Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Paper UFOs

"[UFOs] were out of my reach of knowledge. I found the subject fascinating, as do a lot of people... That something is there, and that people see something, is unquestioned. I think, for me, it's best to leave it like that."
Did the CIA leave it like that?
"I assume not, no."
- Statements attributed to the late Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, former CIA Chief of Technical Services Staff, in 1997, as quoted by Hank Albarelli, Jr., A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments

In a recent blog post we explored a declassified NSA file containing a document that suggested a 1952 story of a crashed UFO was fabricated by the intelligence community. The saucer tale in question involved a disk supposedly recovered from the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

It might be noteworthy the story was apparently floated just five years after the Roswell Daily Record published an article about a retrieved flying saucer. The newspaper got the 1947 scoop compliments of a now infamous press release issued from the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force at Roswell Army Air Field. The press release didn't age well, to say the least, and exactly why that's the case continues to be the subject of intense study.

Guy Malone and Nick Redfern are among the many researchers who have taken deep dives into the topic, and suffice it to say their findings do not support extraterrestrial origins for the incident. Malone and Redfern recently made presentations at Roswell which will soon be available. Nick published his research in his new book, The Roswell UFO Conspiracy: Exposing a Shocking and Sinister Secret. I find their work on the topic interesting and worthy of consideration from several perspectives.

Further recommended is the work of James Carrion on the 1946-47 UFO scene. See Carrion's blog, Anachronism, where you may view relevant posts and download his book of the same name for free. 

Just two years after the Spitsbergen fiascothe CIA suggested to operatives in Guatemala via a 1954 telegram to consider fabricating a story about flying saucers as an option to distract public attention from Agency involvement in a coup. This was reported in a 2003 New York Times article somewhat amusingly titled, The C.I.A.'s Cover Has Been Blown? Just Make Up Something About U.F.O.'s. The original incidents notably took place during a time in history in which the Agency was up to its neck in the evolution of projects concerning behavior modification, or mind control. Operations such as Bluebird and Artichoke led to MKULTRA, formally run from 1953 to 1964.

During a recent discussion with Dr. Michael Heiser and his Peeranormal team, we considered several aspects of the UFO and intelligence communities. Among other items, we discussed how it stands to reason the IC would note the ways chains of events unfold, whether or not by design, and implement lessons learned at later dates as advantageous. 

Sidney Gottlieb and attorney, 1977
Declassified MKULTRA Subproject 84 documents, for example, describe a rigorous study of hypnosis which included long term investigation of trance phenomena. According to CIA personnel, this involved obtaining observational data compiled on attendees at Pentecostal churches. Such intelligence gathering should not be considered particularly out of the ordinary, and one could reasonably assume other communities of interest might receive similar scrutiny.

We may very well be witnessing the evolution of successfully engineered operations in the manners the UFO topic is exploited from one era to the next. Purposes and objectives would change from one instance to another, but a byproduct, if not an objective in some circumstances, should be clear: Researchers may become distracted from actuality while chasing entirely fabricated stories. Not only does this appear to apply with the general subject of UFOs and alleged aliens, but even in the more specific uses of memes of so-called crashed flying saucers, as may have arisen between the Roswell event of 1947 and the Spitsbergen story of 1952. In this post we will explore such circumstances. 

Please allow me to qualify and emphasize I am not suggesting there is necessarily nothing unusual of interest, or what we might term "paranormal," to be explored within the UFO subject. If there is, it's practically a different topic. I am suggesting the manners the overall subject has been manipulated and misrepresented by the IC, charlatans, and opportunists have deeply distorted public perception of the circumstances. I feel that needs to be more thoroughly understood than is currently the case. Incidents such as Roswell may very well have virtually nothing whatsoever to do with what any random member of the UFO community may have seen in the sky one distant yet memorable evening while traveling along a lonely highway. Unfortunately, incorrect information may be the primary influence in how people interpret those events.

