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UFO Casebook Magazine Issue 443, Issue date, 02-07-11

(Comments section now available at bottom of page)

1961 Police UFO Sighting in San Francisco
Jim Mead
Published: January 27, 2011

Submitted by Javier Ortega

Retired police officer, Jim Mead, talks about a strange UFO encounter he had while working as a security guard in San Francisco, CA, 1961. The sighting left him with a more open-minded view of life.

Mr. Mead said that the craft was hovering silently for a few seconds while flashing brilliant lights. It suddenly zipped away at an incredible speed.

I find these types of reports interesting. When police officers reports these sightings of UFOs, it’s worth taking note. They are trained observers, so most of their reports are very detailed.

By Dave Masko on 2011-01-27

REEDSPORT, Ore. – It’s been 50 years since Jim Mead witnessed his first close encounter with a UFO in a suburb of San Francisco while serving as a night watchman; now, looking back at that 1961 UFO sighting, Mead realizes that “it changed me for the better because it gave me a third-eye and opened my mind to a much bigger universe where we’re a part of it.” Remembering a UFO sighting 50 years later

Having a “third eye,” or an inner eye that expands clairvoyance has long been viewed as a perk for those who’ve had a close encounter or witnessed a UFO. The third eye is also an ancient and mystical concept that’s tied to certain Eastern and Western spiritual traditions.

“I was working as a security guard at a Montgomery Ward store outside of San Francisco. It was late at night and over the parking lot was a huge disc hovering with bright lights. There was no sound. It was also silent. It hovered for awhile and then went straight-up, sideways and disappeared. I will never forget it,” says Mead, who later became a L.A. police officer and then a psychologist before retiring due to a stroke.

He now lives in Reedsport, and operates an antique store.

When discussing this close encounter, Mead says he still feels apprehension and a faint though distant nervous anxiety.

“Seeing something like that never leaves you,” he says with a look that’s compassionate, troubled and still. “At the time, I told my supervisor and he saw it also. But, we decided not to tell anyone because, after all this was the early Sixties, and people would have thought us nuts,” Mead adds.

As for how this UFO sighting has impacted his life, Mead said it simply makes him feel more aggressive and alive, and he was almost up on his toes telling this story about something that happened 50 years ago.

“Seeing it changed me,” he adds while pointing to his career choices afterwards. Mead said it “somehow” opened my eyes, or gave him a third-eye that served him well as a police officer in Los Angeles and later as a psychologist investing child abuse cases.

“I was able to see the evil in a person’s eyes, and just know what was on the up and up and what was not real or truthful. It was certainly one of those life moments that you never forget,” he says.

Today, Mead still thinks his story about his first UFO sighting seems too fragile for a world that spends more time debunking than proving alien life on Earth is real, and here now.

“Why is the government, and world governments not telling us the truth about UFOs,” asks the former cop as he smiles suggestively. “Maybe it’s because nobody will believe it, and that’s the best way to cover something up. Simply admit it’s crazy and unbelieveable.”

There are no easy or clear answers as to why Mead’s question remains unanswered now 50 years later, despite the intense scrutiny of the UFO community to prove the authenticity of decades of UFO evidence.

It’s also interesting to note that Mead’s 1961 UFO sighting happened at a time in the early 1960’s when “Project Blue Book” was being criticized by politicians, scientists and law enforcement that told the public it was just pie in the sky, and not real.

Still, there’s always been conspiracy theories about UFOs that simply won’t go away, says Mead.

Reedsport community has long been a UFO sighting center

A news story in a local Bend, Oregon, newspaper from back in 1949 noted pairs of disc-shaped UFOs “dancing” in the sky over Bend. During this say period, these disc-shaped UFOs were spotted up and down the ancient and winding Umpqua River that runs past Reedsport where Mead now lives.

While Reedsport has long been considered a timber town, that’s not been the case over the past few decades with the collapse of the Oregon timber industry. Today, it’s a quiet town that sits on the estuary of the Umpqua River where ancient Native American tribes once lived.

Steve Hallett is a retired logger from the region who’s hobby is collecting artifacts of the Lower Umpqua Native American tribe that “worshipped the hovering flying discs.”

Hallett points to Native American oral history records that go back to the 1850’s “where the Indians would speak of seeing the lights over their river.

Moreover, when the town of Reedsport was first established and named for a local settler, Alfred W. Reed, historical records state that Reed noted the local Indians fascination with “lights in the sky.”

permanent link: http://www.ufocasebook.com/2011/1961policesightingsanfrancisco.html

source & references:


Study Closes Hole in 'Hole-Punch' Cloud Theory
UFO Depiction
Published: 11:32 AM 2/3/2011

By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

The truth is up there — and it isn't alien spaceships or covert government operations.

Hole-punch clouds, which have long fascinated the public, are likely caused by airplanes taking off or landing.

"Hole punch" clouds, so named for gaps in clouds that appear to be made by a giant hole punch, have fascinated and worried people around the world for decades, leading to speculation about UFOs and other sinister plots.

In October 2009, a hole-punch cloud caused a furor in Russia, sparking such headlines as "UFO cloud hovers over Moscow" in the China Daily newspaper.

