Ask people what they think about UFOs, and you’re sure to get opinions ranging through all extremes and nuances. Some are so embarrassed by the topic that they simply refuse to consider any evidence whatsoever, like the Pope refusing to look through Galileo’s telescope. Others claim not only to be certain that aliens are here, but to have exact, insider knowledge of what it’s all about. Between these extremes are endless variations.
It’s the same with how we approach the subject. Some people read UFO books for fun, like a mystery novel or scary story. Others are more interested in scientific evidence, such as analysis of photographs, videos, or material samples. Still others prefer more hypothetical roads, like theories about the likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe, or how an advanced propulsion system might work. There are a host of specialized studies, too, ranging from abductions, to crop circles, to animal mutilations, and more. Or, you may focus on the believers and witnesses themselves by studying UFOs as an element of popular culture, or from a psycho-social perspective.
Another approach is historical. There are, after all, government UFO documents that anyone can read. What do they say? Can these documents tell us whether the government or military have ever been interested in this phenomenon? If so, why?
Granted, this approach might not be of the same value as subjecting a piece of flying saucer to laboratory tests. But it would certainly be important if the government had documents showing that UFOs are truly something extraordinary, and even possibly alien. Especially after telling the public the opposite for years. Since belief in UFOs is a near-professional suicide in most respected circles, what would it mean if we discovered that, within the classified world, people have taken it seriously for years?
It just so happens that they have. They do.
For many years, it was hard to obtain declassified government documents about UFOs. During the 1950s and 1960s, a few documents wended their way to the rest of the world, but this was rare. Then, in 1974, the U.S. government amended the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The result was a veritable golden age of document releases that lasted roughly until a 1982 Executive Order from President Reagan. While UFO documents continue to be released, a repeat of the Great Flood of the seventies appears unlikely.
Black-out, declassified UFO documents look rather cool, but most don’t provide any evidence for aliens, and many of them are not even that interesting. But some are veryinteresting. Whether they prove that UFOs are aliens or something entirely different, they make it clear that this topic has been taken very seriously at high levels, and has been subject to a great deal of secrecy.
Considering how marginalized this subject is from mainstream culture, making this point is enough for a day’s work. There are always deeper waters within which to swim, but for now let us stay close to the shore and look at a few of these documents. Even though most of these are well-known to UFO researchers, they continue to remain almost completely unknown to the wider public. Apparently, some things are so obvious that they are invisible.
1. The 1947 Twining Memo.
For good reason, this is one of the most important UFO documents we have. On September 23, 1947, right at the beginning of the “modern” UFO era, General Nathan Twining, Head of the U.S. Air Material Command (AMC), wrote a classified letter to Air Force General George Schulgen regarding the “flying discs.” He said the objects were “real and not visionary or fictitious.” They may possibly be natural phenomena, he wrote, such as meteors. But:
“the reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability (particularly in roll), and action which must be considered evasive when sighted … lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically, or remotely.”
Twining listed several common descriptions of UFOs. They generally were silent, had a metallic or light reflecting surface, no trail, were circular or elliptical in shape, and often flat on the bottom. Many descriptions indicated a dome on top. Several reports indicated they flew in formation. Quite specific information, indeed.
UFO skeptics have pointed to Twining’s statement that no wreckage of a flying disc had been recovered. It’s true that he was probably in a good position to know. But what we don’t know is whether Twining would have been able to tell Schulgen about a UFO crash, if indeed such a thing happened. Simply put, if Schulgen lacked a “need to know,” Twining could not have told him.
On the other hand, Twining did state that UFOs were not secret American craft. This came as a surprise to Schulgen, who expected to learn that there was nothing to the affair, that everything was under control. Was Twining was hiding the fact that UFO’s were classified technology? It’s a fair question.
With the hindsight of more than fifty years, the answer seems to be no. There is simply no credible evidence that the U.S. had any craft in 1947, experimental or otherwise, that could duplicate the reported maneuvers of flying saucers. Anyway, why would Twining tell Schulgen to keep studying flying saucers if they were simply classified American craft? If there were good reasons for doing so, none have emerged.
2. 1949 FBI Memo.
In my own opinion, this three-page document is just as extraordinary as the Twining Memo. On January 31, 1949, the FBI issued a memo on UFOs, entitled “Protection of Vital Installations.” The classified document was sent to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the Army’s G-2, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. It mentions a meeting among these groups concerning UFOs.
