Friday, April 18, 2014

UFO, or Satellite Re-Entry? Finally, a List!

As "UFO Realists" (meaning, those of us who think that facts matter when it comes to evaluating UFO claims), we all realize that at least some dramatic UFO reports are misperceptions of objects burning up upon entering (or, in the case of satellites, re-entering) the earth's atmosphere. We know, for example, about the Zond IV re-entry in 1968, widely seen across the United States, and widely reported as a UFO, with "impossible details" added to what was actually visible.

Ted Molczan of Toronto, Ontario, is perhaps the world's leading civilian authority on observing earth satellites, and calculating their orbits. He is a principal contributor to the SEESAT list, the principal on-line forum of the world's serious amateur satellite watchers. Whenever observers disagree about which satellite has been seen, a pronouncement from Molczan will usually settle it. 

Supposed "Mothership" UFO, Yukon Territories, Canada, December 11, 1996
In April, 2012, Molczan was consulted about the famous Yukon "Mothership UFO" reports of December 11, 1996, which were touted as a "Top Ten" UFO case, and strongly promoted by Stanton Friedman, the "Flying Saucer Physicist." Molczan discovered that it matched perfectly with the flaming re-entry of the second stage of the rocket that had launched the Russian satellite Cosmos 2335 earlier that day. I wrote a Blog entry about this, with emphasis on the spurious details that had been added to the reports.

Previous to this, Molczan had little interest in, or exposure to, UFO reports, although a few of us skeptics had been in occasional contact with him. But this incident piqued his curiosity,  and he began to investigate: how many other reported UFO cases can be tied to satellite re-entries? Apparently, the answer was, "lots," and the result was this list, the first of its kind. It hopes to list every natural satellite re-entry (a naturally-decaying orbit, as opposed to controlled re-entries) that has been visually observed, and reported. It now runs to 20 pages of reports. Not all of the observations are taken from UFO reports. Many are from scientific observers, or press reports. Also, it does not include meteor sightings, no matter how spectacular. So famous bolide sightings like the Great Lakes Fireball of December 9, 1965 (a.k.a. the "Kecksburg UFO Crash") are not in the list.

Molczan has promised to keep the list updated, as new information becomes available. The latest copy will always be here:

Molczan recently wrote, 
I identified three more 1980's sightings just last night, all of them unsolved Australian UFO cases. That brings to 54 the number of UFOs I have identified as re-entries, beginning with the 1996 Yukon case nearly two years ago.

The comprehensive set of web pages that I intend to be the final product of this research will include general information on the science of re-entries and reports on selected individual sightings. A working prototype of the latter is the identification of David Biedny's childhood UFO sighting in Venezuela in 1974, which he and his brother disclosed on the Paracast in 2006:
So at least 54 "UFOs" have become "IFOs," thanks to Molczan's efforts. And that "working prototype" page is pretty darn impressive! So if you are researching a historical UFO case,  you'd do well to check this list, to see if Molczan has anything about it. And a hearty cheer for Ted Molczan, for all this great work!


  1. These documented reentries ought to be a game changer in any serious ufologist's mind, since the bigger ones CONSISTENTLY trigger astonishingly detailed but imagination-driven misperceptions in the minds of witnesses around the world. Under clear night skies, BIG craft with mounted lights, drifting slowly at low altitude, soundlessly, often with searchlights stabbing out randomly, sometimes causing local EMI effects, sometimes responding to witnesses' flashlights, occasionally even with windows through which aliens are visible in lighted interiors..... ALL sparked only by swarms of flaming fragments of the satellite AND each witness's stock of memories..

  2. Like you JimO , claimed Kecksberg was a Kosmos satellite re-entering orbit....

    1. DeanO: "Like you JimO , claimed Kecksberg was a Kosmos satellite re-entering orbit...." Deano, all we keep seeing from you is gibberish. Learn to avoid unfamiliar subjects where your terminological bloopers make you such a subject of deserved giggles.

    2. Thats alright Jim, I am an abductee from Australia so I expect to be ridiculed- its fine, Ive got broad shoulders & a SCOOP Mark!

      Jim O on the "NASA lawsuit over Kecksburg documents"

      "USAF had a program to recover space satellite debris"
      "Soviet moon probe that was secretly "Borrowed" overnight in Mexico" > (so you admit they steal)
      "Extremely likely alert message gone out to military units"
      "For all I know,they identified themselves as NASA" (so Clark Mclelland could have been there in white cover-alls)

      "Kosmos 96, DID fall from orbit a few hours before"
      "Personally I wondered if the AF claim was a diversion"
      "In the end, the same day fall of Kosmos & meteor,must have been coincidences"

      YET in your 1993 Omni magazine article
      "The released tracking data couldnt be positively identified with specific pieces of the failed probe. It could have been the jettisoned rocket stage or a large piece of junk. The probe itself could have been headed off towards Kecksburg."

      So which gibberish do we believe? A meteor, in your later alignment with USAF data, or that it was the Venus heatshield probe which landed at Kecksburg & personally witnessed by Mclelland in white NASA coveralls as other witnesses describe?

      You also stated that it would have been highly prized, another reason to hide its landing from the Soviets.
      The Soviets claim that it was probably a failed US satellite, that the US was too embarrassed to admit.

      Coincidences? You USAF blokes like using that word.
      Is it not a coincidence that at that time both US & Soviets were using RTGs & even nuclear reactors on satellites?
      Junk? I wish it was junk & not radio-active materials in orbit decay!

      You joined NASA in 1975, & Micheal A Hamel in 1979.
      Is it a COINCIDENCE that I found Hamel,s name on Sarran's note page with regards to the Cash/Landrum case?
      It too, coincidentally , with the 22 Chinooks appears as a possible satellite retrieval, denied by NASA & the USAF.

