Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Communications Revolution: The End of UFOlogy and Anomalies Studies?

People have mixed opinions on the impact of the Internet but most modern attitudes are that "just give it time, the Internet will make everything better". That if true would be a very great anomaly indeed --- nothing, save Love Itself, makes everything better. But could it make our study and understanding of UFOs better? Opinions are easily created; is there any reason to say one way or another?

Who knows? This post is one way of tossing something factual into that stewpot.

I was idly wondering whether it might be worth someday writing a small regional UFO casebook on Michigan UFOs. Michigan tends to burp up a good UFO case rather regularly, even when the rest of the country is relatively silent, so maybe such a study would be interesting. Without {yet} being at all serious about doing such a book, I decided to make a simple-minded surface survey of what was out there as far as reports were concerned.

I chose the extremely valuable site "UFO DNA- The UFO Code" to take a look at. It is not a "comprehensive" case listing [nothing is] but it has a large number of cases to say the least. The producer[s] of the site surveyed a tremendous amount of UFO literature to compile this. Not wanting to grow too old in my quest, picking Michigan lessened the extensiveness of my search, and the site helped out further by having regional listings of cases divided by Hynekian categories.

Now.... no one should take the results of my survey any more seriously than is appropriate. These cases counted are just "Michigan" and any region will have its own distinctive characteristics, different mixes of case types, different involvement in flaps, flaps of its own, etc. But even given all that, I think that the data below still "speak" to us. One thing however: UFO-DNA [good as it is] is a production of human nature. That means that there are flaws, irregularities, matters of convenience and/or interpretation which "color" its listings. I'm not bothered by this. The site seems unusually void of any added prejudices. The only thing to note is that the site has apparently had a non-smooth case entry history [i.e. there seem to be a few years where the amount of energy/completeness going into the listings was down, and the total count for those years thereby unusually low]. Knowing UFOlogy, I think that I can suss those out and not let them screw up the ultimate insights, if any.

So, all I've done is to go into Robot-Mode and count cases by years. I made separate counts for each Hynekian category. And I added together the counts for all Close Encounters-plus-Radar cases for each year. The total number of cases in a year is the top of the Blue/Red column, and the number of potentially high evidence cases [The CEs and the Radars] within those years are the Red Column. What showed up?

Early in the graph, Keyhoe-ian UFOlogy showed up. A nice 1947 component and a good lump of cases across the 1950s with VERY little Close Encounters. [Remember again folks that this is just a Michigan graph, so don't expect it to meet your "national" expectations necessarily.]

Then the big 60s wave showed up. Some would call this the Swamp Gas Wave, but I refer to it as the Condon Project Wave. My "inside joke" on this is: whatever's behind the UFO phenomenon decided that we are so utterly incompetent emotionally and culturally to actually study anything properly, that they were going to unleash a giant wave, including many CEs, just as our so-called "scientific study" was going to run, and prove positively that we had our collective heads buried in some unproductive seeing environment [there are more than one well-known such environments in popular slang --- fill in your own favorite]. The "Condon Wave" shows a good base of total cases with a healthy CE content. The 1970s continue these flare-ups.

Then comes something that many observant UFOlogists have noticed all over the world --- not only very few cases, but just about no CEs at all. This is the great dead period of the 1980s. After the 1980s, the Internet shows up in force and the Internet UFO reporting sites begin to get noticed by the public.

And here come the reports..... I actually had several famous UFOlogists [some of the most famous CE4 UFOlogists] argue vociferously against Mark Rodeghier's and my assertions that the manifestation of the phenomenon had changed and that certain things had basically gone away. Oh no! There are UFO reports all over the place! We are in a continuous Flap, not a drought!. Yep. We're flappin' alright --- IF you believe the Internet.

I wondered if any of those guys ever read many of the "case reports" they were referring to. Essentially useless... Zero... No research value. And, even if one decided to allow oneself "great faith" about what might be behind the shallow "reports" [totally uninterviewed or in any way field-tested], there STILL were no CEs, especially of the CE2 types. The Michigan numbers [with my inclusions of the latest three years mapped on the site] show exactly that.

I didn't try to map any of this stuff [WAY too much effort], but there are a few mappings out there for what they're worth. This is a Larry Hatch filtered case map, theoretically of better UFO incidents. I will bet money that Hatch could not include maybe even one report of the late 90s or 2000s on a quality-filtered map. Unlike the case reports from the Keyhoe-ian era, the Condon-Project Wave, or the mid-70s follow-on, almost all this later stuff is precisely worthless --- a Sea of Weeds.

This is probably intuitively obvious to anyone who reads this blog, but Allen Hynek made it specific long ago, while he was still at work for the Air Force. Hynek invented the concept of the Strangeness/ Credibility Graph. He knew then, just like ourselves and any other good UFOlogist in between, that there are NO good UFO cases unless they have two clear characteristics: significant "Strangeness" and solid credible witnesses.

Anybody can type out a highly strange story on the internet --- we've got strangeness galore on every conceivable subject. BUT Even There, there are few, sometimes no, really strange CE2 or CE3 incidents reported on the famous sites. But even if there were: without personal "field investigations" the quality of witness credibility is precisely zero. Every witness might be a Franciscan monk who used to be an astronomer for all we know, but that's the point isn't it? We DON'T know. Witness credibility Zero= Case Zero.

This is a map generated from bulk NUFORC [the internet's main UFO reporting center] data. Do you know what I think about this? The red color makes it pretty. That's all.

A colossally-useless effort.

Worse yet, in my exploration around the internet, I find that every anomaly is being forced into this same pattern: easy, no risk "reporting", no follow-up on anything, huge pile of Believe-it-or-not unfiltered words accumulating.

I hinted at the Doomsday Scenario for learning anything about any of the anomalies lurking in this situation in the title of this post. I have some serious concerns. There are ways to adjust to this of course, but they all require civilian researchers to step up their games significantly, and create very strong and investigatively efficient linkages to the sites which are brainlessly accumulating the unprocessed data. If that doesn't happen, UFO research [with one exception] is over. The one exception will be historical research --- old cases/ old FOIAs newly released etc. The same thing would be true for hauntings, poltergeists, bigfoot, faerie, Fortean Falls, black dogs, etc etc etc. In every one of these types of spectacular event anomalies, the mere typing into a collecting site which is a dead end will ultimately result in the complete reduction of the anomaly to shallow entertainment in everyone's mind, and the anomalies will sink to the status of imaginary computer games.

The UFO research community MUST STEP UP IT'S GAME!!!

I don't want to be the last guy trying to study these wonders, or in my case just a high-strangeness old dude trying desperately to at least preserve the ACTUAL data-rich documentation so that future Wonderers can have something other than what the reporting sites have to offer to study.

MUFON: Get it together! NUFORC: Get it together! MUFON/NUFORC: GET TOGETHER!! Seriously. Get a better research idea. Get a plan. You could be drowning in unexamined opportunities while rearranging your Titanic deck chairs as the Internet Iceberg sails mindlessly on.

Well, even I was exhausted by that last metaphor.... Peace friends.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Short Subject: Fishing for Mermaids with Ivan.

This will be short. It was inspired by coming across a letter to Bob Warth after Ivan died, wherein a SITU member wanted to comment about an exchange that she'd had with Ivan about news stories in her area which made mermaid incident claims. The member had promised to try to get up to the exact city where the paper had published the stories [there were about three different sorts of claims] and get copies of the clippings for Ivan's file. And the letter at hand was that member's successful accomplishing of that years later.

I am actually surprised that Ivan had a file on Mermaids at all. More on that and why after I give you the one Mermaid tale that was in this letter that I liked a great deal.

This lady was writing Warth in 1984 from the Vancouver area and reflected on her original letter way back in 1967. There had been a small brouhaha about Mermaid sightings then, including an alleged photo of Her Wateriness lounging on the shoreline [above]. Marion Fawcett had wanted the lady to get a better copy of the picture, but she failed. Now years later, she had stumbled on to the news stories again, plus one other. She thought that SITU might still want them for the files [there is no evidence that in 1984 anyone was still filing anything at all there].

The Mermaid-on-the-Shore is certainly a college guys' prank, and pretty uninteresting [to me anyway]. A second story from that 1967 date [from a different location: Sayward Beach, Cordova Bay --- the college boys' "mermaid" was at Cowichan Bay], however has a little more going for it. For one thing, the witness was an adult housewife who lived at the shore and knew it well. She described the event as her walking the beach and beginning to come up on a "girl suntanning" at about 200 feet away. But she then noticed that the topless blonde sunbather had a tail for a "bottom" which threw the whole thing into Magonia. The lady tried to run to get closer, but the Mermaid spotted her and slid over the rocks thereby and was gone when she arrived. The witness refused to believe that this was an actual Mermaid, but rather someone playing a joke of some kind [note that she had no good reason for saying that other than an attempt to maintain her own sanity].