Here is a key statement of the document:
“Army intelligence has recently said that “the matter of ‘Unidentified Aircraft’ or ‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,’ otherwise known as ‘Flying Discs,’ ‘Flying Saucers,’ and ‘Balls of Fire,’ is considered top secret by intelligence officers of both the Army and the Air Forces.”
This was a year and a half into the modern era of UFOs. All the while, government sources had been telling the public that this phenomenon was just a combination of hoaxes, hallucinations, conventional aircraft, and misidentification of natural phenomena.
Why, then, was the subject considered top secret?
The answer is contained within the memo itself. It mentions, for instance, a near-collision by an commercial airliner with a large “rocket” type craft (with windows, no less) traveling at an estimated speed of – strap yourself in – 2,700 mph. More serious, the memo explains, were invasions of sensitive airspace by unknown objects in the vicinity of the Atomic Energy Commission’s installation at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The memo states that these had occurred throughout December 1948 (on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 20th, and 28th). The witnesses of these „unexplained phenomena“ were „Special Agents of the Office of Special Investigation; Airline Pilots; Military Pilots, Los Alamos Security Inspectors, and private citizens.“ The sightings continued into 1949, as a similar object was seen in the area on January 6.
The memo goes on to explain that „recent observations have indicated that the unidentified phenomena travel at the rate of speed estimated at a minimum of three miles per second and a maximum of twelve miles per second, or a mean calculated speed of seven and one-half miles per second, or 27,000 miles per hour.“ Moreover, „on two separate occasions a definite vertical change in path was indicated.“ In other words, the phenomenon was able to maneuver at a very high rate of speed, and seemed to be focused on Los Alamos. The memo states that reports of the appearance of the object as typically round, occasionally diamond-shaped, „with a definite area to the light’s source,“ and having elongated trailing lights. „On two occasions reports have been received of the sighting of multiple units.“ There is some speculation within the document that the objects were Soviet in origin, but no evidence or proof is offered.
The memo also refers to „scientific reasons“ why the objects could not be meteorites. „The only conclusions reached thus far are that they are either hitherto unobserved natural phenomena or that they are man made. No scientific experiments are known to exist in this country which could give rise to such phenomena.“ On the third page, the idea of „cosmic rays“ was offered, though without any theory or evidence to support it.
Although the memo does not state the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), its attempt to explain the Los Alamos phenomenon as either natural phenomena or man made does not supply any actual evidence — the only reason why these explanations could even be offered. Because once one tries to find a „hitherto unobserved phenomena,“ or a „man made“ object, one only comes up empty.
3. 1951 USAF Intelligence Report
This report describes a rather up-close and personal UFO encounter on July 9, 1951, by the pilot of an F-51 fighter plane from Lawson Air Force Base in Georgia. The pilot, a combat veteran from World War Two, provided quite a bit of detail, which was recorded in the report.
“Object described as flat on top and bottom and appearing from a front view to have rounded edges and slightly beveled. From view as object dived from top of plane was completely round and spinning in clockwise direction…. Object did not appear to be aluminum. Only 1 object observed. Solar white. No vapor trails or exhaust or visible system of propulsion. Described as traveling [at] tremendous speed….Pilot states object was 300 to 400 feet from plane and appeared to be 10 to 15 feet in diameter….Pilot states he felt disturbance in the air described as ‘bump’ when object passed under plane….Pilot is considered by associates to be highly reliable, of mature judgement and a creditable observer.”
What commentary is necessary? The report says it all.
4. The Chadwell Memo of December 2, 1952.
1952 was an important year in the history of the UFO. Across the United States, the number of sightings skyrocketed, and several of these were well-documented encounters by military personnel. At the end of July, the Air Force held a press conference explaining that, although some of these reports remained unexplained, there was no evidence they were alien craft. Within the classified world, matters were not so serene.
H. Marshall Chadwell was the CIA’s Director of Scientific Intelligence, and very much interested in this problem. In this memo, addressed to the CIA Director, General Walter Bedell Smith, Chadwell wrote:
“At this time, the reports of incidents convince us that there is something going on that must have immediate attention…. Sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and travelling at high speeds in the vicinity of major U.S. defense installations are of such nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or known types of aerial vehicles.”
This statement bears very close scrutiny. Here is yet another comment by a high-level U.S. official that UFOs were real, probably artificial, probably intelligently operated, and not apparently ours. Nor was there serious consideration that these were Soviet.
If not American, if not Soviet, if not natural phenomena, and if they appeared to be technological and under intelligent control, we begin to run out of viable options. Chadwell’s memo makes it obvious that he understood this. Understandably, he was loathe to state the obvious.
5. 1954 Maxwell AFB Emergency Report.
