Published: 12:16 PM 7/14/2013
By George Barnes, TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen J. Firmani, Age: 60, Resident of: Leominster, Time as ufologist: 35 years
Regular job: Residential staff at the Perkins School
Stephen J. Firmani has been involved with UFO research for more than 35 years. When he was in grade school when he defended two students who said they believed they saw an unidentified flying object.
The incident got him interested enough to visit the local library and take out a book by ufologist J. Allen Hynek. He has been involved since as an investigatory, writer, speaker and event organizer, working with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), the New England UFO Network (NEUFON) and more recently as founder and director of the World Association for Truth in Ufology (WATIU).
He is planning the New England UFO Conference at Leominster City Hall on Oct. 26 featuring physicist Stanton Friedman who uncovered information about the Roswell, N.M. incident, Kathleen Marden a UFO abduction expert and writer and investigator Peter Robbins.
Steve has been featured on television and radio shows about ufology and appeared in a documentary called strange encounters about the Barney and Betty Hill incident in Exeter, N.H.
How common are UFO sightings?
All over the United States and all over the world, you can't go a day without a UFO sighting. In New England, I was formerly director for MUFON. We were just swamped. We did not have enough investigators to cover all the sightings.
Are witnesses credible? I understand that WATIU tries to separate the credible from the non credible and educate people about what is authentic.
There are very few non credible individuals we receive sightings from. Sometimes we receive hoaxes, but it is rare. For the most part there are a lot of honest mistakes. It averages out over the course of history that 25-30 percent of the UFO sightings can't be explained and these cases are the ones that are so riveting.
What makes one sighting more credible than another for you?
The witnesses themselves are the most important thing. The witnesses' background is important, but they don't have to specifically be well educated. I look at their demeanor. You can tell when someone is being honest with you. These individuals sincerely believe they saw what they say they saw.
What do you say to the skeptics who discount the ufo sightings?
The skeptics don't look at the facts. Most skeptics are skeptical about everything - not just ufos. There is no sense arguing with them. Some people have closed minds. A lot of these people are not correctly informed or they know the facts and are ignoring the facts.
Are there local connections to major UFO incidents?
Betty Andreasson was an abductee. She was born in Leominster. Right down the street from the Knights of Columbus she had her first experience. She was on a swing in the back yard of her home and she met an extra terrestrial being. It started a lifetime for her of things that happened involving UFOs. She later moved to South Ashburnham. A movie was made about the incident.
How do you respond to people who say that people who believe in UFOs are crackpots and on the fringe?
Number one, they say that because of all the garbage programs that are on television, all the conspiracy theorists and all the wild stories that just make no sense. You have contactees and you have abductees. The abductees are believable, sincere individuals. Contactee is a type of new age thing - the type of people who say they are coming to save us from ourselves, blah, blah, blah. There is a stark difference between the two.
What evidence would convince you absolutely about UFOS.
Full disclosure by the government, for the government to have the will to come out and say what is going on.
Photographic evidence is often fuzzy. What is being done to better document UFOs?
We have photo and video analysts at MUFON. Marc D'Antonio is the chief photo/video analyst for MUFON. He is working with scientists to create little things the size of dinner plates they can put on mountain tops that are going to search for what I call the extra-terrestrial "wow" signal.
They will be able to identify aircraft and all other things in the sky. They will also be able to identify if it is not of a normal nature.
Do you solicit UFO sightings from people or do they just contact you?
On the MUFON website www.mufon.com, they have a section that says, "report a UFO." As soon as you enter the information and click to submit a notice, it is text messaged to the state director of the state where the incident occurred so he or she knows there is a case.
Contact George Barnes at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @georgebarnesTG