Now a study led by scientist Andrew Heymsfield of the Boulder, Colo.-based National Center for Atmospheric Research found that airplanes taking off or landing are the likely cause of these cloud holes. The airplanes can also cause additional rain or snow to fall after creating the holes.

The research determined that precipitation is triggered by water droplets at extremely cold temperatures, below about 5 degrees. As the air is cooled behind the planes, the water droplets freeze and drop toward Earth.

RESEARCH: Can whiter clouds reduce global warming?

"Anytime aircraft fly through these specific conditions, they are altering the clouds in a way that can result in enhanced precipitation nearby," Heymsfield says.

Through this inadvertent "cloud seeding" process, planes also leave holes or channels in the clouds.

"Any airplanes, whether jet or propeller, can make these things," Heymsfield says. "They often occur near the end of airport runways." Common locations are across the southern USA, he says.

Heymsfield's discovery was made after flying aboard a research aircraft near Denver in December 2007 when he and his colleagues observed a cloud hole, along with snow that fell after other airplanes passed through the clouds.

Because the hole was oriented in the same direction as the flight tracks of commercial airplanes in the area, Heymsfield surmised that an airplane flying through the cloud likely caused ice particles to form and "snow out" along its path, leaving a hole-punch cloud behind.

The snowfall, in a band about 20 miles long and 2.5 miles wide, continued for about 45 minutes, leaving about 2 inches of new snow on the ground directly under the hole. There was only very light snow elsewhere in the area, Heymsfield says, and none that accumulated.

"This tells us that the aircraft literally 'seeded' the cloud just by flying through it," he says.

Could airplanes inadvertently be adding to the USA's precipitation totals each year?

"Although this process might not generate much additional snow over the USA each year, where it could have an effect is at airports in the wintertime when there might be instances that de-icing operations are needed," he says.

As far back as the 1940s, scientists have wondered about the causes of these clouds.

"These holes did not exist before planes," Heymsfield says. "Before World War II, there were no documented sightings or reports of these clouds."

The study appeared in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

permanent link: http://www.ufocasebook.com/2011/wholepunchcloud.html

source & references:


Is There Evidence that We are Not Alone?
Alien Depiction
Published: Jan 28, 2011

Russell Vallimont

There are many stories about alien encounters, abductions, UFO's sightings. But is there any credible evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence?

When engaging in an introductory level study of astrobiology, it's difficult to avoid a serious consideration of the question, "are we alone in the universe?" The grassroots of those who study UFO's have long asserted that the earth has been visited by extraterrestrial visitors.

Such assertions are echoed by xenobiologists who hypothesize ancient astronauts are the source of gods and mega-minds of ancient history.

Conspiracy buffs like to add that alien visitations are kept secret by NASA and other government agencies who know better. There's alleged abductions and encounters, and unconventional aerial and aquatic vehicles which is claimed as evidence that aliens are among us.

Then there's the NASA astronauts who support offering their own unexplained experiences (The Truth Behind UFO Sightings and the U.S. Air Force).

But is there any credibility to these assertions? Is there empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that we have been visited by advanced civilizations from an extra solar planet? Or is the whole idea of extraterrestrial aliens complete scientific nonsense?

As opposed to the more historical "Rare Hypothesis", more optimistic theories by astrobiologists about life in the universe offer more intriguing considerations. They begin with a hypothesis, based on the Drake Equation, that life and advanced civilizations exist in the galaxy.

The Drake Equation uses a series of hypothetical factors as variables in an equation which generates the probability of life and intelligent civilizations. These hypothetical variables are not facts, they are guestimates used to test the reasonableness of the Drake Equation using offering conditions necessary for the processes of life.

If we are looking for planets with proper conditions to foster life, the highest probability of life appears to be in region within galaxies in which well-spaced, main sequence stars reside. Areas too to the center of the galaxy reside in a star crowded zone, filled with high frequency radiations which are unfriendly to life. Areas too far from the center lack the heavier elements for the formation of complex organic molecules.

Stars in the middle of these regions are spared the intense high frequency radiation, but possess non-hydrogen elements for the formation of the essentials molecules of life. This raises their probability for harboring life. This region is known as the galactic habitable zone.

The Follow-Up Reasoning

If there is life in the universe, even the simplest of life, then there is evolution. If there is evolution of life, then it's reasonable to postulate intelligent life. Given the natural evolution of intelligent life, the emergence of star faring civilizations makes for a reasonable hypothesis.

Stars in our region of space are millions, even billions of years older than our own sun. If evolution moves on a relatively common timeline, then it is likely that intelligent life emerged on a timeline similar to that of our planet. Intelligent life might arise about 4.5 billion years after the birth of these stars.

Because of the relative age of the stars in the galaxy's habitable zone, life on a typical star of the zone has a 1.8 billion year head start. If that's true, then intelligent life could have developed into an advanced, space faring civilization with ancient astronauts, long before humans even walked on two legs (1.8 Gigayear ET Technology Gap).

Does this list of hypotheticals, "if-and-then statements", and reasonable guestimates count as empirical evidence? Most scientists and academics would say that such chains of unsupported logic are simply speculation. Others consider it the stuff of science fiction, pseudo-histories and imagination.

Whether one engages in the speculation, or stays with the empirical facts, when considering all these ideas, the greatest intrigue is that truth is greater than fiction. It is the unraveling of such mysteries which push us on into the unknown.

