Thursday, February 15, 2007

UFO Sightings by Police and Pilots and the "No good UFO sightings anymore" meme

Nick Redfern blogs about a report self-published (pdf) by Gary Heseltine, himself a policeman, on UK UFO cases involving police witnesses. A recent case involves a retired British policeman who reported a flaming tube-like object. Another retired UK police officer was involved in a multiple eyewitness sighting in November.

This got me thinking about how the main reason the current UFO wave really got going was the O'Hare sighting. But it wasn't just the location, it was the reports coming from airline professionals, and specifically pilots. Others have written about the importance ufologists place on the "reliable witness," the military officer, the pilot, the police, etc. But it is notable that this element has been popping up again and again during this wave.

Apparently at a recent UFO conference, Chilean military officers came forward with UFO photos and videos. The French Space Agency is making its UFO files (UFOs have been a part of French space research for sometime) available on the internet.

A retired US Air Force pilot saw and photographed unusual lights in the sky over Kansas. This story came from the highly partisan and right-wing WorldNet Daily, but after Drudge picked it up, it got play in right-wing media and then mainstream sources as a result. It was explicitly compared to the 1997 Phoenix Lights, and within days of that comparison, the same explanation appeared as had in the Phoenix case: flares from military air exercises. Never mind that the witness flew fighter jets for decades. And then scant days later, lights appear over Phoenix again, and again the flares explanation is given. Given the source as WorldNet Daily, and then the rapid coincidences in the middle of the biggest public interest in a UFO wave since 1966, I have to say my paranoia sense is tingling. And I generally don't even believe that the US government is terribly interested in UFOs anymore.

Two weeks ago, one of several witnesses to a UFO case in Arizona was a Navajo Nation Police Ranger. Witness drawings here.

Of course the other notable thing here are the multiple witnesses. I personally think that waves are media artifacts, comparable with rumor panics, related to but not completely correlated with a steady occurrence of people having sightings and other experiences. It isn't an issue of more sightings, but more sightings in non-ufological media. But in any case, the wave of 2006-2007 should put a damper on the meme I've heard more than once that "good" UFO reports dried up after the 1973 wave. I suspect that meme has a lot more to do with the split between the traditional nuts-and-bolts generation of saucerers and ufologists, and the much messier melange of abduction and 4D that rose to prominence starting around that time. But that's something for another time.

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