Journal of Alternative Realities    Volume 6.   Issue 1.  1998

The Child That Never Was?

Deconstructing An Apparition

By J. D. Frodsham

Some years ago I received a call from a Miss Fotheringham (pseudonym) who told me that a neighbour of hers was having her house exorcised that morning because it was haunted.  The next day I contacted the neighbour, Mrs Rossmoyne (pseudonym), of Subiaco and found her to be an intelligent, rational and helpful informant.
Mrs Rossmoyne told me that the previous August a friend had given her an old photograph album, bound in leather with a brass catch, which had been identified as being an Australian album of an unusual design, probably dating from about 1880.  Her friend had purchased this from a second-hand shop.  It was a family album containing approximately twenty photographs, among them one of a grave-stone marking a grave in which were buried George Whitehead, a child aged one year and four months who had died in 1856, and his elder brother, also named George, who had died at the age of twenty-four in a railway accident.  It was impossible to ascertain the location of the grave, but the inscription on the gravestone would seem to indicate that it might be found in or around Darlington.  This could refer either to Darlington, New South Wales, or Darlington, Western Australia, though the latter would appear to be the more likely site.  So far, I have not succeeded in finding the gravestone.

After Mrs Rossmoyne had owned the album for a couple of weeks, she was sitting in front of the fire with her husband, glancing through the photographs, when she suddenly decided that she did not wish to keep the picture of the grave because it was "morbid".  She thereupon took it out of the album and threw it into the fire.  Her husband, who was able to corroborate that she had remarked that she did not like the picture in question, did not actually see her do this.  Mrs Rossmoyne however, is quite positive that she pulled it out of the slots in which it was set and burnt it.

About three weeks later, while showing the album to her younger brother, she noticed to her amazement that the photograph was back in its original place in the album.  She was certain that there could not have originally been two photographs of the gravestone as she had gone carefully through the album on a number of occasions.  She immediately rang a friend of hers who acts as a medium to a Roman Catholic group, and asked her advice as to whether she should burn the picture again.  The medium advised her not to do so.  On 27th December, Mrs Rossmoyne noticed that a photograph of her father, taken when he was approximately two years old, had disappeared from the shelf on which it stood.  A thorough search of the room revealed nothing.  At the end of January, however, when Mrs Rossmoyne and her husband returned from an overseas holiday, the photograph had reappeared, not in its original position but on the shelf beneath, standing up as though it had been put there deliberately.  Mrs Rossmoyne had previously checked this shelf thoroughly.  Since the house had been locked up during their absence it was clearly impossible for the photograph to have reappeared through normal means.

Just before she went on holiday, Mrs Rossmoyne had woken up in the middle of the night feeling thirsty and on walking down the long hall to the kitchen to get herself a drink, had encountered the apparition of a child, who appeared to be about the size of a two-year-old.  Since she is used to baby-sitting toddlers, her immediate reaction was to step back and apologise as though she was dealing with a real child that she had almost bumped into.  When she switched on the light however, she suddenly realised that she had seen a ghost, since there was no child in the house at all at that time.  She described the apparition as looking like a little girl, even though she could not see its clothing or its face, for it seemed like a dark shape.  Nevertheless, though she distinctly had the impression that it was wearing a dress and had long hair, she believed that it may have been the ghost of young George Whitehead, for she was well aware that Victorian boys wore dresses until they were around four years old.

On the morning of 26th February Mrs Rossmoyne was looking after a friend's child, Kay (pseudonym), aged two years and eleven months.  Kay, who Mrs Rossmoyne describes as a precociously intelligent child, complained to her that unseen children were "laughing noisily" and annoying her.  Mrs Rossmoyne was surprised at this as there were no other children in the house and all was quiet.  When she asked if Kay had seen children around the house, Kay replied that on previous occasions, she had seen "a little pink person" (Kay's habitual term for a white-skinned child), smaller than herself, both in the house and in the back garden.  This child was a stranger to Kay and not one of the four children whom Mrs Rossmoyne normally baby-sits.  Kay said she had seen the child, a girl, in the sitting-room on one occasion playing with the photographs on the shelf.  On another occasion, when Kay had been by herself in the toddlers' pool in the garden, the little girl had come up to her and "thrown things", then had told her that she should "put a scarf around her hat".  Kay must have found this odd, as she wasn't wearing a hat.  According to Kay, the little girl had come in through the locked back gate, which is about five feet in height and impregnable to small children, and had walked away in the same way, disappearing through the locked gate.  She had not given Kay her name.

That evening Mrs Rossmoyne's husband was standing in the kitchen when a glass cheese-dome some twenty centimetres tall, flew out of the deep crystal bowl in which it is normally kept, and crashed down onto the seagrass matting in the kitchen with force enough to shatter it to pieces.  Her husband was standing near the sink at least two metres away from the bowl, which was on a top shelf.  Mr Rossmoyne, a librarian by profession, who was described by his wife as being open-minded yet fundamentally rationalist in outlook, was quite certain that the dome could not have fallen naturally from the bowl in which it was kept.

Mrs Rossmoyne at this time was suffering from insomnia, though she is normally a sound sleeper.  Her insomnia had lasted for some three months and had become so severe that she was getting only two to three hours' sleep a night.  Even though she was exhausted, she would wake up shortly after falling asleep and would find it almost impossible to fall asleep again.  She had tried taking Mogadon, a hypnotic, but found it had little or no effect.  From 18th February onwards what sleep she did obtain was troubled by nightmares.  On 27th February, after a day disturbed by events described above, she had to wake her husband to keep her company during the small hours.  Her sleeplessness appears to have been connected with what she described as the oppressive atmosphere of her old house, an increasing sense of tension and depression which finally began to have its effect on her domestic harmony, forcing her to think seriously that she and her husband might have to move in with friends.

At last, on 3rd March – curiously enough, the very day on which I first contacted her – she called in an Anglican Bishop who duly exorcised the house after commenting on the atmosphere of evil that he encountered there1.  Mrs Rossmoyne was adamant that, though she and her husband had been living in the house for three years, its psychic atmosphere had been wholesome until she burnt the photograph of the gravestone.  She was equally certain that the exorcism had "cleared the air", a statement with which her husband agreed.

At this stage let us take stock of the paranormal features of this case, which may be listed as follows:
1.The reappearance in the album of the burnt photograph.
2.The disappearance of the father's photograph.
3.The apparition of the child.
4.The children's laughter heard by Kay.
5.The child seen in the back garden by Kay.
6.The paranormal breaking of the glass cheese-dome.
7.The growing sense of tension and oppression in the house.

Let me now comment on the above items:

1.   This is clearly the most unusual feature in this case.  I cannot recall another instance in psychical literature involving the reconstitution of an object destroyed by fire.  It could well be, of course, that Mrs Rossmoyne was mistaken and that she did not throw the photograph into the fire though she was strongly tempted to do so.  Since there were no witnesses to her act, we cannot definitely say that it occurred.

2.   The disappearance of the father's photograph is especially interesting, since it depicted him at the age of two years, that is, at about the same age as the younger George Whitehead.  Both Mrs Rossmoyne and her husband were quite certain that the photograph disappeared in December and was replaced at the end of January.  It seems impossible that this could have been done through normal means.

3.   Mrs Rossmoyne's encounter with the apparition was again not witnessed.  We should note that it was seen in the dimness of a shadowed hall and disappeared when the light was put on.  Could it conceivably have been a hallucination?  Yet Mrs Rossmoyne was quite positive that she had seen the figure of a child, even though it only appeared to her as a dark shape.  Certainly her action in stepping back and apologising would indicate that whatever she saw was very real to her.

4 & 5.   Kay's evidence deserves to be taken seriously in spite of her age.  She was described to me as a highly intelligent and sensible only child, who had never before given the slightest that she was in any way psychically sensitive.  Her reaction to the laughter was one of annoyance, verging on anger, and not of fear.  She was quite precise about the "little pink person" she had seen in the house and the garden, and would not budge from her story.  At no time did she give the impression that she was indulging in fantasy.  When Kay said she had seen the child playing with the photographs, she was not aware that one of the photographs had disappeared.  Similarly, when she said that the child had been throwing things she was not aware of the breaking of the cheese-dome, all these phenomena having been kept from her for fear of alarming her.  Her remark that the child had urged her "to put a scarf around her hat" is interesting since, in the Victorian period, no lady in Australia would venture out under our ferocious sun without a large hat, often tied on with a scarf which came around the face and fastened under the chin.  This is just the sort of remark that a Victorian child might well make on seeing a little girl out in the sun without a hat.  Kay's identification of the child as a little "girl" need not be taken literally, as it could well mean no more than that the child had long hair.  A talking apparition is rare but not unknown, as both Myers (1906) and Tyrrell (1963) can testify2.  In any case this apparition seems to have been a laconic one, for Kay reported no further conversations.
I should stress that Kay's remarks were largely spontaneous and that the minimum of questioning was used and then only to clarify details.  As Professor Stevenson has shown, in his studies of cases of the reincarnation type, quite young children can make remarkably accurate witnesses provided the utmost caution is exercised when seeking to elicit information from them.

6.   The paranormal flight of the cheese-dome would clearly indicate some type of poltergeist activity and may be compared with the previous disappearance and replacement of the father's picture.  Both Mr Rossmoyne, who witnessed the event, and his wife who heard it, were quite positive that there was no way in which the glass cheese-dome could have emerged from the crystal bowl under normal circumstances.  Mrs Rossmoyne was surprised that the dome had broken, since the matting on which it fell was so soft that she had many times dropped delicate glasses onto it without even cracking them.  It appears to have been hurled out of the bowl with considerable force.

7.   The growing sense of oppression and tension in the house from September to March was commented on not just by the Rossmoynes but by their friends, as well as by the Bishop who carried out the exorcism.  It seems to have been directly responsible for Mrs Rossmoyne's insomnia and nightmares.  I should add that during the course of the interview I mentioned to Mrs Rossmoyne that since I began working on the case I had myself been suffering from greatly disturbed sleep, awakening on several consecutive mornings at precisely 2.13 am.  She was astonished, pointing out that she also had been waking up at precisely that time for some weeks.  Clearly some form of telepathy was at work here, with rather unpleasant consequences for the investigator.

To sum up: I think we may say that although no single feature of this case carries complete conviction, all of them taken together are impressive and certainly exhibit an inner logic which I personally find convincing.  I should also say that I was most favourably impressed by the principal informant, who emerges as a sensitive yet rational witness of considerable commonsense and courage.  I might add that she has resolutely refused to give up either the album or the offending photograph, both of which are still in her possession.
There are certain unusual features about this haunting which should be carefully analysed.  Let us begin by assuming for argument's sake, that we are actually dealing with the manifestation of the ghost of a very young child.  Certain difficulties immediately present themselves if we adopt this hypothesis.  Firstly, the photograph in question was that of a grave in which two members of a family were buried.  Yet, in Mrs Rossmoyne's account, only one of them appears in response to the burning of the photograph, and that one not the elder boy who died violently in a railway accident at a comparatively mature age, but the younger one, no more than a baby, who died when just over a year old.  This is startling, because there is no mention of the ghosts of babies – and seldom of young children in the literature of psychical research.  Traditionally, it is held that such spirits cannot become 'earth-bound' and give rise to hauntings simply because they have not yet had time to form attachments to persons, places or things.  Yet in this case the little ghost seems to have been evoked by a photograph of its grave taken some thirty years after its death.  All in all, this seems so unlikely that we are perforce driven to look for other more plausible explanations of what was actually happening.

We may begin with what I believe is the most important aspect of this case, namely, the growing air of tension and oppression in the atmosphere of the house between the acquisition of the album in August and the successful exorcism in March3.  Mrs Rossmoyne and her husband both commented on the remarkable change for the better in the psychic atmosphere of their home after the exorcism, commenting that it was as though "a black cloud had been lifted from the house" and "oxygen pumped into the air".  Furthermore, Mrs Rossmoyne's serious insomnia, which had begun with the burning of the photograph, disappeared immediately after the purgative ceremony and so far has not returned.
Here again, we have departed from the pattern of the usual haunting, which is seldom accompanied by such symptoms.  Are we not, in fact, in the realms of the poltergeist here, where tension and depression are only too common?  Apparitions are often connected with poltergeist cases, so much so that William G. Roll includes a section on 'non-physical phenomena', including ghosts, in his useful Questionnaire appended to his book, Poltergeist.4  In the present case, we have only one classic poltergeist manifestation – the shattering of the cheese-dome – but it seems likely, in view of the increasing tension in the house, that such disturbances would have increased had the exorcist not been called in promptly.  In any case, the disappearance and replacement of the father's picture is a typical poltergeist trick and not one normally connected with apparitions.  I believe that we may therefore be dealing here not just with an apparition but with a rather unusual poltergeist situation, which was scotched before it had a chance to develop fully.

George Zorab (1980, p.290) has well remarked that "in haunting cases as well as in poltergeist cases there is a certain living person who should be regarded as the 'energy centre' producing the phenomena observed and the same paranormal faculties are involved in both types of spontaneous case."  In this instance the focus of the haunting was clearly Mrs Rossmoyne.  It was she who burnt the photograph and witnessed its reappearance.  It was she who saw the apparition; who suffered from insomnia and was in charge of Kay.  It was also her own father's photograph, taken, significantly enough, when he was a child of two, which vanished from the shelf.
Why did Mrs Rossmoyne wish to burn the photograph of the gravestone?  Her explanation that it was "morbid" does not, I feel, fully account for her action.  Could it be that she felt subconsciously anxious at the sight of a child's grave and was therefore impelled to destroy the disturbing picture?  Mrs Rossmoyne has no children of her own and has never lost a child, therefore the picture could not have evoked unpleasant memories for her, unless it subconsciously evoked recollections of an abortion or a miscarriage, though I felt this was too delicate a question to put to her and therefore refrained from asking it, especially as I should also have had to ask whether, in the case of an abortion, her husband had also been in favour of it.  Certainly, her impulsive destruction of the picture is hard to explain, unless one postulates that it disturbed her subconsciously to such an extent that she felt compelled to get rid of it.  This postulated conflict would also help to explain the return of the picture.  I am convinced that Mrs Rossmoyne was certain she destroyed the picture and equally convinced that she did not do so.  But her shock on seeing the picture intact in the album, after she thought she had destroyed it, like the ghost of a child that never was returning to haunt her, was sufficient to spark off the manifestations that followed.  The first of these was the onset of her insomnia, characterised by that early-morning waking typical of intense anxiety and depression.  The second was the disappearance of her father's photograph, a highly significant occurrence, not only because it was her father's picture that vanished but because it depicted him at the age of two, suggesting that a subconscious equation was being made between the father, who may here have symbolised Mrs Rossmoyne's husband, and the dead child of the "burnt" photograph.

The appearance of her father's photograph after a tension-dissolving holiday away from the house was almost immediately followed by her seeing the apparition of a child to whom she apologised.  This detail is again highly significant, since it clearly indicates a subconscious feeling of guilt that had centred around the child and/or father/husband.  It was about this time that Kay, who was not Mrs Rossmoyne's own child but a neighbour's, began seeing "a little pink person" playing with the photographs on the shelf from which the picture vanished.  In the article mentioned above, Zorab states that "the phenomena in haunting need not be of a purely subjective, hallucinatory nature", a point made also by Alan Gauld and A.D. Cornell (1979, pp.179; 250-251) as well as by Andrew MacKenzie (Zorab & MacKenzie, 1980, pp.292-293).

It seems highly likely then that Kay really did see a phantom that not only removed and replaced the photograph of the father but also appeared in the garden, "threw things" and spoke to her before disappearing through a locked gate.  Such an apparition might well have been a thought-form created by Mrs Rossmoyne in much the same way as Madame Alexandra David-Neel (1958) created her celebrated tulpa of a monk.  Against this, however, we might contend that the child's laughter, its advice to Kay about putting a scarf around her hat and the very fact that it spoke (unlike a tulpa), would argue for its existence as an independently existing entity, whether connected with the long-dead George Whitehead or not.

The climax of the haunting came with the hurling of the cheese-dome, which narrowly missed Mrs Rossmoyne's husband, who until then had remained on the periphery of the events.  We should note here that since this act of aggression was directed against her husband, there are traces once again of an unresolved conflict here.  It was, furthermore, this incident that led to his agreeing to let Mrs Rossmoyne call in an exorcist and put an end to a situation which could well have degenerated into a full-blown poltergeist disturbance, which may well have led to actual injury being inflicted on the husband, but never, if my conjectures about the origin of the disturbance are correct, upon anyone else.
It is certain that Mrs Rossmoyne is psychically gifted.  Indeed, at the beginning of our interviews she indicated as much, telling me, among other things, that at the age of sixteen she had seen an apparition in the garden of three people dressed in old-fashioned clothes, which had lasted for a full fifteen minutes!  She also added that her mother possessed the same talents and, like herself, was afraid to develop or even use them.  In this case, I believe, Mrs Rossmoyne used her considerable psychic powers to initiate a haunting of a highly unusual type, which helped to resolve a deep inner conflict brought to the surface by the sight of the photograph.  Precisely what this conflict is, I cannot say, nor is it the task of the psychical researcher who is not an analyst to delve into such matters.  But noting that D. Scott Rogo (1979, pp.236-237) asserts that "unmanageable guilt" is at the root of most poltergeist activity, we may well be inclined to suspect its presence in this case5.  So powerful, indeed, were Mrs Rossmoyne's psychic talents that she was able not only to initiate the haunting but even to transmit her insomnia to me when I began to work on the case, even to the extent of waking me up at precisely the same time every morning at which she had been accustomed to wake, namely 2.13 am6.  The time  itself is highly significant, for symbolically I believe it may stand for 'doubly unlucky', ('twice thirteen') which is certainly a reference to the Whitehead family, who were doubly unlucky to lose two of their sons, and perhaps a reference to other circumstances in Mrs Rossmoyne's life (a second miscarriage or abortion perhaps?) which only she could explain.

