UFOs come in an incredible variety of shapes, and there are very few instances where absolutely identical-looking UFOs have been independently sighted in different locations. UFOs in the shape of dumbbells, hats, and washtubs have been reported, as have machines flying through the air with moving wings. But many UFO enthusiasts prefer to ignore reports that do not conform to their conception of what extraterrestrial spacecraft should look like!
Eight main types of UFO can be distinguished:
1. Lightforms, including balls, rays, columns, and cones of light, and light formations or arrays that don’t seem to be attached to an object. The overwhelming majority of UFO sightings involve nothing more than bright lights, mostly seen at night.
2. Spherical UFOs, ranging in size from a basketball to a house.
3. Discoid or disc-shaped UFOs — the ’classic’ flying saucer. These have always been one of the most frequently reported UFO shapes. They may be domed, finned, or otherwise outfitted.
4. Elliptical, oval, or egg-shaped UFOs. They often lack exterior features.
5. Cylindrical or cigar-shaped UFOs. Their ends may be tapered or conical, or sometimes flattened. Some produce a distinctive ’vapour trail’.
6. Rectangular UFOs, i.e. objects with squared corners. They can be as small as a ’flying carpet’ or as large as an aircraft carrier. They are seen infrequently, and are largely a South American phenomenon.
7. Triangular UFOs were rare in the early days of the modern UFO era but now account for an inordinate number of reports. They include top-shaped, diamond-shaped, and cone-shaped objects, as well as flying wings or ’boomerangs’.
8. Shape-shifters are UFOs that alter form over time in ways that can’t be attributed to the angle of perception. They cast doubt on the literal, physical nature of the phenomenon.
In terms of size, UFOs range from small balls of light a few inches in diameter to giant, flying wing- or triangle-shaped objects as large as football fields. The classic flying saucer is 35 to 50 ft (10 to 15 m) across.
UFOs are sometimes seen entering or emerging from water. There are reports that Unidentified Submarine Objects (USOs) used to follow Soviet submarines, sometimes anticipating their manoeuvres, and were suspected of being American devices. On one occasion a Soviet icebreaker was working its way in the Arctic Ocean when a brilliant spherical craft suddenly broke through the ice and flew up vertically, showering the vessel with fragments of ice. It was seen by all the sailors on deck and the officers on the bridge.
It should be borne in mind that humans are notoriously bad at accurately recalling what they have seen. A TV audience was shown a faked picture of a fairly ’classic’ flying saucer for 15 seconds, and then asked to draw what they had seen. The results were extraordinary: 50 totally different and almost entirely inaccurate images came back.
One image was a circle with 4 huge wings radiating out from it. Since UFOs are widely believed to be alien spaceships, a blurred dark area might easily be interpreted as a porthole, and dark shading underneath might be interpreted as landing gear. Large-scale meteors or fireballs are sometimes reported as having ’windows’.
UFOs are either ’solid’ all the way through or contain a compartment of some sort. Most of the descriptions of UFO interiors come from abductees, who in most cases are probably not reporting an objective, physical experience. At any rate, a study of 150 abduction reports found tables mentioned in 39%, computer/TV screens in 13%, computers in 12%, chairs in 8%, counters or shelves in 7%, cabinets in 7%, and benches in 4%. The tidy UFO interiors described sound rather antiseptic and unlived in, though abducteé Whitley Strieber recalled seeing dirty clothes piled up in one corner of the chamber in which he once found himself.
It is interesting to note how animals react to UFOs. Dogs usually dislike them intensely; they may bark, howl, or froth, and some cower in terror when an object is about. Cats hiss and spit, sheep stampede, horses rear up, cows lie down, and birds simply stop singing. These reactions are sometimes elicited before humans are aware of anything unusual. In some cases animals may be agitated by high-pitched sounds or microwave radiation, or they may simply sense the presence of something unknown and frightening. Most reactions seem to be temporary but a few persist. Cattle may refuse for several days to be herded into paddocks over which UFOs have been seen to hover, and in one case a single sniff at a recent landing site sent a dog dashing away howling.
In another case, a man and his wife were awakened by their 3 large security dogs barking, growling, and behaving in a very agitated manner. The dogs were pulling at their chains towards a wooded area to the east. But when they were turned loose, they would not move, even though their owner commanded them to go. They would look toward the wooded area, growl, then back up. The man and his wife then saw a brilliant flash of light coming from the wooded area, and the next morning they found a ’landing site’.
According to the ’psychosocial hypothesis’, UFOs are purely psychological phenomena moulded by sociocultural beliefs. This theory is clearly inadequate since UFOs often have physical effects and leave physical traces. Many UFOs that have been observed visually have also been observed on radar , though the majority do not show up on radar. Sometimes UFOs are observed on radar but are not sighted visually. It is well known that many atmospheric conditions can give rise to false radar echoes, but this is unlikely to account for all ’uncorrelated targets’. Radar records show that unknown objects often follow erratic paths, suddenly vanish from one spot and appear in another, and undergo abrupt and extreme altitude and velocity changes.
Over the decades, scores of photographs, videotapes, and film segments showing unknown objects in the sky have been studied by scientists and trained photo analysts.
Although there have been many hoaxes, there are also many photographs, films, and videotapes that appear to be authentic and are consistent with what witnesses claim to have seen.
Fig. 4.1. A frame from the 8 mm movie film taken by George Adamski
in the presence of Madeleine Rodeffer and 3 other witnesses at Silver Spring, Maryland, in February 1965.
Optical physicist William Sherwood suggested that the apparent distortion seen in this and other frames
could be caused by a powerful gravitational field
On 3 August 1965, highway engineer Rex Heflin took a series of 4 Polaroid photos of a silvery craft near Santa Ana, California. Over a period of about 2 minutes the craft moved east, ’wobbling’ slightly, gained altitude slowly, then increased its velocity and altitude more rapidly, leaving behind a ring of smokelike vapour. Several scientists and other researchers launched an all-out effort to study the photos. In September 1965 two men in civilian clothes, claiming to be from the North American Air Defense, came to Heflin’s home and ’borrowed’ 3 of the original photos.
