Thursday, April 29, 2010

UFO Crashes Survey Results

The results of the UFO crash poll weren’t all that surprising. Almost half of those responding, that is 48%, said that the best of the UFO crashes was Roswell. The most has certainly been written about Roswell, it has been the subject of many documentaries and TV investigations and inspires the most discussion when the topic is brought up here.

Nineteen percent of those responding believed that none of the crashes on the short list was the best and I take that to mean that they don’t think that any UFO crashes are worth further research. Given the number of skeptics who visit here, that too is not a surprise... although I was expecting a number little higher.

Shag Harbour came next with 16% and that isn’t much of a surprise either. Chris Styles and Don Ledger have done a marvelous job of tracking down both witnesses and documentation. On the document front, they are way ahead of the Roswell proponents. They have found many very interesting documents that show something fell into Shag Harbour and they have some very impressive witnesses as well.

Kecksburg got only 8% which is a little surprising, given the job Stan Gordon has done in his research. Maybe those visiting here are persuaded by the alternative solution which suggests a bolide.

Finally the two sort of surprises. I knew that Scott Ramsey was about to publish a book about the Aztec UFO crash and that he had new information. I have not seen that information and don’t know the form it takes. Stan Friedman chastised me a few weeks back for suggesting Aztec was a hoax. He seems to be on board with Ramsey. As I say, I don’t know what he might have found, but for the moment, I still reside in the hoax camp.

And I put Del Rio on the list because I have been doing some work on the case and wanted to see if anyone thought it as a solid report. The whole case swings on a single witness and a suggestion in the Eisenhower Briefing Document. I suppose some might suggest that since it is mentioned in this MJ-12 document, it has added validity. I’d respond by simply saying that the document features much more information about Roswell which should have overpowered the single paragraph about Del Rio.

As I say, no real surprises here. Most responded believed there have been UFO crashes. A few skeptics believe there have been none. Personally, I think there have been a couple, but nothing like the numbers suggested... and given what I have learn in the past, that number is shrinking. But, until we can find some documents that have a provenance, we have a government announcement about a crash, or we have full access to any hidden records or wreckage, this will always be a matter for debate.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Meteorite Men and UFOs

Since the last couple of postings has created an acrimonious debate, let’s move onto something a little tamer for the moment. I have been watching Meteorite Men on Discovery Science and was surprised by the number of meteor falls that have been captured on video tape. And I was surprised at how, as the meteor broke up, it began to look like something else.

Let me take a step back here and provide a little history. On March 3, 1968, there was a series of UFO reports in the Midwest. These were of a cigar-shaped craft with lighted windows (first two illustrations from March 3). Skeptics, including Philip Klass, identified the UFO as the reentry of one of the Zond 4 booster rockets. The spacecraft had been placed in orbit the night before so we were dealing with a spacecraft or rather part of one but not with an extraterrestrial one.

Klass suggested in his book, UFOs Explained, that this was also the solution for the Chiles – Whitted sighting of July 24, 1948. Chiles and Whitted were the pilot and co-pilot of an airliner and they reported they had seen what they thought, at first, was some kind of jet aircraft but then described a cigar-shaped object with lighted windows (second two illustrations supplied by Chiles Whitted). Originally it had been suggested they had seen a meteor but that explanation was rejected, especially when one of them reported that their aircraft had been rocked by the passing of the UFO. It was a short sighting but one that baffled the Air Force investigators originally. Later, or maybe eventually, it was identified as a "Fireball". That is, an extremely bright meteor.

Along with many others, I wasn’t happy with these explanations, offered by Klass and the Air force, but now we have a compilation of meteor falls on video tape. I confess that looking at some of these, it does appear that they resemble some kind of craft with lighted windows, especially as they begin to break up. Given the coincident of the Zond 4 reentry with the drawings and descriptions of the Chiles – Whitted sighting, it seems that these cases can be marked as solved, as Klass and the Air Force has suggested.

