Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review--The Truth About Flying Saucers

by Aime Michel

First published in 1956, engineer and mathematician Aime Michel delves into the matter of "flying saucers" with this book, choosing the more prevalent phrase of the time over "UFO."  Indeed the 1950s was an era of numerous "flaps," not the least of which was the 1952 mass sighting over Washington D.C. which Michel addresses in the book.  It was also a time of odd events, such as "angel hair" falling to the ground.

While there are mentions of such bizarre occurrences in The Truth About Flying Saucers, Michel confines his study primarily to aerial sightings, especially those that have hard evidence involved such as radar returns.  And that may be the greatest strength of the text.  Michel adopts a no-nonsense, step-by-step approach to investigating the phenomena, applying rigorous scrutiny to each case.  He is slavish when it comes to evidence and pococurante when it comes to sensationalism.  There are no accounts by anyone who claimed to have met the occupants of the craft in question.  There are no mentions of the sort of narratives that one might see in The Weekly World News or whatever today's equivalent is called.  Michel sticks with pure sightings and...almost tediously...sorts through numerous sightings from many parts of the world.

One of the more interesting prospects that Michel puts forth is "The Plantier Theory."  An officer in the French Air Force, Lt. Plantier devoted a significant amount of time to pondering the UFO phenomenon.  Plantier, as indeed so many others did and still do, worked from the stance that UFOs were spacecraft from other planets.  His theory as to how the saucers were able to cross the vast distances and were also able to move at incredible speeds without causing sonic booms has to do with force fields.  There is an intense field surrounding the UFOs, helping to account for the ease of movement in the atmosphere and for cases where the objects appeared to distort and change shape.  For traveling purposes, the objects are able to manipulate as yet unknown lines of energy that already exist in space.  Intriguing, but I'm uncertain as the physics of it and need to consultant the opinion of someone who actually studies that branch of science full time. 

If the book suffers from anything it is that Michel simply did not have the benefit of the information that we have currently.  For example, he mentions Venus as a likely point of origin for the saucers.  Not surprising as several people at the time speculated that Venus could support life.  We now know that to be highly unlikely.  He also cites the Mantell Incident as a prime example of UFO activity.  We now know that not to be the case.  Science has advanced since the time of Michel's writing and the author simply didn't have the benefit of this information.

Still, I very much recommend this book to be read by anyone with an interest in Ufology.  It highlights cases that are seldom examined today and everything is approached with a seriousness of purpose and a dedication to facts and the scientific method.  That is an attitude we should aspire to if we wish to ultimately get to the bottom of the phenomena.  Additional highlights of the book are his counter-arguments to famed UFO debunker, Donald Menzel, the astronomer whom Stanton Friedman has accused of being a member of Majestic 12, a well-reasoned argument as to how Soviet Russia was not the cause of the sightings, and even an addendum provided by Rev Father Francis J. Connelll, explaining how belief in life on other planets does not run contrary to Catholic belief.

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