Friday, November 26, 2010


UFO Report Numbers in 2010, So Far

Although Geoff Dittman and I haven't had time to do a full UFO Survey for Canada since 2008, we have been keeping track of cases. In terms of numbers, 2009 had fewer cases than 2008, but that was because 2008 was a real anomaly for some reason, with 1004 reports filed. For 2009, the total was just under 900. Still pretty good, and it puts that year in at least 3rd and maybe 2nd overall. So far in 2010, we're over 800 reports, so we'll be right up there again.

The bottom line is that UFO reports in Canada during the past 5 years have been at an unprecedented high level.

A few odd numbers come out of the pure number counts, however. So far in 2010, two months have had record monthly numbers of UFO reports far above average levels. In July 2010, there were a whopping 190 UFO reports in Canada for that month alone, eclipsing the previous high of 148 in the record year of 2008. And, in case you still hear people saying UFOs are seen mostly in summer months, there were 102 reports in October 2010, more than any other October on record (there were 82 in 2008).

The difference between the "record year" of 2008 and the past few years is that except for a few record months, UFO report numbers have been relatively low in other months. Barely one a day in February and March 2009 and 2010, for example. Definitely no bell-shaped curves the past few years, for some reason. Despite these anomalies, the overall UFO report numbers average out so that we're still around almost 900 reports per year - a level that shows UFOs have certainly not simply gone away.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Fireball over Nova Scotia November 18, 2010

From the South Shore News in Nova Scotia:

Reports of 'huge ball of fire' in sky turn out to be meteor shower
by Eva Hoare And Patricia Brooks Arenburg, Staff Reporters
Fri, Nov 19 - 4:53 AM

They feared it was a plane crash, but it turned out to be a meteor shower lighting up the night sky.

Emergency crews rushed to the South Shore early Thursday evening after receiving reports that a "huge ball of fire" had fallen from the sky near Exit 16 on Highway 103.

The Mounties and the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax were dispatched to the area near Italy Cross, Lunenburg County.

But after thorough checks, it was determined there was no plane crash, said Scott Burgwin, the search and rescue co-ordinator for the Maritimes.”We’re pretty sure there were no aircraft (in the area),” Burgwin said from the Halifax centre just before 8 p.m. “We think it was some sort of natural phenomena like a meteor shower.”

The call about the fireball came in at about 6:30 p.m. from a paramedic in the area, said RCMP Sgt. Brigdit Leger.

A woman working at a restaurant near Exit 14 on Highway 103 said she heard two RCMP cruisers "go flying by here" at about 6:45 p.m.

Burgwin said co-ordination centre officials checked with Moncton’s air traffic control centre and found that no planes had flight plans for that area and nothing had shown up on radar, Burgwin said.

“We have heard some reports that people saw something,” said Michelle Bishop, spokeswoman for NAV Canada in Ottawa. “We do not have, at this time, any missing aircraft.”

Dave Chapman, past president of the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, said “it’s entirely possible that it could have been a fireball associated with the Leonid meteors.”

The Leonid meteor shower, so named because the meteors appear to come from the Leo constellation, happens around Nov. 17 each year, Chapman said. If it was part of this particular shower, a fireball at that time of day would have been travelling from east to west. But fireballs can also occur without meteor showers, he said.
He hadn’t yet heard of the incident when contacted Thursday night but would be interested in hearing more details from the person who reported the fireball and anyone else who saw it.

Anyone who sees a fireball is asked to report it to the Meteorites and Impacts Advisory Committee of Canada at


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Ebenezer's Ice Cream Cone: The PEI UFO of 1990

The following is a redux of the infamous "Ebenezer Ice Cream Cone" case, with additional notes from my files.

The evening of Wednesday, August 22, 1990, was clear and cool throughout all of Canada's Maritime provinces.

