.  As he watched it, with his dog barking excitedly, different sections would fade out, revealing the trees behind them, and then fade back in.  Then, two objects that looked like WWII sea mines with about six spikes sticking out of them fell from the bottom of the craft and hit the ground with a thud.  They then rolled towards Taylor and each object used a projectile to grab him at the hips and pulled him.  Taylor described an acrid smell and then losing consciousness.  When he came to, the objects were gone but there were indentations in the ground and marks similar to caterpillar tracks.  He had a grazed forehead and chin and his heavy-duty work pants were ripped at each hip.  He went to his truck to radio back to the office but found he couldn’t speak.  Taylor then started the truck and ended up backing into a ditch, which forced him to walk the quarter mile to his house in the town of Deans. His wife was alarmed by his muddy and disheveled appearance and he told her he was “attacked by a spaceship” which she, naturally, didn’t believe.  Mrs. Taylor phoned a doctor who examined Mr. Taylor and found nothing wrong with him as far as any kind of brain or sensory issues.  The doctor suggested he go to a hospital for further tests and Taylor did so but left after becoming impatient while waiting to be seen.  Mrs. Taylor had also called Robert’s boss, Malcolm Drummond, who came to the house and listened to Taylor’s story.  Drummond knew Taylor to be an honest man and making up such a strange tale would have been quite out of character for him.  The case was reported to the police who investigated it as an assault case.  The “crime-scene” was cordoned off and evidence was recorded.  Significantly, the tracks that looked like caterpillar tracks showed no signs of an entrance or an exit.  There were also drag marks that supported the story of Taylor being grabbed and pulled. Taylor’s pants were subjected to forensic analysis in Edinburgh and the examiner determined that they were torn by something mechanical.  The dog, meanwhile, would never leave the house, even to relieve itself, for months afterwards.  In 2018, the West Lothian Council created a UFO trail in the woods to commemorate the event.

Read more

UFOs and Astronauts

by Charles Lear

From the very beginning of the U.S. space program, astronauts have reportedly seen UFOs.  For those who subscribe to the extraterrestrial hypothesis, it makes sense that space faring beings from other planets would take an interest.  But, whatever they are, astronauts have not only reported seeing UFOs, but some, most notably Gordon Cooper and Dr. Edgar Mitchell, have gone so far as to publicly advocate for disclosure and an end to secrecy regarding the subject.

Gordon Cooper described having encounters with UFOs as an Air Force pilot prior to his involvement in the space program.  In his 2000 memoir, “Leap of Faith: An Astronaut’s Journey Into the Unknown”, Gordon wrote that he chased saucer-shaped craft over Germany in the 1950’s, where he was stationed, and that objects that were faster than known man made machines flew over the base daily.  He also made mention of being given film in 1957 of a saucer that landed at Edwards Air Force Base which he sent off to the Pentagon and never saw again.  In contrast, he claimed that neither he nor any other astronauts had seen UFOs while in space and refutes the report that he saw a green glowing object approach his craft during his final orbit in May 1963 aboard Mercury Faith 7 while over Australia.  Cooper made a similar claim in a March 1980 interview in Omni conducted by long time UFO researcher Lee Spiegel.  In that interview Cooper stated that, of all the astronauts involved in the space program only James McDivitt “might” have seen a UFO.  He also remarked that allegations of astronaut UFO sightings “got so bad that there were deliberately falsified tapes of communications with the astronauts, where UFO material was simply edited in.”  A review of claims of astronaut encounters and statements finds that there is, indeed, a lot of poorly supported information out there.

Read more

Not So Ancient UFOs

by Charles Lear

The history of UFO sightings and alien encounters as portrayed in the popular media is, mostly, separated into distinct periods: modern, from the late 1890’s airship flap followed by World War II “foo fighters” into post-1947 after the Kenneth Arnold report, and ancient interaction pieced together using “evidence” from the time of cave dwelling humans up to the time of the builders of cities and megalithic structures.  UFOs depicted in Byzantine paintings (misinterpreted conventional symbols) the 1561 report from Nuremburg, Germany and the 1566 report from Basel, Switzerland are often thrown in during reviews of UFO history but what about the time in between then and the 1890’s?  It turns out that there are quite a few reports from the period in question and they read like modern reports although they were written before the modern context of alien visitation.

Read more

UFOS Over Massachusetts!

by Charles Lear

In last week’s blog a UFO park and marker designating the sight of an encounter in Sheffield, Massachusetts was spotlighted.  Massachusetts holds a special place in UFO history as being the state where this country’s very first recorded encounter occurred.  As of this writing, the state ranks in the top 34% for sightings reported to the National UFO Reporting Center, which is high for a state of its size.  A classic 1952 UFO photo comes from the state and in March of this year an extraordinary close encounter case there was reported to the operators of the website UFO Giant.  Massachusetts is also home to two paranormal hotspots where activity includes strange creatures and UFOs with one of them being just outside of Boston.