But that was not the story in the letter which interested me. This event was reported to have taken place on New Year's Eve of 1969. The witness was a very close friend of the news columnist who told the tale after his friend's recent death [this situation is why the columnist felt that it would now be OK to tell his friend's confidential story]. The witness' name was Bill Evans. The columnist's name was Jack Scott.

There was a New Year's Eve party at the house on the shore [somewhere in the vicinity of Vancouver], and there had been a beach bonfire, but people had retreated inside. Evans and Scott had remained outside, Scott to attend to the bonfire, while Evans had wandered down the beach. His excuse was picking oysters, but it was a walk of solitude common to him. The blaze was quite robust just then, and it and the Moonlight illuminated quite a patch of the beach.

Evans had been gone oyster-picking for about twenty minutes, when Scott looked up and noticed his friend standing "transfixed". Ultimately noticing Scott staring, Evans slowly waved to him to come over. When Scott arrived, his friend seemed quietly introspective. Neither talked. They walked a bit further down the beach and sat. Evans, still staring out into the ocean bay then said: "I've just met a Mermaid".

Scott, of course, thought that this was a joke, but Evans sensing that waved any comment away. He continued: "She came into the shallow water at the point and then she came out of the water on the beach, where we get the clams.     She was very beautiful.     She had long golden hair.   Well, it was more like ribbons of kelp, but somehow beautiful. She had a long green fishlike tail that was a part of her exquisite body.   I just didn't know what to say to her."

Scott, stunned by these comments by a close friend that had never had any tendency to engage in foolishness of anything like this sort, noted the euphoric appearance of his face, and had to take him seriously. He asked him, well, what DID you say?

Evans gave a bemused self-deprecating smile and said: "Aren't you cold?" She gave a laugh and in a non-human-but-still-human low voice "like an offshore breeze", said that no, she wasn't. She asked him why the people had been gathering on the beach, and he talked a bit about New Year's and parties with friends. Evans thought that they talked for about five minutes.

Scott asked if he could describe her. Evans was a bit embarrassed. The Mermaid was topless and he felt that her great beauty and the very non-mundane interaction that they were having made his "looking at her" something that he didn't want to make so obvious that she thought him a crude lout. But he responded to Scott's question this way:

"There was nothing even remotely self-conscious about her, you understand, but since she wore no clothes I felt a little embarrassed about looking at her. Still, I saw enough to know that she was absolutely lovely. You could say breathtakingly beautiful. When I asked her, at one point, where she lived, she pointed out to the water and the path of the Moon. Then we saw someone coming down the beach and she took my hand for a second and slipped into the bay and was gone". At that Evans unconsciously lifted his hand towards the water. Scott saw that it was still wet.

They sat a while in silence. When Evans died he asked for his ashes to be scattered in this very bay. And this despite that he was never a sailor nor ever owned the smallest boat.


There's something about that one that makes music for me.

Well... on to a brief comment about Ivan's file....

Ivan's three-ring notebook which contains some "mermaid" files surprised me that it existed at all. This is because Ivan didn't really like the paranormal, much preferring something he could get his hands on. And, as to "mermaids", Ivan was a biologist and knew that they were biologically impossible. Ivan didn't want Nessie to be a water kelpie, but rather a big old beast capable of entering the biotexts. He didn't want Bigfoot-from-Magonia, but rather a new Big Ape. And he didn't relate to half-human half-fish entities either. Maybe he thought that if he collected the information, there would be a relatively normal biology animal behind it all.

His Mermaid file consists of about ten newsclippings, several pages of an 1822 story from the London Mirror, Chapter 9 of Folklore and the Sea by Horace Beck, and a chapter out of an 1883 monograph from a fisheries publication, entitled "Sea Fables Explained". [by Henry Lee].

That latter reference had some quite good history of the mer-people concept from ancient times, and was illustrated with interesting line-drawings like the above. Up there are "Dagon/Oannes" the powerful fishman god of Mesopotamia, a coin/medal from the Phoenecian colonization of Marseilles supposed to be representing the goddess Atargatis, and a medal/ coin from Corinth representing a Triton male and female pair........ so the concept is certainly very ancient.

Pleasant as the subject is, I am going to resist making a review project out of it, and suggest instead that you buy Jerry Clark's UNEXPLAINED! and read his chapter on "Merbeings".

You'll be smart then.

And you'll be able to blame him rather than me for shocking your family with plans to move to Vancouver Strait or the Orkney Islands.

Till next time, peace, and a slightly belated Happy St. Pat's. If you don't have the Irish Magic in you, you should have.

Monday, March 11, 2013

WANAQUE, Part Eight {The End? We can only hope...}

Well, I can't answer The Thinker's question, but that has rarely deterred anyone with a PhD from spewing forth unconcernedly, so here goes:


One: there's a robust phenomenon of "something" in the sky, which has manifested at Wanaque over decades. Whether it's still going on I don't know. And whatever this phenomenon is, it's not hoaxes, kids with laundry balloons, weather balloons, planes, helicopters, Menzelian star and planet misidentifications and atmospheric bogglements et al. It's one of our favorite things: an anomalous mystery.

Two: this "phenomenon" COULD be "phenomena". Some of the best observations seem to be "only" strange lightforms, but some rather good observations seem to be non-self-luminous objects. Whether one phenomenon [lightforms] is the product of the other [objects] is a unifying possibility, but this is a case where my usual Occam's Razor might be set on the shelf. I can just imagine here one oddity "attracting" another.

Three: the lightforms phenomenon seems "connected" to the geography of the reservoir area, and possibly even to the geology of it. Chief Casazza said that the great majority of instances occurred over the western mountains or at the southern end of the reservoir. If true, this aspect of the anomaly could be site-specific in the sense that it might point to a "natural" or at least a "terrestrial" phenomenon.

Four: the BOL incidents have a small number of unusual qualities. They are small and extremely bright, FAR brighter than one expects any object so small to be. The BOLs move in similar ways: usually hovering or in slow meanders, they often take active episodes of eye-confusingly quick darts and dashes, and do so in apparent non-inertial angle-defying motions. These motions have been described by more than one person as geometric displays.

Five: the BOLs sometimes just fly away, but sometimes seem to simply disappear as if suddenly switched off or extinguishing.

PHENOMENOLOGICALLY: What Might also be real?? 

One: The light from these BOLs/objects might have special properties. The power of the illumination seems great, but the light does not always quite affect things as expected. Despite the brightness, it seems possible to look directly at this "mellow" light for longer than you'd think, and the light doesn't quite seem proper in its illumination. In fact, in the intense Officer Thompson case, the light illuminated some things sort of "in its direction" but not things if Thompson turned away from it. Thompson's own eyes seemed to become weirdly dependent upon just this light, for he could not see anything even close up when he turned away, nor later when the light itself turned off. It was as if this light was "for him" in some bizarre way, and his optical pathways were dominated by it during the experience, only returning slowly to normal function once the object and its light "went out".

Two: The light from these whatevers might be light generated by something rather than simply a self-transmitting entity. The light was described as a "hole punched in the sky", and as emerging from a funnel-like corridor [from where?]. The emerging weird light was also described as being a solid hard-lined streak of light "drawn" on the ice of the lake. All this seems to be "Light Behaving Badly".

Three: Occasionally objects appear which seem to belong clearly in the UFO class of flying objects. These things are described as automobile-sized, not self-luminous, sometimes associated with satellite or some other lightform.

Four: At least two pretty good "stalker" cases have been reported. Both cases had larger-than-usually-reported lighted objects following automobiles in secluded areas for long distances. "Stalkers" have usually been seen as experiences indicating "intent", and are always felt that way by the person being "stalked". Intention of course is synonymous with intelligent direction, and not natural coincidence nor "accident".

Five: There MIGHT be a few CE2 type cases [electrical or physiological effects], but we can demure on that [other than the peculiar effects on Thompson's vision].

"SOCIALLY/GOVERNMENTALLY": Ho Hum, but some questions exist.