Professor Ian Stevenson (1972) has argued that not all poltergeist cases can be explained psychologically in terms of the projection of repressed feelings by the subconscious or unconscious mind.  While agreeing wholeheartedly with Professor Stevenson that this is so, I was nevertheless driven to the conclusion that in this instance we cannot conclusively ascribe the events witnessed to a discarnate entity, though certain aspects of the case argue in favour of this hypothesis.  Beside those aspects mentioned above, the only other indication in favour of such a thesis is the fact that the haunting ceased after the exorcism.  But here again it could be argued that this was due to the calming effect this impressive ceremony had on Mrs Rossmoyne rather than that th  e ceremony was instrumental in banishing a child's unhappy ghost.
D. Scott Rogo (1982, p.236) has rightly pointed out that  poltergeists are sometimes "reactions to a total family situation" and not necessarily "a psychic eruption revolving around a central agent".  In this case, however, I would argue that it seems probable that we are dealing not with a situation generated by a family disturbance, for the household in question is a harmonious one, but with an outbreak centering around a single person, who undoubtedly suffered a great deal from the haunting, regardless of whether it was self-generated or not, and was deeply relieved when it was terminated by a traditional exorcism.

1.   The bishop, an experienced exorcist, was insistent that the focus of the evil he sensed in the house lay in the kitchen, scene of the poltergeist activity.
2.   See Forman, 1978, for a description of a group encounter with a loquaciously shrewish apparition of an old lady.
3.   Such an atmosphere of depression and tension is frequently associated with both hauntings and poltergeists.
4.   Roll, 1976, p.190; Rogo, 1979, passim.  Rogo, 1982, 237, observes rightly that "it may be very difficult to clearly differentiate between hauntings and poltergeists and...some cases which we classify as hauntings may be hidden poltergeist cases."
5.   Rogo, 1982, p.252, states that, "Each poltergeist agent is imbued with the ability to create a PK-being from his inner guilt, hate and repression, knowing only that it exists to cause destruction."  In the case under review there was no destruction beyond the breaking of the cheese-dome, though little Kay stated that the apparition "threw things".
6.   A careful search of my case-notes has made it certain that Mrs Rossmoyne did not inform me of the time of her early morning waking until after I had mentioned mine to her, so I was not consciously influenced by her experience.

David-Neel, Alexandra, 1958,  Magic and Mystery in Tibet, New Hyde Park.
Forman, J., 1978,  The Mask of Time, London.
Gauld, A. & A.D. Cornell, 1979,  Poltergeists, London.
Haining, Peter, 1988,  Poltergeist: Tales of Deadly Ghosts, London.
Kettlekamp, Larry, 1980,  Mischievous Ghosts: The Poltergeist and PK, New York.
Myers, F.W.H., 1906, Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death, London.
Playfair, Guy Lyon, 1982,  This House is Haunted: An Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist, London.
Rogo. D. Scott, 1979,  The Poltergeist Experience, London.
Rogo. D. Scott, 1986,  On the Track of the Poltergeist, London.
Rogo. D. Scott, 1982, 'The Poltergeist and Family Dynamics', Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 51, No.790, 233-237.
Roop, Peter, 1982,  Poltergeists: Opposing Viewpoints, London.
Spencer, John & Anne, 1997, The Poltergeist Phenomenon: An Enquiry into Psychic Experience, London.
Stander, Philip & Paul Schmolling, 1996,  Poltergeists and the Paranormal. Fact Beyond Fiction, New York.
Stevenson, Ian, 1972,  'Are Poltergeists Living or are they Dead?', Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 235-252.
Thurston, Herbert & J.H. Crehan,  Ghosts and Poltergeists, London.
Tyrrell, G.N.M., 1963,  Apparitions, New York.
Williams, Gurney, 1979,  Ghosts and Poltergeists, New York.
Williams, Jobeth, 1997,  Poltergeist, VHS Tape, New York.
Wilson, Colin, 1993,  Poltergeist: A Study in Destructive Haunting, London.
Zorab, G. & Andrew MacKenzie, 1980,  'A Modern Haunting',  Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 50, No.783, 284-293.

Any reader who may have come across this gravestone, or knows where it might be found, is asked to contact me.  JDF


Searching For The Footprints

By Michael Jordan

Few would dispute the fact that public awareness and interest in the phenomenon of UFOs has increased sharply over the past decade.  A distinct expansion in the volume of mainstream media attention to the subject has been supplemented by airing of some of the large volume of pilots' reports, film, radar traces and more recently, the confessions of long-retired, high-ranking military personnel.
As a direct result, the sceptics have had to lift their game and be even more imaginative in their attempts to refute all such claims, as a matter of principle.  On occasions they have come up with such obviously ill-conceived and implausible explanations (as in the latest air force account of Roswell), that even mildly interested members of the public have chortled in disbelief.
On the other hand, the allied phenomenon of systematic abduction of humans by aliens, has met with guarded interest and considerable scepticism on the part of the public and more often than not, derision by the media.  It is even fair to say that some UFO researchers have viewed this aspect of their subject with less than enthusiasm, perhaps on the grounds that such bizarre and ill-timed claims can only weaken the 'nuts and bolts' case that they have worked so hard to assemble, at the same time providing more ammunition for the sceptics to use.
In general, those media outlets not totally ignoring the subject of abductions, have predictably concentrated on the more sensational cases and personalities.  Critics and the majority of health professionals on the other hand have tended to generalise about all such reports.  They are labelled as misconceptions, the product of disturbed minds.  At the very least they are viewed as resulting from false memory syndrome elicited by well-meaning but ultimately incompetent hypnotists leading a fantasy-prone experiencer into unravelling a fictitious scenario.
This begs a very important and practical question.  How can our society continue to ignore the experiences of a diverse group of thousands of people, completely psychologically normal human beings, from many different cultures and countries, all narrating the same experience, with a multiplicity of features common to nearly every report?

A recent United Kingdom study has once more emphasised the problems associated with memory retrieval through hypnosis.  Typically there will be some who, with reference to the abduction syndrome, will be ready to say, "I told you so!"  Is it possible that all abduction reports result from psychological experience or a mind-generated fantasy?  Critical and objective examination of all the facts surrounding these events suggests that the only answer to this question, inconvenient though it may be for some, is a definite negative response.  The plain truth is that the definitive pattern of events common to nearly all abductions is sometimes accompanied by physical evidence.
So called 'abductees', courageous or perhaps unwise enough to report their experiences, are not likely to find either a non-judgemental response or a sympathetic and understanding reception.  The details that they relate are so totally outside what we know as consensus reality that many therapists are likely to exclude them from initial diagnosis.  In the process of not accepting the remotest possibility that these events could actually have occurred, the chance of applying scientific method towards refining our understanding of our position in the universe is denied.

Professional researchers and therapists such as Professors John Mack and David Jacobs, Dr Rima Laibow, John Carpenter and others with many years of experience in dealing with abductees, repeatedly emphasise the discrepancy between the expected outcomes from dealing with victims of psychological trauma and the process of working with abductees.  These features, they point out, challenge schematic assumptions about classifying such cases under conventional labels.
To repeat, abductees represent a socially diverse, normal group of individuals from different countries, reporting experiences which have many features in common.  Details of their ordeals emerge not because they seek publicity, on the contrary, most experiencers fearing for their sanity repress the memory of these unwanted events.  In reading case study after case study, one can fully understand why science has problems with studies of the anomalous and why people like Mack, Hopkins and Jacobs have serious difficulty in bringing the reality of this phenomenon to the attention of the scientific community.
The abductees' accounts unfold through conscious recall, sometimes aided by hypnosis.  Typically they include highly detailed descriptions of procedures and interaction, accompanied by strongly expressed emotions such as anger and fear.  Professor Mack believes that any theory based on psychology alone has to account for the clear distinction between events related to past abuse at human hands and the victim's experience with the aliens.
One cannot over-emphasise the significance of often minute descriptive detail matching between people speaking different languages and from totally different backgrounds.  Psychiatrist Rima Laibow (1991) comments on this feature, "there is a perplexing and intriguing concordance of features in these reports.  Certain details of the scenarios repeat themselves with disturbing regularity no matter what the educational, national, social, experiential or other demographic characteristics of the reporter. ... in general, the appearance and modus operandi of the aliens, their effect and procedures, their tools and interests, their crafts and physical features, all tally from report to report with a high rate of concordance."
When John Mack says that in his opinion no theory based on psychology comes close to accounting for such experiences, he is including the fact some of the experiencers are as young as two years old.  What the overlapping details of these accounts do confirm is a degree of consistency independent of outside influence.  Hopkins (1989) adds, "it also argues for the hard-edged, precise reality of this bizarre phenomenon."

One form of physical evidence for abductions lies in the cuts, scars, lesions and patterns of skin marking left on some abductees.  This aspect will be discussed later in this article.  At the outset we need to mention that the patterns of this type are more than coincidental, but for the purposes of Western science and its complete dependence on physical evidence, these aspects have not yet proved to be conclusive.  John Mack (1996) believes that "the phenomenon is designed by its very nature to move us beyond our lifelong dependence on a gross materialist world-view.  We need to realise and appreciate that the release of information is controlled solely by the aliens and that they allow us only as much as they want to."
Have there been any witnessed abductions?  The short answer is yes, quite a few.  These range from the thoroughly documented Travis Walton abduction case in 1975, to a soldier being taken in front of military witnesses.  Walton's kidnapping was witnessed by five of his workmates whose consistent testimony has been sustained by repeated lie detector tests plus Walton's own account of his experiences.  Another case in 1976 saw Florida man Filberto Cardenas lifted into the air in front of three screaming witnesses, including his wife and daughter, when he got out of his car to attend to an engine problem.  The disappearance was reported to the police who later found a confused and injured Cardenas some twenty-five kilometres away from where he was picked up.  As a result of his experiences he was hospitalised with physical symptoms similar to those suffered in other such cases.

Yet another abduction witnessed by six soldiers was that of Corporal Armando Valdes in Chile.  The Corporal was returned fifteen minutes later sporting a five day growth of beard and with his calendar watch advanced for the same period of time.  Several other cases of witnessed abductions have been recorded including the famous public snatching of Linda Cortile (Napolitano) from her apartment building in New York city in November 1989.  Linda's kidnapping was witnessed by several people from different vantage points, as she was floated out of her window atop a high building, in the company of three alien escorts.
Professor David Jacobs recounts the case of a former naval officer, now working as a computer consultant who, after experiencing a number of strange childhood contacts, decided to resist in some way.  Angry and distressed at the blatant exploitation of his vulnerability and in a forlorn gesture of defiance he wrote a letter expressing his feelings and taped it securely to his ankle before going to bed each night.  Not long after, he awoke to find that the letter was nowhere to be seen.  Three days later the letter reappeared, mysteriously taped to his leg in exactly the same fashion.  Subsequent hypnosis revealed an abduction experience during the night in question.

There are also many recorded cases of people who after a close UFO sighting, found themselves, usually after an interval of missing time, in another location remote from their point of departure, for example, in their car in the middle of a crop field.  Writer/researcher John Keel in his book Operation Trojan Horse (1973), wrote, following an enormous amount of fieldwork, "Contactees often find themselves suddenly miles from home, without knowing how they got there. They either have induced amnesia, wiping out all memory of the trip, or they were taken over by some means and made the trip in a blacked-out state."
As interesting as these publicised cases are in terms of high strangeness, they constitute only a minute fraction of the apparent systematic nightly abductions carried out on a regular basis and usually without the awareness of the abductee.
Let us now return to the presence of physical marks on the bodies of some abductees.  To begin with there is a high degree of similarity from case to case, when they do occur.  Budd Hopkins (1989) describes them as, "the kinds of scars that remain after apparent cell sampling operations.  These scars are of two types: long, thin, scalpel-like incisions and round, deep scoop marks."  These wounds constitute actual physical evidence that the abduction was a physical event.  One does not receive a wound that leaves a distinct, previously unknown scar as the result of an out-of-body experience.

A few years ago UFO researcher and UFORUM committee member Brian Richards and myself investigated a case in which a group of young people, camping out at night a few hours away from Perth, Western Australia, had experienced a strange and frightening series of events.  After spotting some strange lights, they appeared to have not only lost some time, but loss of power as their car batteries went flat.  In the process we had the opportunity to photograph a fresh scoop mark on the ankle of one of the female campers and a distinct red mark on the forehead of her boyfriend.  This was not the first time we had seen such marks, claimed by the reportees as just suddenly having appeared.
Kelly Cahill, after her unforgettable experience when a huge UFO landed in Victoria's Dandenong area in 1993, understandably had problems trying to come to terms with her experience.  Recalling this period she writes, "proof wasn't long in coming.  Before retiring for the night I went to the bathroom where I was concerned to discover a red triangular mark beneath my navel, with the appearance of an even burn or as if the first few layers of skin had been removed.  What I did find that was more recognisable to me, therefore of far greater importance, was a small cut on my bikini-line similar to a laparoscopy mark but finer, and with the appearance of being a few days old or partially healed." (Cahill, 1995)  Later, of course, Kelly was to discover that two women in a following car who, unbeknown to her, had witnessed the same event, were to experience the same type of physical scarring.

Mary Rodwell, one of two professionals convening ACERN, a support group for abductees here in Perth, Western Australia, has many reports of such body marks in her files, including photographic evidence of lesions, bruises and scars resembling microsurgery markings.  She deals with experiencers who suffer regular nose bleeds and female abductees who, in common with others throughout the world, often after having their pregnancies confirmed medically, suffer baffling miscarriages, where later ultrasound authenticates the presence of foetal membrane but no foetus.  So here we have the physical sequelae that accompany the psychological trauma.  John Mack writes, "These include headaches, sinus infections abdominal distress, various gynaecological problems, etc.  These may be subtle, but are nevertheless real and occur throughout the body, corresponding anatomically to the procedures that were done during the abductions." (Mack, 1993)

Apart from physical markings, another perhaps lighter, but nevertheless salient aspect of this experience is brought about by the fact that the aliens sometimes make all too human mistakes.  Experiencers might awaken to find themselves upside down in their beds or returned to the wrong bed or room, or else find themselves naked outside a locked house.  Young children can sometimes be stranded miles from home.
Physical reality is sometimes supported by the appearance and disappearance of physical objects.  John Carpenter (1992) tells of a woman in her fifties finding herself on two occasions outside her home completely naked, in itself disturbing enough, but adding to her distress was the loss of a special and favourite nightgown.  Budd Hopkins relates the case of "a six-year old boy who recalled seeing a nun aboard a UFO during his own abduction experience.  After an apparent examination, she failed to pick up her beautiful and perhaps priceless rosary beads.  When Budd Hopkins inquired about the disposition of the beads, the young boy went to his bedroom and unceremoniously produced the beautiful rosary beads, which he had taken into his possession while aboard the UFO." (Carpenter, 1992)

Following abduction experiences, some abductees have reported physical transformation such as the healing of major wounds or changes to existing medical conditions.  Others may report the sudden ability to receive physical electrical pulsations from external stimuli or find that they have the unwanted capability of adversely affecting household electrical circuits.  Physical problems connected with abductions may produce symptoms currently unknown to medical science and the abductees may suffer these consequences for years.
Many experiencers firmly believe that they have had implants placed in their bodies.  They may report expelling such objects, and it is a fact that some have been detected as a result of x-rays and MRI scans.  I think that it is fair to say that at this stage, despite inspection of such objects under electron scanning microscopes, the results are inconclusive.
Many detractors of this particular subject are tempted to dismiss reports on anomalous phenomena by discussing them on a purely theoretical level.  However as we can see there is much more to this experience than descriptions of bizarre sequences of events, raising profound questions about our notions of reality.  We cannot simply exclude some of the facts because they do not fit our concept of 'hard evidence'.  Each experience has to be considered in its entirety, including all of the physical accompaniments.  When data consistently fails to conform to science's concept of reality, isn't it time to examine that particular model critically?  The great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in his work Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, makes it clear that he didn't view UFOs as merely creations of the human psyche.  Psychological projections, Jung reflected, cannot be tracked on radar at over nine thousand kilometres per hour. (Jung, 1958) .

Cahill, Kelly.  (March, 1995)  Australia's Most Credible UFO Abduction Case.  Nexus.
Carpenter, John.  (1992)  The Reality of the Abduction Phenomenon.
Hopkins, Budd.  (1989)  Patterns of UFO Abductions:  The Bulletin of the Intruders Foundation. Vol.1, No.1.
Jung, Carl.  (1958)  Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies.
Keel, John.  (1973)  Operation Trojan Horse.
Laibow, Rima.  (1991)  Clinical Discrepancies between Expected and Observed Data In Patients Reporting UFO Abductions: Implications for Treatment.
Mack, John.  (1993)  The UFO Abduction Phenomenon: What Might It Mean for the Human Future?  MUFON Symposium Proceedings.
Mack, John.  (1996)  Peer Perspectives. Vol.1, No.1.

Battle Lines

Exploring the discord behind accepting or rejecting the reality of UFOs, and the hazards of talking about it in public.

By Morley Legg

THE WAY IT IS.   Nature is full of examples of how memory-habits impair adaptation to changes in environment or circumstances.  Take the potted plant that becomes root-bound.  If freed from the pot and planted in the earth, the roots continue the clogged growth-pattern as if they are still trapped in the pot.  We are apt to forget that the analogy applies to us, that once we fit the mould of the society we are born into, we are culture bound.  We would feel anxious and lost if it suddenly changed around us.
At the Brisbane 'Australian International UFO Symposium' in 1996, Professor John Mack of Harvard Medical School said that "society organises itself through a certain elite group, to determine for the rest of that society what is real, what is to be believed." (p.128)  Thus a world-view is established that organises a sense of self.  When the common world-view is challenged it can create terror.  This, of course, applies to all races and cultures, even to our own 'science-based society' which has chased all superstitions away
and has gained such mastery in understanding and controlling nature.  Subsequently, our society prefers to deny and debunk reports of unknown craft that frequently invade our airspace and disobey our scientific laws.  The bulk of the world's population follow this view because it assumes our political leaders and scientists must know best and also because the media doesn't take the matter seriously.

This complacent attitude to this persistent mystery is supported by the general agreement that ninety-five per cent of UFO reports can be explained away as fraud, uncertainties, unreliable witnesses, faulty radar, hallucinations etc.  Many assume this is evidence enough to justify dismissing the subject entirely.  Yet over fifty years the remaining five per cent amounts to over half a million well documented cases that still remain a puzzle to science.  This assortment of evidence, outlined in a growing body of serious literature, suggests that UFOs, along with an alien presence, are a reality.  This is a challenge indeed to our world-view.  Humanity, understandably rightly or wrongly, is not facing the implications or the challenge squarely.

