Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Fermi Paradox

A recent post I read suggested the writer did not accept the reality of UFOs because no one had come up with a good explanation for the Fermi Paradox. This was the idea that if there was other intelligent life in the galaxy it would already be here.

I am inclined, flippantly, to say, "But they are here now. Look at all the unexplained UFO reports."

In fact, the history suggests that the Fermi Paradox grew out of a discussion about UFOs, as Fermi and others walked to lunch. According to that history, they were talking about the latest UFO reports. Fermi then said that if there were a multitude of civilizations in our galaxy, it was strange that no evidence of them had been found.

So, how do we answer the question?

We can always look at the assumptions made. First, that there are a multitude of civilizations out there. Maybe there are but a few scattered throughout the galaxy which would mean they are probably separated by tens of thousands of light years. Contact among them would be sparse until one or more conquered the problem of interstellar distances.

Maybe we have found no radio trace (or limited radio traces) because they have not reached that level of technology... or more likely, have reached it and moved beyond it. We search for alien radio signals based on some human assumptions given the nature of the radio sources in the sky, but other creatures on other planets might not use those same assumptions. We might be searching in vain because we think like humans and not aliens.

Carl Sagan has postulated that we could expect visitation by an extraterrestrial civilization about once every ten thousand years... though I don’t know how he came up with that number. But let’s say it’s accurate. That would mean that sometime in the last ten thousand years aliens arrived on Earth, and that would mean that they would have found our civilizations.

It really doesn’t matter when they arrived or the state of the civilizations they found. I would think that once you found something like that, you’d be inclined to keep watch on it, if for no other reason than it is another intelligent race. And if that is true, then the number of visits would increase as we advanced. Once we reached an industrial civilization, once we began developing machines to make our lives easier, rockets that could leave the planet, atomic power, and began radiating electromagnetic signals that would make us brighter than almost anything else in the Solar System in that spectrum, they would come by to take a look. They would visit with more frequently...

And isn’t that the situation we have today? Reports of UFOs growing from the beginnings of the industrial revolution until we have the thousands of good, solid cases.

Don’t we have some good physical trace cases including radar/visual sightings? Aren’t there some good photographs that can only be explained as either alien spaceships or hoaxes with no middle ground? Aren’t there some very puzzling sightings that involve multiple witnesses, instrumentality and other evidence?

So, the answer to the Fermi Paradox might not seem so flippant when we look at all the evidence. Maybe the answer is that we have been visited but we have failed to recognize the visitors. We’re so busy arguing about the reality of UFO sightings that we have ignored the bigger questions which is who are they and why are they here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Betty Hill's Star Map

I was reading the National Geographic not all that long ago and was struck by a paragraph in a story about life on other worlds. It suggested that the search for extra solar planets was targeting M class dwarf stars, which, of course, include those known as Red Dwarfs. It mentioned that seven of the ten closet stars to Earth were dwarfs.

Here’s what struck me. I remembered reading about Marjorie Fish, the school teacher and amateur astronomer who had located the area of the sky that Betty Hill seemed to have drawn after seeing a star map on a UFO. Fish built a model (actually a series of models) of our section of the galaxy and viewed them from various angles until she found a pattern that was representative of the star map.

Don’t get me wrong. This was an impressive feat and took years to accomplish. In fact, it wasn’t until some of the star catalogs were updated with new and better information that she was successful.

Here’s where the problem arises. She assumed that the map represented our section of the galaxy, that alien travelers would be interested in stars of the same type as our sun, the travel patterns should make some sense and travel patterns would avoid the largest stars and those that are not on the main sequence (that is, stars that are basically stable for long periods of time and like our sun). These assumptions would become important later.

But others were also searching for the pattern. Charles W. Atterberg found a pattern that had Epsilon Eridani and Epsilon Indi as the base stars rather than Fish’s Zeta 1and Zeta 2 Reticuli. Atterberg’s map also fits with the Hill map, and two of the stars on it Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani were targets by Project Ozma, one of the first of the SETI searchs. In other words, astronomers involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligences believed that two of the stars in the Atterberg interpretation were likely candidates for planetary systems and intelligent life. Tau Ceti was also one of the candidates on the Fish map.

Suddenly we have two published interpretations of the Betty Hill's star map, both of which make sense (and I haven’t even discussed Betty Hill’s interpretation which was another section of the sky). But Marjorie Fish disagreed with Atterberg. Of the Atterberg interpretation, she noted that he had included some red dwarfs as stars visited by the aliens. She said that she had ruled out red dwarfs because there are so many of them and if she used red dwarfs in a logical construction, then all the lines were used before she reached Earth. She had assumed that the sun would be one of the stars connected to the others on the map although the "leader" of the alien crew had provided no indication that this was true.

She also assumed that if they, the aliens, were interested in red dwarfs, that is, that they visited some, then there should have been lines connecting other red dwarfs but there were not. Her assumption was that one red dwarf would be as interesting to a space faring race as the next. But it could be that some red dwarfs were more interesting because of things we could not see. Because we could detect no difference between one red dwarf and another doesn't mean that there aren't differences.

Fish made those assumptions thirty or forty years ago and they are now invalid. The article in National Geographic suggested that these M Class stars have long periods of stability, longer than those postulated for stars like our sun. While the dwarf stars are smaller, dimmer and cooler than the sun, they do have zones in which the conditions ideal for life as we know it exist and given the discovery of planets around some of these stars, including planets known as "Super– Earths," it is possible that life, including intelligent life, would be found on those planets.

There was also a recent announcement of a Super Earth that has oceans. This planet, thought to be about two and a half times the size of Earth, with a mean temperature higher than that on Earth, suggests that some dwarf stars might hold a great deal of interest for any space faring race. And while all stars that have planets where life is possible might not have life, some of them might and that would certainly make them interesting to space travelers.

What this means, simply, is that the criterion used by Marjorie Fish in her groundbreaking work should be revisited. With computer models available, scanning for the Betty Hill pattern wouldn’t take the years that Fish devoted to her search. We could now look at more stars closer to Earth because we have much better astronomical records and catalogs available. We might find a pattern closer to Earth and that might suggest to some where the search for extraterrestrial intelligence should be concentrated.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Predictions That Didn't Work Out

It is the time of the year when psychics trot out their predictions for the new year, and in this case, the new decade, if you believe the decade begins with a zero... and no, I don’t want to start a debate on this.

I bring this up because I have been converting my audio tapes to CDs, and in 1996, I interviewed Irene Hughes on my old radio show on KTSM-AM in El Paso, Texas. I wanted to get some predictions from her so that we might revisit them in the future and see how she had done. Well, she didn’t give us much to go on, remaining vague about what was going to happen, but we did pin her down a couple of times... and I have found other predictions she made over the years, predications, rather than claims of accuracy that were published after the fact.

One of the callers to the January 6, 1996 show wanted to know what the Stock Market would do. She talked about a four hundred point difference and how she had made that prediction prior to the crash of 500 points in the days before that happened in the late 1980s, all without answering his question. The caller asked where the market would be on December 31, 1996.

She said, "Sir, it will have crashed... I think it’s going to go way down... it’s going to lose a thousand points... this market is going to start losing a lot of points, like a thousand points and two weeks later, it may lose a thousand and then you see it trickle down a little, come up a little and trickle down... by the end of this year and April of next [1997] that [it’s] maybe 400 points..."

By the end of 1996, the Stock Market was up1400 points at 6448.27. The trend for the entire year was upward with the normal little retreats as the climb continued.

I tried to pin her down on the presidential election. She said that the Republicans were leaning toward Buchanan and that Dole would retire... but anyone paying attention to the election news at the time might have been able to predict that. The Republicans eventually selected Dole over Buchanan, but she was vague enough about exactly what she said and what she meant that she could call it a hit. I was left underwhelmed.

She said that Clinton would win in a landslide in 1996. But Clinton was the president and they aren’t defeated often. Clinton won, but not in a landslide. He didn’t even get 50% of the popular vote with a third party candidate bleeding off some of Dole’s support.

In a similar vain, back in the 1970s, Hughes predicted that Jimmy Carter would win a second term and he would have a black vice president. She said that Barack Obama would not win the presidency, and now says that he will be a one term president. She said that the president elected in 1980 would die in office and it would be somewhere near Russia. So far she was wrong on just about everything. We don’t know if Obama will only have one term.

She also suggested, back in the 1980s, that the two-party system would expand to three and that this new party, whatever it was, would win in 1984. Of course, there have been many attempts at creating a viable third party, but all have failed. Ross Perot came the closest but he self-destructed and we still have the two parties in power.

Of the Super Bowl that year, she said that it would be Kansas City and Green Bay, though that might change. In the end it was Dallas and Pittsburgh, which is what I said. I even said that Dallas would win by ten. She couldn’t even predict which two teams would be in the game, let alone predict the winner.

She predicted in 2007 that the Cubs would win the Pennant in 2008. They won their division but not the Pennant and they did not appear in the World Series.

