[disinfo ed.’s note: In this excerpt from UFOs, ETs, and Alien Abductions, psychologist and researcher Don Donderi examines the evidence and research from the past several decades on the changing nature of UFOs. He looks at why the scientific establishment takes a dim view of UFOs and abduction evidence and examines how the US government has collected and suppressed UFO evidence.]
What We Know
Twenty-first century media document the adventures of anthropologists, archaeologists, geologists, and naturalists who study every culture, geographical anomaly, and ecological niche on our planet. But one adventure excluded from this lively quest for knowledge is our study of the creatures who are studying us.89 Science and the media largely ignore our own efforts to understand the extraterrestrial exploration of our planet and the extraterrestrials’ study of ourselves. The next chapters of this book aim to correct that omission. This chapter summarizes what we know about UFOs; chapter 9 explains why science and the media ignore UFOs; and chapter 10, which outlines the recent history of our social and political response to UFOs, concludes by proposing how we should deal with UFOs, ETs, and alien abductions.
A Summary of the Evidence
The modern North American UFO chronology begins in 1947, but UFOs were seen in America and elsewhere during and immediately after the Second World War—and there is suggestive evidence from the nineteenth century and long before. The modern evidence consists of photographs, landing traces, radar plots, and eyewitness testimony, often from civilian and military pilots, policemen, and other experienced observers.
UFOs are observed worldwide. There is no way to estimate the effect of vagaries of reporting (media interest and availability, government policy, witness reliability, public opinion) on the tally of the times and places where UFOs turn up, but there have been irregular temporal cycles in the frequency of reports, at least in the Western world, for the past fifty years or so.
Some UFOs that have been observed close up are hot enough to burn skin when touched. They also emit short-wave electromagnetic radiation that produces radiation poisoning at close range. The electromagnetic radiation ionizes the air around the UFO, causing a luminous halo at night and sometimes a blurry or shimmering halo in daylight.
UFOs range from very small (a few feet in diameter) to gigantic (miles in length or diameter). Their shapes include the classic two saucers face-to-face, Saturn-shaped discs, small eggs or spheres, large cigar-shaped craft, and giant triangular, rectangular, spherical, or boomerang-shaped objects that move very slowly at very low altitudes and then disappear rapidly. The performance of all of these machines exceeds that of the most advanced terrestrial aircraft.
UFOs can disable the weapons systems of military aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Many UFOs have crews. Sometimes small flying saucers have a visible crew of two occupants in a transparent dome. Larger UFOs are reported to have larger crews. The occupants have humanoid features (a head, two arms, two legs) in a variety of complexions, heights, and widths. Some occupants are small, perhaps two or three feet tall, and are seen wearing what appears to be the occupant equivalent of a spacesuit. The common variety of occupant, seen in or near UFOs by abductees, is a gray (either skin or clothing, or both) humanoid between four and five feet tall with skinny limbs, a thin neck, a large cranium tapering to a face with narrow chin, a thin line of a mouth, vestigial nostrils and ear openings, four fingers, and, most noticeably, large, oval black eyes that slope upward and outward.
People driving at night on deserted roads have been paced by low-flying UFOs. Their cars may be stopped or they may be enticed by curiosity or telepathic suggestion out of their cars and into the power of the occupants, who communicate telepathically with the abductees and take them into UFOs. Abductees are sometimes walked or dragged into a landed UFO, but they can also be levitated upward inside a beam of light into a hovering UFO. During an abduction, occupants may conduct tests on abductees, and an implant may be inserted into the nose or under an eye; conversely, sometimes an implant is removed. The occupants also convey apocalyptic or warning messages about the future of Earth. They also sometimes show abductees what appear to be hybrid occupant-human children. Abductees are generally returned to the same location from which they were abducted, with strong suggestions not to remember the abduction experience. The suggestion to forget sometimes fails outright, is short-circuited by dreams or flashbacks, or is removed using some form of assisted recall including but not limited to hypnosis.
People may be abducted from isolated locations in or near camps or cabins, or from their homes or apartments, and they experience more or less the same sequence of events. The experience is psychologically disturbing even when it is not consciously remembered, but it does not appear to produce serious permanent physical injury.
