Thursday, February 4, 2010

My UFO Encounter, and Other Crazy Speculations.

I began investigating the UFO phenomenon around 1969, not long after I read Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods . Now I must make it clear from the outset that though at first very interested, even excited at Von Daniken’s ideas, many of his speculations are very dubious. For around five years I read all I could find on the UFO phenomenon, and this of course was pre-Internet days, so my research all consisted of hardcopy material. In 1975 I ceased investigations, though throughout subsequent years I would occasionally return to the subject, but with much less intensity. After all, I had never seen a UFO and had to rely on reports of other people, so all of this stuff was still rather theoretical and somewhat murky and speculative to me.

An incident around April/May 2001 changed all that. Post-marital separation I moved into a flat in a block of units in West Wollongong (Gilmore Street, if you must know). I made many new friends, and we frequently gathered on the lower balcony to chat at nights. The incident I’m referring to was an encounter with three UFOs. While we were chatting and joking, about eight of us (I can’t remember exactly) that night, we saw three lights emerge from behind Mount Keira, and they came towards our suburb. I jokingly commented, “here come the aliens”. At first I, and I think all of us, thought it might be some laser beam effect, but as they came closer it was obvious that we were witnessing something that appeared rather “unworldly”. None of us spoke as we witnessed this. The three round-shaped “craft” eventually stopped and hovered over us, at what seemed like a height of about 800 metres* (See footnote), if that, without a sound emanating from them. At this distance we could see what appeared to be metallic craft that emitted a light orange-like glow at the rim of the craft. They flew in triangular motion until they stopped above us. They hovered, I would guess, for about a minute or so, then began moving again until they disappeared from our view. Some commented after the incident, “what the hell was that?”

Fortunately this was a diverse group, and I’m quite sure none of them had the sort of background I did, a long time interest in Ufology. Without those other witnesses, I would definitely not be writing this out. They were “typical Aussies” who lived very down to earth and practical lives, whereas I could be considered to have imagined up a phenomenon from too much past reading about UFOs. A few years ago I asked one of my good friends who was in that group if we really saw what we thought we saw. He confirmed that it was real, and then commented, “that was weird, wasn’t it?”. I remember most of the people in that group, and wouldn’t hesitate to ask any of them to also confirm what happened that night.

This is an actual photo of Mount Keira, and a re-creation of how the UFOs looked as they emerged from behind the mountain.

How the UFOs looked to us as they hovered directly overhead, but I've been unable to re-create the metallic look.

A map of the area they covered to reach us, which would have been a minimum of 10+ kilometres, and given that they reached us in under a minute, my calculation is that they were probably travelling at about Mach 1.6 to Mach 2.0, in complete silence.

Now to this day I do not know what those craft were. A very sophisticated laser-beam effect isn’t out of the question, I suppose, and I’m prepared to wear a few hot-curried scrambled eggs on my face if that were the case. One of the ladies who was in that group, however, reported that two weeks prior to the incident she had woken about 2am and went out on to her upstairs balcony and saw a UFO “darting across the sky” and “zig-zagging” then went off at “incredible speed”. So my conclusion to this day is: Uncertain. Make of that whatever you will. Maybe they were alien craft; maybe it was some very sophisticated laser-beam effect/joke. After the incident I spoke with a workmate who was at the time the secretary for an Australian UFO society, and a keen UFO watcher who went off with groups into mountains and open spaces “UFO-hunting”, and apparently some of their expeditions were successful. He treated my report almost with a casual demeanor, “oh yes, that’s not unusual”. He, at any rate, was a true believer. Now that I had seen something my interest was once again piqued, but I still didn’t pursue the subject with the intensity I did in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

It makes me wonder how many people have experiences like this which go unreported. In March 2007, New Scientist (at last someone reputable is taking this seriously) reported in an article titled France opens up its UFO files

France became the first country to open its files on UFOs on Thursday when the national space agency unveiled a website documenting more than 1600 sightings spanning five decades.

The online archives, which will be updated as new cases are reported, catalogues in minute detail cases ranging from the easily dismissed to a handful that continue to perplex even hard-nosed scientists.

