Saturday, March 16, 2019

AAWSAP Meets the SERPO hoax

Yet another weird thing has surfaced. Perhaps many of you recall the SERPO hoax that first surfaced in  2005. Tom Delonge, founder of To The Stars Academy, knows all about SERPO. In accepting the 2017 UFO Researcher award at the International UFO Congress, Delonge said,
I’m just like you guys. I spent 20 years up all night, reading about Roswell, Dulce, Serpo, Churchill, the crashes here, Nazis building craft there, Antarctica, what’s on Mars, what’s on the back of the moon, and structures and anomalous this etc. I mean, I’ve done it all. I know it all. I read all the same authors as you guys, hundreds of books. I look at all the same sites. I listen to all the Coast To Coast stuff that you guys do. I’m the same.

The SERPO story goes like this:
the survivor [of the Roswell crash] provided them with the location of its home planet and continued to cooperate until its death in 1952. The alien provided information regarding the items found inside the crashed UFOs. One of the items was a communication device that it was allowed to use, contacting its home planet.
Fake alien image, supposedly from SERPO.

A meeting was set for April 1964, when an alien craft landed near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Upon retrieving the bodies of their dead comrades, the extraterrestrials engaged in an information exchange that was carried out in English, thanks to the aliens’ translation device. One thing led to another and in 1965, the aliens accepted to take a group of humans back to their planet as part of the exchange program. Twelve military personnel were carefully selected for a ten year stay on Serpo. The ten men and two women were specialists in various fields and their task was to gather as much information as possible, regarding all aspects of life, society and technology on the alien planet. They were three years late and four people short when they finally returned in 1978. Two men had died on the alien planet. One man and one woman had decided to stay. The journey to Serpo, located 37 light years from Earth, took only nine months aboard the alien craft.
Needless to say, the story is total bollocks, as the Brits would say. The reason this is coming up again right now is because of the people involved. One of them is Richard Doty, a well-known UFO fabulist, which is no surprise. He has confessed to supposedly providing disinformation to the poor, mad Paul Bennewitz on behalf of the Air Force. (I say that Bennewitz (1927-2003) was "mad" because he was literally using tinfoil to keep out alien thought rays, even before he had any contact with the Air Force.) Although in my view it's much more likely that Doty was operating as a free-lance disinformation agent, telling B.S. stories to Bennewitz for his own inscrutable reasons.

But two other names are indeed a big surprise, especially in the present-day context of UFOology:
  • Christopher ‘Kit’ Green, M.D. (CIA Analyst, retired)  "Kit is also a close and long-standing friend of Rick Doty, who he talked about with unguarded warmth and respect, though he was forced to admit that sometimes Rick's actions could be both puzzling and frustrating ... at a Denny's restaurant back in 1986 he, along with physicist Hal Puthoff and computer scientist and ufologist Jacques Vallee, distilled what they knew about the subject into what has become known as the 'core story.' Simply put, the core story, according to Kit, is this: "The ETs came here, maybe once, maybe a few times. Either through accident or design, the US Government acquired one of their craft. The only problem was that the physics that powered the craft were so advanced that for decades we humans have struggled to understand it or to replicate it." (quote is from Mark Pilkington's book Mirage Men, p.278-9. From the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena blog.)
Hal Puthoff (left), and Kit Green, from a video posted by Radio Misterioso.
Why this is surprising is that both these people were contracted to write papers for AAWSAP (AATIP), the Pentagon's once-secret but now-famous UFO program. Puthoff is "co-founder and Vice President of Science and Technology of TTS Academy," and their all-around go-to guy for weird physics. Here is a collection of SERPO-related emails from 2006 involving Doty, Green, Puthoff, and others. Maybe somebody can explain to us exactly what is going on? Some of these comments sound quite suspicious, to say the least:
Green to several others: "How much did you two guys tell this lady about Hal, Rick, Kit...use our names ever? Say what we were doing with the Team of Five? Give our backgrounds or credentials? Any of our emails?: (p. 8).
Bill Ryan writes to Green: "Remember: WJ, Shawnna xxxxxxxx and “Valhall” (real name xxxxxxxxxxx, “Springer”s wife) also know your involvement in the team of five. All three will be harboring grudges." "Springer" is a well-known moderator on Above Top Secret (p. 12).