Market Research? 
According to a Technical Report prepared by the Air Force’s flying saucer study, Project Grudge, in August 1949: "Upon eliminating several additional incidents due to vagueness and duplication, there remain 228 incidents, which are considered in this report. Thirty of these could not be explained, because there was found to be insufficient evidence on which to base a conclusion." Arguably, however, the most important and intriguing entry in the document appears in the Recommendations section. It’s one that many UFO researchers have not appreciated the significance of. It states: "That Psychological Warfare Division and other governmental agencies interested in psychological warfare be informed of the results of this study."
- Nick Redfern, The Aztec UFO and Psy-Ops

The 1948 Aztec, NM, alleged saucer crash has been thoroughly discredited by multiple researchers. Among them are Nick Redfern and Robert Sheaffer. The tale largely grew out of the statements of Silas Mason Newton, an individual, as Sheaffer reported, the FBI identified as a con man - and who was convicted of fraud.

Karl T. Pflock
Redfern is among those who cite the intriguing claims of the late Karl T. Pflock, a former CIA officer and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense turned UFO researcher. Pflock claimed to have obtained knowledge in 1998 that Air Force intelligence was monitoring Newton back in the day, paid him a visit, and with complete understanding his crashed saucer story was entirely false, encouraged him to keep telling it.

Mark Pilkington offers further info of interest in his book, Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs. The author described a 1950 lecture at the University of Denver in which 90 science students were initially asked to attend a presentation on flying saucers. News of the event spread and the hall was filled by the time an anonymous speaker explained flying saucers were not only real, but some had been obtained by the U.S. Air Force. This included mention of one purportedly retrieved from Aztec. 

"In what sounds more like a market research experiment than an academic lecture," Pilkington wrote, attendees were asked after the presentation whether they believed the unnamed speaker. A reported 60 percent responded affirmatively, and some were later questioned by Air Force intelligence officers. Follow-up questionnaires were administered, and the ratio of believers still reached 50 percent, far above the national average at the time. As Pilkington explained, the then-anonymous lecturer at the University of Denver turned out to be Silas Newton.

Nothing Up Their Sleeves
"What do you mean, Admiral, on page 6 of your testimony when you mention projects using magician's art? How do magicians get into the spook business?"
- Senator Richard S. Schweiker to Adm. Stansfield Turner, Director of Central Intelligence, 1977 Senate Hearing on MKULTRA     

As sincere and thorough explorations of the topic of UFOs bleed into human rights issues, so do comprehensive examinations of human rights abuses lead researchers into the UFO genre. This is very apparent in the work of Hank Albarelli, Jr., A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments.

Magician and CIA man John Mulholland
Albarelli wrote how in 1956 and again in 1957, CIA Technical Services Staff chief and MKULTRA point man Sidney Gottlieb asked magician John Mulholland to examine and render an opinion on UFO sightings (A Terrible Mistake, p265). Agency consultant Mulholland previously composed a 71-page CIA manual in 1953 titled, Some Operational Applications of the Art of Deception. He also wrote the Agency manual, Recognition Signals, according to the CIA. Gottlieb specifically asked Mulholland to discreetly investigate the now famous 1955 UFO incident occurring at the Sutton family farm near Kelly, KY, among other cases. 

"Unfortunately," Albarelli explained, "there are no known documents that reveal Mulholland's investigation, findings or any report by him on the Kentucky incident."

Albarelli continued that, when asked about the case, Gottlieb stated he could not remember ever hearing anything about it. Some readers will recall Gottlieb's selectively poor memory as demonstrated during Congressional hearings of the 1970's. Gottlieb repeatedly claimed he was unable to recall details and often basic aspects of various MKULTRA subprojects, including personnel and what even took place within some of the projects. 

In 1957 more reported UFO events apparently attracted CIA interest. Among them were the November 2-3 sightings of Levelland, TX. According to Albarelli, magician Mulholland visited the area in the weeks following the incident.

"Clearly there is far more research to be accomplished to understand the full extent of Mulholland's work for the CIA," Albarelli concluded, "as well as the CIA's venture into the paranormal realm."

