Wednesday, July 29, 2015

YAKIMA: Opening the First Curtain

I'll explain a bit about why the topic.

A group of UFOlogists {The UFO History Group} are in the earliest planning stages of producing a large book on The UFO Phenomenon to act as a companion piece to UFOs and Government. Our honored colleague, the inestimable Dr. Thomas Edward Bullard, noticed that most of the cases we were talking about were "old", and wondered if they could be supplemented with newer ones. Eddie then plowed through every MUFON Journal of the 1980s and 90s looking, and made a list.

OK, I thought, typical Eddie Bullard warrior-worker behavior --- I wonder if any of them are any good? So, I started reading the journals. Most of the cases weren't too impressive, but something else was: a series of articles by Greg Long documenting the goings-on at Yakima from the 70s and 80s. These, for those of you unfamiliar, are the famous "Yakima Lights" from the area of the Native American Reservation near Toppenish, WA. Because I had volunteered to be the author of the chapter on anomalous lights for the book, I thought that I better refresh my memories here. I almost wish that I hadn't.

You can see the main area here. West of highway 12 the green area around Toppenish is a forested stretch overlooked literally by a handful of forestry fire lookout stations, from which come most of the reports of strange goings-on. The two big mountains to the left are Mt. Rainier in the top left, and Mt. Adams to the bottom left quadrant. It is an area where a gentleman named Arnold made a little flight in 1947.

The outer world began to become aware of Yakima strangeness in the 1950s, but this didn't focus until the arrival of a fellow named Willard {Bill} Vogel in the 70s. I don't have a picture of Bill Vogel to show you and wish that I had; he certainly deserves that much at least. Vogel became chief of the fire lookouts of the area, and got to know everyone quite well, including most of the local people. It was inevitable, given his job, that when an anomalous light was reported which might have been a fire, but when searched for produced no evidence of such, he began hearing the stories of the mystery lights. To begin with, he viewed these as tall tales, but then he began witnessing the lights himself.

It didn't take long to be convinced that something unexplained was present there. The witnessings were too frequent. {There is one veteran fire lookout who has seen over a hundred incidents.}

Vogel thought that these encounters might well have something to do with UFOs, and so he contacted J. Allen Hynek about them. The Colorado Project had just been used by the Air Force as their excuse to cancel the Blue Book Project, and Allen was out of a UFO job... but still plenty interested. Vogel quickly became an associate of the very earliest rendition of the Center for UFO Studies.

Hynek was getting along well with Coral and Jim Lorenzen of APRO post-Colorado, and through them was located an APRO investigator-consultant, David Akers, who came to Toppenish and, with permissions, began filming and measuring magnetic field shifts in the early seventies. {I also have no picture of David Akers, and he deserves the honors, too.}

{above: a Yakima area fire lookout station }

Vogel collected a huge number of reports. Akers got some pictures and a lot of measurements. Vogel stated to Hynek that in the 1972-1974 period, he logged just a little short of a hundred anomalous lights and objects reports. It certainly was a place to go if you wanted to have a personal "UFO experience." Allen Hynek then DID go there and interviewed many of the witnesses and the fire lookouts in particular.

Dorothea Sturm, the lookout lady who has seen the over-hundred lights has, perhaps better credentials to characterize them than anyone else. The nocturnal lights tend to fall into two main types: bright red-orange balls, sometimes with yellow centers, and white balls of light, sometimes with other colored lights "on" them. They tend to be seasonal, so come in August, September, October.

Here are a few of our anomalous friends:

... and an impressive lot they are. 

Well, so far so good... nice well-behaved anomaly, and apparently so relatively regular and located that we might just be able to do some "science" on this. 

This somewhat optimistic-bordering-on-arrogant thought is precisely that expressed by two physicists at the famous Rockefeller-Sturrock Conference held at the Rockefeller estate so long ago that I don't remember when it was. The happy fellows in the picture are, right to left, Jean-Jacques Velasco, Richard Haines, Mark Rodeghier, Erling Strand, and a certain blog writer. I don't remember who took the picture, could have been either John Schuessler or Francois Louange.

