Friday, June 29, 2012

"Chasing UFOs," National Geographic Style - Texas is for Sightings

So, Friday evening was a marathon of the first two episodes of The National Geographic Channel's "Chasing UFOs," repeated ad nauseam. In my previous Blog posting, I cited reasons to fear that the series would be lurid and sensational. Those fears have been shown to be well-founded.

The first episode was Texas Is For Sightings, and it was mostly about the mass sightings in Stephenville, Texas, not far from Dallas-Ft. Worth,  on January 8, 2008. The way they investigate this is to go to Stephenville and arrange a "UFO Town Hall Meeting" to "share stories," i.e. tell random anecdotes about lights seen in the sky. (To a UFOlogist, the plural of "anecdote" is "data.") There was no order to these accounts, and no reason to believe that any one account has anything to do with any other. They ignore the fact that the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek, former scientific consultant to the Air Force's Project Blue Book and Patron Saint of today's UFOlogists, repeatedly said that reports of lights in the sky are of little or no value. He also said, contradicting the program, that pilots make relatively poor observers while they are engaged in flying their aircraft.

Ben McGee stumbling around in the dark
A fellow named Kacey Simmons claimed to have seen UFOs in a particular forested area, so the UFO Chasers decide to go there to check it out. At night, of course. So they attach themselves to absurd-looking night vision equipment with long booms protruding from shoulder braces, looking very much like people with broken necks wandering about. We repeatedly hear one or another excitedly exclaim, "What the (bleep) was that?" They take a video of a light in the sky "changing sizes," not realizing that is the operation of their camera's auto focus function, trying to bring the light into focus. We hear coyotes howl in the distance, and they have an almost-encounter with a wild boar. Such are the hazards facing those who dare to pursue extraterrestrials. They photograph an aircraft with three lights, and wonder if it is from earth.
The UFO video taken by Mauricio Ruiz
Later they bring in UFO author John Alexander, who has nothing to do with the Stephenville sightings, and doesn't even mention them in his book. They interview Mauricio Ruiz, who made a very hokey-looking video of a hat-shaped UFO, and nobody wants to whisper the word "hoax." In the local library they find an account from 1891 of a meteor that reportedly exploded, showering the area around the Grist Mill with a fine meteor dust. They decide to go investigate that one - in the dark. That it might be easier to find meteor dust in  daylight seems not to occur to them. So back on go the prosthetic braces, and they stumble about some more. Again, they are almost attacked by a wild boar. They photograph a reflective object that appears like it might be circular, but it is suspiciously close to some power line poles. It looked to me like it could be a light reflection off a transformer on the pole (I have seen such things), but we only see the scene in darkness. It didn't occur to any of them to come back and photograph that same scene in the daylight to find out what it might have been.

It's strange that the National Geographic Channel would put so much emphasis on the Stephenville case. There is no longer any mystery about what happened in Stephenville on January 8, 2008. UFO skeptic and retired Air Force pilot James McGaha investigated, and submitted his findings to Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier, who published them in the January/February, 2009 issue. The article is on-line here.
The FAA informed McGaha on January 18 that a group of four F-16s from the 457th Fighter Squadron entered the operating area at 6:17 pm local time. A second group of four F-16s entered the same area at 6:26 pm. They departed at 6:54 and 6:58, respectively. The time the aircraft were flying in the MOA accords with the time of the sightings....
What were the aircraft doing? McGaha says they were flying training maneuvers that involved dropping extraordinarily bright flares. The LUU/2B/B flare is nothing like the standard flares you might think of. These flares have an illumination of about two million candlepower. They are intended to light up a vast area of the ground for nighttime aerial attack. Once released, they are suspended by parachutes (which often hover and even rise due to the heat of the flares) and light up a circle on the ground greater than one kilometer for four minutes. The flare casing and parachute are eventually consumed by the heat. At a distance of 150 miles, a single flare can still be as bright as the planet Venus. McGaha also describes the testimony of a medical helicopter pilot, a retired U.S. Army pilot, flying that night, who saw the lights. He said: “I saw multiple military aircraft, with some dropping flares, in the area of the Brownwood 1 MOA.”
Case closed. The Stephenville case was essentially a repeat of the flare drop responsible for the famous Phoenix Lights in 1997. Don't the National Geographic researchers know how to use Google??? Those responsible for this program must be either totally incompetent, or else deceitful. They must know that the Stephenville mass sighting was simply a flare drop, but how can you make a mystery out of that?

