Monday 29 November 2021

The 'UFO' Industry: Flying Saucers Are Real



‘Watch the Skies’. They are here. And they are Alien. 
Never mind Mulder & Scully. Never mind Spielberg’s ‘Taken’
The ‘UFO Magazine’ was the cult Bible of UFO-watchers, 
an unlikely publishing success-story, and just possibly 
our connection with future worlds of fantastic tomorrows…


‘There’s a Starman, waiting in the sky 
he’d like to come and meet us 
but he thinks he’d blow our minds…’ 
(‘Starman’ by David Bowie) 

There are lights in the sky. The authorities say they are weather balloons, meteorites, falling space hardware, freak lightning. But maybe they’re something else? Something extraterrestrial? Something resembling the heart-stopping moment in ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ (1977) when the alien mothership appears over the mountain-top. 

George Wild, former Prison Warden and once-owner of ‘Leo’s’ second-hand bookshop off the Springs in Wakefield is quite matter-of-fact about UFO’s. Of course he’s seen them. It’s no big deal. They’re there. He leans up against shelving crammed wall-to-wall with well-thumbed paperbacks and tells whoever cares to listen. The Pennines form a UFO hotspot. He knows other people who’ve seen them. Some more than once. He’s not alone. NASA’s sixth moon-walking astronaut Edgar Dean Mitchell – who flew the Apollo 14 mission with Commander Alan Shepard, has repeatedly stated his certain belief that not only do alien visitors exist, but there’s incontrovertible proof of what he terms ‘an extraterrestrial presence’ that military and intelligence circles suppress with deliberate ‘misinformation and disinformation.’ Then there’s a previously-sceptical Noddy Holder, he was amazed to see a flying saucer from a midnight hotel window in Bournemouth. His story was supported by reported sightings from a flight-path tracked clear across the south of England, despite official denials. ‘There’s no way it was a meteor shower’ argues Noddy emphatically. 

To basics, the term ‘flying saucers’ was coined in 1947 by American newsmen, and soon became virtually synonymous with ‘unidentified flying objects’ – or UFO’s. After a rash of sightings in the late 1940s flying saucers became a craze, a global phenomenon. On 7 January 1948 a UFO was radar-spotted over the Godman U.S. Air Force Base at Fort Knox, Kentucky. An eager Captain Thomas F. Mantell took off to investigate, in hot pursuit. At 03:15pm he radio’d back that he’d climbed to 20,000ft… after which he vanished. Debris was later discovered. One of the first major books resulting from the craze was ‘The Flying Saucers Are Real’ (1950) by Donald E Keyhoe, a prominent UFO investigator, and it seemed for a time to be a science fiction concept come real. Kenneth Arnold, a man who saw the first ‘saucers’ in 1947, was induced to tell his full story in ‘The Coming Of The Saucers’ (1952). In the UK Associated Newspaper’s ‘Sunday Dispatch’ ran extracts from Frank Scully’s ‘Behind The Flying Saucers’ and Donald Keyhoe’s ‘The Flying Saucers Are Real’, declaring this extra-terrestrial threat ‘bigger than the Atom Bomb Wars’ during a period when the government was busy attempting to suppress such Cold War scare-mongering.

This, in turn, was reflected by the SF of the day, and particularly in magazine covers, paperbacks, movie posters and comic-book art, the characteristically inverted-saucer shape, which was the most popular conception of the UFO, became part of the iconography of media-dreams and fantasy. ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ (1951) helped popularize them by showing a flying saucer landing on the White House lawn, particularly with its notion that they are piloted by morally superior aliens concerned at our civilisation’s drift towards atomic doom, playing to a popular fear that only a benevolent force from the ‘outside’ could save humanity from nuclear doom. 

