Part 1 of 4
Any light or object that is seen in the atmosphere and is not immediately identifiable is by definition an unidentified flying object, or UFO — which does not necessarily mean an extraterrestrial spacecraft. There have been hundreds of thousands of UFO sightings all over the world during the past 50 years. It is generally agreed that up to 90% of all sightings can be attributed to misidentification of familiar phenomena.
Of the other 10%, some remain unexplained due to lack of sufficient evidence, but in a great many instances there is abundant evidence from reliable witnesses, but no conventional explanation. As Lord Hill-Norton, a former Chief of the British Defense Staff, has said: ’the evidence is now so consistent and so overwhelming that no reasonably intelligent person can deny that something unexplained is going on in our atmosphere’ . He criticizes what he calls the ’little green men ha-ha-ha’ syndrome — the tendency to dismiss with ridicule a phenomenon that merits careful investigation.
The total number of unexplained UFO cases on record worldwide is well in excess of 100,000. What’s more, surveys show that only 1 witness in 10 comes forward to report what they have seen, usually out of fear of ridicule. There are between 5 and 10 thousand reports of close encounters, involving observations of UFO occupants and sometimes interaction with them . Close-encounter reports in particular are often so bizarre and surreal that even many ufologists prefer to ignore their full implications.
Scientists in general have failed miserably to take up the challenge presented by the UFO phenomenon, though there have been several notable exceptions. Many academics who have shown serious interest in UFOs have suffered harassment, intimidation, and derision. A number of prominent scientists have devoted their lives to debunking UFOs.
One of earliest and severest critics was Harvard astronomer Dr Donald Menzel. He had a simple, scientific explanation for all UFO sightings: they were caused by temperature inversions. This meteorological condition is created when pockets of cold air get trapped in warm air; the difference in density causes lights from the ground to be reflected or refracted. The fact that the theory simply didn’t work in most cases did not dampen his enthusiasm.
John Keel writes:
Refracted light from air inversions explained the funny glows in the sky but how did Menzel explain all the car chases, abductions, landings, and weird manifestations? His scientific answer was that all the witnesses were liars, fools, or drunks. That took care of that. 
UFOs have been investigated by every major government on earth, and are still being studied at official level in countries such as China, France, Spain, Russia, the US, and the UK. Yet although the military have numerous unexplained cases on record, they have not seen fit to divulge all their data and findings. The history of UFO investigations carried out by the US Air Force (Projects Sign, Grudge, Blue Book, and Stork, the Robertson Panel, and the Condon Committee), and the documents released under the Freedom of Information Act since the mid-1970s show that military officials who took UFOs seriously tended to be sidelined, while the debunkers have generally had the upper hand.
However, the military’s often-repeated claim that there is nothing unusual to explain is blatantly contradicted by the data assembled in official reports. For example, the 1969 Condon Report concluded that further scientific study of UFOs could not be expected to contribute anything worthwhile to scientific knowledge. Yet by its own admission as many as one third of its cases were unexplained even after in-depth scrutiny. Moreover, some of its proposed ’explanations’ were grossly inadequate, as the following case illustrates.
On 30 June 1954 the crew and some of the passengers on a flight from New York to London saw a large cigar-shaped object, constantly changing shape, with 6 smaller black globular objects milling round it. After about 15 minutes the 6 small objects entered the large object, which sped off and disappeared. When the plane landed at Goose Bay, Canada, to refuel, the crew were told there had been several recent UFO sightings in the Labrador area.
The official explanation issued by the Air Ministry in London was that the phenomenon was associated with a solar eclipse — one that had not yet begun when the sighting took place! In 1969 a member of the Condon Committee studied the sighting and suggested it had been a mirage. He admitted there were problems with this explanation, and concluded with the following remarkable statement: ’This unusual sighting should therefore be assigned to the category of some almost certainly natural phenomenon, which is so rare that it apparently has never been reported before or since’ .
Following publication of the Condon Report, all the project’s files were destroyed. Edward Condon himself, a professor of physics and astrophysics, lumped UFO studies, spiritualism, and psychical research together as ’pseudoscience’, and argued that any publishers or teachers found guilty of presenting pseudoscience as established truth should be ’publicly horsewhipped and forever banned from further activity’ !
By the late 1960s the Air Force was tired of the expense and public controversy associated with Project Blue Book, and the Condon Report gave it what it wanted: an excuse to terminate its official involvement in UFO investigations. It is now known that while Project Blue Book was in progress, a classified, extensive UFO investigation known as Project Stork was also being conducted, unknown even to Blue Book personnel . It is widely suspected that covert investigations have continued to the present day.
Some researchers believe that senior military and government officials already know the whole truth about UFOs. The military have allegedly recovered crashed UFOs, test-flown them, carried out autopsies on alien bodies, and even struck a deal with the aliens. According to one claim, all the major technological advances of the past half century derive from captured alien hardware! However, there is a distinct lack of any hard, compelling evidence to support such assertions.
The most famous alleged ’UFO crash’ took place near Roswell, New Mexico, in June 1947. There had been several UFO sightings in the preceding weeks, and when unusual debris from a downed object was found on a ranch, the local air base immediately issued a press statement saying that a crashed flying saucer had been recovered. This statement was quickly retracted and the debris was instead said to be the remains of a weather balloon and its radar target.
Secret government documents declassified since 1975 together with the history of US defense programs show beyond reasonable doubt that no ’crashed disc’ was retrieved at Roswell .Little more was heard of the Roswell incident for the next 30 years, when new ’evidence’ began to emerge. Today Roswell has assumed mythic proportions in the public imagination. But in a cogent deconstruction of the Roswell legend, Karl Pflock shows it to be a sorry tale of questionable and conflicting claims, dubious witnesses, and blinkered investigators; evidence that at first sight seems substantial invariably evaporates when subjected to close scrutiny.
