Sunday, May 23, 2010

2009 Minnesota UFO Crash

While talking with the host of a radio program about my new book, Crash: When UFOs Fall from the Sky (shameless plug number two), he asked if I knew anything about a crash in Minnesota in July, 2009. I said that I didn’t but that I would see what I could learn.

The incident took place on July 27, 2009 (which, coincidentally is the same date as the last entry in the book, but that crash was in Ottawa, Canada), in the Forest Lake area of Minnesota. According to the original reports, an eyewitness said that something fell out of the sky and hit the surface of Lake Sylvan, causing a thirty foot wave.

Several local agencies including the Forest Lake Fire and Rescue, and the Washington County Dive Team responded. They searched the lake about 165 yards from the shore, to a depth of 26 feet, but could see little in the murky water.

The county team used side-scanning radar and, according to the sheriff’s office, something about the size of washer or dryer was located. No one suggested that what had been found was either of those, only that it was about the size of them.

Rich Webb, who was described as a MUFON Field Investigator and a member of the MUFON Star Team, left Omaha and made the trip to Minnesota, after someone had left a tip about the crash on the MUFON website. Webb made it clear that no one had reported anything falling, they had just seen the rippling of the water and it was assumed that something had fallen. There had been a report to the Forest Lake Police Department that there had been a large swirl of water, the waves rippling out and the water churning.

Reports indicated that the disturbance lasted from five to seven minutes and that the waves had gone out from the center for about thirty to forty feet, but they were not that high. No debris suggesting any sort of aircraft accident had been found. Only the Washington County Sheriff’s Office report of the object found by sonar on the bottom of the lake. Webb did say that there were two unusual things. There was a centrally circular wave moving outward and a twenty-foot diameter of air bubbles coming from the bottom of the lake.

Richard Lang, another of the MUFON investigators who made the trip, said that based on their findings, they didn’t believe a UFO had fallen into the lake.

By October, things had settled down, but there still had been no answers about what caused the disturbance. On September 10, divers found a rock, boulder really, that weighed about forty pounds that had a hole drilled in it and a bit of nylon rope attached to it. Clearly this was nothing from a UFO, but sounds suspiciously like an old-fashioned, or homemade boat anchor.

Sheriff Bill Hutton said that they didn’t know what had fallen into the lake though dozens of rescue workers had responded in July. He just said he didn’t think it was a meteor or anything from an airplane.

In contrast, Steve McComas, who appeared on Joe Soucheray’s KSTP-AM radio’s, "Garage Logic" thought it might have been something that fell from an aircraft. He thought it might be "blue ice" which is a mixture of human waste and blue liquid disinfectant that sometimes leaks from the lavatories of commercial airliners. I prefer the term, "Icy BM."
But then, no one saw anything fall.

Frank Kvidera said that he might have a solution for the rock that had been found. He said that something like forty years earlier, he had been out in a row boat with a friend who had a rock with a hole drilled in it. They lost their makeshift anchor when the rope broke. Odd as it might seem, this sounds like a plausible answer for that one small part of the mystery.

In the end, there is no explanation for the swirling mass of water. It could have been some sort of natural release of gases trapped at the bottom of the lake, which Webb had sort of suggested earlier. Such things have been reported in the past. Something might have dropped into it but no one saw that.

While interesting, there is little reason to suspect any sort of alien or extraterrestrial explanation here. Claiming it as a UFO sighting of some kind is a bit of a stretch. For us, that ends the tale. For others, well, good luck to them.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kingman UFO Crash

Not long ago someone asked about the Kingman, Arizona crash of May 1953. I hesitated answering the query simply because my new book, Crash: When UFOs Fall from the Sky was about to be published and the answer could be found there. And yes, that was a shameless plug.

Most people know that this story has been circulating from the 1970s when Ray Fowler published the information he had in Official UFO. Most of the story then came from Arthur Stancil whom Fowler had called Fritz Werner in the article in order to protect Stancil’s identity.

Stancil said that he had been involved in a top-secret, preliminary survey of a wrecked UFO somewhere in the desert around Kingman. Stancil’s credentials seemed good and there was limited documentation, but nothing solid. Besides, Stancil had been caught telling multiple versions of the tale and claimed that when he had been drinking he tended to embellish stories. That certainly didn’t bode well for the tale.

In the intervening years there have been some others who talked of the crash, and I’ll let you all look that information up in Crash. What I want to talk about is the Judie Woolcott story that suggested to me that there might be something important here.

Woolcott said that her husband, a professional military officer, was on duty at the air base control tower somewhere around the Kingman area. They had been tracking something on radar when it lost altitude, seemed to disappear and then, in the distance, there was a bright flash of white light.

So, okay, something crashed. Military police, according to Woolcott began talking about something being down and they drove out in the general direction of the flash. They found a domed disk stuck in the ground.

Woolcott had gotten these details from a letter that her husband had sent her from Vietnam. He indicated that he knew more, but he didn’t want to write it down. Yes, it seems odd that he would send such a letter from Vietnam, but then guys in a combat environment do some strange things.

