High Strangeness: January 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Blue Book Blues

I think that right now a lot of us in UFO land wish we could travel back in time two weeks, to when the world was innocent and unspoiled, and researching the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book UFO case files was fun, free and easy. Well, ok, it wasn't always easy, but it was fun and free.

Back then, in those simpler, carefree times, students of UFO lore like myself could visit www.bluebookarchive.org or www.fold3.com to read Project Blue Book case files to our hearts' content, or until our significant others told us to turn the damn lights off and get to bed. Then, on January 12th, just two weeks ago as I write this, in an interview with UFO news website OpenMinds.tv, John Greenewald announced that he had 1) filed Freedom of Information Act requests to get access to 130,000 pages of documents in the Project Blue Book files, and 2) made those files in their entirety available "in a straight forward, easily searchable database."

The money quote, to me, is right here:
INTERVIEWER: "Why have (the Blue Book files) not been available online for free until now?
GREENEWALD: "To convert and archive 130,000 pages is no easy task.  There are some sites that tried to create the archive… but really didn’t gear it towards the researcher or the investigator.  Some charge for the information (if it’s even complete), others make it hard to download or read, and others are just incomplete."

Get that? The interviewer asked a question that was formulated on an incorrect assumption: that the files had never been available online for free until now. Now, it seems to me that the correct response would have been, "Whoa, hold it right there, pal, I never said they weren't available online for free up until now! They have in fact been available for free from two different websites for many years. I have simply attempted to make that same information more complete and more useable. There is no need to make a big fuss over this!"

Then the interviewer might have asked, "Okay, but if this information has been available online for free for several years, what's all this about you filing all these FOIA requests to get this information out in the open?"

Now anyone can learn about UFOs! ...or can they?
(And then, if I had been there, I would have asked, "But if you wanted to make the information more complete, why is a document on your website redacted when the identical document at www.bluebookarchive.org is not?")

God knows what the correct response would have been after that, but I'm pretty sure the whole thing would have ended right there, and not become the latest in a long line of self-immolating public embarrassments to the UFO community.

But no, the news grew and spread and grew and spread until every human being on earth knew, or thought they knew, that the Project Blue Book files had just been declassified by the Air Force and made available to the public online for free for the very first time ever.

And that's where it stood until last night when the files were suddenly and mysteriously not newly available to the public for the very first time. Yes, the Black Vault had gone black, at least where the Project Blue Book files were concerned... And today we learn that some sort of copyright infringement action is allegedly in the works from Ancestry.com, owner of Fold3...

Which is just fantastic news for anyone who believes these records should be available to the public for free, isn't it?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Most Amazing UFO Sighting EVER

Damn. I was all set to tell you the strange story of my latest UFO field investigation, the one in which a "trained Advanced Expert for the U.S. Government" and his entire family of Ph.D.s saw an object that at first he took to be a reflection of his son's X-Box but in reality had no distinct shape and that did the following over the course of one hour, ten minutes and twenty-two seconds:

When I see this, I do not automatically think "Aha! A UFO!"
  • Changed Direction
  • Turned Abruptly
  • Changed Shape
  • Cast Shadow
  • Cast Light
  • Reflected Light
  • Projected a Beam
  • Caused Injury/Death
  • Hovered
  • Ascended
  • Descended
  • Affected Radio/TV
  • Affected Magnetism
  • Affected Timepiece
  • Affected Animal
  • Affected Human
  • Affected Cell Phone
  • Affected You Physically
  • Fluttered
  • Blinked
  • Pulsated
  • Glowed

Has all the makings of a classic, doesn't it? Either this is the most amazing UFO sighting ever reported or the guy's hand was shaking when he was checking off the boxes in the "Objects or Lights did the following" section.

Either way, I must pass on it for now, because something really important has come up. The second half of the podcast I recorded for "See You on the Other Side" has been posted today. Go listen to it here...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

UFO Quote of the Day

I've started a new companion feature to "High Strangeness -- The Blog" that I hope you all will enjoy. It occurred to me the other day that there are about a billion websites where you can see pictures of UFOs any time you want to, but there's no place to go to read a good UFO Quote. So why not gather together the very best of the things people have to say about UFOs and deliver one to my audience every day, via my twitter account?

