(Blogger’s Note: Brad
Sparks recently published the following on a closed discussion list so I asked
permission to make it available to a wider audience. Brad kindly gave his
permission, but he asked that I publish a slightly updated version. The following
was written and updated by Brad.)
Recently, my attention was called to a story in Allan
Hendry's UFO Handbook of 1979, by a Euroskeptic who was
properly cautious in bringing it up, saying "If
cited correctly" by Hendry, then it
might be instructive. Purportedly, the Detroit, Mich., airport
controllers had many times "cleared" the planet Venus to land at the
In the first of two statements by
Hendry, the context is one nestled among numbered CUFOS UFO / IFO cases
(details omitted as not relevant to the point, which is that they were
numbered). Yet the Venus story itself has no case number. In fact,
it doesn't even rise to the level of an actual story but is more of an aphorism
or a quip.
Venus continued to attract attention as
a "UFO" throughout the period of my
study. The witness in case 519 [sighted etc.] ....
In cases 890 and 896, the witnesses [sighted etc.]....
My favorite comment, however, was provided
by the FAA at Detroit Metropolitan
Airport: "Do you know how
many times we've cleared Venus to land?"
[No case number]
member of the FAA control at the Detroit
Metropolitan Airport, "Do you
know how many times we have cleared
Venus to land?" [No case number]
I can answer the alleged anonymous
airport official's misleading question: ZERO.
Yes, that's right, the story is a complete and total fiction. The
planet Venus cannot radio for clearance to land -- I
mean to even have to explain this is ridiculous, Venus is an inanimate object
incapable of intelligent thought and communication, radio or otherwise.
An aircraft that tries to land at a
busy airport in a restricted airway without obtaining radio
clearance first is either an emergency due
to radio failure or disability of the pilot, or it is a potential hijacking
or terrorist aircraft or some hostile attack activity. It is an
extremely serious matter, not to be laughed off as just "lights in the sky
playing tricks." The airport radar will have
been checked by controllers to verify that an aircraft is coming in on a
standard approach path and/or is a hazard to other flights. Repeated
efforts will have been made to establish radio contact. When there is no
response, swift emergency action will be taken.
It would be in all the newspapers and the
subject of official FAA or NTSB investigation and by similar agencies in other
countries if it ever occurred there. The AF would be alerted to scramble
fighters to intercept unless it was clearly just a pilot in trouble and not
suspicious or hostile action. Having something like this happen at night
is an especially dangerous situation. We would know all about it.
Hendry would have been able to provide names, dates, places, the whole
works -- if anything like it had actually ever happened.
And why only Detroit airport anyway?
Doesn't Venus radio other airports for clearance to land??? What
about Jupiter and Sirius, don't they radio too???
The more I thought about it the more I
was struck by the absurdity of the story insinuating that Detroit Airport
controllers had many times "cleared" the planet Venus to
"land" at the airport. This seems to be something of a debunker
article of faith, a prooftext for the stupidity of even trained air traffic
controllers. Yet it is not even claimed to be a UFO sighting.
We are supposed to believe that Venus
just shines brightly in the sky one evening and that busy air traffic
controllers then become mesmerized by the sight and actually go through their
procedures to "clear" the planet for landing -- the specifics of
those "clearance procedures" being conveniently hazy in this debunker
thought-balloon. It is a grossly embarrassing act of folly -- if it ever
happened. Therefore, this cautionary tale supposedly tells us that UFO cases
at airports can just be similar stupidity and it instructs us on how stupid
people can be if even air traffic controllers can make such mammoth mistakes of
"misperception" (whatever that loaded term really means, which I
contend is a nonsense term anyway, but that's another story for another day).
But in reality it is an example of
a debunker hoax. Yes, debunkers, can and do perpetrate
hoaxes, just like the Adamskis of the world. But it is a category of
event or fabricated non-event that is not recognized or studied or debated.
There seems to be the attitude that debunkers are just skeptics trying to
defend "truth," so by very definition they don't engage in untruthful
or fraudulent hoaxes, right?