See the next Blog posting for more about Chasing UFOs..


  1. And National Geo have conducted a survey to tell us how many people believe in UFOs
    The bad news for Republicans is that more people think Obama would do a better job of handling an alien invasion than Mitt Romney.

  2. This show really sucks, it's like a mix between finding Bigfoot and ghost hunters. I wanted to set fire to my tv. No wonder people can't take this matter serious.

  3. The best word I can find to describe the show: childish. I saw both episodes (if by saw you mean watching on the neighbor's television while also finishing off Nick Redfern's terrible book on demonic UFOs and looking after the neighbor's cat). I felt like I was watching kids playing a make-believe game akin to cops and robbers. It went from stupid to ludicrous when they start sneaking around the fence of some sort of base, and are supposedly hiding, yet are being shot by a third-party camera crew from an angle that would be easily seen by the guard supposedly chasing them.

    1. I agree. Living in Fresno, I watched with interest. But I couldn't believe they had the nerve to act like something nefarious was going on at the airport when it also houses the AIR NATIONAL GUARD. They are lucky they weren't arrested, but someone was probably in on the whole thing. STUPID.

  4. I found it entertaining when they posed the question to the Town Hall group: "Who here has ever seen something in the sky they could not identify?", and then seemed awed that almost every hand went up.
    There was no context and unless you;re a professional pilot who has studied every type of aircraft and can identify them from the ground at any distance, you would have had your hand up as well.

  5. Found this site immediately after watching the first episode. I'd take this a step further, I found their ignorant hodgepodge of random events and night camera footage to be insulting. Almost as though they think viewers are just morons that like watching "blair witch" style videos of pretty much anything. Why the long segment of them being afraid of the "boar"? Sure sounded like cattle to me. Maybe they should have just thrown in some cow tipping while they were at their "investigation"... LAME LAME LAME! The hunter guy's story was interesting but the video they kept showing had features that he made no mention of. Did he really look through the scope? Did it really have texture? I was interested in the guy, but these actors outright pissed me off with their claptrap. I agree with the guy above that said he wanted to burn his TV. They staged Ricky Sorrells like he randomly showed up at the town hall meeting but he has been interviewed extensively. These shows are worse than the commercials nowadays. Time to stop watching tv.

  6. I used to think that NatGeo had more integrity than the all the Discovery brand combined, with the exception of the Science Channel ( which only shows "How It's Made" episodes ad infinitum). I was wrong. Unfortunately NatGeo has decided to abandon a universe of stimulating information and facts to go whoring among the rest of the banal cable channels for ratings. Ah, that wonderful bottom line so cherished by the bean counters of the world. Too bad for NatGeo they decided to embrace the fruit loop-block of the 'Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense". I will no longer embrace them since their integrity is now completely compromised.

  7. more fake science as the American people abandon religion and replace it with other supernatural fictions

  8. "Oh My God...A Helicopter Taking off from an Airfield!"

  9. Totally Stupid show, not oringinal, just a mash up of SYFY's "investigation shows". Also a joke! NatGeo is going downhill just like all stations. Only thing on TV you can believe are real are sports events and crime documentories on ID, 20/20,and Dateline. At least you can lookup if someone died and not these rediculouse para-normal shows.

  10. Great article. Liked it. And I'm surprised of the poor quality of NG shows. I think their magazine is so much better than their TV-programs.

  11. I managed ten minutes of the first episode. After that I couldn't take it anymore, it was actually worse than I had feared.

  12. I'll make the point a slightly different way. NGC has caved in to the ratings temptation that has rendered half of the History Channel's programming "woo appealing" i.e. Nostradamus and the spinoffs ad nauseum; Ancient aliens; December 21 2012 programs; UFO's etc.etc. Discovery Channel still resisting; hang in there Phil Plait.