TESTING THE TERRITORY.   Consequently, broaching the subject of UFOs in social gatherings to test opinions has its difficulties.  Reactions can range from interest to awkwardness, from laughter to derision and even anger.  I felt it would be invaluable to get comments from people whom I suspected had not read or thought much on the subject.  In mid-1997, with the excuse that I was writing an article on controversial issues, I armed myself with eight written questions and chose about twenty people to ask what they thought of the UFO mystery.  Generally I avoided agreeing or disagreeing with them.  Only afterwards if they opened the discussion did I add a viewpoint.  The exercise was not without its hazards.  Some people were unsettled by the topic.  Others were hesitant because they were unsure of my motives, and wondered if they should tell me what they thought I wanted to hear.  The questions were designed mainly to get them talking and committed to the subject.

Your Response to a Controversial Issue – UFOs.

1.Do you think there is any validity to the claims of a UFO/alien presence on earth?
2.What is your explanation for people claiming that they have been abducted by aliens?
3.Should research on this matter be encouraged or not?
4.What have you read on the subject?
5.What procedure should be followed to gain a clearer understanding of this worldwide phenomenon?
6.Is there anything we can learn from, as well as heal, the deep rift between sceptics and believers/researchers?
7.Should science/society remain with its well established theories/views, or be continually updating to keep abreast of new phenomena/new theories?
8.Are these questions worthless, irrelevant, threatening, unsettling or challenging?

What I found was that the majority of people were simply not interested because they were quite ignorant of the respectable literature that contained both facts and intelligent theories in efforts to explain the UFO phenomenon.  They were also ignorant of the politics of denial.  They had every right, of course, to remain disinterested and culturally moulded into preoccupations with fashion, sports and scandals, though, to add a social comment, a thinker like Noam Chomsky would say their 'consent' to this had been manufactured.
Some, who were quite ignorant of the current material for and against UFOs, voiced a firm belief that ETs were visiting us.  Others were also quite ignorant of the debate as to whether UFOs were here, but had firm convictions that anyone believing in UFOs or aliens was deluded, and refused suggestions that it could be otherwise.  Invariably I would run into someone who felt threatened by the questions and I would get a lecture, while others would put up a front of interest that quickly broke down into resistance.

THE SAFE RESPONSES.   However, I will begin with one ongoing encounter that has a lighter side.  T and C are a couple who treat my interest with amused contempt, and on the few occasions we talk about it, things seldom get out of hand because we are old friends.  We have traditionally enjoyed disagreements on many subjects because we often inject them with humour.  If they should visit us unannounced when I'm preparing the Society's newsletter, he will sit down to help me fold them, but reassure me in a sing-song tone that I am doing no harm at all – and no good either.  On one occasion I had just returned from the MUFON UFO Symposium in Seattle and eagerly showed him the book of the proceedings.  He ignored it, laughing "Do you really think that if there were UFOs Paul Davies wouldn't know about it?  Haven't you heard about SETI?  Don't you think SETI and NASA are more likely to know the truth about UFOs than amateurs in a UFO group?"
In vain I stressed the distinction between believing in UFOs and researching UFOs.  "If you're bothering to research it", he replied, "you must believe it!"  I was a bit annoyed because he was partly right and he had declined to open the book.  His sharp criticism, however, is often more than welcome as it keeps me alert to common attitudes and responses.
Tensions arose on the days that reports were made about the Heaven's Gate suicides.  They let the awful details sink into me and waited as if I were aligned with the cult.  Luckily I thought to spell out the difference between fanatical belief and healthy curiosity.  On another occasion we met after seeing the Australian Broadcasting Commission Compass television programme in which the abductee Rael was being interviewed before his tent embassy in Queensland.  Rael repeated his claim of being taken to another planet and being chosen by aliens to be a sort of ambassador.  "You didn't spend your life savings going to hear that sort of crap at a symposium did you?  Is that the stuff that interests you?"  The accusations had a touch of menace because the good natured jocularity seemed to be missing.  I felt I had to defend myself.

I admitted that Rael and his gathering seemed embarrassingly cult-like, and that some so-called contactees do act strangely in founding movements and enticing followers.  I stressed that Raelians weren't researchers trying to get to the truth, they were into belief, and this was an odd pattern that had surfaced in many countries and would be placed in a certain category.  I admitted there were hoaxers, people preying on the gullible, people looking for a structure acceptable to them on which to rest their delusions or mental illness.  I didn't think till after they were gone that it was possible that Rael had had a genuine experience, and that his interpretation didn't make sense to us.  That it was possible that the experience was disturbing enough for him to deflect the reality of it into dissociation; that Rael had dressed it up into a memory easier for him to accept – a common way of dealing with trauma.  But I doubt that they would have bought that either.
Despite the hurts and bruises suffered in our occasional bouts to make the other submit to reason, we somehow realised that maintaining the friendship was more important.  For months the subject had been avoided but in August 1997 they returned from England with a ninety minute ITV programme on UFOs which they had copied for me.  More on this later.
Recently, with some hesitation, I offered them the questionnaire.  Each responded with short written answers.  C thought people claiming abduction were "seeking something ... needed attention or affection."  Both had only read media reports on the subject but thought claims should be researched and continually updated.  C: "I think that UFOs are around, but don't think aliens are on this planet."  T didn't think UFOs existed and that people interested were searching for "meanings that man doesn't have the answer to."

TOUGHER CASES.   JB, a hydro-geologist, who was originally contemptuous of ufology, phoned with a respectful response.  "No, I don't think UFOs or aliens are here", he said in answer to the questions.  "Life on earth has arisen by natural processes, and it is almost certain statistically that life had arisen in other places of the universe.  But travel between earth and alien life-forms is extremely unlikely due to the limit of the speed of light.  There may be anecdotal evidence of UFOs and of experiences, but there is a lack of hard evidence.  I've often thought that with all the cameras in the world you'd think there would be a clear shot of a craft, but there hasn't been."
He said many sightings could be attributed to the thousands of satellites orbiting earth and to top secret military craft.  Further research into the matter, if there was evidence, would be curtailed by cost.  He had no explanation for abductions, other than there was no clear evidence.  I said there was indeed evidence, but the sort of hardware evidence that sceptics wanted – like an alien body and parts of a UFO being tested in labs with the media present – just wasn't available.  He said he had only read a few articles and some of the early books, and believed satellites and telescopes covered the whole electromagnetic spectrum, which meant that nothing of significance had showed up there, or the world would have heard about it.
He agreed with keeping an open mind, and reminded me there was a difference between belief and knowledge.  He said that lack of time curtailed his further reading.  As to question seven, he said science does automatically update whenever something new is discovered or proven, and that we should apply Occam's razor: The simplest explanation is usually true when something unusual comes along.  We spent some time talking after my eight questions and he asked about John Mack's position at Harvard, which I had mentioned to him some months earlier.  He listened with some interest.  I said I was sympathetic to genuine scepticism, and told him about the Kelly Cahill and Linda Cortile abduction cases which I felt could not be explained away, that I could not see how they could be faulted, but that I would certainly change my opinion if good contrary evidence came up.  He said he would be interested to see a copy of the article I was writing.

I read the questions to RG, who also had a science degree.  His knowledge of ufology came only from newspaper reports and television documentaries.  I said I was puzzled by the lack of proper dialogue between sceptics and those who believed in researching the UFO mystery, and more so by the hostility between the two.  He said the hostility was probably a natural response, it was human nature, particularly with such a subject.  After fifteen minutes on the phone much of what he said was similar to the remarks of JB above.  He had no expectations that anything new lay in the sightings of UFOs.  There may have been a touch of impatience (at my gullibility) in the tone of his final "But there is no evidence."

A medical technician who had read little on the subject, and was clearly disinterested, said the main reason research into UFOs wasn't justified was the economic factor.  Research was being cut back on many medical fronts and it was only right that research into rumours should be scrapped.  It was unjust to spend money on lights in the sky and stories of aliens landing on earth.  He was patient, but did not seem interested or curious.
Another could not see the point of the questionnaire and wasn't sure if there were UFOs, but wanted to say that people on these New Age lecture circuits are really only there because of a sharp business sense.  "They know what people want to hear, and what they want to believe, and they give it to them."  He mentioned industries that had been built up "on snake oil".  I admitted I had seen degrees of that, but that having a stake in a set belief applied to some sceptics too.  The interview ended with my listening to the merits of Carl Sagan and SETI.

PREPARING TO GAMBLE.   To return to John Mack's notion of an elite group setting the standard of what we should believe.  There is a class element in the way people decide to align their views to those of an elite.  People have learned that those socially abreast of the scientific and governmental elite, often seen as the intelligentsia, are somewhat contemptuous of 'belief in UFOs'.  It is not uncommon for people to go along with the viewpoint that provides a sense of safety as well as social standing.  Additionally, some religious people I contacted felt that questions on UFOs implied a threat to their beliefs and were reluctant to answer questions.  "They come from darkness" came one terse reply.  Having heard similar comments before, I could only conclude "All the more reason to learn about them so we can protect ourselves."
There is an area in which the sceptics may be right, although they may not realise it yet.  There is a theory that if there really is an alien presence it is perhaps best to deny it and ignore it.  If we make everyone aware of it, we will create a bridge for it to take us over and drain us.  If we remain sceptical (and ignorant) it will always have difficulty reaching us.  Although, the sceptics would interpret any notion of an 'alien presence' as a superstition, and claim that any large scale belief in it could induce mental illness.  Going by events in the Middle Ages, they could have a point.
In the rift between those who study ufology and those who avoid it, we encounter an age-old human weakness: We take sides, usually before we have all the facts.  Each side, because of genetic and emotional baggage, prefers to believe that their way of seeing an issue is right and that the other must be wrong.  What people choose to believe is often a gamble to gain satisfaction from the power of knowing and of being right all along.  Sceptics have invested in siding with the power elites in mainstream science (and taunt that ufologists have no evidence).  Ufologists have invested in believing that many UFO reports are true, and that this will lead to admissions of an alien presence and a subsequent paradigm shift (and wince that they still can not produce the 'nuts and bolts' demanded).  Therein lies the difference that sets the current battle line.
The trouble is that both groups have a mixture of followers that vary greatly in standards and attitudes, and this has resulted in an ego war between the extremists of each group.  Less mature ufologists stretch stories for their own ends and are inclined to believe or sensationalise anything that draws in more believers.  Less knowledgeable sceptics appear to suffer that fundamentalist obsession of adhering to 'first heard' dogmas (that reject the possibility of UFOs or aliens); they utilise the fundamentalist instinct to anchor themselves to entrenched knowledge as the way to hang on to power.

SKIRMISHES.   Fortunately both groups patrol enemy territory.  In their book Crop Circles – A Mystery Solved (1990), Jenny Randles and Paul Fuller arrived at a firm new conclusion that plasma vortices, natural phenomena, accounted for crop circles, UFOs and reports of aliens.  They charged that "science is scared off by the alien delusion that ufology represents."  Arguments erupted.  Further studies found that plasma vortices did not account for all UFO activity, and that serious anomalies remained.  However, it was a welcome change in that it kept researchers more alert and diligent.  It was encouraging that Paul Davies crossed the battle line in three pages in his book Are We Alone?, but a pity that he tied explanations of UFOs to the dated von Däniken and Adamski and concluded that "No clear distinction can be drawn between UFO reports and descriptions of religious experiences of, say, the Fatima variety." (Davies, 1995, p.87)  John Mack was a sceptic until he met Budd Hopkins and examined some abductees.

In Revelations Jacques Vallee still believed there was a legitimate core to the UFO mystery, but speculated that ingenious disinformation and rumours about UFOs were deliberately planted by the US government as a cover for top secret craft and a new type of warfare.  Despite legitimate claims appearing in the growing UFO literature, mainstream science appeared reluctant to acknowledge it, at least openly.

WIDENING THE PARAMETERS.   But perhaps a turning point in another area has been reached.  Take the release of Colonel Phillip Corso's book The Day After Roswell which claimed proof of captured saucer and alien technology.  Corso's position as head of the Pentagon's Foreign Technology desk, and being in Army Intelligence, as well as having been in Eisenhower's National Security Council, makes it look as if he was permitted to make these world shattering disclosures.  What this could mean, however, is that the final brazen test has been made.  Corso's admissions prove that population control has succeeded.  The release of key cases, for instance Budd Hopkins' Witnessed, Larry Warren and Peter Robbins' Left at East Gate, Travis Walton's Fire in the Sky, and finally the revelations in The Day After Roswell mean the truth is finally out.  And so is the other truth: populations have remained indifferent.  They have become isolated from truth and realisation.  They, we to be honest, wait passively for it, or anything, to be spelled out on television between advertisements.

The evidence of such covert control is stark in Dr Sharon Beder's Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism.  It has nothing to do with ufology, but it shows how society has been shaped over the decades by (and for the benefit of) transnationals through their lobbying power with governments and their control of the media.  Whole populations are now addicted to consumerism through entertainment, and advertising dressed as news.  Any issue that might disrupt this strategy, like environmentalism (or the serious study of UFOs) is either 'captured' and reloaded with disinformation, or misrepresented.  This of course smacks of population control.  People have been conditioned to think in ways that suit corporate interests.  Undoubtedly the military/intelligence side of governments is fully versed in these tactics and were no doubt confidently awaiting the non-response to Corso's book.

Proof of an alien presence that is periodically claimed by respected authors is one thing.  The official announcement by a president that "contact has been made" is quite another.  This is where we wonder about the unpredictable behaviour of populations unprepared for such news.  Official admissions could also unleash the sort of revolutionary fervour that means everything changes, that means we lose our bearings and become demoralised by total unknowns, perhaps to a panicky global gold-rush mentality.  Alien knowledge, being synonymous with ultimate power, would draw certain elements to covet it at all costs.  Those who obtain it would do anything to prevent others getting hold of it, and, as they who hold it could influence the world's media (they may already own it), we will never quite know the truth about anything of importance.  There are optimistic views of this of course, one being that we can quickly adjust to the existence of 'gods' as did the ancient Greeks.  Sceptics do represent the majority world-view of how people think in these remaining years of the second millennium, but they haven't bothered to tackle the quality of UFO literature because they assume there isn't any.  They have dismissed well-researched individual cases on the grounds that other similar cases were found to be questionable.  The challenge remains for them to embrace the whole picture of the UFO enigma.  That is the five per cent over fifty years that now amounts to 650,000 unexplained, well-documented cases from around the world (Pope, 1996).  They include many that are multi-witnessed, with physical evidence, and with conscious memories not requiring hypnotic regression.  The videoed stories of expressive, level headed children (Mack's cases in Zimbabwe, 1996), and the UFO connection with decades of unsolved cattle mutilations (Howe, 1989) – all these form a picture so persuasive that entirely to dismiss UFOs and abduction stories as imaginary nonsense is not only dishonest and reprehensible, but bad science.

OUTCOMES.   If you ask either group, ufologists or sceptics, whether they want to get to the truth about UFOs they will answer 'yes!'  But how would we, or they, cope with losing the debate?  Let us suppose that it becomes established that there are no UFOs, and no aliens.  It would be embarrassing for some ufologists or paranormal researchers to find that some crop circles and UFO sightings were due to plasma vortices; that all the other strange and unusual sightings, abductions and cattle mutilations were not the work of extraterrestrials or aliens from parallel universes, but were merely top secret aircraft and high technology holograms of the military experimenting with psychotronic warfare.  All masterminded since the 1940s to keep enemies afraid and the gullible misled – all an experiment designed to control populations.  In this case we would have to endure the humiliation of being proved persistently gullible.  But at least we had been prepared to look, and we could hardly be blamed for being tricked by such brilliant, secret psi technology.

Now suppose the opposite happens.  That it becomes established that there are UFOs and there is an alien presence on earth.  It had all been happening just as we suspected.  It would therefore be much harder for the sceptics in mainstream science to admit it.  With so much investment in certainty, in higher education and with the technology of science racing into space (much of it powered by military black budgets), to have to admit that they cannot understand how UFOs and aliens have penetrated humanity repeatedly for over fifty years would be humiliating indeed.  Even worse would be to admit that many New Agers, clairvoyants and ordinary people with no special education had perceived the facts before them.  It would mean that enormous revision would lie before large sections of science, much of which would grind to a halt before it could change direction and start up again.  And think of the effect on the stock market.

In addition, segments of some religions would be uneasy indeed, with weakened beliefs and a loss of purpose and direction.  Would there be a period of primitive grovelling before 'dark forces', or would we be uplifted by a clearer perception of a Supreme Being?  Would a more authentic spiritual growth lead us into an awareness of Christ Consciousness?  As yet it is difficult to imagine what would happen if all the energy ossified in narrow beliefs and dogma were suddenly released.
This takes us back to the analogy of the plant that becomes root-bound and is suddenly released from the pot.  What happens when our assumptions and habits, memories and beliefs become suddenly useless and meaningless?

A BATTLE TELEVISED.   My friends T&C have made it clear they do not want their 'place' in the world disrupted by my nonsensical delvings.  Can we blame them?  I rarely comment on the matter and receive thankfully any news-cutting they offer.  The video they brought back from England was Michael Aspel's Strange But True.  It was a debate to decide whether or not aliens had already visited earth.  Stanton Friedman, Timothy Good and Nick Pope were against sceptics Dr Chris French, David Hughs and Professor Frank Close, and there was a wealth of available witnesses including top scientists, Russian military, NASA astronauts, Bentwaters personnel, for and against the reality of UFOs and aliens.  Timothy Good showed flexibility in saying he agreed with some points of the sceptics but firmly believed abductions did take place.  On the latter point, so did ninety-two per cent of the 100,000 phone-in audience.  The sceptics, however, were noticeably articulate in defence of their entrenched denial.  In the face of well-documented cases they remained 'closed men'.  Their concluding remarks were "show me the evidence" as if they expected alien artefacts had to be brought to them rather than that their curiosity should take them out to follow the many new leads being offered.

The world needs more of such debates, with improved ground rules, so that progress can be made.  Surely more open minded opponents will have an interest in each other's views, and will be more interested in finding out and adjusting to outcomes than holding to favoured or preconceived ideas.  The very fact that the intelligent personnel of these two groups are currently diametrically opposed over evidence, or lack of evidence, means that whichever way the chips fall we are going to learn something.  With the world the way it is, reappraisals are required urgently.