At 7:00 pm, Walter Benoit of Bellefond, New Brunswick, saw a "very bright object, 4 to 5 feet long," and "clear in colour." He reported it to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who sent the report to the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Canada=s official repository for UFOs. The NRC numbered the case N90/66 in its Non-Meteoritic Sightings File.

At 7:15 pm, Carmelle Morrissey was in Morristown, Nova Scotia, Canada, and happened to look up into the early evening sky. Morrissey saw a Avery bright, circular object@ moving in the sky for an estimated four to five minutes. The sighting was reported to CFB Greenwood, and the BOC (Base Commander) filed the report with the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND). In turn, DND sent a note about the sighting to the NRC, which filed it as case N90/61. Copies of the report were sent to an alphabet soup of official acronyms: RCCPJAC NDOC OTTAWA, RCWBOCA, ACOC WINNIPEG, RUWOKDB NORAD COC CHEYENNE MTN COMPLEX, DOFO, RCCBNVA FGCANCHQ NORTH BAY, SSO, NT, CCCEON, NRCOTT OTTAWA "METEOR CENTRE".

Fifteen minutes later, at 7:30 pm, an anonymous caller in Iles-de-la-Madeline, Quebec, notified the Department of Transport (DOT) (probably through an airport) that he or she had seen a "bright red ball followed by a tail." It was seen for only five seconds, which prompted the NRC to file the report as N90/62: "Identified as possible meteor."

At the same time, Gerald Foster of Kingston was in Middleton, Nova Scotia, and saw an "orange/yellow circular object" for about three to five seconds. He also reported it to DND, and as NRC case N90/63, it too was "Identified as possible meteor."

Also at 7:30 pm, Anne Mazeralle of Chatham Head, Nova Scotia, saw a "bright, lime green, oval-shaped object" for "a few seconds." She reported it to the RCMP, which also sent it to the NRC and the report became N90/64. It was also "Identified as a possible meteor." (NB - This report is actually dated August 23 in the NRC files, but this is probably a mistake because it seems to have been part of the "meteor" activity of the day before.)

Meanwhile, something odd was happening in Prince Edward Island.

According to N90/65, from 222350Z to 230115Z (7:50 pm to 9:15 pm), Shirley Yeo of Ebenezer, PEI, was "eyewitness to [a] glowing white object which landed in woods." She and all her family watched the strange object, which they described as "like an ice cream cone." Remarkably, once it "landed," the object was reported as "still glowing at 0300Z," two hours later!

Helen Gallant, who lived with the Yeo family, said: "I saw it through the trees. It looked like a great big round ball of light through the trees."

While the glow was still visible, witnesses watched as military helicopters and aircraft arrived and began circling the area. Although there is a civilian airport at Charlottetown, 12 km southeast of Ebenezer, and a military base at Summerside, 45 km southwest, witnesses were puzzled by the appearance of the aircraft because such activity seemed unnecessary if the UFO was really only a meteor.

Charlottetown RCMP confirmed that they had received more than a dozen calls about the Ebenezer object and had sent two constables to investigate. They noted that one officer "could see it in the distance, but then he just lost sight of it."
Meanwhile, Alexander Davis of Frenchvale, Cape Breton (Nova Scotia), "saw [a] red-hot sheet of metal land 300 yards from him in woods." It was noted that "he swears he knows exactly where it can be found." At the time the NRC report was filed, the RCMP were planning to "question him" the next morning.

N90/65 comments about the large number of reports that night, noting that the "phenomena [was] seen from Anticosti Island to Halifax, and from Newfoundland to Maine." Furthermore, "all colours of flares [were] reported as well as fireballs, flaming aircraft and burning boats," and reports were received over a period of 90 minutes. One note recorded that "RCMP detatchments in [the] Maritimes have reported location of debris."

Spurred by the possibility that the object was in fact a meteor which may have fallen, a group of 30 amateur astronomers with the Charlottetown Astronomy Club searched the area the next morning, but found nothing of interest.