All Aboard

Former CIA director and NICAP
board member Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter
The same year, 1957, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) assembled a board of experienced CIA officers, or the CIA assembled a board of UFO enthusiasts, depending on how ya wanna look at it. According to the late researcher Richard Hall, the NICAP Board of Governors in 1957 consisted of 16 members and notably included Vice Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, USN (Ret.), a former director of the CIA; Maj. Dewey Fournet, Jr., USAFR, a "former Pentagon Monitor of Air Force UFO project"; and Col. Joseph Bryan III, USAF (Ret.), who was "later discovered to be a former naval officer and CIA employee, psychological warfare specialist."

Four years prior, a now publicly available report issued by the covertly CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel referenced a presentation given to the Panel by the above mentioned Maj. Dewey Fournet, Jr., destined to become a board member of NICAP. The Robertson Panel 1953 joint statements consisted of concerns about possible propaganda efforts conducted by hostile states, including Russia. It was particularly noted:
The Panel took cognizance of the existence of such groups as the "Civilian Flying Saucer Investigators" (Los Angeles) and the "Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (Wisconsin). It was believed that such organizations should be watched because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. The apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind.

As we transition back to 1957, please consider, as reported by Mark Pilkington in Mirage Men, a Dr. Olavo Fontes developed an interest in UFOs and joined the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization recommended to "be watched." Dr. Fontes indeed had a date with UFO destiny, and it revolved around events leading up to the case of Antonio Villas Boas. The work of such researchers as Pilkington and Redfern on the topic is definitely thought provocative and worth some time (see Redfern's Contactees and various blog contributions).

The Villas Boas incident occurred on a farm in Brazil the evening of October 16, 1957. As many readers are certainly aware, the farmer was plowing with a tractor when a dramatic story unfolded of a flying object, strange beings, and what he claimed to interpret as him having sex with a creature resembling a human female.

Antonio Villas Boas
If we are to give the late Villas Boas the benefit of the doubt and hypothetically accept his claims as sincere, at least as he recalled the events, a number of intriguing aspects of the story arguably suggest a more nefarious, earth-bound explanation than one from the heavens above. Those aspects include:

- Villas Boas and his brother reportedly witnessed an unusual light flying about the sky two nights prior to the now famous encounter.

- Villas Boas became physically ill for weeks following the event, reportedly including symptoms of nausea, eye irritation, and lesions.

- Unethical experimentation was conclusively conducted by the intelligence community during the era, and included testing the effects of both drugs and radiation on involuntary human research subjects.

- The young man reportedly found the battery wires unscrewed on his tractor after the encounter, seemingly lengthening the amount of time it would take him to reach others. 

And then there was the Rich Reynolds story. Pilkington, Redfern and others wrote about how UFO blogger Reynolds explained that Bosco Nedelcovic told him in 1978 that the Villas Boas event was perpetrated by the CIA. The now deceased Nedelcovic was apparently employed by the Agency in Latin America during the time in question. The CIA, according to statements attributed to Nedelcovic, staged UFO events all over the world, and he essentially claimed to be present with a psy ops team during the Villas Boas incident. 
The gist of the story involved an alleged psychological warfare operation consisting of a helicopter, a qualified crew, and powerful drugs administered via aerosol and/or airborne delivery systems. 

While we would be wise in exercising caution before fully accepting such stories without conclusive verification, the point is still valid that it's intriguing that Nedelcovic's apparent claim, as related by Reynolds, was ever made at all; such events as the Villas Boas incident tend to draw a host of people and statements that stir the pot. That's the case whether it's done intentionally by the intelligence community, individuals acting alone for what might be a variety of reasons, or other demographics - which brings us back to Olavo Fontes, a medical doctor. 