Throughout the 1950s it was ‘The Flying Saucer Review’ – published every other month at the annual subscription rate of £l.1s.0d, asking ‘What was THE THING tracked over Paris by Orly Airport Radio? The materialised vision of science fiction writers... a ship from outer space... a flying saucer?’ But it was not just geeky cultists. The 19 November 1951 issue of ‘Time’ magazine reports sightings of Green Fireballs in the skies over New Mexico (p67 Derleth’s ‘From Other Worlds’). The sensational ‘non-fiction’ book ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed’ (1953, revised and republished in 1970) by a certain George Adamski with Desmond Leslie built upon this premise that the occupants of the saucers were not a threat, but Earth’s saviours. Allegedly, supposedly, on 20 November 1952 Adamski first encountered a Flying Saucer and conversed with its Venusian crew in the Californian Desert, (a story featured in the ‘Vargo Statten Magazine’ no1’ p17, as well as ‘Eagle Annual 1983’ p.62). His books details this, and Adamski’s further meetings with extraterrestrials. 

According to academic David Pringle (writing in ‘The Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction’) this ‘marked the end of the period in which UFO’s could be taken seriously, and the beginning of the more religious phase of UFOlogy which has persisted since. The Aetherius Society, founded in 1954, is an eccentric cult which believes that Jesus Christ is alive and well and living on Venus, but still day-trips to Earth on flying saucers every and now and then.’

In September 1961 Betty and Barney Hill were abducted by aliens from a ‘pancake-shaped’ craft while returning from holiday through New Hampshire. The first widely publicised abduction case, their story was serialised in ‘Look’ magazine, and recorded by John Fuller in his book ‘Interrupted Journey’, then the 1975 ‘fictionalised but based on fact’ movie – 1975s ‘The UFO Incident’. It began with their attempts to explain an unaccounted lost two-hour period. They were placed under hypnotic regression in which both of them were separately able to recall being taken aboard the spacecraft, undergoing medical examinations, and being shown a shimmering three-dimensional star-map by the aliens. She was able to replicate the map sufficient to identify the aliens’ home-system as Zeta Reticuli. 

Most SF writers are hostile to flying saucers and their strange advocates, a fact not generally appreciated by the public. Isaac Asimov, for one, wrote articles denouncing ‘saucer-mania’ and its more extreme manifestations. Indeed, when SF writers use UFO lore in their tales, they usually do so in an ironic, symbolic, or merely opportunistic fashion. CM Kornbluth uses the UFO fad in a slyly humorous way in his “The Silly Season” (1950), in which Earth is invaded but nobody pays attentions because the newspapers have cried wolf too often. 

More seriously, John Wyndham plays on UFO fears to set the scene for his ‘The Kraken Wakes’ (1953). Henry Kuttner uses a flying saucer as a device for a moral parable in “Or Else” (1953), as does Theodore Sturgeon in “A Saucer of Loneliness” (1953). Robert A Heinlein exploits saucer fears – as he exploits communist-conspiracy fears, in his invasion novel ‘The Puppet Master’ (1951). Gore Vidal’s ‘Messiah’ (1954) opens with an analysis of UFO’s as portents, which in some ways anticipates the theories of the psychologist Carl Gustaf Jung in his ‘Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth Of Things Seen In The Skies’ (1958, translated 1959). 

Other fictional routes have been provided by the saucer enthusiasts themselves, who became the subject of JG Ballard’s “The Encounter” (1963, in ‘The Venus Hunters’) which leans heavily on Jung, and Fritz Leiber’s ‘The Wandered’ (1964) which deals in part with the reactions of various UFO-logists to an actual celestial visitor. ‘Seed Of The Gods’ (1974) by Zack Hughes is a satire on the lunatic saucer theories of Erich Von Daniken, as expressed in his mass-popular ‘Chariot Of The Gods?’ (1968, translated 1969). A good non-fiction book on UFO’s is ‘The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry’ by J Allen Hynek (1972).