The point of the photo is that Erling Strand was there to tell of his work in the Hessdalen Norway lightfield. After a bit of stage fright { there were two physicists there who were assholes and tried to intimidate people --- most of the folks were nice }, Erling caught his second wind and described very professional research work filming and measuring light incidents, sounding nearly exactly like the project of David Akers. Even the two assholes were impressed, and stated [loudly] that, Well! At least THIS was something that they could go up there for a week and solve!! I have not noticed them doing it ... nor anyone else, when it comes to "solving" it. 

However, John Derr gave it a try.  John's a good guy. And he has been generally sympathetic to UFO research. But the Yakima situation gave him an opportunity to crack into the scientific literature with a piece of work close enough to establishment thinking that it didn't violate their comfort zone too much {just like the Rockefeller physicists.} 

John tried to correlate the anomalous light sightings with Earthquake stresses. He was pursuing, to a point, the idea that underground shifts of igneous rocks composed of things like quartz/granite would produce piezoelectric ["pressure-electric"] currents and fields in enough strengths to manifest light effects at the surface. This, by, admittedly, no known mechanism, would somehow create not-yet-understood plasma-like masses of excited gases or something-or-others, and would "explain" Earthquake Lights and animal reactions pre-quakes, and anomalous BOLs in general. There is nothing at all wrong with studies like this and we should applaud John and creative explorers like him. There is only wrong in buying it if it doesn't deal with all the facts. 

John was humble about the work, and surely he was onto SOMETHING, but how far one could take it, who knows? Much wilder and yet close-minded theorizers like Michael Persinger have taken the work far beyond the data, and by ignoring many things have concluded that the work solves essentially everything in the anomalies world. The famous Persinger Earthstress theory says in simple: the earth's interior grindings create electric fields which produce light phenomena of many sorts accompanied by mental deranging brain environments leading to hallucinations which explain everything else. It is an absurdity of a "Universal" theory of reductionism that I will not honor with further comment here. 

Whereas IF Yakima presented only interesting lights-in-the-sky, one might very seriously entertain John's work as a viable first step towards a theory for them, Yakima doesn't stop there.

We'll draw back the second curtain in a day or two...........

Till then, Peace. 


  1. ms dorothea is the fire lookout who heard humming on her job at satus fire lookout, she looked around and saw a silver disc at a distance , as soon as she saw the disc, it suddenly vanished and the humming became louder , source avobe the roof of her fire look out,cadditioannly she felt very strong vibration. she suspected the silver disc now hovering above her firelookout and she wanted to go outside and check, but something held her (fear ? or paralysis ? she dont elaborate ) and in few second the humming and vibration gone..

    there's also another firelookout who saw from a distance , a silver disc hovering on satus fire lookout for. few minutes, then the disc moved away in jerking fashion until suddenly it moved fast and vanished..

    im really flabbergasted by these Daylight Disc encounters, and their habit hovering over fire lookouts...

    psrsonally i. believed there's a connection between yakima anomalius lights with kenneth arnold , i mean the phenomena must be something old and ancient , and arnold just stumbled in front of it and became immortalized in ufo history..

  2. I would just like to say that as a Catholic biochemist with a (maybe) too rabid an interest in UFOs and other paranormalia, I just started reading your blog and it's all I read on my breaks at work where I am a chemist in the cleaning industry. I must say Dr. your work fascinates me and commend you for your devotion to it. That being said when I read the word "assholes" in this piece which you correctly used as a perfect adjective for the people in Ivory towers that you described, I literally laughed out loud while reading this on my iPhone and smoking a cigarette which caused about 4 others to look at me like I had horns growing out of my head. I just want to thank you for keeping me entertained and also for not having as many friends as maybe I should have;)

  3. The Pacific Northwest is at a convergent continental margin, the collision boundary between two tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust. The Cascadia subduction zone, the fault boundary between the North America plate and the Juan de Fuca plate, lies offshore from northern California to southern British Columbia. The two plates are converging at a rate of about 2 inches per year. In addition, the northward-moving Pacific plate is pushing the Juan de Fuca plate north, causing complex seismic strain to accumulate. You can't rule out that many of those lights in the sky in Washington are plasmas from tectonic stress.