Throughout the 1950s, the air space violations kept on coming. This report (headed “Emergency”) originated from the flight service center at Maxwell Air Force Base, and was sent to the Commander of Air Defense Command (ADC) in Colorado.
The report describes the entry into airspace of a “strange stationary object variable in brilliance” which moved rapidly, then returned to its original position. The base sent a helicopter to investigate. The pilot’s assessment: “definitely not a star.” Many people watched this object from the tower, and a civilian tower radioed that it also had it in sight. The object became dimmer, showed a slight red glow, and disappeared.
Could it have been a star? Possibly. Still, the personnel at the time asked the same question, and concluded it wasn’t.
According to the report:
“…pilot of helicopter wished to stress fact that the object was of a saucer-like nature, was stationary at 2000 ft. And would be glad to be called upon to verify any statement and act as witness.”
It is worth noting that copies of this report were sent to the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and each of the military services.
6. Intrusion at Minot Air Force Base, 1966
A large UFO wave took place across the U.S. during the mid-1960s. This caused a good deal of publicity, congressional interest, and the eventual study of UFOs by the University of Colorado in the hopes of settling the matter once and for all. Although the Colorado Committee was supposed to have full access to classified UFO reports, in practice it received very little to go on, and instead conducted a number of ad hoc investigations of sightings as they became known.
One of many classified reports that slipped through the cracks occurred at Minot Air Force Base, in North Dakota, on August 24, 1966. That night, an airman radioed to the base about a multicolored light, very high in the sky. A team went to the location, confirmed the original unknown, then saw a second, white object pass in front of clouds. The base radar tracked the object, which was as high as 100,000 feet (almost twenty miles). The object rose and descended several times; each time it descended, an air force officer in charge of a missile crew found his radio transmission interrupted by static, even though he was sixty feet below the ground. The object eventually descended to ground level ten to fifteen miles south of the area. The Air Force sent a strike team to check. Apparently, they saw the object either on the ground or hovering very low. According to the official report:
“When the team was about ten miles from the landing site, static disrupted radio contact with them. Five to eight minutes later, the glow diminished, and the UFO took off. Another UFO was visually sighted and confirmed by radar. The one that was first sighted passed beneath the second. Radar also confirmed this. The first made for altitude toward the north, and the second seemed to disappear with the glow of red.”
The incident lasted nearly four hours and was confirmed by three different missile sites.
7. Malmstrom AFB 1967
Early in the morning on the March 16, 1967 at Malmstrom AFB in Montana, occurred one of the most extraordinary events in the history of military-UFO encounters. Under a clear and dark Montana sky, an airman with the Oscar Flight Launch Control Center (LCC) saw a star-like object zigzagging high above him. Soon, a larger and closer light also appeared, and acted in similar fashion. The airman called his NCO, and the two men watched the lights streak through the sky, maneuvering in impossible ways. The NCO phoned his commander, Lieutenant Robert Salas, who was below ground in the launch control center. “Great,” Salas said. “You just keep watching them and let me know if they get any closer.”
A few minutes later, the NCO called again, shouting that a red, glowing UFO was hovering outside the front gate. “What do you want us to do?” asked the NCO. Salas told him to make sure the site was secure while he phoned the command post. “Sir,” replied the NCO, “I have to go now, one of the guys just got injured.”
Before Salas could ask about the injury, the NCO was off the line. The man, who was not seriously injured, was evacuated by helicopter to the base. Salas woke his commander, Lieutenant Fred Meiwald. As he briefed Meiwald, an alarm went off in the small capsule, and both men saw a “No-Go” light turn on for one of the missiles. Within seconds, several more missiles went down in succession.
Twenty miles away, at the Echo-Flight Launch Facilities, the same scenario was taking place. First Lieutenant Walter Figel, the Deputy Crew Commander of the Missile Combat Crew, was at his station when one of the Minuteman missiles went into “No-Go” status. He called the missile site and learned that a UFO had been hovering over the site. Like Salas, Figel doubted the story. But just then, ten more ICBMs in rapid succession reported a “No-Go” condition. Within seconds, the entire flight was down.
Strike teams were dispatched to two launch facilities, where maintenance crews were already at work. Figel had not told the strike teams about the UFO report. Upon their arrival, however, the teams reported back to him that all of the maintenance and security personnel had been watching UFOs hover over each of the sites.
The missiles were down for most of the day. Neither the Air Force investigation, nor the laboratory tests at Boeing’s Seattle plant found any cause for the shutdown. According to the Boeing engineering chief, “there was no technical explanation that could explain the event.” UFOs were not part of this analysis.