When I read what Hendry wrote, though,
I was bothered by a number of things besides the patent absurdity of the story,
such as the fact it is not even an assertion of fact but a question,
an unanswered question at that. Was Hendry's source simply playing a
rhetorical game? Was it a joke inspired by the similarity of the words
"plane" and "planet"? No UFO report is attached to
the story, as I said, nor any IFO report. No date, no names of alleged
witnesses, whether FAA controllers or not. No "sighting
It is clear to me that the story was
calculated to produce shame, and the shame was intended to shut down all
thought and critical faculties. The shame has the effect of allowing
misconceptions, stereotypes and prejudices to fill in the vacuum left by
shutting down thought -- in this case to forget everything we ought to know
about airport procedures, even from watching the movies or television. Debunkers
apparently expect that it will be too embarrassing for critics to ask questions
because it only draws more attention to the uncomfortable (alleged)
"fact" that air controllers cleared a planet, Venus, for landing many
times. Embarrassment and shame obviate the need to supply any
documentation -- no one dares bring up the subject to ask. We are
supposed to accept the story without question and let it have its intended
effect, in this case a very deceitful one.
The Venus-cleared-to-land story is
patently so false, so fraudulent, so outrageous, that it is amazing to me that
it hasn't been exposed sooner. The shaming effect evidently shuts down
all thinking, stops all questioning.
This raises many disturbing questions:
Who in the FAA at Detroit made up this obviously false story? Why
did Hendry not question the story or attempt to get documentation for at least
one purported instance? Why hasn't anyone questioned this fraudulent and
outrageous debunker hoax before? Here we are 34 years after Hendry's book
was published so why hasn't anyone blown the whistle? Hendry's book has
been the darling of skeptics and debunkers, who supposedly epitomize
"critical thinking" yet seem to have trouble critically thinking
about their own "side" (a point that Jerry Clark has been making for
years). Maybe there is some obscure review somewhere that has called
attention to this bogus story and maybe the many other huge errors of
astronomy, statistics, math, logic, etc., in the same book.
And by the way, the falsity of this
story does not mean the opposite is true, that controllers never make mistakes,
never mistake IFO's for UFO's, just that they never foolishly radio clearances
to land to unidentified aircraft or objects in the sky. And my position
on ETH needs to be reiterated here lest I be misunderstood: The falsity
of this story does not prove that UFO's are alien spacecraft. I do
not accept or "believe in" ET or alien visitation, never have, but
others are welcome to draw their own conclusions as to what the unexplained UFO
phenomenon may represent. I agree with most of Jacques Vallée’s 5
numbered arguments in his “Five Arguments Against the Extraterrestrial Origin
of Unidentified Flying Objects,” JSE, 1990, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 105-117,
with corrections and modifications, and additional reasons of my own, again a
discussion for another time.
saw a “news” story asking the question, “Could Earth defend itself from an ET
the fact that there would be no realistic reason for the aliens to invade
because everything they would want could be found elsewhere in the Solar System,
except, of course for our “Earth-like” environment and the life found here, the
answer to the question is, “NO!”
remember one of the science fiction writers, I think Jerry Pournelle or Larry
Niven, but it might have been Harlan Ellison, say, “All they would have to do
is stand back and throw rocks at us.”
that meant, simply, was that an alien race that wanted to invade could soften
us up by dropping asteroids on us. Think of all the documentaries that have
aired in the last ten years that tell us about “asteroid apocalypse.” An
asteroid some 300 feet in diameter (or something about (100 meters) would do
incredible damage. Move to something about a half mile, and continents
disappear, the global climate would be shot for centuries, and billions would
much larger than that and you have an extinction level event. Pushing asteroids
around wouldn’t be all that difficult for a spacefaring race. And rather than
pushing a dinosaur killer (yes, I know that the dinosaurs probably weren’t extinguished
by an asteroid, but the term is great) into an orbit that would collide with
Earth, they could push hundreds of smaller ones into that orbit. It could turn
out to be carpet bombing the world with no danger to themselves.
point is that given our current technology, we simply couldn’t reach out to
touch them. If they are inside of the orbit of the moon, then we could shoot at
them, but our chemical rockets would be moving slowly enough that they could
intercept and destroy them regardless of how many we launched and right now
there aren’t all that many when talking interstellar war.
they could just move out of the way.
throw rocks at the missiles.
if the aliens wished to invade, given our current technology, they would win.
