Friday, December 30, 2011

Brad Meltzer's Decoded

Those of you who have been reading the comments about the Fact or Faked: The Paranormal Files know that there has been some criticism about the same old, tired voices being interviewed on various TV shows (not that I’m particularly tired). Some viewers have liked the interjection of new blood into game and appreciate the new points of view.

While I agree with the philosophy, I will also note that there is a problem with these new voices. They often do not know the subject well enough to make intelligent comments about it... Or, they seemed surprised by the information they discover, never knowing that it has been circulating for years among those of us who study the field.

My latest case in point is Brad Meltzer’s Decoded on History (please note that History removed the “channel” from it’s name a while back). They decided to look into UFOs and seemed stunned to find that the reports come from more than the guys in bib overalls who quit school in the eighth grade (please note that this stereotype is suggested by the intellectuals who are too sophisticated to believe aliens have visited Earth.)

Here’s where I’m coming from. They go to Roswell and interview Julie (seen here), the daughter of Walter Haut, the PIO who issued the press release about finding the “flying saucer.” Of course, this is second-hand testimony, and Julie clearly believes what she is saying about what her father mentioned to her. But they don’t discuss the affidavit that Haut signed, and if they had asked some of us, we could have supplied video and audio tape of Haut himself talking about the things that Meltzer’s crew was getting second hand.

Meltzer mentions that while we all know something fell at Roswell, what we might not know was that just two weeks earlier, Kenneth Arnold had made the first sighting of a formation of objects. Well, sorry, but anyone who has paid any attention to UFOs, knows about Arnold’s sighting, knows when it took place, and even knows that the term “flying saucer” was coined at that time.

So, they talk about the Roswell (Main Street looking south toward the museum seen here) case but give us nothing new about it. Two people who were not involved describe the events in the briefest terms. If there was anything good about it, they rejected the balloon theory and didn’t even mention Project Mogul, that was, essentially, the balloon answer dressed in new clothes (I mention this with the fear that it will start another debate where everyone can copy and paste everything that they have said before, but this time I might just delete those comments).

Meltzer also talks about Project Blue Book, but says nothing about Sign, Grudge or Moon Dust (and for my skeptical friends, we do know that Moon Dust had a UFO component based on documentation). I don’t know if he didn’t know about them, or didn’t want to confuse the issue by talking about them.

They finally trot out to Area 51, mention the Extraterrestrial Highway (I bet the Air Force was thrilled when Nevada did that) and show the bullet-riddled sign announcing the route. But they drive toward the base, see the base security on the ridge watching them, and start climbing, on foot, toward the Air Force (or is it Wachenhut?) vehicle. When it moves toward them, they scramble back to their car and beat feet for Las Vegas.

They find a guy who was in security at Area 51 and he explains that he had access to everything on the base because of his security clearance... with the exception of one hangar. One weekend, on a fluke, he got a look inside, but he wouldn’t say what he had seen. It could have been anything or nothing. It was a good story, but it didn’t advance our knowledge at all. We know nothing now that we didn’t already know.

Oh, we’re treated to the Janet aircraft on the corner of McCarran, and we’re told that employees at the base fly out there everyday. But we already knew that, too.

We see John Lear and we learn about Bob Lazar, but there is nothing new there either. Meltzer does suggest that Lazar is surrounded in controversy, but then, we already knew that.

In the end, they sit around and we listen to them talk about the number of stars and the number of galaxies, and the size of the universe. But then, we’ve heard these discussions too and that aren’t particularly insightful. What we need is someone to tell us how to short circuit those vast distances.

Yes, I enjoy the show, but this one disappointed. It was a bunch of new people coming into the UFO arena, but they hadn’t done their homework (or they assumed that most people were as ignorant as they when it came to UFOs). They did suggest there are some strange things out there, but again, I believe that even my skeptical friends will agree that there is something strange out there.

In the end, it was a way to see where we stand in our search and we know that we’re way down the road from Meltzer and crew. Too bad they didn’t take time to learn a little more before they leaped into this one.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

David Rudiak Joins the Dream Team

We have expanded the team yet again. Dr. David Rudiak, who has done a great deal of work on the “Ramey memo” has accepted our invitation to join us as a consulting researcher along with Tony Bragalia and Chris Rutkowski. I’ll add here that we had planned on this long ago, but Tom thought I had sent the invitation to David and I thought he had. When we learned that neither had, I then sent one.