Mr. V--

permanent link: http://www.ufocasebook.com/2011/isthereevidence.html

source & references:


The Continued Reports of Extremely Strange UFOs
UFO Depiction
Published: 3:17 PM 2/1/2011

Recently I wrote an article about reports I was receiving describing odd, large, building size and shape UFOs being seen all over the world. I found the reports strange and thought they were very rare.

As soon as I published that article, new reports started to come in concerning this type of sighting. I realized that this may not be as rare as I assumed.

I also found a thread running through each report stating that since the people who witnessed these strange craft never heard about anyone else seeing them, they remained silent about their encounter. Once they read others also were encountering these odd, large craft or floating structures they decided to come forward by sharing their experience.

I think this may be a case of a strangeness that has been swept under the carpet by way of its odd appearance and fear of ridicule by those seeing them. I do think they are uncommon, but feel there are enough people on this planet who have seen them to realize this is another face of the UFO subject that simply has been neglected.

I do not know what the people are seeing. They all report what appears to be a building-type structure floating where buildings or any structure should not be - yet there they are!

I have no idea if these structures are huge alien craft, our own military black ops, or something that we have not even named or categorized yet. They may be dimensional or holograms or projections of some kind.

I have no clear theory or explanation for what is being seen. I do know people are seeing these things all over the world. I believe I once read that ancient civilizations left references to flying buildings, however, I am not sure of the source or if that was correctly translated over history. I do know people in our time are seeing these strange structures.

I will present to you the reports I have been sent concerning these strange structures. I always protect the identity of those who are gracious enough to share their encounters with us. I am not interested in destroying privacy or lives I am only interested in what they have seen. Sharing the knowledge of what is being witnessed is far more important than ripping apart someone's privacy.

I will start with the most recent reports including the original article sightings below the new reports for those who did not read my original article on this strange subject.

Here are the new reports recently sent in concerning this new type of craft or structure:

Hi Chris,

I just read your article about big rectangle building-looking UFOs on one of the paranormal sites on the Internet. In Sept. 2004 I saw a tennis-court size building floating over northeast Charlotte, North Carolina.

It was broad daylight about 5:00 PM, during rush hour traffic. I was driving very slowly on an exit ramp off of route I-85 North. I did not have the sense at the time to look around to see if anybody else saw it.

This strange UFO had 6 or 7 floors. It was encased in reflective panels like you would see in a skyscraper. It made no sound. I reported this to NUFORC at the time. My account is listed there.



Next came this strange report:

Chris Holly

On August 8, 2008 I was on a 8:30 AM break at work. I worked 5 miles north of downtown Ft. Worth ,Texas, at the time. I was staring out the back door of my workplace looking toward the skyline.

Suddenly I saw a huge, grey object slowly moving across the sky from East to West. The sighting lasted for about 35 seconds.

The object looked like a 3-level parking garage. I could see sky light through horizontal slits in its structure. I did not see any lights on the structure. I did not hear any sound, however, I think it was too far away for me to hear from that distance in the early active morning.

I think it was about 1/4 mile away. From what I could tell it was approximately 150 ft in length and about 60 ft in height. I would say it was moving along the skyline about 30 mph.

I watched as it began to move or float behind the building next door to it. I ran to tell the two other workers who were also on break who were located in a different part of our workplace to take a look at this odd thing moving through the sky.

It had moved behind another building. We waited for whatever it was to move into view again. That did not happen. The thing just disappeared. It was simply gone!

My co-workers made a big joke of it. I will tell you the sight of that thing plagued me for quite a while.

I had almost given up thinking about it until I viewed Episode 20 of UFO Hunters on the History Channel and couldn't believe that they were talking about nearly the same thing I had seen.

I always wondered if I would ever see a bona fide UFO. I really had my doubts. I never thought I would see one in the form of a floating, grey building structure. I just think of this as more strange things that go on out there. Wonders never cease.



I find all of these sightings very strange and frightening. I have to wonder what and how many beings or inhabitants may be housed in these structures. Could they be transporting hundreds if not thousands of alien life forms?

Could it be a dimensional craft? Can this be top secret military experiments? The report below I find very interesting as it shows that this is an ongoing mystery. This sighting happened only a few days ago.

Ms. Holly

Somebody gave me you article concerning floating building UFOs.

Monday afternoon I was on a plane coming from Dallas to Houston. I was on the 3:00 PM Southwest flight #50 from Dallas to Houston January 24, 2011. It was approximately 3:35 - 3:50 PM.

As we approached Houston we entered a storm and some heavy clouds. I looked out of my window and I saw what looked like the top of a radio tower with 3 spires pointing up sticking out of the clouds.

It was not moving and very close to the airplane - maybe 200-300 meters, tops. I thought to myself that we must be really close to the ground in this thick fog and I was seeing the top of a building.

The plane then went through another break in the clouds, and I could see the ground around 20,000 feet below us.

I am not aware of any radio towers that tall or big. What I saw was big, probably the size of a small house (800 - 1200 sq ft) base with 3 long spires sticking out the top (sort of like the San Francisco tower). The spires were about the length of an interstate light pole with other things hanging off of it.