While the letter would be an important document, it certainly wouldn’t prove the crash real. Unfortunately, the letter was lost and we only have Woolcott’s memory of it.

But that’s not the worst part. In today’s world there are all sorts of databases available and there is one that lists every American soldier who died during the Vietnam War... including those non-combat related deaths. The only Woolcott listed is a PFC, Randall Woolcott, who was born in 1948 and died in Vietnam before his 20th birthday. He was unmarried.

But, I have learned that Judie Woolcott had been married a number of times and her UFO spotting husband’s name might not have been Woolcott. In her obituary, she was Judith Anne Woolcott (Miller, Fingal). New searches of the databases have failed to produce any corroboration for her story and that suggests this tale is not accurate.

So, where does that leave us? Well, Stancil provided a copy of his desk calendar that shows him on some unidentified assignment on May 21, 1953, but that doesn’t really tell us much and doesn’t really confirm his tale. There are a couple of other witnesses, but their stories are dubious and the dates don’t track, though they both mention Kingman.

The Woolcott story has imploded, which means that it simply is not reliable, given the history there. If she had been able to produce the letter, then that would have been something. But she lost it.

Other attempts at verification have failed. Maybe we should make another attempt to verify something, but the odds are stacked against us. We have no Yearbook like Walter Haut supplied us for Roswell that held hundreds of potential witnesses. We have no newspaper stories like those for Kecksburg and Shag Harbour that helped pin down the tales and name the witnesses. We have no real corroboration. Just a couple of vague stories.

It seems the thread is about played out on Kingman... but that doesn’t mean the story will die. Someone will come up with something to revitalize the Kingman crash, and that might be the most frightening aspect of all.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Alien Autopsy is a HOAX

Over at UFO UpDates, Errol Bruce Knapp has just ended another in the long and useless conversations about the Alien Autopsy film. I believe his thinking was that nothing new was being added to the already tedious discussion.

He was right... because it is clear to anyone who has paid attention during the last couple of years, that the autopsy film was a hoax. Although some of those involved in the hoax suggest it wasn’t for money or fame but just something interesting to do, the real point is that it was a HOAX.

Yes, there are those who still insist the film is real and all you have to do, according to them, is study the film frame by frame, pay attention to the cameraman’s directions so that you can travel to the actual crash site, and review the analysis of some of the minerals picked up there. If you do, you will know that the alien autopsy is something real, at least in their fevered brains.

I’m going to mention something here that the believers of the autopsy might not realize. There is no cameraman. Never was. The interview offered with him, or rather the transcript of that interview, was filled with British terminology. Had the man been an American soldier as alleged, then the words used to described his military service would have been different. When all that was pointed out, the transcript was changed. That should have raised a red flag.

Second, when some markings suggesting a high classification were seen on the film canisters, many realized they were not real. When that was pointed out, the classification markings disappeared and that should have raised a red flag.

Third, the man who presented the film to the world, Ray Santilli, said in an interview that the tent footage, which was dark and nearly impossible to see, had been "recreated" from the real thing. In other, more precise words, it had been faked and that should have sent up sky rockets trailing red flags.

Finally, those who participated in many of the other autopsy footage segments have been identified and confirmed their role in the hoax. Philip Mantle, a British UFO researcher who had been studying the film from almost the moment that the film became known, wrote an article for the CUFOS International UFO Reporter that detailed the whole story.

Mantle interview Spyros Melaris, who said that he was one of the principals in the creation of the film. A transcript of that interview was published, online at

In short, what it is, is the confession of Melaris on how he became involved, how the segments were created, and who was responsible for what. In other words, those who participated in the hoax have "confessed" their roles in it. Of course, for the true believers, this is just a scam to discredit the film.

In the interview published in IUR is a short segment called, "The Wreckage and I-Beams." I found it interesting because I had spotted an English word on one of those beams. Mantle explained:

Melaris created the "alien writing" from Greek lettering, ancient Egyptian stylizing, and his own artistic license. (Humpreys then manufactured the wreckage.) The writing on the main large beam, if translated correctly, reads "Freedom." He thought this a fitting name for an alien spacecraft. While designing the letters that spell Freedom, Melaris noticed that if the word is turned upside down, the word "Video" could be discerned. He adjusted some of the letters to better facilitate this reading, so the piece would throw a little red herring into the mix.

It would seem to me that the appearance of an English word, one referring to the medium that would tell the world of the find, is too big a coincidence. Would anything in an alien language and writing show an English word, especially one that suggested video?

So, the cameraman didn’t exist (and if he had, his identity would have been immediately known to any authorities who wished to arrest him for unauthorized release of classified material) and Santilli never produced him for interviews as promised. The number of reels of film changed frequently and when markings or part of the story were found wanting, they were changed as well. There was no real provenance for the film which screamed fake from the very beginning. And if that wasn’t enough, Santilli, said that the tent footage was faked and now we have another participant telling us that the other scenes were faked. Isn’t that enough to end the discussion?