One: The known elements of the Air Force were utterly uncaring about the 1966 events. This was probably true because they were in Quit Mode. Other more secretive elements of the intelligence/security community may NOT have been uncaring. As we have seen, a separate long-established reporting method for potential threats to the NYC water supply system had been in place for  decades. This could have still been "current" in 1966 and explain arrivals of helicopters, planes, and even an on-ground-intel agent or two.

Two: The UFO community basically stunk this up. The only positives in the story are bits of NICAP, Goodavage, Sanderson, and most of Mallan. And this is the point. The situation at Wanaque was complicated and long-term, and no one came anywhere near putting the story together. It's telling to me that I couldn't find a single Map in the reference material charting out a case. We today, to my reading, are not even sure if that big January display had an early "trip" coming down from the north [as FATE said] or whether it just started with Ball's sighting south of the dam. Pretty darned embarrassing.

Three: Elements of the UFO community were CLEAR detriments to understanding the story. Augie Roberts interjected photos, one of which was not his own, though he didn't make that clear at first, and one of which was not a Wanaque photo though he didn't make that clear either. Further he appears to have projected the fact that Officer Theodora's smudgy photos [which do appear to have been taken by some official] were maybe the bogus disk-and-beam photos not taken at Wanaque at all. Lots of fuzz and allusion by Roberts, none of which was headed towards truth. And then there's Keel with his involving Wanaque with sinister Men-in-Black, who seem not to have been involved in any way other than a small meeting between some agent and the police officers with some suggestion to keep quiet about their sightings [which they ignored]. Moseley as usual added nothing but fog and cheap shots at NICAP. One can imagine the level of seriousness in the minds of the police witnesses deteriorating with these guys around.

Four: Thanks largely to Keel, an atmosphere was woven about Wanaque in the minds of certain hysterical followers of Keelian thought, that we could get a "prominent person" visiting Wanaque and reporting that it was a town full of military policemen and Zombies. ... Laugh or you'll cry.

THEORETICALLY: What have we got??  

When we reach into our "explanations box", some of us are reaching into a fairly small container of options. Of course, that's not our problem on this blog. Here we can somewhat sanely and civilly look not only towards mundane things, but also extraterrestrial things, Magonian things, psychic things, spiritual things, and weird sciencey stuff which we haven't "discovered" yet. {I'm probably missing a category or two}. What's Wanaque look like?

If it was just the BOLs and if they really began with the dam, then this would smell like some Earthlight phenomenon catalyzed by the damming up of a larger than previous mass of water, which in turn applied non-normal stress on the geology under and around nearby, and Voila!, Earthlights {Whatever THEY are}. Is Wanaque our Eastern seaboard's version of Hessdalen, Yakima, Brown Mt., et al? That hypothesis would be simply convenient if the whole of Wanaque would be more simply convenient.

But it's not, as we have seen. And, even for the part about the BOLs, that January case with its TWO HOURS of duration, really stresses the typical Persinger geomagnetically-produced plasma ball theory.

The good UFO cases look to me not at all like nature-produced lightball phenomena, but like good ol' UFOs. MAYBE they could be nudged over to become some faerie lightform types of things, but simple plasmaballs, no. And that peculiar light.... it "feels" like it's being produced by something which we cannot normally see; maybe something which is sort-of there in space, and sort-of not... maybe like something with a "window". Sometimes it feels like whatever this is is moving on some unseen grid, or something which is determined by a relationship between our space's force characteristics and something about its own physics or construction. .... the geometry in the sky.

There is just enough "display" in these things to make them feel deliberate. That throws me towards intelligence, and I can get intelligence into this only via something like ET doing its famous covert/overt displays, or nature spirits playing their games. Should I go for Tau Ceti or Magonia?

The easy way out is to cobble together a multivariable theory --- always a dangerous move {too much to play with to allow one to explain anything}. But, darn it, this DOES seem to me to be more than one thing. I actually like the Earth-generated BOL hypothesis as a base theory. I'd like it less if I found out that it never happens anymore. But overlain on this region of repeating earthlights, there seem to be good ol' UFOs.

Is such an overlay unreasonable? I don't think so. UFOs are a phenomenon which likes to display {for whatever reasons "they" desire to do so}. "They" seem to want to get some sorts of response, yet stay fairly covert. Wanaque seems a very good place to do that to me. One could hide your "tree" in the "forest" of BOLs, while worrying the central nervous systems of isolated witnesses to your heart's content.

Not a testable hypothesis... no control over the alleged "agents/causes" and you could get the same effects by having the Tricksters of the Pre-Columbian Native Americans sub in for ET, just as Vallee did. The UFOs here don't have the thumpingly obvious nuts-and-bolts which tosses them towards ET, but are far more technologically vague.

But just maybe not.... Chief Casazza's mysterious incident where he "did not do as I should have done", sounds VERY much to me like he and his three officers came upon a landed object ... and though required to inspect anything abnormal at the reservoir, "did not do as I should have done", and backed off. THAT would cast a different light on this for sure.

But he left us hanging, and that's as far as I'll go. Wanaque's a genuine mystery, and in the broadest sense, at least, a UFO one. It may be a candidate for a Hessdalen-like automated observation post. Maybe we'd find out a little more.

I'll go out on one last limb: there are no zombies in Wanaque.


.... or IS it??

Yes, it definitely is.

Friday, March 8, 2013

WANAQUE, Part seven:Strange Days?

So... 1966 was over with all it's strange Wanaque lights, and 1967 was over with all its strange analysis, and the Air Force was settled in to happily ignore Wanaque, and Colorado [though asked] was happily settling in to ignore Wanaque, and basically EVERYBODY is settling in to ignore Wanaque. Afterall, how important could an area be which seems to produce multiple anomalistic BOL reports a year? Or BOLS or whatever they are with very peculiar light? Or somethings-or-other which seem to draw geometric non-inertial flight patterns on the sky, as if in display? Nope, you can't fool us. We, the military and the scientific and even the UFOlogical community, are too sharp to fall for anything like that.

Over in his home in New Jersey, even Ivan Sanderson had settled in to ignore Wanaque [somewhat surprising to me by the way; maybe Keel was keeping him up to date]. But Ivan was not completely asleep. He had become very interested in the work of Jacques Vallee and his current colleague, Don Hanlon [Ivan must have been reading his FSRs]. He was attempting to communicate with the two of them, and if I'm lucky someday I might stumble into their correspondence, which so far eludes me. Ivan wrote them in early 1969, the thrust of which I don't know. Hanlon responded with the news that Jacques had taken a sabbatical from UFOs to "read books", and Hanlon said that Sanderson would be "shocked" to hear what he has to say when he returns. This has to be a reference to PASSPORT TO MAGONIA, which indeed would shock everybody.

Immediately, Hanlon launched into commenting about Keel, and how many "buffs" are being profoundly influenced by him to their detriment, even their sanity. Keel had been "bombarding" he and Vallee with tons of his materials. Hanlon classed the content of the letters as "unhealthy". Still, and this is me talking now, this is interesting in that it indicates that Hanlon and Vallee must have been at least somewhat influenced by Keel themselves. That this would be going on just prior to the "sort-of" Keelian Magonia is intriguing. I still give Jacques full marks, regardless, as his Magonia presentation is scholarly and far more moderate and conceivable than the Keel excesses which were spewing forth unmitigated. Doubtless Ivan found the hints fascinating.

Then Hanlon said a rather odd thing. Allen Hynek had recently received a request from one of his "Invisible College" scientists interested in UFOs. This fellow knew a person from New York, well apparently, who had strange things to tell about ... Wanaque. I don't know who the invisible collegian was, but it could have been Lee Katchen, who worked as an atmospheric physicist at Goddard Space Center and had dropped in briefly to research Wanaque for NICAP. Whoever he was, he knew a well-placed wealthy man, who had a great interest in UFOs, and who even felt moved to produce a major documentary film about them.

Around Christmas 1968 this man had driven to the Wanaque area almost by accident [he was returning to NYC from having taken a family member elsewhere for medical treatment.] He decided to divert slightly to Wanaque because he was curious about a place which had so much activity. He became completely freaked out. He said to his scientist friend that the reservoir was so heavily guarded that it looked like a military operation. The town itself was unnatural having as he said "no Christmas decorations". Then, the worst. He decided to stop at a local shopping mall. Here he seemed to have entered a zombie movie. People moved like automatons and seemed to have "plasticine" complexions. He spun on his heels and retreated to his car. There he found his camera and slowly reapproached to film the zombie scene. But no, it was not to be. Two cops met him and told him to get back in his car and leave town. He protested and was led back to the car and given a police escort out of town.

Uhhhh.... REALLY?