Think about it. Those UFO photos you all look at day after day on other websites? They all look pretty much alike after a while. Globs of light in the sky... Dark, fuzzy shapes... Orbs... The occasional alien corpse... What is the point of looking at more and more and still more indistinct photos of UFOs every day? Where does it get you?

Quotes, on the other hand, are always different! Different people say them, and they use different words. What's more, different people have different levels of understanding and education and different ways of expressing themselves. Some of them believe that UFOs are real objects from beyond space, and some don't. Some of them know exactly what they're talking about, and some don't. Some of them don't even speak English! That's what makes it all so fun!

I decided to start out yesterday with by tweeting a quote with the hashtag #UFOQuoteoftheDay that came from the silver tongue of UFO guru Dr. J. Allen Hynek:
 "Ridicule is not a part of the scientific method and the public should not be taught that it is"
The eminently quotable Dr. J. Allen Hynek
This has always been my favorite UFO quote, so it made a fitting debut for my new feature. Hynek first uttered these words at a gathering of scientists in 1952, and it was kind of a big deal. Hynek, "small potatoes" as he was in 1952, was really going out on a limb... No scientist had ever before spoken out so forcefully in favor of a scientific study of UFOs in front of a gathering of his peers. It might have killed the career of any other scientist, but Hynek was a special case, which is why I'm writing a book about his career.

Anyway, today's quote will be altogether different, and I urge you to get on twitter and look for it at #UFOQuoteoftheDay

You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

UFOs on Parade

It's been a big, big month for UFOs in the news, hasn't it?

For the past few weeks, UFOs have been grabbing headlines around the world on a pretty regular basis. And I'm not just talking about headlines on "Open Minds," people, I'm talking CNN, USA Today and Fox News. World-wide headlines!

It's been fascinating to watch, and even more fascinating to think about what could be causing this massive upswing in UFO reportage... It's also been a bit disheartening to realize that all this mega news coverage has, in the end, only served to perpetuate old myths and misconceptions, and create new feuds among UFO people (because that's what UFO people do best), and make us all look kinda stupid.

Way to waste a golden opportunity, UFO people!

Who is this mystery astronaut on Mars, and what is he/she doing to the rover?
Anyway, let's go back to late December, when the CIA publicized a list of the most downloaded documents of 2014 from its website, and revealed that the #1 declassified document of the year was a report of the CIA's top-secret U-2 spy plane program. Okay, not a huge surprise, I guess, but it was interesting that the CIA made a point of emphasizing the UFO angle in this report, not only asserting that mis-identifications of U-2s gave rise to the Air Force's "Project Blue Book" UFO study and that 50% of UFO reports from the late 1950s to the 1960s can be attributed to U-2 sightings.

These are preposterous claims anyway you look at them. The report makes it clear that the first flight of a U-2 took place in 1955, by which time the Air Force had been studying UFOs for the best part of eight years, so how did the U-2 inspire Project Blue Book? That's bad enough, but then the 50% claim isn't backed up by a single shred of evidence. Hey, CIA, why don't you show us some U-2 flight records so we can correlate them with known UFO sightings? Of course that will never happen...

In the end, one is left wondering why the CIA made such a big deal about this, as the section of the report dealing with UFOs is barely a shrug; it amounts to three paragraphs out of a 272-page report. So, why go so far as to send out this tweet on December 29 saying:
"#1 most read on our list: Reports of unusual activity in the skies in the '50s? It was us."

Very strange...

Big news item #2 came a couple weeks later when it was revealed that NASA's live video feed from the International Space Station had gone down moments after a UFO was seen in the vicinity of the station. This is huge! It's like an invasion or something!

Sadly, no. We have not been invaded, the ISS feed is back up here, and the "object" seen in the vicinity of the station does not seem to have lived up to anyone's expectations. Indeed, it may have been nothing more than a lens flare. Trouble is, noone really knows, because it hasn't returned. Or has it? It turns out, people have been spotting extraterrestrial artifacts in the ISS live feed since just about forever, and then sharing notes with the people who keep spotting jelly donuts and vandalous earth astronauts in photos sent back to earth from the Mars rovers.