I sincerely hope that this is the last time we need to address the alien autopsy nonsense. It is a hoax, an admitted hoax and there is not a shred of evidence to suggest otherwise. I am astonished that there are still some who believe it to be real, and that explains why we just never get anywhere. No matter what the evidence, no matter what is known, there are some who refuse to acknowledge it.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Ubatuba UFO Sample

For those who are interested, here is a quick rundown on the latest on the Ubatuba sample. I am assuming here that those visiting this blog have a basic knowledge of this case so that I don’t have to recap everything.
The very first problem is that the magnesium samples that allegedly came from an exploding UFO cannot be traced to the beach in Brazil where they were recovered. Instead, they can be traced to the columnist in Brazil who first reported the case in the newspaper and that alerted Dr. Olavo Fontes (seen here), the APRO Brazilian representative to the crash. No one has ever come forward, nor has anyone been located, who can corroborate the tale told in the letter to the columnist nor who actually saw the explosion or the UFO. The metal appears in the columninst’s hands and from there goes to Fontes, then to Jim and Coral Lorenzen (seen below)at APRO and then to various others. The chain of evidence is severed before we reach the beach in Brazil and that is a real problem.

Secondly, the claims of purity have not held up to scrutiny. When the early lab reports suggested no sign of contaminates, Fontes inferred this to mean that the metal was 100% pure, which is not quite the same thing. It meant that the labs conducting the tests had not found anything other than magnesium, not that there weren’t other compounds present. It would seem that subsequent tests have shown that the metal, while extremely pure, was not 100% pure.

Yes, I’m aware that the sample tested in Brazil was lost during the testing so it could be argued that this sample was that pure, but it seems that a more logical conclusion is that it suffered from the same contaminates as those other samples. The problem was in the technology available in 1958 as opposed to that even eight or nine years later.

Third, the samples have been handled in a fairly cavalier fashion. Once they arrived in the United States, no one had kept track of them and it could be argued that the chain of custody was broken here as well. The Air Force destroyed a small sample given them for testing without obtaining any results. The Lorenzens loaned various samples and pieces of samples to any number of people and some of those samples have been lost. In the end, it might be nearly impossible to say that the samples as they exist today are in any way related to those that were first sent to APRO. Dr. Fontes died decades ago, as did the Lorenzens. That is another stumbling block.

But then we come to interesting conundrum. While magnesium of a purity equivalent to the Ubatuba metal was available, and that the testing done to date, regardless of the quality of the equipment or competency of the researchers, no one has been able to identify a source of the original sample. It is unlikely that it is of extraterrestrial origin, but no one can rule that out.

Analysis of the Brazilian sample was made by Dr. Roy Craig of the Condon Committee, who has given a narrative account of his experiences with the Colorado Project. The results of his investigations into the Brazil magnesium are summarized in the Condon Report on pages 94 – 97 of the paperback edition.

According to the information published by Dr. Peter Sturrock, Craig said he had been informed that Dow had, for about 25 years, produced a number of batches of very pure magnesium by the process of repeated sublimation, and provided him with a specimen of triply sublimed magnesium. Craig was advised that the most sensitive tests for impurities would be neutron activation analysis. He therefore arranged to take a specimen of the Brazil magnesium and (for comparison) a specimen of the Dow triply sublimed magnesium, to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Laboratory, Washington, D.C. This visit took place on February 5, 1968, and the specimen was analyzed by Mr. Maynard J. Pro, whose report on the analysis was mailed to Craig on February 29, 1968.

The results of Pro’s analysis of the Brazil specimen and of the Dow specimen are included in the Condon Report. Clearly, this specimen of the Brazil magnesium was not "100% pure." In fact, it was not as pure as the triply sublimed Dow specimen.

Condon then commented, "...the magnesium metal was found to be much less pure than the regular commercial metal produced in 1957 by the Dow Chemical Company at Midland, Michigan. Therefore it need not have come from an extraterrestrial source, leaving us with no basis for rational belief that it did."

But this wasn’t quite accurate either. First is the point that the magnesium created at Dow was not a commercial grade but a piece of triply sublimed magnesium. It was, you might say, magnesium created to see how pure they could make it, but not something they created for commercial application.

The analysis also reported on a high content of both strontium and barium in the Ubatuba sample. Neither is an expected impurity in samples made under normal circumstances but Dow, in their experimentation with ways to improve the "hardness" of the magnesium had used the strontium as an alloy.

So, the Condon Committee didn’t actually discredit the Ubatuba sample, and their discussion of the Dow metal is more of a red herring than scientific analysis. That said, we are left with a couple of samples of metal that have no provenance, that have not been found to represent a technology that didn’t exist when the metal was discovered, and with no real way of knowing if the samples of today are related to those samples found in 1957.

In the end there are several samples of magnesium that seem to be unique. There is nothing in them to suggest the extraterrestrial, yet there is a hint that these samples might not have been made on Earth. This, I think, would be the classic definition of "unidentified." But even with that, it is not proof that some UFOs are from other planets in other solar systems. In the very end we are only left with questions that might have no answers.