Thursday, October 17, 2019

X-Zone Broadcast Network - Jim Penniston

This week I reached out to Jim Penniston of Rendlesham Forest fame. I wanted to get his take on the events there. He was involved in the first night of sightings, but had not been with Colonel Charles Halt on what was apparently the third night
Jim Penniston
when Halt and John Burroughs approached the landed craft.

Penniston said he walked up to it and actually touched in on that first night. You can listen to his story here:

Penniston also provided some information about the aftermath of his sighting, including the fact that there had been a recording of the radio transmissions that had been made during the sighting. He said that a four-star general had retrieved that recording and that it disappeared into the great maw of the Pentagon.

To get a full picture of the Rendlesham Forest events, told by those who participated in them, you can read about my interviews with John Burroughs and Charles Halt and listen to them on the embedded links here:

To help understand the actual timeline of the Rendlesham Forest events, Penniston has written a book about it. The Rendlesham Forest Enigma: Book 1: Time Line is available at Amazon.

Next week I’ll be talking to Robert Charles Cornett about our experiences in UFO research including our trip into the heart of cattle mutilation country in the mid-1970s.

If you have questions for with Bob Cornett or me, ask them in the comment section here, and I’ll attempt to get them answered during the interview.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Chasing References - Socorro Edition

As many of you know, especially those who visit here regularly, I sometimes chase footnotes because it provides, well, a different perspective on some UFO reports. Finding the footnotes to chase isn’t all that easy and it is usually the result of researching another aspect of the UFO field. Sometimes, however, it can be a single reference in a book or article that triggers a question or two.

Such is the case of an article in the September 2019 issue of The MUFON Journal. Yes, I touched on this in the report on my interview with Don Burleson, and I don’t mean to target him here, but there is a point that needs to be made. As noted, you can hear our discussion in the last half of the October 9 interview.
The statement in question, the one that caught my attention, and frankly the attention of some others, said:

April 24, 1964, when Socorro policeman Lonnie Zamora saw an egg-shaped, whitish object down in a gully and observed a red symbol on its surface. As investigator Ray Stanford discovered, authorities soon published an altered version of the symbol in order to guard against copycat reports, but area military pilots would have been given a classified briefing to warn them to be on the lookout for any airborne craft bearing the insignia the way Zamora had really seen it, an inverted V with three horizonal lines through its middle. Clearly the Socorro object and the Holloman object were somehow related, though I [Don Burleson] infer from various details that the Holloman object was probably larger.
The problem here is that there are errors in the thinking and speculation that is presented almost as if it is fact. The first real problem is the claim that the correct symbol is the inverted V with the three lines through it. This is the information supplied by Ben Moss, Tony Angiola and Ray Stanford. The trouble here is that
Zamora's sketch of the symbol made moments
after the object took off.
Zamora drew the correct symbol, that is an arc over an arrow with a line under it on two occasions. As the object departed, he drew the symbol on a scrap of paper and that scrap can be found in the Project Blue Book files. He signed that illustration.

On the evening of April 24, Zamora was interviewed by Captain Richard Holder of the Army and Arthur Byrnes of the FBI.  They suggested that Zamora not reveal the symbol to others to eliminate copycats, but he did draw it for them and he signed that image as well. This was what I think of as the umbrella symbol.

Zamora's drawing of the craft and the symbol
signed by him.
During the initial investigation, other military officers were involved during the investigation and they too, filed reports. In those documents, the umbrella symbol is identified as the true symbol.

Interestingly, Ray Stanford who was on the scene within days sent a letter to Richard Hall of NICAP in May 1964, a week or two after he had been to Socorro. In that letter he not only identified the true symbol as the umbrella symbol, but wrote that the inverted V with the three lines through it was the fake. Ten years later, when Stanford published his book, he had switched the symbols, now claiming that the inverted V was the true symbol.

Zamora had an illustration made of the craft that he had seen. The Socorro mayor thought it might be a good idea. The artist was Rick Baca. Under Zamora’s direction, the umbrella symbol was placed on that drawing.

The "Umbrella" symbol and the
inverted V with the lines through it,
as well as a couple of other variations.
Both Ben Moss and Tony Angiola believed that there had been a “secret” Socorro file that was separate from that found in the official files. All these official files entered the public domain when the Blue Book files were declassified in 1976. These unofficial “secret” files were obtained from Rob Mercer. The Socorro file was 200 pages that duplicated most of what was in the official file. In that unofficial file were two cards that held the inverted V. It is clear from the context that these cards were based on newspaper articles that were released in 1964. Ben Moss and Tony Angiola believed that this was the true symbol because it was in that file.