Yet, there seem to be other cases that fit into this as well but do not have these simple solutions. Two that spring to mind immediately are the Kecksburg case of December 9, 1965 and the Washington case of November 25, 1979. In fact, Jim Clarkson, who has been investigating the Washington case almost since the day it happened, has a number of descriptions that match, generally, those given in the Zond 4 and the Chiles – Whitted case.

Clarkson also seems to have found a military connection and does report that military and police authorities searched an area near Westport and the Elk River Bridge looking for something. Some witnesses have reported roadblocks by the military, a larger than normal military presence in the area after the events, and some unusual activities. He has spent years assembling his data.

Stan Gordon has done the same with the Kecksburg case. There are no reports of anything like a cigar-shaped craft with windows. There are reports that the military responded, reports of the military establishing some sort of a forward command post and that something was found in the woods near Kecksburg only to be hauled away by military authorities. The connection to a meteor was drawn by several skeptics including Robert Young who though that pictures of the smoke trail published in astronomy magazines shortly after the event solved the case.

There is one other fact that impacts both those cases and it was something that was demonstrated as the bolide, that is, an extremely bright meteor flashed over the Midwest last week. Within hours there were meteorite hunters all over the place looking for fragments. On the news the next day were reports from one man who had found a small piece of the meteorite and an expert from Chicago who was talking about the radar return and the strewn field.

Let me elaborate. In the old days of radar, it was said that radar could not detect the meteor but could see the ionized trail left behind. Today’s weather radar that is all over the place with interlocking patterns still might be only able to see the ionized trail, but it does see them. That gave the meteorite hunters a direction of flight (as if the eyewitnesses didn’t) and a possible location of impact.

The strewn field is an area that contains the pieces of the meteor as it broke up in flight. Think of it as a debris field left as an aircraft crashed. The strewn field could be very long but would be relatively narrow and it could hold thousands of pieces of the meteor.

Knowing all this, I contacted Stan Gordon, the long time investigator and local expert on the Kecksburg crash. I asked him if he had been contacted by any meteorite hunters. His response was that not about this, but he had been contacted about other events around Pennsylvania.

I put the same questions to Jim Clarkson about the Washington crash. He told me, " I never heard of anyone searching the area for meteor fragments."

But I took this one step further. I sent an email to the Meteorite Men. It took them a week to get back to me, but considering the number of emails they received, I was surprised by the speed of their reply. They told me that they knew of no meteor falls on either December 9, 1965 or November 25, 1979 (Photographs of meteor falls seen in the last four illustrations).

Does this rule out the meteor answer for both those cases? I would say, "Not really." However, a meteor, or bolide of sufficient size to cause the stir these two events did would seem to be listed in someone’s database and the Meteorite Men would seem to be the experts on this. Which is to say that they should know, but something might have slipped through.

Where does all this leave us? I believe, based on the evidence, that the March 3, 1968 UFO sighting has been explained by the reentry of the Zond 4 booster.

I believe, based on the illustrations supplied of the Zond 4 and the descriptions given by Chiles and Whitted, that they probably saw a meteor as it approached them and then broke up. Given that this was 1948 and extremely early in the morning, there simply weren’t any other witnesses awake to see the object, though there were some ground reports. The illustrations made by them seem to match those drawn to reflect the Zond 4.

With both Kecksburg and Elk River Bridge in Washington, I’m not sure. With Kecksburg there are no eyewitness drawings to match the Zond 4 and there apparently have been no one hunting the meteorites. Had this been such an event, I would expect it to be overrun by meteorite hunters. And yes, I know the closest road to the impact site is known as Meteor Road.

With the Washington case, the drawings and illustrations provided by Jim Clarkson seem to be reminiscent of the Zond 4, but do not match with the same degree that those of Chiles and Whitted do. And, there have been no meteorite hunters in the area that Clarkson knows about. He also said that the possible impact area is being returned by the state to it’s natural condition which means swamps and rough, tangled brush.

This means that I believe the solutions to Kecksburg and Washington have not been found... or rather the evidence for something other than a meteor remains high. In both cases, it was reported that the object changed course and there have not been the meteorite hunters in the area that you would expect.