The rest of it was in the clouds below and I could not see it. It was dark grey like a titanium wedding ring color. I watched it from the time it came to view in the front of the window and continued to look at it until we went into a new cloud bank.

It wasn't moving, so it was like flying by a building 15 - 30 seconds. A few people looked concerned/confused on the plane. I should have stopped and asked the pilot, but in all honesty I was a little bit worried about asking around. Nothing personal, but I never thought I would see something in the air or be on a UFO web page asking about it.

I can assure you it was not an illusion or reflection. It was solid as a rock and not obscured. It was just like staring at a building as you fly by. There were no flashing lights or anything like that. I did try and take a picture but my phone didn't boot in time.



Below find the original reports I included in my first article concerning other strange structure sightings:

The Canada wilderness report was of a large rectangle sized building covered in bright white light that hovered silently over the tree tops. The man who encountered this large object did not see a base of the object on the ground. He saw this huge structure hovering behind his tree line at the back of one of his fields.

The man noticed a bright light coming from one of his back fields as he stood on the porch of his home located deep in a sparsely populated part of the middle of Canada in the northern part of the country.

The man knew there were no lights or source for the light that he could see brightly shining from his field. He got into his truck and drove to the field to see what was generating the light. When he arrived he saw just above the tree line, in the back area of his field, a large rectangle fully lit structure.

He said it looked like a building that was aglow. He immediately became frightened as he had no idea what this structure was or why it was in his field. He had a camera in his truck and quickly took a photo of the event.

The man became extremely frightened at this point, as he realized this object seemed to be hovering behind his tree line. The structure was the size of a large building. He did not want to risk facing whatever it was that may be in this craft alone. He knew he was alone in the middle of the wilderness.

He jumped into his truck and returned to his house. The light eventually went out. The man returned to the field to investigate the encounter the next day but did not find anything out of the ordinary.

This man is a very private person ,which is why he lives in this desolate area and is very concerned for his privacy. He was very hesitant to share his story and his photo.

After thinking about what he encountered, he came forward in order to warn others about the strangeness he encountered. He refuses to talk about the event, and does not want any attention brought to his private property or private life.

This is the photo from the Canada sighting of the actual craft taken by man in his field.

Canada Photo

The Canadian report was the first I ever heard or reported concerning large building-size UFOs. It was about a year later that I was contacted by another man who reported a far stranger event in hopes I had heard of others like it. This man had not seen nor heard of the Canadian report.

The man told me that the event he was reporting happened to his mother while she was traveling along a highway in southwest Texas. The year was 1999 and it was in the fall.

The man's mother was driving along the highway she traveled frequently very late at night. It was a very dark night. As she drove, she noticed just to the side of the road some lights that looked like the lit windows of a tall building.

She knew there weren't any buildings anywhere near where she was driving. In fact the only place near where a building like the one she was looking at was located was a good 50 miles away.

The woman drove past the building amazed at the fact it was standing in the middle of nowhere. After she drove past, it she pulled over as her curiosity got the better of her to get a look at this strange sight. She got out of her car to get a better look at this misplaced building.

The woman told her son that the building was the size of a 7 or 8 story building. She told him the windows were rectangle in shape and well lit from the inside.

There was no sound at all coming from the building. As the woman stood looking at the huge structure of windows she realized she could almost make out the interior of the building. She also realized she could not make out the definite lines of the exterior of the building or see the base where it was attached to the earth.

As the woman stood next to her car she realized the structure seemed to simply be floating next to the road. This startled and upset the woman. She jumped back into her car and drove away. She looked back numerous times in her rear view mirror to find she could not see the building, the windows, or the lights anywhere behind her.

According to her son, this woman is a stable, normal woman who does not follow flights of fancy or have any interest in subjects considered paranormal. She does remain fixed in her report that she did see this structure floating along the side of the highway.

Her son drove back to the location a few different times searching for clues to what his mother could have seen that day. He did not find anything usual or any structure of any kind in the area.

I have no idea what this woman witnessed that day. She did not have a photo or a witness to add to her report. I thought it may have been a daydream, or a hallucination, or something of that nature. I also realized it could have been a military operation, a hologram, or an actual ship of some kind that are rarely seen by human eyes.

I did not think about this report too much again until I received other reports equally as odd. I opened my email one day to find this report:

Hi Chris,

In 1988 while living in Colorado, I witnessed the strange sight of a large building floating in the air with my wife. My wife and I had a store in a small town in Southern Colorado at the time. It was located in a town that roll up the streets at 9 PM.

We lived in an apartment above our store. Late one evening we looked out the window to find a very large, bigger than football field, boxy craft with numerous block-type projections all over it moving behind a small mountain at the edge of town.

It was approximately 2-3 blocks away from the store. There was no sound at all. It moved very smoothly. It was very close to the ground.

We thought it must be a government project because it was moving over the mountains outside of town that is surrounded with government signs warning they would shoot if anyone entered the area. We only saw this happen once but knew it was strange. Someone somehow was moving a huge building effortlessly without noise or fanfare over the mountain range.

Anyway for what it is worth, that is what we saw.

After this email I started to think that something very odd was happening that we were all missing. It is without question possible that these events were black op projects. It could also be a hologram event or a large UFO craft we have yet to see often.