If they decided they needed to occupy Earth, they certainly could do that as
well, but why expose themselves to our retaliation. Why not just sit there in
orbit and dictate their terms to us? If we chose to fight back, throw another
speaking, they have no motivation to engage in a fight especially one on the
planet’s surface. Independence Day
never dealt with that question. “V”
in its various incarnations did, to a degree… the “visitors” wanted to engage
in some sort of trade or communication with a hidden agenda. Damon Knight’s
story, “To Serve Man,” (which also a Twilight Zone episode) dealt with the
reason for a landing rather than an invasion. But, at least there was a reason
for the contact.
without any additional reason, they have no motivation to land or to invade. If
we launched something into orbit to attack them, they could withdraw to the
orbit of, say, Saturn, and it would take us years to get there. They could
evade us simply. And then attack at their leisure.
the end, the answer to the question is that he who controls the high ground wins
the battle. We can’t actually fight a
battle in space, which means the aliens have the high ground. Or… as was
learned in the Iraq war, Iraqi tanks could engage at one mile. The problem? The
Abrams tanks could engage at two miles. In other words, they could stand out of
range of the Iraqis and destroy their armor. Such is the situation we would
face with the aliens in orbit. We couldn’t successfully engage and we would
(Blogger’s Note: I published this with
trepidation, simply because I have been warned that if I persist in the claim
that I was not a participant in the slide investigation other confidential
emails will be published to prove the point. I freely admit that it appears from
those emails that I was involved but the reality is that I wasn’t even
completely in the loop. But I will not be intimidated. I told the truth when I
said that I had not seen the slides and that I did not participate in the
investigation of them. So, even with this threat handing over my head, I post
looks like this time it was I who screwed the pooch. I trusted a friend with
information, which he is now outraged that I dumped on him, but that wasn’t his
original reaction. The big regret here is that it is Tom Carey who gets caught
in the crossfire which is not of his making.
two years ago, Tom approached me to do the “ultimate” Roswell book. I had
already approached a publisher with a similar idea, but that publisher wasn’t
interested in it, thinking that the market was saturated and besides, they
liked their books to be about several cases rather than concentrating on one.
That solved a dilemma for me.
discussed the direction that we wanted to go and I think our opinions were a
little different. I wanted to be sure the book was properly and completely
resourced and Tom agreed, but he didn’t want the book to be written for
skeptics. I thought we should follow the “what do we think, what do we know and
what can we prove” adage.
gentleman that he is, didn’t want to leave Don out of it and although we hadn’t
discussed it, told Don of the project. We all met sometime later and talked
about what the project would need. I said that for it to work well, we would
need to find something more than additional testimony. We would need some
documentation, some kind of confirmation that went beyond additional testimony,
but I had no idea what that would be.
a side note, I did learn of a woman who claimed to have a diary written in 1947
that mentioned some of this. That was what we needed and I pursued that only to
learn, in a conversation with Tom, that he’d actually been to the woman’s home
in New Mexico and the diary, if it existed, was buried in an out building that
was filled with snakes and scorpions, two of my favorite things.
myself having completed my contractually obligated book, I thought that I would
begin to put together the information for part of the investigation, which was
an analysis of MJ-12. I don’t know how we could do anything unless we looked
deeply into this controversy. It ran more than fifty pages and had 175
also completed a long piece on Project Mogul in which I actually found a few
things that had not been discussed before, most of them coming from the Air
Force report on Roswell. I think the Air Force just threw in all this material
without looking at it. Some good stuff is hidden in there. Like the MJ-12
report about Mogul was long and heavily footnoted.