THE FULL PERSPECTIVE.   In Aspel's UFO debate it looked as if the sceptics with a science background were not speaking from science as much as they were from the preferences and prejudices of their ordinary selves, once their education had locked them into a certain world view.  Perhaps, despite all our surface learning and sophistication, we remain as ignorant, wise and culture bound as we have always been.
It can be difficult for some of us to explore across the divide to examine our basic preferences and aversions in a different light.  We should admit that the subject has become so mined with disinformation that it also involves the risk of finding that we (and they) can be wrong here and there, and that some unlearning and relearning might be necessary.  There is something mysteriously perilous about being faced with a reality different from the one we had banked on.  Winning or losing our grasp on what we believe in throws us back to instincts of a battle line running through us all.  We become like the primitive hunter following freshening tracks and arriving for the climax at the end of the hunt.  You know what you want it to be, but the signs show it to be huge and something quite different.  Soon you must face the creature.  And probably fight for your life. 

Beder, Sharon.  (1997)  Global Spin. The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism.
Corso, Col. Philip J. (1997)  The Day After Roswell.
Davies, Paul.  (1995)  Are We Alone?  Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life.
Hopkins, Budd.  (1996)  Witnessed.
Howe, Linda Moulton.  (1989)  An Alien Harvest.
Mack, John.  (1996)  Australian International UFO Symposium Proceedings.
Pope, Nick.  (1996)  Open Skies, Closed Minds.
Randles, Jenny & Fuller, Paul.  (1990)  Crop Circles: A Mystery Solved.
Vallee, Jacques.  (1991)  Revelations.
Walton, Travis.  (1996)  Fire in the Sky.
Warren, Larry & Robbins, Peter.  (1997)  Left at East Gate.

Phasers & UFO Light Beams

By Simon Harvey-Wilson

Many UFOs are described as being blindingly bright, especially at night, and they are frequently reported to shine beams of light resembling searchlights down at the ground.  Sometimes these light beams spotlight witnesses or their vehicles with a variety of strange effects.  If these beams are the product of futuristic alien technology, we are probably not going to understand exactly how they work.  However we may be able to deduce some of their functions from their effects and by comparing them to our own inventions although, to make things more confusing, the beams may serve different purposes at different times.
The obvious suggestion is that these UFO light beams are just spotlights, like those on police helicopters.  However, they are sometimes described as extending or retracting slowly, whereas the light from a searchlight beam always projects at the speed of light, which at about one billion kilometres per hour, is unlikely to be described as 'slow' by any human witness.  This suggests we are dealing with something more complicated than spotlights, although providing some sort of illumination may be one of their functions.  Before discussing how these beams of light might work, let us review some examples.

The Travis Walton abduction case occurred on November 5th 1975 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona, USA.  Several young men returning from woodcutting came across a glowing structured object hovering above a forest clearing.  One of them, Walton, got out of the vehicle and walked closer to get a better look.  His friends then saw a blue-green beam shoot out from the bottom of the UFO and hit him in the upper area of the body.  He was lifted into the air with his arms outstretched and then flung back onto the ground.  Thinking that they were in danger, his friends hurriedly drove off.  They returned when they thought they had seen the UFO fly away, but could not find Walton. (Story, 1980, p.386)

In a MUFON UFO Journal article on human physiological effects from UFOs, John F. Schuessler (1997) gives several examples that include beams of light.  On 6th March 1969 near Glenwood, Missouri, a woman drove her car into a beam of light coming down from a UFO hovering above the road.  The car slowed and wouldn't respond to the accelerator.  She felt the hair stand up on her arms and her dog tried to hide under the seat.  Her eyes bothered her for three days after the event.  On 12th August 1981 a man was in a field with his wife near Anderson, Indiana, to photograph a meteor shower, when a strange light came down from above.  His head and shoulders felt like he had been hit with a wet blanket.  It was a very uncomfortable feeling and he was unable to move until the light retracted.  On 10th September 1981 a young woman was outside her parent's home in Weston Mill Hill, England, when she saw a massive metallic grey craft with pink, purple, and white lights.  As she reached for the house door, a lime green beam came down and hit her hand.  She was frozen in place – paralysed.  When the beam retracted she could move again.  After the event a mark appear on her hand where the beam hit.

In his excellent book Alien Identities: Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena,
Richard L. Thompson quotes a study by Dr Donald Johnson, a US psychologist and statistician, who performed a cluster analysis of two hundred UFO car encounter cases from 1949 to 1978.  The analysis used three variables: duration of the event, estimated distance from the car to the UFO, and estimated size of the UFO.  Johnson found that the cases fell into seven clusters, of which the fourth, containing eleven sightings, is of interest to us.
It contained:
"Objects of average size, but approaching closely to an average distance of about 15 metres.  Encounter times average to about one hour.  Many of these cases involve pursuit (82%), landing (45%), and abduction (27%).  Nearly 66% involve physiological effects such as paralysis, electrical shock, tingling, or heat.  There are often noises (eg, humming) from the UFO (45%), a light beam (45%), and the UFO often has multiple colours (45%).  The UFO often shot up or away very quickly when departing (64%), and 75% of the witnesses experienced fear or panic during or after the event." (p.71)
From his analysis Johnson concluded that "My advice is to watch out for the noisy, domed disks with the bluish-white light beams, because the odds are that if you encounter one of those you are likely at the very least to suffer some physiological effects.  This appears to be particularly true if the object is hovering over the roadway in front of your car, and seems to take an interest in your course of travel!" (p.73)
Elsewhere in his book Thompson reviews the Bluff Ledge UFO abduction case which occurred at Lake Champlain in Vermont, USA, on 7th August 1968.  The two abductees, Michael and Janet, were relaxing at the end of a jetty at the lake's edge when, after a series of manoeuvres, a UFO with two entities visible under a transparent dome flew very low directly over their heads.  As Michael jumped up to try to touch the underside of the craft, a brilliant beam of light came on and he had a feeling of "floating up" (p.117) while losing consciousness.  Ten years later while under hypnosis Michael was able to fill in the details of his missing time.  He described how, "while in the beam of light, he heard a whining noise and felt as though he was 'filled with light'.  He seemed to be floating upwards.  He saw streams of coloured lights and seemed to be flying through space.  He then remembered standing next to one of the alien beings on an upper deck inside the UFO." (p.118)

Thompson later quotes a case where an abductee, Sara, is more specific about the nature of the beam of light she encountered.  "I'm on the beam of light.  I'm standing on it, and it's angled.  It's like an escal–no!  It's about the same angle as an escalator would be, except it doesn't have ridges or steps.  It's just a very smooth, solid beam, and you just kinda stand on it." (p.283)  Sara's fellow abductees are also being transported in this fashion.  "All of us are walking, but in addition, the beam is conveying us.  The beam is moving, but in addition to that, we're kind of walking on it, too." (p.284)  On other occasions these beams of light appear to move both abductees and aliens through the roof or walls of their homes, and sometimes through what appear to be walls within the UFOs themselves.  If abductees' memories of these events are genuine, these beams seem somehow able to counteract gravity as well as transcend three dimensional physical barriers such as roofs and walls.  The beams also sometimes display considerable power as, for example, when they lift vehicles up into the air. (Thompson, 1993, p.349)

In UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union, Jacques Vallee quotes a factory worker M.N. Polyakov who in September 1989 was driving in Voronezh when:
"I turned around and saw a pinkish-yellow sphere shining dimly above the road…. At the bottom of the sphere there was a protuberance that reminded me of a ball-shaped growth on a tree.  Suddenly a light appeared from it, not very bright, trembling and flickering.  The beam came down and slowly moved along the ground toward us.  It seemed strange that the surface touched by the ray was full of bluish sparkles, and everything was quivering as if we were in a haze on a hot day.  Once in a while there was a blinding flash that was reflected by the surface.  When the beam approached the car I experienced an unpleasant fear.  I felt constrained.  I did not want to move or to do anything.  My good mood disappeared without a trace.  The ray moved over to the car hood.  The engine started to smoke the way it does when the radiator is overheated.  There was a feeling of something slipping in.  The car moved and something appeared on the driver's seat.  I sensed an alien presence; I felt that I could stretch my arm and touch the invisible being.  And although my brain and my willpower ordered my hand to touch the unpleasant thing, I could not move my arm.  What was it?  Fear?  Was I like a rabbit hypnotised by a cobra?  Then the ray moved away.  Then I could breathe easier.  For several seconds it was dark and quiet, and then, great!  The dashboard lit up!  The radio came back on as if nothing had happened.  The driver turned on the engine." (p.50)

British researcher Jenny Randles (1987) describes a UFO close encounter that occurred to Ken Edwards, an engineer on 17th March 1978 in Cheshire, England.  Returning from a union meeting, Edwards saw a "glowing white mass" drift into the centre of the road in front of him.  "For a few moments there was a staring match between the engineer and the 'thing', before two beams of light emerged from round eyes and struck the witness where he was holding the steering wheel." (p.150)  Edwards was deeply shocked and shaking and his car radio had blown up, but he managed to drive home to his wife.  Although his watch had stopped, Randles later estimated that he was missing forty-five minutes time.  She also tells us that "the insides of the fingers of one hand (the one that had been exposed to the beams of light from the thing) were coated by a faint sunburn."  Unfortunately this did not appear to be the only effect of this suspected abduction.  As Randles writes:
"In the year following his experience, whilst only in his mid-thirties, [Edwards] began to feel progressively tired and unwell.  Treatment failed and cancer of the kidneys was diagnosed.  He had surgery at the beginning of 1980.  However, he did not fully recover and cancer of the throat was then discovered.  Just four years after the UFO encounter he lost his fight for life.  To the end Ken never associated the illness with the UFO, and his doctors almost certainly did not know about it (Ken did not tell them).  It is impossible to say that the two things are related, but in view of the known effects in this case and the clear evidence of radiation in other UFO sightings I do not think we can rule it out.  I am sure Ken would have wanted me to warn of the potential danger, so that anyone else in the same situation can have regular medical check-ups immediately after being struck by beams from a UFO.  It always pays to be cautious." (p.152)
Well known US animal mutilations researcher Linda Moulton Howe (1997) provides us with another example, this time from Puerto Rico.  "In June 1995 Mrs Enrique Gonzales and her six-year-old daughter were outside around 11.30pm on a warm summer evening.  Mr Gonzales heard both of them scream and immediately ran over to them, whereupon he saw a huge round glowing object.  His wife and daughter told him they were watching the object when suddenly a red beam of light came out and touched the little girl on her upper right arm.  Mr Gonzales reported that his daughter's skin reddened in a circle and 'bubbled up' where she'd been hit with the beam."  By the time a newspaper photographer had travelled to the Gonzales' home, "the little girl's upper arm had several bumps, but the redness had gone. (p.66)

A multiple witness light beam encounter is reported in the January/February 1998 edition of UFO Magazine.  On the evening of 4th December 1995 Mrs Joanna Barnes was driving to visit a friend in Crosshills, in England, when a UFO appeared and started to fly along above her car.  It then shone "a vertical beam of bright white light onto the car and continued to follow as Joanna forked left." (p.13)  She soon arrived at her friend's house where, with the 'laser beam' still illuminating her car, she ran inside.  Bravely, she and several friends then came back outside to see the UFO still spotlighting the car.  "It was a black coat hanger-shaped craft with a bright white light at the front and rear of the fuselage with a laser beam projecting down from the centre.  We watched it hovering silently above the car for a few seconds, before it retracted its beam and disappeared in an instant without making a single sound", said Joanna.
In their book Left at East Gate, Larry Warren and Peter Robbins report that at one stage during the extended encounter at the Bentwaters Air Force base in England, starting in late December 1980, the UFOs involved were over the base's "most sensitive location – the weapons-storage area", where they were seen to be "firing laser-like beams of light into the compound's hardened bunkers."  This might not seem particularly significant until the authors tell us that "The bunkers were full of nuclear bombs that were being held on base without the official knowledge or consent of Her Majesty's government." (p.408)

Brazil in South America seems to have an unusual number of UFO cases involving beams of light, some of which injure or even kill people.  In a dramatic article in the British Flying Saucer Review entitled 'Extraterrestrial Vampires in the Amazon Region of Brazil: Part II', the magazine editor, Gordon Creighton, provides readers with a précis translation from the Portuguese of Chapter IV from the book of that name by Dr Daniel Rebisso Giese (1996).  These events occurred on Colares Island, which is in the delta of the Amazon river on the north-eastern coast of Brazil.  So many people reported being attacked by beams of light from small UFOs in this area that only a sample of them are reported here.  On 20th October 1977 three women were hit in the breast by beams of light.  "All three were overcome by tremendous nervous tension and an unknown sort of lassitude 'as though they were receiving constant electric shocks'."  During this UFO flap the locals were so frightened that many of them left town, while the men that remained lit bonfires to mount guard at night, letting off fireworks and banging tins whenever they saw UFOs, which they termed chupa-chupas, approaching. (Giese, 1996)

The beams of light from the craft were described as being so bright that they resembled those used to illuminate night sporting events.  They were "always sharply defined, directed with perfect precision towards any target – houses, people, boats, trees, even the Brazilian Air Force's helicopters deployed over the island during the investigations of the UFO wave."  On one occasion one of these powerful beams is reported to have obliged one of the helicopters to land, although the exact technical reason is not given. (Giese, 1996)

On the evening of 29th October 1977 Benedito Campos and his seventeen year old wife Silvia Mara were at home when "they spotted an oval, silvery object emitting a greenish beam like a searchlight towards the room where they were lying.  Filled with curiosity, they approached a small window and, as they did so, the beam shot in through and made straight for Silvia, throwing her into a sort of benumbed trance-like state."  Silvia, who was pregnant at the time, then fainted whereupon two entities apparently entered the house carrying something resembling a golden torch and "once again the beam struck Silvia, this time hitting her in the left arm at the level of the wrist.  Her veins seemed to 'rise up out of the body' so swollen were they by the beam striking them."  Later, while at a neighbour's house, Benedito was also briefly paralysed by a light beam.  Fearing a miscarriage, husband and wife were taken at night by boat to the Mosqueiro Medical Clinic, followed all the way by the UFO, which made no further attempt to harm them.  They remained there for three days where the wife recovered, but Benedito "was in a state of severe depression for some days, his motor functions disturbed and, as his mother reports, weeping frequently." (Giese, 1996)

One night several months later, on 24th May 1978, a journalist and photographer, who had been sent to cover the local UFO encounters, were in their car when despite the heavy rain they were woken up "by a powerful beam of light which – however unbelievable it may seem – passed through the metallic structure of the roof of the vehicle."  Not surprisingly they leapt out of the car to see that "a tube-shaped light beam, about [twenty-five centimetres] in diameter, was coming down from above onto the roof of the car and passing through the metal panelling."  On this and other occasions they managed to take numerous photographs which they claim that their newspaper later sold to "a North-American group".  On another night while trying to use flash equipment to photograph one of these craft "the UFO emitted such a vivid beam of light that it smashed the windscreen" of their car. (Giese, 1996)

Researcher Dr Jacques Vallee went to South America to investigate the numerous reports of UFO close encounters that have resulted in the death or injury of witnesses.  The results of his extensive field investigations are detailed in his book Confrontations: A Scientist's Search for Alien Contact, which is recommended to anyone interested in pursuing this matter.  For example, in Parnarama in central Brazil, Vallee reports that at least five people are reported to have died "following close encounters with what were described as boxlike UFOs equipped with powerful light beams."  Many victims were hunters who, following the local tradition, had climbed into jungle trees at night to wait for passing animals that they could spotlight and shoot.  In an ironic twist, the hunters had themselves been hunted by UFO craft which injured or killed them using light beams of their own.  As Vallee reports, these chupas (UFOs) "are said to make a humming sound like a refrigerator or a transformer, and this sound does not change when the object accelerates.  The object does not seem large enough to contain a human pilot." (p.118)  In one case a victim called Dionizio General "was atop a hill when an object hovered above him and shot a beam in his direction; it was described as 'a big ray of fire'.  The witness, José dos Santos, testified that Dionizio seemed to receive a shock and came rolling down the hill.  For the following three days he was insane with terror, then he died." (p.119)  Witnesses describe the light beams as being blinding, like electrical arcs, with pulsating colours inside and smelling unpleasant, which Vallee suspects may be ozone. (p.120)

By November 1977 the physician in charge of the health unit on Colares Island, Dr Wellaide Cecim Carvalho de Oliveira, "had seen no fewer than thirty-five patients claiming injuries related to the chupas.  All of them had suffered lesions to the face or the thoracic area." (p.123)  These lesions, which resembled radiation injuries, "began with intense reddening of the skin in the affected area.  Later the hair would fall out and the skin would turn black.  There was no pain, only a slight warmth.  One also noticed small puncture marks in the skin.  The victims were men and women of varying ages, without any pattern." (p.122)  Vallee later provides us with a more comprehensive list of symptoms drawn up by Dr Carvalho. (p.199)

In describing their experiences with these light beams, most victims claimed that "They were immediately immobilised, as if a heavy weight pushed against their chest.  The beam was about [seven or eight centimetres] in diameter and white in colour.  It never hunted for them but hit them suddenly.  When they tried to scream no sound would come out, but their eyes remained open.  The beam felt hot, 'almost as hot as a cigarette burn', barely tolerable.  After a few minutes the column of light would slowly retract and disappear." (Vallee, 1990, p.200)  Apart from those who had been killed by these beams, most people's symptoms usually disappeared after seven days.