‘CTA-102, we’re over here receiving you 
signals tell us that you’re there 
we can hear you loud and clear…’ 
(“CTA-102” by The Byrds) 

Dave Davies, of the Kinks has a fascination with UFO’s. ‘We need to get into this world of the unknown’ he tells me. ‘I did an interview the other week, and we were talking about UFO’s, I was talking about aliens and messages from outer space. This – that, and the other. And the guy thought I was crazy. Yet he probably goes home and watches the ‘X-Files’ on television. So that’s alright, OK? Because we’re detached from that. But the thought of us being attached to it, that’s a very different psychological process. I think that’s really strange.’ 

Steven Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ propelled the quasi-religious perception of UFO-logy into the pop mainstream, just as Roland Emmerich’s ‘Independence Day’ (1996) and ‘Mars Attacks!’ (1996) deliberately reverts to 1950s-style Flying Saucer terror. ‘Little green strangers in saucer-shaped lights.’ Aliens with eyes like ‘aviator shades’ that go around the side of their heads. 

In March 2007 France became the first country to fully open its UFO files to the public when a team of space agency researchers from its national space agency launched a dedicated website documenting five decades of sightings, some ten-thousand documents including photographs, police reports and witness videos. Although other countries also collect UFO data, they continue to be less admirably open, in the UK files can only be requested via the Freedom of Information Act on a case-by-case basis. Now the French ‘Office Of Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena’ offer explanations for some of the sightings – for example when a thousand people reported seeing flashing lights in the night sky one November seventeen years earlier. They were able to prove it had been rocket fragments during re-entry. But it concedes that only about 9% of French UFO cases can be explained. And of the 1,600 cases registered since 1954, nearly a quarter are subject to the Category D classification – meaning that in spite of reliable data and witnesses, the sightings remain inexplicable. The online archive is intended to be open to on-going up-dates…

‘Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely 
mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way 
down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space…’ 
(‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams) 

Like most issues of vital global importance, there are at least two takes on the dawn of the UFO phenomenon. One centres on the late 1940s. This is where it begins. This is where sightings first proliferate. Foo-Fighting in WW2 perhaps present the irresistible spectacle of human’s predilection for mass slaughter on a global scale. While the coincidence of nuclear testing, H-bombs, Hiroshima, is not – according to this theory, purely chance. With the suddenly proliferating atomic fire-crackers alerting the local galactic community-watch that a planet previously categorised as ‘mostly harmless’ now worryingly warrants closer scrutiny. Of course, Roswell is central to this thesis. A major part of UFO-ology’s twentieth-century mythology, the saucer crash and subsequent Government cover-up has been sucked into just about every Sci-Fi context, from ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ in which the ditched starship belongs to errant Ferengi, through the inevitable ‘X-Files’, ‘Dark Skies’ – and ‘Roswell High’, before you even get to Spielberg’s ‘Taken’ mini-series, and ‘Independence Day’ where shadowy agencies attempt to retro-engineer from retrieved alien technology. 

Sentience, it says, attracts sentience. Technological markers even more so. The other take goes further. The halo’s on medieval saints? – crude visual representations of space-helmets. The Biblical Ezekial’s Wheel, voices from burning bushes? All signs of alien intervention confusingly reported by confused scribes. Because we are a technologically-based society we look at strange lights in the sky and furnish technological answers. Pre-technology societies would supply answers from within their own range of references, angels, dragons, portents from the gods. Further – Erich Von Daniken sold millions of pulps on the premise that not only did the gods come from the stars, but that they actively interfered – big style, genetically modifying and shaping the Naked Apes they encountered. Again, this is territory pretty well staked out by SF hacks by way of contra-logic archivist Charles Fort. But we see unexplained lights in the sky, and we decide they are machines. Vehicles. But if they do not originate from any know source, taking into consideration the possibility of covert experimental technologies or secret weapons-systems, and if we discount unknown terrestrial sources, and there has been speculation about hidden civilisations within the hollow Earth, visitors crossing over from some alternate-dimension parallel Earth, or time-travellers from some future Earth, by a process of logical elimination, sooner or later the only theory left involves some kind of space aliens. Once we said Venus, or Mars. But advancing science has virtually eliminated the other solar system worlds as abodes of advance life. Which leaves the stars… 