We will of course never know, but inquiring minds WANT to know, and so Hanlon asked Ivan if he'd go over there to find out. As Hanlon cleverly closed the letter: "Wanaque might be a nice place to visit; but is anyone living there?"

Rather mind-boggling that anyone could be living in a mindscape where they could ask someone to take the zombie population of a New Jersey city with a straight face.

I don't know how "straight" Ivan's face was, but he apparently had nothing better to do so he drove over there. HAD Wanaque turned into UFO Zombie Headquarters?? THAT was the question.

Ivan and Marion Fawcett got into the car and drove over. Ivan carried a card given to him by a well-known police friend, which served almost as a letter-of-recommendation when he presented it at police departments, and it served him well here.

So, first:  Had it all gone terribly wrong??

 Well, no.

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but no zombies, and no population of plasticine candidates for a Keelian theatre presentation about MIBs.

Ivan wrote this to Hanlon.

"After many hours, driving all over the lot, and talking to all manners of citizens casually, we found them less zombie like than the average Noo Joiseyites as a matter of fact". Speaking of visiting both the mall supermarkets and, of course, the pubs, Ivan said that the people were so friendly that it was his good luck to have had a father who manufactured Scotch or he would have been completely pickled by the rigors of the investigation. Ivan was at a loss to explain the NYC person's "report", and offered [tongue firmly in cheek]: "Of course there could be deros, zombies, or LSD highlifers who only come out at night, but those we saw looked much more like wifeswappers to me".

Ivan tried to imagine why the guy had been given the police escort out of town. The locals told him that they'd been having a rash of theft in these department stores etc in the malls and everyone was sensitive. {maybe a guy in a mental state where he was convinced he was in the midst of a town full of zombies just might have been displaying weird behavior}.

But Ivan didn't waste the trip. He went to the reservoir police and asked them about the real sightings of 1966. And he got a good interview.

Chief Casazza was happy to talk.

There are three "documents" which contain the gist of what the chief told them, and it may or may not be possible for me to smooth them together for you --- I think, as I sit here with them in hand that they're pretty similar; let's hope so. One is a page from Sanderson's book Invisible Residents, one is a typed report which I don't believe that he sent to Hanlon, being somewhat miffed at him and Hynek for some reason, and the third is a set of handwritten notes which appear to be the actual notes taken while in Chief Casazza's office. I'm going to battle the handwriting here, and lean on them as the primary document for the material below [I thought that it was a little more fun to just jump into this, and you and I can discover stuff on the go.]

hmmm.... difficult to smooth out. I'll just wade in. Some bits will be out-of-place, no doubt, but I don't want to spend all year on this.

1]. The reservoir dam was built in 1924 and the lights have been showing up from that time;

2]. During WWII, this water source was considered a major security area [still is], and odd occurrences needed to be reported. A standard reporting activity occurred with each "event" with the report going to the Army which passed it on to the nearest Army Air Corps installation. "Every such report resulted in immediate action, including the despatch of military aircraft to the area, and the arrival in short order of security agents who filled out interminable reports." [This is very interesting considering the arrival of helicopters and even the military agent meeting that no one can figure out. It just might be that some element of the military still responds this way to possible threats to NYCs water supply, and is of the opinion that it is none of the civilian community's business to know their procedures];

3]. Publicized sightings have caused great potential security problems by hampering free movement of police and inspectors and engineers along the reservoir; [another reason why some military guy would tell people not to talk these things up];

4]. the reservoir police have seen the lights "thousands" of times in the reservoir area, and he has been the one that they are reported to [though doubtless an exaggerated word this indicates a robust mystery];

5]. Most lights do not do much cruising up the reservoir, but rather tend to appear near the mountains on the west shore or at the southern end of the water;

6]. These things are not always seen merely as lights, but many are seen as apparently larger solid objects as well. The solid objects are reported not to be luminous in themselves but the bodies are seen via reflected light;

7]. He spoke of the 1966 events generally, no specific names or incidents, and basically supported the reality of all that, perhaps even enhancing the magnitude of the number of total witnesses and his surety that these were clearly real events;

8]. late in the interview he gave a specific hitherto unpublicly-reported case. One of his officers had called him in the dark of the evening to say that there was a large cigar-shaped object hovering directly over his home. It itself was NOT luminous nor did it have lights mounted on it. Ambient ground light etc was all that showed its existence. Also, as satellites or whatever, a number of small self-luminous things "were sort of lazing around it". [I believe that he means slowly meandering nearby]. Casazza told the officer to "get on the hotline and report" [note that the system of alerting the Air Force was going on semi-automatically] but that just at the time that the officer got through, "the whole lot just vanished";

9]. The last thing to be mentioned here was very enigmatic and strange. Casazza said that once in the company of three other officers, they saw "something that I refuse to disclose or describe". [I think that Marion Fawcett felt that he said "I will never reveal", from a margin annotation]. He continued: "I goofed, I know, and I did not do as I should have done; but perhaps the Almighty willed it that way, as I might well not be here now if I had done as I should have done, and [as he turned toward Marion] please excuse my language, but God knows what the hell might not have happened had I done what I should".

Well, THAT should keep everyone up at night. Ivan felt that Casazza was trying to talk about something that he could not talk about but skirt close to it anyway. He hoped that the chief would call them back later and unload it all. In her second marginalia, Marion wrote that he had implied that if he had done whatever this was, some major questions in UFOlogy might have been answered. In addition, she said, he at various times during their interview spoke of the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. Ivan, by the way, used none of this in his book.

So another episode of the Wanaque mystery ends. Did Ivan cast more light, or did he create more confusion? Ivan was a great fan of both, but he much preferred to cast light himself than confusion [he just wanted there to be plenty of confusion around for him to have fun with].

I've run out of worthy resources finally, but I think that I'll try one more entry on this thing. There is a great deal in this particular business, and I feel an urge to blow my own kind of unwarranted smoke about it. So, for the next time...

Be forewarned.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

WANAQUE, part six

Wanaque had almost as many questions associated with it as it had answers, and it badly needed a sober overview by a decent thinker. We got pretty much what we needed with Lloyd Mallan. Mallan was a good science and engineering writer and a bright guy. He had also seen a UFO of his own, and was thereby sympathetic. As an associate editor of a popular magazine, Science & Mechanics, he was able to do something that almost no other writer could do: leverage UFO articles into a non-UFO journal. He wrote several, and they were all sane to my reading, and the UFO community owes him some thanks for that. So, in 1967, he took on Wanaque in a three part series in the magazine.

In part one of Mallan's presentation, he relies heavily upon Officer Bobby Gordon and Officer Ben Thompson of the October 11th incident. And these are the best two choices. They are the most significant witnesses along with Gordon's wife, and they are willing to talk at length.

Gordon gives the front end of the case. His information is consistent with what we've heard about his wife and their neighbor and himself seeing the very bright light which seemed small to them moving towards the reservoir. He describes the light with an interesting new phrase: it was very bright but sort of a "mellow" bright, and "just like a hole punched in the sky". Gordon also said that his officer buddies were not talking much about this, but it was nothing conspiratorial. It was just that they had been taking a lot of crap from people constantly ribbing them and were fed up to their eyeballs with it.

Thompson gives the meat of the case. His information is also consistent with what we've heard from him. Here is the very bright light again, but this time seeming much larger to the nearer observer [as big as an automobile]. Here is also the globe of light with half a football protruding, and the bright light globe rotating around it. He guessed the globe at eight feet in diameter.

Thompson really emphasized something in this interview: right-angled turns. He said that the object made this sort of maneuver many times in short swift motions --- so sharp that you couldn't see any rounding of the corners at all. Suddenly the thing was just going in the different direction. Then he said this: "It seemed like it was putting on a show." Uh oh. We've seen this time and time again now. "UFOs" making what seems to be an on-stage display, maybe for just one witness.

Thompson said that the light of the object was peculiar. Seemingly very bright, but no sense of a normal beam. He could see fine if he looked at or nearby the light, but if he looked away from it he couldn't see anything. Peculiar indeed. Shortly after he had switched on the top beacon of his patrol car, the object began to leave [it had been mostly hovering or drawing geometry in the sky]. A slight mist formed around it as it left. It moved towards the mountains and just went out. At that time, his visual system [which had become somehow mysteriously dependent upon that particular light] went blind. Thompson could see nothing at all for about two minutes and was forced to just stand there until vision slowly returned.