Carmon Ramano, who was the last officer assigned to Blue Book, who had the responsibility of closing down the office after Lieutenant Colonel Hector Quintanilla had moved on to a new assignment, said that the information obtained by Rob Mercer was a document put together by those in the Blue Book office to show to reporters and others who were there to do research. You can listen to my interview with Rob Mercer here:

In other words, it wasn’t an “official” document and it wasn’t a classified file about the Socorro landing. It was a briefing document for those without security clearances or who were civilians who had been granted access to the Project Blue Book files.

Rick Baca's drawing of the Zamora craft with the
"Umbrella" symbol added under Zamora's guidance.
What this means is that a suggestion that military pilots had been given a classified briefing containing the inverted V symbol, is in error because that is not the correct symbol. I can think of no reason that such a briefing would even take place. The pilots didn’t need to know what the symbol looked like. If they encountered an alien craft and saw a symbol, they could report that. If it doesn’t match that seen by Zamora, well, it just didn’t match. We can assume here that the military pilots wouldn’t be inventing a tale of seeing an object when they did not.

However, if you’ve told them what to look for, then you have contaminated the operation. You’ve told the pilots what they should see, and that means that they might just see what you told them to see. In other words, the classified briefing has defeated the purpose set out for it.

If you read the wording in The MUFON Journal paragraph carefully, you’ll notice the qualifiers. It said, “…area military pilots would have been given a classified briefing…” I asked Don Burleson for the source of this information. What I learned, from him, is that this was speculation based on what he believed would have happened. The real point is that no such briefing was given. It was pure speculation.

Here’s the problem with this. Someone else, writing a book about UFOs or an article about the Socorro sighting, might quote this particular paragraph, giving
the source as The MUFON Journal article. But there is no ultimate source for the information. The discussion of the symbol is flat out wrong and the classified briefing never happened. We follow it to this point and we can go no farther.

Although I don’t discuss the “classified briefing,” in Encounter in the Desert, my recent book on Socorro, I do discuss, at length, the whole sad tale of the true symbol seen by Lonnie Zamora. Much of that has also been discussed on the blog. You can read about that here:

In the future, as others research this case, I hope that they’ll find this as well. They’ll then know that there is a problem with that information. Maybe they’ll think twice about including it, or, if the do, they’ll qualify so that their readers will understand what has happened.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

X-Zone Broadcast Network - Don Burleson

This week I spoke with Don Burleson, the State Director of New Mexico for MUFON. We talked about the Levelland UFO sightings and the sheriff’s role in that investigation. Don mentioned his interview with the late sheriff’s daughter, which
Dr. Don Burleson
produced some new information. She suggested that her father had seen more than just a red streak in the distance and that the Air Force had strongly suggested that the sheriff not talk about what he had seen. I noted that I had found a newspaper article from 1957 that supported the idea that the sheriff had seen more than had been reported by the Air Force investigator on the case. You can listen to the Don Burleson interview here:

We also talked about the symbol that Lonnie Zamora saw on the side the landed craft in Socorro in April 1964. This part of the discussion was important because of a claim that Don had published in The MUFON Journal about a secret briefing given to Air Force fighter pilots in 1964. For those interested in the great symbol debate, you can read about it here:

Finally, we talked about the alleged landing at Holloman Air Force Base in late April 1964. Don had an affidavit from a man who was the son of the base commander at the time that suggested the landing was real. Interestingly, I discussed this in my book about Socorro, Encounter in the Desert, which provided a slightly different perspective (yes, I said that on purpose) about that landing. I also discuss the symbol controversy at length as well. You can find the book here:

Next week, I’ll talk with Jim Penniston of the Rendlesham Forest encounter. If you have questions for him, submit them through the comments section here, and I’ll try to get them asked during the interview.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

X-Zone Broadcast Network - Paul Davids

This week I spoke with Paul Davids, who was the executive producer of the ShowTime original film, Roswell. It was based, in part on the book I had written with Don Schmitt and on the continuing investigation into the events surrounding the Roswell crash story. You can listen to it here:

I began the interview by pointing out that, at best, Paul had little interest in UFOs and, at worst, he thought there was nothing to them. Although interested in science fiction, he really hadn’t thought all that much about UFOs until he had a
Paul Davids
daylight sighting of a domed disk from his daughter’s bedroom window.

