Wednesday, April 25, 2007

As Weird as it Gets - Part 5 (Final Chapter)

Serious UFO-related journalism has often been hard to come by via the conventional media, especially in the U.S., but recent events may encourage more credible reporting of the seemingly incredible

Robert Barrow

An ideal place to look for reasons why the national press doesn't go rightfully bonkers over the UFO issue is the past. The very early 1950s were truly the most open U.S. government period in the history of UFO reporting, despite an avalanche of sightings by military pilots and other qualified observers in the late forties that concerned government sources greatly. Such prominent magazines as LIFE and LOOK were allowed access to government UFO reports and documentation suggesting the existence of something strange in our skies. The summer of 1952 precipitated a wave of hundreds of UFO sightings all over the U.S., climaxed by incidents a week apart over Washington, D.C. where UFOs not only appeared on radar, but visually surrounded a military pilot as well before disappearing.

Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a long-time UFO researcher who has worked in a non-UFO capacity with the government in the past, reminds us in his writings that on July 29, 1952, three days after the dramatic radar-visual UFO chase over Washington, General John Samford held a famous and well-attended D.C. press conference to calm an anxious public about the flying saucers. While in agreement that not all sightings had yet been explained, Samford's reassuring voice wanted the press and public to know that essentially all was well and that reports could generally be explained as natural phenomena.

According to Maccabee, however, even as Samford was effectively chopping the seemingly profound UFO enigma into harmless specks of magic dust before the eyes of a hungry press, something else was going on behind closed official doors on the same day: Air Force Intelligence personnel were telling the FBI that a small percentage of UFO sightings could not be explained and high-ranking military brass were considering that some reports might involve "ships from another planet." Considerable speculation exists as to whether this version of the situation was actually a hair's breadth from being reported to the press at that fateful press conference in 1952. But what was done was done, the press grumbled, and in large part accepted the sanitized official stance then and in years to come.

Thanks primarily to the Freedom of Information Act, a wealth of old government documents pertaining to UFOs have seen release in recent years, though often blacked out judiciously. Still, the government's concern with the subject is obvious, as it should be, because there are numerous dramatic UFO encounters on record, some having endangered commercial airline passengers when pilots had to take evasive actions to avoid possible collisions with unknown objects.

Most recently, the best place to look for some insight on just how seriously the U.S. government takes the UFO question is our neighbor to the north. From 1950 to 1954, a Canadian named Wilbert Smith, senior radio engineer at the Dept. of Canadian Transport, was involved in the secret "Project Magnet," which was set up to investigate antigravity and other propulsion methods and to investigate UFOs and their inherent propulsion technology.

It turns out that the Canadian UFO project participants also worked with U.S. officials, and amongst all the documentation generated in secret was a "top secret" memo written by Smith in 1952, describing the true American stand on UFOs. Smith kept and hid a copy of the memo after Project Magnet disbanded, and several years later as he was dying of cancer instructed his wife to hide his papers because one day after his death officials would be coming to take his records.

Smith's wife wisely followed his advice, eventually turning the papers over to a well known Canadian UFO researcher for safekeeping; however, he, like Smith, also had a high-level security clearance in his past and couldn't do anything about turning the papers over to the public or he would be in serious trouble. And, indeed, as Smith had predicted, Canadian, American and Russian officials visited Smith's wife in search of documents and she informed them all that they were no longer available.

Nick Balaskas, a researcher at York University, was recently in receipt of Smith's papers, and even a couple of extra and essential pages were just found to complete part of the puzzle. Smith's own copy of the 1952 formerly secret memo is now on the Internet ( and makes two intriguing points about the American UFO project's conclusions in the early fifties that he learned through his routine work with the mutual U.S.-Canadian teams: That "flying saucers" exist and that the subject was the most highly classified subject in the U.S., rated higher than the H-bomb.

Currently, there are said to be anonymous representatives in Congress concerned about the UFO issue and decades of secrecy. If one listens to the buzz on the UFO circuit, it is claimed that neither Congressional leaders, nor even the President of the United States, can gain access to the ongoing, highly classified UFO project. At this level of rumor, documentation of the seemingly absurd becomes nearly impossible; however, the viewpoint that some information has recently been leaked to the press about Middle East matters, so all information - even about UFOs - would logically be leaked at some point, is a pathetic dream derived from a fool's paradise.

The next time you venture outside during a crystal-clear evening, by all means scan the stars and the unfathomable depths of the universe, and keep honing the sense of wonder that keeps our minds sharp. But don't neglect to look down at the grass under your feet, too, because, somewhere between the earth on which we stand and the deep space whose borders we have yet to comprehend, the concept of here vs. there may be irrelevant, and every place the same, except with the furniture rearranged, the flowers in a different vase and the faces. . .and the faces? Oh, what about the faces?

"They better wake up and start believin'. . .they better start believin'. . .They won't believe it. They're gonna believe it one of these days. Might be too late. I knew all along there was people from other worlds up there. I knew all along. I never thought it would happen to me." -- Charles Hickson speaking to Calvin Parker at the sheriff's office in 1973, alone and unaware their voices were being secretly recorded.