8. Wurtsmith Air Force Base, 1975
During October and November of 1975, another extraordinary series of air space violations took place, this time across the length of the U.S. northern border, involving several military bases from Montana to Maine. Air space incursions also took place through much of 1976. All are unexplained to this day in any conventional sense.
On the evening of October 31, 1975 at Wurtsmith AFB in Michigan, an airman saw what appeared to be running lights of a low flying craft, possibly a helicopter, near the southern perimeter of the base, heading westerly. One light pointed down; two red lights were near the back. The object was either silent or very quiet.
A little later, other witnesses saw several lights near the western edge of the base. The lights turned north and appeared to lose altitude. Most heard nothing, although some claimed to hear a quiet sound similar to a helicopter, but which faded quickly.
Then, three times within the space of 11 minutes, security police at the back gate reported that an object with no lights – possibly a helicopter – entered the base and hovered very low over the weapons storage area. Radar personnel detected low flying objects (plural) in the area. At the northern perimeter of the base, one of the crafts briefly turned its lights on.
A KC-135 tanker was flying to the base at the time. It was ordered to intercept and identify the object or objects. The crew tracked what at first appeared to be a single craft for about 35 miles southeast from the base. However, they soon decided they were seeing two objects, apparently communicating with each other with irregular flashing lights. Radar trackings could not last longer than 10 seconds. Every time they tried to close, the objects simply pulled away.
The crew lost the objects among fishing boat lights in Saginaw Bay, so they started back. Here is how the story ends, as told by the navigator to the base historian four years later:
“On the way back, we picked the UFO up again at our eight o’clock position. We turned away, and it proceeded to follow us. Finally, we turned back in the direction of the UFO and it really took off back in the direction of the Bay area. I know this might sound crazy, but I would estimate that the UFO sped away from us doing approximately 1,000 knots. We continued in the direction of the Bay until RAPCON (radar) called us again and said they were painting a UFO four to five miles over the coast traveling in a westerly direction. They vectored us to the position of the UFO and we proceeded but at point we were low fuel and were forced to return to Wurtsmith. I remember that while on final approach we saw the lights again near the Weapons Storage Area. Following the mission we discussed the incident and about a week later, Captain Higgenbotham was questioned by OSI and cautioned not to discuss the incident.”
Could this have been advanced helicopter technology? If so, it would have to have outperformed what was then the most advanced helicopter design in the world: the recently built Apache prototype. But as awesome a machine as the Apache is, even today it can not duplicate the reported actions of the unidentified intruders at Wurtsmith. And, of course, this still begs the question … who was responsible for this?
9. The Amazing Encounter over Tehran in 1976.
On the night of September 18, 1976, the Iranian Air Force was involved in one of the most dramatic UFO events in modern history. Not only was the case itself extraordinary, but so was the documentation: namely, a four-page U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report.
The strangeness began after 10:30 p.m. on September 18, when the control tower at Mehrabad Airport received calls about an unknown object hovering at 1,000 feet in the northern section of Teheran. The tower supervisor observed the object with binoculars, describing it as rectangular or cylindrical. In his words, “the two ends were pulsating with a whitish blue color. Around the mid-section was this small red light that kept going in a circle…. I was amazed.”
He notified the Iranian Air Force. Two hundred miles away, at Shahrokhi AFB, General Nader Yousefi ordered an F-4 Phantom to investigate. It took off at 1:30 a.m. on the morning of September 19. According to the pilot, the object was intensely brilliant and “easily visible” at a distance of 70 miles. As he came to within 25 nautical miles (about 29 statute miles), his aircraft “lost all instrumentation and communications.” He broke off the intercept and headed back, at which point his aircraft regained all instrumentation.
The General had already authorized a second F-4. When the second pilot reached a distance of 27 NM, he obtained a substantial radar return, “comparable to that of a 707 tanker.” At this point, the UFO began to move away from the F-4 at the same speed. It was extremely bright and gave off flashing strobe lights arranged in a rectangular pattern. The colors alternated blue-green, red, and orange, although the sequence was so fast that they were almost simultaneous.
The UFO then released a bright object, “estimated to be one half to one third the apparent size of the Moon.” It headed straight toward the F-4 “at a very fast rate of speed.” The pilot tried to fire an AIM-9 missile at it, “but at that instant his weapons control panel went off and he lost all communications.” Seeking to evade, he dove and turned away, but the object followed him and turned inside his own turn. It then returned to the main object “for a perfect rejoin.” The F-4 pilot then regained communications and weapons control.