Green writes to the others: "I don't know who besides the two of you know that Hal, myself, and Rick are working an issue together on Serpo (with the two of you...who are mysteriously missing from the addressee line.) No one else...ever in the entire period has ever sent a note like this linking specifically the three of us, and just the three of us. Not even Sarfatti knows, or Dan, or Collins, or WJ. Until now, maybe." (p. 12)

Green writes to the others: "to the extent this is a true story (SERPO) that is, and that at LEAST 50% is true...mixed with 50% untrue (to allow plausible deniability, as is done officially all the time) and that there is a "battle" going on with some of the insiders now being in power to stop the SERPO release officially" (p. 29). "For the nth time, and for the nth time on summary remains the same: SERPO is not is a hoax because it looks like a hoax, smells like a hoax, feels like a hoax. But it doesn't WALK like a hoax; it "walks" like someone is in or has access to official capability, or knows very advanced IT technology to legally appear they do...and may be engaged in something we simply do not understand. An Alternative Reality Game....purposely inserting memes and engrams in the collective consciousness by using a viral marketing model...fits 100% of the data I have seen. It may even be legal..and it may only be us who ends up thinking that the hurt it causes people is unethical. (p. 30).

Green writes to the others: "Well, if Hal and myself are "OUTED" we sure know who caused that, don't we?" (p. 39)

Green writes to Doty and Puthoff: "I have lost a great deal of trust in the ability of the team to either keep secrets, do what we say, and more." (p. 65).
Green is obviously very concerned about "who knows what we are doing here?" Frankly, this smells quite suspicious. Note that the website the "Team of Five" is worried about is, which is a site debunking the SERPO story. According to Shawwna at that website, "The "Team of 5" consists of: Christopher 'Kit' Green, MD, Harold Puthoff, Richard C. Doty, Victor Martinez, and Bill Ryan  In other words, they are frantic to find out 'who has been leaking information about us to the debunking website?' Puthoff and Green owe us a very good explanation of their role in the SERPO hoax and the "Team of Five" if they want to be taken seriously.

(Thanks to Curt Collins for research assistance on this and the previous posting.😃 The story of the Anti-Gravity Lawsuit will be in the next posting.)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Bigelow's Other Haunted Ranch, and More Zondo Boo-Boos

Most everyone has heard about the so-called "Skinwalker Ranch" near Ft. Duchesne, Utah, where weird paranormal events supposedly happen all the time, but somehow a bunch of smart guys with expensive cameras and state-of-the-art electronic equipment couldn't seem to capture anything over a period of several years. The ranch was purchased by the famous UFO magnate Robert Bigelow so that the people in his National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) could investigate it. They ended up with a lot of exciting stories, but little else. See the book, The Hunt for the Skinwalker by Colm Kelleher and George Knapp. (A 2018 documentary of that same name adds little.) In 2016 Bigelow sold the ranch, cryptids and all, to a corporation called Adamantium Real Estate, LLC, whose description says that it provides "recreational facilities" and "special events" for "social entertainment purposes." However, "for business purposes the owner of Adamantium Real Estate has to remain anonymous." Reportedly a forthcoming documentary will reveal the new owner, but this has not been confirmed. Today a lot of effort is going into promoting the Skinwalker "mysteries," but that's a story for another day.

Former senator Harry Reid, who appears to have created the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP, sometimes also AATIP) as a favor to his longtime campaign contributor Bigelow, said according to reporter George Knapp that "part of the [AAWSAP] focus was on a mysterious ranch in northeastern Utah, a property once owned by businessman Robert Bigelow."

According to Ancient Astronauts magazine in 1978, Jacques Vallee
might actually be the mysterious Count of Saint Germain.
The eternal Jacques Vallee has published a fourth volume of his life story Forbidden Science, which covers the 1990s. (Amazon has a long preview excerpt from this book, which might not be available to readers outside the US.) I have read the previous three volumes, and strongly recommend them to anyone interested in the history of UFO and paranormal investigations. I called Vallee "eternal" as a kind of tribute to his longevity and seeming permanence as an active UFO investigator. His career of sixty years is surely one of the very longest ever. But the suggestion was earlier made that Vallee is actually the mysterious and famous 18th Century Count of Saint Germain, who claimed to be some kind of ancient alchemical immortal. Ann Shapiro wrote in the January, 1978 issue of Ancient Astronauts magazine that Vallee might literally be the current identity used by Saint Germain, "a mysterious creature with superhuman powers." I really doubt that's true, since Vallee looks quite a bit older than he did fifty years ago. But maybe that's just to trick us? 😏

The reason I brought up Vallee is that the main point people are taking from that long excerpt from Volume 4 (I haven't had a chance to read all of it yet) is his discussion of Bigelow's other Haunted Ranch, the Mt Wilson Ranch about 180 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, which Vallee visited. I had not heard of this ranch before, and apparently hardly anyone else had, either.

