Friday, January 23, 2015

UFOs Over Jamaica

Of course UFOs visit Jamaica.

If you had an anti-gravity craft that could start, stop and change direction instantaneously and zip around at 1,200 mph, wouldn't you bop off to Jamaica every chance you got?
See a UFO? Who cares? It's Jamaica!
I confess I had never thought about this much until I was talking with my Jamaican friend Gxxxxxxx, and he mentioned that Jamaicans see UFOs all the time. Not only are UFOs sighted in Jamaican skies with astonishing frequency, he told me, there is no stigma whatsoever associated with reporting a UFO sighting in Jamaica. Because of this, no one is surprised when they hear a friend or neighbor or family member talk about seeing something strange in the sky. It's just a given that UFOs are real objects, and that anyone who reports seeing one is telling the truth.

Isn't that refreshing?

As comfortable as Jamaicans are with the idea of UFOs, however, they are dubious of alien abduction stories, my friend told me, especially those that originate in the U.S.

"Jamaicans call American UFOs 'gay UFOs,'" He said, laughing.

I didn't get the joke, so he explained: "The UFOs in the U.S. abduct people and put probes up their asses, so we say they're gay UFOs."

I started laughing then, too. Of course, that's not where aliens insert their probes -- at least not all of them -- at least I hope not -- but that's the way Jamaicans see it.

Anyway, that conversation got me thinking once again about how different cultures experience the UFO phenomenon... Last year I learned about how Turkish farmers experience entities that seem to be part UFO-part alien, and now I find that UFOs never abduct Jamaicans and insert probes into their bodily orifices -- "We don't play that way," joked my friend -- but rather save that particular treat for abductees in the U.S. 

Lucky us.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Break From the Usual UFO Nonsense

As tempting as it is to weigh in again on the brouhaha over the "newly released" Project Blue Book files and all the media attention they've received over the past few days, I have more important business to discuss...

Capt. Picard gets a touch of space sickness in my TNG episode "TImescape"
The first half of the interview I did a few nights ago for "See You On The Other Side" -- talking about writing science fiction and investigating UFO sightings -- has been posted, and I want to invite all my readers to drop whatever they are doing and listen to it now. I know that sounded more like an order than an invitation. So be it.

Go. Click on these words. Listen to it. Now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drunken UFO Yahoos

This morning as my wife was checking messages on her phone before leaving for work (yes, one of us works!), she said "Oh, my mom just messaged me asking if you had heard the big UFO news."

I knew at once what she was talking about. It wasn't the strange goings on at the International Space Station, which has apparently been single-handedly fighting off an alien attack for the past few weeks. No, the big news this morning was that, thanks to intrepid UFO website The Black Vault, the U.S. Air Force's TOP SECRET Project Blue Book UFO files had just been made available online for the very... first... time... ever!!!!

Project Blue Book officers on the job. And, yes, that's really Col. Flagg from M*A*S*H!
I told my wife to let her mom know that I was on top of it. See, I had just discussed it briefly last night while recording a podcast and knew that the story didn't pass the smell test. I wasn't sure last night just how big a story it would become, but, prompted my my mother-in-law's message, I went online to see how many people were swallowing this load of horse puckey. Turns out, pretty much everyone in the world had fallen for the "big news": as of this writing, Google is listing about 140 articles, all of which seem to have taken the story seriously without doing any actual, you know, double-checking...

  • USA Today says "Air Force UFO Files Hit the Web"
  • Fox News just repeats what USA Today said: "Air Force UFO Files Hit the Web" (or did USA Today copy them?)
  • CNN says "Air Force UFO Files Land on Internet"
  • The New York Post says "Air Force has 701 'Unidentified' UFOs in Records Now Online" (which is pretty funny in a moronic kind of way if you think about it a second)
  • ABC News says "Trove of 130K Air Force UFO Documents Available Online"
  • Even the great io9.com was duped, saying "U.S. Air Force Releases Thousands of Pages Of Declassified UFO Files" (but at least they had the guts to admit that the story was, perhaps... not entirely correct)
  • I heard that the 'Black Vault' guy was even on The Today Show this morning!

