Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Triangles - The One UFO Story that Really Gets Me

UPDATE: I'm leaving this up. But for some years now, I find I don't agree with what I once wrote. I've ultimately decided that the black triangles are a mix of misidentification and folklore, given credibility by the period of interest by American stealth designers in triangular craft. I think I came to this conclusion before the cratering of credibility regarding the book Night Siege, but that certainly didn't help matters.

By now, readers of this blog should be able to guess that I find the Spooky Paradigm interesting for a couple of reasons, but that I definitely put it in a cultural frame. In other words, I find it most interesting as a culture, a community, a movement, a worldview, something along those lines. I write about it here from that perspective.

But I can't say I don't have opinions and ideas about the ideas in the Paradigm. And the one mystery associated with UFOs, the one that I simply cannot explain to my own satisfaction, is that of the Triangles. These are also called the Black Triangles, though given that many sightings are at night, this may be a difficult call.

Anyway, UFOs have come in a lot of different shapes through the years, and still continue to do so. Trends in the appearance of reported UFOs can be interesting, but simple statements do mask the diversity, and the persistance of supposedly "out-dated" reports of disc or cigar-shaped UFOs. But one trend that has been remarked on from time to time is the growing popularity of triangle-shaped UFOs. I don't know if more Triangles are reported than in the past, but they do seem to be involved in more multiple or even mass witness cases.

There are numerous cases, but the four famous Triangle cases that define the others are the Hudson Valley sightings (1983 - 1985, see the book Night Siege in the sidebar for details, put back in print in 2002 after being difficult to obtain), the Belgian sightings (March 30, 1990), the Phoenix Lights (March 13, 1997), and the Illinois "Cop" Case (January 5, 2000 documented at a great page at the UFO Evidence website). In these cases, black triangles (sometimes smaller, but usually much larger and typically described with "football fields" as a unit of measure) are sighted moving low and slow. They have lights, often with a red light in the center of the ventral side of the triangle, and then brighter lights near the corners. But in a number of cases a rainbow of lights is described along one of the narrow edges of the triangle.

These sightings have attracted a great deal of attention for many reasons. Again, there are individual sightings of the Triangles. But the cases listed above were all multiple witness sightings (including mass witness sightings by hundreds of people) over populated areas. In the case of the Belgian sightings and the Illinois case, government officials were involved (Belgian fighter jets were scrambled, most of the Illinois witnesses were police officers from several departments) and photographs were taken (here is an example on Lieve Peten's site). Someone looking for a nuts-and-bolts UFO report couldn't do much better than the Triangles, except perhaps to get a piece of one or some clear and sustained daytime imagery of one, preferably from multiple sources to discount Photoshopping.

One problem immediately rears its head: the sightings are so good, they are too good. Yes the cases are famous spawning television documentaries and books and mainstream news reporting. But as I quoted in a previous entry in this blog " if a conspiracy theory turns out to be correct, it is quickly relabelled as investigative journalism"and this applies to the Triangles. Because they do have many of the characteristics of actual objects sighted by many people, including "credible" authorities, the reaction outside of the Spooky Paradigm is to admit the sightings may be of something real, but that it must be something exotic, but not too exotic.

Like experimental US military aircraft. This makes sense. The US was experimenting in the 1970s and on with black triangular aircraft as part of its stealth program. While none of the known US aircraft fly like the Triangles (in particular, slow or hovering low-altitude flight), perhaps the Triangles are something that hasn't been released to the public yet. Perhaps a stealth long-range transport ship. Perhaps using lighter-than-air, or even exotic antigravity technology. Perhaps the witnesses didn't understand exactly what they were seeing. This is the conclusion from a detailed study of the triangles by the National Institute for Discovery Science. (see also this page for various articles, maps, etc.). As with animal mutilations, they got interested in the Triangles as they seem to have more data to handle. Their conclusion was that the triangles may be experimental transport aircraft, and that they appear to cluster around airbases for transport and logistics (pdf here, jpg map here).

There are two problems with the experimental aircraft idea. The first is that ufologists can point to older cases of triangular sightings. Ok, but there does seem to be an upswing in sightings, and especially the impressive multi-witness sightings, starting around the time the Americans began building stealth craft and flying them out in Nevada at Groom Lake and other facilities (though these French sightings date to 1975-1976, when the F-117 was still a concept being worked out). Perhaps the earlier Triangles are not related to the post-1983 Triangles. There are only so many basic shapes thagt one could use to describe an unfamiliar object in the sky, and triangle is likely to come up. A rise in sightings of black triangular UFOs just at the time that the USAF starts flying secret black triangular planes is just a coincidence? Somewhat difficult to believe. So this I can live with.