  13. Robert,

    I appreciate your taking the time to review the show. While I felt at times a bit outnumbered and had no ultimate control over the artistic direction of the episodes, if you are at all interested in more of the scientific interviews and activities that we did perform and that I did attempt to provide/inject, visit the NatGeoTV blog for an article series I am running in concert with each episode's release, called "The Science of Chasing UFOs." (If the content didn't make the episode, by gantry I'm working to ensure that it at least makes a blog.)

    Episode 1:
    Episode 2:

    Ben McGee

    (PS - If, as I would imagine, you might be interested in my rationale for engaging in the project in the first place, an interview I gave does a pretty good job of covering what brought me onboard:

    1. Hello, Ben, and thanks for your comment.

      Your Blog is interesting. I agree 100% with what you say about the absurd energy requirements for interstellar travel. I’m writing a book of Bad UFOs, and I will spell this out in detail. The best argument against “nuts and bolts” interstellar travel is by Edward Purcell, Nobel prize-winning physicist, in Radioastronomy and Communication Through Space (Cameron, A.G.W. (editor), Interstellar Communication. New York: W.A. Benjamin, Inc., 1963.) That’s why I think all this talk about “xenoarchaeology” is a waste of time, at least from the standpoint of ETI.

      Richard Haines (and Leslie Kean as well) are of the opinion that pilots make some kind of ‘super-witness,’ whose observations are somehow much more solid than other peoples.’ But J. Allen Hynek, former Project Blue Book consultant, came to a different conclusion, based on all the UFO reports he had seen: in his 1977 book The Hynek UFO Report, he wrote, “Surprisingly, commercial and military pilots appear to make relatively poor witnesses”

      I agree that Leroy Gaitan’s video seems to show an astronomical object, probably a bright planet. But why stop there? Why not complete the investigation and determine which object he had filmed? The UFO Chasers seem to have this strange reluctance to follow any investigation through to its conclusion.

      As for the Stephenville mass sightings, if you read my review of your first episode, you know that there is no doubt as to the objects’ identity. As explained in The Skeptical Inquirer, January/February 2009, the FAA and the Air Force have confirmed that F-16s were present at the place and time of the sighting. They were dropping flares, just like the famous Phoenix Lights. Case closed. There is no mystery here. Do you agree that the mass sighting in Stephenville was a flare drop? I see that you gave yourself some ‘wiggle room’ by mentioning “flares” as a possibility. Might this be one of those instances where ‘telling the truth’ would be detrimental in the extreme to commercial interests?

      When I saw Ryder’s UFO video, I wondered if it might not be something actually attached to the telephone pole, like a transformer. I have seen light reflections of that kind that, initially, looked startling and spooky. Unfortunately, you guys did not go back there to study the area in daylight.

      Ben, that segment where you guys were stumbling around the Grist Mill in the dark was not one of television’s finest hours. You are right to suspect an “embellished story.” For example, the “Martian” craft that allegedly knocked down the windmill in Aurora, Texas in 1897.

      I agree that reverse-engineering an alien technology might be extremely problematic. For example, look at all the custom integrated circuits inside today’s smart phones. If you could go back 100 years and show this to Lee DeForest (the inventor of amplifying vacuum tubes, and probably the top electronics expert of his day), there is no way he could have figured out the function of its parts. There are just too many principles it is based upon that he did not know. So reverse-engineering would be an extremely long and painstaking process (although Corso would have us believe that we were reverse-engineering alien technology almost as soon as the supposed Roswell crash debris had cooled!). But in light of what we said earlier about the difficulties of interstellar travel, this is a bit like asking, “What is the proper medical treatment for people bitten by unicorns?”

      You don’t mention in your Blog anything about the reported “close encounter” of Manuel Amparano. Skeptic Tim Printy reminded me that his sighting came just two minutes after a known rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB, an event visible for hundreds of miles. Do you agree that all Officer Amparano saw was a rocket launch?

      Anyway, it’s great to hear from you. You wouldn’t happen to be attending Randi’s Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas, July 12-15 ( I’ll be there, it’s a chance to meet and talk with a lot of other skeptics.