Who is behind these building size crafts is anyone's guess. Could it be we have the ability to move entire structures in this manner? Can we be projecting them to give the illusion of cities or towns where none exist, or can they be actual crafts of another visiting species that are being moved about? I just do not know.

The next report was sent to me which I truly found incredible. At first I thought it was a joke until I had a few more contacts with the people who sent it and realized they were serious and unsure what the odd object was that they had seen.

This article was sent to me from UFO sightings, Devon England.


Day/night: Dusk about 20:00hrs

Duration: 15-20 minutes

No. of Objects: Single

No. of Witnesses: 3

Full Description & details:

This craft was amazing an L-shaped building complete with balconies at the rear (three of them). Below the balconies were two mesh dishes shaped similar to butterfly wings. These were pulsing a blue/purple light and seemed to be propelling the craft.

Underside we saw three white lights with huge pipes between them. There were two lights at the rear and one light at the front. Also every straight edge was like a fluorescent tube.

UFO Depiction The craft looked as if constructed of concrete with a yellow appearance. This craft emitted a heavy electrical humming noise as it passed over about fifty feet in the air. The building was about 6 stories high and moving along at about 50 miles per hour at top speed.

I will let the above report stand on its own merit. I have no idea at all what the people are seeing. I realize the reports are coming from all over the world concerning the floating building structures, and realize they are to be considered until otherwise explained unidentified floating objects or UFF!

At this time I can only wonder if this type of craft or sighting will become more widespread or if they will remain far and view apart. Time will answer that question. I am sure we all can come up with countless theories to what these people encountered. I think it is another warning to us all to be alert and aware of our surroundings and to be prepared to catch what you may encounter on your camera if possible.

The road to figuring out what is going on out there is to join together with evidence and unity. We also need to demand our questions be answered and our sightings investigated and taken seriously.

I find these reports to be extremely strange and intriguing. I have no idea at all what is going on. I do know something unexplained and odd is being seen all over the world. If we all continue to pay attention to our surroundings we have a chance one day of figuring out what all this strangeness is and where these odd structures, crafts, UFOs are coming from and why.

I will continue to bring updates on this subject and continue to bring all new reports sent to me to my readers attention. I truly believe once the UFOs turn into building-size structures it is long overdue for us to find answers.

For now watch for those flying buildings!

Copyright © 2011

Chris Holly's Paranormal World


email chrishollyufo@yahoo.com

permanent link: http://www.ufocasebook.com/2011/flyingbuildings.html

source & references:

Submitted to UFO Casebook by


Shaun Ryder Has Seen a UFO
Shaun Ryder
Published: February 2nd, 2011

by Lisa McGarry

Shaun Ryder has claimed that he has seen a UFO.

The Happy Mondays singer – who was runner up on last year’s series of I’m A Celebrity – is “convinced” he once saw a spacecraft in his hometown of Salford, Manchester, in England, and now he can’t get enough al all things extraterrestrials.

He said in an interview with Q magazine: “I’ve seen a couple of things which defy explanation. They were not craft from this planet.

“It was in the late 70s in Salford. Lots of other people – including police officers – saw it too. Darting craft that came close and then zoomed off.

“I’m not kidding you, I am convinced they were UFOs. A lot of people would say, ‘Why would extraterrestrials from an advanced civilisation come to Salford?’ Well, there’s quite a lot you can learn about humanity in Salford.

“It was very strange and it has stayed with me. And no, I wasn’t off my head.”

Although Shaun admits to an interest in alien life forms, he is sceptical about lots of other unexplainable phenomenon.

He added: “Some of it is a load of old BS. There are people who go out there and create crop circles just to get people excited.”

permanent link: http://www.ufocasebook.com/2011/shaunryder.html

source & references:


Archived Case of the Week

The Men in Black
Submitted by Linda Murphy

"MONSTERS: Giants and Little Men From Mars"

DELL Publications (paperback) (C) 1975

Written by: Daniel Cohen

Chapter 10 "The Men in Black and Other Terrors"

When the Condon Committee was sampling public attitudes toward UFOs they gave this statement to a cross section of the American Public: A government agency maintains a Top Secret file of UFO reports that are deliberately withheld from the public."

The respondents were supposed to answer TRUE or FALSE. A substantial majority, sixty-one percent, thought that the statement was true while only thirty-one percent said it was false. Among teenagers, the credibility gap was even wider -- 73 percent believed the statement to be true.

General opinion studies conducted by the Condon Committee, and other surveys about UFO's came up with the rather paradoxal fact that there were more people who believed in a conspiracy of silence about UFOs than believed in UFOs in the first place.

It has often been said that we Americans today are a bit paranoid; that we always tend to believe that something is out to get us, or something is being kept from us. It certainly seems that we were a bit paranoid about UFOs.

Most people thought vaguely in terms of an Air Force conspiracy or a CIA conspiracy or even of a world-wide scientific conspiracy. It was generally acknowledged that the reason behind such a conspiracy was a desire on the part of those in power to hide the "truth" fro the public because people would panic if they knew that we really were being visit by superior creatures from another world.

Conspiracy theorists constantly harkened back to the old "War of the Worlds" broadcast, and the panic it started. Such a belief, however, is rather too simple for the true connoisseur of conspiracies. He has long ago rejected the simple, straightforward Air Force - CIA - science establishment - cover-up as too obvious, and really rather ridiculous.