She predicted that the Ayatollah Khomeini would be assassinated in 1983. He died of a heart attack, in a hospital, in 1989

I could go on, but is there a point? Her answers, for the most part were vague, and as she discussed things with the callers, I could hear her gathering information and then giving it back in different words. If a caller asked about finances, she talked a little about that and then said things should improve in the next year, especially after she learned that a caller was moving to another job.

She told a caller that he was involved with two children, meaning that there were two children somewhere in his life. He had no kids, he had no nieces or nephews, he wasn’t dating a woman with kids, but she insisted that there were two kids somewhere... maybe in the future.

I though she was rude to some of the callers but she was quick to take me to task as she was grilled by a caller. I should have stopped the call she said. But he was saying all the things I wanted to say, but felt, as the host, I had to be polite. Besides, had she been a true psychic, she should have known it was coming and been able to deal with it. She couldn’t... and that I suppose, says all that needs to be said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

MJ-12 Survey Results

The first thing to say about this MJ-12 poll is that it was not scientifically conducted. That means, simply, that the participants were self-selected, which could skew the results.

I also noticed, though it was unintentional, that there were three positive answers and one negative. It means that I could group those three together since they suggested a belief that there was some merit to the MJ-12 documents. That too, would skew the results.

But, I could also group two of the answers together, meaning that now the negative answer could be paired with the needs more research answer and that too, could skew the results.

And, though people were only supposed to vote once, and there was supposed to be a restriction built into the poll, it was easily defeated which means that either proponents or opponents could have voted more than once.

Even with all that, nearly 50 percent believed that there was nothing more to be learned from MJ-12, or that they believed the documents were not authentic. About a quarter believed the documents authentic, though you can add those who believed the first few authentic so that over a third believed some or all of the documents are of value.

About an eighth thought that more research needs to be done, though I confess I don’t know what that research might be. Archives have been searched. Various government officials questioned and their records have been reviewed. The FBI and other government agencies have investigated this under the idea that true classified documents had been leaked but found no hint that this is the case. There is not a single, independent document that suggests any of MJ-12 is real.

In fact, there is new information to suggest that the Eisenhower Briefing Document, one of the first few, is a hoax. After the first of the year, I’ll be exploring this in more detail here. This is known as foreshadowing... or creating a cliffhanger ending.

In the end, it could be said that 62% (those who voted no and those who thought more research needed to be done] do not now accept the documents as accurate. About 37% believe that some of the documents are authentic. In other words, just under two-thirds of the respondents, believe there is nothing currently of value in MJ-12, and over one-third believe there to be some value in them.


We could say that just under half believe there is nothing to MJ-12 while just over half believe there is enough to MJ-12 to require additional research if you group the answers differently.

And, of course, these are opinions. I don’t know what the rational was for voting one way or another, and that could tell us something more about those responses. That too, could shade this poll.

These results, by the way, are similar to another unscientific poll I conducted about ten years ago and that is sad. It means that we’ve made no progress one way or the other.

Now, let the interpretations by others begin.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The UFO Supporters

For a long time I have been bothered by the term, "UFO Believer." It implies that we accept that some UFOs are alien spacecraft on faith rather than evidence. It suggests that our understanding of the UFO phenomenon is less than scientific.

At the far end of the spectrum are the UFO Debunkers*, who seem to be anti-believers, meaning they accept that there are no UFOs on faith rather than evidence. They know that if there is some evidence that UFOs represent alien visitation it must be faked. They know there are no alien spacecraft and that is the end of it.

Closer to the center point are the Skeptics. These are people who don’t know if there is alien visitation or not. They suspect there is none, but only because the case has yet to be proven, one way or the other, in their opinion. They will look at evidence, evaluate it based on their own understanding, training, education, and belief structures. They have open minds but require those of us who support the idea of alien visitation to prove it... and right they are.

There is, however, no word on the other side of the center, between that point and Believer. We are all lumped into a single category without consideration or thought. We are all Believers.

I purpose that we add a gradation to this that would rival Skeptic... (which, by the way, is a marvelous little word). I suggest that we become known as UFO Supporters because we accept that some UFOs are of alien creation but we simply don’t buy into everything from Exopolitics to cattle mutilations to the tales of the contactees, or this latest idea of a great air war between the US Air Force and the aliens in the 1950s.

Like the Skeptics, we will look at evidence, and if that evidence is weak, or nonexistent, then we are free to reject it, just as the Skeptics are. We aren’t True Believers just as the Skeptics aren’t Debunkers. We understand the gradations and we can look at the evidence.

If you spend much time studying the UFO situation, you’ll find that the Supporters are just as likely to provide a solid solution for a case as are the Skeptics. The Debunkers are just as likely to provide some far out solution as are the Believers to give us some outlandish claim.

So, I see it as Believers, Supporters, Skeptics and Debunkers. Now we can begin to find subcategories and really make this fun.

*In the real world, debunking is a good thing but in the world of the UFO, a Debunker is actually a Denier. Maybe that would be a better word for them, but I doubt that it will catch on.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


I’m not a big fan of SETI but only because it seems to have made some early assumptions in its search for extraterrestrial intelligence that might be too human in nature. That is, originally, they were looking for radio signals at what the called the water hole or the most common radio frequencies because they believed that any advanced civilization would be using radio and looking in the same place. I can think of all sorts of things that are wrong with that assumption, but hey, you had to start somewhere. Yes, I know they have now expanded beyond that and that they can search huge portions of the sky fairly rapidly.

As one who supports the idea that some UFOs represent alien visitation, I was always a little annoyed at the SETI attitude that UFOs had nothing to do with what they were attempting to do. That is, contact an extraterrestrial intelligence. I’m not saying they should have signed up UFO supporters but they should have made a pass at that evidence in case there was something relevant to their search.

But, of course, I supported the idea behind SETI because if they were successful, then one of the reasons to reject UFOs as alien would be eliminated... just as the discovery of extra solar planets have eliminated one of the reasons.

Given all this, I was horrified to learn, according to KPHO-TV in Phoenix, that Brad Niesluchowski, had resigned as a teacher from the Highley Unified School District because he had signed up the district’s computers to participate in the SETI@home project (and for those of you who don’t know what it is, Google it).

A spokeswomen for the district said that they would support cancer research but not something like the search for "E.T." She pointed out that it was costing the district about a million a year to support the program because it kept the district’s computers working all the time which upped their utility fees and caused additional wear and tear on the computers causing more repairs and replacements.

Okay. Fair enough. If the fellow had done this on his own, and it was costing the district that much, then, hey, he made a bad call... except the software used to download the program had been authorized by a previous school administration.

Wait a minute. He didn’t decide for himself to do this. He got permission... then why is he out of a job and why is there now a police investigation? And this has been going on for ten years.

The SETI folks see him as a hero. I have to agree. Seems to me that someone in the school administration didn’t see that it was going to cost so much (and I wonder if it really does) but Nez, as he is known in the SETI world, got authorization to do it. Shut it down if you must but don’t punish the guy for something he was given permission to do.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

UFOs and Full Disclosure

In October there was an announcement that the President would make a full disclosure about UFOs. He would tell the world on November 27, 2009, that we have been visited. Since this was to be full disclosure, I will assume that it would be an admission that these visitors were extraterrestrial in origin, that Roswell was the crash of an alien spacecraft, and abductions of humans by aliens was happening with frightening regularity.

I will note here that there was no such announcement on November 27.

I will remind you all that it was Dave Wilcox who said that Bill Ryan of Project Camelot who said that the announcement would be made on November 27. He also cautioned that if there was too much advance publicity, then the announcement would not be made. Apparently there was too much publicity and there was no hint of any such announcement.

For this, I suppose, I must take some responsibility because I did, after all, write about this. I know the White House, among other high level and extremely important government sources regularly read this blog. I can tell by the breakdown of readers based on the "Analytics" and they show people in Washington, D.C. who have visited these pages... though I wonder why they don’t disguise this by using a server outside of Washington... But I digress.

Well, I suppose I should just say, I told you so and let it go at that. No full disclosure this time, but surely something will be announced prior to December 21, 2012 when the world ends if it is nothing more than where we can catch a ride on a spaceship to save ourselves.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Socorro UFO Landing and New Witnesses?

There are those who feel the Socorro UFO landing is a weak case because it is single witness. Nearly everything comes down to what Lonnie Zamora, the Socorro police officer who saw the craft on the ground and the two humanoid occupants near it, said he witnessed. This is not completely true.

Opal Grinder, owner of a service station reported that a tourist had said something about jets flying very low over the town. That tourist has never been found and interviewed so any description of the craft and the incident is second hand. It might have provided some important corroboration for the case. As it is, it is simply an interesting anecdote.

There are, however, two other witnesses who have been named and have been interviewed. According to an article published in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald on Wednesday, April 29, 1964, Paul Kies, who was 24 and Larry Kratzer who was 26 (seen here), had been in Socorro the previous Friday when the object took off.