Rudiak (seen here at the International UFO Museum in Roswell, photo courtesy of Tom Carey) is one of the experts (and maybe only expert) about what happened in Ramey’s office on July 8, 1947. He wrote to me that, “I've reconstructed the debris in a computer ray-tracer and proven there is only one radar target there and probably one balloon (or what would fit in shoe box), in other words NOT what you would expect from a multi-balloon, multi-target Mogul but perfectly consistent with Ramey and Newton's description of a singular balloon/target and Dubose/Marcel's substituted weather balloon.”

He also said, “Another of my Roswell specialties are my various histories of the period. I have expertise in how the story was reported in numerous news outlets, not just a few. I think I have compiled the most extensive collection of U.S. and international Roswell stories anywhere. These stories present many angles and contradictions that just a few articles do not provide and tell us a lot about how the cover-up was handled. E.g., I have found only two or three newspapers out of hundreds carrying a rare AP sub-version quoting Sheriff Wilcox declining to answer further questions about the "disc" saying he was ‘working with those fellows at the base.’ That I consider to be very telling and corroboration for what his family was telling us decades later. Why are Marcel, Brazel, Wilcox, Ramey, and the press release telling sometimes very different stories, often contradicting the balloon story? Why do the AP, UP, and RDR versions of the press release differ in many details?”

David’s expertise isn’t limited to just the Roswell case, but includes the history of the time. He emailed me that, “And I think I may have the most extensive collection of UFO reports from the area, which I compiled from reviewing every regional paper I could lay my hands on. This demonstrates that Roswell didn't happen in a vacuum, which may have prompted Ramey, Kalberer, and White Sands commander Turner debunking the saucers over a week before Roswell blew up. One very interesting news article I have from a Las Cruces newspaper recounts how on the night of July 8 a fireball steaking out of the south over the Organ mountains broke up, followed by search lights from White Sands Proving Grounds sweeping the sky afterward for an indefinite period of time.”

He, along with Brad Sparks, reworked the mathematics of the Mogul flight number 4, which the skeptics claim is responsible for the debris, showing that it did not come nearly as close as Charles Moore, a Mogul engineer, suggested. (I’ll point out here the Moore’s calculations couldn’t bring the balloon array closer than seventeen miles.) Rudiak’s figures suggested that the balloon array launched from Alamogordo wouldn’t have come as close as Moore suggested. More importantly, it appears that there was no flight number 4.

Combine David’s training and research with the expertise and knowledge of other team members, including their various experiences in researching UFOs, participation in the military, and their understanding of the history of UFOs from the beginning (which is to say as far back as the nineteenth century and farther) and allows for the most comprehensive look at the Roswell case ever undertaken. David’s assistance and knowledge will prove invaluable in this research project.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The FBI Memo and Roswell

Over the decades, a few documents relating to the Roswell UFO crash (or the Roswell events if you wish to remove UFO from the discussion) have been found. One of those developed after Army Brigadier General George F. Schulgen asked for FBI help “ locating and questioning individuals who first sighted the so-called flying discs...”

On July 10, 1947, an FBI memo was created by D. M. Ladd for E. G. Fitch, outlining the Army request. That request was forward to Clyde Tolson, the number two man in the FBI at the time. Tolson endorsed the memo, writing on July 15, “I think we should do this.”

Hoover then endorsed the endorsement (seen here). He wrote, “I would do this but before agreeing to it we must insist upon full access to discs recovered. For instance, in the La. case the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination.”

But Hoover’s handwriting was sloppy and the crucial point, the location, as “in the La case” has been disputed for years. It seems that it can also be read as Sw or Sov or 2a. Of course, if it said, “Sw” then that could refer to the Roswell case.

Tom Carey and I have been discussing this through email for a couple of weeks. I am of the opinion that Hoover wrote “La” and this refers to a case from Shreveport, Louisiana. It is clear that the Shreveport report is a hoax, given that the disc was recovered and examined.