"It is a world first," says Jacques Patenet, the aeronautical engineer who heads the office for the study of "non-identified aerospatial phenomena."


But many others involving multiple sightings - in at least one case involving thousands of people across France - and evidence such as burn marks and radar trackings showing flight patterns or accelerations that defy the laws of physics are taken very seriously…………

The nearly 1000 witnesses who said they saw flashing lights in the sky on 5 November 1990, by contrast, had simply seen a rocket fragment falling back into Earth's atmosphere.
"We do not have the least proof that extra-terrestrials are behind the unexplained phenomena," says Patenet, adding: "Nor do we have the least proof that they aren't."
The CNES fields between 50 and 100 UFO reports ever year, usually written up by police. Of these, 10% are the object of on-site investigations, Patenet says.

If you can read French here is the CNES website

And here is my March 2009 blog post on Buzz Aldrin talks about the Apollo 11 UFO sightings

Now what would a blog post be without some speculation? I speculate that intelligent alien civilisations do exist. If they do have the physical capability to reach us then it’s obvious that their technology is very far in advance of ours. So, presumably, would their intelligence and ethics, and one can only imagine what their religious beliefs, if they have any, are like. It also raises the much larger question of – what is really possible in this incredible and diverse universe of ours? Probably the unthinkable and the now unimaginable. And who is God? Some ethereal and mystical spirit entity not observable to our physical senses who permeates the Universe? Or is “God” (to us) these very advanced alien civilisations? That was Von Daniken’s speculation, hence the title of his book “Chariots of the Gods”. I don’t necessarily buy any of this, but it’s worth contemplating. Did aliens plant the organic seeds of life on this planet of ours, or even assist in the process of our evolution? Before we too easily dismiss this possibility we must remember that all modern dogs are the process not only of natural selection, but artificial selection, that is, they are basically human creations using both natural and artificial processes. All dogs have evolved from wolves, but all of the various breeds that exist today are the result of human intervention. We essentially tamed wild dogs through the use of natural and artificial selection, over hundreds of years, to become “man’s best friend”. So before we accuse aliens of any “wrongful” or “unethical” intervention, we must bear in mind that we have done it ourselves, and no one asked dogs for their opinion about this, or whether they agreed to be experimented with.

Another crazy speculation of mine is that we do not know the extent, if any, of alien contact with us, and just how much they may be intervening, if they are. It’s probably not coincidental that after the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that UFO reports increased (that could also be due to better media communications, such as radio, which was however used in the 19th century). Could they have suddenly taken a greater interest since humankind learned how to split the atom and develop nuclear warfare? Who knows? But it doesn’t break our arms to indulge in a little speculation.

Another thought is where will we, humans, be in, say, one million years from now, if we survive that is? Could we eventually evolve smaller bodies and larger brains? At the moment we are rather primitive, if you ask me, and place great weight on, well, “worldly things” like pride, vanity, beauty, physical prowess, etc. I would imagine, maybe wrongly, that a more advanced species would place much less emphasis on “animal attraction”, for want of a better description, and would be more inclined to favour mental or spiritual aesthetics. We seem to have been evolving in this way over at least the last several thousand years, and gravitating towards more ethical and universal values which inculcates respect for all life. We have come, even in the last 60 years, to understand our humble place in the world and the universe, and that we are no longer the centre of creation, nor any more special than animals, except of course that we have developed larger and more “efficient” brains which we have used to increase our understanding and try to preserve and protect all life, well, hopefully most of us do.

So I will end my speculations with a verse from a bit of prose which I like:

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

- Desiderata.

* It's quite clear to me now that the craft could not have been more than about 450-500 metres above us. I deduct this by the height of Mount Keira above sea level, which is 
464 metres. My recollection is that they didn't rise (ascend) as they flew towards us. It's also very difficult to judge altitude when one doesn't know the dimensions of a craft. I suppose this is one area where witnesses are heavily criticised. What I DO know is that these craft were clearly visible. This was no "I thought I saw" event, or something quickly darting across the sky. It was deliberate, and fairly prolonged, long enough so that none of us felt we were  "seeing things", or experiencing a delusion.

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