Fig. 1.1. Debris found near Roswell, June 1947. It includes pieces of plastic-like and rubber-like material, foil-like material, short balsa struts, and parchment-like paper. A week and a half earlier, a 657-foot-tall balloon array, launched from a nearby army air base under a top-secret project code-named ’Mogul’, had gone missing in the area. Its balloons, radar-reflectors, parachutes, and other components consisted of the types of material found at Roswell. The device was certainly more than a ’mere weather balloon’. The arrays, equipped with special microphones, were intended to detect Soviet atom bomb tests and to provide early warning of rocket attacks.
However, some people contend that the wreckage only resembles ordinary foil, balsa, plastic, etc., and is actually debris from a crashed flying saucer. It is claimed that the struts and foil possessed unearthly strength — even though the photos clearly show the debris to consist of shattered and shredded fragments! As time has passed, the Roswell incident has taken on a life of its own, spawning additional, contradictory tales about a second and even third crash site, and the recovery and examination of alien bodies.
It appears that some elements of the intelligence community are eager to fuel rumours of a grand conspiracy to keep the public in the dark. They have sometimes gone to elaborate lengths to spread disinformation by leaking false documents to selected ufologists or by titillating them with ’deep-throat’ revelations about ’the coverup’ . Tales of crashed spaceships and alien bodies have come primarily from ’former’ military intelligence personnel, yet curiously none of them has received so much as a slap on the wrist for revealing ’state secrets’. A vocal and influential conspiracy subculture has developed among UFO enthusiasts, possessing its own magical words of power — Roswell, Hangar 18, Majestic 12, and Area 51/Dreamland.*
* Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is rumoured to be used for storing recovered alien bodies and crashed discs. Majestic 12 is supposedly a higher-than-top-secret panel of military officers and scientists responsible for overseeing the study of crashed discs and alien corpses. Area 51 at the Nellis Air Force Base in the Nevada desert is another alleged site where crashed discs are stored, reverse-engineered, and test-flown.
But the inordinate amount of time devoted to conspiracy-mongering has done nothing to advance our understanding of the core UFO mystery.
Many researchers think that the military are actually just as much in the dark about what is behind the UFO phenomenon as anybody else but are unwilling to admit it — they are more interested in concealing their ignorance and impotence rather than their knowledge. Scientist Jacques Vallee says:
UFOs may not be spacecraft at all. And the government may simply be hiding the fact that, in spite of the billions of dollars spent on air defense, it has no more clues to the nature of the phenomenon today than it did in the forties when it began its investigations. 
A massive concealment of puzzling data is not the same as a global — or even ’cosmic’! — conspiracy to hide the ultimate truth about UFOs. As we shall see, unless the military have a deep understanding of occult dynamics they are unlikely to have much of a clue as to what UFOs are really about!
The level of official secrecy varies from country to country.
- France, for instance, has an established system of report-collecting by the national police, and the reports are then analyzed by a government-funded team of scientists known as SEPRA(formerlyGEPAN). However, this group does not seek publicity for fear that some people might find the large number of well-documented but unexplained cases disturbing.
- The Spanish Air Force gradually began to declassify some UFO documents in 1992 after a long process of negotiations beginning in 1978.
- Australian ufologists have been given open access to Australian Air Force UFO files.
- In Belgium the Chief of Operations of the Air Force cooperated with civilian UFO groups and the police in providing radar and other data during the massive wave of UFO sightings in 1989-91 
The astonishing narrow-mindedness that afflicts many scientists when confronted with the UFO phenomenon is illustrated by the following comment by Albert Einstein about UFO witnesses:
’These people have seen something. What it is I do not know and am not curious to know’ .
The general failure of official scientific, academic, and governmental bodies to mount a serious, public investigation, means that ufology has attracted many amateurs, and the quality of research is highly uneven. Jacques Vallee comments:
’The field has been overrun by people who don’t need to undertake any real research, because they already know all the answers’ .
Serious UFO study is also hampered by the media, which almost always want to treat the subject in a jocular or sensationalist manner.
UFO investigators tend to select only those data that fit their preconceived hypotheses. Thus debunkers, who dismiss the idea that there is anything unusual going on, prefer to discuss cases where UFOs turn out to be hoaxes or misidentifications, and then conclude that no further explanation is required. ’Natural’ explanations for UFOs include stars, planets, meteorites, satellites, rockets, flares, guided missiles, weather balloons, conventional aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, birds, and optical illusions. However, debunkers’ torturous attempts to explain away more challenging cases can be very entertaining.
Most mainstream ufologists believe that UFOs are nuts-and-bolts spacecraft piloted by flesh-and-blood visitors from other planets, who are carrying out a reconnaissance of the earth. They therefore focus on sightings of apparently solid, highly advanced spacecraft reported by well-qualified pilots and military personnel and then conclude that we are dealing with advanced extraterrestrial technology. Cases that don’t fit into the extraterrestrial straitjacket and wilder details of cases its supporters do report are distorted or suppressed to avoid discrediting witnesses and the hypothesis.
For although UFOs are sometimes physical enough to be tracked by radar, to interact with their surroundings, and to be seen by hundreds of people at the same time, the wide range of paranormal phenomena involved in close encounters suggests that we are confronted with visitations from the psychic world rather than from other planets.
- UFOs past and present
Throughout recorded history, people have reported seeing strange objects in the sky.