According to some, lots of spooky stuff is going on at Bigelow's Mt. Wilson Ranch. Tables float in the air, and strange entities menace visitors. People are reacting as if Vallee had revealed some secret place known only to "insiders." I'm wondering how "secret" some place can actually be when it offers rooms for rent to the public? I trust that some enterprising investigator will soon book a vacation up there, then give us a report on the spooky things that did or didn't happen.

How "secret" can Bigelow's other Haunted Ranch be if it is renting out rooms to vacationers?

We reported last October how, when To The Stars went to Rome to meet with Italian UFO groups, good old Luis Elizondo, their supposed authority on UFOs, made numerous major boo-boos when talking about the famous Washington, DC UFO flap of 1952. Well, Zondo has done it again. His article "Enter The Quantum World: What The Mechanics Of Subatomic Particles Mean For The Study Of UAP, Our Universe, And Beyond" was posted on March 5. It dramatically reveals how little TTSA's go-to UFO expert, Luis Elizondo, knows about the UFO subject. In it he makes the usual sort of weird science claims like "Quantum physics helps us explain the behavior of UAP" (Quantum!!!).

But what is really revealing are his huge blunders concerning UFO history. Zondo informs us,
With Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force compiled reports of tens of thousands of UFO sightings over 17 years. But in 1966, another Air Force committee published the Condon Report, which concluded that most of the sightings examined were explainable.

Then the 2017 DoD disclosure occurred, directly contradicting the findings in the Condon Report.
Let's see: While it's true that Project Blue Book operated for seventeen years, earlier U.S. Air Force projects (Project Sign and Project Grudge) began in 1947, so the Air Force actually investigated UFOs for a total of 22 years. But more significantly, Zondo writes, "in 1966, another Air Force committee published the Condon Report." First, the Condon Report was prepared and published by the University of Colorado, under contract to the Air Force, not by an "Air Force committee." Dr. Edward U. Condon was a physicist at that university. The report was published in 1968, not 1966. These were not extemporaneous comments by Elizondo, but from a published article, which he obviously did not properly research.

But the most absurd is his claim that "DoD disclosure" happened in 2017. The Defense Department did not "disclose" anything in 2017. All that happened in such matters in 2017 was that Elizondo and a few others who were knowledgeable about the AAWSAP began to talk about it publicly. The program does not appear to have actually been classified, although its existence was not announced to the public. To The Stars claims to have chain-of-custody documentation for the DoD's supposed release of those three blurry infrared UFO videos they are so proud of, but nobody has ever seen such documentation, and the DoD denies ever having released any such thing.

As for the AAWSAP, it's not even clear if its purpose ever had much to do with UFOs. The only deliverable that AAWSAP is known at this time to have produced are thirty-eight papers on weird physics, none of which have to do with UFO investigations. So nothing has actually been "disclosed," except by TTSA itself, and by now we have all seen how credible their information isn't.

(Next: AAWSAP meets  SERPO, then later a very strange anti-gravity lawsuit).

Sunday, January 20, 2019

We Learn More About AATIP - and it's Filled with Woo!

Australian Keith Basterfield has now given us a close look at a briefing document prepared by AATIP, the Pentagon's recent UFO investigation program set up by Senator Harry Reid, and apparently for the benefit of Robert Bigelow. These documents appear to have been leaked from "a certain US website maintained by a team member of the To The Stars Academy (TTSA)" (other sources name this person as Chris Mellon).

The most interesting slide is this one. It shows that AATIP was firmly planted in the zone of fantasy science, not the real world.