At this point, another object came out of the main object and rapidly descended. The F-4 crew observed this, anticipating an explosion. Instead, the object appeared to rest gently on the Earth and cast a very bright light over an area of about 2 miles. The crew noted the object’s position and then headed back.
Before landing, they circled Mehrabad Airport several times, receiving frequent interference and losing communications. During their final approach, the F-4 crew saw a cylinder shaped object with bright steady lights on each end and a flasher in the middle. They inquired with the tower, which replied that there was no other known traffic in the area.
The next morning, the F-4 crew was taken in a helicopter to the area where the UFO was thought to have landed – a dry lake bed. They saw nothing, but picked up a beeper signal west of the area. At the point where the return was the loudest was a small house. They landed and asked the residents if they had noticed anything strange the previous night. The people mentioned a loud noise and a bright light, “like lightning.”
Although the DIA memo indicated more information would be forwarded, no follow-up military documents ever came to light. Researchers Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett stated, “reliable sources have told us the Iranian case was about one and a half inches thick, yet absolutely no admission to having this file has come from any government agency with a possible connection to the case.” Nevertheless, taped testimonies in later years by Iranian Air Force generals Nader Yousefi and Mahmoud Sabahat reveal that General John Secord, chief of the USAF mission in Orion, attended a high level briefing with Iranian authorities and the pilots.
Furthermore, Lt. General Abdulah Azarbarzin of the Iranian Imperial Air Force admitted to U.S. reporters that the UFO encounter had been carefully documented and passed on to the USAF. “This was the request from the U.S. They have the procedure, if we have some information on UFOs, we’re just exchanging all this information, and we did it.” In 2005, one of the Iranian pilots, General Parviz Jafari, confirmed the facts of the chase in an interview with Whitley Strieber and Dr. Roger Leir.
U.S. intelligence analysts found the case to be spectacular. An evaluation in the DIA files stated:
“An outstanding report. This case is a classic which meets all the criteria necessary for a valid study of the UFO phenomenon: a) the object was seen by multiple witnesses from different locations … and viewpoints. b) the credibility of many of the witnesses was high (an Air Force general, qualified air crews, and experienced radar operators). c) visual sightings were confirmed by radar. d) similar electromagnetic effects (EME) were reported by three separate aircraft. e) there were physiological effects on some crew members (i.e. loss of night vision due to the brightness of the object). f) an inordinate amount of maneuverability was displayed by the UFOs.”
During the 1990s, Lee Graham and Ron Regehr of Aero-Jet in California confirmed that the UFO sighting over Tehran was tracked by the U.S. military’s Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite. This is a deep space platform primarily used to detect the launch of ballistic missiles. It can distinguish different aircraft by comparing their infrared signature with a comprehensive database of known aircraft. Graham and Regehr obtained print-outs showing that the DSP detected an anomalous object in Iranian air space at that time.
The obvious question is, who was operating the object over Teheran? Based on the all that is known, it makes no sense to claim that this was American technology. Why would the Americans confront the Air Force of such a key ally within its own air space? Nor has there ever been any indication in subsequent years that the Soviet Union created technology responsible for this – to say nothing of the fact that for the Soviets to have engaged Iranian F-4s over Tehran in 1976 would have been even more provocative than if the U.S. had done so. Indeed, after the encounter, the Iranian government asked the governments of the USSR and the U.S. whether this had been a test of their military equipment. Neither nation claimed responsibility.
The real problem is that this object so clearly outperformed American-made fighter jets. Some agency – or civilization – was responsible for it.
10. The 1981 Halt Memo.
The Rendlesham Forest incident remains among the most important UFO cases ever. It involved a landing of an unknown craft near two Air Bases in Britain, was witnessed by many U.S. military personnel, and is supported by military documentation. In addition, the area held a large stock of nuclear weapons, a fact that was denied by authorities for years, then admitted to be true. The case remains controversial, however, because proponents have not agreed on certain key details, and other critics have claimed it has wholly prosaic explanations. Moreover, confusion has plagued the case in matters so simple as the exact dates when it occurred.
A major reason for this stems from the primary military document associated with the case, prepared by Deputy Base Commander Lt. Colonel Charles Halt. This was written from memory several weeks later, left a great deal out, and ascribed incorrect dates to the major events. Nevertheless, the incredible detail provided by so many witnesses, much of which is well corroborated, makes it clear that something extraordinary happened.
Early in the morning of December 26, 1980, two USAF security police patrolmen saw unusual lights outside the back gate at Britain’s RAF Woodbridge. Under the assumption that this was aircraft in trouble, three patrolmen were ordered to proceed on foot to investigate.
