Tuesday, February 26, 2013
WANAQUE 1966, part one: microcosm of UFOlogy
This seems very complicated, so let's just plough into it and see if any sense can be made.
First, a little note as to how the idea to look into the case[s] even arose recently.
Greg wanted to congratulate me and the UFO History Group on UFOs and Government, and to float the idea that one thing that he has always wanted to do was to write a general review book on the BOL phenomenon worldwide. [A huge task]. He said that our book "pushed him over the edge" in his resolve. And, I, for one, can't wait to see what he does with the topic, as, to me, the Balls-of-Light are the area in UFOlogy most easily seen as "natural physical phenomena" OR part of the UFO phenomenon OR some ancient nature-spirit phenomenon OR even in the "ghost" category. Other aspects of UFOlogy seem to drift much more strongly towards one hypothesis or another. BOLs seem to resist that.
In order to kickstart his research, he was data-gathering and had focussed on three cases that he wanted some file material on. Wanaque was one of them. CUFOS in Chicago has tried to help and so have I. When I looked at my case files, I was a little surprised to find only bare shreds on Wanaque. Maybe I shouldn't have been. The UFO world is a big place and you can't read it all. All of us are going to be ignorant , even on famous pieces of it now and then.
But I wanted to be at least a little helpful, so I began looking for resources. .... and got stuck in this thing. This is REALLY complicated, and generally poorly investigated [at least as far as the resources available to me would indicate]. But it definitely "has a story". So, admitting that we're playing with a deck missing several cards, what can be said?
A: WHAT DID "THE PAPERS" SAY?
When you dive into Wanaque, you find that you're not dealing with one "UFO" case but many. For purposes of sanity, it's convenient [though mildly inaccurate] to consider the Wanaque cases to be mainly composed of two clusters of incidents in 1966, one in mid-January and the other almost exactly nine months later in October. In this first swipe at the phenomenon, I'm going to look only at the January incidents.
The second thing that strikes you [very favorably] is that the January cluster has a boatload of witnesses, lots of whom are "in plain sight", and many of whom are policemen. So... good start.
The third thing is that no REALLY good investigation seems to have been made. Because of that, I'm going to begin by saying what the newspapers got from the witnesses and put in their stories. The cast-of-characters above figures prominently in this, and several of them in the October events as well.
The above is my guess at the January action. Take it with a grain of salt. Who knows?, it might even be correct. Secondly, my scanner took the day off on reproducing any intensity of red. So, what we're supposed to get from the map is a long [now light pink line] arcing north to south from Ringwood all the way out of the picture past Pompton Plains. That long arc may have been the first stage of the events of January 11th. Then, the thing returns on the orange line, hangs about the Raymond Dam on the Wanaque Reservoir, then the blue line indicates the third stage over the city and leaving again south. After a break of a few hours, and now early in the January 12th hours, the thing seems to show up over Wyckoff and take the heading indicated towards the Dam where it hangs about again. These pathways are what I can surmise from the newspaper clippings, plus a blow-by-blow article out of FATE Magazine, which although written by guys I don't automatically trust, does, in this case, seem to match the news reports pretty well.
So, allegedly: something was seen in the north over Ringwood at about 6:20-6:30pm. It cruised southward passing over Wanaque city, including the high school, the dam, the mining pit south of town, the highway crossover point on Ringwood Avenue, and leaving to the southern horizon. This southern passage seems to have been a relatively slow, steady cruise, but one which caught people's, then police attention. There wasn't much to it otherwise: a slow-moving bright light, much brighter than a star.
B. STAGE TWO: It seems to be on the trip back that everyone gets involved.
By 6:45pm, the thing is seen coming back. Officer Joe Cisco spots it, then Officer Delano sees it hovering over the Raymond Dam [The Raymond Dam is directly under the point of the orange arrow on the map]. This is c.7pm. Delano radio's Officer Dyckman, who with two teenage boys, also sees the light. Generally this light is described as very bright, low in the sky, probably slowly dimming and brightening, but NOT rapid pulsing, slow-moving or hovering, silent, and possibly turning. Dyckman seems to have gotten much more excited about the thing than anyone else, being described as "visibly shaken". He also is one of the few who thinks the light is extremely blindingly bright, and who describes it as "discoidal" or oval.
Fairly soon after this Officer Theodora also sees the light, and it seems to be he who wonders about a hole in the reservoir ice he sees. As the thing seems to be happy to hang around the reservoir awhile, even the Mayor and several councilmen go out to see it. The Mayor brings his 14-year-old son, who notices that the light is slowly changing hues from white to red to green to white again. Some of the observers get to watch occasional erratic whipping about, dipping, and approaching the water surface activities. On one of these dips, the object's light shone strong on the surface producing a circle about 9' in diameter. The observers judged, due to this view, that the object was quite small, in the 2-to-9 foot diameter range. Three reservoir engineers were at the top of the dam to observe, and made this estimate. One was reported in the newspapers as seeing a "beam" directed at the waters. This was typical bad newspaper rumor mill reporting, and the engineer did not say that.