"Slide 9 From Outer Space." From the AATIP briefing document (from Keith Basterfield). 
So, AATIP says that "the science exists" for "Psychotronic weapons," that we need to defend ourselves against. One website describes "Psychotronic weapons" as 
any other unacknowledged or as yet undeveloped means inflicting death or injury on, or damaging or destroying, a person (or the biological life, bodily health, mental health, or physical and economic well-being of a person) through the use of land-based, sea-based, or space-based systems using radiation, electromagnetic, psychotronic, sonic, laser, or other energies directed at individual persons or targeted populations or the purpose of information war, mood management, or mind control of such persons or populations.
The silver lining is that "psychotronic weapons" have not been shown to exist. Their use has been alleged (for example, against U.S. diplomats in Havana), but such allegations have never been proved. Conspiracy-oriented websites are filled with accounts of supposed government "mind control," and the best defense against "psychotronic weapons" is apparently a tinfoil hat. AATIP is convinced that such weapons do exist, or could be developed, and they want money to work on this.

My favorite is: "Anomalies in the space/time construct." Think about that one: supposedly some enemy might bend space and time, and kick us back into the Jurassic era, or perhaps into some distant galaxy via a cosmic wormhole. They actually believe this. Since Einstein it's been known how to 'bend' space-time: get a huge chunk of mass.  A few solar masses should suffice. Compress it into an unimaginably dense state. AATIP has never explained how they, or anyone else, might do this, let alone control it.

"Penetration of solid surfaces" is another knee-slapper. This brings to mind an actual such experiment undertaken in the Pentagon. We read in the first chapter of Jon Ronson's 2004 book, The Men Who Stare at Goats:
Gen. Stubblebine
This is a true story. It is the summer of 1983. Major General Albert Stubblebine III  [1930-2017] is sitting behind his desk... He is the United States Army's chief of intelligence, with sixteen thousand soldiers under his command...

Am I ready? he thinks. Yes, I am ready. He stands up, moves out from behind his desk, and begins to walk. I mean, he thinks, what is the atom mostly made up of anyway? Space! He quickens his pace. What am I mostly made up of? he thinks. Atoms! He is almost at a jog now. What is the wall mostly made up of? he thinks. All I have to do is merge the spaces. The wall is an illusion. What is destiny? Am I destined to stay in this room? Ha, no! Then General Stubblebine bangs his nose hard on the wall of his office. Damn, he thinks. General Stubblebine is confounded by his continual failure to walk through his wall. (p. 1-3)
AATIP informs us, "DoD has been involved in similar experiments in the past." Indeed they have, although Gen. Stubblebine is not credited. What AATIP is apparently telling us is: General Stubblebine was right, it is possible to penetrate solid surfaces and walk through walls. (An interesting piece of UFO trivia: Albert Stubblebine was married to Rima Laibow, a psychiatrist well-known for her work with supposed UFO abductees.)

"Unique cognitive human interface experiences." These are weasel words, but probably they are talking about ESP, out-of-body experiences, etc. Who knows what they really mean?

"DoD controls several facilities where activities have been detected." Note the use of the passive voice - this is not something that DoD is doing, but someone or something else is in control. What "activities" have been detected? Aliens? Ghosts? Psychic spies?   Perhaps the esteemed Mr. Elizondo could answer some of these questions for us?
AATIP ends the slide, and presumably the presentation, with the quote, "What was considered "phenomena" is now quantum physics." As Deepak Chopra would say, "QUANTUM!"

In any case, we now know what kind of 'advanced science' AATIP and TTSA are referring to. And it's the usual wacky woo stuff we find on the fringes of science, where extraordinary claims are not challenged and proof is not required. We've seen all of this before - and properly rejected it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"Project Blue Book" Flatters the Flatwoods Monster - Episode Two

Could the second episode of the monumentally misleading Project Blue Book on the "History" Channel possibly be as bad as the first? As has been said before, "Second Verse, Same as the First!"

Dr. Hynek and Mr. Malarkey find radiation while investigating the Flatwoods Monster.

Last week I presented a partial list of absurdities in the first episode. Here is this week's list:
  • Dr. Hynek did not travel to West Virginia to investigate this incident. In fact, Project Blue Book did not perform its own investigation of the Flatwoods case, but only collected a few press clippings.
  • Witnesses' eyes were not "burned," and there were no physical symptoms in anyone.
  • Debris from an alleged 'spacecraft' were not found in the woods. Nothing was found, and no object was "removed.".
  • The ground was not radioactive. 
  • The whole town did not show up and threaten to lynch the principal UFO witness, or to at least to tar-and-feather her.
  • There was no witness in a psychiatric hospital, and nobody killed themselves over this.
  • The woman whose role some have termed a 'lesbian angle' with Mimi Hynek turns out to be a Russian spy, spying on Blue Book.
  • When the boy is supposedly looking at Mars in a small telescope, they set up the telescope backwards. It is pointing at the ground, not the sky, but nobody seems to notice this.
Joe Nickell's illustration of what the witnesses
reported (left), and what they  actually saw (right).