Just about every UFO history review starts with the late 1890’s airship flap and then moves on to World War II foo fighters.  What may surprise many UFOlogists is that there was a 1639 encounter that was recorded by John Winthrop who was Governor at the time.  On page 294 of the 1908 Charles Scribner’s Sons edition of “Winthrop’s Journal:  History of New England 1630-1649 Volume I”, there is this entry which reads very much like a modern case report:

In this year one James Everell, a sober, discreet man, and two others, saw a great light in the night at Muddy River. When it stood still, it flamed up, and was about three yards square; when it ran, it was contracted into the figure of a swine: it ran as swift as an arrow towards Charlton, and so up and down about two or three hours. They were come down in their lighter about a mile, and, when it was over, they found themselves carried quite back against the tide to the place they came from. Divers other credible persons saw the same light, after, about the same place. Read more

Designated Historical UFOs

by Charles Lear

   One thing that is irrefutable concerning UFOs is that they are a part of history.  No matter what they are, who reports seeing them, and whether or not the reports are believed, there are cases that are recorded in news media and literature that will be examined and pondered for generations.  There are towns all over America where local UFO history is celebrated, embraced and exploited for its potential to draw tourists.  There are museums and monuments to visit, guided tours to take and UFO kitsch aplenty in the gift shops.  Quite often the effort put into marking a UFO occurrence is solely a private enterprise started by local enthusiasts but sometimes a town will officially recognize an incident and fund a sign, plaque or statue.  The rarest official recognition of a UFO incident is the erection of a roadside historical marker of which, as far as this author knows, there are only four in existence in America.

  When a controversial subject is celebrated publicly it should be expected that there would be some public controversy.  A town in Massachusetts, Sheffield, recently made national news due to fighting over a monument, its relocation and eventual abduction by town officials. The monument in question is a 5000 pound concrete block with a plague that marks an “off-world incident” experienced by Thomas Reed on Sept. 1, 1969 when he was nine years old.  The monument was first located next to a replica of a historic covered bridge in a park created for it called, “UFO Monument Park.”  In 1969, Reed, his brother, mother and grandmother were in a car crossing the bridge when they spotted a “self contained glow” which then enveloped the car.  Reed next remembers being inside a large hanger-like interior and then being in the back seat of the car two hours later with his mother and grandmother having switched seats.  His grandmother contacted the police and later found forty others who witnessed a large, football field sized object in the area around the time of the incident. Some of those witnesses have been supporters of the monument and continue to testify that they saw something unusual that night.  What’s special about the monument is its plaque, which contains a citation from Governor Charlie Barker, which reads in part, “I am pleased to confer upon you this governor’s citation in recognition of the off-world incident on September 1st, 1969.  The monument was initially relocated because of complaints by some that it detracted from the importance of the historical bridge.  It was moved to the private property nearby of a monument supporter but then found to be on a town right of way easement running through the property and, on June 4, 2019, it was removed by town workers and taken to an undisclosed location.  Reed has taken legal action against the town accusing its leaders of theft. Read more

The Zanfretta UFO Case

by Charles Lear

There are UFO cases noteworthy for their extreme weirdness that every UFOlogist is probably familiar with.  There is the 1952 Flatwoods Monster Case, the 1955 “Incident at Kelly”, and this writer’s favorite, the 1966 Point Pleasant, West Virginia case involving the Mothman.  Some might not be aware of a seriously strange case from Genoa, Italy known as “The Zanfretta Case.”  This case is chronicled in a 2014 English translation of a book by Genoese reporter, Rino Di Stefano appropriately titled, “The Zanfretta Case.”  The original 1984 Italian version was titled, “Luci nella Notte-UFO: il caso Zanfretta.”  The translation is a bit clumsy, which gives the book a certain charm, and has a forward written by the late Wendelle Stevens.  Stevens was a prominent UFO researcher and he wrote in his forward that he was excited by the case and invited Di Stefano and the principal witness, Pier Fortunato Zanfretta to his 1991 First World UFO Congress in Tucson, Arizona.

On Friday, December 8, 1978, a six column article titled, “Close Encounters in Torriglia” written by reporter, Enzo Bonifazi, appeared in the Secolo XIX, which was the “most widely read newspaper in the region of Liguria.”  Di Stefano describes conversations about the case taking place in the offices of his own paper, Corriere Mercantile, as being mostly dismissive.  Bonifazi had reported that security guard, Pier Fortunato Zanfretta had not only encountered a landed UFO, but had also come in contact with “a huge being, about three meters tall, with wavy skin as if it were fat or a loose sweatsuit and gray in any case.”  Italian militarized police, the “Carabinieri” had investigated after being alerted by Zanfretta’s security company, “Val Bisagno” and stated in their report that there had been witnesses in the area who had seen a “great light” over Torriglia around the same time that the events involving Zanfretta had taken place.  Di Stefano was intrigued by the case and asked permission from his extremely skeptical editor to investigate the case after hours, which was granted.  Di Stefano, a press photographer and a fellow reporter drove to the site and were impressed by a landing trace that had been described in the Carabinieri report.  On the frozen grounds of the Villa Casa Nostra, owned by dentist, Ettore Righi, was a semicircle approximately 3 meters across denoted by 15 centimeter wide line pressed 3 centimeters into the earth.

Read more

UFOs in China

by Charles Lear

If you have an interest in UFOs you’ve probably come across the 2010 Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport case, which involved a UFO hovering over the airport sighted by a descending flight crew. The airport was shut down for an hour and the case made international news.  China has a relatively open official policy regarding UFOs but according to researcher, Chuck Fei, any spiritual or quasi-religious activities associated with UFOs are strongly discouraged.  Besides discovering some interesting cases, research into Chinese UFOs reveals an interesting relationship involving the subject between China and the Western powers of the United States and Britain.

At the 2016 Citizen Hearing before six former members of the U.S. Congress, UFO researcher and former Chinese diplomat Sun Shili, stated, “After years of research, a large number of Chinese UFO scholars, including myself, are convinced of the authenticity of UFOs and the existence of UFOs and aliens.”  Shili was a chairman of Beijing UFO Research Society and that organization has a policy similar to many Chinese UFO research groups that requires its members to have college degrees.  The group is respected by the government and air force officials have been known to attend meetings.  The focus of most UFO research in China is very scientific and speculation is kept to a minimum.

Read more