      Coincidentally, my missing time experience correlates with a UFO sighting witnessed by dozens of witnesses,newspaper reports, an account by the local police sergeant(I knew) & aired on a govt paid documentary on National Television. A program I didnt watch until 17yrs after the event.>OZ Encounters: UFOs in Australia

  3. A game changer? About 250 incidents spread over more than 50 years? That's five a year at best. Many of them aren't even UFO sightings in any way shape or form. The most recent "UFO report" coinciding with these satellite re-entries seems to be more than 15 years ago. That's no game changer. It's an odd phenomenon that could explain the occasional UFO case.

    1. Frank, you're doing your best to keep your mind trapped in the 1950s. What this particular stimulus demonstrates is that with a swarm of bright lights in the night sky, eyewitness misperception can be -- because it HAS been in these cases -- far higher than all previous claims by ufologists. And there are MANY other direct causes of such light-swarms, much more common but LESS well documented unambiguously, than reentries.

  4. Frank,

    I think you unwisely downplay another aspect of this that Robert alluded to. By having known entities as sources for UFO reports, we can see just how spectacularly witnesses get things wrong.

    Often UFO reports use witness descriptions of event as though written in stone. The truth is a lot messier.


  5. And be honest, Mr. Stalter, would a UFO proponent ever produce such a list? No -- they'd be eaten by their own kind.

  6. Although mentioned briefly by Molczan the so-called 'Cosford Incident' - a whole bunch of supposed low level UFO sightings reported from Ireland, Wales, England and France from 0110 GMT on 31 March 1993 deserves more than a passing reference....see my webpage for full details here:
    The 'Cosford incident' has become Nick Pope's 2nd 'best evidence' UFO story and it is often uncritically championed by the likes of Leslie Kean who fail to mention it was caused by a rocket body burn-up.

    1. Dave, an excellent point. Folks on this side of the pond don't seem to be familiar with Cosford. But it's another textbook example of why "reliable witnesses" aren't.

      As for Leslie Kean, Cosford is discussed on pp. 165-169 of her book "UFOs Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials go on the Record." She mentions the Cosmos 2238 re-entry, but somehow manages to ignore its significance.

  7. I am struck by the many similarities of Kecksburg with the Rendlesham case of December 1980: a satellite re-entry followed a few hours later by an entirely unrelated fireball that seemed to descend into a wooded area; a search of the supposed landing area by police and military; witnesses who claimed to have seen a craft on the ground in the woods with hieroglyphic-like writing on it; stories about retrieval of a crashed craft; lawsuits to uncover supposed suppressed documents; and replicas of the craft at the alleged crash site to attract tourists (they’re still working on this at Rendlesham).
    Another example of how UFOlogy becomes a self-perpetuating myth.

  8. Surely the hieroglyphic-like writing proves beyond question that the craft that crashed at Roswell, Kecksburg and Rendlesham all originated from the same planet, or star system. Also, did not the Hills encounter the same, or similar, symbols in their abduction?

    The evidence, even proof, of ETH is so obvious, if only we stupid homo sapiens creatures on earth could realise it.

    We already know, from Jim Penniston, that the ETs (or was it time-travellers?) can communicate in binary. How long before they do so in hexadecimal?

  9. Rendlesham's Self-Perpetuating Myth (Projected Timeline)

    USAF officers Lt. Col. Halt and Sgt. Penniston report unexplained lights in late December 1980 outside Rendlesham Air Force Base. No evidence of anything out of the ordinary is found. Skeptics believe the mysterious lights the officers witnessed were from a distant lighthouse, a fireball,and bright stars.

    The USAF officers elaborate on their story and now claim they encountered an Extraterrestrial craft that landed in the Rendlesham forest.

    The Hollywood movie "Halt! Who Goes There?" ("Inspired by actual events") is released. The filmmaker JJ Abrams takes creative liberties and slightly changes the story whereas the brave USAF officers courageously fight off a massive alien invasion. Nick Pope is assigned as the film's Technical Advisor. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Lt. Col. Halt and Sgt. Penniston is played by Justin Bieber in a Oscar nominated performance. The movie is a box office hit and changes the public perception of the Rendlesham UFO story forever.

    The 50th anniversary is held at the at Rendlesham UFO landing spot.
    A monument is unveiled commemorating the event revealing a glorious bronze statue of Col. Halt heroically defending Earth from the alien invaders. Crowds applaud, women weep, skeptics shake their heads in disbelief.

    A new national British holiday "Rendlesham UFO Day" is established to honor the incident. No one is sure if the holiday is supposed to be on December 26th or the 27th.

    The movie "Halt! Who Goes There? Special Edition" is re-released (30 year anniversary) in Hologram format. The film's genre has changed from fiction to historical documentary.

    On the 100th anniversary, the Rendlesham military base, long abandoned because of everlasting World Peace, is developed into a theme park featuring a virtual-reality theme ride called the "Rendlesham Alien Experience"
    Historians and skeptics claim the Rendlesham UFO story is a myth but are routinely dismissed as cranks.

    1. Robert Moore has just posted this addendum on the ASSAP Rendlesham Overview Facebook page:
      2980 AD humanity finally discovers an advanced, star fairing civilization, the Dum-Clukks. While they deny ever sending any probes to Earth, everyone is sure they visited Rendlesham Forest back in the late 20th century. Attempts by the Dum-Clukks to refute this are dismissed by conspiracy theorists as "just another alien UFO cover up"

  10. The "real" story of what happened in 1947 at Roswell is told in the 80th episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9: It's a real hoot!


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