Magazine Says Six Major Cases Stand Up to Scrutiny

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A different view is at the bottom of this article

[CNI News thanks Stig Agermose for sending us this story. See http://popularmechanics.com/popmech/sci/9807STSPBM.html#UFO for more details !

The big-circulation mainstream magazine Popular Mechanics says in its July issue, now on newsstands, that some UFO cases have held up under scrutiny and show that there is an official cover-up of something genuinely strange. The article, written by Jim Wilson, describes six major UFO cases that "continue to defy science and the skeptics."

According to Wilson, "while government investigations have repeatedly assured the public that UFOs pose no danger to national security, the very same reports also detail dozens of sightings that neither science nor the skeptics can adequately explain. Among these cases are six sightings that are more puzzling now than when they were originally reported."Wilson's six cases are: McMinnville, Oregon, May 1950: Farmer Paul Trent took daylight black and white snapshots of a clear structured object hovering over his field. The photos have been scrutinized countless times since and are widely regarded as among the best UFO pictures ever.

Sheraz, Iran, 1978: In June, a UFO was photographed by 16-year-old Jamshid Saiadipour in the town of Sheraz. In October of the same year, a virtually identical UFO was photographed by young Franklin Youri outside his home near Lake Urmia in western Iran. U.S. military intelligence was closely watching the pre-revolutionary situation in Iran at that time and was well aware of major UFO activity in the country, as revealed by documents later recovered through Freedom of Information Act.

Trindade, Brazil, January 1958: Clear daylight photos of an unusual flying object were photographed from the deck of the Brazilian Navy ship Almirante Saldanha off the small island of Trindade in the south Atlantic ocean. Many of the ship's crew witnessed the UFO. Bentwaters, England, December 1980: Unusual activity in the Rendlesham Forest separating two NATO air bases, RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge, remains unexplained to this day.

Zanesville, Ohio, November 1966: Local barber and amateur astronomer Ralph Ditter took two UFO photos that Popular Mechanics' Wilson calls "spectacular." But Bill Jones, MUFON State Director for Ohio, responds: "A friend of mine interviewed Ditter in the mid-1970s and he freely admitted that he had made the photos using a hub cap. He put them in his barber shop as a conversation piece. One day a news reporter came in and got real excited, so Ditter told him a made up story. The guy believed the story and the rest is history. A joke run amok."

Hillsdale, Michigan, March 1966: UFO sightings near a women's dormitory at Hillsdale College attracted the attention of then-skeptic J. Allen Hynek, who labeled the occurrence "swamp gas." The ensuing uproar led to Congressional inquiry and eventually Hynek's own conversion into the nation's most respected UFO advocate and researcher.

A rebutal to the above story

>These UFO sightings continue to defy science and the skeptics.


>POPULAR MECHANICS offers no opinion on whether these mysterious >flying machines originate from secret military airstrips here on >Earth or spaceports somewhere "out there." We do, however, feel >comfortable making one prediction: When the shell of security >surrounding UFOs finally cracks, it will be because one of the >sightings we present here provided the wedge.

>BENTWATERS, ENGLAND December 27, 1980

>For three years Pope was assigned to the MOD office responsible for >investigating UFO reports. [...]

>Among the cases he examined was an incident that has come to be known >as England's Roswell.

>It occurred over the last days of December 1980, near a now-closed >U.S. Air Force base in Bentwaters. For two nights security patrols >observed unusual lights in the Rendlesham Forest just beyond the >base's fence. On the second night they entered the forest with >generator-powered floodlights, Geiger counters and 2-way radios. At >the critical moment when an angular, 20-ft.-wide, 30-ft.-tall craft >appeared, the radiation-detecting instruments started to clatter and >the spotlights and radios began to sporadically fail.

What an ill-researched mess.

There was no 'craft' witnessed during the second night's incident, involving Col. Halt's investigation of the 'UFO' reports, no 'clattering' of any instruments, no sporadic communications failure and the 'light-alls' are testified to have been unreliable.

>Daylight revealed broken tree limbs and three 1 1/2-in. deep, >7-in.-dia. circular depressions, suggesting something had landed, >just as the observers claimed.

'Daylight', as indicated here, relates only to the first night's events when originally nobody claimed anything had 'landed'.

>Initially, skeptics dismissed this physical evidence as wind damage.

Currently, there's no evidence for other than a prosaic explanation of any 'damage'.

>They explained the unusual lights by constructing a complex chain of >events that included unusual astronomical activity, satellite debris >burning up on reentry, and the rotating beam of a lighthouse several >miles away.

And what d'ya know, it turns out there was an apparent satellite re-entry of COSMOS-749 earlier that first night, on 25 December 1980, and the lighthouse is now a proven factor in a relatively complex chain of events.

>What the skeptics couldn't explain, says Pope, is a scientific report >he found in the MOD files.

He didn't find any such report in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) files and doubtless has never claimed otherwise. Pope asked the Defence Radiological Protection Service for an opinion about the readings referenced on Halt's microcassette recording/memo to the MoD.

>It revealed radiation levels 25 times higher than normal background >levels in the soil and trees surrounding the landing site.