    2. Robert,

      Much of the apparent lack of follow-through was a result of a furious travel schedule. Whereas I presumed we'd have an opportunity to go back and complete the assessment(s), we were often on a plane to a new location almost immediately following filming each segment. To boot, I was in most cases intentionally kept in the dark (so-to-speak) about our witnesses or locations until I was brought onsite because I am not an actor and it was desired that my reaction be "fresh." The unfortunate side-effect was that I was usually scrambling to process all of the information and turn around a sensible physical survey in real time. (Further, I now have the impression that the production goal of the project was to inspire questions, not deliver answers.)

      I'm familiar with Hynek's assessment about pilots-as-witnesses, with each supplying bias according to their training - military pilots reporting active maneuvers, commercial pilots concerned with collisions. To me, however, it was Haines's *rationale* that I felt was noteworthy.

      As for Leroy Gaitan's video, there was some ambiguity in the exact date/time of his sighting, so I didn't claim to know exactly which planet he saw. But you and I both know that the only real likely culprits with the necessary intensity are either Jupiter or Venus. (And like a cliche' skeptic, my money is on Venus.)

      Regarding the Stephenville sighting, yes, I described/attributed many reports as flares. (Additionally, I also believe some of the lights filmed were so-called "diamond" patterns in turbine exhaust during jet throttle-up. Very cool, really.) However, I didn't conclude military exercises or flares as the definitive solution for the entirety of the "mass sighting" because of the spectrum of different sighting descritpions - certainly the ambiguous lights with the right intensity, wavelength are likely military in nature. However, claims of enormous, metallic craft with dimensions far exceeding known aircraft - I can't conclude that these were military as well. Without more evidence or data, I can't really conclude anything about those claims at all. (Optical illusion "connecting the dots" between lights? Strange cloud formations? Unexpected airship up close? Outright hallucination? Other?) So, this lack of certainty was not borne of a fear of commercial detriment... (which is not a concern of mine at all.) If anything, it was out of a sense of responsibility to the actual ambiguity in reported information. I have no idea what it was that many of those people claimed to have seen. be cont'd...

    3. ...cont'd...

      I'd love to go into the rationale behind "xenoarchaeology" further with you at some point in the future. Because while (as mentioned) interstellar travel is difficult, given the span of deep time available in the galaxy to-date, (and the energy-efficiency of sending physical artifacts as opposed to high-power radio broadcasts as a means of transmitting information - a "Voyager" scenario,) I actually believe that the first evidence of ETI will be in the form of a fossil or artifact... *Before* the astrobiologists discover a hit. But this is strictly a personal opinion. (Though I believe time is on my side. =)

      Again, for word count, I ended up trimming my thoughts on Officer Amparano's event from the blog. Based on his description, (and the fact that his account was very lucid,) I do not agree that his sighting was a plume from a rocket launch. However, after speaking with professional electricians I know, the color described (bluish-white) and potential movement (streaking sideways) agrees with the idea that it may have been ball-lightning-like phenomena associated with (and personally-witnessed by the guy I talked to) a highly-charged powerline. Thermal release from what amount to a ball of plasma could account for the burns. This, to me, is a better match to the reported characteristics of the event. Again, however, this is purely speculation... Without more information it's difficult for me to conclude anything about his "sighting." Would love to attempt a recreation and compare.

      In any event, great to make your acquaintance as well! I had been planning on attending TAM!, (especially considering I live in Vegas,) but I believe I am now traveling to Comic-Con at the same time to promote the television show. We'll see how the schedule goes. -Would love to link up with like-minded folks, as I have felt a little outnumbered lately.

      I would encourage you to continue reviewing the show as well, as I feel the critical conversation is important (and as the series progresses I became more savvy about how to ensure the inclusion of science information, more follow-through.) Two cents. =)


    4. Ben,

      Yes, I recall one time doing a TV talk show when during the commercials, I was told not to discuss anything with the other guests, to keep the show “fresh.” And it’s always frustrating, how much is filmed vs. how little gets used.