In what Pilkington referred to in Mirage Men as "Maury Island, Brazilian Style," Dr. Fontes read a newspaper column in September of 1957 about a fragment of material allegedly from a UFO. Strikingly similar to the Maury Island case of 1947, a witness claimed to have seen a "flying disc" while fishing and subsequently retrieved some associated metallic material from the water. Fontes seemed to find the circumstances fascinating, as he made arrangements to have the material tested at the National Department of Mineral Production in Brazil's Agricultural Ministry. Samples were also sent to the U.S. Air Force through the American Embassy. Nothing conclusively significant came of the tests. The samples were mostly magnesium, but the case reportedly brought significant public attention to Dr. Fontes and his investigation.

In early 1958 Fontes met Antonio Villas Boas. Just a matter of days afterward, in February of the same year, according to Pilkington, Fontes was visited by two Brazilian Naval Ministry intelligence officers. They reportedly claimed to want to discuss the samples of alleged flying saucer material. 

The intelligence officers proceeded to warn Fontes to stay out of matters that did not concern him, and went as far as to rather incredibly explain that the world's governments were aware of the extraterrestrial presence - and they wanted to keep a lid on it. Some of the information could not even be shared with the Brazilian president, they reportedly stated.

The retrieval of crashed saucers was apparently discussed, including the mention of one from Scandinavia. In his accompanying footnotes, Pilkington particularly considered the possibility the reference by the officers to a saucer retrieval from Scandinavia could have been related to the Spitsbergen misinformation story. I would agree that is a potentially interesting correlation, all circumstances considered. Was it a case of the Spitsbergen story being applicably implemented as an appropriate tool for the job at hand?

Regardless, Dr. Fontes indeed descended into the UFO community, gained some notoriety, mingled with government agencies, and was subsequently approached by intelligence officers who relayed supposedly classified information under the remarkable guise of keeping it quiet. Pilkington wrote:
Fontes was left puzzled but unbowed by the visit. He may even have asked the same questions that we should: why, if the UFO matter was so secret that even the president couldn’t be told, had so many of the Navy men's revelations already been printed in popular books and magazines? And why were they telling Fontes, who immediately shared the information with Coral and Jim Lorenzen, APRO’s directors, confirming similar rumours that they had heard form other sources? Was it because somebody wanted Fontes and APRO to believe these tales, and to share them, in the same way that Silas Newton had been encouraged to keep spreading his crashed saucer stories back in 1950?

A Terrible Mistake

Author Hank Albarelli, Jr. extensively explored the case of Frank Olson and Cold War unethical chemical experimentation conducted on human beings in his book, A Terrible Mistake. Olson, a bacteriologist and biological warfare scientist, worked in a chemical division of Camp Detrick, delving deeply into such experimentation. He died a controversial death in 1953, nine days after he was covertly dosed with LSD by Sidney Gottlieb.

Frank Olson
Albarelli became convinced Olson was murdered by the CIA. Reasons include Olson's possible involvement in the infamous 1951 Pont-Saint-Esprit incident. Albarelli quite interestingly documented Olson and other Camp Detrick scientists were in France at the time of the tragedy (A Terrible Mistake, p357), among other items of note. A summary of Albarelli's work may be read in his 2010 blog post, CIA: What Really Happened in the Quiet French Village of Pont-Saint-Esprit.  

A Terrible Mistake contains a substantial amount of intriguing information, and some of it is of potential significance to UFO researchers. The famous Pascagoula alleged encounter is referenced, among other UFO cases, and numerous formerly classified projects which may be relevant are addressed.

Albarelli reported in his 2009 book that over the course of a decade he was contacted by various people sharing theories that Frank Olson was killed due to his knowledge of UFOs and aliens. The government did not want the knowledge revealed, it was suggested to the writer. Albarelli explained at least one such story included particular mention of UFO crash sites.

"One person, who seemed quite knowledgeable about Camp Detrick," Albarelli wrote (A Terrible Mistake, p700), "claimed that 'definitive evidence proving alien contact with Earth' had been removed from UFO crash or landing sites by the government. This evidence was allegedly transported for study to Camp Detrick and other military installations. That several of the key CIA and Army participants in Olson's death were involved in the government's UFO research in the 1950's is certainly interesting."

