BY Art Chantry:
when i was a wee lad, i was totally into ufo’s. back in the mid/late sixties, i read all i could about them. i was fascinated by the whole phenomenon. i didn’t read science fiction books, i read ufo books. as i grew up, i got bored with it all and other things dragged me away. i forgot all about ‘ufology.’
flash forward 25 years and i’m chatting with my old buddy scott mcdougall. he mentions a cool ufo book he’s been reading (the gulf breeze sightings) and i jolted awake, “what? that’s still going on?” he said, “oh yeah, it’s getting really GOOD. when did you stop reading that stuff”. when i told him, he immediately recommended handfull of great books full of the latest ufo lore as it has developed. it had become really wild, mass sightings, abductions, remote viewing, alien implants, battles in secret underground bunkers in the desert with CIA operatives, and something really cool called “High Strangeness”. WOW!
after that i made a conscious effort to re-read the entire history of the ufo phenom – in CONSECUTIVE ORDER (or as best as i could do that). ever since flying saucers became a big fad, there have been books, ranging from mainstream bestsellers to obscure crackpot pamphlets, that have all added to the history of the ufo phenom as we know it today. but, my point here, is that these books, magazines and pamphlets actually CREATED the mythology. as you read these things in any sort of chronological order, you begin to see how easily they feed off each other for inspiration and ideas and compound each other into what can only be best described as the development of a new religion. no joke. it’s one of the most amazing and creative efforts that pop culture has come up with in eons.
an example is that ‘roswell’ (so famous now) was first hinted at in an early crackpot book in a very obscure way (“a crashed ship with aliens recovered”). that’s it, nothing else. that is, until 1980, when the book “the roswell incident” was published “throwing open the story of america’s greatest cover-up”. after that book, it grew into the commonplace folklore it is today. even though this ‘event’ happened in 1947 (interesting year . the same year the CIA was founded), it didn’t become part of the LORE until 25-30 long years later. now, it’s the single most famous ufo story of the last 30 years (even though it’s almost twice that old). where the hell was it for all that time? well, the answer is: “undeveloped”. see my point?
for instance: this is a russian ufo chart. because of the “iron curtain” russia went it’s own way with the ufo phenomena. they knew about our stuff (free press and all) but we didn’t know ANYTHING about their stuff until after the ussr collapsed. now we find they had an even more amazingly crazy history with the dreaded ‘flying saucer’ than we did. look how many different ‘types’ of ufo were cataloged! and this is a very very old chart, probably dating back to the 1960’s. note how similar they are to so many american designs? yet, there are embellished and weird variations only ever seen in russia as well. hmmmm… they knew about our stuff, but we didn’t know about theirs.
ever since the first ufo sighting in america that caught the popular imagination (seen over mt. rainier in tacoma in 1947 – that damn YEAR again!) we keep seeing new models of flying saucers. what pilot kenneth arnold spotted over mt. rainier, he described as (and was confirmed by another sighting nearby) as a “v-formation” of 7 (or was it 9? i forget) shiny metallic BAT-WINGED craft. they WAY they flew was unstable. they tended to slip in an out of formation a lot and moved through the air in a motion that kenneth arnold described as “a saucer skipping over the surface of water”. some lazy reporter grabbed upon that and wrote a headline in a local paper that read “FLYING SAUCERS SEEN OVER MT. RAINIER!!” and the name stuck like glue.
but, kenneth arnold didn’t see ‘flying saucers”, he saw batwing craft. after spending all these years fascinated by the ufo phenomena, i’ve come the conclusion that what kenneth arnold ACTUALLY saw was a test flight (in formation) of a top secret military aircraft called “the Flying Wing.” toward the end of that airplane’s existence, they built a fleet of about 15 flying wings with JET engines on them (originally, they all had propellor driven engines.) this jet-engine flying wing aircraft was based in northern california during the same exact time frame as kenneth arnold’s famous “bat winged shiny metal craft” sighting. if you think a little about it, if you were testing formations of top secret aircraft out of nothern california, the obvious flight path that had the fewest chances of being sighted by civilians would be north – over the mountain ranges, flying low. and this is exactly where kenneth arnold spotted these craft.
if you want to see what a jet powered flying wing actually LOOKS like, the only place you can see footage of one is in the George Pal movie version of H.G.Wells’ “War of the Worlds”(1953). the plane they use to drop “the bomb” on the martian invaders is stock footage of a jet powered Flying Wing taking off. so far as i know that’s the ONLY footage of this particular craft in action ever released.