15 May 1963 Major Gordon Cooper begins his twenty-two Earth orbits – the last of the solo Mercury shots, but as the mission approaches its final stages he contacts the Australian Muchea tracking station to report a ‘glowing green object’ approaching his capsule. Machea radar systems confirm his sightings. Later ‘in 1964, the first unmanned Gemini flight was followed around Earth by four UFO’s, distinctly seen on radar’ writes Eando Binder in ‘Night Of The Saucers’ (1971), ‘Ed White, James McDivitt, Frank Borman, John Young – they all reported UFO’s. And Devitt took photos of the ‘bogeys’ following his spacecraft.’ Then ‘Lunar Orbiter Two, in 1966, photographed perfectly shaped domes on the moon, and also strange spires. The domes had moved when next photographed.’ But there was still more. Commander Eugene Cernan – of Apollo 17, told a 1973 issue of the ‘Los Angeles Times’ ‘I’ve been asked (about UFO’s) and I’ve said publicly I thought they (UFO’s) are somebody else’s, some other civilisation’s.’

This is the stuff of weirdos, nerds, and socially maladjusted obsessives. But it also connects directly into the most profound questions of existence. The kind of questions primitive peoples once invented religions to answer. The ‘why are we here’, ‘what’s it all mean’ kind of questions that has philosophy cul-de-sac’d into an existential quandary. Is life something that happened once, against impossible odds, here on this one lonely third-rock-from-the-sun? If so, why? In the ‘Star Trek’ universe every star system has an ‘M’-type planet. Every ‘M’-type planet has life, usually humanoid in appearance, and sufficiently close that – after a few initial problems, by the end of the episode, they’re exchanging ambassadors and setting up trade agreements. It’s not necessarily like that. Or even something vaguely like it. 

Or then again, just maybe it is. On a BBC2-TV ‘Earth: The Power Of The Planet’, a Dr Iain Stewart explains the contradictory ‘rare earth’ theory, that we’re not intelligently designed and handcrafted by deities, but just a chancy cosmic fluke. We only arrived here because we have a nice planet. There’s enough gravity to stop air leaking into space – just look at the state Mars is in, and there’s Jupiter which fortuitously assumes the role of the system’s fat kid, becoming a magnet for stray cosmic debris that might otherwise come hurtling our way. It was a chance in a trillion that all those random numbers came up to produce complex life as opposed to just algae. Or just… nothing. Perhaps it’s only the Jurassic extinction-asteroid that uniquely determined the course of life on Earth, and if it didn’t occur elsewhere, every other inhabited world in the galaxy could be dominated by reptilian dinosaur-evolved intelligences? 

Carl Sagan says ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.’ So the reason it’s so important to find life on Mars… or even Europa, even microscopic spores of life, even microscopic spores of life which briefly flickered then died out in some lost window of Martian opportunity a thousand-million years ago, is down to odds. The odds of life appearing on a planet. To formulate a probability-equation you need more than just one base. The only world we know with certainty that has produced life, is Earth. To find that this occurred independently on two worlds in the same solar system would boost the odds that life is fairly common, and will arise whenever conditions are right. 

But even this could be deceiving. Two recent examples. The detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere which could only be the result of some kind of organic activity – or maybe not, it could be volcanic in origin. Nevertheless, tabloid front-covers follow. Earlier, a trace of supposed Martian fossil micro-biology was discovered here on Earth, within a volcanic meteorite projectile-vomited from Mars, and then attracted by terrestrial gravity. Prompting headlines. Yet that implied life within the solar system could be interactive, and arise as the result of cross-seeding across space. We could be Martians. Or vice versa. So any equation based on this premise would be skewed. But how else can we configure such a basic equation? And who – really, gives a toss, beyond geeky X-Files no-mates? Well, anyone who has ever paused to wonder briefly about what this thing called life is all about. 