The conspiracy connoisseur pointed out quite correctly that no government or group, no matter how powerful, could possibly suppress so much sensational information for so long -- no earthly group that is.

If the extraterrestrials WANTED to make themselves known then they would land in a central place, and all the feeble earthly cover-up would simply be blown away.

It is out of this sort of background that the legend of the Men in Black arose. It concerns strange little men in dark suits who drive around in big shiny cars and harass people who claimed to have seen a UFO.

The origin of the Men in Black legend can be pin-pointed fairly exactly. Back in 1953 a man by the name of Albert K. Bender was running an organization called the International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB) and editing a little publication called "Space Review" that was dedicated to news of flying saucers.

The IFSB had a small membership despite its rather grandiose title, and "Space Review" reached at best, no more than a few hundred readers. But they were all deeply devoted to the idea that flying saucers were craft from outer space.

In common with other true believers, these saucer buffs were convinced that they were in possession of a great truth, while most of the rest of the world remained in darkness and ignorance.

They felt very important , and thus it was with a sense of surprise, even shock, that they opened up the October 1953 issue of "Space Review" and found two unexpected announcements:

"LATE BULLETIN. A source which the IFSB considers very reliable has informed us that the investigation of the flying saucer mystery and the solution is approaching its final stages."

"This same source to whom we had referred data, which had come into our possession, suggested that it was not the proper method and time to publish the data in 'Space Review'."

The second and more shocking item read:

"STATEMENT OF IMPORTANCE: The mystery of the flying saucers is no longer a mystery. The source is already known, but any information about this is being withheld by order from a higher source. We would like to print the full story in "Space Review", but because of the nature of the information we are very sorry that we have been advised in the negative."

The statement ended with the ominous sentence, "We advice those engaged in saucer work to please be very cautious." Bender then suspended the publication of "Space Review", and dissolved the IFSB.

The tone of the announcements would have been familiar to anyone who had much experience with occult organizations. Occultists often claim they are in the possession of some great secret which, for equally secret reasons, they cannot reveal.

Even the appeal, "please be very cautious" was not unique. It made those engaged in "saucer work" feel more important . After all, who is going to bother to persecute you if you are just wasting your time?

The Men in Black Shortly after Bender closed down his magazine and organization he gave an interview to a local paper which he asserted the he had been visited by "three men wearing dark suits" who had order him "emphatically" to stop publishing material about flying saucers.

Bender said that he had been "scared to death" and that he "actually couldn't eat for a couple of days." Some of Bender's former associates tried to press for a more satisfactory explanation, but to all questions he replied either cryptically or not at all.

This state of affairs created considerable confusions among the flying saucer buffs. What were they to think about such a strange story> Some were openly skeptical of Bender's tale.

They said that his publication and organization were losing money and the tale of the three visitors who "ordered" him to stop publishing was just a face-saving gesture. Yet, as the years went by the "three Men in Black" began to sound more respectable and they took on a life of their own.

Some were Bender's friends first thought that the Men in Black were from Air Force or the CIA, and indeed Bender's original statements do seem to sound like government agents. But after a while the Men in Black begun to assume a more extraterrestrial, even supernatural air.

Finally in 1963, a full decade after he first told of his mysterious visitors, Alber Bender elaborated further in a book called "Flying Saucers and the Three Men in Black." It was a strange, confused and virtually unreadable book that revealed very little in the way of hard facts, but did significantly enhance the reputation of the Men in Black as extraterrestrials.

The book also introduced into the lore "three beautiful women, dressed in tight white uniforms." Like their male counterparts in black, the women in white had "glowing eyes."

But even before the publication of Bender's book in 1963, the Men in Black (or MIBSs as they are know to insiders) had already been reported to be vising others besides Albert Bender.

By now they have been reported so often that they have become an established part of the UFO history. The Men in Black, naturally enough, wear black suits. They also usually wear sunglasses, presumably to disguise their "glowing eyes". Most of them are reported to be short and delicately built with olive complexions and dark, straight hair.

They are often described as "Gypsies" or "Orientals". Most MIBS are reported to travel in groups of three and usually ride around in shiny new black cars -- often Cadillacs. These cars are even supposed to "smell new." Sometimes the MIBs pose as investigators from the CIA or some other government agency.

They may flash official-looking credentials, but these can never be checked out. Occasionally the MIBs display badges with strange emblems on them, or have unrecognizable symbols painted on their cars. The purpose of the visits seems to be to get people who have seen UFOs to stop talking about them, or somehow to confuse and frighten the witnesses.

People who worry about MIBs tend to lump all sorts of mysterious visitors into the category, even if they don't wear black, have glowing eyes or show any of the familiar MIB characteristics.

The primary qualification for the Men in Black is that they be of unknown origin, and that they appear to act oddly and vaguely menacing.

Some of those who write about UFO's and other strange phenomena rather casually mention "countless" cases where people have been visited by Men in Black. In reality these "countless" cases are difficult to pin down.

In fact, there really seems to be a rather small number of MIB cases where there are any details available at all.