      I assumed that we knew the exact time and place that Gaitin’s video was taken. If not, we can’t be sure what he recorded, but yes it likely is Venus. About Stephensville, you say “However, claims of enormous, metallic craft with dimensions far exceeding known aircraft - I can't conclude that these were military as well.” See my Blog entry of April 30 about the “Top Ten” Yukon UFO sighting. Witnesses reported a huge structured craft, but the object matched perfectly in time, position, and movement with a fiery re-entering Cosmos rocket booster. So one can’t take the observers’ descriptions as “Gospel,” so to speak. As the motto of the Royal Society says, nullius in verba – take nobody’s word for it. Ditto for Officer Amparano’s sighting. You say you don’t think it was a rocket “plume”: it was not the “plume,” but the rocket itself lifting up into the sky, its engine flames pointing toward him. Even from a distance of hundreds of miles, it is a spectacular sight. As for those “professional electricians’” comments, that’s the old “plasma hypothesis” of UFOs. Back in 1966, avionics journalist Philip J. Klass began promoting this same theory about how a ball lightning-like phenomenon was responsible for most dramatic UFO sightings. But gradually as crafty old Uncle Phil got a better understanding of the full scope of UFO sightings and claims, he began to appreciate the role of witness fallibility and of hoaxes. Within a few years his earlier enthusiasm for the plasma hypothesis was all but forgotten. If you are claiming that Amparano saw ‘something else very spectacular’ at the exact same time as the brilliant rocket was launched from Vandenberg, I can only say that is a pretty darn amazing coincidence. It places you in the same position as those who claim that a real ‘close encounter’ UFO was seen in the Yukon at the exact same time and place that the Cosmos rocket booster was burning up. I think Occam’s Razor requires us to say that, once it is determined that a spectacular bright prosaic object matches in place and time with a reported UFO, well, entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

      Yes, a number of skeptics are grumbling that TAM and Comic-Con are at the same time this year! This is, I believe, the first time that was the case. And since I’m in San Diego, I tried to get tickets to Comic-Con (before the dates for TAM had been announced), but they all sold out in like an hour. Actually, I will be in Vegas as of Monday, so if your schedule permits perhaps we could meet up – email me at . And good luck at getting more science into the show. I think most of the problems stem from the assumption that UFOs are something that can be “chased” (or at least “encountered”) in real-time. As you perhaps know, real-time UFO chasing was also the hope of Bigelow in his financing of MUFON’s “star team,” and before that the National UFO Reporting Center, and before that Hynek’s plan for a nationwide UFO hotline. All of these led only to disappointment. Both UFO skeptics and proponents realize that stumbling about in the dark and exclaiming “what the (bleep) was that??” is not a sensible way to investigate UFO claims.

    5. Robert,
      As far as Stephenville goes, I have a web site describing events that night. I just finished watching the show and I was amazed on how Steve Allen's and Leeroy Gaitan's statements seemed to have changed in four years. Take a look at the table I have on my web page with quotes from their original reports:

      In the program, Allen claimed the UFO was close and personal but in 2008, his raw/unedited report in the NUFORC database indicated he saw two sets of flashing strobe lights (I believe he said there were seven in the show but in the MUFON report there were only four lights mentioned - see page 32 - he is witness B) headed towards Stephenville (over 7 miles away!). The maximum elevation angle mentioned in the MUFON report is 20 degrees. All of this indicates that Allen's claim that it was close by and they should have heard the UFOs if they were a formation of planes is bogus. BTW, the two formations of F-16s (with bright flashing anti-collision strobes on their tales) passed over the Stephenville area (again over 7 miles away from Allen's location) about the same time Allen claimed to see his UFO! This was never mentioned in the show and there seemed to be no effort to explore this bit of important information. If only they did a little homework and looked at my web site!

      BTW, Venus was a morning object in January 2008 but Fomalhaut and Altair were bright and low in the west and southwestern sky (another bright star near the horizon was Vega in the NW). Gaitan's video does not appear to match the statements he made to the press/MUFON.

      All of this could have been researched. I am curious what happened to the UFO they recorded with Kacey Simmons about half way through the show. They recorded it and then simply jumped to talking to Alexander as if they did not want to discuss it anymore!

      I did not bother to watch the second show. My guess is this is beginning to look like UFO hunters redux with Fox looking more and more like Bill Birnes! All he needs is a ball cap, some sun glasses, and a peacoat with the collar turned up.