But it also means that we might be getting closer to an overall solution as we learn more about meteors, we gather more videos of them falling, and we search these areas for those fragments that we would expect.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brazel in Custody in Roswell

As the debate in the last posting rages, and as we race toward 300 comments on it, there was one discussion in the debate that demonstrates the original point. I had suggested that we look at the evidence in a dispassionate matter. Instead, in some cases, it became a rejection of evidence because of a belief that such things just couldn’t happen.

Some of the skeptics have rejected the idea that Mack Brazel had been held by military authorities for about a week. Christopher Allan, for example, wrote:

Karl Pflock [seen here] went into the question of Brazel in his book, p.169-171. He concluded that it was very doubtful if such incarceration took place. But ETHers will insist it did. What on earth would they need a whole week to detain him for anyway? If they were determined to silence him they could do it in maybe 2 hours by getting him to sign a secrecy oath on July 8. That supposes the affair was already classified top secret. In which case he wouldn't have been permitted to even give his RDR [Roswell Daily Record] interview later that day.
But Karl Pflock is not the final authority on this, and in fact, he dismissed some data simply because he didn’t like it. That it agreed with the skeptical attitude doesn’t make it right. Let’s look at some of the facts.

Karl pointed out that I hadn't recorded the conversation with Easley, which is true. But I do have my notes written at the time, meaning as I was talking to Easley. About Brazel at the base Easley said (quoting from my notes and seen here), "Brought him to base... talked to him for several days... not involved in that (Easley saying that he was not involved in the interrogation). Brazel at the guest house."

This was, of course, the "top cop" at the Roswell base and who had not been interviewed by anyone until I talked to him. He was careful in what he said because, as he told me repeatedly, "I’ve been sworn to secrecy." (Which is an argument for a later time and one that I do have on tape.)

Not to mention that Pflock is, in essence, calling me a liar about this testimony. Yes, I sincerely wish I had it on tape, but that doesn’t change the fact that Easley said it to me and I was the first, and as far as I know, the only researcher to have talked to him... Karl presented nothing to refute this testimony other than mention it wasn’t on tape... just like some of the interviews he conducted but which he says he reported accurately.
Then we reject what Bill Brazel said about seeing the stories about his father in the newspapers and going out to the ranch to help him. Mack returned two or three days after Bill got there. Testimony provided by Brazel during my first interview with him in 1989.
Then we reject Marian Strickland, who actually said on video tape (I made the recording in 1990) that Mack sat in her kitchen and complained about being held in Roswell. (Lyman Strickland also said this but not to me. He had died before I traveled to Roswell.)Then we reject what Loretta Proctor said about Brazel being held in Roswell... As well as the testimony of several others who saw him in Roswell including Floyd Proctor and even Walt Whitmore, Jr. who said he saw Brazel at his father’s house, not to mention his being at the newspaper office sometime on July 8 to give the interview. Which, I point out again, puts Brazel in Roswell after his initial visit.

Floyd Proctor told Bill Moore, as reported in The Roswell Incident, about seeing Brazel in Roswell being escorted by the military. Now, given that Bill Moore described his own book as a "disgraceful hodgepodge of fact and fiction," and given that we have seen him manipulate witness testimony to fit his vision of events, skeptics would be well within their rights to reject these statements attributed to Floyd Proctor. And, if Proctor was stand alone, I would reject it as well.

However, I do know that some of the testimony reported in The Roswell Incident was accurate because the witnesses told me the same thing. And, Loretta confirms what her husband said. So, we can, if we want suggest this testimony is accurate. We might assign less weight to it than that given by other witnesses and reported by other writers, but it still has some value in the overall understanding of the Roswell case.

We also reject the testimony of other Brazel friends, Leonard Porter and Bill Jenkins, who talked of Brazel under military escort.