The photos were never returned and the 2 visitors were never traced. However, copies of the stolen photos continued to be analyzed. They were regarded as most probably genuine though some doubts remained. Then one day in 1993 Heflin received a phone call from a woman who asked him if he had recently checked his mailbox and then rang off. Half an hour later she called again and asked the same question. After the first call Heflin found his mailbox to be empty, but after the second he found a plain, unmarked envelope containing the 3 lost photos.
The photos were then reanalyzed using state-of-the-art computer enhancement, and the analysis supported the view that they were genuine .
Fig. 4.2. Two of the photos taken by Rex Heflin in 1965.
The military undoubtedly have many reliable physical records of UFOs in their possession. In an incident at the White Sands Proving Ground, a V2 rocket was about to be fired when 2 objects, 2 to 3 ft in diameter, came down, circled around the V2 several times, and went back up, vanishing into the sky. The camera crew used up all their film on the UFOs, and the V2 flight was cancelled while they reloaded their cameras.
On 17 July 1957 an air force RB-47 was followed by a luminous, highly manoeuvrable object for about 1.5 hours, over a distance of well over 700 miles, as it flew from Mississippi to Oklahoma. The object was, at various times, seen visually by the cockpit crew as an intensely luminous light, followed by ground-radar, and detected on electronic counter-measures (ECM) equipment on the plane.
The case involved several instances of simultaneous appearances and disappearances on all 3 ’channels’
Fig. 4.3. Photograph of an unidentified, stationary, high-altitude bright light source,
taken by a Canadian Air Force pilot in 1956 (courtesy of Bruce Maccabee) .
The disc-like object is over 100 m in diameter, and its power output is estimated at over one billion watts.
UFOs often — but by no means always — cause car engines to stall, power blackouts, and other electromagnetic disturbances, such as spinning compasses. Curiously, not a single case of a vehicle stalling has ever resulted in a serious accident. Landings often leave ground traces, described as circular, oval, or irregular in shape. Vegetation in the traces may be burned, depressed, or dehydrated, and there are often symmetrically arranged marks suggestive of landing gear imprints.
One of the best-documented incidents of the landing-trace variety took place on 8 January 1981 when a man working in his garden in Trans-en-Provence, France, reported that he had witnessed the landing of a craft in the form of 2 saucers upside down, one against the other. The object rested on the ground for a short period before flying away. It left behind traces, impressions, and other evidence of the presence of a large vehicle. An intensive investigation was mounted by France’s official UFO-monitoring agency, GEPAN, which took soil, leaf, and plant samples and had them analyzed by government laboratories.
In 1983, in a 66-page scientific monograph on the case, GEPAN noted that the leaves had inexplicably lost 30 to 50% of their chlorophyll and had aged abruptly in ways that could not be duplicated in the laboratory. There was evidence of an ’occurrence of an important event which brought with it deformations of the terrain caused by mass, mechanics, a heating effect, and perhaps certain transformations and deposits of trace minerals [phosphate and zinc].’ It concluded that these effects could best be explained by a powerful emission of possibly pulsed microwaves.
There are rare reports of UFOs ejecting molten metal and of physical specimens being found at a location after a sighting. Analysis of such samples has identified various terrestrial elements such as aluminium, tin, magnesium, and silicon, as well as oil, but no evidence of anything of definitely unearthly origin has turned up.
There are many well-attested cases of a shining filament-type material called ’angel hair’ falling out of the sky in association with UFO sightings. There are photos of people handling it, and a chemist who examined a specimen under the microscope described it as ’radioactive, heavily damaged cotton’. It usually ’evaporates’ fairly quickly.
There are also many accounts associating sightings of aerial objects with falls of translucent or transparent gelatinous material, which quickly evaporates. This material, sometimes called ’pwdre ser’ or ’star jelly’, has been reported for centuries. One suggestion is that it could be excrement or other residue from unusual atmospheric lifeforms.
There are numerous reports of UFO witnesses suffering adverse physical effects, such as dizziness, headaches, paralysis, numbness, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, irritation of the eyes, itchy rashes, burns, and other radiation-like effects. For instance, one morning in 1973 an American truck driver noticed that his tractor-trailer rig was being overtaken by a bright, turnip-shaped object roughly as wide as a 2-lane highway. When he leaned out of the window, he was hit in the face by a ’red flash of fire’ that blinded him and partially melted his glasses frames. His glasses were bubbled-out as if the wire inside the frames had been heated by microwave radiation, causing the plastic around it to melt. He was hospitalized with severe reduction of vision in both eyes, but gradually recovered his sight over a period of 3 weeks.
In Brazil there have been many reports of rectangular UFOs (nicknamed ’chupas’) firing beams at people at night, often causing serious and sometimes fatal injuries. In many of these incidents the victims were hunters who in turn became hunted. In one well-documented case a man was stunned and blinded after being hit by a beam of light; his flesh began to detach itself from his bones, and he died 6 hours later.
Many of the injuries reported in these cases are consistent with the effects of high-power pulsed microwaves, though this does not explain the small puncture marks sometimes found in the skin. Military encounters with UFOs have also led to fatalities. For instance, on 23 November 1953, a military jet was scrambled from Kinross Air Force Base in Michigan to chase an unidentified object. The aircraft was tracked on radar as it merged with the target over Lake Superior. Both objects then disappeared from the screen. Despite an intensive search, no wreckage or bodies were ever found.
Given all the various physical effects reported, and also UFOs’ frequent interest in aircraft and in military and nuclear installations, it is not surprising that some military personnel should regard UFOs as physical spacecraft that pose a potential security threat. Nor is it surprising that they should want to know more about their propulsion system, which appears to be far beyond the capabilities of our own current technology.
The objects Kenneth Arnold sighted in 1947 were moving at about 2100 km per hour, but since then speeds of up to 35,000 km per hour or more have been reported. Most UFOs have no visible means of propulsion, though sometimes they leave a luminous trail. Most UFOs are silent in operation, whether seen at a distance or close up. In cases where an audible sound is heard, it is usually described as a steady, low-pitched hum or a repetitive, high-pitched beep. But hissing, whining, whistling, roaring, and explosive noises have also been reported.
UFOs are often observed to follow an abrupt, zigzag path as opposed to a straight line or gently curving trajectory. A hovering UFO that descends towards the ground frequently makes a ’falling-leaf’ or pendulum motion, involving a gentle rocking from side to side. As well as being able to hover silently, UFOs have been seen to undergo incredible accelerations and decelerations and to make 90-degree turns that would tear conventional aircraft — and their pilots — apart.
