Sunday, October 1, 2023

Netflix's "Encounters", Episode 1, Leaves Out Something Important - The Explanation!

So much has been happening in UFOOLogy of late, stuff that is so silly and so widely-reported elsewhere, that I can't see any reason to write about it. Many have finally woken up to the fact that David Grush and other "whistleblowers" tell dramatic tales, but have no proof at all - a situation that has persisted for decades. (In the 1970s and 80s, Len Stringfield of MUFON was telling almost identical tales - also without proof). The Peruvian "alien mummies," presented to the Mexican Congress by Jaime Maussan, are being soundly and deservedly mocked as the frauds they are. These mummies have been known to be non-alien for at least five years now; so anyone involved in their promotion either didn't do any research, or else didn't care and wanted to promote fakery.


Which brings us to the new series Encounters, which premiered on Netflix on September 27. There were high hopes among UFO proponents for this series, one of whose Executive Producers was.Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television. I suspect many were disappointed. I have only seen the first episode so far, and found it tedious and boring. Its primary case is the well-known and widely-witnessed incident from Stephenville, Texas on the night of January 8, 2008. Far more time was spent telling us how people felt about what they saw, than trying to analyze what they saw.

It's strange that Encounters 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.  It turns out that the sightings occurred inside a "MOA", a Military Operations Area, where military training routinely goes on.

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.”

That episode also showed us radar returns, supposedly demonstrating the presence of unknown objects inside the MOA at that time. What does this mean?

These raw data contain 2.5 million points of noise and scatter. MUFON’s report selected just 187 of these points to contend that radar had tracked a huge “object” at least 524 feet in size, traveling near the Western White House (the Bush ranch, which is fifty miles southeast of Stephenville). “MUFON’s radar analysis is nothing more than cherry picking the 187 targets out of 2.5 million points of noise and scatter to make a track moving forty-nine mph for over one hour,” says McGaha. “This analysis is absurd!”

Case closed. The Stephenville case was a flare drop, essentially a repeat of the flare drop responsible for the second part of the famous Phoenix Lights in 1997. That flare drop also occurred in a military training area. The writers of Encounters either chose to leave out the obvious explanation, or else did not bother to even look for one. After all, why risk losing a really good "unexplained" case by looking for explanations?

A blurry UFO photographed by a Stephenville witness, weeks after the main sighting.

 I'll try to watch Episode 2 of Encounters soon, if I feel I can stomach it.

Another Famous Flare Drop - The UFO From 29 Palms

May 23: NBC News reports on the UFO From 29 Palms

Back in May, the major news media were filled with breathless accounts of a "mass UFO sighting" in the California desert, at Twentynine Palms two years earlier. Now, that fact alone should have raised one's eyebrow, because it is well-known that this is the location of a major training base for US Marines. So it'd be reasonable to suspect from the beginning that the Marines had something to do with this.

But the Usual Suspects were hyping the incident as if it were something utterly amazing:

Multiple videos appear to show a UFO flying over Camp Wilson in Twentynine Palms, California. The videos were recorded in April 2021 but only recently released by Jeremy Corbell and George Knapp during an episode of their podcast, Weaponized.

Corbell and Knapp said that at least 50 people, including dozens of Marines, reported seeing the triangular object with lights on its edges. The object was in the air for about ten minutes and prompted a response from military officials, who dispatched helicopters and dozens of trucks to the area.

Jeremy Corbell's Podcast

It sounded too good to be true, and indeed it was. Research by Mick West of Metabunk and John Greenewald Jr. of The Black Vault showed that there indeed was a big training operation involving flare drops going on during the night in question, and that photos taken of the flare drop match perfectly with photos by those who believed they were seeing UFOs. Like the Stephenville incident, and the Phoenix Lights incident, a military flare drop has again been shown to be the cause of a highly-publicized UFO case.

While this UFO case was all over the news, I was listening to an oldies radio station, and they played a 1947 hit by the Andrews Sisters, The Lady From Twentynine Palms. It tells about one young lady:

She left twenty-nine broken hearts
Broken in twenty-nine parts
Now there are twenty-nine fellas complainin' to their moms
About the lady from 29 Palms

She got twenty-nine Cadillacs
Twenty-nine sables from Sach's
They came from twenty-nine fellas who never had their arms
Around the lady from 29 Palms

The point being that, with so many unmarried young men in the Marines in Twentynine Palms, an attractive available woman might be showered with gifts by all the men pursuing her.

So it occurred to me that this UFO ought to have its own version of the song. With a little help from my Muse (that's like a Moose, only smaller), I settled on this, as a beginning.

It had twenty-nine flashing lights
Gave twenty-nine people a fright
And now it's on the news for twenty-nine nights,
It's the UFO from 29 Palms!

Perhaps you can think up some more verses?



  1. Thank you for your work Sir, it is greatly appreciated.

  2. “I have only seen the first episode of ‘Encounters’ so far, and found it tedious and boring.”

    Yes. All such programs are tedious and boring, because they try to make nothing-burgers seem momentous. They stretch out their emptiness to an hour or more while they hint at some kind of imminent payoff that never comes. It’s like chronicling the peeling of old paint. The programs use music, editing, and camera angles to make the peeling of paint seem awesome and mysterious – but it’s still a nothing-burger. Often the programs insult us by interviewing people who are obviously liars and hoaxers (e.g. Travis Walton).

    Regarding those LUU/2B/B flares, they have sparked countless sightings of “giant triangles,” “mother ships” and “boomerangs ten miles wide.”

    Worst of all is the way that people become very angry when you dissect their “sightings,” and you demonstrate how their supposed “ETs” have simple explanations.

    Despite all this nonsense, I still have a soft spot for people who have genuinely anomalous experiences. I don’t mean any of the famous UFO “sightings” or Bigfoot “sightings.” I dismiss all of those. A genuinely anomalous experience has no explanation. It is often absurd, and is very weird.

    You know a person is not simply bullshi**ing when he describes what he saw without trying to explain it or interpret it. If he sees a light in the sky and he says, “Aliens,” then he has “explained” it, and you can ignore him. If he attributes some specter it to “Indian burial grounds,” then you know he’s embellishing. (Yawn.)

    In contrast to this, the genuinely anomalous experience cannot be labeled. It cannot stuffed into a cubby hole with all the other “sightings.” It defies rational analysis. It makes no sense. It is incongruous, unexpected, dream-like, and baffling. Its bizarreness haunts us and bedevils us. It doesn’t fit into any known pattern. It is unique. We don’t know what to make of it. Maybe the witness was hallucinating. Maybe not. Maybe his “sighting” had a simple explanation. Maybe not. Everything is Twilight Zone-esque.

  3. On the internet there was about a 2-minute preview of this new documentary about recent UAP sightings. After watching that short introduction, the only thing I saw and notice was just people talking about what they had seen in the skies and on the ground - no proof at all was offered by them, only wagging tongues. What a waste of time and effort; it could have been filmed 30 years ago - nothing was new.

  4. For any Corbell fans, here’s footage of Swiss stunt jets dropping flares, and pulling manoeuvres and speeds that Corbell says are impossible:


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