And, we reject the story told by Frank Joyce about Brazel visiting him, at KGFL in Roswell after he had been to the newspaper office. Brazel told Joyce that he was under orders to give this new tale or it would go very hard on him. We reject this because Joyce’s story has grown over the years... however, when I first interviewed Joyce, he made it clear that there were things he knew that he just hadn’t mentioned to anyone. In fact, he showed me a letter he had sent to himself, which was postmarked so that he could verify that he hadn’t "just remembered" or that he was now embellishing his account. But reject him anyway.
We accept what Bessie Brazel said, even though she said that she had accompanied her father into Roswell on the first trip and didn't remember the military following him back out (which is fairly well documented... I mean even Cavitt admitted that he went out to the ranch, which, of course directly contradicts her). She said that her father didn't return to Roswell, even though that also is documented. She said that no military came out to the ranch.

She also said that she knew it was a balloon when they gathered up the material, all of it, leaving none in the field for Cavitt and Marcel to see. It strikes me that if a 14-year-old girl could identify this as a balloon, why then Jesse Marcel, an adult with intelligence training, surely would have recognized it... but I digress.
So, what this means is that we reject all the evidence from several different sources including documents and testimony that does not support our point of view and accept the statements from a single source, even when that source has been contradicted by documentation, because it does.
Not to mention that Bessie Brazel herself repudiated the testimony. Said that she had confused the 1947 event with something that happened a couple of years later. So, even she isn’t sure about all this, but her story suggests balloon and nothing extraordinary so she is considered right and everyone else is wrong.
And now I have to hear, again, about how Karl Pflock had refuted the idea that Brazel was held in Roswell... The evidence shows that he was. Period. The length of time is an estimate based on what Bill said. That he arrived two or three days after his father left and his father return two or three days later. Four to six or seven days based on the man who should know.
These would be facts and no, they do not lead to the extraterrestrial but do suggest something out of the ordinary happened. The point here is that the skeptics are flat out wrong on this point. It will interesting to see if they will attempt to spin it in some fashion.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Dispassionate Look at Roswell

I had posted an obituary of Charles Moore because he had a connection to the UFO field and the paranormal. I meant it only as a way to note his passing and not to be a commentary on his beliefs about the Roswell UFO crash or to generate a long discussion about it (which to this point has generated the most comments to any post). I thought that should come later.

Well, now is later.

Let me say that I am often astonished by the way skeptics and proponents can ignore evidence and argue right passed one another. Want an example or two?

The skeptics will quote from the July 9, 1947, article in the Roswell Daily Record in which Mack Brazel said he picked up a bundle of debris that was very flimsy. According to the story, which does not quote Brazel exactly, "When the debris was gathered up the tinfoil paper, tape, and sticks made a bundle about three feet long and 7 or 8 inches thick, while the rubber made a bundle about 18 or 20 inches long and about 8 inches think. In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe five pounds."

Following the lead of the late Phil Klass, the skeptics will often suggest this is pretty flimsy stuff to be part of an alien spacecraft.

The proponents of the extraterrestrial explanation will quote from the July 9, 1947, article in the Roswell Daily Record, pointing out that Mack Brazel said that he had previously found two weather observation balloons on the ranch but that what he found this time did not in any way resemble either of these.

The article ends with a direct quote. Brazel said, "I am sure what I found was not any weather observation balloon... But if I find anything else besides a bomb they are going to have a hard time getting me to say anything about it."

What we find in that one article is information that supports both sides of the argument. It was flimsy and probably a balloon, but the witness saying that he knew what the balloons looked like and this wasn’t one of them.

How do we reconcile the two points of view. The answer is obvious to me, but I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions about this and move on.

Let’s take a look at the report Charles Moore wrote about Mogul Flight No. 4. He said, using the winds aloft data I supplied to him, Dr. Albert Crary’s diary that covered the events in New Mexico, and his memories, that he believed Flight No. 4 headed off to the northeast and he remembered it near Arabela, New Mexico, when they lost track of it. His calculations placed it within 17 miles of the Brazel (Foster) ranch, which to him proved that what had been discovered by Brazel and what fooled Major Jesse Marcel, was one of those balloon arrays.