of us were continuing to interview witnesses, or to be technically correct so
that I’m not accused of lying again, men who were stationed in Roswell in July
1947. These were men who had not been located before and who had not come
forward. The results were mixed with some not knowing anything and others
adding to the body of testimony. At this point, as can be imagined, all were in
were chugging along, finding some new witnesses, developing some new
information and I thought, looking for that sizzle that would bring this all
home. One thing that must be said is that we were scattered all over the United
States and into Canada. We communicated through email and telephone and just a
few times in person. That made coordination a little difficult, but not
earlier this year, Rich Reynolds published his piece about slides that had been
found showing alien bodies, or I suppose, more accurately, a strange creature
that might be a deformed human. Nick Redfern was the source of the information,
which I had never heard until I read it on Rich’s blog. I sent Nick an email
and he said I should call, which I did.
February 10, 2013, I sent an email to the team, which must have struck most of
them as odd, because it demonstrated my total lack of knowledge on the subject.
have no idea if any of you have been watching the nonsense over at Rich
Reynolds’ UFO Iconoclasts blog. He is
suggesting that he now has inside information of the Roswell events, which he
will release in the near future… However, I noted today that he is suggesting that we all have
entered into some sort of legal entanglement to cement our legacy and that we
are prevented from disclosing what we know. I have entered no such agreement
with anyone and have no inside knowledge that I have hidden from the group. If
any one of you have done so (and no I don't think you have) it would not be
legally binding on the rest of us. …. I don't know the purpose… Therefore, my
advice is to ignore him completely (Ahh, had I just taken my own advise).
response I learned some of the details of the slides and given the situation,
pursued it no further. It was under control by members of the team and by
inserting myself into the investigation, I could screw it up. The owner of the
slides seemed to be a little “gun shy.”
that is the extent of my investigation. I talked to Nick, learned a little more
about what had been written, and then received an email advising me that the
situation was being handled. There was nothing more for me to do about it.
Rich would publish a little more, but he didn’t add details and seemed to be
averse to saying anything that might screw up the investigation. It was just a
periodic mention of this, most of which were observed.
August I agreed to do the podcast with Paul Kimball. By then I had heard little
more about this. It was not my investigation and there simply was nothing that
I could do to further it. My intervention might have screwed things up, and
while I thought of this as a rather unsophisticated “alien autopsy” I also
thought the investigation should continue. I did mention to one of the team
members that I believed the slides to be a hoax.
that podcast, I noticed that Kimball was being criticized for not asking me
about the slides. As I have said, I would not have answered the questions
because I didn’t believe the information belonged to me. It belonged to those
who had conducted the investigation and who were working with the witnesses. In
fact, I didn’t know that the nether regions of the creature or body had been
covered until Nick Redfern mentioned in it his latest posting about this a
couple of days ago.
thought the criticism was unfair, so I sent Paul an email explaining the
situation to him. I thought he could be trusted to keep the information
private. In fact, on August 29, he wrote, “Thanks for sharing it with me, and
of course I will keep it in confidence.” I will note here that his assurance
lasted nearly a month.
what I should have paid attention to, he also wrote, “Personally, I would
reveal the whole story publicly and force a clearing out of the stables…”
although I had learned about the slides from Nick and Rich, I felt that the
information belonged to others who had originated the investigation. I was not
comfortable in publishing anything for two reasons. One, it was proprietary and
second, I was not confident that it was a real event, meaning that the slides
had not been authenticated.
was about the time of the podcast that I said that I didn’t think the slides
were authentic, meaning that there were slides, but that the image was not of
anything real. At that time I received, unsolicited, an email about an analysis
of the slides, suggesting that some analysis had been accomplish back in March.
It added something of a note of authenticity, so I mentioned all this to Paul.