Kratzer told the reporter, "We saw some brown dust, then black smoke – like rubber burning – then a fire. The smoke hid the shiny craft as it flew away."

Then they began to talk about things they couldn’t have seen, but might have heard on the news or read in the newspapers. Remember, they were talking some five days later, after there had been a great deal published and broadcast.

Kries said that federal agents had cordoned the area and that government sources had denied they had anything like the observed craft near Socorro. Kries said that there were four depressions, about twelve feet apart, left by the object. He also claimed that there was a large burned patch on the desert and that the exhaust had melted a pop bottle when it took off.

Sometime later, an Iowa UFO researcher, Ralph DeGraw interviewed the two men, but he was not impressed with their story. He said that it seemed to be in conflict with what Zamora had described. He believed their testimony was not trustworthy.

The descriptions offered by the two men, of what was found on the landing site seems to imply that they had been there and seen it. They suggest the area was condoned. They talked about the landing traces left by the craft as it took off, implying they had seen that as well.

However, there is no evidence that any civilians were on the scene that night. Almost all the testimony that was offered by Zamora, Sergeant Sam Chavez of the New Mexico State Police, FBI agent Bynes and Army Captain Richard Holder and some later filtered through Col. Eric Jonckheere seemed to suggest no civilians on the scene that night. The descriptions given by those we know were there based on the documentation differs from what the two new witnesses said. I’m most bothered by the melted pop bottle. No one we know who was on the scene talked about anything like that. Charred cardboard and other trash, yes, but no melted pop bottles.

Their description of the landing marks were nothing that new. It could have been picked up by anyone who had watched the story unfold for the last couple of days. There had been plenty of stories about what was seen.

While it would be nice to have additional witnesses to the case, and these two men claim to have been on the scene, there are many problems with them. Had they left it with having seen something in the sky, as they drove by, it would be one thing, but it seems they were suggesting they were at the landing site. It might be the way the story was written, or it might have been they incorporated the additional information without thought about ramifications. They might just have been trying to give the reporter the impression of something other worldly, but it is clear that neither man had walked the field.

This report doesn’t seem to add much to the Socorro story. It suggests corroboration, but as it stands now, it doesn’t help.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Socorro UFO Landing Part 4

Just recently I was reading the Skeptical Inquirer (of course I read it... there is some interesting stuff in there) and they repeated the story that the Socorro landing was a hoax because the land where the object touched down belonged to the mayor of Socorro at the time, Holm Bursum, Jr.

In Watch the Skies by Curtis Peeples (Berkley Books, 1995) also makes mention of this fact. He wrote, "The final factor was where the ‘landing’ took place. The site was between the two main roads into town – U.S. 60 and 85. The land itself was owned by Socorro’s mayor. After the landing, the nearly impassible road was graded and plans were made to use the landing site as a tourist attraction. (The town lacked industry and was dependent on tourists.) The implication was the landing was a hoax, to bring in tourist dollars."

Even Jerry Clark, in his massive UFO Encyclopedia, wrote about this, saying, "...conspired with Mayor Holm Bursum, Jr. (who owned the property on which the UFO landing reportedly occurred)... though it's clear that he is not persuaded by this and suggests that it is of no more consequence than Phil Klass' original explanation of some sort of plasma.

All well and good, but this implication was created by Klass who originally floated the idea in his book, UFO’s Explained. The skeptics have accepted this as the truth, meaning that the mayor owned the land, but none of them bothered to check to see if that was true.

According to the local newspaper, El Defensor Chieftain, which did a long story about the Socorro landing after it was suggested in 2008 that a historical marker be erected at the site, noted that the land in question had been part of the estate of Delia Harris in 1964. In 1968, the land was bought by the Richardson family and they apparently still own it. Mayor Bursum had never owned it. I don’t know where Klass got that idea. Maybe someone mentioned it to him and he believed it, figuring they would know.

Or maybe it was because in 1966 the Chamber of Commerce president, Paul Ridings suggested they do something to promote tourism and thought the landing site would be a good place to start. They created a path lined with stones around a landing site, but it was in the wrong place. Apparently there was a lack of vegetation at the real site that frightened people. Some believed there was residual radiation, so they just moved the site over an arroyo or two. Maybe Klass, there a couple of years after the case, went to the wrong site and believed it as the place where the UFO landed and believed that the land belonged to the mayor.

And maybe Klass, who was there about the time that the Chamber of Commerce began to float the idea of a tourist attraction, thought there was some connection. Given the timing, Klass was there in 1966 as well, he made the leap of logic.

Anyway, we can put this particular bit of misinformation to rest. It really changes nothing. It just removes one motivation for a hoax... this one by the mayor and Lonnie Zamora. I don’t think anyone who met Zamora believed that he was a participant in a hoax. Nearly everyone said that he seemed to be honest, and if a hoax had been perpetrated, he had no part in it.

That does not exclude other explanations or other culprits in a hoax. It just takes this one out of the running.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Socorro UFO Landing Analysis

I thought, given the tenor of the conversation, that I would attempt to establish some common ground. I believe there are some facts on which we all can agree, and I believe there is some analysis that we can make which would provide a jumping off point.

I believe that we can all agree that Lonnie Zamora saw something in the desert on April 24, 1964. We can agree that he described, as accurately as he could, what he had seen at that time. I’m not going to talk about apparent changes, additions, deletions from his testimony over time because human memory, being what it is, allows for these adjustments that are neither right nor wrong, but often just different.

We all seem to agree that it was more or less egg-shaped, with a red symbol on it. We all agree that he saw two figures near it, that he described as humanoid, that were dressed in white, and that they disappeared behind the object, whatever it might have been. This object lifted off in short order and disappeared, flying into the strong wind. There were no other reliable or identified witnesses to the sighting (and yes, I know about Opal Grinder’s tourist and the two men from Dubuque, Iowa who reported they had seen the craft).

There are a limited number of possible explanations for the case. It was a hallucination. It was a illusion. It was a misidentification. It was an experimental craft from White Sands (or somewhere else that is terrestrially based). It was a hoax. It was a craft from another world.

I have tried to think of any other alternatives, but haven’t come up with anything. By saying this, I hope to draw out someone who might have thought of something different.

Let’s look at the solutions. I discount hallucination because of the physical evidence left behind. I see no reason for Opal Grinder to have invented a tourist and am disappointed that this witness, who surely heard about the case, has refused to ever come forward. The two men from Dubuque, if they accurately reported what they had seen also argue against hallucination. Their reliability is another question.

The problem with illusion is that there is no real good source for the illusion. Some, or maybe one, thought, given the time and location, a bright star near the horizon, seen though the dry air, might have given the impression that it was on, or near the ground. There are many factors that argue against it including the markings left on the ground, and given the history since the sighting, it has little viability.

There is a possibility that it was a misidentification and this is the explanation favored by some such as Charles Moore. Arguing against it is the nearly fifty year history since the sighting. Even a top–secret vehicle would now be known and the records for White Sands, easily available now, have been accessed to no avail. If it was a vehicle from another installation, the same applies. The records would now be in a public arena and someone would have found them by now because there have been a number of people looking for that sort of thing. This seems to have little viability.

There was also a discussion that what he saw was a lunar lander being transported under a helicopter in some sort of test. Of course, Zamora never mentioned the noise that would be generated by the helicopter, the clouds of dust that would have been thrown up by the rotor wash, or that what he saw was lifted under something else. Of course the records don’t support this explanation. There seems to be little reason to accept this as an answer either.

I should point out here that some have suggested the misidentification of a dust devil, which is a whirling cloud of dust blow up by the wind... or stirred up by the rotors of a helicopter. The same reasoning applies here as it does to the lunar lander and I mention it only because someone suggested it.

There was a suggestion, briefly, that Zamora had seen a hot air balloon. This would have explained the blue flame and the roaring sound, but doesn’t explain how the balloon envelop, which would have had to be larger to lift two people, even small ones, could have fooled him or how the balloon would have lifted off into a strong wind. Hot air balloons do not do well in any windy conditions anyway. While the idea is somewhat interesting, given the reported wind conditions, it doesn’t seem plausible.

Of all the solutions, only hoax and extraterrestrial seem to have any real viability, and frankly, and offending my pro-extraterrestrial friends, hoax would seem to be more likely. It is a question of logistics more than anything else. You have to come a very long way to reach Earth from another world, so it is easier for it to be hoax than a question of interstellar travel.

Yes, there are many arguments in favor of this explanation and I won’t go into them all here. Tony Bragalia and his colleagues have already done that, and they have offered some evidence in support of it. They have latched onto the claim that this was done as revenge against Zamora for his alleged harassment of New Mexico Tech students and that the charred cardboard found on the site is proof.

Well, it is evidence, but I’m not sure that it is relevant, given the statements by the man who picked it up, but it is out there. Each person is going to have to decide what significance he or she attaches to this particular and rather isolated evidence.