Had he not become convinced Olson's death involved other reasons, Albarelli continued, "some of these theories may have been much more provocative." The dynamics become complicated and the stories may very well contain varying shades of truth and fiction. However, the fact remains Albarelli was questionably encouraged to aim his lines of research in the direction of likely nonexistent crashed saucers, as has apparently now befallen researchers for decades. The fact also remains, as Albarelli observed, select Agency personnel have indeed perpetually been active in projects consisting of - at best - unclear objectives while the individuals simultaneously maintain influence in the UFO community. The implications are both intriguing and concerning.

21st Century Paper UFOs

As suggested by Albarelli, promoting stories of crashed UFOs is by no means limited to distant yesteryear. That is the case whether or not the promoters are affiliated with the IC, and the dynamics remain relevant to both the UFO community and our culture at large from any number of perspectives.

In 2013 I published an article, Casselberry July 4 Case: Anatomy of a UFO Rumor. It explored an alleged 2004 crash in the Orlando suburb of Casselberry. The story received significant attention in the Central Florida UFO community. Everybody, it seemed, knew somebody - or knew somebody that knew somebody - who was a key witness to the event.

Closer scrutiny, however, revealed that not only was there no compelling reason to think anything of unusual origin fell to earth, but there was no evidence any airborne craft was involved at all. Quite the opposite, actually.

Image of Texas meteor misrepresented as Florida UFO
In the aftermath of the alleged event that 2004 summer, several dramatic reports were filed to UFO organizations, containing completely unsubstantiated claims of a crash site secured by government agencies. Residents were allegedly falling ill. One report went as far as including a photo, represented as an alien spacecraft crashing to earth in Casselberry, which proved to actually have been a shot taken in Texas of a meteor. The extent the story was cultivated was rather extraordinary in itself. 

Further complicating matters, I interacted with a number of Central Florida residents who I feel were completely sincere about their perceptions surrounding the event. Many locals indeed believe something extremely unusual took place, and some of them seem to believe other residents witnessed much more than they, but attempts to locate and interview such other residents were repeatedly unsuccessful. I was unable to find any individuals who claimed to have seen a flying object or observe activity allegedly taking place around a crash site, although reports containing such claims were easy to find on UFO websites. Notably, such reports consistently omitted a physical address or detailed description of an alleged crash site. Photos of the site and its alleged accompanying government agents were also noticeably absent. Nonetheless, the unsubstantiated claims seemed to significantly increase the certainty among UFO enthusiasts that their suspicions of an orchestrated cover-up were justified.

The story grew at least in part out of a jarring sound, possibly a rather enormous thunder clap following a flash of lightning. The approximately 25-second long rumble was captured on video by YouTube user chetty mo.

FOIA requests filed to multiple agencies offered no info to corroborate the beliefs of UFO enthusiasts or the sensational claims posted at UFO websites. The Casselberry Police Department provided a copy of a report filed the evening in question. It substantiates a loud noise occurred which set off alarms and prompted calls from concerned residents, but in no way validates a UFO crash story. 

The weather service, airports and similar sources revealed nothing of interest, and went as far as clarifying nothing out of the ordinary was detected by radar in the skies over Casselberry that night. There was simply no verifiable reason to suspect anything particularly extraordinary occurred, outside the manners the story influenced public perception and resulting beliefs. 

Two years after the Casselberry event, in 2006, the "Great Lakes Dive Company," or GLDC, joined the steeplechase. The GLDC created a stir in the UFO community when it claimed to have found a USAF F-89C Scorpion that disappeared in 1953 over Lake Superior while pursuing a UFO. GLDC doubled down, adding that a mystery object was resting a couple hundred feet or so from the aircraft at the bottom of the lake. James Carrion and Frank Warren were among researchers who went about investigating the remarkable claims. 