According to the report by Halt (which ascribed this sighting to the following evening), they reported seeing a glowing, triangular object in the forest, about 9 feet long and 6 feet high, emitting a powerful white light. It “had a pulsating red light on top with a bank(s) of blue lights underneath.” The object was either hovering or standing on short legs.
As the patrol approached, the strange object maneuvered slowly through the trees to a nearby farm, causing disturbance among the animals. It then quickly disappeared into the sky. About an hour later, the object was sighted in the sky. The following day, investigators saw three ground traces indicating possible landing leg depressions. Later that night, Halt and other men personally witnessed a “red sun-like light,” moving and pulsing. Here is his description:
“At one point it appeared to throw off glowing particles and then broke into five separate white objects and then disappeared. Immediately thereafter, three star-like objects were noticed in the sky, two objects to the north and one to the south, all of which were about 10 degrees off the horizon. The objects moved rapidly in sharp angular movements and displayed red, green and blue lights…. The object to the south was visible for two or three hours and beamed down a stream of light from time to time.”
There also exists 18 minutes of an extraordinary audio-tape recording (covering several hours), made while Halt and his team investigated during the second night. In addition, the main airmen involved have all been interviewed, and in essentials their stories hold together well.
One important fact that has surfaced is that as the object hovered above Halt and his men, one hovered motionless and began to shine laser-like beams of light down all over the forest and RAF Woodbridge.
In Halt’s words,
“It sort of danced about in the sky and it sent down beams of light…. falling different places on the base…. The people in the Weapons storage area and several other places on the base also reported the lights…. [The beam] stayed on for about 5-10 seconds and just as abruptly as it came, it disappeared…“
Not only this, but in 1993 Halt told investigators privately that beams had penetrated the steel, earth, and concrete of the hardened bunkers containing the nuclear weapons secretly stored at the base. Given the history of UFOs and their proximity to nuclear weapons, it is certainly plausible. Ultimately, the beams reached the secured areas where the weapons were stored, “adversely affecting the ordinance,” in the words of Halt.
There is much more to this event, which has received several book-length treatments as well as detailed coverage in my book, UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991.
As the years go by, the stature of the Rendlesham Forest case has continued to grow, not merely as a bona fide UFO encounter, but as one of the most significant ever. The British Ministry of Defence, following its long-established policy of silence and disinformation regarding UFOs, stated curtly that the Rendlesham case was of „no defence significance.“
11. U.S. Coast Guard Encounter with a UFO, 1988.
[Note from Richard Dolan: This is a direct excerpt from my book, UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991. Article citations are provided in the book.]
On the evening of March 4, 1988 near Eastland, Ohio, not far from the Pennsylvania border, Sheila Baker and her children were driving home along the shore of Lake Erie. At 6:30 p.m., their attention was drawn to a large, bright object apparently hovering over the lake. It seemed almost like a blimp. Bright lights appeared at each end of it, and the whole thing was rocking end to end like a seesaw. The brighter of the two lights was strobing. Once home, she persuaded her husband, Henry, to accompany her and the children to the beach.
There, standing on the shore of Lake Erie, they all saw the object. It was gun-metal grey and positively enormous – Henry later said it was “larger than a football held at arm’s length.” It made no sound that they could hear. Somehow, however, it caused the lake ice to rumble and crack, perhaps by application of heat. The object then began to circle slowly over part of the lake, coming nearly overhead at just 1/4 mile altitude.
Feeling nervous, they drove back and watched the object from their home. From there, they saw it descend; red and blue blinking lights were along its bottom edge. More interesting, however, were five or six bright yellow triangular lights that detached from its side. These lights hovered around the main object, then darted and zig-zagged in the night sky at high speeds. Henry believed these objects were smaller than a one-seat Cessna and “crossed 50 mile stretches low over the ice in the snap of a finger.” They approached the shore, made right-angle turns, and shot straight up. Several passes were toward the nearby Perry Nuclear Plant. One neighbor of the Bakers also saw this display, and tried (unsuccessfully) to photograph the object.