the flying wing was a bit of a disaster, because it turns out that this configuration had terrific stability problems. it was extremely difficult to control and maneuver. it tended to be constantly pulling this way or that. the wind buffeting from other craft in formation tended to knock the craft askew constantly. the result was, that in formation, it flew in a ‘saucer skipping over the water” motion!!! no joke. what kenneth arnold described was EXACTLY a description of this top secret experimental military craft (which flew in his area during that very time frame) – and he describes it to a “T”. (note: research on the flying wing wasn’t stopped, even though all those craft were immediately destroyed – and the jet engine model retrofitted with prop engines, which was probably cover for the resulting flying saucer fad). toda217;s stealth technology craft are directly descended from the flying wing experiments.)
but, that’s all hindsight, now. arnold’s report immediately started a rash of crazy bat-winged shaped craft seen all over the place. but, soon the ‘flying saucer’ term caught on and then – abruptly, nobody ever again saw a bat-wing craft – they saw saucer shapes exclusively. well, i take that back. in the very early days there was a crackpot guy named George Adamski, who was maybe the most public and visible of a ad hoc group of individuals who called themselves “contactees”. the contactees all claimed to have met the ‘space brothers’ (blond , beautiful aryan superbeings who are our friends and benefactors). to a person, they all began to develop cult-like followings and they literally preached alien messages of peace and brotherhood and goodwill to their followers. this became a huge business for all these people and they carried on with their messages to their final days.
george adamski was one of the most popular. he wrote books about flying to other planets with his space alien girlfriend and all that. he also took lotsa pictures. what he photographed were flying saucers with ‘balls’ under them (example number one on this chart is an adamski craft). the other was the “mothership” these were elongated tube-like structures of immense size that smaller flying saucer aircraft flew in and out of. they tended to be hidden in artificial ‘clouds” and were thus dubbed “cloud cigars”. so, now, people who wanted to see this stuff looked for cloud cigars and adamski saucers.
in 1951, the very first flying saucer themed hollywood movie was released “the day the earth stood still”. the space craft that the alien (klaatu) used in that film was a beautiful design using the classic ‘golden curve’ of antiquity (and was apparently designed by frank lloyd wright, who was contracted as an adviser to that film). after that movie came (and the soon following ray harryhausen classic “earth vs. the flying saucers”), all we saw for decades was classic saucer shaped craft (he bulk of the designs on this chart.)
the funny thing, that over the years and years of sightings, nobody ever sees the same saucer design TWICE. why is that? theres’ many many ufo-logical theories, ranging from mercurical amoeba-like craft (seen to merge into each other and shape-shift before the viewers’ eyes) to the novel idea that all the multiple craft designs represent fleets (just like we have on earth) or even multiple alien visitations (some say as many as 9 different aliens species are visiting us regularly.)
the idea of aliens is also subject to change with time. through the long history of alien encounters, there have emerged as many and as varied and as bizarre an assortment of aliens as you could possibly imagine. from giant one-eyed monsters to big-nosed fuzzy dwarfs with big pointy ears to little green men to beautiful aryan space brothers to walking beer cans (for real), aliens have been reported in every imaginable appearance. the current concept of the ‘grey alien’ we all assume has always been seen? well, it existed (though fully clothed and in many slight variations – usually green) in the past, but it REALLY became a common and dominant model when (first) whitley streiber’s “communion” hit the ny times best seller list (that creepy cat-head cover!) and the movie “close encounters of the third kind” was a runaway hit movie. after that the ONLY kind of alien anybody saw was the classic ‘grey’.
today, we see a lot more ‘reptilians” (always the coolest in my book. they are apparently distant relations of early earth dinosaurs that used their advanced brains to build space craft and avoid extinction) and “triangular” craft (including ‘boomerangs” – note the similarity to the bat-wings of the earliest sightings). you’ll note that this russian chart has none of these configurations listed at all – nothing remotely like them (it IS “old”, though). yet, this is all we see today. even GIANT craft spanning miles in all directions (and midget craft about 3 feet in diameter). does anybody even remember greys and saucers any more?
i’ve never seen a ufo. i’d love to see one, of course. (who wouldn’t?) but, i have to wonder, knowing what i know, if i actually SAW one, what kind would i see? if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, is there a sound? ok, now, the big question – what KIND of sound?