David Rudiak has suggested, in rather strong language, that Moore’s calculations were in error and that the math might have been manipulated in such a way as to provide the outcome that Moore desired. Rudiak, along with Brad Sparks, worked the numbers and came to a different conclusion. They said that the projected Mogul flight didn’t come close to the Brazel ranch (though I must note that the 17 miles that Moore suggested doesn’t seem all that close).

The one factor that isn’t mentioned often is that the winds aloft data used to figure this out was gathered rather sporadically in 1947 and then only to 20,000 feet. Any deduction about the winds above that level, and the Mogul flights were designed to fly at much higher levels, would be speculative.

And another factor that is only rarely mentioned is that winds aloft data were not collected at Alamogordo, home to the New Mexico end of the Project Mogul. Winds aloft were deduced using data from Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque and Roswell. While it might be possible to be fairly accurate using that data, it is also possible to be wildly in error, especially when complete data do not exist.

The one part of these arguments that continue to amaze me is that one side roundly criticizes the memories of Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. because his memories, as he related the tale to researchers, were decades old. These same people accept the memories of Charles Moore, whose memories were even older when he began to comment on the Roswell case, and were certainly tainted by that time with all the information that had been published and broadcast. This was quite clear in my discussions with him in Socorro.

Moore said that he remembered the balloon array disappearing near Arabela and that is accepted as accurate. He told me that he had been fascinated with the exotic place names... Arabela, Carazozo, Cap Rock, Tularosa, so he remembered these things. But remembering a balloon flight near Arabela is not the same as evidence that it did disappear somewhere around there, especially when there was a tracked flight that was part of the record that did make its way to Arabela.

What all this tells me is that there is evidence for both sides in the single article published by the Roswell Daily Record, but neither is willing to listen to what the other has to say. Everyone seems to be oblivious to the elements in the article that don’t fit into his or her point of view. Brazel’s description is of something flimsy, suggesting a balloon, yet he says that it was not a weather balloon. The story seems to suggest that everything was retrieved, yet they mention Marcel bringing back more of it.

Then we have Moore using records to extrapolate wind direction and speed above the levels for which data exist, and some accept it as the final evidence. They reject other information that simply falls outside their world view when some have raised legitimate questions...

And, I mustn’t forget that proponents reject Moore’s work that suggests the balloon array drifted toward the ranch. Instead they attack his character, which isn’t fair... and yes, I know that Phil Klass was famous for attaching the character of those with whom he disagreed, which, I believe proves my point here.

What we end up with are people unwilling to look at the evidence... regardless of that evidence. They select that portion that fits into their views of the case and ignore the other. They scream that they have the truth, but rarely have looked at the larger picture...

And in this case that picture happens to be all the contradictions in the July 9 article. How is it that both sides can cite the same source and not understand that there is something fundamentally wrong with that? How can one article support everyone while answering none of the questions?

Or how can one side review the various documents and not understand that they simply don’t hold the answers? How can two groups of people use the same set of data and come to such wildly different conclusions?... Okay, I know the answer but this is a rhetorical question.

Nothing positive will ever be accomplished until those on both sides realize that each has some evidence for their points of view. Nothing positive will be learned until both sides realize that the evidence is contradictory and there is an overall reason for that. We won’t know what happened until we look beyond our own near-sighted beliefs and expand our vision to the big picture.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

NUFON Created

Francis Ridge passed this along and it seemed important enough to note here...
In a move that many of you have probably seen coming, Robert Bigelow and his group, our SIP partners, have purchased the Mutual UFO Network and National UFO Reporting Center, combining the two into a new group to be called NUFON.
This MUFON sale was between Bigelow and James Carrion on Carrion's last day in office with most funds going directly to Carrion. Retiring head of the SETI Institute, Seth Shostak, has been tapped as NUFON Director and will directly oversee Assistant Directors Clifford Clift and Peter Davenport. This is a bold new direction for UFOlogy.
Oh, yes, he also mentioned that it was April 1st.