Clive Perry, president of the club, was doubtful the UFO had been a meteor.
"I wouldn't think it would be a meteorite when it glowed so long," he said. "It pretty well had to be space junk or parts of a satellite. That's about the only thing that could have come down unless you want to talk about little green men with buggy eyes."

Perry spoke with the witnesses and found them to be honest and truthful. "They are very credible," he noted. "It would take a pretty good mind to make up a story like that."

Another astronomer, Paul Delaney of York University in Toronto, also offered his opinion to the media that because of the duration of the sighting, the UFO was probably not a meteor. He thought that the presence of the aircraft indicated the falling object was a satellite.

However, despite witnesses= reports and the negative findings of the astronomers, NORAD and CFB Halifax insisted the UFOs were ascribable to meteors. A newspaper report noted: "Neither military agency would say if anything struck the ground."
Like the Shag Harbour case, the reports were filed away without further investigation because it seemed no new information was going to be forthcoming. For lack of any other evidence, the sightings might as well have been due to meteors. After all, they did have some of those characteristics.

But in 1997, "A" began investigating UFOs. An ex-military officer with rescue training, she was living in PEI but had left the Canadian Forces and was then living elsewhere in Canada. "A" told UFO researchers that she had been based at CFB Summerside several years earlier when she and a rescue team had been scrambled to assist following a crash of some object near the base. Knowing of the PEI case, Ufology Research of Manitoba investigator Chris Rutkowski asked her for more details, and "A" began to describe a very different scenario than had been publicly offered.

"A" said that she and the medical team had been flown into the Ebenezer area on a Hercules transport after being told to prepare for a rescue mission. She says they were told to bring along their "banana suits" - protective yellow-coloured outfits for going into contaminated areas. However, once on the ground, she and the team were told by senior officers that they could not go near the crash site because of an unspecified security issue.

As they waited, "A" said she watched as a flatbed transport was brought in, then it left the site with something covered by a tarpaulin. She says she was sure that whatever had crashed had been recovered and taken away on the truck.

"A" said she and the team were given strict orders not to talk to the media about the operation. However, she said she was surprised when her own family later asked her what had happened and that they related the media stories about the meteor. She did not tell them about her experiences that night, however, obeying her instructions.

She also said that one day in the mess hall, a group of American air force officers were sitting beside her discussing the recovery operation at Ebenezer. She says she asked them what had been recovered, and was told outright that it had been a "spaceship."

The question is, then, what do we do with this new information? How can it be interpreted? While the original reports could be explained as meteors, this explanation would only work if we ignored some of the witnesses' observed details and assumed they were in error. Further, we could reason that the military aircraft activity was part of a planned operation and unconnected with the UFO sightings.
Given that the American military recently has admitted using UFO reports as a subterfuge to conceal secret missions, however, UFO researchers might be justifiably suspicious of military explanations of UFO sightings. If we assume instead that the witnesses' observations were relatively accurate and that the military activity was as a result of the observed object, it is possible that the fallen object was in fact a satellite of some kind as had been speculated.

In other words, without invoking the idea of aliens and crashed flying saucers, it is possible to interpret the events of that night in PEI as being due to an actual military rescue and recovery operation that was "covered-up" and a fictitious explanation given to the media for dissemination. Of course, why the crash of a satellite would need such elaborate security is not obvious.

In any event, even without "A's" statements, the PEI case is not explained to everyone=s satisfaction. And, if "A's" version of events is taken into account, the incident becomes even more puzzling. Who knows? Perhaps it was even a contemporary UFO crash, rivaling Roswell.

Or not.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Letter to Edward Ruppelt from Military Observer in Manitoba in 1954

While going through the UFOROM files, I discovered a copy of a letter sent to former Project Blue Book head Captain Edward Ruppelt in 1954. It was written by a former military man and he thought his observation of some objects shining in Manitoba skies was worth mentioning to Ruppelt.