During miliary encounters with UFOs in Belgium in 1990, a UFO was observed to achieve a fantastic acceleration of 40 g’s. This would cause immediate death to human pilots, who can take no more than about 8 g’s. If this had been a conventional aircraft, not only would there have been a supersonic boom but, given the low altitude and speed, many windows would have been shattered. There are in fact no reports of sonic booms being produced by UFOs in supersonic flight (more than 1225 km per hour).
If UFOs were ordinary physical craft, to prevent manoeuvres such as those described above from producing massive g forces either the craft would have to be made massless, or some form or ’anti-gravity’ propulsion would have to be used, so that any acceleration or deceleration is imparted to every molecule of the structure simultaneously.
This conclusion is supported by Paul Hill, a former NASA aeronautical engineer. He noted that UFOs tend to sit level to hover, tilt forward to advance, tilt backward to stop, and bank to turn. Such motion is inconsistent with normal aerodynamic requirements, but consistent with some form of repulsive force-field propulsion, which he thinks probably involves a gravity-cancelling field. This could explain why UFOs cause vehicles to stall, break tree branches, dislodge roof tiles, deflect objects, and disturb water.
It would allow the occupants of a craft to survive extreme supersonic flight without sonic booms, and would eliminate any significant aerodynamic heating. In addition, a plasma sheath of ionized and excited air molecules would surround the craft, and affect its colours during various phases of its flight — red and orange during hovering and slow motions, blue and white at or just before high speeds — as well as how sharp or blurry its edges appear at night .
As far as their flight performance is concerned, some UFOs could therefore be physical craft making use of anti-gravity technology. It should be noted, however, that UFOs sometimes have weird, nonaerodynamic designs, apparently rivetted panels, and some have been seen to emit fire, smoke, and steam! UFOs need not be ordinary physical craft at all, and rather than being propelled by an advanced physical technology making use of conventional physical forces, they may be propelled by paraphysical, paranormal forces.
Some UFOs could be living creatures (or ’critters’) rather than spacecraft and possess a natural power of flight using their own life energy (see next section). Trevor Constable argues that both creatures and craftcould emerge into our physical reality from the etheric realms and be powered by etheric energy. Wilhelm Reich (who died in 1957) called this energy ’orgone’, and demonstrated its existence experimentally.
Constable argues that the known properties of orgone energy can account for many of the phenomena associated with UFOs .
Fig. 4.4. A UFO photographed by a US Marine Air Group pilot over the Northeast China Sea during the Korean war. The sharply delineated straight line in the middle and the black lower half suggest photographic trickery, but similar bizarre effects have been noted in other cases.
According to Trevor Constable, the blackness on the underside and left-hand extremity of the disc is caused by high concentrations of contractive, cold orgone energy, which is known to desensitize or nullify film emulsions. He argues that orgone energy spins around the circumference of the craft, and that the camera has ’stopped’ the rotating field on the left side of the disc, accounting for the otherwise anomalous ’shadow’ on the upper side of the vehicle.
Constable remarks: ’What earthmen don’t know about light, color, energy, substance and tangibility would fill a bloody great hole in the ground’
When electromagnetic signals propagate through the ether they are weakened in proportion to the square of the distance they have travelled. If a UFO is surrounded by a high concentration of orgone, this could explain power failures and electromagnetic interference. Plasmas created by the whirling fields around the craft could account for reports of UFOs causing burning and scorching.
Experiments indicate that human contact with a high concentration of orgone would withdraw their own bioenergy, resulting in numbness or even unconsciousness. Orgone energy could also explain temporary blindness in witnesses, and burning, tanning, and reddening of the skin.
Spinning is probably the most common single motion attributed to UFOs; when in flight they either spin, or give the illusion of spinning as a result of their moving lights. Constable argues that both spinning and ’falling-leaf’ motions can be explained by the spinning wave motion (also known as the kreiselwelle or KRW) of orgone energy. The sometimes jerky and erratic motion of UFOs resembles the flight of humming birds, which, like all organisms, make use of their own orgone life-energy.
The bobbing, skipping and swinging of various types of UFO emerges from the fundamental KRW pattern of the energy used in propulsion, or, in the case of the critters, in their animation and natural life pulsation. Skipping discs such as those first witnessed by Kenneth Arnold, may well propel themselves using the peak energies of the huge KRW waveforms that are naturally present in our atmosphere …
Are UFOs physically real? In theory, they could be any of the following:
1) genuine physical objects
2) temporarily materialized ethereal objects
3) ethereal objects perceived clairvoyantly
4) projected external images or holograms
5) illusions existing only in witnesses’ minds, either,
(a) self-generated or
(b) induced by other entities
Whether UFOs show up on radar or not does not necessarily prove whether they are physically solid, since physical objects can be made invisible to radar. Conversely, not everything that shows up on radar is physically visible. Films of UFOs do not prove that they are three-dimensional objects possessing physical density unless they are also seen to interact physically with their environment, such as by leaving material landing traces.
The following sighting took place at Pelotas, Brazil, on 5 October 1996. Businessman Haraldo Westendorf, a trained stunt flyer who did not believe in UFOs, spotted an enormous cone-shaped object, about 225 ft high and 325 ft in diameter at its widest point. Over a period of 15 minutes he circled the huge, brown, spinning object 3 times, once bringing his tiny plane within 130 ft of it. He then noticed a hole where the rounded top on the object had been just moments before. Out of it rose a classic, saucer-shaped object, about 30 ft (9 m) in diameter, which sped off at about Mach 10 (i.e. 10 times the speed of sound).
Westendorf was going to fly over the top of the ’mother ship’ but changed his mind when it began to rotate more rapidly and fire red light beams from its top. The object then shot straight up at tremendous speed, and Westendorf at first thought the resulting shock wave might knock him out of the sky. However, he never felt any turbulence — which suggests it was not an ordinary physical object.
The entire incident was witnessed by 3 ground-based air traffic controllers and numerous other people on the beach at Pelotas, but the government’s air defense system radar centre at Curitiba never picked up the mysterious object on their radar screens .