In response to several phone calls, two members of the Coast Guard, Seaman James Powers and Petty Officer John Knaub, drove to the beach. As they arrived, the triangular objects approached them, prompting them to turn off their vehicle’s headlights. The men continued to watch the triangles fly over the lake, one of which accelerated straight at them, then veered east, zoomed straight up, and came down beside the parent object. The Bakers were back at the beach now, and listened to the Coast Guard personnel communicate by two-way radio with their base in Detroit. What they overheard was:
“. . . be advised the object appears to be landing on the lake …. There are other objects moving around it. Be advised these smaller objects are going at high rates of speed. There are no engine noises and they are very, very low. Be advised these are not planets.“
At the same time, 15 miles to the southeast, not far from the Perry Nuclear Plant, Cindy Hale was walking her dog. She saw a triangular light hovering above her, and her dog began to whine. The triangle flashed a sequence of multicolored lights, and she responded by flicking her cigarette lighter. This went on for 30 minutes, until the triangle accelerated and left without a sound.
Another local resident, Tim Keck, was watching the stars through his telescope when he saw a bright triangular object. Luckily, he had his camera with him – a cheap 110 Instamatic he had received as a Burger King promotion, but it worked. He took a picture of the object before it silently moved beyond the horizon, catching about half of it before it moved fully out of the frame. Because of the nature of the camera, part of the object appeared beyond the formal edge of the negative’s frame.
Meanwhile, back at the lake, the large ship was nearly directly on the ice. Henry Baker continued to listen to Powers and Knaub tell their base, “you should be advised that the object is now shining lights all over the lake and it’s turning different colors.” The ice made cracking noises so loud that Powers and Knaub had to yell in order to be heard. Suddenly the triangles were back, returning one by one into the large object. The ice boomed louder and louder, then all the lights went off, the ice stopped making noise, and everything became “dead silent.” After another 30 minutes, the object could not be seen. The witnesses could only assume it had gone below the surface.
On the morning of the 5th, unusually huge pieces of broken ice were seen where the object had been. That day, a Coast Guard representative told the Bakers that they had been instructed by the Army and NASA (whom Sheila had also phoned) not to investigate the matter further, nor to take their ice cutter out to the lake to examine the ice. The matter was “out of their league and out of their hands.” They said all information was being forwarded to Wright-Patterson AFB and a facility in Detroit. For its part, Wright-Patterson refused to confirm or deny any interest in the matter.
The Coast Guard created an Incident Report on March 5, 1988, describing the event in concise detail. The report stated that a large object had landed a quarter mile east of the nuclear power plant, and that it had …
“… dispersed 3-5 smaller flying objects that were zipping around rather quickly. These objects had red, green, white, and yellow lights on them that strobed intermittently. They also had the ability to stop and hover in mid-flight.”
During the night of March 5, Sheila Baker saw what she thought was the same UFO, hovering over the lake, only at a higher altitude than the night before. The Coast Guard sent some men out who arrived too late and saw nothing. The Coast Guard then contacted the Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby, Ohio. The control tower operator told them that “the two bright lights” were Venus and Jupiter, which were in near-alignment. The flashing lights were “gases in the atmosphere.” Never mind that Baker did not mention two bright lights, but a large object. The Coast Guard promptly wrote a follow-up report on the original encounter, laying the whole matter to rest. The entire series of events was then debunked in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other newspapers.
Whatever the cause of the March 5 sighting, to attribute the events of March 4 to Venus and Jupiter goes well beyond the boundaries of credibility. MUFON, to its credit, continued to investigate the sighting, even placing a classified ad in the newspaper looking for witnesses. The tactic worked; others did come forward, including Cindy Hale, Tim Keck, and others. All of these people described UFO activity from that night between 10 and 10:30 p.m., and all described triangles. Bruce Maccabee analyzed Keck’s photograph, determining that it was a legitimate image of an unexplained object. Years later, Shiela and Henry Baker remained adamant about what they saw.
Amazingly, according to Hudson Valley-based UFO researcher Philip Imbrogno, a number of triangular objects were seen by multiple witnesses near the Indian Point nuclear facility in New York State on March 4, 1988 – that is, the same night as the sightings in Ohio. Not much in the way of followup occurred, however, and little else is known of the incident.
Due to the caliber of the witnesses, the official documentary evidence, the photographic evidence, and the intrinsic nature of the event itself, the Lake Erie UFO incident must be considered one of the most compelling UFO events in modern history. All evidence points to the conclusion that an intelligently operated and enormous object came down over the Lake Erie ice; that this object released several bright triangles that flew beyond the ability of any known aircraft; that these triangles were interested in the nearby nuclear facility; that they interacted with the witnesses who observed them; that the Coast Guard officials were convinced the event was something important; that the Coast Guard itself was prevented from pursuing this incident by higher agencies; and that the matter was successfully disabled by the national security apparatus and the media.