People once assumed the Earth to be the centre of the universe, and everything revolved around it. Now we know better. We don’t yet know if the Earth is galactic central in that one significant sense of being home to life. It’s only relatively recent astronomical developments that have even begun to guess at the probable distribution of extra-solar planetary system. Close-scrutiny of winks and wobbles in the motion of stars indicate the presence of unseen companions that are assumed to be planetary in nature. Complex mathematics have worked out the mass and orbital distances involved. But no extra-solar planets have actually been directly observed, and the only ones so far detected have by necessity been those large enough to influence the motion of their primaries, hence most probably Jupiter-size gas-giants. Presumably, if there are gas giants, there must also be smaller rockier, more Earth-type exoplanets within the temperate ‘Goldilocks’ zone? But we can’t know for certain. Not yet. Perhaps not ever. 

The stars are a long way away. More distant than we can conceive. Perhaps there will never be Captain Kirk’s out there to bridge those vast gulfs of emptiness. Perhaps we’ll never escape the limits of the solar system. And after awhile, will no longer even consider doing it. As the cold inhospitability of space becomes more apparent, and matters on Earth take a more central urgency, we’ll look increasingly inwards, and away from the worlds of space. The opportunity will be lost forever, and the human race will live out its allotted span on this single warm planet. After all, Einsteinian science says there are certain limits that can never be exceeded. Except by some kind of hibernation-technology, or generation-ships that would take centuries to reach their destination. Others say that human will can transcend all limits. That if there are obstacles, sooner or later human ingenuity will devise a way of surmounting them. 

Either way, the future’s up for grabs. Other, older, worlds may have gone beyond those limitations already. Or they may have biology’s more adapted to centuries of travel between stars. Longer-living metabolisms given to periods of low-intake inactivity. Perhaps what we see as UFO’s are not machines, but are the organisms themselves? Astronomer Carl Sagan (9 November 1934 to 20 December 1996) co-founded the ‘Planetary Society’, a million-strong group with a worldwide membership, to promote the exploration of the solar system and the search for extraterrestrial life. But he also persuaded NASA to carry messages on its deep-space missions intended to be deciphered by any passing aliens who are curious enough to investigate the probes. There’s a gold plaque within the Pioneer-10 mission of 1972 that depicts the chemical symbol for hydrogen, a named man and woman, the position of the sun in our galaxy and a solar system schematic. Pioneer-10 should reach the star Aldebaran in about two-million years. Sagan’s interest in scouring the universe for other forms of life was crystallised in 1982 when he encouraged seventy eminent scientists to co-sign a letter to the journal ‘Nature’ making the case for SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), an organisation which sends out signals through radio telescopes, laser beams and numerous other media just in case someone out there is listening. 

David Bowie – as a student at Bromley Tech, worked with two other guys who edited a UFO-zine, claiming he’d seen alien spacecraft in the Watford area, ‘UFO’s came over Watford so regularly we used to time them’ he said, ‘I made sightings six, seven times a night for about a year when I was in the observatory. We had regular cruises that came over’. This, before the LSD had kicked in. 