Fig. 4.5. UFOs sighted at Pelotas, Brazil, October 1996 (courtesy of Harry Trumbore)
The following close encounter appears to involve an object that was physically tangible (at least temporarily) and not just physically visible. On 14 June 1968 Isidro Puentes Ventura, a reservist in the Cuban army, was standing guard by himself when he saw a white light behind some trees and went to investigate. He found himself 150 ft from an object resting on the ground, and observed it for 10 minutes. It was round, with a dome and a series of ’antennas’ on top. Despite its strange shape and unusual brightness, he thought it might be an American helicopter and started firing at it. He had fired about 40 rounds when the craft became orange and emitted a strong whistling sound.
Then he lost consciousness. 5 minutes past midnight several machine-gun rounds were heard coming from Puente’s location. He was found unconscious at dawn, and taken to hospital; he was unable to speak for 6 days and remained in shock for a further 7. Investigators found 48 spent machine-gun casings and 14 bullets flattened by impact against some extremely hard metallic object.
A depression was visible in the soil, with a central hole 3 ft in diameter and 3 smaller indentations around it, indicating the presence of a very heavy object. Cuban radar had detected an unidentified object that vanished amidst tremendous electronic noise. Within a 15-ft radius the soil at the site was calcined and covered with ashlike gray dust; analysis confirmed that a high degree of heat had been applied .
The following case involves a shape-shifting UFO. During an Aeroflot flight in September 1984, the crew and passengers saw an enormous yellow ’star’ which projected a beam of light towards the ground, followed by 2 less vivid beams. The big beam then swung round and projected straight into the aircraft cabin as the object raced towards the plane, changing into a ’green cloud’. Minsk ground control was contacted but the air traffic controller could see nothing on the radar screen. The object cruised along beside the plane. Multiple lights of different colours and fiery zigzags crisscrossed the ’vapour’. By this time the ground controller could see the light show.
The object then began changing shape as if to mimic the plane. It developed an appendage and then became a ’wingless cloud-aircraft with a pointed tail’. Another airliner also saw the weird green cloud, as did controllers at Riga and Vilnius. The ’cloud’ continued to escort the plane for over an hour until it began to descend to land at Tallinn. Strangely, the Tallinn approach radar had picked up two ’blips’ trailing behind the aircraft, and while these targets remained ’solid’, the radar reflection of the aircraft kept fading in and out! The other airliner had approached the UFO, which shot a beam of light that struck the 2 pilots. Several days later, one of them was taken to hospital, where he later died of a disease resembling myeloma, i.e. malignancy of the bone marrow. A similar disease made the other pilot an invalid for life .
If UFOs were ordinary, tangible objects they should be seen pursuing straight flight paths over considerable distances, but there are few cases where this has occurred. Instead, they often seem to appear abruptly, maneuver about in a localized area, then abruptly disappear from sight or radar screens. As the above case illustrates, they have also been observed to change shape.
Their sudden appearance and disappearance are sometimes accompanied by a flash of light or an explosion. In some cases UFOs (and UFO entities) vanish without a sound, suggesting that they are not ordinary physical phenomena, since otherwise their disappearance would create a partial vacuum and make a noise. In one case, analysis of a videotape of a craft’s disappearance showed that it actually accelerated almost instantly to several times the speed of sound, causing it to become invisible to the eye . However, genuine materialization and dematerialization sometimes seem to be involved.
In one incident, a man saw a hovering disc suddenly grow smaller and vanish, accompanied by a blast of wind which knocked him to the ground. In another, the head of a team of construction workers encountered a strange-looking man standing in front of a large shining dome floating about 3 ft above the ground. Suddenly the strange man vanished. Then a loud whistling sound was heard and the saucer rose by successive jerks, before being erased in a sort of blue haze. The story was corroborated by several of the construction workers.
In October 1969, a French couple saw an oval-shaped object on the ground, the size of a VW Beetle, which lifted up, paused briefly, then disappeared at an amazing speed, flying off into the trees, and passing through them as if they did not exist.
Lightforms and bioforms
The majority of UFOs are nothing more than bright lights, generally seen at high altitude. Scientists tend to ignore high-altitude nocturnal lights because of their close association with ufology. Low-level light phenomena have received more attention, though many are just as anomalous and remain poorly understood.
A low-level luminous phenomenon sometimes thought to be related to UFOs is ball lightning. However, ball lightning diameters are generally 10 to 40 cm, while the diameters of flying discs can be hundreds of times larger. Ball lightning is generally thought to consist of glowing spheres of plasma created by electromagnetic forces, but no one can explain how such spheres form and preserve their shape, or how so much energy can be concentrated in such a small volume.
Ball lightning can pass through glass windows without breaking them, and can even appear within a metal-screened environment, such as an aircraft, which a straightforward electrical effect would not be expected to do. Furthermore, it can hover, float languidly, fall to the ground, remain stationary, or move as if purposefully; sometimes it seems to inquisitively explore a room as if directed by intelligence. Related phenomena include luminous aerial bubbles — ’large assemblages of colored spheres or bubbles drifting randomly, quickly, almost playfully’. After sunset they might become nocturnal lights.
In a case from 1954, a ball of light about the size of a basketball fell from the clouds, about 20 ft in front of a man’s car. It bounced 3 times and then detonated the next time it touched the earth. Interestingly, the engine stalled and the car coasted to a stop — an often-reported phenomenon in UFO encounters. More glowing balls continued to fall and bounce, as if in slow motion.
The usually flame-like forms known by names such as ’will-o’-the-wisp’, ’jack-o’-lantern’, ’ignis fatuus’, and ’corpse candles’ make up another class of earthlights. In folklore they were interpreted as wandering sprites liable to lead travellers to their doom, or as harbingers of death, and were widely believed to hover over fresh graves.
The standard explanation attributes them to spontaneously ignited gases (largely methane) escaping from swampy ground, but this theory will not work in many instances as the flames are often described as cold. Sightings of will-o’-the-wisps decreased towards the end of the 19th century, while sightings of UFOs have since increased. It seems that ’UFO’ has become the new catch-all term for unusual luminous phenomena.
Other unexplained light phenomena are earthquake lights and volcano lights, often reported before, during, or after a quake or eruption. Earthquake lights come in a wide range of forms, such as streamers and aurorae-like displays across the sky, balls of light, glows in the atmosphere, sparkles of light on hillsides, and ’slow’ lightning. Sometimes lights are seen in or above the sea, some of which may be traceable to submarine quakes. Other extraordinary light phenomena reported by seafarers, especially in the Indian Ocean, include great wheels and bands of light fanning soundlessly across the ocean, but scientists prefer to ignore these mysterious manifestations.