The modus operandi of UFO occupants is familiar because we treat animals just like UFO occupants treat us. Consider bears. We fly over their habitat in helicopters. We shoot a tranquilizing dart into a bear and when it is unconscious we land, haul it away in a net, and carry out tests either in a lab or on the spot. Then we put a telemetry chip under the bear’s skin so we can track where it goes, and we return it to the general area where we found it, after which the bear wakes up and goes about its life. We can’t interview bears, so we have no idea how they recall the experience. But the experience that we impose on some bears is not unlike the experience UFO occupants impose on some of us.
How UFOs Might Work
While I was a faculty associate of the Pulp and Paper Research Institute, the applied science and engineering laboratory of Canada’s pulp and paper industry, I learned that engineers are more interested in UFOs than are scientists. Engineers are professional builders, so if someone tells an engineer about a new machine he or she will want to know how it works. Scientists are professional explainers. If someone tells a scientist about a new machine, but it cannot be understood using existing scientific theory, there is nothing scientific for the scientist to explain and so nothing to think about professionally. In the introduction I described the neuroscientist who saw a UFO while driving on the Taconic State Parkway—and ignored it.
Unconventional Flying Objects
Aeronautical engineer Paul R. Hill worked from 1939 to 1970 for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the US government agency that designed airplanes, bombs, and rockets during the Second World War. (In 1958 NACA became NASA—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.) Hill designed the fuselage of the World War II P-47 fighter-bomber.
On July 16, 1952, during the Washington, DC “UFO flap,” Hill saw some new machines. UFOs flew over NACA’s Hampton Roads, Virginia headquarters, about 150 miles south of Washington, DC. As a good engineer, Hill wanted to know how they worked. As a good observer, he learned a great deal about how they worked from watching them. As a good scholar, he learned even more by reading other people’s reports. Hill wrote Unconventional Flying Objects, a brilliant and informative book about UFO technology, during the 1970s. NASA policy prohibited him from publishing information or opinion about UFOs under his own name, so the book was only published in 1995, after his death.
Hill’s book is so well written and has so many examples that the argument is clear even if the reader cannot follow the mathematics. One of the book’s great virtues is that Hill followed a rule laid down by that most respectable skeptic, R. V. Jones, about evaluating intelligence. In Hill’s words,
UFO data-pattern correlation is my way of separating UFO fact from UFO fiction… 92 New facts and theories have to form a neat, logical package before they can be accepted, and justifiably so; otherwise technological chaos would reign. Therein lies the problem. Some degree of technological sense has to be made of the unconventional object, even to make “seeing believing.”
Like Jones, Hill needed consistency in deciding whether or not to accept new information, with the goal being to build a coherent understanding of a new situation from fragmentary but reliable pieces of information. Hill found consistencies across many UFO accounts, and based on those he derived an explanation of UFO function that lacked only one important detail: he could not explain how UFOs generated the antigravity force field that he believed was necessary to explain their performance.
UFOs are heavy. Evidence from compressed soil and deformed railroad ties at UFO landing sites allowed Hill to estimate that a small UFO (twenty feet long by ten feet high) weighed about thirty tons. Based on estimates of UFO weight and volume, Hill calculated that UFOs, like submarines, have a density about that of water, which may explain why UFOs can dive into and emerge from bodies of water, as reported in the Buff Ledge and New York City abduction cases (see chapter 6).
Hill wrote that the parched soil and charred roots left behind by hovering or landed UFOs were caused by short-range microwave radiation in the X-ray to near gamma ray frequency range. The microwave radiation ionizes the air around the UFO, making the temporarily energized electrons emit visible photons (light) as they drop back to their un-energized state. The reddish-orange glow or halo that surrounds UFOs seen at night and the sometimes foggy or blurry outlines seen at close range during the day is visible evidence of ionization.