According to Pope, their opinion was that the readings were _ten_ times higher, not twenty-five times higher than might be expected in the area.

There is some further, relevant information which may not be familiar outside the UK.

On 27 June, 1997, the UK ITV network broadcast a 'prime time' televised TV debate on the subject of UFOs. The 'Strange But True?' program featured the 'Rendlesham Forest' case and Frank Close, a theoretical physicist, claimed to have contacted the manufacturers of a circa 1980s geiger counter which was standard issue to the US forces.

The manufacturers reportedly confirmed that the tolerance of the minimum reading was similar to that mentioned on the 'Halt tape', i.e., it was comparable to a car's speedometer which would flicker even though the car was stationary at traffic lights.

Even Jenny Randles accepts the 'radiation readings' seem to be of no significance.

The televised debate also included a contribution from Vince Thurkettle, at the time a local forester, who commented that the 'landing marks' were without question, in his opinion, simply 'rabbit scrapings'.

Incidentally, a word on Col. Halt.

I have been fortunate in contacting a number of personnel who were stationed at the twin base RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge complex at the time of the 'UFO' excitement. Offering to place Col. Halt's background in perspective, the then Area Defense Counsel, the "lawyer charged with defending personnel charged with criminal offenses or facing adverse personnel actions", recollects:

"At the time, I was a Captain.

Most of us on base were embarrassed by this "incident." We didn't believe the UFO hype for one minute. The next day, I personally read the "Security Police Blotter" describing the incident in detail. It seemed to document hysteria rather than hard facts.

The "Deputy Base Commander" title is misleading. The senior officer on base is the Wing Commander, who had several subordinate commanders, i.e., A-10 squadron commanders, etc. The "Base Commander" was one of these subordinate commanders, charged with overseeing the housekeeping operations on the base, e.g., security, housing, personnel, etc. The position of "Deputy Base Commander" was generally viewed as a dead-end job reserved for lieutenant colonels officers who had not demonstrated great potential and were being permitted to put in time until retirement".

>Pope said the two Bentwaters episodes and others he investigated >during his stint as England's top UFO investigator moved him from >skeptic to believer, and inspired him to write a book titled Open >Skies, Closed Minds.

>"As long as we are all afraid of ridicule, the UFOs are going to be >ignored," says Pope. "Perhaps we ignore them at our peril."

In the UK UFO Network, IRC on-line conference, dated 23 May, 1998, Nick Pope was asked:

"What do you think of Easton's recent conclusions surrounding Bentwaters? Also, what about Steuart Campbell's lightship (not lighthouse) explanation, do you rate it higher than Klass' lighthouse?"

Pope replying:

"I've spoken to Charles Halt about this at some length. He told me that the lighthouse was visible at the same time as the UFO, and was entirely separate. What's more, all the base personnel were familiar with it, as it was a well-known local feature".

Apparently Halt, for some reason, didn't mention to Nick Pope the critical original witness statements he had never disclosed. That of the three security police officers who first investigated the 'strange lights', John Burroughs wrote in his testimony:

"Once we reached the farmer's house we could see a beacon going around so we went towards it. We followed it for about 2 miles before we could see it was coming from a lighthouse".

Or that Ed Cabansag confirmed:

"...we ran and walked a good 2 miles past our vehicle, until we got to a vantage point where we could determine that what we were chasing was only a beacon light off in the distance. Our route through the forest and field was a direct one, straight towards the light".

What's your opinion on the case now, Nick?

Whilst on the subject of the 'Strange But True' debate, I'm sure we would all care to determine some facts and their consequential reporting.


1. Halt didn't take any witness statements until a full week after the initial events, confirming in the April 1994 interview for OMNI magazine that, "Around New Year's Eve, I took statements and interviewed the men who had taken part in the initial incident. The reports were nearly identical".

A full week elapsed between the incidents and Halt obtaining crucial witness affidavits, proven by the dating on the statements, during which time the evidence was susceptible to what Halt acknowledges were rumours which were "out of control".

As has only recently become evident, following my disclosure of the original statements, they were not only far from identical, they revealed dramatic differences from the stories which later emerged, especially Penniston's.

2. It is also proven from all of the statements that Burroughs, Cabansag and Penniston chased a light through Rendlesham Forest for some two miles, before they recognised it was a lighthouse beacon.

3. Penniston originally claimed he was never able to determine the source of the elusive lights, Burroughs still maintains he never saw an actual object and Cabansag's account is 'much ado about nothing'.

Perhaps proponents of the 'Rendlesham' case remaining inexplicable would first care to explain the following claims which Halt made on the 'Strange But True?' program and which were made _prior to the original witness statements and all they reveal being publicised_.

In response to the question of witness testimony having changed over the years, Halt declared to a nationwide audience, as recorded on video:

"The story so to speak as for the size and shape has not changed through the years.

I took original statements from the three people that actually approached the object and did it the day afterwards and they all said the same thing when they were independently interviewed and they all said it was approximately nine feet on the side and it was triangular. They have not changed that story.

...These three people have said the same thing consistently and do to this day".

A reader of UFO Mail

June, 1998

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