Big news item #3 came about when it was announced by UFO website The Black Vault that the Air Force's Top Secret Project Blue Book files had finally been released by the government, and that The Black Vault had made all those files available online for the first time. Amazingly, lazy reporters around the world, all of whom should have known better, swallowed the story hook, line and sinker, and ran with it. Within 24 hours it was widely believed that this was a watershed moment in UFO history, that the government had finally come clean about its UFO study, and that intrepid UFO researcher John Greenewald had struck a massive blow for freedom of information and had forced the government to reveal its UFO secrets once and for all.

Again, sadly, no. The Blue Book files have been declassified and available online, for free, in a searchable format, for many, many years, which any reporter could have figured out in about three minutes. Now, when the story comes up, awkward qualifiers abound: It's the first time the entire Blue Book files have been made available; It's the first time they've been made available in .pdf document format.

Too little, too late.

So, in summation, if you believe that any publicity is good publicity, then you'd have to be pretty pleased with the abundance of high-profile UFO news hitting the mainstream press over the past month. Good for you!

If, on the other hand, you have a brain, then you know that this publicity has not done a damn thing for UFOlogy. The "CIA U-2" news simply perpetuates the dismissive, condescending, and yet somehow comforting and reassuring way the government has always dealt with the phenomenon. The silly "ISS live feed" story begs reporters to drag out the old "tinfoil hat" meme and brand us all as (mostly) harmless loonies. The "Project Blue Book now on the internet for the first time" story is perhaps the most damaging of all, because of, well, a lot of things...

I'll just point out a few of the problems, and you can add your own: among other things, this story has spawned more feuds between UFO researchers, it's given reporters reason to foster new suspicions about why there are no records of the Roswell "UFO crash" among the Blue Book files, and has given credence to the Air Force's claim that "only" 700-some UFO reports out of the thousands and thousands reported remain unexplained. And now that the backtracking and re-explaining has begun, and the news sites have begun adding disclaimers to their stories, UFOlogy looks once again like the realm of idiots, fools and liars.

What will the rest of 2015 bring?

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:

 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"????

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Phantom Menace

I've been reminiscing lately about a UFO sighting I investigated last year for MUFON. It was a 15 year-old sighting that had only been reported recently, because the witness had been so worried about his credibility and his work as an undercover law enforcement officer at the time it happened...

It was memorable to me for a couple reasons, not the least of which was that it scored close to 15% on the UFO "certainty scale," which is pretty damn high. It also involved a highly credible witness, and the presence of an unmarked military AWACS radar plane flying many, many miles from where it had any business being.

Most memorable of all, however, it also involved what the witness described as an invisible UFO cutting a V-shaped wake through the clouds, which is a very striking image, indeed...

It's a pretty intriguing case, quite inexplicable, and if you're one of those people who can't get enough of my writing you can and should read about it here, and join the debate over what type of AWACS plane it might have been.

The reason I've been thinking about this case the past couple of days is a bit weird, but what isn't here at High Strangeness?

The other day I was watching football on the TV, and at one point an unusual commercial came on. It was unusual because it wasn't trying to sell me anything or change my mind about anything. It was just showing me cool stuff for no apparent reason. First it showed me a flying wing aircraft from the 1950s, then a cool jet fighter, then a stealth bomber, then a -- holy shit, it's an AWACS!
The Grumman Flying Wing, on its very first flight, May 4, 1950. Is it just me, or are those guys standing awfully close?

By this time it's clearly a commercial for a company that builds military aircraft, but to what end? I don't buy military aircraft, nor, I wager, does anyone else who was watching that football game. So why...?

Well, in a few seconds comes the big reveal. It's a message from Northrup Grumman, makers of fine aerial war machines, who apparently just wanted to remind the football-watching American public that they are keeping us safe with their fancy bombers and drones. So, hey, great! "This," intones the commercial voice, "is what we do."

Thank you, Northrup Grumman, I guess! Keep on doing that thing that you do.

Just then, when I think I'm grasping the message behind the imagery, the ominous voice says, "... And who knows what we'll do next?"

And there, on my TV screen, is an invisible fucking aircraft cutting a V-shaped wake through the clouds...