    6. Tim,

      Once again you have made a very significant observation, that some major witnesses whose cases are featured in the first two episodes of Chasing UFOs seem to have changed their stories quite substantially since their very first reports. This makes it very hard to believe that their reports are sincere and accurate; instead they seem to be seeking publicity and attention by "improving" their UFO report.

      I hope Ben McGee is paying attention to what Tim is pointing out. It illustrates clearly why it is not a good idea to take unsubstantiated UFO reports at face value.

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. I really have to look at my spelling. It is "tails" and not "tales".

      I saw this happening the instant, I saw the sign on the town hall stating they were going to have a "nationally televised" town meeting. That brings in all sorts of story-tellers and others are going to try and make their stories sound more exotic/better. It is a common feature in story-telling.

  14. Just watched the 2 episodes.

    Terrible, terrible show.

  15. These sensational shows for the credulous public are very sad! I appeal to all skeptics to make their concerns known to NatGeo. Hopefully, Ben will take a more rational/skeptical approach if this show continues to air.

  16. Gotta love how they pretend there's something of interest, like at the airport or in the tunnel, only to reveal later in the episode it was of no significance. Of course, at that point they could have edited out of their episode before it aired. Do they? Of course not. The show is disingenuous and all have lost all credibility. Nat geo should be ashamed of themselves, as well as the ACTORS pretending to care about legitimate research.

  17. National Geographic has been sliding downhill for some time with their low quality, American-style programming (background music far too loud, jerky cams, and "experts" who are too young and photogenic to have any credibility. Unfortunately, this show represents a new low and even I am not sure I can watch more of these shows. They are actually painful!

  18. I want to be fair about the show as far as the content critics. The UFO phenomena is a mystery as we all know. So it is to me a bit judgemental if anyone make a negative remark as far as the phenomena itself due to poor acting or poor editing. The poor acting and or poor editing could represent a problem to scientifically expose the phenomena when a credible Ufologist as James Fox is linked to two regular non acting people who are been reprensented as skeptic/ skeptive believer; who mixed night darkness fear based acting with a serious scientific project. I think in my honest opinion that the show did not needed two actors and a serious and credible Ufologist. I think it just needed James as the only and sole investigator and serious documentary host and field expert. I agree that from a scientific view he needed a scientist, but I often wonder if Ben is realy in the show to research or to act. And if thats the case then James did not needed to be in between a "XENA" The warior princes type of female actor as Ryder is and he did not needed Ben to consult to. And if the show was in fact to seriously research the UFO phenomena sighting and experiences that several serious and key witneses saw and even recorded or photographed, then it is an insult to the credibility of these good people who has placed their lives and the security of their homes on the hands of National Geographic producers who has no problem distroying the credibility of this brave human beings who were honest and brave enough to come forward with these sightings to get an honest scientific answer. Hopefully National Geographic takes that in consideration, as if anyone who participated in the documentary feels desrespected or ridiculed in any way, shape or form, may legaly implicate James and his credibilty as well. I sure hope that the other episodes are a bit more serious about the phenomena and their respective experiencers as well as James Fox character be taken in consideration as a serious Ufologist and the Professional we all in this field respect and admire.
    Thank you.

  19. JWK
    One problem with thishow is the extremely soft presentation of so called facts, As such there is little educational content included in each episode. Unfortunately most people would not be able to tell Venus or Jupiter from a distant street light. It seems as if national geographic TV has gone around the bend ,"so to speak"on this series. There must be serious problems at the management level to finance(read spend the members money) on this presentation
    Thank you,

  20. Corection Chasing U F Os is FUBAR

  21. I thank you for putting the review of the show. I couldnt stop laughing while reading your review. this made my day and have to completeley agree with you. this show is completely staged.
    If your looking for a good laugh, the programmes probably one of the best comedy shows around now on the National Geographic.

    Thanks once again for this extremely funny review.

    p.s love ur use of the prosthetics term when describing their ugly camera attachments. U made my day.

  22. A bit late to the party here, but trying to catch up.

    After reading the blog entry here, I tried out the episode on Youtube, wondering if it was as bad as the comments indicate.
    To coin a phrase, wow, just wow.