What bothers me when I think about these reports is the time depth if this were a secret plane. It is a truism that secret planes typically stay secret for no more than a decade, and perhaps significantly less. This issue comes up with reports of the supposed Aurora, another mystery UFO of the stealth era. As discussed on the website of the Federation of American Scientists, Aurora is the label given to reports of a high-altitude, high-speed, sonic-boom generating triangular (hence why it is sometimes conflated with the low-altitude Black Triangles) aircraft. In both cases, sightings continued for a substantial period of time, but there is one major difference. Aurora sightings (and recording of sonic booms) are largely confined to the late 1980s and the early to mid 1990s. One could conceivably argue that Aurora was what so many think: a replacement for the SR-71 in the niche of the high-altitude high-speed reconaissance and potentially strike aircraft. Perhaps some prototypes were created and flown, but ultimately the project was cancelled, and the entire thing kept secret perhaps due to extravagant costs, spectacular failure, or scandalous corruption. Who knows, but this is a believable excuse for why the plane could have been in operation for half a decade and then disappeared behind National Security/Cover-Your-Ass.

But this explanation simply doesn't work for the Triangles. They have been sighted for more than two decades (here is a multi-witness sightings in Venezuela from last month) so far with no end in sight. And if they are advanced transport aircraft, there have been enough American wars and military actions that one would imagine they would have been used. And if they are so secret for decades, why fly them over populated areas, in some cases multiple times over the course of a year or more as in the Hudson Valley case?

Historian Richard Dolan wrote a good and more detailed essay similar to this one for the National Institute for Discovery Science, back in 2003. While I am sure I must have read this essay, I forgot about it until tonight. Yes, we agree on a number of points, and reach some similar conclusions. But where Dolan suggests a possible ET origin for some of the Triangles due to lack of disclosure as a military craft, I take his other suggestion as more likely. That the reports are indeed of structured non-ET craft, perhaps stealthy, perhaps for transport. But the continued secrecy points to a very different kind of relationship between whoever flies the craft, the federal government, and the American people. Or as Dolan puts it, a "shadow government." Such a craft would clearly have value in a war, say by rapidly deploying troops and equipment in difficult to reach places (such as Afghanistan in 2001, or Northern Iraq in 2003). But no such craft has emerged, nor have stories by soldiers of having ridden in or unloaded such craft.

If these obvious cases for using the Triangles didn't unveil them, then what are they being saved for? This is where, as Dolan notes, things start to get dark. Quiet craft able to deploy military or police forces, and being tested and flown around urban areas? Developed by someone in the US government but not used to fight its wars? This starts to lead to disturbing ideas to say the least.

And hence this post. The Triangles confound easy explanation as hoaxes or folklore. They seem to exist. They certainly sound like something a military would, and possibly could, create. And in fact they look at least something like recent creations for the US Air Force, though with major differences. Yet for decades they haven't been revealed as such, even when their use could have won wars or saved lives (imagine a black triangle descending on the Convention Center in New Orleans in September 2005, rescuing hundreds of the trapped and dehydrated people, continuously ferrying everyone out in the course of some hours). This might lead some to suggest a non-human explanation for what appear to be structured mechanical air craft, while it would lead others to think about a military or intelligence organization that has such aircraft, but is not beholden to the will of the people and their elected representatives.

Either option disturbs me.

EDIT: I'll add triangle sightings to this post when I come across them. Like this one in the UK on January 30, 2007.

EDIT: French Triangle Sightings from the 1970s. Most importantly, they were published in the 1970s, before the meme of the black triangle, and just before the first stealth prototypes were flying in Nevada.

EDIT: Black Triangle seen in British Colombia. News report on the sighting.


Redoubt said...

Watching and reading the various UFO websites and reports through the years, I am continually surprised how the UFO community itself just neglects to note the obvious. But perhaps there really should be no amazement, especially when even mainstream science regularly turns its back on evidence that shouts, demanding attention.

As for the black triangles, they just look too much like a human-made machine. In fact, they look remarkably like a little bit of garage science called ‘lifters’.