The impression given by the writers is that the publicized cases represent only "the tip of the iceberg." Beyond these, say the writers, are many "more sensational" cases, the details of which cannot be revealed for a variety of reasons.

In any event solid evidence for a vast number of MIB cases is lacking. But we are, after all, dealing with beliefs as much as with reality, and impression is an important one. Often the MIB cases that we know of are not quite as sensational as Albert Bender's three visitors, but they are unsettling nevertheless. Take the case of California highway inspector Rex Heflin.

On August 3, 1965, Heflin claimed to have taken a series of Polaroid photos of a UFO from his car while parked near the Santa Ana Freeway.

The pictures were quite clear and they showed an object shaped rather like a straw hat apparently floating above the ground. These pictures got a great deal of publicity, and are still among the most recently reprinted UFO photos.

Heflin's story was investigated by the Air Force shortly after it became known. It was also looked into by investigators for the Condon Committee during their inquiry.

(The committee investigator produced a pretty fair imitation of the photos by suspending the lens cap of his camera in front of his car with a thread and photograph it through the car window). In addition, a host of unofficial UFO groups tackled the case in their own way.

The Men in Black There was considerable suspicion on the part of official investigators that the photos had been faked, but this was difficult to prove or disprove without the original prints. Being Polaroid photos there were no negative.

Heflin said that he had turned over three of the four originals to a man (or two men, the stories differ) who claimed that he represented the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD).

NORAD denied that they had ever sent out an investigator or indeed that they had the slightest interest in the photos. The mysterious person who is alleged to have taken the photos has never been identified.

On October 11, 1967, over two years after Heflin's original sighting, but while the Condon investigation was going on, Heflin reported another encounter with mysterious visitors. A man who said that he was Captain C. H. Edmonds of the Space Systems Division, Systems Command, a unit of the Air Force that had been involved in the first investigation of his UFO photos, came to his home.

During the interview the man who called himself Captain Edmonds asked Heflin if he wanted his original photos back. When Heflin said no, the man was "visibly relieved." Inexplicably, the man then began discussing the Bermuda Triangle.

This is an area near the island of Bermuda where a number of mysterious disappearances of airplanes and shops have been reported. These disappearances have been linked by some to UFOs, though the connection does not seem very convincing.

While this strange interview was going on Heflin said that he saw a car parked in the street. It had some sort of lettering on the front door but he could not make it out. To quote the Condon Report description of the incident, "In the back seat could be seen a figure and a violet (not blue) glow, which the witness attributed to instrument dials.

He believed he was being photographed or recorded. In the meantime his FM multiplex radio was playing in the living room and during the questioning it made several loud audible pops." All attempts by the Air Force, various civilian researchers and the Condon Committee itself to find "Captain C. H. Edmonds" failed. As far as can be determined, no such person has ever existed.

A much more bizarre story was supposedly told by an unnamed family who had sighted a UFO. Sometime after the sighting they said that they were visited by a very strange individual. Ivan Sanderson, who reported the incident in his book "Uninvited Visitors", described the individual thus:

"... almost seven feet tall, with a small head, dead white skin, enormous frame, but pipe stem limbs." This oddity said he was an insurance investigator and that he was looking for someone who had the same name as the husband of this family.

He indicated that the man he was looking for had inherited a great deal of money. Continued Sanderson, "This weird individual just appeared out of the night wearing a strange fur hat with a vizor and only a light jacket.

"He flashed an official-looking card on entry but put it away immediately. Late on when he removed his jacket he disclosed an official looking gold shield on his shirt which he instantly covered with his hand and removed."

The strange visitor asked some personal questions about the family, but nothing at all about the UFOs. The creepiest part of the whole affair came when the eldest daughter of the family notices that the "investigator's" tight pants had ridden up his skinny leg, and she saw a green wire running out of his sock, up his leg and into his flesh at two points.

After the interview the "investigator" got into a large black car which contained at least two other persons, and seemed to appear on an old dirt road that led from the woods. The car drove off into the night with its headlights off.

The Men in Black In addition to scaring and intimidating people, visits of MIBs are also supposed to produce a variety of unpleasant physical symptoms. Bender said he suffered from headaches, lapses of memory and was plagued by strange odors following the first visit of the Men in Black.

Others who say they have had similar visitations have made similar complaints. Another eerie thing attributed to MIB types, it the ability to look like anyone they want to. Some UFO researchers claim that MIBs have bee posing as THEM in order to silence potential witnesses. John Keel, who has written a number of UFO books, said that he had encountered people who refused to believe that he was who he said he was.

"Later contactees (those who say the are somehow or another in contact with the space people) began to whisper to local UFO investigators that the real John Keel had been kidnaped by a flying saucer and that a cunning android who looked just like me had been substituted in my place. Incredible though it may sound, this was taken very seriously, and later even some of my more rational correspondents admitted that they carefully compared the signatures on my current letters with pre-rumor letters they had received."

As we said earlier, each era tries to explain strange encounters in terms of its own system of beliefs. I have been struck by the similarity of some of these MIB cases with medieval tales of encounters with the devil or some of his demons.

The devil, for example, was very often described as a man dressed in black. The ability to change shape and appear in any form was commonly attributed to demons, who were able to take the shape of a victim's friends and neighbors and even assume the likeness of angels and saints.