After asking various forensic pathologists to review his findings, Vallee claims that "what UFO witnesses describe as 'light' may, in fact, be a complex combination of ionising and non-ionising radiation.  Many of the injuries described in Brazil, however, are consistent with the effects of high-power pulsed microwaves." (p.124)  Later he points out that pulsed microwaves may "interfere with the central nervous system.  Such a beam could cause the dizziness, headaches, paralysis, pricklings, and numbness reported to us by so many witnesses." (p.202)
The difference between ionising and non-ionising electromagnetic radiation is that, when radiating through the air, the former has a high enough frequency, and therefore enough power, to ionise the gaseous atoms and molecules that comprise the atmosphere.  This means that those atoms and molecules acquire an electric charge by either gaining or losing one or more electrons.  A gas that has been ionised becomes highly conductive, and may also radiate light, a phenomenon which is called fluorescence.  The boundary between ionising and non-ionising radiation is in the ultraviolet (UV) part of the electromagnetic spectrum, about 3 X 1015 Hz.  (Smith & Best, 1989, p.293)  This means that higher frequency UV radiation, x-rays and gamma radiation are considered to be ionising, while lower frequency UV, visible light, infrared radiation, microwave radiation, and all the radio frequencies, are referred to as non-ionising radiation.
In the conclusion to Confrontations Vallee discusses whether these Brazilian UFOs are deliberately trying to kill people.  If they are, he considers that they are fairly inefficient at doing it.  After all, someone in a helicopter with a high powered rifle and night scope, could probably do a better job.  He does however point out that a radiation beam that was designed merely to stun people at one range might be lethal at another range. (p.206)

The previous examples show that UFO light beams seem able to do several different things apart from just injuring people.  In attempting to analyse their function further we need to remember that these UFOs are not necessarily all of the same design.  If they are indeed the product of alien cultures, some of them, light beams included, may be more sophisticated than others.  If, in addition, some of their light beams are multi-functional, we might have so many variables at work that a meaningful analysis of those functions becomes impossible.  However at times the whole of ufology seems to be an attempt to understand the impossible, so I don't think we should let that put us off.
We earlier dismissed the suggestion that UFO light beams are purely for illumination.  One reason to suspect this is to be found in Colonel Phillip Corso's book The Day After Roswell.  Corso claims that night vision equipment was found among the debris at the Roswell UFO crash site in 1947.  He claims that the 'eyepieces' found on one of the autopsied aliens from the crash were "a complicated set of reflectors that gathered all the available light and turned them into night-time image intensifiers." (p.132)  He further states that the soldiers that looked inside the wreckage, through a split in its side, were astonished to discover that, "when they looked through the view ports, they could see daylight, or a greenish, hazy kind of diffused light that looked like dusk, but outside it was completely dark." (p.132)  This evidence, unsupported though it is, would suggest that aliens on UFOs do not need spotlights to see what they are doing at night, although perhaps not all UFOs are designed like the one Corso describes.

If Jacques Vallee's earlier suggestion that these beams contain several types of electromagnetic radiation is correct, we should remember that, just because the visible light component of the beams is the most apparent to our eyes, does not mean that it is the most important from the UFO's perspective.  What other functions can visible or invisible radiation beams serve?  Let us for a moment consider some of the electromagnetic radiation beams that humans have invented.  For example, we use headlights on cars to see where we are going, but our brake-lights are designed as communication signals for safety purposes to tell people behind that we are slowing down.  Kangaroo or rabbit shooters use spotlights to illuminate and hopefully paralyse their prey, which gives them a dual purpose.  Most of us use invisible beams of infrared radiation from hand-held remote controls in our living rooms to control our televisions, VCRs, sound systems, or air conditioners.  (Perhaps UFOs are firing powerful remote control beams at us to see if some of us are realistic looking robots!)  Likewise, many modern commercial buildings have automatic doors that open when radiation beams bounce off approaching customers.  Similarly, some burglar alarms and outdoor security lights use invisible beams to detect people by their movement.

Radiation beams called lasers are today used for a large number of purposes.  The word LASER is an acronym which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.  The difference between a normal light beam and a laser is that, whatever its colour, normal light is noncoherent, meaning that its light particles or waves are out of phase or unsynchronised with each other, whereas in a laser they are perfectly in phase, thus producing a coherent, synchronised beam of light.  Laser light can therefore be made extremely intense, directional and, because it is only of one frequency, very pure in colour.  Lasers beams can now be produced in the infrared, visible, UV and even x-ray frequencies.  Modern technology uses lasers for an increasing variety of purposes, ranging from red laser pointers used in the lecture hall, to those used in industry to drill holes in metal or diamond.  Lasers can be used in surgery to cut and cauterise flesh.  It is speculated that surgical laser cutters may be being used in the animal mutilation phenomenon, which is often associated with UFOs.  The high frequency of laser light enables it to carry hundreds of times more television channels than microwave transmissions, which makes it an ideal system for space communications.  Military technology also makes extensive use of lasers.  They may be used as a sighting or ranging device on a rifle or tank, or with laser guided bombs.  There are also claims that powerful lasers and other classified high-energy beam weapons are being used by the US military to shoot at UFOs. (Wolf, 1996, p.207)  Perhaps the most interesting use for lasers is to illuminate holograms.  In 1997 the US Army Research Laboratory in Maryland, claimed that their research into non-linear optics might in future enable the army to project three dimensional holographic images of tanks, planes and soldiers onto a battlefield to confuse the enemy.  Perhaps aliens are already using a sophisticated version of this technology.
Because of their intensity, directional nature and colours, we might therefore speculate that some UFO beams are types of lasers.  However, given the variety of uses to which we put lasers, this is not much help in deciding what aliens might be using them for.  Also, given the speed with which we continue to invent exotic uses for laser technology, the alien's beams may be several generations further down the track and therefore incomprehensible to us.
One interesting idea is to compare the multiple effects of UFO beams with the abilities of various types of proboscis found on animals and insects.  An elephant's trunk for example can be used to blow, suck, smell, feel, transmit and receive information, acquire food, lift things, or as a weapon.  This is an astonishing range of abilities, and is only possible because the sensitivity of the elephant's trunk is coupled with the high level of intelligence, or data processing ability, possessed by these animals.  UFO beams of light may be some sort of technical equivalent, with a wide range of purposes, some of which may be less obvious to us than others.  We might speculate, for example, that, among other things, these light beams can receive and transmit information by being coupled to highly sophisticated artificial intelligence devices aboard the UFOs.

What do we know about radiation produced by UFOs?  In his excellent book Unconventional Flying Objects; A Scientific Analysis, NASA scientist Paul Hill tells us about an incident on January 30th 1973 in which UFO investigator Bill Rogers used a Geiger counter (an instrument for the detection of ionising radiation) to record the radiation given off by a UFO in Lexington, USA.  The craft dipped repeatedly below a hill and every time it reappeared Bill got the same reading of 400 volts and 250 milliroentgens from a distance of about one kilometre. (Hill, 1995, p.71)  In his scientific analysis, Hill concludes that in this particular case the UFO was emitting powerful ionising radiation in the x-ray or lower gamma ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Although this UFO did not have a light beam visible at the time, this case might make our analysis of sightings of UFOs that do have light beams rather more complicated.  If they too emit powerful all round gamma and x-ray radiation, then some of their physical effects on people may result from a combination of this all round radiation and their light beam radiation.
Unfortunately, Paul Hill says little about UFO light beams except that "some luminous beams may be weapons, having as a purpose the projection of heat, the disruption of electric and electronic equipment, and even the temporary paralysis of individuals." (p.53)  He does point out that UFOs' high-energy generalised radiation affects the atmosphere around the craft to form a bright ionised gas or plasma sheath whose nitrogen component "radiates strongly in the ultraviolet frequency." (p.59)  This bluish coloured UV radiation would explain the painful eyes and sunburn that some UFO witnesses experience even at night, and, if the beams of light also cause nitrogen to fluoresce, people hit by them could suffer similar symptoms.

Returning to Vallee's reference to the microwave component of UFO beams, the microwave equivalent of a laser beam is called a MASER (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation).  Masers can be tuned to operate at frequencies ranging from less than one megacycle up to several hundred megacycles.  A maser beam would be invisible to the human eye, but could still be one component of UFO beams of light.  It is interesting to note that, when one tries to look up the uses to which masers can be put in an encyclopaedia or technical reference, there seems to be very little information available.  This may mean that masers have few uses, or that perhaps many of them are the subject of classified research.  There are however a few articles in the UFO literature about developments in microwave technology that can be used on humans or animals, often for sinister or unpleasant purposes.
What seems to be in doubt in the case of the South American UFO light beams is whether these are examples of microwave technology being used on people by aliens, humans, or both.  It is possible that the military's classified development of such technology might have derived from their observation of UFOs that use it.  This might give the military a convenient cover to develop and then test microwave weapons on people, enabling them, if accused of unethical behaviour, to try to blame it on the aliens.  Another possibility might be that someone in the military-intelligence community is deliberately zapping people with electromagnetic beams in an attempt to give aliens a bad name.  Finally, just to confuse us even more, it is possible that, unknown to each other, different compartmentalised sections of the US military, as well as some aliens, are doing all of the above simultaneously.

This leads us to explore the possibility that some UFO beams of light may be human designed weapon systems being secretly tested on humans in a part of the world where communications are so poor that the Western media would probably either not hear about these events, or not bother to report them even if they did.  Given that there is evidence that research has been done into High Powered Microwave (HPM) weapons, Jacques Vallee ponders the relationship between human and alien technology.  "Here again, the UFOs seem to represent an alien force that anticipates our own scientific developments by decades, mocking our own efforts to identify its nature and its long term intentions." (Vallee, 1990, p.206)
A brief news snippet in New Dawn magazine (May-June 1997, p.10) claims that "The USAF Office of Scientific Research is working on developing a small affordable laser and high powered microwave (sic) for unmanned aerial vehicles to perform a wide variety of missions, including enemy communications and computer systems."  Although it does not mention human targets, this sounds suspiciously like the UFOs seen in South America.  Could it be that over the last twenty years someone has been testing the propulsion, guidance, and radiation beam target-acquisition systems of such unmanned devices in the jungles of Brazil?

A 1991 MUFON UFO Journal article by Dr Richard M. Neal Jr., called 'Paralysis by Microwaves', discusses how such radiation might affect people.  For example, it is known that low frequency microwave radiation will penetrate the body more effectively than higher frequencies.  Neal claims that from 1965 to 1970 the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) undertook Project Pandora "to determine the health and psychological effects of low intensity microwaves."  He suggests that when this radiation is "modulated with low biological frequencies" it may be able "to cause performance decrements and disorganisation by interfering with neuroelectric functions; or by causing central nervous system effects".  We know from witness reports that, while UFO light beam paralysis does not affect a person's breathing, cardio-vascular system or senses, it does prevents them from moving.  By pulsing the microwave radiation so that the appropriate motor units within the brain are affected, the body's musculoskeletal system can be stimulated at an increasing frequency until "successive contractions fuse together and cannot be distinguished from one another."  This condition, called tetanisation, produces paralysis.  (Neal, 1991)
Five years later in 1996, Dr Helmut Lammer, again in the MUFON UFO Journal, referred to something called the New World Vistas which
"was a major undertaking for the USAF Scientific Advisory Board (SAR).  This military publication was published in June 1996 and is a forecast of possible military developments over the next fifty years.  In it military scientists suggest the development of electromagnetic energy sources, the output of which can be pulsed, shaped, focused, and coupled with the human body in a fashion that will allow one to prevent voluntary muscular movements, control emotions and actions, produce sleep, transmit suggestions, interfere with both short-term and long-term memory, and induce an experience set or delete an experience set." (p.6)
If, as Dr Lammer suggests, such technology has already been developed, then some apparent UFO abduction experiences, including physical paralysis, may be the results of humans using this technology.

In 1997, Tim Rifat, writing in UFO Reality magazine, gives us more details of developments in this field.  (This research was primarily done to develop mind control technologies, which are beyond the scope of this article.  Those interested in following up on such research are recommended to read Rifat's article.)  He tells us that pulse modulated microwave radiation has been "found to be especially useful as a carrier for the mind control signals as they were able to pass through the cranium, which is rather resistant to low level electromagnetic radiation.  This pulse modulated microwave carrier beam could be used to carry signals rather like radio signals can be frequency or amplitude modulated to carry music or speech." (p.48)  This Remote Mind Control Technology (RMCT) can be "keyed to distinctive patterns of brainwaves called 'preparatory sets', which exist for every mechanical gesture the body makes.  There are also specific excitation potentials which exist for specific emotional states." (p.49)  Later Rifat confirms our earlier suspicions by claiming that "Victims who are paralysed by the light from UFOs are in fact being deceived.  It is not visible radiation but microwaves, that are paralysing them." (p.49)  While Rifat's article appeared in 1997, other relevant mind control articles have been appearing intermittently in the UFO literature since the early nineteen-nineties.  For example Martin Cannon's book The Controllers: A New Hypothesis of Alien Abductions was published in 1992, yet the classic text on this subject, Walter Bowart's Operation Mind Control, came out in 1978.

Sometimes UFO-related inventions appear that do not seem to be the result of classified military research.  An article by Paul Guinnessy in New Scientist magazine (1st Nov. 1997, p.6) described a patent awarded to Hans Eric Herr from San Diego, California, "for a 'phaser' that uses laser light to stun or kill."  Currently some American police forces use electronic stun weapons called tasers which work by firing two small metal darts attached to thin wires that carry a pulsing electric current that stuns their victim.  By using a laser to create an intense beam of ultraviolet light which ionises the air molecules in its path, Herr's invention does away with the use of wires.  Instead a carefully modulated electrical current which can painlessly stun the victim, cause painful contractions, or a heart attack, simply travels down the ionised light beam.  The phaser has a range of over one hundred metres, and can penetrate clothing.  Although we are told that the laser needed for Herr's invention is still too large for hand held phasers to be made, one imagines that they will not be long in arriving, and of course such a device could easily fit into a UFO sized craft.  The article ends with Herr's worrying claim "that any technically competent person would be able to build a phaser." (p.6)
Just because Herr's phaser seems to have similar paralysing abilities to some UFO beams of light does not prove that this is how aliens are paralysing people.  Nevertheless it does appear to show that some aspects of human technology may not be that far behind that of the aliens, although unfortunately, the closer our technology does get to theirs, the more likely it will become that some UFOs are actually human craft mimicking alien ones.  For example, in an article in New Dawn (May-June 1997, p.25), Dr Richard J. Boylan claims that the US military's Project Snowbird involves "pseudo-UFOs used as disinformation", while Project Tacit Rainbow apparently involves "stealth drones/pseudo-UFOs".

This article is not trying to suggest that UFO light beams are always trying to hurt people.  Sometimes they appear to be trying to assist, as this next case suggests.  Late at night on 18th October 1973 a Bell Huey helicopter of the US Army Reserve was flying from Columbus to Cleveland in the state of Ohio, with four crew aboard, when a bright red light started to approach them.  Captain Lawrence Coyne, fearing a collision, grabbed the controls from his less experienced copilot, and put the helicopter into a very rapid descent.  Despite this evasive action, the UFO was now so close that it seemed to the crew to fill the windscreen.  A green 'searchlight' beneath the UFO then swung around and "shone into the cabin bathing all four men in a greenish haze!" (Randles, 1987, p.104)  The cigar shaped UFO then shot off leaving the helicopter's magnetic compass spinning at four revolutions per minute, and the altimeter reading 1066 metres, whereas it had previously been at 518 metres.  Captain Coyne later realised that the helicopter had been within seconds of hitting the ground when the green 'tractor beam' from the UFO had pulled them upwards about five hundred metres.
Jenny Randles (1987) gives another example in which a green beam from a UFO appeared to try to assist a witness.  The case "involved a British Rail worker walking along the tracks from Headingley, Leeds, to his home in the early evening of 12th February 1979.  He observed a strange green light above him, but then had to move quickly onto an adjacent track as the Harrogate to Leeds train went by.  Whether this was perceived as endangering the man is hard to know.  He was quite safe.  However, the green thing came low above him and seemed to suck him upwards into the air.  It felt like a powerful magnet had pulled him about [two metres] skywards and moved him bodily along the track, depositing him unharmed further along.  He stood petrified for a few moments, but then turned back and saw an oval with a misty vapour moving away.  Needless to say he did not take this short cut home after that!" (p.105)
This article has detailed numerous examples of the capabilities of UFO light beams, some of which appear to resemble classified military technology.  To study the subject further would require a more comprehensive database that, for example, categorised the light beams by colour or effect.  Given ufology's shortage of funding, finding a suitable physicist to do this research would be difficult, although it seems that the US military has already done it.

Bowart, Walter.  (1978)  Operation Mind Control.
Boylan, Richard J.  (May-June 1997)  The shadow government: Its identification and analysis.  New Dawn.
Cannon, Martin.  (1992)  The Controllers: A New Hypothesis of Alien Abductions.
Corso, Col. Phillip J.  (1997)  The Day After Roswell.
Giese, Daniel Rebisso.  (Summer 1996)  Extraterrestrial Vampires in the Amazon Region of Brazil: Part II.  Flying Saucer Review.
Guinnessy, Paul.  (1st November 1997)  Set phasers to shock.  New Scientist, No.2106, p.6.
Hill, Paul R. (1995)  Unconventional Flying Objects; A Scientific Analysis.
Lammer, Helmut.  (1996)  Preliminary findings for Project Milab.  MUFON UFO Journal, No.344, pp.3-8.
Moulton Howe, Linda  (June-July 1997)  Chupacabras – The Mysterious Bloodsuckers, Nexus, Vol.4, No.4, p.66.
Neal, Richard M. Jr.  (November 1991)  MUFON UFO Journal, No.283, p.13.
Pentagon's New Offensive Info War (May-June 1997)  New Dawn, No.42, p.10.
Randles, Jenny.  (1987)  The UFO Conspiracy: The First Forty Years.
Rifat, Tim.  (June-July 1997)  Big brother is all in the mind, UFO Reality, Issue 8, p.48.
Schuessler, John F.  (November 1997)  Human Physiological Effects From UFO Reports.  MUFON UFO Journal, No.355, p.20.  These three reports are 'Copyright 1997 by the Mutual UFO Network, 103 Oldetowne Rd., Seguin, Texas 78155 USA.'
Smith, Cyril W. & Best, Simon.  (1989)  Electromagnetic Man: Health & Hazard in the Electromagnetic Environment.
Story, R.D. (Editor, 1980) The Encyclopedia of UFOs.
Thompson, Richard L.  (1993)  Alien Identities.
US Army Plans Phoney War.  (13th May 1997)  The West Australian.
Window to another world.  (January/February 1998)  UFO Magazine, p.13.
Vallee, Jacques.  (1990)  Confrontations: A Scientist's Search For Alien Contact.
Vallee, J.  (1992)  UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union.
Warren, L. & Robbins, P.  (1997)  Left at East Gate.
Wolf, Michael.  (1996)  The Catchers of Heaven.