My favorite of all is this idiotic video segment from USAToday.com in which two "journalists" discuss the significance of the release of the Blue Book files. They both seem amazed to learn that pilots, scientists and military people have reported UFOs, and one of the guys says this proves that it's not just "drunk yahoos" seeing things in the sky. Now, that's some kind of cracker jack reporting, eh? 
So, anyway, WOW, big news, right? Except for one small thing:

The Air Force's TOP SECRET Project Blue Book files have been available online for years... In a searchable format... At two different websites... For free.


Don't believe me, USA Today? Check it out yourself:
 http://www.bluebookarchive.org/default.aspx
 http://www.fold3.com/title_461/project_blue_book_ufo_investigations/

 I'm not going to get into why the proprietor of The Black Vault website has gone this route, because I don't know anything about the guy or his website. All I can say for certain is this: any claim that "new" Blue Book archives now available at The Black Vault are better than the records available at The Blue Book Archive or at Fold 3 should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Here's why: I can only speak for certain about The Blue Book Archive, because that's the site I depend on for my research, but a quick check of the Blue Book file for the 1966 Dexter-Hillsdale, Michigan UFO sightings showed that the "newly" archived document at The Black Vault was redacted, while the very same archived document at bluebookarchive.org was unredacted.

Which site would you rather rely on?

Monday, January 19, 2015

UFO Puzzler: Insect or Egg?

Along with the new archive of Project Blue Book documents available here, there's been some interesting discussion at a neighboring blog UFO Conjecture(s) about what those documents have to say about the famous 1964 Lonnie Zamora Case. In this incident, a policeman named Lonnie Zamora, from the central New Mexico town of Socorro, was on patrol when he saw a flame from a nearby arroyo. On investigation, he saw a white, egg-shaped vehicle standing on spidery legs with two diminutive humanoid occupants in white jump suits beside it. Apparently realizing they had been seen, the two occupants got inside the craft, launched it straight into the sky on a plume of flame, and flew away into the distance.

What Zamora thought he saw...
The case got a lot of press, in no small part because Officer Zamora was such a solid, dependable witness, and because there was corroborating testimony to back him up. Because any solid sighting was a potential source of embarrassment to the Air Force, Project Blue Book put a lot of effort into investigating this puzzler. Blue Book sent Dr. J. Allen Hynek and his associate Bill Powers to Socorro to meet with Zamora and inspect the "landing site" while the body was still warm, so to speak.

Blogger RR finds a lot of evidence in the newly archived Blue Book files suggesting that the craft Officer Zamora saw was in fact an experimental NASA lunar lander, and it's clear from the files that Blue Book took a serious look at this possibility. Indeed, there is an abundance of evidence that Bell Aero Systems and other defense contractors were working on such vehicles at the time. For some, this explains the case rather tidily: NASA was testing a lunar lander at a nearby base; Zamora got a glimpse of the classified technology and the government tried to hush it up the best it could.
What some people think Zamora saw...

That explanation holds some appeal, in an Occam-y Razor-y way, but I have some reason to question it. First of all, I interviewed Bill Powers shortly before he died in 2013, and he shared some insights from his and Hynek's Zamora investigation (that I will recount in my Hynek bio) that put an interesting spin on the case. Second of all, there are just too many loose ends to the NASA lunar lander hypothesis that bother me...