If you want a credible account of the "Flatwoods Monster" incident, it isn't hard to find. Joe Nickell, CSI(COP)'s sole full-time researcher for lo these many years, wrote up the results of his investigation in the Skeptical Inquirer, December, 2000. The reported UFO was obviously a meteor, noting that "the fireball had been seen on a relatively horizontal trajectory in various states." So, like the Kecksburg "UFO crash" in 1965, the Flatwoods "UFO" was not just a local sighting, but actually a distant object high above the earth, seen across a very wide area. As for the "monster," Nickell agrees that it was probably a large owl sitting on a tree branch, and he sketched an illustration suggesting what they actually saw.

UFO promoters Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal,  wrote the much-cited New York Times article on December 16, 2017 that first publicly revealed the recent defense department UFO investigations launched by then-Senator Harry Reid, "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money.' They have a new UFO article in that august publication. It is about this program, Project Blue Book. They write,
The History series predictably sensationalizes and overdramatizes case investigations and the historical figures involved, adding many story elements that simply never happened. It’s already hard enough for those trying to understand the truth about government involvement with U.F.O.s without mixing fact and fiction. Nonetheless, melodrama aside, the real story is there.
What is interesting is the commentary by Mark O'Connell, author of The Close Encounters Man, a biography of Hynek. He has suggested that Hynek must be spinning in his grave because of the distortions and inventions this series. O'Connell writes on his Blog High Strangeness UFOs that he got a "surprise email" from Leslie Kean just before her latest article appeared in the New York Times, asking if he could fact check a couple of questions concerning Project Blue Book for her. He shares them with us, and I was astonished to find the following among them:
Q: Did Hynek ever crash in a plane while recreating a UFO dogfight that had been reported by a pilot?
A: That's a big NO!
Q: Did Hynek ever see what looked like an alien body floating in a tank in a secret facility, and take photos of it?
A: That's an even bigger NO!

Seriously, I never expected Leslie Kean to be as credulous and foolish as this, and so ignorant of UFO history. She seriously thought that these things might be true? It looks like I have overestimated her. (My review of her popular UFO book is here.) O'Connell says, "[Kean] has as big a problem with this show as I do, and she's going to say so in the New York Times! Halleluja!!" (emphasis in original). Unfortunately, the mild statement I quoted above seems to be as far as Kean's "big problem"with the show extends. Indeed, Kean says that "‘Project Blue Book’ Is Based on a True U.F.O. Story.". Well, loosely-based. Very loosely. She seems happy to accept any crazy thing that will promote public belief in UFOs.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The "History" Channel Mangles Project Blue Book - Episode 1

So on January 8 we finally saw the much-awaited first episode of Project Blue Book on the Channel that once showed History. It was expected to be sensationalized, and poorly-acted. Those things it was.  Where it exceeded expectations, however, was in the degree that it distorted the facts of what was, in fact, a historical incident, freely mixing sensational but fictional elements with a classic UFO incident. Public discussions of this case will now be hopelessly polluted by the made-up elements that people will now firmly believe to be part of the actual story.

The first episode is titled "The Fuller Dogfight," an obvious reference to the "classic" UFO case of the Gorman "dogfight" of 1948. (In fact, statements made at the end of the program confirm this.) This refers to a famous case in the Blue Book files occurring near Fargo, ND in which an experienced WWII pilot reported what seemed like a "dogfight" with a lighted object. Serious UFOlogists generally accept that the pilot George Gorman, while an experienced combat pilot, became disoriented while attempting to approach a lighted object at night, and reported it as performing impossible feats. The object was apparently a lighted weather balloon that had been recently launched in that area. Some will argue that it is not plausible for an experienced pilot to become so disoriented, and imagine a slowly-moving object making incredible maneuvres. They forget that J. Allen Hynek himself wrote,  "Surprisingly, commercial and military pilots appear to make relatively poor witnesses" ( The Hynek UFO Report, 1977, p. 271).