Earthlight sightings are particularly common near active geological faults. According to the tectonic strain theory developed by researchers such as Paul Devereux and Michael Persinger, these lightforms are mainly generated by stresses and strains in the earth’s crust, though the exact mechanism is unknown.
Similar phenomena have been recreated experimentally on a laboratory scale, and the evidence contradicts the popular theory that they are plasmas.
Fig. 5.1. This photograph of 2 balls of light flying over Carleton Moor near Skipton, England,
was taken by police sergeant Tony Dodd at 3.15 am on 14 March 1983.
Note how the upper light illumines the underside of the low cloud.
Many mystery lights have been reported in the area
Fig. 5.2. This remarkable photograph was taken by David Kubrin in 1973.
After visiting the Pinnacles National Monument in California,
he and his wife suddenly saw a light streak by just above the treetops, producing shockwaves in the air.
Then it stopped without deceleration, as if weightless.
The light was basically ovoid in form, and as it stopped it seemed to go into a spin, causing its light to dissipate.
It lost its shape and merged somewhat with the surrounding air.
The photograph was taken as the spinning began.
It shows a golden light core partially surrounded by a flare of light, against a darkening blue sky.
The Pinnacles are spectacular spire-like columns and jagged peaks.
Beneath them is an intricate cave system, and the site is bounded on the east by the San Andreas Fault
Earthlights vary enormously in size and colour and can change shape. They range in size from ping-pong balls of luminosity to grand lightforms, though basketball size is common. They are usually round or spherical, but tubes, cigars, rectangles, diamonds, tadpole-shapes, and irregular forms have frequently been described. At close range, a teeming inner activity is sometimes reported within them.
Earthlights can make sounds of various kinds, notably hissing and buzzing noises. Multiple earthlights seen flying together can divide and merge, and display seemingly coordinated movements. They are frequently seen emerging from or disappearing into the ground. They often haunt bodies of water such as lakes and reservoirs, and are occasionally seen glowing beneath the surface of the water. When free-floating, they commonly prefer the vicinity of mountain peaks and ridges, isolated rooftops and rock outcrops, towers and antennae, and other sharp or isolated features that tend to be charge collectors.
This might indicate that they have some kind of electromagnetic basis. However, the light produced frequently seems to be of an unusual nature, very bright, but defined and without rays.
Devereux believes that earthlights are on the very edge of physical manifestation, which may explain why some lights show up on radar while others do not. The geographical zones in which they appear must provide a source of energy, probably electromagnetic or gravitational, allowing them to intrude into and move around in our material world. The exact mechanisms that generate them are unknown, but Devereux thinks they represent ’an energy manifestation that is either an unfamiliar form of electromagnetism, or else is of a completely unknown order that interacts, resonates, in some way with parts of the electromagnetic spectrum’.
He draws a parallel with the Chinese concept of chi, or the kurunba of the Australian aborigines: ’a primary sea of force that underpins the manifestation of energy effects and matter in the material world’. He also points out that earthlights frequently seem to display intelligence and to respond to the movements and thoughts of observers.
Devereux believes that most UFOs are in fact earthlights. Over 40% of UFO sightings are said to occur on or close to geological faults, which are the scenes of electrical, magnetic, or gravimetric variations. It is noteworthy that poltergeist and other paranormal activity often occurs in the immediate neighbourhood of earthlight outbreaks, and during the same period, and that both UFO and poltergeist activity seem to increase at times of significantly high global geomagnetic activity.
However, the earthlight theory cannot account for all UFO sightings. First, UFOs are also seen in seismically inactive areas. Second, although earthlights seen in daylight can look shiny and metallic and are likely to have a spherical, ovoid, or discoid form, the largest earthlights are usually only several meters across, whereas some UFOs are many times larger. Third, although energetic lightballs have been known to singe foliage and leave burns and grooves on the ground, earthlights cannot account for close-range sightings of large, structured, heavy craft that leave corresponding landing traces.
To account for close encounters with ’aliens’, including abductions, the tectonic strain theory has been extended with the notion of electromagnetically induced hallucinations. Our perceptions of the world around us are mediated by the patterns of electromagnetic activity they generate in our brains. Any stimulus that can induce similar patterns of activity in the brain can generate experiences that are just as real and compelling as actual events.
Michael Persinger has shown that stimulating the temporal lobes of the brain with electrodes can induce a variety of deeply disturbing mental experiences, including nearly every basic element of mystical, religious, and visitor experiences, such as encounters with demons, angels, and fairies.
Persinger and Devereux argue that the energy fluctuations generated by fault lines can not only give rise to earthlights but can also — especially at close range — interact with the human nervous system, specifically with the brain’s temporal lobe, generating hallucinations of alien encounters. This typically happens when the witness is in an altered state of consciousness (usually during early morning hours) or during a protracted period of driving, when right-hemispheric brain activity and interruptions of consciousness are encouraged. The details of the experience depend on witnesses’ beliefs and expectations, on the sensitivity of their temporal lobes and limbic regions, and on the complexity of the electromagnetic field applied through the brain.
There are numerous accounts of people coming very close to earthlights without receiving any physical injury or suffering hallucinatory effects, but Devereux suggests that these differences may depend on the frequency at which the energy from a light emanates.
The major weakness in this theory is that although electromagnetic fields may be able to induce hallucinations in the laboratory, no ordinary, random field outside the laboratory could produce an ordered, coherent train of thought during a close encounter lasting for about an hour, including many matching details in the recollections of different witnesses. It is quite possible that some close encounters, or at least certain elements of them, are visionary or hallucinatory experiences. But the mechanisms inducing them are unlikely to be ordinary physical forces.
Kenneth Ring argues that while extraordinary encounters may be correlated with neurological factors, such as temporal-lobe lability, they are not reducible to them.
Just as a television set is not in itself the source of the images we see on its screen, the brain may not generate our experiences either. Instead, it may serve to transmit them. Taking that stand, it may be necessary that a certain neurological state occur before certain images and information can be received, but that state then would be more like a window (even if it distorts the input somewhat) than a signal station in its own right.