Western Australian Sightings

Compiled by Brian Richards

Lights in the sky (LITS) continue to be a world-wide phenomenon, causing mixed reactions amongst the UFO fraternity, from ardent belief to downright scepticism.  Of all the different types of lights, the orange balls or spheres, often travelling in twos or threes, inflame the most passion.  UFO groups and researchers are clearly divided as to the origin and purpose of these silent sky riders, some claiming that ninety per cent of them are Identified Flying Objects (IFO) in the form of garbage bags made airborne by firelighters and/or metho burners.  Others claim they are alien intrusions, advanced remotely operated probes, or scanners transmitting heaven-knows-what information to a central nerve centre/control room.
Whatever the origin, each case must be judged individually.  If, for example, two orange lights were drifting slowly with the wind, one shedding bits of 'orange', the other flickering and going out, it would be safe to assume the hot-air balloon hypothesis.  If however, sphere one rapidly overtakes sphere two, stops, backtracks, does a couple of vertical ascents or descents, both coming together before speeding off into the night, never changing or constantly changing the intensity and size of their illumination, then we must assume something other than a firelighter-powered plastic bag.  Witnesses not infrequently attribute bizarre aerial behaviour or manoeuvres to these orange lights, but their testimony is often dismissed as a flight of fancy, or simply ignored.
I do not hold the view that the collection of data relating to LITS, or any other unidentified aerial object, is a waste of time.  While they may not tell us a great deal, noting their presence in our skies, in water, or on land, gives a much clearer picture of the volume of this intrusive traffic, not to mention their plethora of shapes, sizes and behaviour.


Monday 26th January 1998, 10.30pm.   Bunbury WA.  Shane and Jason reported a bright orange shimmering sphere with no tail, which travelled in a straight line from Bunbury to Perth (south to north).  The lemon-sized object was shedding bits of burning matter.  It was seen for about twenty seconds.  (Possibly space junk – BR)
Saturday 28th February 1998, 9.10pm.   Warnboro WA.  Elwyn, a trained pilot, and two other witnesses watched three orange lights move in a triangular formation from NW to SE.  They were about the size of Jupiter or Venus.  The leading light stopped, did a U-turn and took a rear position behind the other two.  At no time was there any sound.  The lights were always constant and of equal intensity from every angle.  The sighting lasted about fifteen seconds.
Friday 6th March 1998, 10pm.   Fremantle WA.  Gary reported two orange lights flying side by side overhead from NE to SW.  They appeared to be travelling very fast and were larger than Venus.
Friday 6th March 1998, 11.30pm.   Westminster WA.  Jeff A reported a bullet-shaped object, yellow-orange in colour travelling from east to west in four to six seconds.  It was very high up and the size of a tennis ball.
Friday 13th March 1998.   Grace H of South Perth reported a bright star-like light giving off green, red and blue colours over Perth Airport over a three day period from 9.30pm till late.  (Probably a hot star – BR)

The Greenwood UFO.  Thursday 19th March 1998, 8.50pm.   Pamela S of Greenwood WA was driving in a westerly direction along Hepburn Avenue when she noticed a large stationary object hovering over the Cockman Road intersection.  Her car passed under the object which appeared to be a very low, large saucer-like craft of a dark metallic structure.  A central depression was also evident under the object.  Two crescent-shaped rows of small blue lights shone constantly from the underside rim on opposite sides.  Other people were looking up at the object and no doubt it was witnessed by other motorists, as traffic was fairly heavy.  Pamela felt acute apprehension, but on reaching her house, ran inside to get her son to have a look.  When they emerged from the house the object had gone.
Interestingly, power to 100,000 homes in Perth failed about 1.30pm, and areas in the South-West including Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Bunbury and Albany were affected by a fifteen per cent loss of generating capacity.  Muja Power Station failed at 1.30pm followed by Kwinana ten minutes later.  No cause for the failure has been found and Western Power management are investigating the incident.  (Note: I personally know the witness in this sighting and find her to be a person of the highest integrity.  Another witness has also testified to seeing the object.)
Orange Light – Helicopter Flight.  Wednesday 1st April 1998, 7.50-8pm.   Two separate groups of witnesses called from the Rockingham WA area to relate an interesting sighting.  The first group, a Mr Hulme, his wife, son, and daughter all saw an orange light heading fairly rapidly north towards Perth from the south-east.  As they watched, the object appeared to slow down and drop something round and glowing which headed straight for the ground.  The main object continued towards Perth and faded out or was lost from view.  About ten minutes later a police helicopter appeared and searched the area for ten or twelve minutes using its spotlight.
The second witness, his wife, and a neighbour, reported the same light.  Matthew C was looking towards the Orion group of stars from Waikiki, at about 8pm.  Suddenly he saw a bright flash overhead and from it emerged an orange ball.  The orange ball headed towards Perth (north) very fast, stopped and dropped a smaller orange ball towards the ground.  This smaller object was pulsating as it fell.  The main object also increased and dimmed its intensity several times before disappearing.
A short time later a helicopter appeared and circled the area for ten minutes, searching for something.  I telephoned the Police Air Wing at 10.05pm the same night.  They wouldn't give me the exact location.  The officer on duty told me it was a flare.  When I said witnesses believed otherwise, I was referred to Police Communications in Perth.  From here I was referred to the Water Police in North Fremantle.  The Water Police duty officer whom I spoke to at 4.50pm on 6th April claimed it was a flare over Coolingup, four kilometres from the coast.  Again conversation was cut short when I asked some pertinent questions.  A flare it may have been, but it behaved in a remarkable fashion, travelling horizontally as well as stopping or slowing down, and not illuminating the night sky and surroundings with its expected ascent and descent.
Coloured Lights, Amazing Manoeuvres.  Saturday 4th April 1998.   A 4am telephone call terminated any thoughts of an OOBE, sleep paralysis, abduction, or whatever might transpire in our altered state we call 'sleep'.  A very excited witness, Chris M could not believe what he had seen from his house at Chittering, near Bindoon WA early that morning.  Approaching quite low from the north-west was a line or bar of coloured lights, red, white, blue, green, flashing randomly on and off.
Chris reckoned the object to be bigger than a jumbo jet, yet it was totally silent.  It proceeded to perform a series of aerobatics, up, down, side to side, in a much tighter fashion than a conventional aircraft.  At one stage it appeared to have a definite shape, like an inverted bowl with lights all around the rim.  He called his wife to look.  It continued to put on a show for some ten minutes before disappearing in the east.  Chris called Pearce Air Force base who expressed interest, but had no knowledge of any aircraft flying in that vicinity at the time.


When in October 1989, the Russian news agency Tass announced to the world that aliens had landed in a Voronezh park, some 483kms south of Moscow and terrified school children there, the Western press were quick to pour scorn on the story.  Tass had lost its marbles.  A hoax.  Testing Western reaction to the impossible.  Cartoonists and sceptics had a field day.  Nearly ten years later, however, the Voronezh encounter has stood the test of time.  Many aspects of the case make it an event to be reckoned with.
The Kenwick Encounter, which occurred between 10pm and 10.30pm on 31st December 1997, did not involve direct contact with aliens, but may turn out to be one of the most significant cases to come out of Western Australia for a long time.  For reasons of confidentiality, only the Christian names of the witnesses have been used.
The Event.   On 31st December, New Year's Eve, a group of eight children, five boys and three girls aged from seven to thirteen, decided to camp out on the family property.  It was a clear warm summer night under a cloudless sky.  Around 10pm, one of the boys, Ryan, noticed to the north-west, possibly two or three kilometres away, flashes of red light streaking up into the sky and back down again.  This went on for some lime, and due to the unusual nature of this light display, Ryan called out to the other children to have a look which they did for some time before going back into the tent.  About half an hour later, Ryan, who had not gone in to the tent, was astonished to see a huge illuminated object coming towards him from the direction of the light streaks.  He called out once more for the children to have a look.  Of the eight children, five saw the object at varying positions in the sky in order of their emergence from the tent.  These were, Ryan, twelve, Aaron, eleven, Luke, seven, Shane, seven and Melanie, thirteen.  The other three, Scott, Kay, and Jennifer were either asleep or not interested.
The Object.   Ryan, who was the first to see the object, described it as "bigger than a car-port just above the trees" (which are ten metres high – BR).  "It sounded like a plane (piston engine) at first but, when it was above me, it sounded different.  More of a swooshing noise."  Aaron thought it was huge, but was unable to put it into a size category.  Melanie described it as the size of a 35 centimetre biscuit tin (at arm's length).  Melanie and Aaron also heard a swooshing noise coming from the object.
Of the five children who witnessed the object, three gave testimony and independently drew the craft the same night, the following day, and three months later, without any reference to previous material, or conferring with each other.  All described three brilliant yellow lights centrally situated underneath the craft in a triangular shape, and small blue, yellow, red and white lights all around it.  All described it as a "square circle shape" from underneath, and having three metallic, or bright silver-looking landing pods.
Ryan, who had the best overall view of the object, described a row of large yellow windows.  Behind each window was an alien.  Behind each alien Ryan could see some kind of controls.  However, what appeared to be an orange window above and below the main row of portholes showed no signs of life.
Follow-up Interview.   Three months after the alleged sighting, I decided to speak to three of the witnesses to see if there were any variations to their original statements and also to see if follow-up drawings differed from the originals.  Surprisingly, little had changed.  Ryan described the figures behind the windows as having no hair, no clothing, large eyes (no other facial features were seen), thin arms and legs, and pot-bellies.  As the object passed directly overhead, Ryan said it stopped over him for a few seconds.  The three main lights were almost too bright to look at.  Around the landing gear and the lights swirled a white mist, condensate or vapour.  Ryan was the least frightened by the event but expressed some anxiety to his mother the following day.
Melanie who saw the object going away to the south-south-west heard the engine-like noise with a secondary swooshing noise "overlaid".  To her, the windows looked blurry with no figures seen.  She noticed the vapour or mist around the landing pods.  The incident frightened her enough to leave the tent at 11pm and seek more secure accommodation in the main house.
Aaron heard the plane sound mixed with a "swooshy" sound.  He described the mist swirling around the landing gear, and thought he saw a beam of light shining down from the object.  He wasn't frightened at the time, but as the night wore on, he became very apprehensive.
Luke, seven, who witnessed the craft, but didn't make drawings, went back to sleep in the house.  He woke later on that night or early next morning.  His mother asked: "Did you see something tonight?"  "Yes."  "What did you see?"  "A round square thing."  "Was it a plane?"  "No, planes don't have yellow windows."  "Have you seen something like that before?"  "No, I never seen (sic) one of those before."  Luke's mother then asked him to go back to sleep because it was late.  All the older children refused to sleep outside, so two sets of parents moved all the younger children into the house to join the others.  The combination of children from three different families were clearly disturbed by something in the sky that night.  Remembering that they all live below the flight path of Perth Airport, it would have to be something quite extraordinary to attract so much attention.  These artistic impressions speak for themselves.
Aaron's (age 10) original drawing (in blue ballpoint) on the night of the sighting, New Year's Eve 1997.  Bottom and side view.
  Aaron's drawing the following day (original in colour).
 Aaron's drawing (in pencil) 3 months later, 8th March 1988.


This next report relates to a sighting made at 11.45pm on 14th February 1998, from a Subiaco garden.  The witness, a Mr Richard G, is a businessman involved in sophisticated position fixing of ocean-going vessels, optical physics, holographic applications and the upkeep of advanced computer systems as used by the defence forces.  He holds a BSc degree in physics and currently is managing director of his own marine company in Perth WA.
So well has this report been written, it has been decided to run it in full, unabridged, as an example of what a member of the public can do, given a certain amount of technical know-how and the ability to state a coherent case.  This in no way diminishes the value of any other report, however presented.  The final issue is the content and what it represents.  Reports like Richard's merely reinforce our knowledge that there are persons of scientific and academic backgrounds who take the subject of UFOs seriously and are prepared to put pen to paper, as it were, to share their experiences.
As a footnote to this case; the aircraft circling in the vicinity of the UFO sighting has been identified as a Palitas P9 turbo Cessna, usually equipped with long range fuel tanks and sophisticated electronic surveillance gear.  The identity or origin of this particular aircraft has not been revealed, but is believed to be operated through the defence forces or a security agency such as ASIO.


Sighting of Unidentified Aerial Object.
Date:  14th February 1998.    Location:  Subiaco WA.    Time: 23.45.   Direction:  South to south-south-west.

Summary.   At 23.45 on 14th February 1998, I was having a cigarette in my back garden.  I was looking in the night sky facing in the general direction of south-west.  While looking toward the constellation of Orion in the western sky, I noticed a moving object out of the corner of my left eye.  When first observed, the object's bearing was approximately due south from my position.  It traversed an angular distance of approximately thirty degrees, travelling from due south to SSW of my position.  The actual time of observation was four to six seconds.  I observed this object from first sighting until it passed out of sight behind a tree.  At one point during the observation, the object emitted a beam projecting downward.
Almost immediately after I lost sight of the object, an aircraft was observed moving from behind another tree which was to my south-west, moving in a southerly direction.  The aircraft was observed for ten minutes.  During this time the aircraft circled three times.  It then proceeded on an approximate bearing of thirty-five degrees passing directly over my position at about 300 metres elevation.  The aircraft again made a slow turn over Subiaco, heading back toward the south-west before turning again on an easterly heading and passing south of my position on its new course.  At 23.55 I went to bed, but heard the aircraft for another ten to fifteen minutes.  It had apparently continued circling in the general area during this time.  When the aircraft passed directly over my position, I was able to observe it to be similar to the single engine, high wing Cessna design.  I saw the underside of the wings in the limited light, but could not observe any identification numbers.  The sound from the aircraft engine was more like a turboprop engine rather than a standard piston engine.  The propeller sound was quite distinct, but another high pitch whine similar to a jet engine was very distinct.  I have limited experience with aircraft engines, so this may be a normal sound signature of some aircraft.
Object Description.   Upon first observing the object, I attempted to identify it as an aircraft or helicopter, although its flight path and speed did not fit either profile.  The object's visual characteristics were as follows:
Colour.  Bluish grey but with a glowing effect which made it easy to observe.  The colour was consistent during the time of observation and variation or pulsing was not observed.  The beam observed was light bluish in colour.  There were no other flashing or lights of various colours observed.
Shape.  The object was approximately the size of half a small cold tablet at arm's length.  The brief period of observation does not allow a definitive description of the object itself.  To the best of my memory, the object appearance was as follows:          (drawing))

The above drawing is not intended to be an accurate description of the object, but to represent my impressions at the time.  It appeared more solid on the bottom portion than at the top, so I have drawn the object accordingly.  Also, I remember the shape was not rectangular, but gave the impression of having a general oval shape without a smooth surface structure.  I wear glasses for reading only and my far-sightedness is fine except for a small astigmatism effect.  As a result my observation would have been slightly distorted.  I added the ports in the upper section to represent the distinct difference between the upper portion and the lower portion of the object.  I clearly remember seeing distinct breaks in the upper section of the object, but cannot say for certain that the breaks were ports.
Path.  The path of the object was generally parallel to my location, since I did not observe any variation in the object's size.  The actual flight path observed was generally descending in elevation from east to west.  The trajectory of the descent was not smooth, but occurred in a step like fashion.  The following is an approximation of the flight path observed:          (drawing)

Speed.  The speed of the object can only be estimated from my time of observation.  I measured the angular distance of the observation to be approximately thirty degrees and my estimated period of observation was from four to six seconds only.  I calculated the speed of the object based on thirty degrees of arc, a five second period of observation and a parallel trajectory to my position, with the following results:

Distance from observer.                   Calculated speed.
(miles)  (km)                              (km/h)     (mph)
0.5    0.80                            255.33   158.69
1.0    1.61                           510.68    317.39
1.5    2.41                           766.01    476.08
2.0    3.22                          1021.36   634.78
2.5    4.02                         1276.69    793.47
3.0    4.83                         1532.04    952.17
3.5    5.63                         1787.37    1110.86
4.0    6.44                         2042.70    1269.55
4.5    7.24                        2298.05    1428.25
5.0    8.05                        2553.39    1586.94
5.5    8.85                        2808.73   1745.64
6.0    9.65                        3064.07   1904.33
6.5  10.46                        3319.42   2063.03
7.0  11.26                        3574.75   2221.72

Based on the relative size of the object compared to the aircraft later observed, my best estimate of the object's distance from me would be three to six kilometres giving an approximate speed of 1000 to 2000 km/h.  If the actual path of the object was not parallel to my position, then the speed of the object would be somewhat faster than estimated.

Beam.  The beam was only observed for a portion of the object's trajectory as shown in the earlier trajectory diagram.  It was, as stated previously, light bluish in colour.  The relative size of the beam in relation to the object was as follows:    (drawing)

When I first observed the beam, I thought it must be a helicopter with a spotlight attached, but this again was not consistent with the observation.  The beam did not vary in direction or orientation when visible, as would be expected from a helicopter in flight.  The density of the beam diminished as it diverged from the object until it washed out at the base of the beam.

General Impressions.   My first impression of the object was of simple curiosity.  I naturally attempted to classify it as either an aircraft, helicopter, or some form of floating debris in the air.  Although, as I continued to observe the object, none of these explanations were viable.  The object was moving in an unusual trajectory and too fast to fit into any of the above profiles.  After the object disappeared behind the tree, I realised that I had seen something very odd that I had never seen before.  A brief moment of fear actually was experienced and I could feel the hair on the back of my neck bristling or at least it seemed to.  I immediately looked back towards the direction I last saw the object, to see if it was coming in my direction.  It is then that I observed the aircraft and I began observing its flight pattern.  I did this to compare my observations of the object with a known aircraft profile and my brief moment of fear passed.
Although I have spent many years at sea and have been in some very difficult situations, my fear reaction to this observation was out of character to my experience.  I can definitely say the object was not an aircraft or helicopter.  As far as the object being airborne debris or a bird, it certainly was not.  The wind at the time of the observation was calm and I would have easily recognised a bird, even at night.  I make no claims as to what this object was, or what it was doing at the time.  There may be a perfectly plausible explanation for what I saw, but at this moment I have none to offer.

The Western Australian UFO Sightings & Reporting Centre can be reached on (08) 9337 1638

Flight Of Fancy?