  • The nearest NASA facility to Socorro is the White Sands Test Facility, just outside of Las Cruces. White Sands, which was newly-opened around the time of Zamora's sighting, is well over 100 miles from Socorro. I have a hard time believing that any experimental lunar lander could travel over 100 miles from base, and even it it could, why would it? Give me one good reason! I seriously doubt that NASA ever entertained plans to fly over 100 miles across the moon's surface with its lunar lander. Neil and Buzz went down, they came up, that's it.
  • It is well-known to the geniuses at NASA that the moon's gravity is about 1/6th that of earth. So why test a lunar lander that needs to work against earth gravity, 6 times the gravitational pull that the working model would need to negotiate? NASA would need to design, engineer and build the test lander to be immensely more massive and powerful than the real thing. Is that likely?
  • As we all know, NASA's real lunar landers came in two parts. Both parts landed on the moon, but only one part left the moon. Why? It was all about efficiency: the landing platform was dead weight once the vehicle landed on the moon, so it was designed to be used once and abandoned. Zamora's vehicle did not leave any part of it behind. Now it's true that the Blue Book evidence shows that at least some of the lander prototypes tested by NASA were a one-piece design, but that leads us to my last point...
  • The one-piece Bell Aero design seen here is able to function as a single unit because it is a lightweight, spidery thing, all struts and beams. There is no hull, no shell, no fuselage, no scientific equipment, no huge mass of rocket fuel, and, crucially, no pressurized passenger environment. Not only does this insectoid craft not look anything at all like the egg-shaped object Officer Zamora described, it can only hold one pilot. To me, that's the kicker right there, as you will recall that Zamora saw two (2) beings outside his craft.


Does that prove anything? Perhaps not, but it leaves the Zamora case very much an open book to my way of seeing things.

And then there's this one nagging detail that no one ever seems to consider (and which I very much regret not having asked Bill Powers about): At one point, Officer Zamora said that when he first caught sight of the UFO in the arroyo, it appeared to be an "overturned white car ... up on radiator or on trunk"... How does that jibe with his later description of the vehicle as egg-shaped...?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

UFO Scavenger Hunt

I lied once when I was a kid. Actually, I wasn't just a kid; I was a Boy Scout. And when a Boy Scout lies, whoo-boy that's bad.

My fellow Scouts and I were on a big campout with hundreds of other Scouts from around the state, and we were all competing in a huge scavenger hunt. It was all pretty simple stuff: find a twig, find a rock, find a ray of sunshine. There was no way we could lose, or so we thought. At the bottom of the list was "Find a price of rabbit fluff."

Rabbit fluff? How the hell do you find stray rabbit fluff laying around the forest? We were screwed, and we were pissed. How could the judges throw us such a screwball? Did they want us to lose??

Can you tell when you're being rabbit fluffed? I can.
As we stood there in the woods, lost in our despair, one of us -- I don't remember who -- picked up a cigarette butt and started picking at it. Somehow, a light went on and inspiration struck. The shredded filter tip looked kind of like.... rabbit fluff. Suddenly we knew we could win; all we had to do was shred the filter tip as finely as we could and then don't crack when the judges inspect it. It was the perfect crime.

The judge was immediately suspect. Clearly, he never expected anyone to come up with any rabbit fluff... He looked at it. He touched it. He smelled it. He lit it on fire and smelled the smoke... We thought we were dead. Then, his face screwed up in disgust, the judge said, "I hate to do it, but it's definitely rabbit fluff."

We won.

Why do I bring this up now? Because I have been trying very hard to catch up on my MUFON caseload this week, and I've noticed something odd. I've been able to interview four witness in the last two days, and, although I can't prove anything, I think I've been rabbit fluffed three times over!

Let's go over the cases one by one:

Case #1: A witness reported seeing two brilliantly-lit objects in the sky fly overhead one after the other. Both were silent and slow-moving, shapeless but with a brilliant white centers and orange outlines. The objects moved across the sky and then disappeared... He tried to chase the second one in his car, but lost it.

In our interview, the witness was very enthusiastic about the brilliance of the two objects, describing them as "plasma lights" over and over again. To me they sounded suspiciously like Chinese lanterns, and sure enough, the witness at one point brought up that possibility... But then he quickly dispensed with that idea, declaring unequivocally that "Nobody around here would launch Chinese lanterns."

The witness seemed sincere, but I couldn't help feeling I was being rabbit fluffed, even if unintentionally. I listed his sighting as a Man-Made Identified Flying Object (IFO).