Another theory, which overlaps with the earthlight theory to some extent, is that UFOs are aerial bioforms or sky creatures. By using an ordinary camera loaded with infrared film, Trevor Constable, a well-known aviation historian, has photographed plasmatic lifeforms in the atmosphere which inhabit the infrared part of the spectrum and are normally imperceptible. Their existence has been independently verified by researchers in Europe and the United States. Most are spherical, discoidal, or cigar-shaped, others look like fish or serpents, and many resemble giant pulsating unicellular organisms or amoebas. Constable believes that only some UFOs are living creatures (or ’critters’) and that others are intelligently designed and controlled craft originating in the etheric realms.
He argues that under certain conditions some aerial bioforms can alter their density and become physically visible and tangible. Their essentially ethereal, ’plastic’ nature enables them to change shape, split into two, and merge. They appear to travel in pulsatory fashion, swelling and shrinking cyclically as they move through the air. They sometimes travel through the atmosphere in luminous shoals, rather like fish. Their behaviour suggests that they possess a low degree of intelligence. They have been seen playing around thunderheads and around aircraft wings.
They have paced airliners and jet fighters like dolphins pacing a ship. They have been seen chasing each other playfully around the sky, and tend to take evasive action if humans approach too close.
The creatures that Constable has photographed either inhabit the etheric borderland between the physical and astral realms or originate in the astral realms themselves, and are shape-shifting elemental lifeforms.
Fig. 5.3. These 2 photos show the same giant amoeba-like entity, complete with nuclei, nucleoli, and vacuoles.
It was invisible to the naked eye and was photographed with infrared film on 25 August 1957 in the Californian Mojave desert.
The sky background is black, because the filter used over the camera lens absorbs the blue sky radiation
Fig. 5.4. This invisible critter was photographed at Thousand Palms, California, in May 1975 by Constable’s daughter, Diana, then aged 11.
She was extremely sensitive at this age and had been trained to take photos of objects perceived etherically.
The camera was equipped with an 18A filter and high-speed infrared film.
A ’cloudbuster’, invented by Wilhelm Reich for weather-engineering purposes, can be seen in the lower right
Fig. 5.5. These invisible plasmoids are among many that were photographed at night near Genoa, Italy, in January 1981.
Infrared and magnetic detectors and other instruments suddenly went wild and the researchers operated their cameras immediately,
even though nothing was visible to the naked eye.
The many photos taken show these strange blue and white etheric forms falling from the zenith,
and rolling down the hillside, skimming along the grass and among the cars, equipment, and researchers
Radar provides another means of detecting invisible UFOs, including critters. Radar emits bursts of microwaves which are reflected back by whatever gets in their way. Microwaves lie between radio waves and infrared radiation, and infrared lies just beyond the red part of the visible spectrum. Radar was perfected during the Second World War and was used to detect enemy aircraft and ships before they became visible to the naked eye. But sometimes objects were detected by radar which remained invisible even when they were so close that they should have been directly perceptible.
The following incident took place during the war, and is known as the Nansei-shoto case. Two US aircraft carriers were patrolling the area south of Okinawa in the North Pacific when their radars showed a very large blip approaching from the northeast, which was assumed to represent an estimated 200 to 300 enemy aircraft. At a range of 100 miles their speed was determined to be nearly 700 miles an hour — faster than any known aircraft in the world at that time. All the American aircraft available were scrambled and directed towards the approaching force.
Despite excellent visibility, the fighter pilots saw nothing, even when radar showed them to be directly above the attacking force. The ’enemy’ kept on coming towards the task force, which was now preparing itself for the impending attack. The mysterious formation flew over the fleet, but the crew never saw a thing — just an empty blue sky.
There have been many similar incidents since then. These invisible objects are officially known as ’radar propagation anomalies’, ’spurious echoes’, ’radar ghosts’, or ’angels’. Constable says that various way-out notions such as flocks of birds, heated pockets of gas, and clouds of insects are used to explain them away. He believes that many are unknown living creatures.
Radar can have curious effects on some UFOs. For instance, 2 naval officers reported that they had watched a couple of UFOs retreat hastily when they blundered into a strong radar field. The UFOs bounced back out of the radar beam like rubber balls striking a brick wall. This sounds like the response of something living to an unpleasant stimulus.
A similar incident at a New Jersey cape occurred in 1950. When UFOs were seen there repeatedly, the government was notified, and 3 radar towers mounted on trucks were brought. An officer explained that radar made the saucers ’stagger’ and they hoped to bring one down if they could get enough beams on the disc at close range. The radar did cause the discs to stagger later that day but failed to bring them down. They sped away and the radar trucks were withdrawn a few days later. Periodic returns to certain areas, such as water sources, is of course a basic behavioral pattern of animals.
Radars cannot cause any known aircraft to ’stagger’, but the powerful beams of pulsed electronic energy they emit can stimulate and even burn living tissue.
The following accounts show that a wide variety of living lightforms and sky creatures may exist.
In September 1891 a bizarre atmospheric lifeform was seen over Crawfordsville, Indiana. It was headless and oblong, 20 ft long and 8 ft wide, and propelled itself with several pairs of fins. 2 men, together with a Methodist pastor and his wife, observed it circle a house, disappear to the east for a short time and then return. The creature was back the following evening, and this time hundreds of residents saw its violently flapping fins and flaming red ’eye’. The creature ’squirmed as if in agony’ and made a ’wheezing plaintive sound’ as it hovered at 300 ft. At one point it swooped over a band of onlookers, who swore they felt its ’hot breath’.
In 1925 Don Wood and another American landed in a two-seater plane on Flat Mesa, near Battle Mountain in the Nevada desert. While walking about the top they noticed something coming in to land. It was round and flat like a saucer, and about 8 ft across, with a reddish underside. It skidded to a stop about 30 ft away.
They walked up to it and found that it was an animal like nothing they had seen before. It had a mica-like body, but no visible eyes or legs. It was hurt, and as it breathed the top would rise and fall making a half-foot hole around it like a clam opening and closing. A hunk had been chewed out of one side of the rim, from which a metal-looking froth issued. After a 20-minute rest, it started pulsating again, and grew very bright except where it was hurt. It tried to rise up, but sank back again.