By Andrew Leitch

On Saturday 21st February 1998, I experienced my first verifiable premonition.  Prophecy, prescience, premonition or precognition – call it what you will – but personally I've never had any doubts about its existence, only its veracity.  Usually my own precognitive experiences take the form of dreams which are only slightly more intense than normal.  Often it is the setting in which the dream takes place that is the only thing that I can verify.
For example, when I was still in primary school, I dreamt of having some kind of adventure (vaguely connected with the television series Doctor Who) near a swamp, which was divided by a black path and had large concrete sewerage pipes scattered about it.  In 1982, on my first day at Rossmoyne High School, I rode for the first time along the route which I would follow five days a week for the next five years.  There, next to All Saints High School which sits on land adjoining Rossmoyne High, I discovered a green, verdant swamp divided by a black tar bicycle path.  When I was about a third of the way down it, I looked out to my left and discovered, right where I expected them, several large grey sewerage pipes in the undergrowth!
If it was always the case that my 'hits' were only related to objects, I'd be forced to consider that the information gleamed in these dreams had been gathered via unintentional out-of-body experiences.  In fact, this may still be the case for some of my dreams.
The other dreams of which I speak – dreams from which I've woken and immediately felt were premonitions – are often apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic in nature.  Not something which you really want to have verified!  Since I had never been able to verify any other dreams involving people (such as dreams I have had of crashing airliners or combat situations), I have felt fairly safe that my dreams were the product of the climate of fear prevalent throughout most of the eighties whilst the Cold War still simmered.  Of course, I couldn't really keep using that excuse after the fall of the Soviet Union.  Things are looking pretty stable now – in a global sense.  And yet I'm still plagued with dreams of people trying to cram onto fuel tankers and cargo ships.  And then this happened.
On the aforementioned Saturday, I became quite ill.  I've often endured para-phenomena after becoming sick.  I will either vomit or have diarrhoea or both, and then all the weird things start to happen.  I will start 'sensing' rifts in reality, or perhaps seeing my friends' deaths, or, as is often the case, endure such indescribable terror that I am left pale and shaking for the next four or five hours – whilst strange ideas and thought patterns run through my head.  Let me stress, it's not fun.  I remain fully lucid throughout and it is quite a battle to take in this new sensory information whilst my rational mind is trying to analyse it, formulate mundane explanations for it, categorise it and label it.  It doesn't make me feel much safer even if I do succeed in wrapping up my experience in a nice, safe parcel of rationalisation.

There are reasonable explanations for what happens to me.  Maybe I over-ate the day before.  Maybe I had food poisoning.  Maybe I stayed awake for thirty-six hours straight at a science fiction convention.  These factors may have caused some kind of 'chemical imbalance' in my brain.  Ergo, I occasionally suffer from mild delusions and panic attacks.  Maybe…
Or maybe it was a parapsychological experience.  I believe that prior to the onset of these experiences, my body undergoes a purge.  I become emptied of the chemicals and preservatives which normally shouldn't have to enter a healthy human body.  It is almost like the purification ritual a shaman or a practitioner of the Wiccan religion might have to undergo before seeking to enter a ceremony.  It is just a little more to the point.  This purification, I feel, is necessary in order for me to have the subsequent experience.  The question is, how did my body know to do this?  I certainly had no intention of subjecting myself to these rigours.  It is almost as if the purge was induced by the future experience.  Of course this plays a little with our normal understanding of causality – 'effect' is normally supposed to follow 'cause'.  But the very notion of precognition – with its implications of either predestination or that the future can affect the past – pretty well turns causality on its head.

On that Saturday I became progressively sicker as the day progressed.  I even had to ring in and call off going to work.  I was coughing like I was trying to bring something up.  I was visiting the toilet every half hour.  Tired and nauseous, I lay down on my bed intending to sleep.  But sleep did not come immediately.  I rolled around on my bed as if trying to shake off my body, as if it was a set of clothes that didn't fit.  That's the only way I can put it.  When I rolled against the wall, I even found my legs trying to slide up its surface, as if they could take off of their own accord.  For all the world it was like I was being forced out of my body!  But nothing happened.  I couldn't escape myself.  Finally I fell asleep, exhausted, and this is what I dreamed:
I was walking along through the bush with a number of other people who seemed to be part of some sort of procession.  To my left was a building of red brick which brought to mind a school of some sort.  The people looked up and waved and, following the direction of their gaze, I looked up also.  Flying back the way we had come was a jumbo jet.  It had no wings.  It had no roof.  Leaning out of it were many passengers taking pictures with cameras.  Along the edge of the jet's sides were wreaths and garlands of flowers.
Then I found myself flying through the air following an old Tiger Moth biplane.  It was heading towards where the people were.  I continued to follow it as it flew over their heads, turning as it flew close to the ground.  But then, instead of rising, it crashed into the ground.
Next I found myself back with the people, leading them through the undergrowth, which was still smoking slightly from a fire, looking for the remains of the pilot of the biplane.  We found about as much as could fill a bucket – he was so badly burnt.  In fact, we weren't really sure what we had found – it could have been melted insulation and parts of the aeroplane's struts instead of burnt flesh and bones.
Upon awakening I immediately phoned a friend and asked them if there had been a Tiger Moth crash reported in that day's newspaper.  The reply was 'no'.  At the time I recall that there had been an article about a Tiger Moth in the nightly news in the previous week.  But I could not remember when.

On Monday March 2nd, I read an article in the West Australian entitled, "Pilot's loop bid ends in tragedy" (p.3), reported by John Townsend.  It detailed how a Tiger Moth had crashed the previous Saturday – that is, exactly one week after my dream.  I was startled to say the least.  But there were several points on which the reality reported in the newspaper converged with my dream.  Mostly they required very little interpretation – if you presume that the jumbo jet and the Tiger Moth were both the same plane in symbolic terms.  What follows are quotes from the article in the West Australian, with those points that match my dream underlined:

I dreamt of a plane crashing and killing a pilot.  The jumbo jet had passengers.  I dreamt it the previous Saturday. I dreamt of a Tiger Moth crashing.  What is more, I am given to understand that the Royal Aero Club's emblem (which I'm postulating was on the side of the plane) includes a wreath.  The jumbo jet had wreaths of flowers on its side. In my dream the body of the pilot was so badly burnt that it was almost impossible to identify. In the dream the pilot was incinerated.  The plane had burnt the surrounding locale. There were many witnesses in the dream.  The jumbo jet had no wings.  In fact, just like a Tiger Moth, the jumbo jet had an open canopy.

So, as you can see, there are quite a number of similarities between my dream and the events which unfolded a week later.  To my mind they are enough for me to state that my dream was a premonition.  There were a few 'misses' though.  There was no indication in the dream that a passenger had died.  In the photos in the newspaper there does not seem to be a school nearby.  The plane also seems to have crashed in a paddock.  There are some trees and bushes, but they seem to be near the fence-line.  It was never clear in the dream what kind of manoeuvres the biplane was performing since I was following it from close behind, rather than watching it from a distance where I could judge its movement relative to the ground.  In a later article by the same author, entitled "Pilot falls victim to his passion for old Tigers" (West Australian, March 3rd, p.3), it is implied that the trip was a joy flight which the pilot had offered to the passenger.  There is no indication that the passenger was taking any pictures (as the jumbo's passengers were in the dream).  However, it is entirely possible that the cameras are symbolic references to the flight goggles which both of the people in the Tiger Moth would have been wearing in an open air canopy.

The Abductee Support Group

By Mary Rodwell

This article is a brief history of the Perth-based UFO Abductee Support Group from its inception in late 1996, to its first anniversary in April 1998.  Its evolution has sparked interest not only from its participants, but from organisations Australia-wide, the media and from overseas.  In 1996, a group of Western Australian UFO researchers decided to form a support group for those people who have had 'encounter' experiences.  In ufology terms these are called 'Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind', and simply refer to anyone who believes he or she has had some contact or interaction with extraterrestrial life forms.
At this time they had in mind at least one facilitator for the group.  This was Elizabeth Robinson, a professional therapist/counsellor, trained in group work, who had had her own abduction/encounter experiences.  When I heard about the proposed support group, I contacted the UFO researchers and explained to them that I had already considered forming a support group for the growing number of such clients I was seeing in my counselling practice.  I informed them of my qualifications and background, and we arranged a meeting where I learnt that they had already formed an advisory committee, which included a psychiatrist, to ensure that a professional support group was formed.  This was totally in line with my view because, as I had spent ten years in the counselling field, having trained in the UK, and had experience in group work, I understood the need to create a credible, professional support network.

It was arranged for Elizabeth and I to meet in December 1996, with the hope that we would work together.  Our goals were to provide a professional and supportive resource for all those abductees who needed it.  This support group would offer total confidentiality, with the understanding that we would honour the clients' experiences, and support them emotionally and psychologically.  As we were both keen to begin, we advertised the Abductee Support Group in NOVA, Western Australia's Holistic Journal, in March 1997 and the following month.  We obtained further publicity for the group by having two articles published in the May 1997 issue of NOVA.  These were 'Counselling the Abductee', written by myself, and a 'A Secret Life Awakened', written by Elizabeth which was about her own encounter experiences.  Both these articles were later republished in the Journal of Alternative Realities (Volume 5, Issue 1, 1997).

Initially we were contacted by fifteen individuals.  A screening process was developed to assess what level of trauma was present.  If someone was too severely traumatised, we felt it would not be helpful for them to attend the group immediately, but instead we would provide them with one-to-one counselling support.  We also wanted to be certain that people presented with the typical patterns associated with encounter experiences, because some individuals who have paranormal experiences that echo some aspects of the encounter experience, are not necessarily abductees.  We also had inquiries from people who were interested in the phenomenon and wanted to attend the group out of curiosity.  It was important to explain to them that this was a therapeutic support group that was only for abductee/encounter experiencers, where group privacy and confidentiality were paramount.

Eight people came to our first meeting, plus a psychologist, who attended as another professional to provide feedback.  For many of them, meeting other experiencers was a total revelation.  Despite the trepidation and anxiety some felt about coming, it was quite amazing that, once introductions had been made, the floodgates opened.  By this I mean that they openly talked to each other about their experiences.  It was as if the burden they had been carrying in silence and isolation had suddenly been lifted.  Even during the coffee break the conversation continued almost without ceasing.  Several individuals said they felt a real bond with some members of the group, even though they had never physically met before.  It was as if they already knew them!
For a non-experiencer like myself it was a rewarding and fascinating evening as I listened to the amazing experiences.  Time and time again, with small variations, they were the typical abductee/contactee pattern.  One young woman in her twenties, who was severely traumatised by her experiences, said it took tremendous courage for her to attend the meeting.  She said afterwards how pleased she was that she had found the courage to come.  "I had always dreamed of something like this, but never believed it would happen."  For me, this statement epitomises how valuable a support group is, and confirms the need to continue with it.  It was clear that the needs of the group were not just about isolation and past experiences, but for therapeutic support for on-going experiences.  There is a desire by many abductees to try and make sense of this enigma, a desire to understand it and its meaning in their lives.  This includes support for the paradigm shifts that many of them have to make.

Information became another crucial part of the agenda.  What do we know about abductions?  What resources are there?  How could we help the families living with experiencers?  What could we do to inform the public, the general community, and the professional health-care community?  The agenda grew.  We needed a commitment to a monthly meeting and on-going one-to-one support for those who needed it, as well as written articles to inform the general community.  We also hoped to interest the curious and more open-minded professionals.
One of the main stumbling blocks to any new venture is money.  We had no financial resources, so the support group has had to fund itself.  There was no money for advertising.  Some of the abductees said they would do their own publicity for the group, via word-of-mouth, but we had to find other ways to inform those people in isolation where they could find help.  We did have some assistance with this from the local UFO researchers, who referred clients to us, and also mentioned us to those they worked with.
We had the support of some periodicals from complementary fields that kindly advertised our Support Group free of charge.  These were Astrally Yours and The Healing Circle.  Although this advertising was very welcome, it did not inform the wider community, so it meant we had to go public via media outlets such as magazines, newspapers, radio and television.  To do this was hugely confronting for both Elizabeth and myself.  We were both professional people who had credibility in the conventional therapeutic world.  We could not predict what the consequences would be for us both professionally, or personally.  For Elizabeth there was the added dimension of exposing herself as an abductee.

We knew that with the media, much of the material would be sensationalised and put out of context.  In fact this did happen in several popular women's magazines who told their version of our story – often in lurid colour and with prose that resembled a horror script!  With resignation we finally subscribed to the saying: 'All publicity is good publicity!'

We fared slightly better in the local newspapers.  We also had some good exposure on radio shows in Perth, as well as in the Eastern states.  Elizabeth has been on a telephone satellite-link with a nation-wide American radio show.  She also featured on the Channel Seven television news.  However, the most honouring and informative programme was a one hour television documentary special, called Oz Encounters: UFOs in Australia, which went to air Australia-wide in November 1997 on Channel Seven.  This documentary is now on sale to the public, and we also know it has been sold to Discovery Channel, a satellite television channel in America.
I suspect we will struggle for credibility for some time.  It goes with the controversial nature of this phenomenon.  Media exposure, no matter how lurid, can still reach those who are looking for help.  For the open-minded in the community, it may just start them thinking.  The close-minded, however, will probably remain so.  Even if a spaceship landed on their front lawn, they would probably want to deny it was there.  To date, the Support Group's exposure has been quite successful, and has reached many of those in isolation with this experience.  One letter received early last year from a gentleman in his forties said: "Thank you so much for what you are doing, at last I now know I'm not mad!"

It was important to access more information from the professional therapeutic world, and we discovered that the USA had the most to offer in this respect.  I contacted the PEER (Program for Extraordinary Experience Research) organisation president, Dr John Mack, who is a psychiatrist and the author of Abduction.  This organisation invites professional therapists to share their information through newsletters and workshops.  The second resource was the Academy of Clinical Close Encounter Therapists (ACCET) in Sacramento, California, a professional organisation whose members are psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, and those in the therapeutic field who are working with abductees.  ACCET run workshops world-wide.  I became a clinician member of ACCET in 1997, and from their list of members have access to other therapists.  It was with interest that to date I counted one hundred and five members.  Only recently a gentleman from Hobart, Tasmania, was referred to me through ACCET.  This proves that building contacts and networking is so important.
Moreover, as a result of the media publicity and amount of advertising we had done, we started to receive an increasing number of telephone calls from local psychologists, therapists, counsellors, and others in the healing fields.  So, in the latter part of 1997, we invited them to meet with us to share in our understanding of the phenomena and to inform them of what we were doing.  We were delighted and heartened by their support and enthusiasm during the meeting and, as a consequence, formed the Australian Close Encounter Resource Network (ACERN).

The main aim of ACERN is to provide information, establish support groups, carry through professional referrals, raise the public's awareness about ACERN, network with organisations Australia-wide and overseas, and to have a register of qualified professionals, counsellors and therapists who can provide the necessary support for those with encounter experiences.  In fact, within such a short amount of time, the Abductee Support Group had expanded its horizons into an organisation which now comprises representatives and support from several of the healing professions.
It was under the banner of ACERN that Elizabeth and I attended the Australian International UFO Symposium in Brisbane in October 1997.  Before our departure we had three main aims which were: to advertise ACERN, to network with other support groups and professional therapists, and to gather the latest information.  We were able to achieve much of the above and were delighted when one of the symposium speakers, Cecilia Dean, not only showed support and interest in our organisation, but advertised and spoke about it at the symposium and took the information back to America.  The trip had been extremely worthwhile, and it had been very special to meet so many well-informed individuals and be able to resource them for information.  We also attended the Budd Hopkins' workshop for therapists and experiencers.  Through this exchange we received further validation that we were on the right track.

As the Abductee Support Group celebrated its first anniversary in April 1998, over seventy individuals with abduction experiences have contacted us, as well as local and overseas therapists, researchers, and UFO groups.  The group continues to prosper, with many of the initial members saying how they now feel more confident and less isolated.  Some have been courageous enough to go public.  It has been an amazing group journey.  The ages range from fourteen years to sixty, with more females than males.  Some of the members support other family members who are experiencers but do not attend the group.  For some it is their children who are having the experience.  We have heard from a broad section of society, including housewives, schoolchildren, farmers, labourers, university students, teachers and psychologists.  The experience has also touched the Aboriginal, European and Asian cultures.
Most of those attending the group have on-going experiences.  Meetings are held monthly and have a set agenda.  Minutes are recorded for all meetings, and then the members are invited to share any new experiences.  Techniques or strategies are discussed and they share whatever is helpful, including their intuitive understanding of the experience.  Resource material is discussed, including books or videos.  If they need one-to-one support they ask either at the meeting or later by phone.  Apart from verbal discussion, strategies for integration such as drawing, meditation, and written expression are encouraged.  A 'buddy system' has been introduced and, for the members who wish to participate, has been very helpful.

We continue to explore opportunities to advertise, as the priority is to reach the many abductees out there we believe may be having difficulty coping.  It is important to say that of the seventy people who are having encounter experiences who have contacted ACERN, slightly less than a third are traumatised.  Many people cope with this experience quite well, and some say that it has been a very special experience which has transformed their lives.  They really believe it has opened them to a 'greater multi-dimensional reality'!
Elizabeth has written a book about her personal experiences called Secrets, Truth & Destiny which is scheduled to be published later in 1998.  I also am in the process of writing a book to be a resource, primarily for abductees.  It will be a self-help guide, and will contain information, strategies and techniques from conventional therapies, as well as the transpersonal approach.  It will also contain coping strategies that abductees have intuitively found helpful, and will discuss ways to deal with the fear and isolation, ways they can help themselves, and how to find help and support. 

Australian Close Encounter Resource Network (ACERN) directors Mary Rodwell and Elizabeth Robinson can be contacted at PO Box N1083, Perth, Western Australia 6843

Forbidden Science

Journals 1957–1969
By Jacques Vallee.  Marlowe & Co., New York. 1996.  473 pages, paperback.