One other oddity: the object seemed to effect the physical things beneath it. As it cruised away across the water, the water rose in a large swell, settling back as it passed. When it got to the mountain, the tops of trees seemed to bend together when directly underneath. Both phenomena are the results of "attraction" or vortex suction of some kind. Thompson said that he had seen similar lights [both much higher] on two other occasions, once just the previous evening. In all three cases, he claimed that the object drew right-angled geometry as it moved in the sky.

As to "intimidation of witnesses" : Thompson claimed that "the government" had sent "an investigator" to speak to the officers at the local high school in January of 1967 after the big sightings then. This man pooh-poohed all the observations debunking them. But that's all he did. There was no "don't talk about this".

So, we're possibly getting better clarity here. Part two added more of interest while part three did less [for me anyway; maybe it was Klass in part three]. Part two is based around information from a college student doing geiger counter readings, plus the case of newspaper editor Howard Ball.

The student's story is interesting but may in the end be nothing. He and a friend used to do things like take surveys with geiger counters in various places, apparently out of curiosity inspired by the presence of a big nuclear power plant just to the north. Out on the 11th, though earlier than the Gordon-Thompson sightings, they picked up a significant radiation excursion near the reservoir to the north at Ringwood. This was four times normal background. They returned to the site the next day and the readings were back at background. They naturally wondered.

Mallan wondered too. Knowing something about such technology, he thought that the powerplant could be the culprit. Naturally the officials both denied that they had any sort of leak, but described in great detail how such things are prevented. [Nuclear fission processes can release heavy noble gases like xenon as a by-product, for instance, and it is not unknown to have a gas leak. Such a whiff of radioactive "wind" might have passed by the geiger counter. The plant officials explained how that did not happen]. So, what did? The reactor managers did not know, of course, but they guessed "rocks". The mountains surrounding the reservoir were full of igneous rocks containing thorium. These stones therefore were busily containing a production of radon gas and releasing it. Sometimes the radon happened to get unusually concentrated as it diffused its way into the environment [this is the same reason you don't build your air-tight basement with granite], and you get an excursion. They said that once there had been a radon release and concentration so oddly big that it set off the plant's own failsafe systems and the reactor was shut off. Well, maybe that is what happened.

Mallan also spent a real effort trying to track down the helicopters which Thompson said arrived soon after the object disappeared:  No luck. He then tried to find out where the "investigator" from the government came from in January: also no luck; every base said absolutely they did not send anyone down to Wanaque on the date in question. Mallan determined that whatever this meeting was, only a few people attended, as the Mayor, for instance, knew nothing about it and he himself was a witness. Also, it could not have been the big NICAP meeting that Don Berliner chaired, because Don was very positive about the main sightings being UFOs [and the Mayor and practically the whole town attended]. The mysterious meeting with Keel's MIB candidate was getting smaller but no less mysterious.

The last really good part of the Mallan part-number-two work involved his talks with the initial on-record person seeing the January UFO, newsman Howard Ball. Ball was the only "case" making it into Blue Book at all, and that only because he rather insisted, both initiating direct contact and requesting the form. Ball said something about his sighting which hadn't been emphasized previously. He too spoke of the very bright light which affected your eyes [though not in Thompson's detail] AND spoke of the remarkable right-angled turns that the thing made. He said that when the thing decided to move towards the reservoir it did so quickly, but in this peculiar way: a quick straight line SSE to NNW, then an instant right angle shift to SSW, then another instant right angle shift to a NNW path parallel to its original direction.

Ball himself was responsible for one of the USAFs screwy theories. He, as a newsman, inquired directly to the local air base [Stewart]. He asked them whether they had anything flying at the reservoir [denied]. He said that the only thing that it even vaguely looked like it might be was some unusual helicopter with an unusual strobelight beam. They said that they had no such thing. He called back the following day, and they told him that they'd solved the mystery. It was a helicopter with a strobelight beam. Ball said: really? Why do you say that? They informed him that an authoritative source, a newsman named Howard Ball, had seen it. By this time they had in fact released this solution to the wire services. Ball, of course, was amused and stunned at the same time. One day later, the base was denying that they ever said any such thing.

Ball also debunked the hole-in-the-ice business again, as he had talked with all the officers.

Police chief John Casazza above.

Mallan's part three is less loaded with interest that the other two, but still contains good stuff. The Mayor had become jaundiced on this whole affair and spoke of his own sighting in terms so minimalist that you know he was just putting all this in the rearview mirror. He wouldn't describe his son's part of it at all. Mallan had better luck with Officer Bill Pastor, who after giving him a hard time, sat down and talked of what he'd seen with great seriousness --- almost intimidatingly, which seemed to Mallan to be the product of all the mockery these guys had taken. Pastor said that the object looked egg-shaped to him [a more distant look at a globe with a fat football protruding could seem so]. It was rotating and cycling different colors [he remembers the sequence as "amber--- red--- green--- blue"]. The surface of the thing seemed a dull aluminum finish [he said anodized]. Pastor, unlike most, watched the thing largely with binoculars. It would dash very fast, then come to an immediate stop. While in motion it would, many times execute right angle turns. Then he said this:

"It Was A Geometrical Performance."

Chief John Casazza added something also which had not been said. He said that when he was watching the light hanging over the reservoir ice, the light from the object drew a sharp line on the ice just like an artist had drawn it on there. That is, there was no spread nor fuzz to the "glare" of the line; just a mystifyingly stripe of light. He also said that although the thing was very bright, you could look directly at it for a while, and when he did, the light seemed to emerge as if out of a funnel. There seemed to be a three dimensional funnel-shaped corridor "in" something from which this light came. [perhaps an invisible part of a larger object, perhaps...?]

Mallan finished his tripartite saga with talking to Phil Klass about ball-lightning, wherein Klass said that ball lightning could explain the whole thing. Yep... a light which hovers over the dam for two hours in January ... yep ball-lightning all right. And one as big as an automobile which could glaringly light up the whole southern end of the reservoir in October... typical ball lightning behavior.

Did Lloyd Mallan restore sanity? I think that he did as well as he could. So, Lloyd, Applause. Good try.

I think that I'll stop here. Next time our hero, Allen Hynek, gets briefly involved, and in an unlikely turn of events turns our other hero, Ivan Sanderson, loose on the mystery.

Till then, folks, Peace.

Monday, March 4, 2013

WANAQUE, Part five: MIBs and Mothman make a Mess.

The Time Has Come The Walrus Said To Talk Of Many Things
Of Hacks, And Quacks, And Men-in-Blacks
And Weirdos On The Wing.

Late 1966: Colorado was trying to figure itself out with no success. Mothman, whatever THAT was, was terrorizing innocent West Virginians, and beginning to terrorize John Keel as well. Gray Barker and Jim Moseley just felt that it was all great fun. Don Keyhoe hated, essentially, everything about all of it.

Keel had made a foray into the Wilds of West Virginia and was nervous but fired up. His thinking was sliding noticeably towards interpreting UFOs in the darkest ways. And, yes, this will tie into Wanaque sooner or later.

Keel gave a talk in NYC introduced in embarrassingly glowing phraseology by Jim Moseley, which shows him on an intermediate trajectory to the Dark Side. He followed his own braggadocio about himself with an interpretation of the CIAs Robertson Panel report. As the Report was so loaded with blockbuster things to say, he didn't have to embellish it. It on its own terms set the tone of the sinister. "The FBI and The CIA had free authority since then to investigate anyone in UFOlogy they pleased". {Not a direct quote, but a direct accurate "delivery of the gist"}. He then alluded to an upsurge of UFO related kidnappings of citizens, which the authorities were ignoring.

He launched into Mothman. There were now over 100 reports of encounters with Mothman and more occurring each day [I think this to be a gross exaggeration but it is effective drama]. Many of these incidents involve the Mothman stalking people mostly in their cars. {He had said earlier that there are whole communities in America where people are afraid to go out at night because of UFO car stalkings.} And where is the Lair of this Beast? The West Virginia Ordnance Works, itself a sinister dangerous place.

Keel actually said in this talk that the military had left behind dozens of covered silos filled with high-explosive TNT. Now that statement [considering that the WVOW was entirely vacated of military security for more than a decade [almost two decades], is so preposterous that one wonders how any thinking person could utter it. Also, there was a "network of tunnels" underlying the whole complex.... what mysteries and dangers lurked there? { These "tunnels" were drainage sewers for two, yes dangerous, waste waters called "yellow and red water" which were contaminated "by-products" of the TNT making process --- my dad, who was "acid area supervisor", probably was the main culprit sending such wastes down these drains}. For Keel they were the possible home of the monster.

