I have been recently looking at the Portage County, Ohio, UFO chase, which I think of as the Close Encounters chase. You know, the police cars chasing a UFO across the countryside, through a toll booth and beyond. It was featured at the beginning of the 1977 movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is not to say that the real event perfectly matched the movie version (such as the toll booth, which didn’t happen and which I mention now so that I don’t hear about this later).
Anyway, I noticed something about this case, other than the ridiculous Air Force explanation and Hector Quintanilla’s attempt to browbeat the police officer witnesses into this way of thinking. Quintanilla, after demanding respect because he was an Air Force officer, tried to convince Dale Spaur and Wilbur Neff, the sheriff’s deputies, that they had seen a satellite and Venus. Given the testimony of these men, not to mention the other police officers involved at various stages, it was a ridiculous explanation. In statements taken within days of the events, they talked about the object being low enough that it lit up the surrounding fields as it passed over them.
But that’s not my point today. It was the aftermath of the sighting that is interesting. Within six months, Spaur had left law enforcement and became a painter. H. Wayne Huston, who had joined the chase later and described for the Air Force what he had seen, resigned from the police force and moved to Seattle to drive a bus. Neff seemed to suffer from PTSD, and his wife said that he had been “through the ringer.” He had changed after the sighting. Neff, by the way, was an auxiliary deputy rather than a full-time officer.
This sort of thing isn’t found just in his case. Herbert Schirmer, who reported to have seen a landed UFO near Ashland, Nebraska (and who, under hypnotic regression reported an abduction), left police work not long after the event. Jeffrey Greenhaw, who photographed an alien (which many believe was a man in a fire retardant suit) said that his employers had attempted to get him to deny the report and was then harassed when he insisted that he had photographed something alien.
And such treatment extends beyond law enforcement. Captain Kenju Terauchi, of JAL Flight No. 1628, lost his flying job after the sighting was reported. Richard Haines and others managed to get him reinstated, but the point is he did nothing other than report he had watched strange objects from the cockpit of his aircraft.
Charles Halt, of Rendlesham Forest fame, also noted that he feared the UFO sighting would damage his career. He was quite leery of getting more deeply involved than he was for that reason. His perception might have been in error, meaning the UFO sighting didn’t seem hurt his career, but that was what he believed.
I could go on, with others who have seen their careers negatively affected by brushes with UFOs. Yes, I know the argument that if they’re seeing something that isn’t real, maybe we shouldn’t trust them in jobs that could jeopardize innocents. But I could argue they are seeing something real, it might be the interpretation that is in error, and sometimes that interpretation is made by others.
At any rate, the point here was simply to point out that there are many instances in which those who have reported strange things in the skies have seen their lives radically altered. They have been forced out of jobs, had their careers derailed, or been forced to change their stories (and yes, there are examples of this scattered throughout the UFO literature). I’m merely suggesting that this might create a situation in which those who do see something strange opt not to tell anyone about it. This is a sort of suppression of information (and again, yes, I chose that word carefully) that we don’t see in many other arenas (and yes, I can think of examples outside of the UFO field where that happens). I just thought that I’d mention it.