Many of those who said that they had met the devil complained of the same range of physical symptoms reported by those who encountered the MIBs. The shiny new cars associated with MIBs is reminiscent of the Haitian belief in an evil society of sorcerers called "zobops." Haitians say that if you see a big new car going along the road without a driver is under control of the "zobops", and you had better not try to interfere with it.

Now, I am not trying to imply that the MIBS are agents of the devil, or vice versa, anymore then I would try to say that the little green men from Mars were really the fairy folk of past generations.

It is just that our visions and fears often remain the same over the ages, and only our explanations for them change. Of course, encounters with the devil during the Middle Ages were generally more frightening and overpowering experiences than current experiences with MIBs. Everybody believed in the devil, while today everybody does not believe in the creatures from outer space.

Medieval society took devil stories in dead earnest, and anyone who made such a report might find himself facing a painful death at the stake. The worst one can expect from reporting an MIB encounter is a certain amount of disbelief and ridicule. In general, MIB tales are considered too bizarre even to be reported in local newspapers.

They are published only in magazines and books put out for and by UFO enthusiasts. Usually such publications are privately printed and are read by only a few hundred. A few book, however, have been issued by major publishers and have reached a far wider audience.

These cases are also occasionally discussed on radio and TV talk shows, so the information gets around more widely than one might think. A lot of people of heard of "something" about MIBS without really knowing any of the details.

There is one incident which bared certain similarities to the traditional MIB case that did receive very wide publicity. This is the story of the "kidnaping" of Betty and Barney Hill. While most of the MIB cases do not appear directly to involve a UFO, this one does.

The couple was driving to their home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from Canada on the night of September 19, 1961. They were on an isolated stretch of road when they spotted what they thought was a flying saucer above them.

The followed two completely blank hours in their lives. They could remember nothing from the time they saw the UFO until a time two hours later when they found themselves in their car several miles down the road from where they had seen the UFO.

For months after this experience both of the Hills suffered from severe psychological distress. Finally they consulted a psychiatrist, who hypnotized them, and under hypnosis the Hills revealed a strange story of being kidnaped and taken aboard a flying saucer.

The Hills didn't rush out and try to get publicity about their experience or write a book about it. In fact, they were remarkably quiet. But the incident did ultimately come to the attention of author John Fuller, who had already written an extremely popular UFO book.

With the co-operation of the Hills and of their psychiatrist, Fuller produced another best seller, "The Interrupted Journey", which was first serialized in the now defunct Look magazine.

Though the book is carefully hedged with qualifications that the experience described might be a hallucination or a dream rather than a "totally real and true experience," the distinct impression left by "The Interrupted Journey" on thousands of readers was that the experience was a "totally real and true" one.

The people or entities that were supposed to be controlling the spaceship that kidnaped the Hills can be squeezed into the Men in Black lore. Barney Hill described on of his captors as looking like "a red-headed Irishman," hardly an MIB type. But another wore "a shiny black coat," with a black scarf thrown about his neck.

Under hypnosis Hill drew a picture of "the leader" of his abductors. It is a strange insect-like face with a wide, thin mouth and huge slanting eyes that seem to go halfway around the creature's head. The eyes were the most frightening part of the saucer inhabitant's strange physiognomy.

Once during a hypnotic session with the psychiatrist Barney Hill cried out in terror, "Oh, those eyes! They're in my brain!" Glowing eyes, you will recall, are considered one of the key characteristics of the typical Man in Black.

Unlike many of the books written by or about people who say that they had encountered the inhabitants of UFOs, "The Interrupted Journey" carries real conviction. One gets the feeling that the Hills and Fuller are intelligent, sincere and sane people who really believe that what they described is what actually did happen.

So this idea was planted in the minds of thousands of readers of "the Interrupted Journey": UFO's can land, the extraterrestrials can kidnap ordinary people, subject them to a degrading and almost brutal examination and then wipe all memory of the incident from their minds, leaving behind only an unexplained sense of anxiety bordering on panic.

Well, what does all of this mean? Are we being invaded by some weird bunch of extraterrestrials who have, in the words of the old "Shadow" radio show, "the power to cloud men's minds"? Frankly the evidence does not support such an alarming conclusion.

Are all the stories hoaxes and hallucinations? Psychiatrists could certainly have a field day with many of these accounts. Symptoms such as loss of memory, severe anxiety and other unpleasant reactions strongly suggest that many of those who report such experiences are in a disturbed psychological state, though they would claim the disturbance was caused by the encounter with the strange visitor.

In any event they do not make the most reliable of witnesses. Some of the other stories are almost certainly sheer fiction, made up either by some practical joker or by a writer of sensational books. Whether all the stories are real or unreal is not a question that we can answer conclusively here. The point is that we Americans are building a mythology for ourselves, just as the Europeans did with their tales of dragons, ogres and elves, and just as all people have done in all parts of the world in all ages.

We have often prided ourselves on being a practical hardheaded, no-nonsense sort of people who were immune to the irrational fears an superstitious notions of less clear-sighted and realistic folk.

This proposition is demonstrably untrue. And perhaps we are better off for it. Our monsters, our space people, even if they don't exist, if indeed they are rather silly, also make life more interesting and exciting.

written by Linda Murphy

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