Selkirk, Manitoba
August 10, 1954

Capt. E. J. Ruppelt, U.S.A.F.R.,
c/o TRUE Magazine
New York City, N.Y.

Dear Sir:

It was with great interest I read your article 'What Our Air
Force Found Out About Flying Saucers' which appeared in the May 1954
issue of True Magazine. I have read quite a few accounts concerning these
unknown flying objects, but your article was by far the most interesting.
Never having seen such objects, I was perhaps a little skeptical, but
never considered them impossible. On July 22 however, I did see
"something" and was fortunate enough to have three other people as witnesses.

I understand that you are no longer connected with this research,
but I have taken the liberty of writing you, hoping that you will pass on
the following report to those who may be interested.

On July 22, between 8.15 and 8.30 p.m. C.D.T. I saw what at first
appeared to be five aircraft in the southern skies. It was a very clear
sunny evening and these aircraft seemed to be reflecting the sun -- they
were a very bright shiny silver in color. The angle at which they
appeared in relation to directly overhead and the horizon would be, I
judge, between 20 to 25 degrees (see sketch). I watched these objects for
not less than three minutes, possibly six or seven -- unfortunately I did
not think to time them -- did not realize what I was viewing. During
that time they did not increase or decrease in size, all the while
glowing a very bright silver in color. While watching, they appeared to
'drift', almost imperceptibly in a westerly direction. Suddenly four of
the objects disappeared and the fifth (No. 1 in the sketch) vanished
possibly 30 seconds later. They did not grow smaller and vanish, but
simply disappeared, very much like a person turning off a light. At no
time was any sound audible. These objects were in formation (see sketch)
and as long as they remained visible, they did not alter their formation.
As for the shape of these objects, I believe "round" would best describe
them - they were definitely not square, oblong or cigar-shaped.

Whatever these were, they were also seen by people living in the
Winnipeg area at approximately the same time. As Winnipeg and Selkirk are
roughly 20 miles apart, these unknowns could hardly have been balloons.
To have been seen from both places at the same time, it would seem to me
that these objects would have to be at a very high altitude and also very
large in size. Some of the people in Winnipeg who saw these strange
objects, reported such to the two newspapers, The Winnipeg Tribune and
the Winnipeg Free Press.

I am not by any means an expert on aircraft, but during the war I
served with the Royal Canadian Navy and spent a few months with a British
Aircraft Carrier.

The people with me at the time these objects were sighted were my
wife, my sister-in-law and her husband. No doubt you have had many
reports at different times from various people - believe me, I am not a
"crank" looking for publicity, but I actually saw something which I have
seen before and of that I am certain. If there is anything else, such as
any further details concerning that which I have reported, I sincerely
hope that you or someone will write, as I shall be only too pleased to
try and answer. I am definitely very curious and interested to try and
learn what I actually did see.

Yours very truly,
(named deleted)


Friday, November 05, 2010


Darn those massive alien spaceships!

In today's Winnipeg Sun, a letter to the editor complains that I "didn't do my research as a UFO buff" because I missed pointing out in my debate with Robert Sheaffer that giant alien spaceships hidden in Saturn's rings were detected last year by French scientists, and then the story was apparently covered up.

UFOs and the truth

Re: ‘Look up in the sky,’ Nov. 2.

Chris Rutkowski hasn’t done his research as a UFO buff and missed that French astronomers discovered some massive ships in the rings of Saturn last year.

It was all over French news media for about a day, then the story quieted down. Robert Sheaffer states this phenomena started during the Cold War and that’s wrong, too.

There are cave paintings depicting aliens and UFOs, there are hieroglyphs depicting them, Sumerian tablets, the Bible even. All throughout the Middle Ages (in paintings and in some books) you can find UFOs.

Jean-Luc Levesque

I thank M. Levesque for pointing out my omission.