Suddenly the men saw a much larger animal, 30 ft across, approaching. It settled on the smaller one with 4 sucker-like tongues. Then it grew too dazzling to look at, and both rose straight up and shot out of sight in a second, at an estimated speed of 1000 miles an hour. They left behind an awful stench. The frothy stuff the little creature had ’bled’ looked like fine aluminum wire, and there was more frothy, wiry stuff in a 30-ft circle where the big creature had been. This material finally melted in the sun. Don Wood did not publicize this incident until 1959 as he doubted whether anyone would believe him. He pointed out that the larger animal would appear as a 30-ft light if seen at night.
In August 1927 artist, philosopher, and explorer Nicholas Roerich and other members of his expedition saw a huge, shiny, oval-shaped object, one side of it glistening in the sun, high over the Altai-Himalaya. They watched through field glasses as it flew south at a great speed and then changed direction, before disappearing in the intense blue sky. A Buddhist lama said that the object was a sign of the protecting force of Shambhala, a legendary spiritual kingdom referred to in eastern traditions.
During the 1933 assault on Mt. Everest, climber Frank Smythe saw 2 curious-looking objects floating in the sky, resembling kite balloons in shape, but one possessed what appeared to be squat, underdeveloped wings, and the other a protuberance suggestive of a beak. He was at an altitude of 27,600 ft and the objects were hovering about 400 ft lower.
They were very dark, and seemed to pulsate slowly. Other Himalayan expeditions in the 1920s and 30s reported seeing ’giant silver discs’ and ’a flying teakettle’. ’Experts’ dismissed these stories as hallucinations created by the high altitude. Local people, on the other hand, said that such aerial objects had always flown regular routes over the mountains, and they regarded them as religious manifestations.
The area around Darjeeling, in the Himalayan foothills in the extreme northeast of India, appears to be an earthlights lair. One evening near the beginning of the 20th century, some foreign visitors were walking round a flower garden when they saw a light like that of a lantern being carried down the path. It then flew across to another part of the hill, taking 2 to 3 minutes to cover a distance which would take an ordinary human at least half an hour.
They were told that it was one of the ’chota-admis’ (little men), who lived underground and only came out at night, when they would walk or fly about with lanterns. They would never let anyone get near them and if anyone came upon them unexpectedly they would disappear, and the person who saw them might become ill or even die. On several subsequent occasions the witnesses saw identical lights flying across the hills.
Some years later the Tibetan Buddhist scholar Lama Anagarika Govinda saw similar lightforms gliding through the hills while staying at Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, some 50 km from Darjeeling. His host, the Maharaja, told him that the lights were not of human origin. They could float through the air at speeds no human could attain, and the people of his country considered them to be a kind of spirit.
The 5-peaked Wu Tai Shan in northern China is a holy mountain to the Tibetans, Mongolians, and Chinese alike. The peaks of Wu Tai and all the surrounding temples are sacred to Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom and virtue. On the southernmost peak, a tower was built specifically to observe the ’bodhisattva lights’, which always materialized between midnight and 2 am. In 1937 a party of European visitors was allowed to view them. They saw innumerable fluffy balls of orange-coloured fire moving serenely and majestically through space, ’truly a fitting manifestation of divinity’.
’Spooklights’ are frequently seen around Marfa in Texas. In March 1973, 2 geologists saw 2 lights moving rapidly towards the northeast, almost at right angles to the road they were on. The first light slowed down near the road, crossed it less than 1000 ft in front of the car, only 3 or 4 ft off the ground, and continued to the east where it seemed to merge with a third light.
The second light followed approximately the same path as the first but more slowly. The men tried to sneak up on it in the car with the lights out, but it veered away. It hovered in the middle of the road, and the men had the impression that it knew exactly where they were and was daring them to chase it. The intensity of the light decreased as it slowed down and hovered in one spot. It was about half the size of a basketball and the colour of an incandescent light bulb. After about 30 seconds it moved off to the east to join the other lights, then they all vanished.
In northeastern Oklahoma there are frequent sightings of luminous phenomena known as the Tri-State or Hornet spooklight. Some of these lights have been shown to be refracted car headlights, but many remain unexplained. On one occasion 10 to 15 people were observing the Tri-State light when it suddenly appeared about 30 ft away in the middle of the road. It was about the size of a basketball, orange-yellow in colour, throbbing and slowly rolling along the ground. The awestruck onlookers remained extremely quiet, not wanting to frighten it. Suddenly some cars behind them began to crunch the gravel in the road, trying to get a better view. The light reacted by rising up to about 10 ft above the ground, split into 2 sections, and shot into the woods in both directions at onc.
On 29 July 1947, 5 weeks after his famous sighting that ushered in the modern UFO epoch, Kenneth Arnold had a second UFO sighting. He was descending into La Grande, Oregon, to refuel his plane, when he was confronted by ’a flock of what looked like ducks’, except that they were brassy-coloured and 3 to 5 ft across. There were several dozen of them, heading straight for him, but eventually they swerved away. When he dived into the cluster, they soared away leaving him standing.
In 1952 Arnold saw the UFOs again and took a movie of them. Two flew underneath him at Mount Lassen; one appeared solid but the pine trees could be seen through the other. He came to the conclusion that many flying saucers were living creatures rather than nuts-and-bolts spaceships. The US Air Force was aware that some of the luminous UFOs that buzzed its aircraft at high altitudes were observed to pulsate, and in April 1949 it issued a public announcement mentioning the hypothesis that some of these objects could be strange animals.
One summer morning in 1975 a New York science teacher was about to get into his car when he saw a dark cloud, the size of a basketball, hovering above his house. The cloud floated back and forth, changing in shape from a small globular mass to a larger ovoid and finally assuming a dark, multicurved, vaporous form, about 6 ft high and 1.5 ft wide. The man continued to watch in disbelief as events took an even stranger turn. The cloud seemed to inhale, pursed its ’lips’, and directed a stream of water towards him and the car, soaking both. After a minute the spray stopped, and the cloud vanished instantly. A pH test later confirmed that the precipitation was simply water. This event sounds like the prank of a mischievous elemental.
In the spring of 1951 US soldiers were mounting an attack on a Korean village when a glowing, disc-shaped UFO approached them. A private fired at it with armour-piercing bullets and heard the sound of metal hitting metal. The object ’went wild’ and began to move erratically and flash its light off and on. The men then heard a sound like the revving of a generator, and were swept by some form of a ray, producing a burning, tingling sensation. 3 days later they had to be evacuated by ambulance as they were too weak to walk.