In ancient and medieval times portents and objects in the sky were taken more or less as a matter of fact, perhaps because there was no known human air traffic at the time with which to confuse them. … The Assyrians saw flying bulls, ancient Greeks and Arabs saw flying horses, the opulent Persians thought they saw flying carpets, the warlike Romans watched flying shields and spears and whole battles in the sky at the very moment that they themselves were engaged in earthly combat.
As the ancient world became Christianized, the aerial sightings became fiery crosses and other threatening signs of doom foretelling plagues and disasters. … When the Renaissance opened up people’s minds to the exploration of the world, UFOs appropriately took the forms of galleys and caravels, and then, as the French first began experimenting with balloons, certain vast globes were seen floating in the upper heavens …
The most ancient detailed sighting comes from the royal annals of the pharaoh Thutmose III, about 3450 years ago. One morning, a huge fiery circle, some 50 m across, was seen in the sky. It made no sound but emitted a foul odour, and caused great consternation. A few days later, in the evening, numerous similar fiery circles appeared, and the pharaoh and his army watched them move towards the south, shining brighter than the sun. On this occasion ’fishes and volatiles’ fell from the sky .
According to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, in 793 AD ’terrible portents appeared in Northumbria [England], and miserably afflicted the inhabitants; these were exceptional flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air, and soon followed a great famine’. In the 13th century Albertus Magnus challenged the idea that lights in the sky were literally fire-breathing dragons and argued that the phenomenon probably involved ascending and descending ’vapours’ that burned and gave off smoke .
Luminous phenomena seem to have been commonplace in the Japanese skies during the Middle Ages. On 27 October 1180 an unusual luminous object described as an ’earthenware vessel’ flew from a mountain in the Kii province beyond the northeast mountain of Fukuhara at midnight. After a while, the object changed course and was lost to sight at the southern horizon, leaving a luminous trail.
On 24 September 1235, while General Yoritsume was camping with his army, mysterious sources of light were suddenly seen to swing and circle in the southwest, moving in loops until the early morning. The General ordered what we would now call a ’full-scale scientific investigation’. His consultants finally reported that the event had a completely natural explanation: it was only the wind making the stars sway ! (Nowadays the arguments used by official ’experts’ to debunk such phenomena may sound more sophisticated, but they can be just as vacuous!)
Western Europe, too, had its share of strange flying objects and celestial manifestations in the Middle Ages, including ’bearded, hairy comets, torches, flames, columns, spears, shields, dragons, duplicate moons, suns, and other similar things’ . A Latin document found at Byland Abbey in Yorkshire, England, describes an incident in 1290 when a ’round, flat, silver object’ flew over the monastery exciting ’maximum terror’ among the monks . A German publication from 1493 describes how a cigar-shaped object surrounded by flames flew in a straight path through the sky from south to east, then turned towards the setting sun.
In Nuremberg in 1561 and Basil in 1566, witnesses reported seeing large aerial ’tubes’ from which spheres and discs emerged and appeared to fight with each other in aerial dances .
Fig. 2.1. A medieval representation of a flaming celestial object.
From an incunabulum dated 1493 (courtesy of Jacques Vallee) .
Nostradamus reported that on 1 February 1554 hundreds of French people in Provence saw a large, bright fire in the form of a ’burning rod or torch’ flying from east to west, emitting sparks and flames, and leaving a fiery trail. Its size was estimated at 200 m. It flew ’as rapidly as an arrow’, with a loud rustling sound, and leaves and trees moved to and fro as if shaken by a violent storm. It then changed direction and headed south towards the sea. The sighting lasted some 20 minutes .
The following report was entered into the records of a Russian monastery in August 1663. A great sound was heard in the heavens and many people emerged from the church in the village of Roboziero to see a large ball of fire, which passed over the church towards a lake. It measured some 140 ft in diameter and emitted 2 fiery beams. The object came back twice over the next couple of hours, and fishermen in a boat on the lake were severely burned by the heat. The witnesses regarded the event as a sign from God .
On 5 December 1737 an astronomer from Sheffield, England, observed ’the apparition of a dark red cloud, below which was a luminous body which emitted intense beams of light’. The light beams moved slowly for a while, then stopped, and intense heat was felt. A similar object was seen the same day in Ireland and then in Romania, where it stayed still for 2 hours, separated into 2 parts which then rejoined, and finally disappeared towards the west . In the evening of 26 December 1785, Edinburgh was illuminated as bright as day by a sphere with a sort of cone-shaped attachment, which was seen from a number of distant places .
One January evening in 1878, a man in Texas saw a fast-moving object in the southern sky. When it passed overhead, he noted its resemblance to a ’large saucer’. From November 1896 to May 1897 newspapers all across America were filled with hundreds of stories about mysterious ’airships’ — over 6 years before the first heavier-than-air flight by the Wright brothers . They included cigar-shaped craft and mechanical birds with giant wings (which reportedly flapped in some cases). The sightings included reports of human crews and bright searchlight beams at night. No such man-made craft existed at the time.
In 1904-05 a series of sightings of lightballs and other luminous phenomena took place around 2 small villages in Wales. They became associated with a religious revival, and were seen as divine signs by the local populace. In 1909 a wave of airship sightings occurred in Great Britain, the US, New Zealand, and Australia. Most of the British sightings were of torpedo-shaped vessels moving at a ’tremendous pace’, with flashing lights and searchlights. Another airship wave erupted across Europe in the autumn of 1912. As before, the airships were capable of hovering and moving at great speeds, even against the wind. Unidentified cigar-shaped objects have continued to be reported since then, though they are no longer called ’airships’.