Rabbit fluff factor: Moderate

Case #2: A witness discovered an object on a photo he had taken last fall. He hadn't seen the object when he took the shot. It was a gray-brown squiggly blurry thing far out over the waters of Lake Michigan. I didn't think to ask him what he thought he was taking a picture of, but I should have, because it's just a photo of some very boring land and water and sky. What he thought was worth photographing is beyond me.

Even though he never actually saw the object out over the lake, he likes to speculate. He told me over and over again that he is convinced the object in the photo looks like a space vehicle with an ion engine, possibly something along the lines of the US Enterprise, or if not that then a US military anti-grav vehicle.

I see a seagull. I listed his sighting as a Natural Identified Flying Object (IFO).

Rabbit fluff factor: High

Case #3: A witness saw a light in the sky and took a very long video from his car as he chased the light. The video is very dark and shaky and indistinct, with lots of lights, and it's difficult to know exactly which light is the strange one. The video has titles, giving us a running commentary of what the witness was saying to himself as he shot the video. At one point he says he is "Talking directly into the mic in case i die or anything."

When I spoke to the witness, it was a very strange & short conversation. He said he had started out feeling very enthusiastic about talking to me, but that "in light of recent developments" he thought that he shouldn't talk to me after all. I asked him what he meant, and he said, "Well, NASA's feed is down," and wouldn't say anything more. When I tried to ask him what he was referring to, he hung up. Then he emailed me to say he really, really couldn't talk to me. I did not respond.

Strange thing is, I checked yesterday after that phone call, and the live feed from the International Space Station really was down. Weird. The error message said the feed was "...either switching camera or experiencing temporary loss of signal..." 

Today the ISS live feed is back up, but I did find this weirdness about an apparent NASA UFO Cover-up.


I listed his sighting as "Insufficient Data." And that was being generous.

Rabbit fluff factor: Off the scale

And, no, I don't feel bad about the scavenger hunt. If you ask a bunch of clever boys to find something impossible, what do you think they're going to do?





Wednesday, January 14, 2015

UFO Anniversaries!

It has occurred to me that marketing my bio of Dr. J. Allen Hynek could be very fun, and very easy. Turns out UFO world is just one big continuous marketing bonanza...

The current goal is for publication sometime in late 2015 or early 2016. It just so happens that a whole hell of a lot of significant UFO events took place in very convenient years, and will mark major anniversaries in the anticipated timeframe of the publication of my book.

Just take a look at this tantalizing list:
  • August 21, 2015:     60th Anniversary of the "Kelly-Hopkinsville Little Green Men" invasion, Kelly, KY
  • September 3, 2015: 50th Anniversary of the "Incident at Exeter," Exeter, NH
  • November 5, 2015: 40th Anniversary of the Travis Walton abduction case, Snowflake, AZ
  • December 9, 2015: 50th Anniversary of the "Kecksburg Incident," Kecksburg, PA
  • March 21, 2016:     50th Anniversary of the "Dexter-Hillsdale Swamp Gas" case, Dexter & Hillsdale, MI

Of this bunch, the two hyphenates -- Kelly-Hopkinsville and Dexter-Hillsdale -- are the most closely associated with Hynek, and therefore the juciest anniversaries to exploit.


I've never been able to figure what the hell he's pointing at...
Hynek spent four days on the ground investigating Dexter-Hillsdale for Project Blue Book, with disastrous results. And, while he was unable to do much investigative work of his own on Kelly-Hopkinsville, he did work closely with the two civilian investigators, Bud Ledwith and Isabel Davis, who did such a cracker-jack job investigating the incident that the Air Force ended up pretty much cribbing their work. Hynek was so fascinated and puzzled by this case, and so impressed with the work of Ledwith and Davis, that he discussed the matter at length in not one but two of his books.

Still, I think the date I need to shoot for is March 21, 2016, the anniversary of the legendary Dexter-Hillsdale sightings, the case that, paradoxically, made Hynek both a pariah and a hero. Also, I don't think I can write fast enough to make the Kelly-Hopkinsville anniversary.