After himself terrorizing the audience with Mothman and the WVOW, Keel went on to say that many UFO incidents show hostility and that there are encounters where the entities attack people viciously. He then reflected upon Aime Michel's sane theory that all the occupants we see are robots, and spun that to give the impression that if these robots are confused in their tasks they might attack unthinkingly. Well, doubtless only the lady in the crowd who shouted Keel down insisting that Mothman was "An Angel" slept well that night.

As Mothman and MIBs pushed Keel to the paranoid fringe, he found plenty of company over there. And Wanaque played its role. Stories were bubbling up all over the place about uniformed military arriving at witnesses' homes or work places and grilling them or confiscating evidence or worse. Enough of this was reported that the USAF DID take it seriously. A relatively polite USAF spokesperson, Colonel George Freeman, went somewhat out of his way to talk with several people who had given complaint, and had asked local base personnel to look into the various claims. Keel claimed to have talked to him personally. Keel quoted Freeman: " We haven't been able to find out anything about these men. By posing as Air Force officers and government agents they are committing a federal offense. We sure would like to catch one."

Keel himself then wrote: "Mysterious men dressed in Air Force uniforms or bearing impressive credentials from government agencies have been 'silencing' UFO witnesses, according to Colonel George P. Freeman, Pentagon spokesman for Project Bluebook". Then, "In the recent case at Wanaque reservoir, in New Jersey, Colonel Freeman told Keel, police officers and other witnesses allegedly were collected together by a man wearing an Air Force uniform. They were told that 'they hadn't seen anything' and that they shouldn't discuss the incident".

Colonel Freeman is then quoted as saying: "We checked with the local AFB and discovered that no one connected with the Air Force had visited Wanaque on the date in question. Whoever it was, he wasn't from the Air Force". Keel sort of credited himself with the stimulus that then inspired Freeman to send out a military memo for all commands to be on the lookout for this sort of charlatanry. For me, I don't see the silencer meeting at Wanaque. Did it even happen? Did Freeman even go up there? Who actually talked to him? This is very peculiar business to me. {I'm still trying to digest all the unravelled threads here folks; if I stumble over something that nails this silencer meeting down, I'll let you know}.

Keel himself was far from completing his trajectory. He communicated with Joan Whritenour on this, and she [who had begun a useful small newsletter called SAUCER SNOOP] was well into a transformation into utter paranoid land herself --- note two of the books above, written with fellow paranoid, Brad Steiger. Keel was tendering the hypothesis that these MIBs were part of some super-secret USA agency far darker than the FBI or the CIA. Their purpose?: To cover the fact that the whole UFO landscape was a terrestrial scheme, having nothing to do with extraterrestrials. Whritenour wouldn't go there. Her case studies told her that the MIBs, despite looking like us, WERE the ETs and they were bad guys. What all these people were agreeing upon was that the jolly old UFO encounters were part of something horribly threatening to mankind.

Well, Condon was scaring the responsible UFO community, and Mothman and his minions were scaring the nuthouse. Condon and the nuthouse collided in the summer of 1967 with no good end for responsible UFOlogy.

It was Jim Moseley's "big show". All the staff at Colorado begged Condon not to go. But jolly old Ed was having a ball sitting in his office at Colorado laughing at all the UFOs nuts he'd encountered --- he'd made a substantial "nut" file that he planned to put to good use later --- and this UFO convention looked like just the howlering hoot he'd enjoy.

It wasn't.

THE SHIP OF FOOLS: Moseley and Nebel; Sanderson; Palmer; Randi; Keel and Moseley; Barker and "alien"; Menger.

Condon may have initially gotten what he was looking for here, but as the convention wore on, he became a changed man. Who did it? There were certainly plenty of candidates. Even our beloved Ivan Sanderson was far off his normal game and gave an embarrassing talk. Menger with his girlfriend from Saturn and his piano music from Neptune or Uranus surely impressed. Barker laid out the whacky Al Bender-like rendition of the MIBs. But I'm betting it was Keel.

John wasn't even on the schedule as you can read... but he talked {I have had the pleasure of listening to the recording}. Here's what he said: He began amazingly by quoting a very smart but very young friend of mine [who may not want to own up to these "errors of youth"] by saying that " XXXXX XXXXX says that it may be that we are in for a wave of silencings". {This is actually very flattering to a young man of, what, 22? that his name could be used to validate a radical talk about MIBs.} Keel continued on with Mothman statements, news of a Pennsylvania flap with blackouts of the UFOlogists' phone center. He alluded also to East Coast energy grid black-outs obviously teasing the audience with the possibility that these too were MIB mischief.

Then he begins to really lose it. He spoke of arsons being deliberately aimed at witnesses ... and prowlers about their homes ... and giants ... uh, WHAT! Giants hooded like dark monks ... oh well, yep, lots of cases of that... no problem, John. Then came animal thefts, burnt animals, mysterious abandoned cars and missing persons... he rose to theatric pitch: "This is a Nightmare on the Ground that  has been completely unpublicized!"

The doctor was doubtless NOT amused.

On plunged Keel: Police radio systems were knocked out; strange voices came over their receivers. Other strange voices would come over phonelines or ham radio receivers. Poltergeist activities would flare up in witnesses' houses, sounds of babies crying or abominable snowmen-like creatures would be heard. Many teenage boys have gone missing, and mysterious automobiles, three times the size of normal cars have been seen lurking.  "Something very bad and very serious is in the works!".

Condon listened to all this. John Keel was obviously an intelligent and very articulate man, who had been a productive New York writer ... but this....

Ed Condon returned to the project at the University of Colorado a changed man. Gone was the hilarious jokester regarding his position in the project as a benign [generally] absentee administrator who was happy to sit back while Bob Low and the others did all the work. He didn't think UFOs were a joke anymore. He thought that they were dangerous.

BUT, in an exact opposite way to the way Keel thought they were dangerous. UFOs were dangerous because they damaged your mind and made you a dangerous hysteric and rabble-rousing mental case. That is at least Condon's deduction. He followed his return by immediately letting people know that they shouldn't cooperate with any requests for information from grade school kids or their teachers. He specifically called some educator "out-of-your-mind" for recommending materials which can easily damage the minds of schoolchildren. He was furious about this.

We can never know if it was Keel's talk or more of the general impact of the whole convention, but the rest of that convention seemed merely in the stupid category. Keel, with his kidnappings, disappearances, stalkings, ghosts, and overall a violent, threatening tale out of a Stephen King novel, was on the edge of mental unbalance if not far beyond in Condon's Universe.

So, Mothman's a LOT scarier than Condon, because The Mothman Guy {Keel} scared Condon.

And in doing so, made the UFO Study at Colorado that much harder on everyone. Now they too had their own in-house paranoid.

Yeh. HaHa and all that.

Not really... not for UFOlogy.

Keel ended up writing "An Open Letter To all UFO Researchers" which was widely published. In it, he emphasized the Hostility in all this. He stated that threatening children was one of the commonest practices. He stated that witnesses are further threatened by near-collisions in autos and gas lines left on in their homes. Kidnapped persons are subjected to "sinister brainwashing techniques". And beatings. Even murders are committed, and framings for murder. A great number of these contactee witnesses are participants in genetic experiments {this was 1967; Budd Hopkins was c. 1985 on this claim}. "The Men In Black are professional terrorists and among their many duties is the harassment of the UFO researchers who become involved in cases which might reveal too much of the truth".

Wanaque played its little role in this, having its own mild MIB alleged claim just as Keel was beginning to gain momentum on this wild ride. I doubt that any of the many cops at Wanaque would have believed a word of any of this, including that the keep-silent meeting even happened --- they certainly didn't keep silent themselves.

I'll get back to dead-on focus on the last bits of the Wanaque tale next time... in an unexpected way, Allen Hynek, Ivan Sanderson, and a very Keelian claim will be involved. But before that, Lloyd Mallan will restore sanity.

Till then, Peace.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

WANAQUE, part four

Yes. A great conundrum.

The unexpected thing to me is that both of these "entities" were playing their roles, symbols of the division occurring in UFOlogy, and setting a background for cases such as the Wanaque Mystery. In this mainly BOL situation, somehow all this stuff was becoming entangled, and it probably shouldn't have. Wanaque was a case which, like all incidents, should have simply and competently been researched. But it was seemingly not "technological" enough for the NICAPs and Condons, and not weird enough for the Keels. More thoughtful consideration of these BOL manifestations, for this writer, would probably have shown both divisions to be wrong.