The Lifter is usually made of aluminum foil, string, balsa strips and copper wire. These contraptions are then powered into a mode of flight that simulates anti grav.

Image link:

If you spend any amount of time looking over the various websites dedicated to them, you’ll see that these Lifters were first created in a triangular design. As the hobbyist have grown more able, they have taken on other shapes as well… but the basic configuration is indeed a triangle.

Now then, how much of a leap is it to imagine any of America’s defense contractors engaging in a black project to further develop this mode of flying? I mean, geez, if it can be done in someone’s garage, why couldn’t a few billion dollars and an unlimited access to physical resources produce something akin to one of those Black Triangles?

But… the UFO community has continually looked to the interstellar skies to find answers to each and every unusual object.

Now before I am fallen upon for that last bit of heresy, let me state that I am a firm believer in an extraterrestrial explanation for some unidentified flying objects. And since I can’t imagine that we (humans) aren’t in the business of expanding the currently known realms of aviation and space flight, placing the black triangle in the hands of humans seems like one possible fit.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… it might be, what?

Here’s one more link for Lifters. Thanks for allowing me to comment here.

kc5tja said...

I hate to tell you this, but lifters are (1) grossly energy inefficient (15% to 18% efficient at best), which means that they'll produce voluminous waste as a byproduct of their functioning (excess heat, electromagnetic radiation, et. al.). These would be readily detectable by a disinterested grade-schooler, much less someone peering at a triangle from directly beneath it. This alone negates the lifter theory. But there's more. (2) Lifters rely on ionic wind propulsion -- in short, it's a jet engine that uses no moving parts. Even if the energy efficiency could be addressed (and it has, as our ion propulsion systems designed by NASA has proven), since we're dealing with moving air volumes, and sound is just moving air, it follows that these things ought to create some kind of jet-like noise. Not one genuine triangle has produced any audible noise record beyond a humming or throbbing sound, like a seized up motor. Most, in fact, produce no sound at all. Moreover, because it relies on a reaction mass, lifters cannot operate in a sealed container or in a vacuum.

So, in short, these things cannot be Terran-made at this time, since our physics simply and utterly is incapable of describing the operation of these machines.

Note, I'm completely and deliberately skipping over the issue of maneuverability. These triangles are known for their sloth behavior, but upon instigation, they can exhibit saucer-like maneuverability. They've been observed to outpace fighter jets, despite their visible size. They've been observed to make sharp, 90-degree (or more) turns effortlessly. Etc.

All these things indicate a level of technology so far superior to our own understanding that it makes lifters look like the mere toys they actually are.

Anonymous said...

Lifters, as tested on Myth Busters, operate by the high voltage generating air current, and do not operate inside a vacuum chamber.

Although they are wild and fun

Basketball Is Life said...

i'm still wondering about that UFO sighting in KZN, South Africa when many eyewitnesses viewed a craft of some sort fall from the sky, apparently smoking or on fire, plunge into the ocean and dissappear right before their eyes. ONLY ONE ARTICLE with 3 minor updates were issued and that was in May. I'm the only person to remember this I'm thinking....
it was reported May, 2006.,,2-7-1442_1936528,00.html

Redoubt said...

Yes, yes. Inefficient they may well indeed be built with anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars of a budget. But as I stated in my original comment, with a few billion in US Greenbacks and access to whatever you might want or need to FURTHER DEVELOP this mode of flying… who knows where it COULD go?

Note: I built the Basic Lifter myself and it was really a lot of fun to fart around with in front of the kids and their friends. But give me unlimited funding and materials and I may someday build one that more closely resembles a flying, triangular RV than a balsa wood oddity.

Oh… and I wasn’t aware that any of these black triangles had been seen flitting about in space… or empty mayonnaise jars. (Re: “Moreover, because it relies on a reaction mass, lifters cannot operate in a sealed container or in a vacuum.”)

I need another cup of coffee…

It goes back to the same type of argument that says with certainty that a benevolent and ominipotent spirit can create the universe and all that’s in it in six days. But… as for the existence of UFOs? That’s just crazy!

You can imagine a universe full of anti grav driven machines and extratrestrials and other exotic propulsion systems along with greys and reptilians and, and, and… but terestrial-based flying triangles that may be utilizing advanced and hithrto undiscovered lifter technology? That’s just crazy!

Happy New Year! (I hear the Y2K bug is going to make a come back…)