And then the extraterrestrial... this too, has viability. Arguing against it are the vast distances in space and the complex technical problems that must be solved to travel interstellar distances. Then there is likelihood they would land on the outskirts of a small city in New Mexico only then take off when approached by a local resident.

To me, this boils down to either a hoax or an alien visitation. I can’t see any other explanation, given what we know and the evidence that is available in a variety of sources. The arguments seem to fall into one of those two categories as well. Some believing it to be a hoax and some believing that it was alien visitation.

What is left for us to do is a dispassionate examination of the evidence and that is what has been lacking... not the examination, but the dispassion. It is quite clear to me that those involved in the debate are very passionate about their positions, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. The problem arises when one side or the other refuses to look at all the evidence or begin to call one another names...

That is what we need here, an examination of all the evidence and I have seen both sides picking the evidence that suits them and forgetting some of the rest. I will note that Ockham’s razor states that the simplest solution that accounts for the facts is probably the correct answer. But note, it must account for the majority of the facts, not just those that point in one direction or the other.

Now, nearly fifty years later, we have yet to arrive at a point where we can all agree. And yes, I know that we’ll never get to that point because no matter what evidence is provided, there will always be some on the other side who refuse to accept the truth when they see it. We can point to examples throughout history where people have refused to believe the truth even when confronted by it with their own eyes. I have no hope that this will turn out any different.

But by looking at this, somewhat dispassionately, we now know why this case was labeled as unidentified. There simply isn’t the evidence necessary to make the proper call. Sometimes, that is the only solution that we can find and it is not a satisfactory one. It leaves us guessing and in a vacuum.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hector Quintanilla and The Socorro UFO Part 3

Hector Quintanilla (seen here) wrote a memoir about his experiences as the UFO officer for the Air Force. It is an interesting document, in which it becomes clear that his time at Project Blue Book was not a good one. He seems to have detested many people, including Dr. J. Allen Hynek and he believed that no UFOs were the result of alien visitation.

He did, of course, cover the landing at Socorro and it seems to be a fair account. Following is his opinions on the sighting, relevant today because of the discussion going on here. Following is his take on the Socorro sighting.

All hell broke loose on April 24, 1964, and I started smoking again. On that date at approximately 17:45 hours, at Socorro, New Mexico, police officer Lonnie Zamora was headed south chasing a speeding automobile when he suddenly heard a roar and saw a flame in the sky to the southwest. He decided to let the speeder go in favor of investigating the flame, because he knew there was a dynamite shack in the area and it might have blown up. He turned onto a gravel road that led by the shack.

As he was driving slowly along the road, Zamora saw above a steep hill just ahead a funnel-shaped flame, bluish and sort of orange. The base of the flame was hidden behind the hill, there was no smoke connected with the fla me. He had trouble getting the car to the top of the hill because of loose gravel; he had to try three times before he made it. As he reached the top of the hill, he saw a shiny object to the south, this side of the dynamite shack, about 150 to 200 yards away.

It was off the road to the left in the arroyo, and at first glance it looked like a car turned over, but when he drove closer it appeared to be aluminum clay, not chrome, and oval-shaped like a football. Zamora drove about fifty feet along the hill crest, radioing back to the sheriff’s office, "10-44 (accident), I’ll be 10-6 (busy out of the car), checking a wreck down in the arroyo". From this point, seated in the car, he could not see the object over the edge of the hill. As he stopped the car, he was still talking on the radio, and while he was getting out he dropped his mike. He picked it up and put it back and started down towards the object.

Just then he heard a very loud roar, not exactly like a blast, but also not steady like a jet engine. It was of low frequency at first and then became higher. At the same time he saw a light blue flame, sort of orange at the bottom. Zamora believed the flame came from the underside of the object; he could see no smoke but he did see some dust in the vicinity. He panicked, thinking the object was going to blow up. The following is his report of what he experienced (with slight rearrangements for the sake of clarity).

As soon as I saw flame and heard roar…ran away from object but did turn head towards object. Object was in shape It was smooth—no windows or doors. As roar started, it was still on the ground. Noted red lettering of some type like______________________. Insignia was about two and one half inches high and about two inches wide, I guess. Was in the middle of object, like _______________. Object still like aluminum white.

(Running), bumped leg on car back fender area. Car facing southwest…fell by can [sic] and (sun) glasses fell off, kept running to north, with car between me and object…rose to about level of car, about twenty to twenty-five feet, guess. Took I guess, about six seconds when object started to rise and I glanced back…it appeared about directly over the place where it rose from.

I was still running…(then) about fifty meet from car. I ducked down, just over edge of hill…I stopped because I did not hear the roar. I was scared of the roar, and I had planned to continue running down the hill. I turned around toward the object and at the same time put my head toward ground, covering my face with my arms…when the roar
stopped, heard a sharp tone whine and the whine lasted maybe a second. Then there was complete silence about the object.

That’s when I lifted up my head and saw the object going away from me…in a southwestern direction…It did not come any closer to me. It appeared to go in straight line and at same height—possibly ten to fifteen feet from ground, and it cleared the dynamite shack by about three feet. Shack about eight feet high. Object was traveling west fast. It seemed to rise up and take off immediately across country.

I ran back to my car and as I ran back, I kept an eye on the object. I picked up my …sunglasses, got into the car, and radioed to Nep Lopes, radio operator, to look out the window to see if he could see an object. He asked, "What is it?" I answered, "It looks like a balloon". I don’t know if he saw it. If Nep looked out his window, which faces north, he couldn’t see it. I did not tell him at the moment which window to look out of.

As I was calling Nep, I could still see object. The object seemed to lift up slowly, and to get small in the distance very fast. It seemed to just clear the Box Canyon or Mile Canyon Mountain. It disappeared as it went over the mountain. It had no flame whatsoever as it was traveling over the ground, and no smoke or noise.

Feeling in good health. Las drink—two or three beers over a month ago. Noted no odors. Noted no sounds other than described. Gave direction to Nep Lopes at radio and to Sergeant Chaves (of New Mexico State Police at Socorro) to get there. Went down to where the object had been, and I noted the brush was burning in several places.—I got my pen and drew a picture of the insignia on the object.

Then Sgt. Chaves came up, asked me what the trouble was because I was sweating and he told me that I was white, very pale. I asked the Sgt. To see what I saw and that was the burning brush. Then Sgt. Chaves and I went down to the spot and Sgt. Chaves pointed out the tracks.

When I first saw the object (when I thought it might be a car) I saw what appeared to be two legs of some type from the object to the ground. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to…the two legs. The two legs were at the bottom of the object, slanted outwards to the ground. The object might have been about three and a half feet from the ground at the time…

Lonnie Zamora experienced an event which left quite an impression on him. He was a serious officer, a pillar of his church, and a man well versed in recognizing airborne vehicles in his area. He was puzzled by what he saw, and frankly, so am I. And yet, I’ve always had some doubt about this case, even though it is the best documented case on record. In spite of the fact that I conducted the most thorough investigation that was humanly possible, the vehicle or stimulus that scared Zamora to the point of panic has never been found.

During the course of the investigation and immediately thereafter, everything that was possible to verify was checked. The communications media must have been waiting for a case like this, because immediately after Zamora reported his sighting all hell broke loose. The telephone at my house was ringing off the hook. I went to my office so that I could direct the investigation from there and at the same time contact Kirtland, Holloman, and White Sands via our telephone communications system. As I walked into our building, and turned into the hallway towards my office, I could hear the telephone ringing, ringing, ringing. The operator informed me that I had ten or twelve calls waiting for me. I decided not to accept the calls until after I had talked with my UFO investigating officer at Kirtland. Major Connor was my primary investigator at Kirtland, but he was inexperienced.

Fortunately, my chief analyst, Sgt. David Moody was on temporary duty at Kirtland. I asked Major Connor to get in touch with him and for Moody to get in touch with me regardless of the hour. It was hours before the investigation could be organized and on its way. A Geiger counter had to be found and the base photographer had to be called. The staff car, which had been provided for the investigation had a flat tire midway between Albuquerque and Socorro. Socorro is located fifty-five miles south of Kirtland Air Force Base.

The Stallion Range Officer had already conducted a preliminary investigation and had also interviewed Zamora. This information was turned over to the Air Force investigators as soon as they began their interview with Zamora.

Connor and Moody kept in touch with me and provided me with good information, but there was nothing from which we could draw a definite conclusion or a decent evaluation. The news media was on SAFOI’s back and SAFOI was on my back. I didn’t have any idea as to what Zamora saw and reported, but by God, I was going to find it. Because of the pressure from the news media, I decided to send Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Project Blue Book consultant, to Kirtland to help with the investigation. I felt that Hynek could concentrate on Socorro while Connor and Moody could check all other activity at the other bases in New Mexico.