    1. if the plasma effect are real, then they should be happening all over places where tectonic plates met... but how about the DD (daylight disc) sightings ? or the BOL / NL that moved around in certain manners and in many shapes ? im open to all scientific hypothesis of UFO phenomena , but im saying here that just because one scientific theory might explain ONE aspect of the sightings, doesnt mean the theory is true.. putting scientific theories to explain away UFO sighting with loong case history is like forcing a square peg onto a roundhole...

      my opinion

    2. At night plasmas would be visible as lights, in the daytime they would have the appearance of solid objects. I think real UFO sightings (and I do believe people see phenomena unexplainable by our current science) are very rare and unpredictable. I think the mass of UFO data (including historical data) contains far more noise than actual signal. I think it's just wishful thinking to believe that any percentage higher than 2 or 3 percent of all reported sightings represents true unknown events.

    3. The idea is to do the research without a priori conclusions.

    4. plasma as BOL / DD , please can you show real plasma existence caused by tectonic shift ? or is it just an unproven theory ? is the plasma occurence proven as caused by tectonic shift ? is the appearance of BOL matched with the recorded seismic data ? please dont just say 'this can be explained by science' when the 'scientific' explanation is way more absurd / unproven than te phenomena itself..

      blindly stating baseless scientific-sounding theories to explain away the phenomena feels like one so desperate to cling to material science to explain the unexplainable, and lumping numerous UFO cases into a single checkbox that can be explained away conveniently sounded like picking easy way out..

      my opinion

    5. Well, sir, opinion noted --- just tone it down. The nature of this blog is to present facts and reasonable ideas, and cut debate short and with civil behavior as gently as possible. "Blindly stating" and "desperate to cling" are expressions falling a bit outside this philosophy, and makes assumptions about a specific person whom we do not know.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Comment deleted because it was just a duplicate. Comment kept because some readers might not know about tectonic stress on the west coast.

      "Can't rule out" is accurate if used literally. One can't rule out even weak hypotheses if a mystery is not solved. "Can rule out" might be defensible only if one were asked to list the most likely hypotheses. Then the Persinger Hypothesis would be one of the most unlikely to handle the mass of the evidence. People should remember that Lab-Created ball lightnings are very small and last for a second or less. Ball Lightning-in-the-field reports lack very important characteristics which distinguish them from BOLs --- intensity of energy, duration, silence usually, odor, random movement [as regards stalking or such responsiveness], etc. In short there is no evidence for the idea that piezoelectric stress creates even Ball lightning at the surface let alone BOLs, which appear to be two very different things.

    2. I just think focusing on Yakima in Washington state to prove something about the reality of UFOs as actual craft is fraught with potential sinkholes. It is a tectonic active zone with three shifting plates and volcanoes that are merely dormant, not extinct. The state also has three military airbases, with Yakima lying roughly between two of them.

    3. That sort of thinking is of course precisely what science does not do. It researches situations and sees what it may see. Worrying about conclusions like "reality of UFOs as actual craft" is exactly what the researchers have not done and are not currently doing there. Such fear of sinkholes is a recipe for inaction. I prefer trying. I've spent a lifetime listening to people discouraging ideas in anomalies research, environmental projects, writing projects, social justice projects and am at a point [have been for years] of listening to the doomsday fears, taking account of what's wise to prepare for, and shoving the negativity aside to go on with the action. This is an attitude shared by Vogel, Akers, Derr, Persinger, Long, Hynek, Devereux, Vallee, Keel, Jung, Teodorani, Strand, Rodeghier, Powell, McDonald, ........................

