Truth: the epic struggle-UFO enthusiasts are not fooled by government cover-ups, by Emma Silvers
Setting foot inside a Sizzler late on a Sunday afternoon is a little like landing on another planet—one populated only by people 60 and older, and one that smells a lot like ranch dressing. But past the salad bar, in the back room of this particular Sizzler, a group of concerned citizens are thinking about a bit more than the buffet.
“There is just so much going on that the public doesn’t know,” says Ed McBride, spokesperson for the San Diego chapter of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). “There is, effectively, a blackout in the press when it comes to UFOs. They just don’t allow coverage, except for the giggle-giggle factor.”
Seated at a banquet table piled with fried chicken and buttered rolls, McBride and MUFON area director Mel Podell survey the room as it fills up with members. There’s an hour to go until the 6 p.m. meeting and lecture, but the optional pre-lecture dinner is pretty popular. “No one else is really doing this,” says McBride, “so [MUFON is] kind of like keepers of the flame.”
Founded in 1969, MUFON currently boasts 3,000-plus members and has chapters in every state and 33 countries worldwide. A visit to the national website uncovers such alarming truths as the fact that Dan Aykroyd is a benefactor, lifetime member and “official Hollywood consultant” of the registered nonprofit.
“We have investigators throughout the world,” says Podell, cheerfully delivering the MUFON spiel. “When there’s a sighting, they assign an area investigator to check on it, whether through a phone interview or actually going to the site, and then they’re recorded at national headquarters. It’s a great group of people—people from all walks of life.”
McBride, a former U.S. Air Force radar operator now in his 70s—and sharp as a tack—is a little more eager to talk about specific sightings and cover-ups. His interest in UFOs dates back to 1957, when the El Cajon native was stationed in an aircraft control squadron in Las Cruces, N.M. McBride says his radarscope picked up a craft flying north of Roswell, N.M., at 18,000 mph headed in the direction of San Diego. He says he immediately alerted his supervisor. “Under regulation 200-2, it should have been called in to the control center,” explains McBride. “The chief said ‘Scrap it!’ which bothered me tremendously.”
McBride’s been hooked ever since; he can reel off cover-ups of both military mistakes and alleged UFO crashes with impressive attention to detail.
After listening to McBride talk for about an hour—and, realizing that the organization boasts several ex-military men as officers—one starts to get the distinct feeling that there is a relationship between the government-sanctioned censorship these men say they witnessed in the armed forces and their current obsession with UFOs.
“The government is better than most people realize at cover-ups,” McBride says, pushing aside his cheese toast. “You know what they would do if a UFO landed in El Cajon today?” he asks. “Traffic would come to a halt, El Cajon police would rope it off, and then along would come people from some military contingent. They’d gather all the [witnesses] up and tell them, ‘Look, you didn’t see anything.’ Then they’d drag in some small plane and have camera crews take pictures of it, and the evening news would say, ‘A small plane crashed in El Cajon today.’ That would be it.”
So, why, in the era of orange alerts and people forking over their civil liberties in the name of safety, would the government go to such great lengths to keep citizens in the dark about a potential threat?
“Oh, it’s the fear factor,” says McBride. “Imagine the president coming out and saying, ‘Well, we’ve been lying to you. [The UFOs] come and go, we can’t catch them, they’ve been abducting people, we have no way of counteracting this, and we don’t know where they’re from—it’s been nice talking to you, goodnight.’
“So there’s this little play going on,” continues McBride. “They pretend they don’t exist, and we keep digging.”
But while MUFON keeps digging, it seems that actual research on where the alleged UFOs are coming from—or why—isn’t really anyone’s first priority. The “alien” part of the whole UFO equation comes almost as an afterthought.
“We don’t know where they’re from. My guess is that they’re inter-dimensional,” McBride offers casually. “They’re probably a good 3,000 to 5,000 years ahead of us. We can’t even begin to understand their knowledge.”
The vague logic behind the idea of aliens as some incredibly advanced version of humans stems from first-hand reports by alleged alien abductees; abductions, in the eyes of MUFON members, are perfectly reasonable research missions.
Whether or not the logic of MUFON is infallible, McBride is certain the government takes the organization’s work seriously enough to monitor it very closely. In 1999, McBride was featured on a Fox 6 evening news program discussing a UFO sighting. After the news aired, McBride says his phone went out for a week. He says he’s been harassed on the phone by people he believes to be government agents, and has had to change his telephone number twice because of it.
McBride says it’s the government’s attempt to control the media that worries MUFON members the most.
“They’ve decided none of this can be in the open press because they don’t like to talk about anything anymore that they can’t explain,” says McBride. “They can talk about all kinds of serial killers, JonBenet Ramsey—but they decide. That’s what scares me, more than these UFOs. They selectively decide what we’re going to have for our evening news.”
The room is almost packed by now, and waitresses are making the rounds to clear plates before today’s lecture on the wave patterns of UFO sightings over the last 50 years begins. Looking around at the crowd of what appear to be mostly blue-collar senior citizens, one can’t help but sense that a person’s interest in UFOs can stem from a wide range of needs—for some, perhaps, it’s a way to make sense of things that have happened in their lives; for others, it’s the chance to be an expert on a topic a lot of people know little about, and in doing so they feel like part of a community. In this sense, MUFON is a triumph—its members represent a true elite.
As for the common, trusting American?
“Average people in the U.S. are not going to know about this until it comes out in some big happening, and I don’t think the U.S. government wants that, because it would upset the status quo,” says McBride as the room grows quiet for the lecture. “What I call it is institutionalized denial.”
The San Diego chapter of MUFON meets the third Saturday of every other month. The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, at the banquet room of Sizzler, 3755 Murphy Canyon Road in Kearny Mesa. 760-753-2456. 11-01-06
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© 2003-2006 Southland Publishing, All Rights Reserved
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