In the meantime, Marilyn Beumer Stancombe, my secretary, and I began checking for some sort of positive activity. Radiation had been checked by Connor and Moody and the readings were negative. I checked the Holloman AFB Balloon Control Center for balloon activity. All local weather stations and Air Force bases in New Mexico were checked for release of weather balloons. Helicopter activity was checked throughout the state. Government and private aircraft were checked. The reconnaissance division in the Pentagon was checked. I checked with the immigration division hoping they might help. Finally, I was at my wits end, so I told Marilyn, "Get me the White House Command Post". She looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes of hers like I was nuts. I said, "Yes, Marilyn, the White House Command Post".

She never asked me a question, she just started dialing. I was afraid she would ask me how she could reach them, but she didn’t. It took her five or six calls, but she got me the Command Post. A Major General answered and I explained to him my situation. He was very sympathetic, but off hand he couldn’t recall any type of activity in my area of interest. However, he’d check and call me back.

Fifteen minutes later the General called back and told me that the only activity which he had was some U-2 flights. That was no help, so I thanked him for his cooperation and put my thinking cap on again.

It took days for us to check all of these agencies and activities. I finally received Dr. Hynek’s report; it was one of his typical reports which contained few technical details and added practically nothing to what had already been submitted by Connor and Moody. Actually, Hynek added very little to the investigation, however, his typical press interviews added more flame to the fire. The more press coverage the sightings got, the greater the number of sightings which were reported throughout New Mexico.

I was determined to solve the case and come hell or high water I was going to find the vehicle or the stimulus. I decided that it was imperative for me to talk to the Base Commander at Holloman AFB. I wanted to interview the Base Commander at length about special activities from his base. I needed help to pull this off, so I called Lt. Col. Maston Jacks at SAFOI. I told him what I wanted to do and he asked, "Do you think it will do any good?" I replied, "God damned it Maston, if there is an answer to this case it has to be in some hanger at Holloman". He went to work from his position at the Pentagon and the approval for my visit came through. Colonel Garman was the Base Commander during my visit. He was most cooperative and told me that I could go anywhere and visit any activity which interested me. I went from one end of the base to the other. I spent four days talking to everybody I could and spent almost a whole day with the down-range controllers at the White Sands Missile Range. I left Holloman dejected and convinced that the answer to Zamora’s experience did not originate and terminate at that base.

On my way back to Wright-Patterson, I hit upon an idea. Why not a lunar landing vehicle? I knew that some research had been done at Wright-Patterson; so as soon as I got back I asked for some briefings. The briefings were extremely informative, but the Lunar Landers were not operational in April 1964. I got the names of the companies that were doing research in this field and I started writing letters. The companies were most cooperative, but their answers were all negative.

It was now time for me to pass judgment on the case after a careful review of all the information at hand. I hate to use the word "judgment", but that is exactly what it boils down to. As President Truman used to say, "The buck stops here", and in the world of UFO’s my desk was the end of the line. It was time for the Air Force to make a formal decision on the sighting of Socorro, New Mexico. I reviewed the Air Force Materials Laboratory Analysis of the soil samples which were gathered at the alleged landing area. Conclusion: no foreign residue. Laboratory analysis of the burned brush revealed no chemicals that could have been propellant residue. Radiation was normal for the alleged landing area and for the surrounding area. There was no unusual meteorological activity, no thunderstorms; the weather was windy, but clear. Although we made an extensive search for other witnesses, none could be located. There were no unidentified helicopters or aircraft in the area. Radar installations at Holloman AFB and at Albuquerque observed no unusual blips, but the down-range Holloman MTI (Moving Target Indicator) Radar, closest to Socorro, had been closed down for the day at 1600 hours. All the findings and conclusions were negative. The object was traveling at approximately 120 miles per hour when it disappeared over the mountains according to Zamora’s best estimate.

I labeled the case "Unidentified" and the UFO buffs and hobby clubs had themselves a field day. According to them, here was proof that our beloved planet had been visited by an extraterrestrial vehicle. Although I labeled the case "Unidentified" I’ve never been satisfied with that classification.

I’ve always felt that too many essential elements of the case were missing. These are the intangible elements which are impossible to check, so the solution to this case could very well be lying dormant in Lonnie Zamora’s head.

So, even with his inclination to write off everything, he is left with a case involving a landed UFO, two apparent occupants from it and an investigation by his NCO that found no solution. It would have been simple for him to just claim it was a hoax though the media attention seems to have prevented that. Now, in a document that had no media scrutiny, we learn that he still doesn’t have an explanation and that he didn’t like the unidentified category here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Socorro UFO Landing Part 2

I seem to have been deeply drawn into the latest investigations of the Socorro UFO landing. The latest theory to be floated was that it was a hoax perpetrated by students at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. One of the items in support of the theory is the cardboard found at the landing site and the suggestion that this cardboard was the remains of some kind of pyrotechnics that gave the object its alleged blue – colored flame. I say alleged because there is some discussion about this flame and whether or not it was ever there, but that is a discussion for another time.

I have read, carefully, the file that was held by the Air Force and Project Blue Book and I find no mention about how this cardboard was recovered. Hynek, in his reports, sort of brushed by it and I did find a list of materials submitted for analysis that does mention it.

The first real discussion about the cardboard is in a letter from UFO debunker, Dr. Donald Menzel, who questioned Dr. J. Allen Hynek about it. Since it, the cardboard, was found on the site, though no one seemed to have noted exactly where it was collected which seems to be a little sloppy for both the police officers and scientists involved, there was a question about it being related to the sighting.

In a letter dated February 19, 1965, Menzel, writing to Hynek, noted, "There was also a piece of charred cardboard. ... How big and what shape was the cardboard? Maybe it played a significant role in the enacted UFO drama. Did it, for example, support part of the aluminum foil? Were there holes in the cardboard to which aluminum might have been attached, or indentations carved by paper clips or the like?"

Hynek, in his notes to the chief of Blue Book, wrote, "As far as the cardboard is concerned, Menzel’s conjectures here fall completely flat. The cardboard was portions of very old and weathered corrugated [emphasis added] paper from a packing box [which also seems to answer questions about shape and holes]. There are many examples of this all over the region. There is a city dump not too far away, and when the wind, which blows tumbleweeds all over the place, gets hold of some of this stuff, it scatters the papers pretty well all over the region. Many of the bushes, I noticed particularly this time, have papers caught on their underneath side. In any case, some of this paper was still there, and I shall send Menzel a sample of what this cardboard really looks like. I would say that the cardboard had been there through many rains and had suffered successive dryings [emphasis added]. The original piece I picked up was definitely charred."

The charred cardboard was not part of a tube, but of a packing box so it did not contain pyrotechnics. Hynek, who recovered it, seemed to believe that it was only associated with the sighting by proximity but had nothing to do with the case. It was Menzel who tried to turn it into evidence of a hoax, which is, of course, something that is going on today.

The records are quite clear about this. The cardboard was old and weathered. The landing site was near a dump and there was a lot of cardboard, and paper, and other debris blowing around the area. The most logical conclusion is that the cardboard had nothing to do with the sighting.

There is an ancillary issue here and that is the suggestion that this charred cardboard was part of the pyrotechnics used to create the original flame and give Zamora a reason for driving off into the desert. The Project Blue Book files and our old friend Colonel Eric T. de Jonckheere provides an answer for us. In his May 28, 1964 letter, which was sent to "Hq USAF SAFOI PB (Mrs Gaiser)* he wrote:

(5) Soil Samples: The soil samples obtained at the sighting were given to Dr. J. Allen Hynek by Capt Holder. They were turned over to Captain Quintanilla who in turn submitted them to ASD for analysis. Laboratory analysis of the soil was completed on 19 May 64. It included spectrographic analysis which revealed that there was no foreign material in the soil samples (emphasis added). Also, no chemicals were detected in the charred or burned soil which would indicate a type of propellant (emphasis added). There was no significant difference in elemental composition between the different samples.
The evidence that was collected at the time of the sighting including the charred cardboard and the soil samples seem to rule out a pyrotechnic display. That is, all the evidence and not just the pieces that fit into a narrow window, seem to rule it out.

And again, I can ask, "Where does that leave us?"

Right back where we were. One side saying it was a hoax, but without the evidence necessary to sustain that conclusion, and the other side saying it was an alien spacecraft, but with only the eyewitness testimony of Lonnie Zamora to the strangeness of the craft. What he reported doesn’t lead us to the extraterrestrial.

In other words, this case is unidentified.

*I believe the translation of this is Headquarters, United States Air Force, Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Information and Mrs. Gaiser is the point of contact there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Socorro UFO Landing -- Part One

In the last few weeks, a controversy about the Socorro UFO landing has erupted when it was suggested, again, that a hoax had been perpetrated. The theory was, now changed slightly, that students at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology had created the spaceship and the landing evidence in an elaborate plan that fooled not only Lonnie Zamora but a group of investigators that included the FBI, Army Intelligence, the Air Force and its scientific consultant, and, of course, Jim and Coral Lorenzen of APRO and Ray Stanford the researcher from NICAP.