Onwards... The EXPERTS, Again, Speak:

a). APRO was first this time in their September/October 1966 Bulletin. Again working from newsclippings, they compared Wanaque 2.0 to a sighting in Kanabee, SD, and went on to present Officer Thompson's sighting. Getting most of this minimally correct, they then said that the object had stirred up brush and water, which I believe he did not say. There was also a slightly garbled notice of the Zick siting of October 16th. This presentation probably was harmless in the quest for truth;

b). NICAP followed in the UFO INVESTIGATOR of October/November 1966 with about two-thirds of a page. Relying, thankfully, heavily on John Pagano's interview transcript, they got this one correct and in pretty good "tone" as well. They DID claim "Many" reports without much to support that. Another NICAP member seems to have investigated a case from October 12th by a group of teenagers saying that they had witnessed a mushroom-shaped UFO going up and over a hill.

c). Moseley waited until the Spring of 1967 to put out two pages in SAUCER News. Giving NICAP no credit [of course], Thompson's sighting was presented in some detail. Moseley claims that his information came via a phone interview, so maybe that's why he could ignore the better source. A comment from the Pentagon was quoted as to their having no report and therefore nothing to say. Moseley then shifted to a "monster" sighting in another New Jersey town, obviously with intent of weaving the two together. He and Keel investigated this one personally. Moseley says: the boys story "rang with evident sincerity". Well, you decide. Moseley then characterized Wanaque after the Thompson sighting as an area of "virtual hysteria" over-run by thrill-seekers. This seems more to characterize January than October, but it makes better drama. He then presented three other claims from elsewhere in New Jersey and later in time. He did characterize the obvious hoax as a hoax to his credit.

d). Meanwhile the Air Force was in full goofball mode. There seems to have been no investigation at least as to anything documented. This might not be true due to the incompetence in the attitude at Blue Book at that moment. One would think that with the embarrassment of Swamp Gas and its resultant political problems ringing in their ears that they would have shown some urgency. But to my eye, nothing. Blue Book seems to have gone into Duck-and-Cover mode. Colonel Quintanilla knew that Colorado was starting ---he was about to head out there for an Air Force consultancy--- and he probably realized that the end of Blue Book was in sight. All he had to do was survive the next year or two without much pot-stirring and he was free of this dammed job forever.

 In this particular case, there may be some evidence for this wayward incompetence in the microfilmed record. The only geographical designator for October 1966 which comes close to addressing Wanaque is the file for Hazlet, NJ. What's in there for Hazlet is not at all interesting for our current incident. But what IS in there speaks to "attitude". The Hazlet file is WAY over 100 pages thick. Why? Because several unrelated things are just sloppily stuffed in there having nothing to do with any Hazlet case, nor anything else from even New Jersey. This is the behavior of a crew who doesn't anymore give a damm. So, maybe elsewhere, misfiled, are documents related to Wanaque.

Someone else can find them.

What they might have found if anyone really tried:

A: Split Rock Pond. October 16th, 1966.

SITU consultant and Ivan Sanderson friend, Berthold Schwarz,  had written an article for Medical Times, October 1968, entitled "UFOs: Delusions or Dilemma". Schwarz was, naturally for him, very sympathetic to the possibility that the UFO phenomenon was concretely real. Whenever a sympathetic man gets up on a stage about one of the forbidden mysteries, he becomes an attractive front door for witnesses to walk through and tell their stories {John Timmerman was the Ultimate Storefront Door for relaxing witnesses}.

One of the cases that Schwarz used in the piece was a report that had come to him by being such an open door. The witness had told the case to a mutual friend and agreed to see Schwarz about it. Without this "sympathetic aura" the UFO community would probably never heard of this case.

This fellow was a young forester taking the day off camping and fishing on Split Rock Reservoir, slightly south and west of Wanaque. He had packed up and was driving home at about 5am. He noticed a bright glow out the back of his rear window. He stopped the car and stuck his head out to look. Here's what he saw:

Stunned for a moment, he just stared at the glowing discoidal object with what seemed to be a dome at its top. The thing hung in the air at about 15' or 20' high ["treetop"] and was 25 or 30' wide, and a little shorter than wide. [The above is a rapid sketch]. It was silent.

As he began to clear his head and get out of there, his car malfunctioned. Power seemed to drain away. Headlights... dashboard... engine. Now the object was directly overhead. He rolled up the window, locked the doors "and hoped". When the thing was a little behind or off to the side, his car would function and he beat it out of there. His cue for trying the engine was when his lights came back on. Driving all the way to Charlottesburg Road, the thing stayed with him. He got home, the ground glowing all around him still, but didn't look up as he ran to the house.

Later, the thing gone, he got back into his car and drove to his supervisor's  home [the mutual Schwarz friend] and told the tale. Police were told and went out to the site. Nothing was there of evidentiary nature. Some odd things later took place regarding the engine of his car, which ultimately "exploded" and had to be replaced. The witness was a former race car driver and this weird occurrence completely mystified him.

Shortly after the incident, the witness felt that he was becoming ill. By three months time, he was admitted to Montclair Community Hospital suffering from fatigue, anorexia, soreness and weakness of muscles, drowsiness, chills, and 35 pound weight loss. This syndrome rose for three days or so each month from October to January then retreated for a while until cycling up again. Whether this condition had to do directly with the UFO, or was the product of PTSD, or an allergy [there is some reason to credit this], we don't know. The local physician diagnosed this as "the flu", probably the least likely of the hypotheses. Schwarz did a series of blood tests and found nothing out of line. I'm betting on the allergy and/or PTSD. The witness ultimately made a full recovery. Schwarz remained puzzled as he felt that no theory easily handled the symptoms and their cyclical nature.

Schwarz was a medical advisor for NICAP at the time, and so they knew of it. Ted Bloecher asked him for permission to publish it in UFOs: A New Look [which featured the growing phenomenon of closer encounters] and it appears there faithfully rendered. Dick Hall viewed this as the only Wanaque case deserving inclusion in his UFO Evidence, Two. 

And where was the Air Force?  Or Colorado? 

OCTOBER 17th, 1966: This case is odd in that it was reported twice to NICAP by one of the witnesses who obviously was not about to give up on her interest in UFOs and her own sighting. The event took place on Westbrook Road just about where the words "Wanaque Reservoir" are on the map above.

This lady and her friend and her friend's teenage son were driving down Westbrook road with the intent of watching for the Wanaque BOL, which was hopefully still about despite no public sightings for a few days. They parked. Some woman came up and said: "It's coming down Westbrook Road!". They drove in that direction; and the UFO ended up nearly directly over their heads.

The thing looked like it was standing still, white lights ringing around the edge and one red and one green flashing light on the bottom. It was said to be like a walnut held at arm's length in apparent size. The surface was described as shiny. It was silent. The UFO stood there for about a minute and then moved off behind cedar trees which lined the road.

The witnesses then moved back towards their original spot where many people had gathered. There were claims by others to have seen it from Stonetown Road, which intersects with Westbrook. The local radio said nothing about the event the next day, despite getting many phonecalls. It is likely that the radio stations were being asked by the police to not publish these things anymore due to traffic hazards on certain concentrated "Observation points" on the reservoir.

October 21st, 1966.

It's possible that while John Pagano was in Wanaque interviewing Thompson, he left behind information to be contacted if other cases arose, and, when one did, he was. However it happened, he got a letter from a witness, describing a "late" case of the 21st.

The letter is brief and unfortunately not followed up.

The witness was driving home from her evening job at 11:10pm. She was headed for West Milford on a long secluded road owned by the watershed authority. She was the only person on the road.

She noticed a bright white light in the sky to her right. As it approached, she could see that it was a small object, about the diameter of a clock which might be mounted in a school corridor. She slowed down. The thing then began to make circles around her car [at some distance, not right up close, but still obviously circling her]. She put on a little more speed, but the object kept circling her. Getting close to her home, she now gunned it, and the object rose far up into the air. It still circled as she drove into her driveway and cruised away towards the lake. Her husband was able to see it hovering out there. Then, they heard the sounds of jets, and the object disappeared. Neighbors confirmed this latter part of the story.

This case is a version of the fairly well-known BOL-Stalker cases, which, due to their seeming "interest" are plenty high strangeness to me. Back then? Apparently not so much.

KEELNESS: All these sorts of things were apparently working John Keel into a froth. 

Next time I'll try to squeeze him into the story ... and Ed Condon...

Yeh... and those guys.

Friday, March 1, 2013

WANAQUE, part three.

Here we go again.