Take THAT, Fox News!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


The Great (Non-)Debate About UFOs

I had been contacted some time ago by Sun Media for the series they were doing on UFOs. I was under the impression they were going to run it before Hallowe'en, but scheduling had it just start on October 31 and ran the next few days. Curiously, some Sun Media papers ran all three parts on the same day, while others chose to spread it out.

Anyway, I had been asked to comment on the QMI survey that they were doing, without knowing the results. I gave them details on the survey that Ufology Research had done some time ago, and sent them the excellent and virtually unread paper Geoff Dittman had written on UFO polls, noted here previously:

The other thing I was asked to do was give answers to a set of questions that would be posed to both myself and archskeptic Robert Sheaffer, who headed the UFO subcommittee of CSICOP.

The two-sided Q&A was published thusly:

I'll also note the text here in case the link dies (as it has for some of the papers already):


After a series of puzzling stories in 2010 concerning UFOs -- publicized sightings from Newfoundland and Montreal to China and the U.K. -- QMI Agency, in a three-part Alien Probe special report, has looked at how humans continue to contemplate mysteries in the heavens.

And in the discussion, Canadians overwhelmingly - an exclusive Leger Marketing poll revealed yesterday - believe UFOs could be connected to alien visitors.

But in this final day of the series, we thought it might be worthwhile to get a grounding in facts.

So we invited renowned American skeptic and debunker Robert Sheaffer and Canadian UFO-buff Chris Rutkowski -- a Winnipeg-based astronomer who helps keep track of Canadian sightings -- to debate the known realities.

[Here are the Questions]

Do you believe aliens are visiting our world?

Chris: The UFO question is not about aliens visiting Earth, but about sightings of UFOs, which are not necessarily extraterrestrial. But since you asked, I would say there is no incontrovertible evidence to prove that aliens are visiting Earth. All we can say, scientifically, is that astronomers haven't detected any large interstellar craft heading for Earth during the last century or two. However, it would be presumptuous to think we have the ability to recognize, let alone detect a technology that might be hundreds or thousands of years ahead of us.

Robert: No. Nor do I believe in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or sightings of Elvis. Just because some people think they see something strange doesn't mean it's real.

What would it take to make skeptics believe?

Chris: Again, I doubt it will happen. By definition, skeptics are doubters to the end. A debunker, on the other hand, refuses to consider evidence against his or her belief system. It's their version of religion. Some have the attitude: "Don't bother me with the facts; my mind is already made up." Some debunkers state that no scientific studies show UFOs are worth the effort, but don't mention relevant literature, such as Blue Book Special Report 14, or the annual Canadian UFO surveys, or NARCAP reports on pilots' sightings. Sometimes a debunker says that a piece of metal with a non-terrestrial isotope ratio would be convincing proof of alien visitation, but I'm sure that the testing and analysis of such a piece, if ever offered, would be so clouded in doubt and accusations, it wouldn't be worth a plugged Martian nickel.

Robert - Obviously if a UFO landed on the White House lawn, that would suffice. But it need not be something so dramatic. If hundreds or even thousands of people independently sighted, and many photographed, a large flying structured craft in daylight (not some little dot in the sky), and all these photos were consistent with a real object, it would be very difficult to say that object wasn't real. Especially if the people had no connection or common link beforehand. But that never happens. Why not? Some UFOs are reported to hang around for an hour or more. Isn't that enough time to get a TV news crew to the site, even just once?

What would it take to make believers lose faith?

Chris: In my opinion, it won't happen easily, if at all. Belief is something that cannot be changed without a paradigm shift. Pronouncements by "experts" that something is not possible or deserving of study likely only reinforce long-standing beliefs held by people who may be looking for affirmation or validation beyond authorities' insistence. And to someone who has seen a UFO, skeptics' insistence that belief in UFOs is nonsense only reinforces a distrust of science. It's like Columbus being told by skeptics not to waste his time looking for the New World because it couldn't possibly be there. Oh, wait. They did tell him that. My bad. Sorry.