One evening in 1917, 2 women and their children were walking home across a field in the American state of Maine, when a huge silent object suddenly appeared overhead, emitting hues of red, blue, green, and yellow, and causing the witnesses to take to their heels . In 1926 a stunt pilot was startled to see ’six things that looked like huge shiny manhole covers’ circling his airplane while en route to Colorado .
Between 1933 and 1937 mysterious, conventionally shaped, unmarked aircraft appeared over Scandinavia and, to a lesser extent, the US and Britain. The ’ghost fliers’ flew very low, projecting powerful searchlights onto the ground. And although engine noises were generally heard, the aircraft sometimes performed low-level manoeuvres in complete silence. They frequently flew in heavy fogs and blizzards — conditions that would have grounded most biplanes of the day. The governments of Sweden, Norway, and Finland launched large-scale investigations but failed to find a satisfactory explanation for all the sightings .
During the Second World War, Allied pilots in both the European and Pacific theatres were confronted with what they called ’foo fighters’, which followed and sometimes buzzed their planes. They usually took the form of small orange balls of light, but sometimes small discs — some translucent — and occasionally larger phenomena. They occurred singly and in formations. The pilots’ fears that they were secret enemy weapons eventually dissipated because the objects failed to carry out any aggressive action. German pilots reported the same curious phenomena near their aircraft and assumed they were Allied weapons. ’Foo fighters’ were seen again during the Korean war, and aircraft pilots today continue to encounter strange balls of light, which often appear to play games with them .
In 1946 over 2000 reports of ’ghost rockets’ and other unidentified flying objects were reported by witnesses in Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, followed by reports from Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Greece, and India. The ’rockets’ left fiery trails and sometimes performed fantastic manoeuvres, crossing the sky at tremendous velocity, diving and climbing, though at other times they proceeded in a leisurely manner. Some of them were seen to crash into lakes with great explosions, but detailed searches failed to find any wreckage. These objects were thought to be of Soviet origin, perhaps test vehicles built by captured German rocket scientists, while the Soviets themselves suspected the Americans .
On 25 June 1947, businessman Kenneth Arnold was flying his private plane over Mount Rainier in the state of Washington, when he spotted 9 shining objects flying in formation at high speed. He compared their motion to that of ’a saucer skipping over water’. Soon afterwards a headline writer coined the phrase ’flying saucer’ and — thanks to widespread media coverage — the modern UFO age was born. Ironically, the objects Arnold saw were not disc-shaped but heel-shaped, with the rounded end pointing in the direction of motion. Over a year earlier, in May 1946, UFO sightings were recorded in the former Soviet Union. The observations included landings, thereby contradicting the theory that landings belong solely to a ’later phase’ of the phenomenon .
A key feature of the UFO phenomenon is that sightings occur in waves, with brief peaks followed by longer periods of lesser activity . A wave of sightings — mainly of daylight discs — occurred in the US in the summer of 1947 following Arnold’s initial report. The immediate concern was whether they might be Soviet technology, but by the end of the year this possibility had been virtually eliminated. The next major outbreak of sightings occurred in the US during the summer of 1952, with reports following worldwide. At the height of the flap, the US Air Force was receiving 200 reports a day. This wave was dominated by reports of nocturnal lights, and included radar/visual sightings over Washington National Airport on 2 consecutive weekends in late July.
A major UFO wave took place during September to November 1954. Activity centered in both South America and Europe, but concentrated mainly in France and Italy. In a large percentage of the French cases, mainly oval or elliptical UFOs appeared on the ground in association with small humanoid entities. Numerous cigar-shaped UFOs were also reported in France during the same period. In November 1957, UFOs were back over the US with a vengeance. Several witnesses reported that their car headlights and engines failed when a UFO was present but returned to normal when it departed.
Another wave began in the US in the fall of 1965, continuing into 1966, and yet another in October 1973. UFO activity continued in Australia and Europe into 1974. The 1973-74 wave was one of the biggest in UFO history; thousands of people across the US reported distant and high-level silvery discs, nocturnal meandering lights, car-chasing incidents, instances of UFOs interfering with mechanical and electromagnetic equipment, UFO landings that left traces behind, frightened animals, and had physical and psychological effects on humans, and occupant sightings. The autumn of 1978 saw another flap over Italy, Australia, and South America.
From 1982 to 1987, the Hudson Valley area of New York was haunted by reports of lighted boomerang-shaped UFOs, allegedly as wide as several football fields. They were seen by over 5000 witnesses, sometimes hundreds of witnesses on a single night. Around the same time, Brazilians were reporting relatively small, refrigerator-shaped UFOs which emitted burning beams of light. The former Soviet Union experienced a major UFO wave in 1989-90; earlier waves had occurred in 1966-67 and 1977-79.
A spectacular UFO wave struck in Belgium between November 1989 and April 1991. There were some 3500 sightings of giant, dark-coloured, triangular-shaped UFOs, often flying silently at low speeds and altitudes. They were seen by a total of about 10,000 people, and by as many as 100 people at a time .
Reports of alien beings emerging from landed craft have been around since the beginning of the modern UFO age, but have tended to increase as time has passed. They met with great resistance from early ufologists, who tended to suppress them for fear of jeopardizing their chances of winning official backing for a public investigation of UFO sightings. Needless to say, human encounters with a wide variety of otherworldly entities, from ’divine’ to ’demonic’, have been reported throughout history, and interpreted in the light of the prevailing religious or scientific beliefs. Some ancient reports mention flying beings or associate entities seen on the ground with aerial objects or bright lights.