Fact or fiction… men from another planet or an optical illusion? The riddle of the ‘flying saucer’ remains unsolved. And yet, for fifty years, every important government in the world has been trying to find the answer. Brilliant scientists, expert meteorologists, and top Air Force brass have worked on the problem of the ‘UFO’s – unidentified flying objects’, but remain baffled. Fiction? Well, let’s revisit some cold hard facts. Let’s time-shift back to that sunny afternoon of 7 January 1948, high up in the sky over Kentucky’s Fort Knox. Leading a flight of F51 pursuit planes, Captain Thomas F Mantell was climbing into the clouds on full boost to locate a mysterious object reported over the area. Suddenly a bright light flashed in front of his eyes, blinding him with an intense glare. Mantell knew there was no time to worry about textbook flying techniques. This was the crunch. Instant evasive action – or else…! Throwing his aircraft across the sky with brutal desperation, the pilot heard the tortured spars shrieking with strain as the Mustang fighter stood up on one wing. Sweat gleamed on his forehead as the mystery object flashed past, he could feel his hands trembling on the control column. This was the narrowest escape he’d ever had – and that included two years combat flying during the Pacific war against Japan. Reaching for his radio, he flicked the switch down – ‘Blue leader to base… the thing is definitely metallic. It’s enormous! I’m going up to 20,000 for another look. Over and out.’ Back in the control tower at Godman Base, Colonel Guy Hix listened grimly as the pilot’s laconic report crackled through the loudspeaker. He turned away from the window and joined a group of officers huddled around the radar screen. Two bright spots glowed on the flickering green tube as the giant scanner on the roof above swept across the sky. One of those spots was Mantell’s F51… but what was the other? 

‘Well, at least we know he isn’t imagining things up there’ the Colonel commented dryly as he turned away from the screen, ‘I want to hear his report immediately he gets back to base.’ But Mantell never returned. Not alive, anyway. His fighter disintegrated at 35,000ft and crashed in a million pieces. There was a full-scale investigation. Anxious newspaper-men besieged USAF HQ for details. But Mantell’s tragic death was now a top-secret matter. The journalists pressed for a story… could they see the wreckage? Officials shake their heads. Was it true the debris was radioactive? Air Force top brass refuse to answer. Every question was met with the same bland ‘No Comment’. And so the mystery remains. Over one-hundred witnesses saw the strange bright disc in the sky that day. Radar observations confirm that an unidentified object flew over Fort Knox. Captain Mantell, an experienced combat pilot, had tailed it and reported by radio on its ‘tremendous’ size. Had he flown too close and been blasted out of the sky by unknown weapons from an invading spaceship – or did he just black-out and crash through lack of oxygen? No-one has ever come up with an answer. 

Seven months later another ‘saucer’ was sighted, this time by the crew of a DC-3 airliner en route from Texas to Boston. Flying at night, the pilot suddenly saw a cylindrical object hurtling towards his aircraft on a collision course. Then, at the last moment, it jerked sideways and disappeared in a steep vertical climb. This time the object was not a disc. The pilot – Clarence S Chiles, described it as cigar-shaped with two rows of brightly-lit portholes along the side and flames belching from the tail. His co-pilot confirmed every detail of the story. Exhaustive checks by officials showed no other aircraft near the DC-3 that night and the USAF said it was not one of their rockets. Both men were experienced pilots with war-service – level-headed aviators who did not indulge in seeing fantasy objects in the night sky. Yet both persisted in their story. 

More facts? There’s no shortage when it comes to flying-saucers. In 1952 the USAF received two-thousand reports of UFO activity. Each report was checked out. The experts were able to account for 1,200 reports by known facts… but had to classify the remaining eight-hundred sightings as UNEXPLAINED. Take the case of Professor Clyde W Tombaugh. As the discoverer of dwarf-planet Pluto in 1930, the Professor was highly-regarded as an expert astronomer. Yet he saw a flying saucer on 20 August 1949, and so did two members of his family who were with him. Like the DC-3 incident, Tombaugh’s saucer was metallic and cigar-shaped, with two rows of port-holes. It remained in clear view for twenty-seconds before vanishing. 