And just in case I can't make that deadline, I have a fallback: The 30th anniversary of Hynek's death will occur on April 27, 2016.

That's a whole month and 6 days extra.


Friday, January 9, 2015

The Interplanetary Parliament of UFOs

I am reading a grimly fascinating book this week with the exceedingly self-explanatory title: "Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima," by James Mahaffey.

I've heard stories here and there over the years about atomic bombs accidentally being dropped by US bombers into the Mediterranean Sea, or nuclear reactor technicians in Idaho being fried when one of them flipped the wrong switch (apparently motivated by marital troubles), but, man oh man... until I started this book, I had no idea how often and how spectacularly nuclear bombs and reactors have come so breathtakingly close to blowing us all to smithereens. Like I said, it's grim.

And, let me tell you, dying as a result of a nuclear accident is not fun. You basically have two choices: getting vaporized by a steam explosion, or being bathed in lethal radiation and spending the next few days vomiting, losing control of your limbs and then watching them fall off. Getting vaporized is quicker, for sure, but then again you don't get to enjoy those brief hours of having the world's deepest, richest tan.

One disaster story in particular stands out. It's the story of a catastrophe at the Mayak nuclear fuel factory (formerly known as Chelyabinsk-40) near Kyshtym in Russia , something the author describes this way: "It may go down in history as the worst release of radioactive fission products to have occurred..." 

Ever heard of it? Probably not. The KGB kept such a tight lid of secrecy over the accident that for many years no one even knew when it happened. Sometime between 1954 and 1961 was the best guess anyone could come up with. The CIA knew something bad had happened in the USSR, even if they didn't know what or when, so they sent a pilot named Gary Powers over to Russia in a U-2 spy plane to take a look. That didn't go too well for Mr. Powers or the CIA.

Believe it or not, this is where UFOs enter the story.

The first inkling anyone had that a nuclear accident had occurred in the USSR came about in the June, 1958 newsletter of a UFO group called "The Aetherius Society." For reasons that should be abundantly clear, I find myself unable to adequately describe to you just what The Aetherius Society is, so I'll quote from their website:
"The Society was founded in the mid-1950s by an Englishman named George King shortly after he was contacted in London by an extraterrestrial intelligence known as 'Aetherius'. The main body of the Society’s teachings consists of the wisdom given through the mediumship of Dr King by the Master Aetherius and other advanced intelligences from this world and beyond."
This Aetherius fellow had a much better view of the USSR than did Gary Powers, and in April, 1958, he sent the following telepathic message to Dr. King:
"Owing to an atomic accident just recently in the USSR, a great amount of radioactivity in the shape of radioactive iodine, strontium 90, radioactive nitrogen and radioactive sodium have been released into the atmosphere of Terra."
Dr. George King and his band of merry followers.
The article went to state that "all forms of reception from Interplanetary sources will become a little more difficult during the next few weeks because of the foolish actions of Russia." The "Interplanetary Parliament," it continued, would have to use an enormous amount of energy to clean up the mess, although they claimed to have saved 17,000,000 souls...

Inexplicably, the next anyone knew of the nuclear accident was in 1976, when an exiled Soviet biologist wrote about it in New Scientist magazine. Over time, more information leaked, and it was learned that "careless storage of radioactive wastes at Chelyabinsk-40 had resulted in massive destruction." Mahaffey describes the explosion as "the world's first 'dirty bomb.'"

It's a great story, but there's a huge, gaping hole in the middle of it: No one seems to know how in hell "Atherius" knew about it in 1958. I can't figure out why, but author Mahaffey never pursues the question; he just lets it hang there...

He does offer this helpful explanation of UFOs, however: "UFO is an Air Force term, meaning Unidentified Flying Object, or an apparently controlled machine moving through the atmosphere that cannot be classified by type, country or origin, manufacturer, or serial number."

Uh... serial number...?

Whatever... The point is, who in the hell was Dr. George King and how did he learn about a Soviet nuclear disaster years before anyone else did???? Did the information really come from "Aetherius"???? And by "Aetherius" could I mean "CIA"????