According to the latest, the one time president of the school, Stirling Colgate, in the late 1960s, told Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling that the whole thing was a hoax. Donald Menzel, the UFO debunker, said that it was as hoax almost from the beginning, but he based that on his own opinion that there were no alien spacecraft and anything that suggested otherwise was inaccurate at best.

But that is just one side of the argument. Like almost everything in UFO research, those arguing for the hoax haven’t presented all the information, though, according to them, they have looked at all the relevant information. I have, in my files, the complete Air Force report on the Socorro landing, and it provides ammunition for other side.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek was the Air Force scientific consultant for UFOs and he visited Socorro in the days after the sighting hit the national press. He interviewed dozens, including the police officer, Zamora, the FBI man and many in the general population.

On page seven of his lengthy report, Hynek wrote, "I also questioned, while in Socorro, my old friend, Dr Jack Whotmen, President of the New Mexico School of Mines (emphasis added), who said he knew of no geophysical or other types of experiments going on in the area at the time. He, as the rest of the townspeople, were puzzled by the event, but the general underground slull (sic) of opinion was that it would turn out to be some device which the government still had under raps (sic)..."

Okay, that doesn’t completely rule out hoax and that idea isn’t mentioned specifically, but we can infer that Whotmen had no indication that it might be a hoax. He, along with many others, believed it to be a government project, probably from White Sands.

Hynek, in his report does write, "No paraphernalia of a hoax were ever found. It would be rather hard to have done away with all the tell-tale evidence, such as tubes of helium, release mechanism, etc. Finally, it was LaPaz’s (that would be Dr. Lincoln LaPaz at the university in Albuquerque and the leading expert on meteorics) feeling had it been a hoax, it surely would have leaked by now."

One of the arguments against this is that there had been a secret society at the New Mexico Tech that engaged in such pranks. They never wanted to reveal what they had done because that was part of the fun. We know about this secret society because they have a website on which they talk about such things. And, if I have understood this correctly, they weren’t in operation in 1964. They came after that.

Finally I turn to my old nemesis, Dr. Charles Moore (seen here) who has claimed that Project Mogul was responsible for the Roswell UFO crash. According to Volume 41, No. 8, November 1, 1994 of Jim Moseley’s Saucer Smear (available for a nominal "love offering" from Moseley at PO Box 1709, Key West, FL 33041) Moore wrote, "At Jim McDonald’s request, I investigated the residue of the Socorro sighting in 1967 or 1968... Despite Phil Klass, I found no indications suggesting that this was a tourist-attracting ploy by the local Chamber of Commerce, nor was it a prank by the New Mexico Tech students (emphasis added)."

So here is a man at New Mexico Tech, who taught there for decades, who worked with the students directly, who had investigated the Zamora story, and he found no evidence of a hoax. This in contrast to Colgate who, for no currently justifiable reason has said that it was a hoax.

But in an interview conducted by Moseley, and published in his Saucer Smear on July 15, 2000, Moseley wrote that Moore said, "Something went wrong (with the Surveyor lunar module undergoing testing at White Sands on the day of the Zamora sighting) and they don’t want to admit it. I have good reason to believe that."

Isn’t that just as good an explanation as the hoax story. Neither has any solid evidence to push it forward as the final answer, but it comes from men who were at New Mexico Tech at the time and who have investigated the story. The hoax hypothesis fails because there have been no students identified as the tricksters and the Surveyor theory fails because Moore was unable to establish a time for the Surveyor tests.

And had the Surveyor been the answer, I suspect that Hynek, or the Chief of Project Blue Book at the time would have been given the answer. On a Joint Messageform (DD Form 173] and dated June 19, 1964, Colonel Eric T. de Jonckheere (seen here) wrote, "The possibility of a research vehicle being involved with the Socorro sighting has been investigated... at great length; however, they have no knowledge of an Army research vehicle which would leave marks such as those found at Socorro. Lt. Col Conkey and Maj H. Mitchell of the AFMDC have also been contacted... However, neither one of them has any knowledge of a vehicle in the Holloman [AFB, Alamogordo] area, such as described in our report."

Which means that if such a research project was going on, or if the Surveyor had strayed off course, Col. Jonckheere would have been able to learn about it. And the Air Force, believing the files would be classified for a long time, would have had their answer. Nothing in the file indicates that any such project was ever seriously considered and no evidence was ever found to corroborate that opinion.

Once again, it appears that the hoax idea fails because we have no information about the tricksters. Moore’s idea of a research vehicle fails because Air Force officers, following that trail failed to find any documentation that would support it despite the fact the Air Force wanted this case solved. We are where we began, with a police officer telling, honestly, what he had seen, and no evidence yet presented to suggest either of these alternative answers are viable.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

V-2 Launches and UFOs

In the continuing argument about the UFO crash at Roswell and the mundane solutions offered, there came a new question. As noted in my blog about the V-2 and biological samples, someone had released a document about a missile launch on July 4, at White Sands Proving Ground. The records from White Sands for missile launches, copies of which I have, show no launch on July 4. Lance Moody wondered what, exactly, those records looked like, so I scanned the relevant portions.

I will note here, as you look at them, that two "rounds" in July seem to be missing. What the records show is that those rounds were postponed and show up later in the records. Apparently the test firings kept the original number, but was noted out of sequence. I have included the page for those later rounds.
There was also a launch of a "Corporal ‘E’" in July 1947. I have included the document for that launch as well. Finally, there was a table that showed all launches from White Sands for 1947, as well as many other years. I have included that page.
First, the page for V-2 launches in July 1947.

Next, the page to show that the missing rounds are accounted for in th record at a later date.

Third, is the page for the Corporal "E" launch in July 1947.

Finally the overall totals page that includes July 1947 that shows only three launches that month, and all are accounted for.

I will say here that I looked at the records at White Sands, at the Space Museum in Alamogordo, at the National Archives, and at Fort Bliss (El Paso, Texas) to see if I could find anything that would account for the debris recovered on the Brazel ranch. Nothing appeared in any of the records, there were no suspicious gaps in the data, and nothing that was still classified.

Everything is accounted for in the record, so this new document is clearly a forgery. This report provides all the documentation necessary to refute the idea that what fell was a V-2.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lonnie Zamora Has Died

Lonnie Zamora, the policeman who reported the Socorro landed UFO, died on Monday, November 2. Colleagues in the police department said that it was heart failure.

Zamora zoomed into national prominence when he reported seeing an egg-shaped craft with two small creatures near it outside of Socorro, New Mexico. The Air Force, then charged with the investigation of UFO sightings sent Northwestern astronomer and their scientific consultant, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, to Socorro to investigate. No matter what Zamora saw, it seemed that the investigators, that also included the FBI and Zamora’s fellow police officers, believed he was describing what he had seen and was not a participant in a hoax.

I never met him, but a good friend, Robert Charles Cornett, who had an interest in UFOs and in astronomy had been in the Socorro area a couple of decades ago to visit the Very Large Array Radio Telescope. On a whim, he called Zamora and was invited to a backyard barbeque, providing that Cornett asked nothing about the UFO sightings. Zamora was tired of talking about it.

Cornett told me that Zamora was a nice man. Friendly to those from outside New Mexico. But he didn’t want to talk about flying saucers.

Those who knew him much better have said that he was a good man and a good police officer. Had it not been for his brush with the unknown, he would have passed a quiet life in New Mexico and might have been happier for it.

Lonnie Zamora 1933 – 2009.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Full Disclosure and UFOs

According to a new report circulating on the Internet, full disclosure about UFOs is at hand. On November 27, 2009, President Barack Obama will tell the world all that the United States knows about UFOs. Many believe that this means he will tell the world that alien spacecraft have been visiting Earth for decades, if not centuries or longer.
Why don’t I believe this?

Because such rumors have been reported before. Many times before. Although such a possible disclosure might have been announced earlier, it seems that one of the first, if not first rumors about disclosure came with the release, in 1951, of The Day the Earth Stood Still (please note here I’m referring to the 1951 classic and not the recent remake). The idea was that the movie was the first step in telling the public about flying saucers. It presented a benevolent space traveler here to warn us about our warlike ways.

Of course there was no disclosure.

Another suggested attempt was the Air Force sponsored scientific study of UFOs at the University of Colorado, also known as the Condon Committee. Some speculated that full disclosure would come at the end of the study. Those poor, misguided people didn’t know that the whole thing was a set up with a goal of getting the Air Force out of the UFO investigation business. At the end, there was no disclosure, just the closure of the Air Force project to investigate them.

There was another supposed event, this one apparently coordinated around the country with UFO researchers told to be available to the local media to answer questions about the alien visitors.

Of course there was no disclosure.

But a history of false rumors (can there be a true rumor?) doesn’t mean this latest attempt will be the same as all those others. According to Dave Wilcox, he heard from Bill Ryan of Project Camelot that this would happen on November 27. But he cautioned that too much advance publicity would kill the announcement.