This ought to bring into mind another "classic" UFO case, this one tragic - the death of the young pilot Frederick Valentich in Australia in 1978. His attention fixed on some unidentified object - very likely Venus, that he believed to be orbiting his position - Valentich apparently became disoriented, fell into a 'graveyard spiral,' and crashed into the ocean. This chilling video from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, 178 Seconds to Live, warns about the dangers of pilots becoming disoriented when flying at night or in times of poor visibility. It is relevant to investigations of both the Gorman and the Valentich cases (and probably to the crash killing JFK Jr. as well).

Here is an off-the-top-of-my-head list of falsehoods shown or implied in "The Fuller Dogfight":
  • Gorman shot at the object. False.
  • Gorman was sent to the infirmary for an extended period of time with psychological problems. False.
  • Gorman collided with the object, which damaged his plane. False.
  • The UFO took control of Gorman's plane. False.
  • Gorman somehow anomalously hears a radio station during the incident, and became obsessed with the song. False.
  • Hynek traveled to Fargo to investigate this case on-site. False. Indeed, Mark O'Connel, author of the first biography of J. Allen Hynek, noted on Facebook that in the episode "Hynek drove from Fargo, ND to Columbus, OH seemingly in a matter of minutes. It's a 15 hour drive today, but back then there were no interstates."
  • Hynek and his Air Force "handler," a pilot, went up in a plane to try to duplicate the encounter. The plane crashed, but both survived. This is beyond ridiculous.
  • A "Man in Black" was watching the investigation, uselessly, from a distance. The stories about the Men In Black originated with  Albert K. Bender in 1953.
And even as we read this, more absurdities and anachronisms in the program are being spotted, and posted on the Internet. In a few days the list will no doubt be much longer. Even "Disclosure" champion Stephen Bassett is concerned about this, gently but firmly noting that
it is important to publicly point out the simple fact there is quite a gap between the theatrical presentation of Hynek's life and the real life. It would be helpful if a fact vs. fiction page of quality was developed and updated as the series moves forward. Researchers and others might prepare for how they will respond to questions from the more confused viewers who watch and then Google.
And if a UFO program is bad enough to worry Stephen Bassett, it has got to be really bad! If the story were entirely fiction, there would be no problem. The problem occurs, however, because "Project Blue Book" references real people, real organizations, real incidents, but in a grossly distorted and misleading way. 

The UFO panel at the 1984 CSICOP Conference, Stanford, CA. From left: J. Allen Hynek, yours truly,
astronomer Andrew Fraknoi, Philip J. Klass, physicist Roger Culver. Photo by Gary Posner.
Let me also say, as someone who has spent a lot of time listening to Hynek speak in person, that Aidan Gillen is not convincing as J. Allen Hynek. He does not look like Hynek, he does not sound like Hynek, he does not act like Hynek. And he doesn't even have Hynek's trademark goatee. I think Gillen ought to listen to some of the many YouTube videos showing Hynek's TV appearances, to practice and make his act more convincing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Look, Ma! I'm on Ancient Aliens!

Look, I am part of Ancient Aliens history! My sharp-eyed, semi-anonymous friend Mrherr Zaar spotted this on-screen. It's a piece I wrote for NICAP's UFO Investigator (October, 1974) that is on-screen long enough to catch the word "charlatanism" to prove that contemporary researchers weren't taking Von Daniken seriously. It is part of the series celebrating the anniversary of Chariots of the Gods that has been airing in the past few days (S13 E14).

This was briefly seen on Ancient Aliens, Series 13 Episode 14.

"In the late sixties and early seventies, it was a time when everyone just listened to the experts", laments David Childress early on in the episode (hat tip to another semi-anonymous friend, Claude Falkstrom). I'm flattered to be called an "expert" on Ancient Aliens, but I just wish that NICAP had spelled my name correctly!! I didn't watch this episode, or any other in recent years - ye gods, thirteen seasons!!! Looking at the current program offerings on the "History" Channel, their prime-time lineup is pretty much all UFOs and Ancient Aliens, all the time. It's really the Pseudo-History Channel now.

During the 1950s and 60s, NICAP was the most important UFO group in the U.S. By the early 70s, after the Condon Report and after the closure of Project Blue Book, NICAP had faded into insignificance, all of its key personnel having gone elsewhere. It disbanded soon afterward. That made APRO the major UFO group in the 1970s. With the death of APRO's founders in the 1980s, Coral and Jim Lorenzen, APRO disbanded, making MUFON the major UFO group, as it is today.