While driving along a back road on the Texas-Arkansas border in 1980, Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, and Betty’s grandson Colby all suffered skin burns and radiation poisoning when they had a close encounter with a UFO that blocked their path. Stefan Michalak approached and touched a landed UFO in Canada in 1967, and he suffered skin burns and radiation poisoning.94
As the UFO lifts off and speeds up, the ionized glow changes from red-orange to bluish-white, which is consistent with an increase of microwave energy. According to Hill, microwave radiation is a side effect of the propulsion system, which employs a focusable antigravity force field. This field is directed downward from the bottom of the UFO, so in order to maneuver, the UFO tilts and points the force field opposite to the desired direction of travel (see figure 17).
Another smaller component of the force field pointed in the direction of travel acts as an energy buffer that prevents occupants from being torn apart by the UFO’s high acceleration.
UFOs do not emit any kind of chemical exhaust, nor do they emit charged particles. Hill argued that chemical exhaust would be detectible afterward and that charged particles would produce much higher radioactivity levels than those recorded at UFO landing sites. UFOs also do not emit photon beams (light particles) because, based on Hill’s calculations, a photon beam powerful enough to lift a UFO would excavate a giant chasm and boil away the water in the Earth below the UFO. Hill reported UFO speeds based on radar data as upward of 9,000 miles per hour and accelerations in the range of 100 Gs (100 times the force of terrestrial gravity).
Although hot to the touch when landed, UFO surfaces in flight are not extremely hot: they emit a modest amount of infrared radiation. Hill proposed that a component of the antigravity force field projected in the direction of flight would absorb energy from compressed air ahead of the UFO and prevent the UFO from overheating.
Hill speculated that interstellar flights at speeds that (from a terrestrial reference point) approach the speed of light would be relatively short in time as measured on the UFO. For example, the trip to Alpha Centauri, a binary star system 4.37 light-years away, might be made from a standing start to a standing finish in just six weeks of time elapsed on board, assuming the ship reaches 0.9999 the velocity of light by accelerating at 140 Gs.
What UFOs and Occupants Can Do
While Barney and Betty Hill walked or were dragged into a landed UFO, Michael Lapp and Susan Cornell were levitated off a dock into a hovering UFO inside a bright beam of light. The Allagash abductees were levitated out of their canoe into a hovering UFO inside a bright beam of light. Susan and Jennifer, the Kansas abductees, were levitated out of their car into a hovering UFO inside a bright beam of light. Security agents Richard and Dan watched Linda Cortile levitate through a closed window with a metal child guard and into a hovering UFO inside a bright beam of light.
Weapons System Interference:
The 1976 Tehran, Iran UFO Incident
In the fall of 1976, in the Shah’s Iran, a UFO was seen and painted on radar over Tehran at an altitude of about 6,000 feet. The Air Force sent up an F-4 Phantom fighter jet to intercept it. As the jet approached, the UFO outran it and jammed its radios. When the jet abandoned the chase, the radios started to work again. A second Phantom took off, piloted by squadron commander Parviz Jafari. Jafari saw flashing red, green, orange, and blue lights ahead of him, but he could not see the object behind them. His backseat radar operator picked up the UFO at a distance of twenty-seven miles and they chased it at a closing speed of 150 knots. As they shortened the range Major Jafari thought about arming his missiles. Suddenly the UFO sped farther away and launched a round, bright object that headed straight toward the Phantom. Jafari armed a heat-seeking missile but as he tried to fire at the approaching object his weapons control panel and radio failed. He turned away from the oncoming object, which stopped short of a head-on collision. Jafari and his radar operator saw the object rejoin the UFO. Then a second object
was ejected from the UFO, circled his fighter, and knocked out his communications and weapons systems again. When it moved away his radios worked again, he reported what had happened to his commander on the ground, and he was told to land.
The next day’s debriefing session included a US Air Force officer. Jafari became a general in the Shah’s Air Force and left the country after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. His account is included in Leslie Kean’s book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record, which describes other confrontations between military pilots and UFOs, some of which led to shooting at, but never shooting down, a UFO.