But don’t imagine that saucers are purely an invention of the ‘Space Age’. Records reveal sightings back through many centuries of history, and they all show a remarkable similarity to recent reports. In 1873 the astonished citizens of Bonhem, Texas, watched a large torpedo-shaped object circle the skies over their town – and this was thirty years before the Wright brothers coaxed their first aeroplane off the ground. The very next day the mysterious visitor flew over Fort Scott in Kansas, starting a minor panic amongst the frightened soldiers. Only two years earlier an identical object was reported over Marseilles. Delve further into the past, Gregory of Tours mentions ‘globes of fire’ in the sky way back in AD583, and to top that, Roman writer Pliny refers to flying discs in his ‘Natural History’. British army officers saw them in the sky just before the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, and assumed it be a Napoleonic secret weapon. A famous English admiral watched a disc cross the Moon on 26 September 1870 – and there were four similar sightings that year, including one by Lord Brabazon in Berlin. In 1897 a Colonel HG Shaw described in Stockton, California’s ‘Daily Mail’ about how he and his friends fought off three tall, slender humanoids covered in fine, downy hair who were trying to accost or kidnap them. Many of these antique reports can be written off as legends and ignorance of natural phenomena. But the vast number of sightings and their strange similarity to modern observations leave a nagging suspicion that flying saucers have been seen over this planet right back to the dim and distant past. 

Fact or fiction? The balance seems decidedly skewed in favour of… something. Despite the sheer number of sightings there are few reports of landings. Most famous was the claim by George Adamski that he’d actually interacted with aliens. The incident took place in Arizona in 1952, and Adamski’s book subsequently revealed that the saucers came from Venus. French customs official, Jean Latappy, also saw a mysterious object resting on the ground at Marignane airport the same year. Experts questioned the man for hours and, although he did not claim that he’d seen a saucer, they were satisfied that he’d seen something… something which seemed inexplicable. The Marignane saucer was also cigar-shaped with four lighted windows. It made no noise and took off so rapidly that, within three seconds, it had disappeared. This is a world of anal-probes, where ‘AA’ stands for Alien Abduction.

Many theories have been advanced concerning the origins of UFO’s, and experts have spent many hours arguing about the motive-power that propels them. The most favoured is that of magnetic-force – a source of power that modern science is still investigating. If magnetic fields of force can be harnessed for the purposes of propulsion, many engineers consider that the fantastic speeds of the saucers could be achieved without the tremendous bulk necessary with rocket-technology. At present, mass is directly proportional to energy whenever acceleration is required – a fact that can be readily observed by the progressively larger rockets built during the Space Race. The use of retro-engineered magnetic force might be one way to break the mass-energy law. If saucers are powered by magnetic force – or some equally advanced system, they must come from some distant world where superior intelligences have already far surpassed human science and technology. But the fact that they’re here at all is evidence of that already… 

Or is there some other explanation? Perhaps they have come from Earth after all… but many thousands of years into the future? Are saucers, in fact, time machines? It’s an attractive, as well as an alarming, theory, but it could account for many conundrums. It could explain why saucers have been seen in the skies for many thousands of years. Surely, if they are visitors from Space they would have plucked up courage to say hello by now? But if, instead, they’re from Earth themselves they’d be able to obtain all the data they need by observation. The time-machine concept also explains why saucers have shown no aggressive intentions directed at intruders. They are here to learn – not exterminate. Many observers have been puzzled by the tremendous acceleration of the machines – but maybe that’s an illusion too. If they are time-machines then they would obviously disappear from sight as soon as they move into that dimension. In other words, the flying-saucers do not apparently disappear, they do disappear! It’s a fascinating thought. Men from the future flying back in time to watch the people on Earth, living history as it happens. See-it-yourself history lessons by flying saucer? Well, it’s an idea! 

Despite the conspiracy theorists darkest imaginings, there has been a degree of official opening up. President Jimmy Carter saw a UFO himself during a campaigning trip. It proved to be a transformational experience. He did pledge to open up the suppressed government UFO files.

(1977) Files previously held by the MoD’s special UFO department suggest that among the most credible reports was one made by an RAF pilot and two NCO’s at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland in 1977.

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