In other words, the prediction that there will be disclosure has been superceded by another prediction about why it won’t happen. Now, when November 27 passes without a word from the White House or the President, all those who claimed there would be disclosure can tell us that all our talking about it scuttled the announcement. It’s our fault for mentioning any of this in a public place. Nothing like being able to have it both ways.

There will be no announcement on November 27. I don’t know how these rumors get started, but once they do, many jump on the bandwagon. In the end, it just makes everyone look silly because we’re all lumped together with no gradations in what we accept as true and what we know to be false.

When November 27 comes and passes without the announcement, remember, I told you so about a month earlier.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Astronomers and UFOs

In the ongoing saga of whether or not astronomers, amateur and professional, see and report UFOs, I have the following, sent to me by Chris Rutkowski and reported to MUFON in Colorado.
The report said:

On the evening of 10-17-09 myself and four other club members were at our astronomy clubs observatory (35.8308 96.14518) for a clear night of observing. With many years of experience in observing under our belts we were needless to say quite qualified to identify most anything that we would see. Between approximately 6:40 - 7:00 P.M. one of the members noticed something off in the west and queried as to what it may happen to be. First and foremost it was bright, more or less as bright as Jupiter, yet setting about ten to twelve degrees above the horizon, due west.

At our first sighting most of us thought that it was nothing more than an airliner reflecting sunlight from the setting sun but that determination was tossed aside shortly there after. If it had been what we first thought it was it would’ve lost its size and brightness fairly quick as it shifted positions in relation to the sun while in flight. But, it continued to maintain its position, did not move in any direction - vertically, horizontally. If by some chance it were a celestial body it would follow a gradual celestial track that all of us would have noticed in a few minutes.

Again, it didn’t move, remained in one position, which eliminated the possibility of it being a celestial body that none of us were unlikely familiar with. That alone became puzzling since the obvious - Venus, Mercury - are now tracking in the morning eastern sky, not the evening western sky. With that we continued to watch it as one of the guys used his 10x50 binoculars to get a better view. What was seen initially brought to mind that it may perhaps be a high altitude research balloon but the more we watched it and as it maintained its position that thought was tossed quickly also. From the beginning it remained in one position, never moved. Balloons, of any type, will not remain in one specific position be they weather balloons, high altitude research balloons or otherwise.

But as we watched it more closely it was very surprising as to the manner in which it morphed into various shapes and sizes. Its brightness would vary some but that was easily seen as being caused by the low-lying clouds on the horizon. As we commonly call it - it was - sitting in the soup. When they would move in front of it the objects brightness would dim some. Otherwise it would maintain its brightness. That was easily seen via binocular observations.

The longer we watched it the more curious we all became and with that growing curiosity we quickly set two telescopes onto it. Two different sized telescopes were used, one, Celestron 11- Schimdt-Cassegrain telescope and a smaller Orion 4.5 - dobsonian telescope. Between the two we could pull it in for a much closer look in a very inquisitive effort to determine just what it actually was.

Charts and web sites were checked also to make sure we weren’t simply forgetting perhaps one event that may explain what we were now seeing. Nothing could befound. The Celestron was using a 40mm eyepiece for a much wider field of view whereas the smaller Orion had a 15mm eyepiece to pull it in much closer. Through the Orion one could easily see what appeared right off as a bell shape. The same was viewed in the other also. But as mentioned before it morphed into what was clearly seen and could be interpreted as the same basic outline of the Shuttle that anyone would see as it flies over.

Again, the same basic shape as to what you would see looking up at the bottom of it. That distinctive shape was easily recognized. At the rear of it you could see what looked like bluish green waves that would both come and go from the main rear line of the object. Nowhere else was this color and wave seen, just at the rear. The objects color was a combination of the just mentioned bluish green at the rear to a lighter orange yellow up through the main body and then into red orange, much more intense, than any of the other colors at the top or perhaps, from appearance at that time, leading edge. None of us had ever seen a color distribution of this sort before. Especially on either the Shuttle or any other normal day-to-day satellites.

From our position/location it appeared to be hovering over either Bristow, OK or possibly even Oklahoma City. There was no attempt by any of us then to determine its specific distance or altitude from us. The same applies to its actual size. Visually, it appeared very similar to the size of Jupiter. Other than that comparison we honestly don’t know either its distance or specific altitude. It remained in the same position for approximately 40 minutes and never moved.

Close to 8 P.M. we started to notice what appeared to be a ring of lights that was rotating around the bottom portion. The lights were seen in the same location that the bluish green colored waves were at. Several of us noticed this while looking at it through the telescopes. Needless to say this was surprising to us all. This carried on for one to two minutes and then suddenly the object started to move. The movement was slow at the beginning but increased very rapidly. I had my eye glued to the 40mm eyepiece when this began and once it started I could not move. Within two seconds it had totally disappeared from open visual sight but I still had a lock on it in the eyepiece. Fast, very fast it moved from dead center in the eyepiece field of view upwards and at the same time was getting smaller and smaller as it flew away. Two or three seconds later it was totally gone from view in either of the telescopes.

The speed that it moved was without question way beyond anything that we have knowledge of or is publicly known to be in our military. At the rate it flew away would make a SR-71 Blackbird look very old and slow. Could it have possibly been a new experimental aircraft? Possibly yes but if so what was something such as that doing in Oklahoma? Most generally new experimental, top-secret aircraft of that type are being tested at either Edwards AFB or Area 51, not Oklahoma. In a nutshell, we will never know. It was unidentifiable, it was in the air and flew away and it most certainly was an object of some unknown kind/type. From this alone it could be justifiably categorized as a UFO.

I will make a couple of points here. These were astronomers, familiar with the sky and what would be in it. They reported something more than just a blob of light, they observed it through telescopes and binoculars, and they watched it disappear by flying away rather than just fading out. It seems they saw some sort of manufactured craft that resembled the space shuttle but clearly was not. This then, would be a report of a UFO by astronomers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Roswell UFO Document?

The Roswell UFO crash story has seemed to have spawned another fake document. This one, supposed to have come from the CIA, comes to me via England, which always raises my suspicions. Why would a classified, American document find its way to British hands first? But even if one did, this particular one didn’t. It isn’t real.

The report, as posted to various places on the Internet, claims, in part:

...Another rule of secrecy was: You always camouflage your operations from prying eyes. It was not widely known to many that the Air Force and Navy were conducting classified rocket-launched reconnaissance payloads from White Sands, New Mexico, which failed to reach orbiting altitudes and subsequently crashed off range and generated considerable public interest in the United States and abroad.
As part of a top secret Air Force atomic weapons detection project called MOGUL involving radiation dispersal in the atmosphere, selected monitoring sites across the United States were not acknowledged to by the Air Force and Central Intelligence Group (CIG) and as a result, wreckage from one of the payloads was accidentally discovered by a sheep rancher not far from the Air Force’s Roswell Army Air Field.
Also, another fact not widely known among military intelligence was that CIG had planned to utilize artificial meteor strikes as decoy devices ejected from V-2 warheads at 60 miles above the earth to record dispersal trajectories and possible psychological warfare weapons against the Soviets in the advent of a war in Europe.
One of the projects underway at that time incorporated re-entry vehicles containing radium and other radioactive materials combined with biological warfare agents developed by I.G. Farben for use against allied assault forces in Normandy in 1944.
When a V-2 warhead impacted near the town of Corona, New Mexico, on July 4, 1947, the warhead did not explode and it and the deadly cargo lay exposed to the elements which forced the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project to close off the crash site and a cover story was immediately put out that what was discovered was the remains of a radar tracking target suspended by balloons.
In 1994 and again in 1995, the Air Force published what it considered the true account of what lay behind the Roswell story but omitted the radiological warhead data for obvious reasons.
It may also be pointed out here that this kind of experiment was very similar to those conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission and the military in the late 1940’s. It was known in the CIA that the Soviets were conducting the same kind of radiological and biological warfare experiments in the early 1950’s after their successful detonation of a [sic] atomic bomb based on stolen documents and materials from Los Alamos forwarded to Moscow by communist espionage agents in the United States.

I suppose I should point out that in 1947, no one was thinking in terms of placing any sort of payload into orbit using the V-2. All the missions would be considered "sub-orbital" though many of them failed long before even that term could be applied. And for those who have forgotten their history, the Soviets first put a payload into orbit in late 1957, or ten years after the Roswell crash, whatever it might have been.
The real problem with this new document is the claim that "When a V-2 warhead impacted near the town of Corona, New Mexico, on July 4, 1947, the warhead did not explode and it and the deadly cargo lay exposed to the elements which forced the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project to close off the crash site..."

No record of this flight can be found. Back in the early 1990s, I researched all this carefully. I went to Alamogordo, to the Space Museum there and learned that something about the various flights out of White Sands. And, I went to White Sands to talk to the people there. I have a copy of White Sands History which "...narrates the development and testing of rockets and missiles at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, during the years 1945 through 1955." It contains a record of every launch and according the documentation, no launch information is missing. All launches are accounted for.