Bullets hitting UFOs, and also humanoid beings, are often reported to sound as if they are hitting metal — but this could mean that physicalized etheric matter can assume properties like those of metal rather than flesh. The ’mica-like’ body and ’wiry froth’ associated with the creatures seen by Don Wood on Flat Mesa seem to support this idea.
In mid-1964 a ’metallic’ lifeform began appearing in Rio Vista, California. Reports described it as cigar-shaped, about 5 ft in diameter and 12 to 15 ft long. It glowed a soft red and moved silently. On 22 September 1965, 300 to 400 persons stood in the dark on a hilltop around a water tower where the object was generally observed. It appeared and was seen hovering or moving slowly a couple of hundred feet above the treetops or the top of the water tower. Boys with .22 rifles shot at the object one night, and the bullets made a metallic ’twang’ and caused the object to flare up bright red for a second.
’Saucer nests’ have been reported in Northern Queensland, Australia. One morning in January 1966, a farmer near Tully was driving a tractor near a lagoon. He was surprised to see a large, disc-shaped object suddenly ascend from the water reeds 25 yards away. It rose to an altitude of about 60 ft, then tilted a little to one side and vanished speedily to the southwest. In the reeds the farmer found a circular, flattened area, about 30 ft in diameter, within an otherwise undisturbed, dense reed growth.
The flattened stems were radially distributed in an anticlockwise manner. The reeds had been torn free of the bottom so that the whole mass was floating on the surface of the water. By the evening, the upper surfaces of the flattened reeds had turned brown. Other nests were subsequently found in the same area, and have also been reported in other parts of the world.
The anticlockwise flattening of the reeds is significant, as evidence of anticlockwise, energetic motion around discoid UFOs is found in numerous incidents. A typhoon involves an anticlockwise motion and levitates millions of tons of water as it crosses the ocean. Trevor Constable believes that UFOs which levitate themselves make use of the same etheric or orgone energy. The high orgonotic potential associated with the Tully creatures withdraws the orgone charge in the reeds under them and pulls them free of the bottom. The browning of the upper edge of the flattened reeds could be caused by the whirling plasma around the creatures.
The Queensland UFO nests seem far more like a nesting area for living creatures than a base for space beings. The nesting of UFOs on water amid the reeds is reminiscent of living organisms that fly, such as geese and ducks. The object taking flight when a noisy tractor approached is reminiscent of startled wildfowl. In the same area of Queensland, a discoidal UFO was observed pacing an airliner at high altitude. UFOs have similarly paced airliners, bombers, and jet fighters all over the world. Seabirds characteristically pace ships at sea, often accompanying them for hundreds of miles.
In January 1958 a 21-year-old Australian was chased by a dome-shaped object that emitted a narrow light beam toward the ground. He was so frightened that he drove home on a half-flat tyre, followed for 5 km by the object, which was about 50 m away and 10 m above the ground. The object caused radio interference, and overtook his car at over 100 km per hour . Beams of light emerging from UFOs are often reported and need not mean that they are aerial vehicles; instead, a lifeform could be ’probing’ the observers.
Flashing lights, too, need not imply a structured flying machine. In October 1973 a law-enforcement officer in Mississippi saw a glowing top-shaped object with flashing lights that floated slowly through the air. It hovered over an electrical power installation and emitted hissing torchlike jets. The man followed it for several miles, then it came closer and his engine, car lights, and radio failed. The object departed, and after about 15 minutes the car and radio resumed operation. The officer again caught up with the object and watched it slowly turn upside down, and then abruptly vanish.
Many UFOs appear to be attracted to power plants, power lines, radio transmitters, blast furnaces, street lights, and similar energy sources.
In 1982, while driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Keith Boyer and a friend sighted a ball consisting of a series of lights, merging and rotating into each other, surrounded by a fuzzy mist. It was about 50 ft across and looked like a living entity. The object had been hovering about 100 ft off the ground, but then began to descend, and became uncomfortably bright — a mixture of deep-rich blues, greens, yellows, and reds. At some point a beam of light from the object struck their car. After a blackout, Boyer remembers that he was no longer driving; his friend was. And they were ’babbling’ to each other in some unknown tongue. After 10 to 15 minutes the strange mental state gradually wore off.
The rectangular UFOs or chupas seen in northeastern Brazil, which often emit beams of light and incapacitate people, could also be creatures rather than craft. On several occasions the local population has chased chupas away by shouting and banging pans!
An American couple once saw a luminous UFO resting above a small grove of trees at Lone Pine, California. The lighted area kept expanding to cover most of the entity and then contracting, with a period that matched the observers’ respiration rate. The lightform then tilted and suddenly sped off without a sound, moving a distance of 10 miles in a matter of seconds. As it did so the trees leaned with it instead of being blasted backward.
The couple drove out into the desert and stayed beneath the object for an hour and a half. A sort of heavy fog rolled out of openings in its sides. They felt that it was looking at them, and were suffused with a feeling of reverence, beauty, and humility. When the man prepared to take a photograph, the entity sped to the right, then shot straight up.
There are several reports of UFOs apparently responding directly to the thoughts of observers. In 1950 a US Navy plane operating over Korea was followed by 2 objects travelling at up to 1200 miles per hour. They had a silvered-mirror appearance and a surrounding red glow. The radar on the plane indicated 1.5 miles between the objects and the planes when the objects suddenly seemed to halt, back up, and begin a jittering motion. At the moment when the guns were readied to fire, the radar went haywire. An attempt was made to call the aircraft carrier on different frequencies, but each time the channel was blocked by a strange buzzing noise.
There are also many reports of UFOs mimicking human behaviour. In several cases, high-powered lights have been flashed at luminous UFOs, and the latter have blinked back in similar sequences. At 10.30 pm on 14 April 1991, a young woman in Oklahoma saw a very large silver object, with a red light and ’antenna’ on top and ’windows’ and rows of blue and red lights. She was extremely happy but at the same time crying and frightened. She began jumping and for some reason jumped 2 steps to the left. The object responded by jerking 2 ’steps’ to her left. She thought this was wonderful so she jumped 2 steps to the right, and the object responded by moving to the right.
This was repeated several times.
Clearly, such antics are not what we would expect of extraterrestrial spacecraft!