Monday, September 6, 2010

The modern UFO era: a timeline

Those of you who are Ufologists, whether it be professional or armchair, will no doubt find this post boring.  I am writing it for the benefit of other loyal Strangers who are perhaps not as well versed in the subject and have asked questions from time to time.  I am hoping that this timeline of modern UFO events will go towards a baseline of knowledge so that subsequent posts may be more fully enjoyed.
I selected the cases for this timeline based upon three criteria: 1) Their affect on the field of Ufology and even pop culture,  2) The quality of the witnesses involved, and 3) The amount of physical evidence involved in the case...something sorely lacking in many reports.  This is not to say that I believe each one to be an instance of alien contact.  On the contrary, a few of these have had new evidence come to light in recent years that suggest a military test or cast doubt upon the veracity of the event altogether.  
In other words, "I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'."  I hereby tender what I believe to be the pivotal events of the modern UFO era:

-1947  June-pilot Kenneth Arnold sights a formation of unidentified flying objects over the Cascade Mountains of Washington.  He describes their movements as "saucers skipping over water."  Although he describes the objects as being "wedge shaped," the era of "flying saucers" begins.

July-Roswell Army Airfield in New Mexico issues a press statement that the military had recovered a "flying disc."  This is quickly changed to a "weather balloon" and in 1997 to wreckage from "Project Mogul."  Stories and witnesses persist that debris from an alien spacecraft was recovered as were the corpses of its crew.

September-according to the date on an unverified document, President Truman enacts "Majestic 12," an above top secret organization that will deal with all matters regarding extraterrestrial life.


-1948  January-Thomas Mantell, Capt. USAF, is scrambled to pursue a UFO over Kentucky.  Shortly after claiming visual contact with "a metallic disc," radio transmissions cease and his plane crashes.  Mantell does not survive.

-1952 July-for a series of successive nights, Washington D.C. is plagued by UFO sightings.  Photographs are taken of UFOs over the Capitol Building, radar contact is made with the objects, and President Truman goes on television saying that he takes the events "seriously."  Numerous military pilots and personnel confirm the radar contacts.

-1961  September-while driving through rural New Hampshire at night, Barney and Betty Hill claim that they were abducted by aliens.  This is the first such incident made widely public and perhaps the most studied abduction case in Ufology. 

-1964  April-police officer Lonnie Zamora sees a UFO take off just outside of Socorro, New Mexico.  In addition to Zamora's testimony, casts are taken of impressions left in soil by landing gear, samples are taken of soil fused into glass by extreme heat, and readings of above normal radiation are recorded.

-1965 December-the town of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania witnesses a meteor streak overhead and crash.  A few witnesses claim that object was under intelligent control.  Military forces converge on the town and an acorn-shaped object is hauled away on a flatbed.  The next day at President Johnson's ranch in Texas, there is an emergency meeting with the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser, and the head of NASA.  No details are known. 

-1967 March-at Malmstrom AFB in Montana, air force officials report that an entire contingent of Minuteman missiles went offline as a UFO hovered above the base.

May-near Falcon Lake in Canada, prospector Stephen Michalak claims to come upon a saucer shaped craft on the ground.  This craft vents out a gas before lifting off and burns Michalak.  Michalak is admitted to the hospital with a vent-shaped pattern burned into his stomach and symptoms of radiation poisoning.

October-a UFO streaks over North America and crashes into the waters of Shag Harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada.  Vessels of both the American and Canadian Navies arrive on the scene.  Reports state that a second craft approached from underwater and appeared to "repair" the first one.  The two objects shot out of the ocean and into the atmosphere a day later.  Documents disclosed by the Canadian Coast Guard actually use the term "UFO."
 
-1976 September-an F-4 of the Imperial Iranian Air Force is sent to intercept a UFO over Tehran.  The unknown aircraft proceeds to disable the electronic systems of the pursuing fighter plane.  Numerous military personnel, including a full colonel, are witness to this.

-1978  October-while flying over the Bass Strait of Australia, 20-year old flight instructor, Frederich Valentich radios that he is being followed by an unknown aircraft with bright lights.  The UFO makes several close passes over Valentich's plane, each of which are described in radio conversations recorded by the control tower, conversations which show Valentich growing more and more frantic with each moment.  Though an extensive search was mounted, both Valentich and his plane disappeared.  No trace of either has ever been recovered.

-1980 December-at Brentwaters RAF base in Britain, USAF personnel are plagued by odd, zooming lights in Rendelsham Forest over a period of two nights.  These airborne objects exhibited flight characteristics beyond those of what human flight is capable.  At one point, security staff come into physical contact with an unknown craft that had landed on the grounds.  These security guards, including their commanding officer, a full colonel, remain adamant in their stories to this day and accuse the US government of covering up alien contact.

Across the ocean in Texas, Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum, and Landrum's seven year-old grandson are driving down a state road at night.  While motoring, they see a glowing object overhead that is surrounded by numerous Army Chinook helicopters.  All three passengers in the car suffered burns and later displayed symptoms of radiation poisoning.  Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum would later both develop breast cancer.

-1986 Horror author Whitley Streiber publishes Communion, his own account of being abducted by aliens.  The book is a national bestseller and the phenomenon of alien abduction is thrust into the cultural mainstream.

-1990 In the skies over Belgium, a black, triangular craft appears, prompting alarm from the Begian Air Force.  F-16s are scrambled to intercept and missile lock is gained on a physical object.  The UFO then disappears at speeds in excess of MACH 8.  Belgian authorities go on record as being both very concerned about the incident and having no clue as to the nature of the craft.

-1997  March-a series of lights appear over the city of Phoenix, Arizona.  Hundreds of witnesses see them and hours of videotape are recorded.  Additional witnesses claim to see a black, boomerang-shaped craft.  Witnesses include a city councilwoman and the then governor of Arizona.

-2000 January-multiple witnesses in downstate Illinois claim to see a black, box-shaped craft glide overhead to the southeast.  Police pursue this object.

-2006 November-passengers and crew at an air terminal at Chicago's O'Hare Airport report seeing a silver, disc-shaped object hovering above the terminal.  This object soared upward above heavy cloud cover and disappeared. 

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