Across the spring and summer of 1966, nothing in particular happened at Wanaque, but something seemed to be happening to UFOlogy. Whether it was the phenomenon itself which got stranger or "just" the minds of some of the people pursuing it, there was a windshift. "Keyhoe-ian" style UFOlogy seemed in retreat, while high-strangeness thinking was creeping about [in almost every sense of the word "creeping"]. This was all in spite of the famous Hynek "Swamp Gas" gaff in March, the Gerald Ford blow-up at the Air Force, the somewhat humbler tone of the military, and the secretly manipulated TV documentary by Walter Cronkite. That documentary, molded into a masterful debunking production by Robertson Panelist Thornton Page, was "The Empire's" way of striking back at UFOlogy's newfound support. Somehow, in the midst of things which might have produced a moderate mildly positive atmosphere for UFO research, elements of the field began to go a bit "Keelian" shall we say. Interest was dividing between the persons who were hoping for a more-or-less "scientific" approach, and a whole wave of people heading rapidly Out Proctor. During the summer, people knew that something like Colorado was coming. The Keyhoe's, Hall's, McDonald's, Hynek's of the world quietly cheered. The Keel's and Barker's of the world thought: who cares?

Into this schizophrenia Wanaque manifested again. And, for the most part, no one cared.

Wanaque, October-style is essentially one well-known instance. It turns out that other things went on, but it was one particular report which was covered by the papers and got the hullaballoo going again.

OCTOBER 10th, 1966: c.10pm.  Betty Gordon was at home with her husband, Robert, a reservoir policeman off duty, and a visiting neighbor. She spotted a very bright discoidal light like a "saucer", and all three watched it. They called the on-duty police, and an officer responded also seeing the thing. He then radio'd officer Ben Thompson who was out in the field. Thompson's position is difficult to surmise due to our, as usual, geographically-lousy field research, but may have been somewhat at the south end of the usual sightings of January.

Thompson sees the thing as an extremely brilliant blinding lightform. He radios back to base that the object "is lighting up practically the whole southern end of the reservoir". Officers Pastor and Webster then go out to look and they see it too. Thompson has much the closer position and should be considered the primary witness, although as we can see, there are many witnesses. The newspapers reported that when Thompson turned on the light on top of his patrol car, the object's light went out. I do not believe that this was accurate. Pastor and Webster continued to observe the bright object as it flew a leisurely course up the reservoir to the north and beyond towards New York state line. This doesn't seem to have been true either, and the newspapers were having a bad day. We will come back to what may really have happened here, as, wonders of wonders, we have an actual field report interview of Thompson. But, for now, lets complete "the news".

Shortly after the event, helicopters of an undetermined source showed up. The relevance of this is your guess. Newspapers swooped in for interviews and television got Thompson and his fellow officer, Gordon, to do an interview program on what happened. [ I have no information on what was said on that show other than what's been written above and a couple of other thoughts --- Thompson said that the light was the third one he'd seen since last winter, and Gordon said that this sort of thing was 'old hat' on the reservoir. Whereas the initial news story had said that it was automobile-sized, Gordon said more like a grapefruit. {as we know, and will hear later, this shows how tough it is to estimate size if the object isn't REALLY close and/or on the ground}.There were brilliant flashes at one point like giant flashbulbs. Both officers said that six helicopters which showed up seemed to them to be looking for the object.]

Augie Roberts again did his thing, showing up with a photo [the infamous one with a fuzzy domed disk radiating a spreading lightbeam downward] and alluded that this was the Wanaque object. People bought it, and the story was printed. It is good to remind oneself that the original source for the "beam" story was a misquoted engineer, Fred Stein, who clearly debunked the misquote. Such matters would of course make little difference to Roberts.

On the 15th of October, an unknown case occurred. It was only reported later to Berthold Schwarz. We'll get to it later in part four. On the 16th another unreported case occurred which was witnessed by three adults in Pompton Lakes, looking towards the reservoir. Very unusually for Wanaque, this was described as a metallic disk, rounded top but flat bottom and quite shiny. The next words are difficult to interpret precisely, but the witnesses seem to be saying that the disk had a light beacon on the top, and when the light came on, the disk disappeared. The light was then seen flying off to the north.

The renewal of action at Wanaque was enough to generate crowds again, though apparently not so badly as in January. As time went by, other sightings sprinkled all across northern New Jersey in a sort of miniflap. During this flap, persons were getting phonecalls and visits from UFO investigators [of unknown affiliation, if any] and some of these visits irritated witnesses enough so that they were reported. For people like John Keel, this was evidence of a great wave of Men-in-Black sweeping up UFO evidence and generally causing trouble. Keel would phrase this concept in the most sinister of terms. And he would refer to Wanaque and the New Jersey flap as evidence for this which he knew about personally.

NICAP does something [mainly] right: 

Although no flurry of personnel showed up, we can give honest thanks to Dr. John Pagano for doing so and going directly to Officer Thompson for an interview [transcribed and available]. Three cheers for Dr. Pagano.

Pagano got over there quickly. The interview with Thompson was on the 12th; outstandingly fresh. A newsman was also present as a third party [well-behaved; asked no questions]. So, here's the detail:

1]. The event began about 9:30pm;

2]. Thompson was aware of several witnesses to what he saw [from varying distances];

3]. He parked his patrol car and got out when he saw a very bright light in the sky. He was on a potentially trafficked road, so he put his signal lights on, and watched the thing going slowly left to right mainly for about 3-4 minutes;

4]. Occasionally the thing would engage in short rapid violent maneuvers. It might "shoot straight up with a square curve" [i.e. to his eye a right-angle turn], and then dive straight down, make rapid left/right zigzags all throughout this time. {My comment now: for those who think that this might have been a student prank "laundry-bag" style hoax, note the next comment}. The BOL was so bright that it lit up the whole area of about 400 yards square. When the light suddenly went out, Thompson's eyes were so affected by the brightness that he temporarily could not adjust to the immediate darkness, and he could not see his car, even though it had its top dome light on. { student hoaxers would be playing with some mighty powerful light sources here. The old candles-in-the-translucent-bag bit doesn't quite cut it, does it?}.

5]. Apparently Officer Gordon, though off-duty, had a curiosity attack, and drove out to join Thompson. They stood around looking and talking for another hour, but it did not return;

6]. What Thompson was looking at, to him, seemed pretty globular but still with some form to it. He described it as a basketball into which was inserted a football halfway. His nearest view of the thing was about 150 feet away and about the same distance high. [my guess is that he is overestimating the angle here as most witnesses do, as other parts of his statement would make it lower --- here is where we needed Walt Webb for precise angles and mapping];

7]. Thompson estimated the size as about that of a car;

8]. He felt that the only trait that it had other than its brightness and erratic motion was a slight mist that it left close behind as it moved;

9]. He verified that within 15-20 minutes of the thing disappearing, six helicopters arrived and around thirty planes crossed the area;

10]. After making a right angle turn, it drifted slowly left towards the mountains, and "right near the mountain somewhere it disappeared";

11]. The police went up to that area of the mountains the next morning to look for a possible landing site but nothing was found;

12]. He believed that the one that he and many others saw in January, though much smaller in relative appearance, also had a similar shape, though more difficult to tell;

13]. He commented on another incident where he had seen two BOLs, one red, one white, which seemed almost to be playing with or chasing one another in the sky. One would approach; the other would zip away in a straight lin, then make a right-angle turn and stop dead and wait. Several times the red one would close, and the white one would do something like that;

14]. Thompson mentioned that "government officials from Ohio" had come and questioned him {so apparently Wright-Patterson showed up, afterall};

15]. When the October 10th object would make wild maneuvers, or shoot straight upwards, it showed a lot more light intensity than when it was slowly cruising at level; it would markedly glare and flicker;

Sergeant Thompson concluded with this: " Whatever they tell me it was, I think if they were there, they'd have to admit it was something they'd probably never seen before theirself".  {Yep, my good man, I'm with you on that}. Ben Thompson and all his police officers buddies who had seen the BOLs in January and October and other times unmentioned, were always solidly backed up by their chief, John Casazza.

Not really surprising, as Chief Casazza had seen the things himself in 1965.

We can only wish that Dale Spaur had received such solid support after his spectacular sighting in the famous "Portage County, Ohio Police Car Chase" case, which happened in April of this same year, and helped ruin his life. Once again the Air Force played their inhumane role, insisting that officers Spaur, Neff, Huston, and others had seen a satellite and Venus.

I'll get back to Wanaque with part four. There is still more to tell, including Ivan Sanderson's role.

Till then, Peace.