12. UFOs Over Belgium, 1989-1990.
From late 1989 to the spring of 1990, hundreds of reports of lighted objects, often described as large triangular-shaped craft, were recorded in Belgium. The most spectacular sighting took place on the night of March 30, 1990. Thousands of witnesses saw one or more low-flying triangular UFOs with bright lights flashing in the center.
The Belgian Air Force sent two F-16s to intercept the UFOs, which were tracked by several NATO radar stations; the jet pilots also tracked the objects on radar, and even see them at times. But the F-16s – among the top jet interceptors in the world – were thoroughly outclassed by the triangular objects. Not only could these objects accelerate at incredible speeds, not only could they fly as slowly as 30 mph, but they could change altitude almost instantly. At one point, for example, Belgian Air Force radar tracked a UFO as it descended approximately 4,000 feet in one second. That’s nearly a mile. Belgian Air Force Chief of Operations, Colonel Wilfried De Brouwer, added “there was a logic in the movements of the UFO.”
To whom did these triangles belong? Despite the fact that no perfectly triangular aircraft officially exists, many have suspected a secret American project. The Belgians certainly inquired, and received the reply that “no USAF stealth aircraft were operating” during the period in question. The statement appears carefully worded. It’s hard to know the truth here.
Major P. Lambrechts of the Belgian Air Force General Staff did not seem to think these were American craft. His “Report on the Observation of UFOs During the Night of March 30-31, 1990” includes a detailed chronology of events and dismisses several alternative hypotheses, including the aircraft thesis. According to Lambrechts:
“The speeds measured at that time and the altitude shifts exclude the hypothesis according to which planes could be mistaken for the observed UFOs. The slow moves during the other phases differ also from the moves of planes…. Though speeds greater than the sound barrier have been measured several times, not any bang has been noticed. Here also, no explanation can be given.”
If these triangles were American, the U.S. Air Force made no requests to the Belgian government for any such type of mission, as it would have been required to do. More fundamentally, however, it still remains a challenge to explain the performance characteristics of the Belgian UFOs.
And What of Today?
In the last few decades it has become difficult to obtain UFO reports through U.S. government agencies. This does not mean that the U.S. military no longer encounters UFOs, only that detailed documentation about them is not easily forthcoming.
For instance, we know of a UFO sighting that took place in 1996 at Griffis Air Force Base, in upstate New York. Researcher John Greenwald sent a FOIA request to the United States Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, and received a slim “Summary of Unusual Sightings” report. The sightings only covered 1995 and 1996, all rendered in concise form. The entry for Griffis states:
“16 May 96 0800Z. Received call of UFO sighting at Griffis AFB NY. Four enlisted men observed circular orange light just above tree line ESE of their location. Five minutes total hovered and then disappeared. Reported via CONR/NEADS.”
The Griffis encounter is by no means spectacular. However, it does prove, as Greenwald pointed out, “that the Air Force [continues to take] an interest and still sees the UFO phenomenon.”
Much more interesting was the failed attempt by F-16 jets to intercept UFOs near Washington, D.C., during the night of July 25/26, 2002. Many witnesses phoned their local radio station about it, and the incident was briefly reported in The Washington Post. I spoke face-to-face with the first known witness, retired police officer Gary Dillman, who told me he saw four F-16s chasing several objects that easily outperformed them. They left the area, but later two F-16s reappeared, pursuing a single UFO. Later, other witnesses saw two F-16s chasing an unknown bluish object that easily outmaneuvered and outdistanced the F-16s.
An Air Force spokesperson even told The Washington Post that a UFO had been tracked on Air Force radar, but disappeared. Nevertheless, the Air Force blithely commented that :there are any number of scenarios, but we don’t know what it was.“ Surely, one might be curious!
No official documentation on this encounter is available, but it happened just the same. This encounter was not from the 1950s, but the post-9/11 era. An object of extraordinary capability eluded interceptors in the vicinity of the nation’s capital, with only the barest of whispers from the nation’s media.
Of course, it is not only the military of the U.S. that encounters UFOs. These types of events occur everywhere. My most recent book, UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991, details many of these.
The foregoing should make it clear that UFOs have been a consistent and significant thread of our “hidden history.” They have attracted serious attention from the militaries of the world, in particular that of the United States. And yet, this powerful interest is equaled by an absolute refusal to acknowledge the phenomenon publicly.
It doesn’t take a political genius to recognize that there is a discrepancy here. Nor to begin the process of filling in the blanks: that there is reasonable cause to believe that a technology not belonging to any known terrestrial power has been operating in our civilization, and that at least a few people in positions of authority are well aware of this.