Malmstrom Air Force Base UFO/Missile Incident
In the 1960s, the US Air Force installed nuclear-armed Minuteman ICBMs in hardened silos dispersed over wide areas across the American west. Flights of ten missiles were controlled from an underground bunker that communicated electronically with individual missile silos. Maintenance crews visited the missile silos regularly, and the entire missile field was patrolled by armed security guards. Being part of a missile launch crew required psychological stability, a high security clearance, and a tolerance for endless boring routine. It was also a good gig if you wanted to study while working, so an ambitious young officer could volunteer for the work and be assured of a quiet, climate-controlled environment with few distractions.
Second Lieutenant Robert Salas, USAF, studying for a master’s degree in engineering, was on duty as the missile launch officer in the launch control bunker of Oscar Flight at Malmstrom Air Force Base in central Montana in the early hours of March 16, 1967. A security guard in the missile field called Salas to say that there were strange lights in the sky. After some discussion about what they might be, Salas told the guard to “just keep watching them and let me know if they get any closer,” and went back to his books.
The guard called again:
“Sir, there’s one hovering outside the front gate.”
“A UFO! It’s just sitting there. We’re all just looking at it. What do you want us to do?”
“What? What does it look like?”
“I can’t really describe it. It’s glowing red. What are we supposed to do?”
“Make sure the site is secure and I’ll phone the command post.”
Moments later alarms went off in the launch control bunker. The flight of ten missiles had failed to no-go status—they could not be launched. The missile’s guidance and control system registered a fault. At or about the same time, ten missiles from nearby Echo Flight were also disabled, and security guards reported UFOs hovering over the Echo Flight silos. It took a full day to bring the Oscar Flight missiles back to ready status.
Post-incident follow-ups failed to find a power, electronic component, or software failure in the missiles or in the missile system. Missile manufacturer Boeing was able to duplicate the failure by introducing pulsed electronic “noise” into a component of the guidance and control system, but they could not explain how such a pulse got into the systems. Internal documents corroborate the correlation between the time of UFO intrusions and the time of missile failure at Oscar and Echo Flights, although the Air Force denied the UFO rumor in its official history of the missile wing.
Engineers and physical scientists are not the only professionals who confront anomalous information from UFO and occupant encounters; psychologists also have to change some of their preconceptions in the face of new information. One preconception concerns extrasensory perception (ESP). Despite a strong interest in ESP around the turn of the twentieth century98 and a continuous low level of interest and publication ever since, ESP is not taken seriously within the field of scientific psychology, and ESP research is not supported by government funding agencies. This is for the same reason that physical scientists ignore UFO evidence: there is no physical theory explaining how it works. ESP may happen, but we have no idea how it happens, so it is not worth studying—at least not with government support.
Occupants communicate telepathically with abductees. They put words or commands into the minds of abductees at the start of an abduction, and they communicate telepathically during the abduction itself. Betty Hill said she heard her captor’s words in an unfamiliar language but understood them as if they were in English.99 Michael Lapp said he heard an occupant’s voice “in his head” and that the occupant said “this is what you call telepathy.”100 Jim Weiner, one of the Allagash abductees, said communicating with the occupants was by “a strong telepathic impression”:
Q: Did they say anything to you?
A: No, but I know that’s what they want me to do, so I figured that I might as well do it.
Jennifer and Susan, abducted in Kansas, also said the occupants communicated with them telepathically.102 Linda Cortile in New York got reassuring mental messages from some of the occupants who abducted her:
I’m gonna go home now. That’s what he’s going to do. He must be able to read my mind…
Q: Do you use English? Regular English?
A: No. I’m thinking it. And he knows, and that’s what he does.
Extra-sensory perception is an inefficient means of communication at best when it can be demonstrated between human beings, but it is a normal and useful means of communication between humans and occupants.
Besides Paul R. Hill, no scientifically or technically trained writer has tried to systematically explain how UFOs work or what UFO occupants can do. Hill had the technical knowledge and the imagination to piece together the UFO observables and propose that UFOs modified gravity, but he didn’t claim to know how they did that. No one has tried to explain how UFOs disable airborne weapons systems or ICBMs in missile silos. No psychological writer has tried to explain how UFO occupants communicate telepathically. And, as the next chapter will show, institutional science has shown no particular interest in trying to answer any of these questions.