    4. "ufo as actual craft" , now now that seem to be jumping far ahead with your conclusion purrgrlll. in my opinion , the phenomena itself should be researched , not immediately jumping into conclusion that people look for physical 'craft' flying around yakima..

      and i have to ask whats the correlation between yakima lights and 3 military bases around it , and with active tectonic zone ? do you have evidence from your research that military bases / tectonic zone caused the lights to appear ? or is it just a convenient explanation to explain the phenomena , without research data ?

      i understand some UFO sighitng were mistaken identity of US secret test aircraft and balloons , but it is irresponsible to use the same explanation to explain away the phenomena , as if everything is either : military craft, tectonic shift, ball lightning, meteors, comets, stars, planets, swamp gas, man made drones , etc...


    5. Again, no laying down gauntlets towards specific posters by name --- I will not allow person to person lengthy debate in these comments [to answer your inquiries a lengthy "blog entry" quality post would be required --- something not possible in a response section.] If someone wishes to add to our knowledge about mysteries, then they may take all the space that they want. If someone wishes to object to things posted, they should do so as briefly and informatively and impersonally as possible. Corrections to the facts in my posts are always welcome as congenial aids to our mutual explorations. Corrections to my "opinions" or anyone's should be handled with a lot of social intelligence, as if we were all members of an interacting community with goals larger than ourselves, and some personal humility about our opinions. Sometimes I will push that line. Those occasions will happen here only when I believe that a comment or attitude is deleterious to the spirit of exploring after the truth --- as that is the higher goal. People will naturally not like everything that I say, and since I make errors and have idiosyncratic beliefs, that is to be expected. But as this is my own blog, and I am trying to do a service as best I see it, those failures should be expected from anyone coming here to read. Congenial correction: Good. Edgy attacks: Bad.

  5. Hello, I was thinking about something my mother and I saw together back in the late 80's early 90's. My apologies for not remembering the exact year and date. However I'm from Yakima originally. I use to witness many artillery illumination shells hover over the mountain just North of our home, where the Yakima Training Center is located. I lived in East Valley just on the outskirts of Moxee. My father worked at the Training Cemter and later in life I joined the Army so I know exactly what those lights look like.

    However on this particular night my mom and I were outside, and she noticed something almost directly above us. This light was bright and singular when we started observing it. It was making irregular movement patterns almost like a zig zag, and at speed and turns unattainable by modern aircraft. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. It would do this for a few minutes then stop and hover. As far as distance above the ground I'm uncertain. But it seemed higher than 30K feet. But I'm uncertain due to no other man made reference points in the sky. It was as if, it was showing off. After it stopped its irregular movements the light stayed the same intensity but transformed before our eyes. Slowly two smaller lights broke off from the main light and hovered in a triangular wedge shape for a few minutes. The main light started doing the zig zag formation again. The smaller lights broke from a triangular formation and became seperate from each other. The smaller ones did even more erratic sudden movements than the main light but stayed close to this larger light. There was no pattern to their movements. This went on for about 2-5 minutes. All of the sudden they stopped in mid-air back in a wedge formation at it's original position. They morphed back together. It stayed in the same spot for what seemed like forever. Then out of nowhere it moved to the east with such speed that it left a light streak, or a light trail behind it. It was so fast my eyes hardly kept with it. This streak dissipated behind it like you would see in a science fiction film. But as that light was dissipating to the east in those few seconds, all of the sudden it comes streaking in from the west over the cascades right back to where it started. The only thing I could say is that it went so fast it had to of completely traveled around the Earth in a matter of maybe 5 seconds. After it stops right where it started 5 seconds before it stayed hovered for about another 30 seconds to a minute at most. It suddenly shot almost straight up " more like an arc or slight radius" leaving another streak of light and seemed to have left the Earth. Me and my Mother waited for almost a half an hour for its return, but never did. This is the only time I have seen something like this.

    I retired from the Army a couple years back and I have seen many types of illumination rounds and aircraft over my adult life, in training, and combat. Still to this day I have no idea what we saw, but it was exciting.



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