A 9th-century French text describes how 3 men and a woman were seen descending from a ’cloud ship’ in Lyons, France. They said they had been taken on board by beings called sylphs from Magonia, a magical land located somewhere in the sky. The local populace regarded them as evil magicians and were about to cast them into the fire when the Bishop of Lyons, Agobard, saved them by denying the reality of sylphs, magicians, and Magonia .
Reports of encounters with humanlike entities occurred during the airship sightings in the US in 1896-97, and included attempted abductions. In 1914 a German bakery worker saw a cigar-shaped object hovering just above the ground. 4 or 5 little humanoids, 1.2 meters tall, were standing next to it, and then entered it by a ladder. The object rose vertically without making a sound and disappeared .
One afternoon in the spring of 1928, a 17-year-old American was driving along a country road when he saw an object coming into view in the sky. It appeared to be a metallic hexagon with a domed top, 22 ft wide and 7 ft high. Rivets could be seen at the edge of each side of the craft. It had a window in which he saw the head and upper torso of a man in a dark-blue uniform, who ’would pass for an Italian in this world’. The object moved very slowly but did not stop. The occupant looked towards the car, then the object rotated, flew across the road, and abruptly went off at ’terrific speed’ .
In the summer of 1948 in the German province of Sauerland, a man was looking after his sheep in some woods when suddenly they scattered in panic. He heard a rushing sound and saw an object, 30 m long and about 3 m high, emerge in front of him from what looked like an ’artificial fog’, and land on the grass. When the man touched it, a strong electric shock knocked him to the ground. He lay unconscious for a while, then awoke some 80 m from where he had collapsed.
All around him stood entities about 1 m tall with large heads, big slanting eyes, and short, stubby hair. In front of their chests they carried boxes with tubes hanging down, which they put into their mouths from time to time. They spoke to each other in an unknown language. Next to the craft, which was still enveloped in mist, stood another 4 or 5 humanoids, who were examining the soil or grass and collecting samples. Finally all the beings got into the craft, which emitted a high-pitched whining sound and flew rapidly away.
At the place where it had landed the man discovered 6 to 8 circular areas of burnt grass in a line, 2 to 4 m apart, and about 1 m in diameter .
In the early 1950s some flamboyant figures began to claim ongoing contact with benevolent, handsome, Nordic-looking ’space brothers’ from Venus, Mars, and other planets. Prominent contacteés includedGeorge Adamski, Daniel Fry, Howard Menger, George Van Tassel, Truman Bethurum, and Orfeo Angelucci. Through these ’ambassadors’, the space brothers allegedly wanted to warn humanity of the dangers of nuclear energy, and to spread their message of peace and brotherhood.
’Physical contacteés’ such as Adamski received messages in face-to-face encounters, while ’psychic contacteés’ such as Van Tassel received messages via dreams, automatic writing, voices in the head, or visions. The contacteé movement continues to this day, though on a much smaller scale. For instance, Swiss farmer Billy Meier claims to be in contact with beings from the Pleiades. They include Semjase, who is said to be over 400 years old and to visit earth regularly to buy cosmetics.
Some contacteés claimed they had been taken on rides in saucers to other planets.
- Adamskireported that he saw forests, mountains, lakes, and even people on the moon, and inhabited cities, snow-capped mountains, and vegetation on Venus.
- Menger’s encounters are the most bizarre of all. On one occasion he gave some of the female aliens some bras, only to be told they did not wear such garments. He also claimed he would regularly cut the aliens’ long hair so they could move around on earth without attracting attention. In exchange he was taken on a trip to the moon, where he claimed that the atmosphere was similar to earth’s. He said he had brought back some ’lunar potatoes’, which were subsequently confiscated by the government!
- Angelucciclaimed to have met Jesus, who revealed he was an extraterrestrial. Some contacteés said the space people had enabled them to do some time travelling .
Most researchers dismiss the whole contacteé phenomenon as bunk. But although some hoaxing may have been involved, the absurdity of many of the tales could also mean that the contacteés were simply reporting what they sincerely believed they had experienced.
Many researchers found the flood of alien contact stories emerging from Western Europe and South America in 1954 much more difficult to dismiss. The aliens were often seen repairing their craft or collecting rock, soil, or water samples. In contrast to the friendly space brothers, these aliens tended to be short and sometimes rather aggressive, often paralyzing witnesses with beams of light.
For instance, at about 10.30 pm on 10 September 1954, Marius Dewilde was alerted by the sound of his dog howling and trying to get inside his house near the French village of Quarouble, not far from Valenciennes. When he went outside he saw a dark mass sitting on the railroad tracks. He then saw 2 beings, less than 1 m tall, wearing huge helmets and diving suits.
He started to move towards them, but a bright light from the craft paralyzed him. The creatures hurried back to the craft, there was a loud whistling sound, and the object rose into the sky emitting ’thick dark steam’. Later examination showed depressions in the railroad ties that suggested a craft weighing 35 tons had been standing there .
In a number of cases during the 1954 wave, the creatures seem to have been trying to abduct the witnesses. In Brazil, 2 boys who had been hunting were attacked by 4 small hairy creatures who tried to drag off one of the boys. In Venezuela, Jesus Paz walked into some bushes and began to scream. When his friends came to his aid, they saw a hairy creature run off and escape in a disc-shaped object.
In another case from Venezuela, four 3-ft-tall hairy dwarfs stepped out of a hovering UFO and attempted to abduct a young man. His companion struck one of the entities on the head with his gun butt, which splintered as if it had collided with solid rock . These witnesses were able to fight off their attackers, in contrast to modern reports in which victims report being unable to resist the alien abduction attempts.
