The late Karl Pflock and I used to talk about why there were no more really good UFO sightings. We weren’t getting the kind of reports that had been so prevalent at the beginning of the modern era. Nothing as robust or as interesting as those over Washington, D.C., or at Levelland, Texas. In today’s world, it seem as if the UFOs stayed up in the air, usually away from the witnesses, and did nothing other than cross the sky in a straight line.
|Karl Pflock (right) and me.|
We can point to all sorts of interesting sightings in the past, some of which had mundane answers and some of which are still puzzling today. There was, of course, the Arnold sighting. He believed he saw a number of objects that he timed as traveling at 1800 miles an hour, or much faster than anything flying at the time, other than rockets and missiles, and they didn’t fly in formation.
There is a possibility that another man, Fred Johnson, saw the same objects about the time that Arnold lost sight of them. He reported that his compass spun wildly while the objects were overhead, but when they disappeared, the compass settled down. You can argue, and I’m sure some will, that the Johnson sighting isn’t related to that of Arnold, or that it is a hoax based on the Arnold sighting, or if related, doesn’t really add much to our overall knowledge.
But the point is that there are two sightings that seem to go together to create a nice little anomaly. Arnold might have been fooled. Johnson might have been inventing the tale. Or maybe they both witnessed something unusual that provided interesting descriptions and even one of the first cases with electro-magnetic effects.
Or take the Washington Nationals from late July 1952. Here was a series of sightings spread over two Saturday nights in which airline pilots, jet interceptor pilots, people on the ground, and radar operators reported strange lights and strange blips over Washington, D.C.
I talked to both Al Chop and Major Dewey Fournet, both associated with the official UFO investigation in 1952, and who had been in the radar room on that second Saturday. They told me there had been one intercept that had gotten “hairy,” meaning dangerous. According to them, and they were watching in the radar rooms at Washington National and listening to the interceptor pilots talking to one another, as they Air Force attempted to catch the UFOs the interceptor pilot found himself surrounded by the lights. It was all tracked on radar. What the pilot, William Patterson said over the radio, the men in the radar center could see on the scope. Patterson decided to break off the intercept at that point.
It doesn’t matter here if you believe that Patterson intercepted and the radar showed alien craft. What matters here is the nature of the sighting, meaning it was robust. There were those in radar centers who watched it all on the scopes, there were the pilots seeing the objects where the radar said they were. The sightings lasted for hours, though not continuously, and there were many witnesses.
True, the Air Force eventually wrote the sightings off as temperature inversions, and it does seem that temperature inversion was responsible for some of the radar returns, but that doesn’t explain the lights in the sky and it doesn’t square with what the controllers, who saw the blips, said. They told investigators that they were familiar with the way weather phenomena were displayed on the radar scopes and these blips didn’t look like that.
In today’s world, we get nothing as interesting. Nothing with multiple chains of evidence, with literally dozens of witnesses. We have one or two people seeing a light, or we get a cell phone video that doesn’t do much to increase our knowledge. Just some image that could be almost anything but that has fooled the person who recorded it.
Karl and I tried to figure this out. I suppose you could say that people today don’t have the imagination of those fifty years ago. I suppose you could say that people today are more familiar with what is in the sky around them. I suppose you could say that we are all more in tune with our environment.
Or maybe you could say that the aliens, from wherever they came, have now gone home to study the data they collected. Think of it as our exploration of the moon. In 1969, and for the next couple of years, if you were living on the moon, you would have had lots of UFO sightings, including landings. But, since 1972, there hasn’t been a whole lot of activity. We gathered our samples and went home.
Oh, sure, the analogy breaks down when you say, “But we left physical evidence behind to prove we were there... and it was only the landings of astronauts that have ended. Other moon missions have been lost.”
But then I say, “Yeah, but the robust sightings have ended.”
Yes, there have been some interesting sightings. There are those from Bentwaters and, of course Belgium, but these are the exceptions. The older sightings have more witnesses, more data, more evidence than those of today, with rare exception.
Karl and I never really came to a conclusion about this, other than collecting more sighting reports wouldn’t expand our knowledge much. We never really found a satisfactory answer for the change. We agreed that older cases were more interesting than newer case but we didn’t really know why.
Oh, Karl believed that the Hills had been abducted, but I disagreed. I believed the answer would be found in the terrestrial. Neither of us thought much of the widespread claims of abduction, though it might have supplied part of the answer. Too many research assets were diverted into abduction research without much in the way of tangible results.
I suppose I could say the same thing about crop circles. These had once been called UFO landing sites, or UFO nests, but evolved into crop circles, which were another subset of the UFO phenomenon.
And I know the number of sightings has increased recently, but these are sightings, often with pictures that don’t add much to the case. Sometimes it’s clear that the pictures are lens flares, clouds, or other natural phenomena, and some times the cases are simple hoaxes.
The point, again, is that the sightings aren’t nearly as exciting as they were forty or fifty years ago, and I have no explanation for that. Maybe it’s all just a matter of perspective.