Book review by Simon Harvey-Wilson

This book, originally published in hardback in 1992, has now been reprinted in a slightly shorter edition as a large paperback with an additional foreword by Vallee.  It contains extracts from Jacques Vallee's journals from Christmas 1957 until October 1969, although, as he says in the foreword, he wrote them with no intention that they would be published before his death.  They contain therefore a passionate mixture of his hopes and anguishes, his love life, education, opinions on current political events and his extensive involvement at the heart of UFO research in both France and the United States.  As an astute observer of character, Vallee tells us exactly what he thinks of the bureaucrats, academics, air force personnel and UFO researchers that he meets.
Vallee was born in 1939, and the journals start when he is an eighteen-year-old student studying mathematics at the University of Paris.  He is no ordinary student.  Reading the book I kept wondering whether he ever slept.  He is fascinated by astronomy and delighted to be witnessing the birth of the space age, quite literally in his own backyard.  His journal entry for 15th February 1958 reads "The French Astronomical Society has just published an account I sent them of an unusual sighting of the first Sputnik.  It's an observation I made last year in Pontoise, from the terrace behind the house." (p.11)  Vallee is a compulsive reader and writer.  As well as studying mathematics and writing his journal, he haunts the city's second-hand bookshops looking for old esoteric texts, and starts to write science fiction under the pen name of Jerome Seriel.  His first book, written in French, called Sub-Espace (Subspace) won the Jules Verne Award in 1961.

Vallee's interest in UFOs began in 1954 when there were numerous front page newspaper reports of sightings all over France.  Then in May 1955 he sees one himself.  Later in 1958 he reads Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery by Aimé Michel.  Vallee writes to him, and thus begins his enduring collaboration with that pioneering French UFO researcher.  Of UFOs Vallee writes that "I would forever be ashamed of the human race if we simply ignored 'their' presence." (p.22)  In 1961 Vallee receives his master's degree in astrophysics from Lille University, and starts working for the French satellite tracking program of the Paris Observatory.  The tracking data is analysed using an old IBM computer "in the former stable of the king's mistress in Meudon castle" (p.48), punched up onto telex tape and transmitted to the Smithsonian Observatory in the USA.  Vallee is young and full of energy.  "Naively I started work here with great enthusiasm, assuming that we would be engaged in genuine research, in the highest quest for truth.  That is not what I found." (p.47)  On occasions the astronomers track bright unidentified objects in the night sky, but their boss simply confiscates and destroys the tapes, saying that the Americans would laugh at them if they passed them on.  This sort of reaction by otherwise intelligent scientists is one reason these journals are called Forbidden Science.  Vallee is horrified, and so begins a sort of double life.  At work he endures what he regards as the stupidity and lack of scientific curiosity of his superiors, while in his spare time he attempts to assist Aimé Michel by plotting UFO sightings on maps of France to see if anything can be learnt that way, and more importantly, by trying to create a comprehensive database of UFO reports.

In an example of Vallee's extraordinary ability to be in the right place at the right time, he realises that it is the fledgling computer industry, especially developments in database design, that holds the key to both his future career as well as the scientific analysis of UFO reports.  Here his considerable talents can blossom, but in France, to his disgust, he is unable to find an employer or government official who even understands what he is talking about.  This is not helped by the fact that at this point in time the USA will not sell its latest computers to France in case they use them to do the necessary calculations to develop nuclear weapons.
Vallee moves to the United States with his wife Janine, and soon ends up at Northwestern University near Chicago, where Dr Allen Hynek is Professor of Astronomy.  Here he finds work writing computer programs in the Technological Institute, and soon becomes Hynek's research assistant for his US Air Force consultancy work on Project Blue Book.  Vallee's prized possession is his UFO sightings database which he and Janine are constantly updating and improving.  It is probably fair to say that at this time, 1963, this database is the world's most comprehensive.  Furthermore, among the 'Invisible College' of ufologists that Vallee and Hynek quietly maintain contact with, Vallee is certainly the most far sighted and technically proficient in using cutting edge computer techniques to maintain and develop it.  Realising that he needs better qualifications in order to be taken seriously, Vallee completes his doctorate in computer science at Northwestern in 1967.  Meanwhile he has written two books, in English this time, Anatomy of a Phenomenon (1965), and with his wife Janine, Challenge to Science: The UFO Enigma (1966).  Apart from being among the first UFO books by a qualified scientist, their high standard of analysis of the phenomenon makes the so-called research being done by Project Blue Book staff look suspiciously sloppy and amateurish.

Unfortunately things have not improved much since then.  Old though they might be, the quality of Vallee's early UFO books is still testimony to the lack of quality in current official research into these matters.  For example, in his journal entry for 3rd December 1965, Vallee writes that "The problem of UFOs boils down to two major issues: First, the theory of time and gravitation; then the question of human intelligence." (p.167)  Today, more than thirty years later, we do not know, publicly at least, very much more about the relevance of these topics to UFO technology than we did back then.  If one interprets Vallee's term 'human intelligence' as a reference to consciousness research, the situation today is even bleaker.  A review of the numerous books, magazines, TV programs and Internet reports about UFOs reveals that many ufologists still have trouble even understanding the relevance of consciousness research to the UFO and abduction phenomenon.
Forbidden Science is not without its lighter moments.  In May 1965, in order to help promote one of his books, a replica model is made of the goblin-like humanoids seen during the 1955 Hopkinsville incident in Kentucky.  It is to be collected from Vallee's home in order to be put in the window of Chicago's largest bookshop.  "The creature was nearly a metre and a half tall, dressed in silver, with a large chest, a big head, huge ears, long arms.  My model of it is so lifelike, with its two red eyes on the sides of its head, that the burly truck drivers backed off in some apprehension when they first saw it.  Realising that it couldn't bite, they eventually picked it up, folding its ears carefully for the trip down the stairs." (p.140)
Vallee has great admiration for Dr Hynek as a scientist and a human being, but these journals reveal Hynek's precarious position during the more than twenty years that he served as astronomical consultant to Projects Sign and Blue Book, and the Condon committee.  In private Hynek was often exasperated by the Air Force's determination to down-play UFOs, and their almost total disregard for appropriate scientific research techniques.  Yet in order to continue to have access to their growing catalogue of UFO reports, and for them to keep paying him to travel the country lecturing on the subject, he felt obliged to maintain an ambiguous public profile about whether UFOs were a genuine subject for scientific research and how that research might proceed.

Vallee comprehensively documents this frustrating balancing act, which was complicated even more by the fact that Hynek genuinely adored the lime-light.  At times the only way Vallee could talk to him was to catch him in transit at Chicago airport between flights on his UFO lecture tours.  Yet on the few occasions that Hynek really tried to challenge senior Air Force officials, they were either evasive or pointed out that his contract could easily be terminated.  Vallee on the other hand worked feverishly behind the scenes networking with ufologists in Europe and the US, frequently refusing to speak publicly, claiming that his books stated his case more than adequately.  Nevertheless, neither Hynek nor Vallee had much doubt that there was another classified UFO research project going on behind the scenes.  As he writes in May 1967, "They must have had a secret inquiry for years.  It would not be logical for a low-level project like Blue Book to be the only game in town." (p.268)  But proving it was quite a different matter.

Some incidents certainly raised their suspicions.  In 1964 Vallee started receiving letters from an Italian Air Force captain that he calls Luciano who was working in the Ministry of Aeronautics in Rome, and who apparently had close contacts in Italian military intelligence.  In April 1965, Luciano sent Vallee information about a 1963 near-landing "which he investigated with a secret-service team under a special clearance from the Italian government." (p.140)  The witness was the Italian president's chauffeur.  The saucer-shaped UFO had hovered over the official car at the president's hunting reserve near Rome, creating quite a stir among the intelligence services.  "The report was communicated to the US authorities in Washington, who never followed up with the Italians but gave assurances they had passed it on to Hynek for evaluation.  Yet Hynek has never seen the report, never heard of it!   I have used this case to point out to him again that he didn't see all the reports, that there must be another study somewhere, using Blue Book as a mere front." (p.140)

In 1967, with his doctorate out of the way, Vallee now needs a job.  Having little faith in the future of ufology in the USA, he takes his family back to France.  Here he witnesses the student riots in Paris and gets a computer job with Shell.  While his programs are running, he has time to visit the Bibliothèque Nationale "to browse through the masses of documents having to do with apparitions in general and elementals in particular, a literature that presents some striking parallels with modern UFO lore.  I have never had the leisure to do serious research on this formidable and complicated topic." (p.345)  He soon realises that here is a book in the making and decides to call it Passport to Magonia, "after the magical country situated above the clouds, alluded to in Comte de Gablais and in the works of blessed Saint Agobard, written in the ninth century." (p.359)  It is a mark of the breadth of Vallee's mind that he can be a leader in the computerisation of UFO sightings, while simultaneously researching "the relationship between the landings of flying saucers and this mass of popular traditions about aerial beings down through the ages, their relationship to man, their role in mysticism." (p.359)

In 1969, with his book finished, and once again disgusted at the backwardness of computer research in France, Vallee returns with his beloved wife and two small children to the United States.  He is offered jobs all over the place, but eventually settles in California as the manager of Information Systems at Stanford University.
The epilogue of Forbidden Science brings readers up to date with Vallee's opinions on the state of UFO research today.  He laments that ufology has not progressed much in the years since 1969.  Mainstream science still regards the subject as unworthy of study and has therefore ignored it, and while most ufologists seem convinced that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft, Vallee sees this as too simplistic.  "I cannot join either camp on the basis of the data I have accumulated.  Sometimes I get the awful feeling that I am the only human being who doesn't know what UFOs are." (p.419)

Vallee has always been ahead of his time in his analysis of the UFO enigma, and in many ways he still is.  Yet we may at last be catching up with him.  Today an increasing number of ufologists would probably agree with his speculation that "UFOs operate in a multi-dimensional reality of which space-time is a subset.  In that sense I do not completely reject the idea of an extraterrestrial origin; but I believe that the form of intelligence the phenomenon represents could coexist with us on earth just as easily as it could originate on another planet in our universe, or in a parallel universe." (p.420)  While some, like the late Aimé Michel, believe that we will never be able to comprehend the consciousness manipulating, paranormal dimension of the UFO phenomena ("No dog in future centuries will ever understand Einstein's relativity." p.421), Vallee at least keeps an open mind, but is scathing about science's ignorance of the whole field.  "I regard the continuing lack of attention paid to UFOs by science as one of the greatest intellectual failures of this century." (p.422)  He is convinced that we should pay more attention to consciousness and parapsychological research, but warns us to watch out for attempts to manipulate our beliefs by various "ufological sects and cults" and government mind control experiments.  Likewise, having rubbed shoulders with the leading protagonists for many years, he is certain that "the executive branch of the US government and other major governments do know of the existence, physical reality, and awesome implications of the UFO problem.  It seems obvious that an agreement is in force among them to keep the data quiet and to discourage independent research." (p.427)  As regards future UFO research, Vallee warns that a careful study of the sightings and abduction data may oblige us to amend our opinions about the nature of the universe, other dimensions, consciousness, even perhaps the notion of propulsion.  "The technology we are witnessing may not be based on what we understand today as propulsion." (p.431)

As in his book Dimensions, Vallee ends by suggesting that Information theory may play a vital part in comprehending the UFO phenomenon.  In this respect I believe he is correct, but unfortunately most people will not yet have thought deeply enough about the links between the nature of reality, consciousness, and some of the implications of Information Technology, to understand what he is talking about.  In this respect Vallee is still leading the field, but at least he is trying to help us catch up.  Forbidden Science is an unusually rewarding book, an engrossing mixture of personal, anecdotal, and historical information, which is something that one cannot say about many of the other UFO books on the market today.  By faithfully recording the early years of ufology in both France and the USA, Vallee has given us a clearer, more insightful picture of ufology in the present, and any book that does that has to be recommended.


Michel, Aimé.  (1958)  Flying Saucers and the Straight-Line Mystery.
Vallee, Jacques.  (1965)  Anatomy of a Phenomenon.
Vallee, Jacques & Janine.  (1966)  Challenge to Science: The UFO Enigma.
Vallee, Jacques.  (1969)  Passport to Magonia.
Vallee, Jacques.  (1988)  Dimensions.

Psychic Connections

A Journey into the Mysterious World of Psi
By Lois Duncan & William Roll, Ph.D.  (1995)  Dell, New York.

Book review by Morley Legg

This is a personal exploration that brings us up to date with many psychic frontiers long familiar to those interested in the paranormal.  Lois Duncan, a writer of adolescent psychic fiction, was also a sceptic.  "We were a conservative, middle-class family who had always regarded psychics as shameless opportunists who took advantage of people who had been made vulnerable by tragedy."
She was forced to investigate the paranormal because of the tragic murder of her daughter Kait, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1989.  A month prior to this Lois had had a novel published in Britain which proved to be precognitive.  Her eighteen-year-old daughter was murdered in a similar manner to the eighteen-year-old girl in the book. Coincidences accumulated.  The man arrested by the police (six months after the shooting) had the same name as the murderer in the book.

In her desperation to seek help and advice she contacted Dr William Roll, who had studied parapsychology at the University of Oxford in England and was a research associate at Duke University.  He introduced her to authentic psychics who helped her obtain further evidence to nullify the original police report that it was a random shooting by an unknown.  Lois underwent tests which confirmed her own psychic abilities.  Psychic detectives revealed Kait's boyfriend was involved in a drug group which feared that she was about to inform the police of their activities.
Lois' general conclusions are that humans have a psychic body that exists beyond the reality of the senses, and this appears to be engaged at times by other intelligences or energies that affect human behaviour.  The Indian concept of a 'long body' alludes to a tribal body or a collective intelligence or attitude that also extends into this nether world.  I have since wondered if more exploration of these concepts could lead to an understanding of those darker aspects of our history and perhaps to finding ways to heal those so-far incurable political, racial, and religious conflicts in Bosnia, Africa, Northern Ireland, etc.

The book covers both historical and new cases of the paranormal, and the usual brushes with sceptics.  Photographs are included.  One case of Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK), in Ohio in 1984, appeared to be triggered by fourteen-year-old Tina Resch, and involved five hundred and eighty-five cases of poltergeist activity.  Some pages are devoted to the parapsychologist J.B. Rhine's extrasensory perception (ESP) experiments in card guessing and the law of probability at Duke University in North Carolina, during which it was shown that some individuals can repeatedly score above chance.  But, because psychic phenomena almost always occurs spontaneously, these feats cannot be reproduced for repeated experiments in the laboratory.  Bias against precognition is still widespread; people who hear of one case of fraud are eager to dismiss all cases as fraud.  Chapters on precognition and out-of-body experiences range from work done in the 1970s, to recent developments in Remote Viewing.

The wealth of insights gained about Kait's death through psychics is quite astonishing.  Kait was an organ donor.  The young man who received her heart started to have vivid dreams.  He did not know who the donor was, but after coming out of the anaesthetic, he requested that the dreams be recorded.  They were about a plot to murder a young blonde woman, who was eventually pursued and killed.  Lois' other daughter independently contacted other respected psychics who contributed supportive information.

What might have seemed a fresh but routine run through different aspects of psychic phenomena comes alive through a sensitive mother searching for answers about the tragic death of her daughter.  In the concluding chapter Lois writes "If more people could realise that our 'long body' includes the physical environment – not only our homes and possessions, but also the distant forest and ocean – they might become more protective of the world we live in."

Secrets, Truth & Destiny

My Journey of Discovery
By Elizabeth Robinson BSW.  (1998)  Key Publishing.

Book review by Simon Harvey-Wilson

Elizabeth Robinson's dream was to marry, live in suburbia and have babies, but fate had different plans for her.  Secrets, Truth & Destiny, which could be described as an experiencer autobiography, documents numerous anomalous events from Elizabeth's early childhood to her current life as a qualified social worker, mother, healer, and now budding author.  Intertwined with these are experiences that suggest that she is a repeat abductee.
The book illustrates the numerous problems that face abductees and their families.  While some aliens supposedly claim to be concerned for the welfare of humanity, unfortunately their actions may sometimes lead to marital breakdown.  One abductee mentioned in the book fairly swiftly found himself in a psychiatric institution after confiding his experiences to a member of his family.  The book also illustrates the problems faced by UFO researchers in their search for convincing proof of close encounters.  Science tends to want concrete, tangible evidence, yet all some abductees can provide is an increase in their paranormal abilities and/or spiritual interests, and even these are hard to document.  This can be frustrating for abductees and researchers alike.
This also illustrates the difficulties that the health care community is increasingly faced with in dealing with patients who believe, or perhaps would prefer not to believe, that they may have been abducted.  It seems that most therapists need educating about this phenomenon just as much as the rest of the community.  But who is going to do that educating?  Dr John Mack notwithstanding, I doubt that the average medical or psychology student is taught much about UFO abductions and the individual and family trauma that such events may bring with them.

Elizabeth's experiences illustrate the fear, isolation, and embarrassment that an abductee may experience in a society where, while the notion of being abducted by aliens is at least rather more prevalent these days, it is still very far from being the average person's ambition.  Our parents and teachers do not include interaction with extraterrestrials as part of their usual instruction, and while it may be accepted that there are almost certainly aliens out there in the galaxy somewhere, the official position is still that none of them are visiting earth, let alone abducting children from their beds.  Furthermore, if it was as simple as waking up one morning and realising beyond a shadow of doubt that you had been abducted by aliens, the matter might not be quite so traumatic.  But what are you supposed to do when you see weird overgrown insect-like beings in your living-room, that no one else can see except the occasional psychic friend?  Obviously one would react just as Elizabeth did and assume that you were deluded.  That these events may lead to marriage breakdown is hardly what one needs under the circumstances, and Elizabeth's guilt at the effect on their daughter is yet another burden to bear.

On the positive side the book illustrates that, with persistence and a lot of luck, one can eventually reach a position of tolerance or even positivity about these experiences.  Her abductions gradually lead to further spiritual awakening and psychic and emotional development.  By illustrating how horribly unprepared most of us are for such events, this book could be seen as a plea for a rethink of our child-rearing practices and the conduct of our social and emotional lives in general.  In pursuit of guidance and explanations for her experiences Elizabeth tried all sorts of self-awareness techniques and therapies, even visiting the United States for assistance.  Once again this brings up the problem of who to trust under these circumstances.  Who, after all, should we expect to know all about aliens and their various agendas?

UFO abductees frequently find their houses plagued with annoying poltergeist-like events, especially ones that reveal our dependence on electrical devices.  But more significantly, abductees may develop various shamanistic abilities.  Elizabeth starts to work as a healer and soon finds herself accompanied by the spirits of various medical practitioners.  She speculates that this may be the future of medicine and, given the astronomical cost of medicine these days, let us hope that further research into this paranormal ability proves her right.  In fact, this could be said to be the main purpose of her book.  For her own sanity, and as a role model for others in similar situations, Elizabeth has shown that, rather than let these baffling and terrifying events cripple her, she has instead emerged with a gift that may benefit us all.

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