In the decade and a half that followed, several highly significant cases occurred that convinced many investigators that occupant reports were not only real but potentially threatening. The first was the abduction of Antonio Villas-Boas in Brazil in 1957, apparently for sexual purposes. The tale was considered so absurd even by UFO researchers that it was not written up in English until the mid-1960s. By then a second landmark abduction case had occurred, that of Betty and Barney Hill in New Hampshire in September 1961. It bore many similarities to the Villas-Boas story, but did not reach the press until 1965 (see section 9).
On 24 April 1964 a third landmark close encounter occurred. Police officer Lonnie Zamora was on patrol on the outskirts of Socorro, New Mexico, when he heard a loud roaring noise and saw a blue tapering flame low on the horizon.
He drove at once to the location and saw what he thought was an overturned car. When he got out of his car, he saw 2 small people in white coveralls near the object, which was white, metallic, and egg-shaped. When they saw him, they scrambled inside their craft, and moments later it lifted off with a roar, emitting a flame. Left behind were a burning bush and impressions of the landing gear. Other witnesses reported seeing a mysterious flame or hearing a deafening noise. The FBI, CIA, and Air Force all became involved, but the case was never solved .
Thanks to such high-caliber cases, by the late 1960s the reality of UFO-related entities was no longer such a taboo subject.
Fig. 2.2. Artist’s interpretation of the UFO observed by Lonnie Zamora, April 1964. 
Abductions or attempted abductions were initially extremely rare, numbering about one a year, but they began to increase during the 1973 wave, and have multiplied in recent decades, until today some UFO organizations are interested in little else. In the 1970s, abductees often reported encountering UFOs on lonely roads, and later recalled under hypnosis that they had been abducted.
The first report of a bedroom abduction occurred in 1973, and nowadays bedroom encounters are standard. Abductees claim that little gray beings with large black eyes take them against their will to a secret location, usually assumed to be a spacecraft, though it is rarely seen from the outside. They sometimes claim that they pass through solid walls and doors in a beam of light, and that spouses and others in the house are ’switched off’ so they will not notice the abduction.
They report undergoing painful medical examinations, often including the collection of sperm and ova, supposedly to produce alien-human hybrids. They often communicate with the aliens telepathically. As might be expected, such claims have generated intense controversy.
Of course, what witnesses report is one thing — the reality of the experience, and its meaning, are a different matter! What is certain is that the complexity and diversity of the UFO phenomenon rule out the possibility that there is a single, straightforward explanation that fits every case.
- Extraterrestrial v. ’extradimensional’
According to the popular extraterrestrial hypothesis, UFOs are ’somebody else’s spacecraft’. The earth is allegedly being visited by beings from other solar systems who are carrying out a survey of our planet and its inhabitants. Various objections have been raised to this hypothesis .
The possibility that there are numerous intelligent civilizations in our galaxy is now widely accepted. The SETI project is trying to detect their presence by analyzing radio signals from space. Some scientists, however, argue that alien civilizations must be very rare or even nonexistent because if they were as numerous as commonly believed, the earth should have been visited by several of them by now; these scientists dismiss the idea that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft.
Those who believe that aliens are already here are often asked why the visitors don’t land on the White House lawn. One possible answer is that they have got more sense! Others argue that there is no need to as the aliens have already struck a secret deal with the authorities! A more common argument is that the aliens are obeying a ’prime directive’ not to interfere in earth affairs — though this is clearly contradicted by the enormous impact the UFO phenomenon has had on human society over the past 50 years, if not the past several millennia.
There could conceivably be obstacles preventing humanlike lifeforms from surviving a journey through interstellar or intergalactic space, but none are known at present. It has, however, been argued that UFOs cannot come from another solar system because the enormous distances involved are prohibitive. However, even with our present technology it is possible to travel to another star, though it would take numerous generations.
Moreover, some alien civilizations could have developed technologies far in advance of those on earth. And although standard relativity theory forbids faster-than-light travel, reality may not. Just as sound waves cannot propel an object to supersonic speeds, so electromagnetic forces cannot accelerate objects to superluminal speeds. What gravity control may yet achieve, remains to be seen.
Another objection to the ET hypothesis is that it is highly improbable that intelligent lifeforms on other planets would be humanoid in appearance and display human emotions. Others disagree and argue that since the basic human form is highly functional and efficient, it could be fairly common in the universe.*
* According to theosophy, every mature sun has a family of planets, and kingdoms corresponding to those on earth will evolve on every planet, though at any one time only one kingdom is dominant on each of the 12 globes (located on 7 different cosmic planes) making up a complete ’planetary chain’. The ’human’ kingdoms on the 7 ’sacred planets’ of our own solar system (i.e. those most closely related to earth) are said to approximate our own form to some extent .
It is also speculated that extraterrestrials may have played a role in genetically engineering the human race, or that they have genetically modified themselves in order to make themselves more humanlike — though given their rather ’alien’ appearances, the attempt does not seem to have been a complete success!
A stronger objection is that it is unlikely that intelligent beings from other planets would be adapted to our own gravity or able to breathe our own atmosphere.
We are in no position to absolutely rule out the possibility that the earth has been or is being visited by one or more extraterrestrial humanlike races. However, it is estimated that there may have been over a million UFO landings in the past half century — a number that far exceeds the requirements for a sophisticated survey of our planet . Moreover, a single, small probe orbiting 1000 miles above the earth would be able to capture in a few weeks most of the important facts about the planet’s geography, weather, vegetation, and culture.