But then I realized that this was not an analysis of the slides, but a proposal
of what sort of information was necessary to build a case for authenticity. I
sent a second email reporting this, but note, I’m not participating in the
investigation, I’m merely a recipient of the data. I hadn’t asked for it, I
hadn’t interviewed anyone to get it and I hadn’t even been given access to the
documents about it. I had not seen the slides in any form.
came Rich’s latest update on the slides. I received quite a number of emails
about them, and replied to some of them. In a response that so outraged Paul, I
said that I hadn’t seen the slides nor had I participated in the investigation.
I knew about it but I hadn’t participated.
in what I guess is the classical definition of situational ethics, Paul decided
that if I lied about this, he was under no obligation to hold my communications
with him in confidence. I don’t understand how this would nullify that
agreement. Even if I had lied, he had agreed to hold the information in
to prove his point, he threatened to publish more of our confidential
communications. Now, I could prove that I had not participated in the
investigation, but to do so would require me to violate a confidence or two in
a way similar to that of Paul, but I won’t do it.
fact, he also said that I would have to talk about the nun’s diary, but I
thought that had all been covered earlier. The tale was told by Bill English to
Don and then to me in Alamogordo. English was reported to be a former Special
Forces officer and a Vietnam veteran. We, meaning Don and I, also talked to a
woman in Roswell who was supposed to be a nun, or former nun, who had seen the
diaries and remembered the entry. But it turns out that English wasn’t in the
Special Forces, wasn’t an officer, and apparently wasn’t a Vietnam veteran.
We’ve chased the diaries for two decades, and if they existed, I now believe
them to be irretrievable lost. Since I had reported all this earlier, I’m not
sure why it is an issue.
did suggest to Paul that I had come to the conclusion that this re-investigation
simply wasn’t working and that I was going to alert the team about this. I
wanted to email Tom first because I thought he deserved a personal note from
me. I probably wrote a half dozen versions and finally sent one. After more
than ten days, I received an email from Tom in which I noted he was a little
annoyed with me… but what the hell, I expected that. I just hoped that we could
remain friends. Apparently all this was not fast enough for Paul and
ironically, I received the reply from Tom only a couple of hours before
anonymous posted his article that lead to all this unnecessary turmoil.
the question that pops to mind is, “Just who in the hell is Paul Kimball to
make these decisions?” He might not approve of some of the team members, but
that isn’t really any of his business. I knew of the problems with some of them
as this began. I overlooked them, but this too has outraged Paul and gets us
back to the question of “Just who in the hell is Paul Kimball?”
pile on, now he publishes an old letter of mine, written, what, nearly twenty
years ago. This doesn’t need to be rehashed. What is the point, other than to
attack someone he might not like? Apparently, he believes he needs to select my
friends for me.
the point that some don’t seem to understand and is the real issue. I confided
in Paul and he agreed to that. He kept the confidence for nearly a month. It
takes no courage to violate an agreement and what I seem to be getting hammered
for is not revealing all I knew immediately because some of it came in
confidential agreements. I will again note that I know of no instances in which
Tom or Don violated any agreements they had made.
will note here that I was not allowed to withdraw gracefully from the project
and I believe this has irreparably damaged my friendship with Tom Carey. This I
deeply regret. And, that it has brought up an issue about Don Schmitt again, I
regret. Say what you will, he is a charismatic man who has a deep knowledge of
the field. We had worked around our differences, but Paul Kimball is outraged
that he wasn’t chased away twenty years ago.
real point here is that after two years, we have identified more men who
remember endless drumbeat of Roswell information. I know from my own military
experience that I will watch almost anything that has to do with the units I
served with in Vietnam or Iraq… though I haven’t seen any of the Vietnam movies
other than the laughable The Green Beret
(which is not to say the Green Berets are laughable, just that silly John Wayne
my team members, I apologize for screwing this up. I tried to do what I thought
of as right, but, of course, that didn’t work out. I tried to avoid this
controversy but just underscored it. To Tom, I apologize for outing this whole
thing by trusting someone I thought of as a friend and to Don I apologize for
unnecessarily opening an old wound.
is much longer than I planned, but it should be clear that all this came about
because a confidence was violated. Regardless of the reason, that is the bottom