Robert: I don't think that ever could happen, since most of them have a strong emotional attachment to the "faith." It's much like a religious faith, and not based on logic. No matter how many UFO sightings are shown to have a rational explanation, believers resist accepting the explanation, and claim there is a government "cover-up" of UFO secrets.

What's your best theory behind a long history of UFO sightings around the globe?

Chris: The simplest theory is that not everyone can identify what they see in the sky. Nevertheless, UFO sightings represent a historical, persistent and global phenomenon, and for that reason, it seems reasonable that science should be studying it in more depth. UFOs are either physical phenomena, or psychological or sociological phenomena, so that in either case, scientists should be studying UFO reports.

Robert: It began in the frenzied post-War and early Cold War atmosphere of rapid progress in aeronautics and rockets, and of the atom bomb. Exciting and sometimes frightening new things were happening all the time. Once a certain percentage of the population believed that UFOs were something real, reports of UFO sightings in the mass media were enough for the phenomenon to feed on itself. Every time people saw something in the sky that looked a little strange, "It's a Flying Saucer!" became the conclusion.

Do you believe world governments are withholding important information on UFO sightings?

Chris: Most countries' governments withhold some information from their constituents. Why should the subject of UFOs be exempt? It is reasonable to think that data on certain UFO cases would have been collected through intelligence channels that are classified, and for that reason would be withheld from public scrutiny. There are many circumstances under which FOIA (or in Canada, AI) requests about would be denied, and we wouldn't even know the documents existed.

Robert: No. There undoubtedly are a few reports in the secret files from pilots or military personnel on a special mission who think they've seen a UFO. Stuff like that. But documents that "reveal" the "startling truth" about what UFOs are, where they come from, etc. -- nope.

We seem to be going through one of those periodic upswings in the number of UFO news stories. What should people take away from these reports?

Chris: Well, for one thing, this tells us there are many qualified observers who have seen and reported UFOs. It has been said that pilots make mistakes of observation as much as anyone else, but let's face it: Their observational abilities are relied upon every day for making judgments that keep our lives safe. If a military pilot with 10,000 hours in the air says he saw something that mystified him, it's worth talking about.

Robert: That even trained personnel can mistake ordinary phenomena for something strange and exotic. They're human, just like the rest of us. And none of these people have any actual proof that they witnessed something mysterious, it's just their interpretation of what they saw. So many sightings, so little evidence.

A few things to note:

I was described as a "UFO buff" - not the most accurate term, but something that anyone who studies the UFO phenomenon seriously has to live with. I take some comfort from the fact that J. Allen Hynek was also often called a UFO buff.

Also, on Twitter, after a member of the Ottawa skeptics tweeted a link to the debate, he was asked who "won" the debate. He replied, not surprisingly, that the skeptic did, because the "believer" attacked skeptics in his answers. Two things arise from that. First of all, debunkers often resort to attacks on supporters of UFO investigation in print, and it's considered fair game. Secondly, calling me a "believer" is curious. What, exactly, am I "believer" in? Interestingly, if you examine what I said in print, nothing there is at odds with conventional science. I made no claims about invasions by little green men, alien intervention in government activities, nor the existence of pod creatures in our neighbourhoods. In fact, I was very careful to simply argue that the UFO phenomenon should not be dismissed by science but studied scientifically and objectively.

I think that my being labeled as a "believer" was a result of my opponent being called a skeptic, and so for a debate, I had to have an opposing or contradictory viewpoint. But if you look at our two answers, they are mostly in line with one another. That thwarted a really juicy American-style political debate, but it did accurately give readers a sense of where serious ufology makes its stand. (And I'm often called a "skeptic" in the UFO community because I don't buy into a lot of what's touted as ufology these days.)

So, given that I must be wrong because the skeptic is right, my statement that there is "no incontrovertible evidence to prove that aliens are visiting Earth" must be in error. Ergo, aliens are here.

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