Another major problem facing the ET hypothesis is the incredible diversity of UFOs and their occupants. Is it realistic to think that dozens or even hundreds of extraterrestrial races are visiting earth simultaneously? A further problem is the often weird behaviour of UFO entities. Many have been reported to appear and disappear abruptly and float through the air.
In addition, it is difficult to believe that extraterrestrials have travelled all this way to do the strange things that witnesses have described: these include chasing cars and aircraft, terrifying people, talking nonsense, collecting soil and rock samples, and kidnapping and violating people. Our ’extraterrestrial’ visitors have even been known to do a spot of rabbit poaching, as the following case illustrates.
On 14 November 1954, at Isola, Italy, a farmer saw a bright, cigar-shaped object land nearby. 3 small beings in metallic diving suits got out, and centered their attention on rabbits in a cage while speaking to one another in an unknown language. Thinking they were going to steal the animals, the farmer aimed a rifle at the intruders, but it failed to fire and the witness suddenly felt so weak he had to drop the gun. The beings took the rabbits and their craft departed, leaving a bright trail. The farmer then found himself able to move again .
If we adopt the ET hypothesis, alien abductions, too, are thoroughly absurd. The aliens supposedly have a science that allows them to cross light years of space in craft that outperform our best jet fighters. Yet they are apparently such poor doctors that they are unable to draw blood, collect sperm and ova, or take tissue samples from patients without leaving scars, and inflicting pain and trauma.
As Jacques Vallee says, ’The ufonauts should go back to medical school’ .
The claim by some abduction researchers that the aliens may have already abducted several million Americans verges on the grotesque. And since some abductees claim to have been abducted dozens of time, it is strange that no one has noticed the busy UFO traffic over American cities that this would entail. It is also curious that aliens prefer to abduct white middle-class Americans while largely ignoring the rest of the world!
Since aliens can supposedly pass through solid objects, why don’t they just raid a blood bank, a sperm bank, and a collection of embryos at some major research laboratory? In fact, genetic material recovered from just 2 adults would be enough to create hundreds if not thousands of hybrids in a laboratory. Furthermore, the aliens’ alleged attempts to erect mental blocks in the minds of the victims to prevent us from learning of their activities are so pathetic that even an amateur hypnotist can break through them, whereas there are drugs available on earth that could do the job much more efficiently.
Other behaviour incompatible with the hypothesis that aliens are members of a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilization is animal mutilation — a phenomenon which many ET believers prefer to dismiss or ignore .
In these disturbing incidents, carcasses of animals, usually cattle, have been found with vital organs such as eyes, tongues, udders, genitals, or rectum having been removed, often with ’surgical precision’. In many cases blood has been completely drained from the animal, with no traces on the surrounding ground. Sometimes the cattle appear to have been lifted to a height above the ground and then smashed by being dropped.
Such incidents first became prominent in the late 1960s and have been reported in Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Europe, the Canary Islands, and Australia, as well as in the US. Some mutilations might be the work of animal predators, but the latter do not produce long, clean cuts of the kind seen on some mutilated animals. And the number of incidents appears to be too high for satanic cults alone to be responsible. The lack of footprints or predator tracks also undermines these explanations.
Moreover, on some occasions strange lights and UFOs have been observed at the scene. In 1983, a couple in Missouri watched through binoculars while 2 small, silver-suited beings somehow paralyzed a black cow and then levitated it out of the pasture and into a cone-shaped craft and disappeared .
Sometimes mysterious helicopters are seen overhead that appear to be illusions; 2 of them are occasionally seen flying with their rotors meshed together like eggbeaters! Clearly animal mutilations must be the work of very negative forces. Some ET enthusiasts concede that certain aliens may be ill-disposed towards humans — and towards cows, too, by the sound of things!
Jacques Vallee is a vocal opponent of the ET hypothesis, and advocates the ’intradimensional’, ’interdimensional’, ’transdimensional’, or ’parallel universe’ interpretation of UFOs. He argues that since UFOs have been seen from time immemorial, and ’alien’ entities have always behaved in similar ways, it is unreasonable to assume that they must be extraterrestrial visitors. The ET explanation, he says, ’is too simple-minded to account for the diversity of the reported behavior of the occupants and their perceived interactions with human beings’ .
[A] UFO is both a physical entity with mass, inertia, volume, and physical parameters that we can measure, and a window into another reality. … [T]hey need not represent a visitation from space visitors, but something even more interesting: a window toward undiscovered dimensions of our own environment.
The phenomenon has stable, invariant features … But we have also had to note carefully the chameleon-like character of the secondary attributes of the sightings: the shapes of the objects, the appearances of their occupants, and their reported statements vary as a function of the cultural environment into which they are projected.
The UFOs are physical manifestations that simply cannot be understood apart from their psychic and symbolic reality. 
The patterns of close encounters, contacts, and abductions are not specific to our century, contrary to what most American ufologists have assumed. In fact, it is difficult to find a culture that does not have a tradition of little people that fly through the sky and abduct humans. Often they take their victims into spherical settings that are evenly illuminated, and they subject them to various ordeals that include operations on internal organs and astral trips to unknown landscapes. Sexual or genetic interaction is a common theme in this body of folklore.
I propose to regard the UFO phenomenon as a physical manifestation of a form of consciousness that is alien to humans but is able to coexist with us on the earth.
[T]he UFO phenomenon is able to act upon the minds of human beings, to induce thoughts and images that are similar to those described by people who have had near-death or out-of-body experiences and even to medieval witnesses of demons and elves. 