    The preview was more than ridiculous- it was an insult. "Our investigators"- cue to bumblers stumbling blindly through the dark (it reminded me of the MST3K episode of Monster A-Go-Go where Mike yells out "just take a penalty and drop already").

    The utterly credulous reactions of the crew, the idiotic night forays- "let's throw some scientific-looking gizmos at it!", the town hall meeting. I could only gasp in disbelief. On a side note, I wonder if any con-artists took note of the meeting participants for later use.

    I soldiered through for as long as I could stomach it. I think the 22-minute-mark was my cut-off. It was too much, and more than a little sad. Worse yet, some of the uncritical comments from other viewers demonstrate the need for improving the state of education here.

  23. I detest the format of reality shows is this is a sad day for serious researchers.. I would like to set the record straight on something in the original post. The late Dr J. Allen Hynek, former scientific consultant to the Air Force's Project Blue Book began as a confirmed sceptic of the UFO phenomenon, but as time went on realised there was something to it after all. Of course lights in the sky have limited value, doesn't mean that some of them aren't worth investigating. Also, there have been many pilot cases witnessed by more than just the pilot. These cases go back to the 2nd WW and before and some cannot be so easily explained away.

  24. They just started to present the Chasing UFOs on Prima Zoom Channel (Czech Republic). All I can say after 2 episodes is that "Chasing UFOs" is the top of the top of stupidity, total crap. I've had enough.

  25. Robert, I would suggest you read the report that Glen Schultze and I made on the Stephenville event. A copy is available here:

    There are a number of incorrect statements in your article:

    “There was no order to these accounts” – This is untrue. The witness accounts are laid out in chronological order.

    “To a UFOlogist, the plural of ‘anecdote’ is ‘data’.” – If you read the report, radar data is included and is matched up with witness testimony.

    “ ...reports of lights in the sky are of little or no value.” – Your quote of Hynek is limited and is taken out of context so as to make your point. Hynek was referring to the weakness of ‘lights in the sky’ being the only evidence. In this case we have radar data, multiple witnesses, and statements from a policeman of a physical object.

    You indicate that McGaha explained it satisfactorily as flares. – Again, I urge you to read the actual report objectively. We picked up the F-16s using the radar data that we were supplied. We knew where the F-16s were at all times. And we know within 1-2 minutes the exact time that the witnesses saw the unknown lights and the direction in which they were looking. There were no F-16s in the direction that the witnesses were looking at that specific time. Additionally, flares don't show up on radar.

    “Once released, they are suspended by parachutes.” – This is incorrect. The flares that the AF releases in the Brownwood MOA are not flares designed to illuminate the ground but are defensive flares used to protect the aircraft from heat seeking missiles. I’ve been in the Brownwood MOA and have seen those types of flares from the ground as well as from a small aircraft.

    “Those responsible for this program [National Geographic] must be either totally incompetent, or else deceitful.” – The National Geographic show was not totally accurate in their portrayal of what happened on the night of January 8, 2008 in Stephenville. That is true of every TV show that I’ve ever seen whether it is portraying UFOs, Civil War History, or whatever. Their goal is to entertain the public. But I would not make a statement that you made indicating that they are “totally incompetent, or else deceitful.” Should someone make the same statement of you based on the inaccuracies in your article?

    In writing the 70+ page report on the Stephenville Lights, Glen Schultz and I spent an enormous amount of time analyzing the radar data. Glen is a former radar engineer that worked for the U.S. Army at White Sands. Yet, all that McGaha could argue was that we just “cherry picked” radar points and connected dots. (And McGaha is a guy that has no knowledge of analyzing FAA radar data in its raw form, yet feels fine making a slanderous statement such as that.) Additionally, I personally interviewed Leroy Gaitan, Steve Allen, and the other witnesses multiple times. There is a big difference between actually interviewing witnesses and being an arm chair quarterback trying to figure out what went on.

    Please read our full report. We did not claim that aliens were running around in UFOs that night. What we did say was that we could not explain the event that occurred with any type of terrestrial aircraft, flares, astronomical objects, or anything else. So the objects that night over Stephenville remain as unknowns.


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