Carrion wrote how efforts to authenticate the existence of GLDC suggested its alleged spokesperson, Adam Jimenez, was less than forthright. Attempts to find public records on the company - or people who knew anything about it - also hit dead ends, as did efforts to validate alleged sonar images offered as evidence of the claims.

Continuing investigation revealed suspicious aspects of the GLDC website. Also revealed was an alleged Associated Press article posted at UFO UpDates List that was in all likelihood never composed by the AP at all. In the end, the nonexistent Great Lakes Dive Company receded back into a ufology void from whence it came, and "Adam Jimenez" ceased responding to emails or phone calls.

What I think all of this means to the average and sincere member of the UFO community is the extreme importance of forming beliefs wisely. The UFO topic has clearly been manipulated by a variety of demographics for a number of purposes from the 1940's forward. The opportunities continue to appear ripe for the picking, including use of the saucer crash meme. To fail to understand this is to fail to have a working knowledge of how lines of research and resulting UFO-related beliefs have often been built upon faulty premises in the first place. The antidote to ignorance is knowledge, and dedication to truth and accuracy must surely be on the path to unmasking mysteries of the universe, shedding light on exploitation perpetrated upon the UFO community, and more clearly understanding ways it all overlaps.   


  1. Mornin’ Jack,

    Just a couple of tidbits on Aztec:

    First, it’s no secret that most researchers and or UFO enthusiasts have pooh-poohed Aztec; at the same time, “most researchers” haven’t done their own research. Nick and Robert are exceptions to the rule and both have been extremely helpful with my own research on Aztec.

    I might add, Aztec isn’t as black and white as most believe, but that’s another discussion ….

    You wrote:

    “Pflock claimed to have obtained knowledge in 1998 that Air Force intelligence was monitoring Newton back in the day, paid him a visit, and with complete understanding his crashed saucer story was entirely false, encouraged him to keep telling it.”

    It’s important to note that Karl made these claims, according to him, on the basis of the content in an alleged diary, written by Silas Newton. Karl claimed that his “anonymous source wouldn’t” allow Karl to make copies of the diary or share his name; he was only allowed to take notes. (He later told Scott Ramsey that the source was Silas’ nephew). Karl also claimed to have retrieved a copy of Newton’s holographic will (from Bill Moore) and on his last meeting with his source, compared the handwriting, verifying that it was Newton who wrote said diary.

    So, we have a narrative that is in complete conflict with Newton’s stance, both personal and private, based on a diary, which no one gets to inspect, offered up by an anonymous individual, whom no one gets to vet.

    It’s certainly true that the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), as well as the FBI investigated the Aztec case; in fact agents from “six” states were involved (re the AFOSI). Nowhere in any of the reports and or recorded interviews with OSI agents was there a claim that they knew it was a hoax and to keep telling it.

    Additionally, and in contrast to an alleged, unseen diary, Silas Newton stayed in contact with Frank Scully for decades, much of it by (snail) mail as was the norm for the times. Moreover, Newton wrote a manuscript, which in part reads like a diary and in none of it does Newton reverse his stance on Aztec. All of this is available to the researcher via the Scully Archives.

    Whatever conclusion(s) one might come re Aztec, there is no evidence to suggest that Newton admitted he perpetrated a hoax. Moreover, according to Newton, George Koehler and Frank Scully–they learned of the Aztec account via Leo GeBauer.


  2. Just a thought on the Kelly-Hopkinsville event. Since there is no report from Mulholland's visit, and unless or until some document requesting him to visit is uncovered that suggests the visit's purpose, we don't know why he went to Kentucky. We can only speculate.

    Reasons other than looking into the results of a CIA mind control experiment come to mind, including suspicion of an operation by a foreign government. The area isn't all that far from Fort Campbell, home to the 101st Airborne Division.

    Could it be the CIA sent a deception expert to determine if the event was a deception exercise conducted by another US agency?

    In short, could it be the CIA didn't know what happened in Kentucky so it put Mulholland's boots on the ground to find out?