Saying that aliens emerge from other ’dimensions’ raises the question of what sort of ’dimensions’ are being referred to. It is very fashionable nowadays for physicists to speculate about additional dimensions. M-theory, for example, postulates 7 extra spatial dimensions, which are said to be curled up so small (10-33 cm) that they are undetectable. But these are just mathematical abstractions for which there is not a shred of evidence.
They certainly do not resemble the other planes of energy-substance spoken of in the occult tradition. These planes, which are beyond our range of perception, interpenetrate our own physical world, and are said to be inhabited by a variety of entities. Interestingly, the same scientists who fantasize about extra ’dimensions’ usually reject any talk of paranormal and otherworldly phenomena out of hand.
In its broadest sense, a ’dimension’ is any measurable quantity. Examples are length, breadth, and height, which are commonly referred to as the three ’spatial’ dimensions. Other dimensions are temperature, mass, charge, time, etc. If entities are said to be living in other ’dimensions’, an obvious question is: how many spatial dimensions do these other ’dimensions’ have?
Some researchers actually speak of a three-dimensional parallel universe existing in a superior ’dimension’. This clearly shows that the word ’dimension’ is being used in different senses. It is therefore better to speak of other (invisible) worlds, realms, planes, etc. than of other dimensions. Moreover, common sense dictates that no entities or objects, on any plane, can have fewer than three spatial dimensions; nor is there any reason to suppose that they can have more than three.
Vallee seems to have great faith in current ’scientific’ speculations that space can be ’folded’ so that it might be possible to travel from point A to point B almost instantaneously via a ’wormhole’ whose length is only a fraction of the distance between A and B! Equally irrational is the claim that aliens could not just be from ’any place’ but also from ’any time’ — past, present, or future! There is nothing to suggest that time travel is anything more than science fiction.
Everything that happens is part of a sequence of events linked by cause and effect; the succession of cause and effect defines the direction of time. Anything that is actually happening is happening now.
Once something has happened it belongs to the past and exists only as a record imprinted on the substance of nature. It is impossible to return to the actual past, but the records of past events can be viewed clairvoyantly by those with the necessary occult powers. It is equally impossible for us to visit the actual future or for beings from the future to visit us, since the future, by definition, has not yet happened. However, since the future unfolds out of present (and past) causes, it is foreshadowed in the present, and it is therefore possible to see clairvoyantly the future that is most probable at any given time.
An advocate of the time-travel theory is Illobrand von Ludwiger, who argues that UFOs ’are visitors from our own future carrying out the task of rejuvenating their genetic stock by interbreeding with humans’. One of the pieces of ’evidence’ he presents in favour of time travel is that a corporal in Chile grew a 5-day beard during an absence of only 20 minutes. This is supposed to prove that he travelled into the future and back — assuming of course that beards continue to grow when moving backward in time! Clearly, such arguments border on the moronic.
Vallee says that,
’the UFO phenomenon is one of the ways through which an alien form of intelligence of incredible complexity is communicating with us symbolically’, and that paranormal phenomena like UFOs are one of the manifestations of a ’spiritual control system for human consciousness’ .
Remarks such as this make it sound as if UFO events are orchestrated by a single, overarching, ’alien’ intelligence, albeit one closely connected with the earth. However, the variety of UFO manifestations suggests that such phenomena involve a wide range of different entities, from demonic and subhuman to spiritual and superhuman.
Some researchers have proposed that the alternate reality from which UFOs derive is the imaginal realm, a planetary thought-field created and sustained by the power of the human imagination.
- Kenneth Ringhypothesizes that UFOs can be projected from this realm, and that UFO encounters partly take place in it.
- Likewise, Michael Grossoproposes that all paranormal appearances with a public or quasi-physical dimension — e.g. of UFOs, aliens, religious figures like the Virgin Mary, fairies, demons, or monstrous animals — might be thought-forms telepathically generated by the collective subconscious minds of the people of a community or culture.
Both researchers believe that there is also some sort of extramundane agency, ’an Oz of cosmic proportions’, or ’planetary Overmind’, at work, helping to orchestrate extraordinary experiences .
It certainly seems doubtful that ordinary humans alone have the power to call into being flying objects that can reflect radar, chase jet planes, and interfere with cars. As Richard Thompson says,
’If human imagination had so much power, then why don’t typical sci-fi movie monsters materialize in American cities?’ .
The ways in which the UFO phenomenon manifests do seem to be linked to the world of human beliefs and imagination, but the phenomenon also seems to have a dynamic of its own. The ’imaginal realm’ is therefore best conceived of as a collective mind containing but transcending individual minds, and as a transphysical world that interacts with the physical world — in other words, as the astral realm of occult tradition. In particular, UFO phenomena could involve temporary physical manifestations of shape-shifting, elemental energy-forms and thought-forms or other astral entities, which either materialize and dematerialize spontaneously or whose manifestations are partly directed by other intelligences.
The UFO phenomenon throws up major questions: What determines the place and time of UFO manifestations, the form they take, and who witnesses them? A variety of attempts have been made to explain the timing of UFO waves. They certainly cannot be blamed on media interest: studies show that an increase in UFO reports generates greater media coverage, rather than the other way round. Debunkers predicted that the release of the film Close encounters of the third kind in 1977 would spawn a major flap — but it never happened. Attempts have been made to correlate UFO flaps with social unrest, political tensions, and military crises.
One researcher sees a certain correspondence between UFO flaps in the US and periods when national self-esteem is at a low ebb . However, no single-factor hypothesis is absolutely convincing; a whole constellation of personal, regional, national, and global factors could be involved. Only someone with a deep understanding of the astral world and its interaction with our physical world, and of the karmic background of witnesses could identify all the causes in any particular case.