Paul, an avid photographer, didn’t take any pictures, and I asked about that. I also wondered if he had searched the neighborhood for other who might have seen the same thing. His search ended abruptly, but not for the reasons you might expect.

We delved into the background of the ShowTime movie and some of the problems with getting it produced in the first place. I thought that our look at some of the behind the scenes machinations was interesting, though it had little to do with UFOs and the normal discussions I’ve held with others.

In the next few weeks, I have programs scheduled with Dr. Don Burleson to discuss the Levelland and Socorro UFO landings. As always, questions are welcomed. Just send them through the comments section and I’ll try to get them answered on the show. And, now that I think about it, if anyone would like to suggest a guest or two, use the same method. I’ll see what I can do.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Assault on Area 51

We’ve hit the big day and the hundreds of thousands of people have arrived at Area 51 to learn the truth. Aliens and alien technology are hidden there and these brave people have been able to penetrate the secrecy. The world as we know it has been altered for all time.

Wait? What?

A hundred people showed up. Local law enforcement was able to handle the “crowd.” Two arrests were made. One guy wasn’t smart enough to “go” before he reached the fence and was arrested for indecent exposure. One woman was arrested, or maybe just detained… or whatever, for “investigation.”

For those who would rather watch a video about this, then you can sort of witness what happened here:

I’m really not sure what the Air Force would have done if ten thousand, or even a thousand, had showed up. They wouldn’t have been allowed on the base, and
Area 51... From the air and not the
front gate.
deadly force is authorized. Air Force officers did make mention of that fact. I can’t really see the Air Force shooting the people but the military would have stopped them in some way… rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas… non-lethal weapons would have been deployed and there would have been arrests.

But that didn’t happen. The joke, I guess, was on the hundred who did show up. And, if I lived in Las Vegas, or one even Kingman, Arizona, I would have shown up just for the pictures and blog post. But, at least, I would have had a real purpose and not a dream of invading… dare I say it, “Dreamland.”

Anyway, September 20 has come and nearly gone. No aliens were found and by aliens, I mean creatures from outer space. There was no announcement by the Air Force that why, yes, we do have aliens on the base. Nothing came of it… and now the media can go back to telling us why it wasn’t shameful for the Prime Minister of Canada to wear dark make up, but it was wrong for Megan Kelly, who never dressed up in a culturally inappropriate costume, to be fired for asking a question about it. (Okay, her ratings sucked and it was a good excuse).

But I digress…

Thursday, September 12, 2019

X-Zone Broadcast Network - Nick RedfernNick

This week I talked with Nick Redfern about his new book, The Alien Book” A Guide to Extraterrestrial Beings on Earth. It is a huge compendium of tales of alien creatures, some of them who might have originated on other planets. Nick explains this in the course of our discussion. You can listen to the interview here:
Nick Redfern.

However, he was also of the opinion that some the creatures we think of as terrestrial, might not be from Earth. We talked about the theory that the Loch Ness Monster might be some sort of alien creature, based on the number of UFO sightings in the area. Sure, we understood that sightings of UFOs don’t mean that the monster was alien, only that lots of people had seen UFOs around Loch Ness. But then, we also talked about the recent release of DNA evidence that suggested the monster was a giant eel. Of course, eels have been seen in the Loch for decades so that this was no real revelation because they had no pictures of a giant eel.

We also talked about the Flatwoods Monster from 1952. Nick had mentioned, in his book, that the monster resembled a British psychological operation during the Second World War. We talked about a paper prepared in the late 1940s that examined such ideas. You can read it here:

This led us to the Mothman sightings in the 1960s and eventually into the idea of a race of beings, human or otherwise, that inhabit the Earth with us but remain in hiding. In other words, we talked about just a few of the cases, a little of the information, and some of the theories that are found in the book.

Oh, for those interested, I did open the show with updates from the Mike Rogers interview. Just a couple of points we hadn’t covered and things I thought would interest some of the listeners.

Next week, I’ll be talking with Paul Davids who was the executive producer of the Show Time original movie, Roswell and who has been interested in UFOs since the 1980s. If you have questions for Paul, as always, you can ask them in the comments section here and I’ll try to get them answered during the interview.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Contact and the Williamsburg UFO Sighting

While watching that new UFO program known as Contact, I noticed that one of the things the field investigators did, when they arrived in Waynesboro, Virginia, was access the local archives. They wanted to learn the history of the Waynesboro area, so they searched a bunch of old newspaper clippings. I’ve done that myself, in locations where the newspapers have morgues that have sorted their past articles by type or subject. That means I could ask the librarian for the files about UFOs and not have to search through newspapers using microfilm.  A quick way to learn some of the local UFO lore.