By 8pm to 8:30pm, the visitor apparently decided to leave.
C. STAGE THREE: A cruise over the town and back south.
The BOL began to move, again leisurely, sometime after 8pm, going north over the city and pausing over the Lakeland Regional High School. It then turned back south and seems to have paused over the Houdaille sand-mine pit in Haskell. It left southerly over Pompton Lakes and beyond. This southernly excursion had occurred after almost a full hour of wandering or hovering near the dam.
People stayed out looking for a return, but by midnight nothing more happened. Then, at about 2am, the two officers named, oddly, Cisco [Joe] and Sisco [David] got word that the thing had been seen over Wyckoff to the East and was traveling towards the dam. It arrived at the dam at about 2:30am and was witnessed there by three officers: Sisco, Wardlaw, and Theodora. Theodora tried to get a picture but the print showed only a small fuzzy light. The event concluded at about 4:15am, when, it seems, the light just suddenly disappeared [although the reports could be a lot clearer on this for my taste].
D. PEERING INTO THE AFTERMATH ZOO.
Word got around quickly [this IS afterall very near the Ultimate Zoo, New York City], and by the 13th lots was happening, almost all unproductive. Cars of thrill-seekers were all over cramping up the roads and causing accidents [this went on for days]. TRUE Magazine allegedly sent a man down, though I have nothing on that element of this, unless he was the same guy who was writing for the New York Daily News. Sadly, UFO mischief-maker, Augie Roberts, was a nearby resident and he showed up to add to the confusion. [Roberts was one of that merry little band of screw-offs which included Gray Barker and Jim Moseley, who early on decided to make UFOlogy a personal playground with no regard for truth.] Roberts immediately began discoursing authoritatively about UFOs, claiming to have a picture of the Wanaque thing, and speculating that the government was testing antigravity technology over the reservoir. Yep, a true seeker.... of something. The USAF didn't do any better, immediately announcing that the witnesses had seen Venus and Jupiter.
There were two alleged sightings just before midnight and at 4am on the morning of the 13th. The midnight sighting was by two guys who saw a similar bobbing reddish-tinged BOL of very bright light. The 4am sighting was of a very bright baseball-sized light which swooped in on the Water Treatment Plant , didn't like it as much as the reservoir, and took back off at high speed. The USAF shortly rumored the possibility of a helicopter with a bright strobe beam, but the local base commander went public with the news that the base didn't have any helicopters. This was replaced by some Air Force goon's opinion that the witnesses had been seeing one of the two Echo satellites. The stupidity of some of these people beggars the imagination. Over 1000 waited patiently in crammed cars for new sightings which didn't come.
Luckier were two members of a swarm of CB Rangers who had come over to do 24/7 reconnaissance in the evening. None of them saw anything on night one, but on the next night, two guys claimed something completely different: a dark-colored "fat cigar-shaped object" about 30-40 feet long. It had amber-colored lights of fluorescent quality. They claimed that it was only 150 feet away. I have found no one who did anything with this case. The two also said that their radios malfunctioned when the thing was around. Meanwhile, Augie Roberts said that the object wouldn't remain in the area long --- on what grounds is anyone's guess.
On the 15th and 16th NICAP showed up in force. Committe members White and Pagano first, then Don Berliner leading a contingent from DC including even Gordon Lore [I wish it had been Ted Bloecher and Isabel Davis, maybe we'd have gotten a more comprehensive case file.] The locals were impressed, believing NICAP to be a quasi-official part of the federal government. Somewhat less impressive was the letter received by the Mayor from UFO/Paranormal nut, Ted Owens. Signing himself as "The Rainmaker", he stated that the Mayor should send him money so he and his family could come up from Philadelphia. At that time, he would use his powers to "call in" the UFO, because he knew just how to do that. The Mayor did not request funding from City Council.
Nothing happened until the 19th, when a local engineer was confronted by a bright blue BOL which swooped down on his car. He immediately took his car off the road and watched as the thing seemed to perch on the telephone wires. Another car came and seemed to just suddenly stop functioning --- this was surmise by the engineer due to the suddenness of the stop. He immediately floored his accelerator and left the scene. Police went looking for the other car unsuccessfully.
Nothing happened again for a week. NICAP came back on the 27th to lead a well-attended town meeting on the subject. The only known result of this was the setting up of a three part series on UFOs for the local newspaper.
That's part one, folks. More weirdness and maybe even some light next time ... if I get any clarity myself. Till then, blessings on what is for me a fine snowy wintry evening.
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