Here’s what I know. On July 3, there was an attempted launch. According to the Albuquerque Journal of July 4, 1947, "Two men were burned seriously by acid and six others suffered minor burns early tonight as they prepared for the launching of a German V-2 rocket... A statement from Lt. Col. Harold Turner, proving grounds commandant, said an investigation has been ordered. Launching of the rocket, 25th to be fired in a series of experiments here, was postponed indefinitely."

That would certainly suggest there was no July 4 launch to fall to the ground near Corona. But the listings of all rockets in July 1947 suggest it was well. According to the White Sands History, a WAC Corporal E was launched on July 17 (much too late to drop material near Corona) with a note that said, "Small thrust developed and missile rose and impacted near launchers... main air regulator at fault."

For the V-2,(seen here, photo by Randle) there was a launch on July 10 and it was noted, "Set yaw angle caused faulty course." and for a second launch on July 29, the note said, "Steering vane 4 failed to operated at 27 secs – Success."

There is nothing in the record to suggest there were any launches not mentioned in the history and all launches have been accounted for. There was nothing on July 4, 1947, and for all these reasons, I believe the document to be a fake.

Mac Tonnies is Gone

Sad news today. Mac Tonnies, known to many in the UFO field, has died. Details are few, other than he was found in his Kansas City apartment, dead from natural causes. Foul play is not suspected.
I knew Mac only from emails, book reviews and his blog, Posthuman which is to say that I didn't know him all that well. He seemed to be a fine young man, had a quick mind, was interested in many things, and was a reasonable sort. In the world of the UFO, it is rare to find someone who is reasonable.
I enjoyed my correspondence with him, liked his blog and respected his ideas. A fitting tribute might be to take a look at his blog.
Mac was only 34 and is gone much too soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Roswell UFO and Jesse Marcel

I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Nothing in the world of UFOs is ever easy or simple. It seems that almost any question will not have an easy answer and there are times when the more complex the answer the more it seems that someone is engaging in rationalization.

Take, for example, Lance Moody’s question about Jesse Marcel and the debris in Ramey’s office (seen here). He believes that since Marcel was quoted as saying that if he is in the picture it’s the real debris, the debate is over. Clearly the photographs of Marcel in Ramey’s office show him with the remains of a rawin target and a weather balloon. But, is it really that easy?

Of course not. First, the quote originally appeared in The Roswell Incident by Charles Berlitz and William Moore. This book was described by Moore as a disgraceful hodgepodge of fact and fiction. Moore, himself, offered three different versions of quotes by Marcel about the debris and the pictures, each changed to reflect the latest information. I think we can safely reject the Marcel quotes in that book because we don’t know what Marcel actually said to Moore, how Moore interpreted it, and how it might have been changed as new information was discovered.

Oh, if it was only so easy. But Stan Friedman got Marcel to sit down in front of the cameras for a documentary and Marcel, in that documentary, says the same thing. If he’s in the picture, it’s the real debris. If it is anyone else, then it is not.

So, we’re back where we started and Lance’s question takes on added importance because we see Marcel making the claim. How do we answer Lance’s question?

I could argue that the material on the floor in Ramey’s office was there before Marcel arrived, if the time lines have been reconstructed properly, and if that is true, then that couldn’t be the stuff that was found in Roswell. I could argue that Ramey was telling reporters, before Marcel arrived, that it was all a weather balloon and that the stuff on the floor reflected that explanation.

Yes, I know that some of this is speculative and there will be arguments about the validity of such a claim, but we do have some very good documentation and the timing of some of these things seems to be off when corrected for time zones. All this implies that the cover story was in place before Marcel could have arrived, if the take off time as given by Robert Skirkey in Roswell is correct... and please note that I am qualifying all this because we are dealing with old memories here and we have no documentation about the take off times.

Of course, I can point out that the press release written by Walter Haut, and clearly ordered by William Blanchard, gives us a window of times. I can suggest that none of this blew up until after the press release was put onto the various wire services and there would have been no reason to order Marcel, or anyone else to Fort Worth until then, but again. It is speculation.

I could argue that Colonel Thomas DuBose, who was in Ramey’s office(Ramey kneeling and DuBose seated), said, on video tape and to various others including Don Ecker and Kay Palmer, that the stuff on the floor had been switched and it was not the stuff found in Roswell.

Yes, I know Jaime Shandera challenges this and he did interview DuBose, but he made neither tape recording nor took notes. We are left to accept, or reject, his version based on that, and in the face of the recordings of DuBose that do exist and can be reviewed, it seems that his claims should be rejected.

So, this suggests that the pictures were staged and that the stuff that was flown in from Roswell was not the stuff on the floor. Testimony from those who were there at the time make this clear whether it was DuBose who makes the claim or Marcel... more on this later.

Irving Newton, the weather officer, told me that he had just arrived at the weather office, which was about 6 p.m., when he got a call from Ramey (or Ramey’s aide which would have been the same thing, militarily speaking) and was told to get over to the general’s office immediately. If he didn’t have a car, he was to steal one, his words, not mine. When he arrived, he was told that he was supposed to identify the stuff on the floor, but was also told that the general thought it was all part of a weather balloon. In other words, Newton didn’t have to identify it for Ramey because he already new and the officer talking to Newton wanted to make sure that Newton gave the right answers.

More important, we know that Newton went to work on the evening shift that began, for him, at six. But we also know, based on other documents, that Ramey was already telling people that the Roswell find was a weather balloon, and that Major Edwin Kirton was telling the Dallas Morning News it was a weather balloon thirty minutes or more before Newton could get to Ramey’s office, which means the identification of the balloon and rawin target had already been made.

All this is interesting and certainly argues against the material on the floor being what was found near Roswell, but we still have that statement by Marcel. This is a real problem and argues most persuasively against anything extraterrestrial being found.

There is, however, one other significant bit of information. Back in the 1980s, Johnny Mann was a reporter for a television station in New Orleans and he was going to do a series of reports on UFOs. He wanted to interview Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker, which is irrelevant to us. He also interviewed Houma, Louisiana resident, Jesse Marcel (seen here), even taking him to Roswell to walk those fields again. Mann made it clear that Marcel wasn’t exactly sure where he had been and that one stretch of New Mexico desert looks like any other so Mann didn’t care. They were in the general vicinity, which was close enough for his story and for filming purposes.

Mann, of course, had a copy of The Roswell Incident and he flipped it open to the pages showing the pictures of Jesse Marcel with the weather balloon debris. Mann showed the pictures to Marcel and said, "Jess, I gotta tell ya, that looks like a weather balloon."

Marcel replied, "That’s not the stuff I found."

Johnny Mann, who has no dog in this fight, who wouldn’t care what was said as long as it was the true, made it clear to me, that Marcel recognized the material in the picture as a balloon.

This exchange was overheard by the cameraman, so that it is not single witness, but can be verified. And yes, I know the skeptics will point out that this is hearsay, but I would suggest that Mann has no reason to invent this tale and it can be corroborated. And I should point out that I sought out Mann rather than he coming to me.

So, we have Marcel saying that if he is in the photographs, it is the real stuff and then looking at the two specific photographs of himself with alleged debris saying that it’s not the stuff he found. I’m not going to speculate about what this means. I will point out that it isn’t the black and white issue that Lance and others believe it to be, and it proves that nothing about this is ever simple or easy.

Call it rationalization if you want, but it is about investigation and looking at all the facts. Does this bit of information lead us to the extraterrestrial? No. But it does suggest there is more here than a Mogul balloon because the evidence and testimony isn’t explained by that either.

And it makes everyone wonder what the military was trying to hide. Mogul was all over the place in July 1947, from the discussions by the Mogul team with everyone they thought might help to pictures in the newspapers a day or two after the 509th Bomb Group told the world they had a flying saucer. Dr. Albert Crary, the leader of the balloon launch expedition even used the name Mogul in his unclassified diary and his field notes.

In this, I have not mentioned any of the other credible testimony from high-ranking officers in Roswell who almost universally suggested there was something to this crash and Mogul does not answer the question. The men who would have had to know about the crash in fact said that it happened and suggested it was extraterrestrial with one notable exception.

I have not mentioned the effort by the military and the government to convince us all that it was a weather balloon and then a Mogul balloon by citing the need for secrecy for Mogul. This simply fails because Mogul, the launches in New Mexico, the attempt to create a constant level balloon, and even the name were not classified in 1947 as so many others have claimed. The ultimate purpose, to spy on the Soviets was a secret, but that is a red herring. It means nothing here.

In the end, we do have good reason to reject the Marcel statement that only he was in the real pictures (which, by the way, is contradicted by the other five pictures of the others) and because of that, the argument is not ended. Marcel himself said the pictures to which Lance referred, and that others referred, were of a balloon and not the stuff he found. Most importantly, you don’t have to rely on my honesty, integrity, or interpretation for that because the information comes from others.

So, no, I don’t see this as a rationalization but a rejection of a statement that is challenged by much other evidence. This is what I mean when I say that nothing is easy in the world of the UFO.