Sarah Cruddas and Nick Karnaze, the field investigators in Contact, sorted through the old sightings, commenting that there had been a number of them from November 1964 to January 1965 and that there had been an official investigation. First, let me point out that not every UFO sighting, even those reported in the newspapers, made its way into the Blue Book system. If it was not officially reported, then it was rare for an investigation to be made.

I found no sightings in Blue Book reported in Virginia in November 1964. There were only two in December. The first was from Falls Church on December 14. The Air Force labeled it as the moon. The second, from Harrisonburg, was listed as radar anomalies. Interestingly, the file contained five photographs that were so faint as to be invisible. It almost looked as if they had microfilmed the back of the photos rather than the front.
Project Blue Book sighting card.

In January, 1965, there were eight sightings reported and two that were just listed as “news clippings,” which meant there was no investigation of them. Most of the sightings were of the same sort of thing as had been reported earlier. That is, mundane, terrestrial based objects and phenomena that were misidentified by the observers. And, the sightings were scattered all over Virginia, so there really wasn’t much of a cluster.

However, the sighting in Williamsburg in January, 1965, stands out. It is listed as “unidentified.” The object was seen at close range for enough time that the witness did get a good look at it. But more importantly, the UFO, whatever it was, stalled his car’s engine.

According to the Project Blue Book file, the witness (who didn’t want to be identified in the press and whose name was redacted throughout), T. F. Mains, said that his car was stalled by a mushroom-shaped object as he approached it. According to the file:

At 0830, 23 January 1965, observer first noted object after his car stalled and he looked to his left. The object was first observed hovering with its bottom four feet off the ground and on an azimuth of southwest from the observer… The object which was observed for 25 seconds began moving horizontally to the west prior to disappearing. The flight path was limited to a steady hover except for the rapid vanishing maneuver.
Observer stated that the object was shaped like a mushroom or light bulb, being 75 to 80 feet in height; 25 feet diameter at the top, and ten feet diameter at the bottom. Color was metallic gray with red-orange glow on the close side and blue glow on the far side. As object was hovering there was a sound similar to a vacuum cleaner.
After the object disappeared, first observer got out of his car and went and asked the witness that was behind him if his car had stalled. Second witness said his car had also stalled and he had also seen the object.
The observer was prompted to report his sighting after hearing of many other UFO sightings in the Virginia. First observer told investigating officer (Lt. Dockum [Air Force officer investigating the UFO sighting]) that he thinks the object was a solid object and thought it was an Air Vehicle that the Air Force has.
The document then commented on the observations. It was noted that the weather bureau reported on a low altitude temperature inversion that could have resulted in the “unusual phenomenon.” There were no weather balloons in the area according to the documentation. And it said that Lt. Dockum, the Air Force officer assigned to investigate, searched the sighting area but found nothing.

Another possible explanation, offered by the weather bureau and Dockum, was that the sun’s reflection on that inversion layer and low hanging clouds might have caused a mirage. But it was also noted, “There is nothing to account for the car stalling as observer so stated.”

The final paragraph is the important one. It said, “Since no conclusive evidence can establish the identity of the object, the case is carried as an unidentified by the Air Force.” Then oddly, it noted, “Although the possibility exists that the sighting was a descending weather balloon, this is not conclusive evidence to substantiate the identity of such.”

Does it really need to be repeated? The weather balloon explanation fails at the point that two cars were stalled by close approach to the UFO. Because there are two witnesses in two separate vehicles, most of the mundane explanations are eliminated.

There are several reports, memos and newspaper accounts that mentioned two Richmond businessmen who had seen the UFO. This verifies that there was another man involved, but nothing in the file nor in the newspapers identify the man, other that he was older. Mains apparently didn’t ask for his name and could only remember that he drove a Chevrolet. He only had asked about the object and if his car engine had been stalled.

I would never have found this case had they not mentioned, in passing, on Contact, that there had been official investigation. It is just another in those inexplicable sightings that have no terrestrial explanation. It is a multiple witness case (well, sort of since we don’t have a clue as to the identity of the second witness), with a close approach of the UFO that interacted with the environment. This was just another opportunity to do some real investigation that was passed to a lower-ranking officer who had no training for the task. It is another missed opportunity.