 I have scanned the article, and put it on-line.  This was my very first published article. 

Speaking of Project Blue Book, a new series of that name premieres on the "History" channel tonight! And J. Allen Hynek is the main character. The show is obviously a mixture of factual material with fiction, probably serving to conflate the two forever in the mind of the public.

David Childress of Ancient Aliens at his literature table at the 2016 UFO Congress, 
taking the name of Science in vain. Animated and energetic, he wows the assembled crowd. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Two Easily-Identified UFOs Grab Media Attention

What with all of the publicity concerning To The Stars and government UFO programs, UFOs have once again become a hot topic to the public, and to the major media. So sometimes UFO reports grab major publicity, even cases in which just a little investigation leads to a clear solution.

On November 12, the major Italian newspaper Il Messagiero ran a story about "mysterious lights in the California sky" on October 27, and linked to the above video. They said that it shows
a particularly bright plane that falls into a dive. Then that same light suddenly stopped. And a few seconds later, a short distance later, another one came up. From that moment on, the two lights moved much more slowly. A movement that led conspiracy experts to think of two unidentified flying objects. 
Our friend Scott Brando of "UFO of Interest" was quick to point out the similarity to other videos of parachutists carrying smoke or lights. Scott has been doing an excellent job exposing hoaxes and misidentifications posted on social media. There are a lot of them, so it's been keeping him pretty busy.

I first saw the video (taken just a few miles from where I live) when a local UFOlogist sent the link to his email list.  A simple search for parachutists in San Diego on October 27 led to the following:

Before every demonstration we first do a "streamer pass" to help us gauge wind speed and direction. Sometimes we'll activate a smoke canister attached to one of our foot brackets and perform what's known as an "early burn." When you see the “early burn” smoke it means we're ready to go. The smoke canisters attached to our feet make it easier for you to see us. Sometimes we're more than two miles up!

The United States Navy Parachute Team “The Leap Frogs” is the official parachute demonstration team of the United States Navy. Part of the United States Naval Special Warfare Command. The Leap Frogs Navy Parachute Team is made up of active-duty Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) and support personnel. The team is sanctioned by the Department of Defense and recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration.
So that one is nailed down pretty tightly: the "UFOs" were Navy parachutists.

Pilots see a UFO over Ireland (
The second case garnered considerably more publicity, and was covered as a major news story by media throughout the world. The Irish Examiner reported on November 12 , "Close encounter with UFO off Irish coast leaves pilots ‘wondering’ ":
The Irish Aviation Authority has begun an investigation into the sighting of an unidentified flying object (UFO) by a number of aircraft off the south-west coast of Ireland last Friday. At approximately 6.47am on November 9, the pilot of a British Airways flight, call sign Speedbird94, contacted Shannon Air Traffic Control (ATC) to ask if there were military exercises taking place in the airspace through which her Boeing 787 was passing. There were no military exercises underway.

Shannon ATC replied: “There is nothing showing on either primary or secondary [radar].” The pilot responded: “OK. It was moving so fast.” The controller then asked: “Alongside you?”

The BA pilot, flying from Montreal to Heathrow, describes how the UFO came up along the left-hand side of the aircraft, “then rapidly veered to the north”. She said it was “a very bright light” that “disappeared at very high speed”.

She said they were “wondering” what it could be, that it did not seem to be on a collision course. ... The Irish Examiner contacted the Irish Aviation Authority to ask if it was investigating the UFO.

In a statement, the authority said: “Following reports from a small number of aircraft on Friday, November 9, of unusual air activity, the IAA has filed a report. “This report will be investigated under the normal confidential occurrence investigation process.”

The incident was reported in many different media. "ALERT Irish Aviation Authority is investigating after #BA94 and #VS76 pilots reported UFO off Irish coast." The reports were widely shared on social media. 

A video from a dashboard camera was published, revealing a very brief, very bright object. The International Meteor Organization received five reports of  "a fireball seen over Northern Ireland and Scotland on Friday, November 9th 2018 around 06:44 UT." Observers reported that it was extremely bright - brighter than the full moon, although not as bright as the sun. The local time here is the same as UT, so this occurred about 6:45 AM - otherwise it probably would have been even more widely reported.

Graphic showing the location of the bolide, and of the observers.

Incidents such as these, widely reported, serve to keep UFOs in the public eye. And as always, more people see the article proclaiming the incident to be "unexplained" than see the eventual solution.