According to information from the Project Blue Book files, the Headquarters, Air Training Command, the office of the AC of S, A-2 [Assistant Chief of Staff, Air Intelligence] Barksdale Field, LA, had received a report that a “Flying Disc [had been] found in Shreveport, Louisiana [on] 7 July 1947.”

In the course of their investigation, they found that the disc was small (seen here), there was an electronic starter attached to it that came from a fluorescent light and two condensers from electric fans. The man who built it, and whose name had been removed from the file, also said that he had used a torch to put soot on the edges so that it looked as if the disc had been spinning.

In other words, the evidence of a hoax is well established.

But there is more.

According to the documentation available, the FBI was alerted to the Shreveport case and FBI agents did interview one of the sources. The FBI memo on the case also said that the Army had taken the disc into their possession.

This case seems to fit facts and it is an “La.”

There is another piece to this. On July 24, 1947, there is another FBI memo. This one mentions the Hoover note but now it is typewritten. It says the same thing but the term has been identified. The crucial sentence says, “For instance, in the La. case the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination.”

That seems to end the discussion, but Tom isn’t as sure as I am. He believes that J. G. Fitch, who provided the typewritten version, in his memo might have suffered from the same problems as the rest of us, meaning that he wasn’t sure what Hoover meant and that question remains open. Tom wants to pursue this a little further to see if he can find a concrete answer.

Tom plans to chase this using a couple of resources he has developed over the last few years. He thinks it is important enough to invest a little additional and effort in finding a solid, final conclusion. And that, really, is the purpose of the Team. To find final, solid answers to the questions that remain about the Roswell case.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files - A Third Time

I know that I have been quite critical of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files in the last few weeks. I said then, and I will repeat now, that I enjoy the show. In the last couple of episodes, I have found nothing about which to complain.

Let me explain.

In a recent episode,, they were going to investigate a picture of a ghost taken at the Birdcage in Tombstone, Arizona. This was a gambling hall and house of prostitution back in the days of Wyatt Earp. A couple of dozen people were killed there and there have been reports of all sorts of ghostly occurrences inside, including an interesting picture of what looked like a man in a coffin.

They interviewed the photographer who said that he had tried to explain the picture but could not. They studied the photo and tried a number of different ways to duplicate with props on the table and a moving flashlight, but could not. Then one of the team noticed an old-fashioned coffee grinder sitting on the table and wondered if a light passing behind it would create the effect seen on the video. When they flashed a light through it, the shadows on the wall matched, perfectly, the ghost picture. They had found the solution.

In another investigation of a formation of UFOs taken in Mexico, they attempted to duplicate the taped image. They ran a couple of experiments, but nothing looked like the video they had. Finally the tried launching white, helium-filled balloons as is often done during weddings in that region. Their formation of balloons matched the motion, speed, and the grouping of the objects on the tape. They had found the solution.

Finally, they had a tape of a UFO seen above the Griffin Park Observatory taken by a motorist one night as he traveled down an LA freeway. They couldn’t run their experiments on the freeway for obvious reasons. Instead, they recreated the section of the freeway down to the lights and freeway signs to an amazing degree of accuracy. Again they ran their experiments but couldn’t quite duplicate the video.

What they eventually did, was use a helicopter, apparently with either the landing lights or a searchlight on, which overwhelmed the navigation lights and the anti-collision beacon. The bright object looked just like that on the video, as the helicopter hovered. They then had it accelerate and it looked like the object that had been filmed except that there wasn’t a sudden, rapid acceleration at the end of the video, as the object disappeared.

However, with a little digital editing, something that nearly everyone can do in today’s environment, they were able to duplicate the original video. They then used a voice stress type analysis of the witness. While I’m not a big fan of these sorts of things, and I think the jury is still out on the validity of such tests, they determined that the man who took the video was not being completely candid. Given all that, I believe they had found the solution.

They have done some other very good work in the last few weeks. They found what produced a ghostly image in a Nevada grave yard. It was the same solution that I found while investigating the Joplin, Missouri Spooklight a long time ago.

Once again, I believe that we all should watch Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files because they do put the claims of paranormal activity to the test. They do find the solutions for many of the stories, legends, claims and videos they examine. Anyone who does this kind of work, without becoming just debunkers searching for any solution, deserves our support.