Sunday, February 22, 2015


Hit the road, Jack...

No, there was no "UFO Crash" at Jackhead

It all started as a silly late-night gag, and has mushroomed into a major ufological mystery.

Or so conspiracy buffs would have you believe.

On Wednesday night, February 18, 2015, at about 9:00 pm, a friend of mine named Maeengan Linklater sent me a PM on Facebook:

Hey, I'm hearing stories on a ufo in Jackhead First Nation with military trucks heading up there. Hear anything?

Maeengan is a great guy and a fine researcher. He’s also knowledgable about all things Aboriginal and Indigenous, with connections to many First Nations communities. So if he’s heard a story from one of them, there’s something to it. He then added quickly:

However, I think this morning, the Canadian army was going to be doing arctic exercises on Lake Winnipeg.

Ah, so that was it. We usually hear in advance if the Canadian Armed Forces are doing Search&Rescue training, but not all the time. And the west shore of Lake Winnipeg is exactly where these exercises are held. In fact, we get UFO reports a few times a year when the planes drop flares (a la Phoenix Lights) over the lake, giving a spectacular display.

I immediately suspected this is what that night’s stories were about. Usually, however, transports aren’t involved, because they’re air exercises. And Jackhead is a bit north of where the training missions are usually held, near Gimli.

Then Maeengan added:

And, people being asked to evacuate as well.

This wasn’t a regular Search&Rescue exercise. And why would anyone need to be evacuated?

I checked the Canadian Forces website and found the following:

Exercise ARCTIC BISON 2015, held February 13-22 along the length of Lake Winnipeg, focuses on challenging training for the Arctic Response Company Group in austere winter conditions.

Well, that explained it. Open and shut case. But it still didn’t make sense that anyone would be evacuated.

Maeengan told me that the evacuation comment came from a tweet from the First Nations community. I logged on to my Twitter account and searched for “Jackhead.” Sure enough, up came several tweets, including a daytime screen shot of several military transports on a road that looked like it could be in that area.

The first tweet that I found was:

Luke Jacob Thiessen ‏@ljthiessen  Feb 18Seeing photos of military trucks headed into Jackhead, MB, supposedly responding to "crashed UFO." That got weird fast. #JackheadUFO
The early photos were screen shots of a military convoy, although there was nothing to indicate exactly where this was observed.

And then there was:

Grant Hamilton ‏@Gramiq  Feb 18 Brandon, ManitobaWhaaa? Supposed UFO crash in Jackhead, MB, north of Winnipeg.  #XFilesReboot MT #JackheadUFOCrash

I could tell that the story was starting to explode. Somebody did a search on it and found that I had included a sighting in Jackhead in my 1993 Canadian UFO Survey:

Jason Phillips ‏@Feuerbach11  Feb 18@mc79hockey Not the first UFO in Jackhead, apparently:

But then a reporter whom I know quickly posted:

Melissa Martin ‏@DoubleEmMartin  Feb 18Ok we can cancel our tinfoil orders, Jackhead is alien free

And a military tweeter explained:

‏@DerekGagnon1@DoubleEmMartin @thrubeniuk Exercise Arctic Bison began on the weekend, our largest local winter exercise of the year. Annual event.

Well that was that. Except… the tweets kept coming…

Miss Kelly ‏@clairissak  Feb 18So apparently the aliens have landed in Jackhead, MB #JackheadUFO Jackhead Alien ‏
@JackHeadAlienMB  Feb 18Landed here in Jackhead? It's fucking cold here. Just asked my agent to add Manitoba to my do not invade list.

Yes, there was even a JackHeadAlienMB twitter name. And there were many more, including the disturbing:

Nolan Monkman ‏@MonkmanNolan  Feb 18 Wat with the military invading jackhead first nation?


CarChen ‏@CarChen  Feb 18@CNN UFO crashed in Jackhead, MB Canadian Military are on their way over now!

Even when someone from Jackhead tweeted:

Isaiah ‏@ColeCameron99  Feb 18@itsPHILLY204 I can assure you, it has nothing to do with a UFO 😐 I'm from Jackhead and its only a training exercise.

It was ignored completely.

Even when an Aboriginal radio station posted a story about the excitement, giving many details, it didn’t stem the tide:

NCI FM ‏@NCI_FM  Feb 19Jackhead Reserve: alien free since at least 1993 
But then the UFO media took interest, and away it went:

UFO RESEARCH ‏@UFO_RESEARCH  Feb 19UFO Sighting in Jackhead, Manitoba on February 16th 2015 - according to locals was a crash with large mil...  #UFO

Even though there was no actual witness or witness report, the MUFON case file noted:

“according to locals was a crash with large military presence and cordoned off to civilians.”

Other tweets said that the road to the reserve and town had been blocked by military vehicles. My question at this point was, “Which locals?” The only identified and named individuals from Jackhead who posted on Twitter were those who said the whole thing was simply a military exercise and that there was no “UFO crash.”

But the UFO media went nuts:

The badly-named UFOSFacts:

UFOSFACTS ‏@UfosFacts  Feb 19UFO Sighting in Jackhead, Manitoba on February 16th 2015 - according to locals was a crash with large…  #UFOS #OVNIS

The worst offender was the mostly-hoax UFO Youtube channel ThirdPhaseOfMoon, which ran an audio interview of a “guy who knew a guy in Jackhead” with an image from an unrelated UFO case, which many viewers thought was what was seen at Jackhead:

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) quickly posted a story that included an interview with military officials:

CBC Manitoba ‏@CBCManitoba  Feb 19ICYMI: Bright light near Jackhead last night wasn't a #UFO, says military  #cbcmb #manitoba

And a few others, including me, tried to set things straight.

Chris Rutkowski ‏@ufologyresearch No, there was no #UFO #crash in #Jackhead #Manitoba last night, and no one was evacuated by the military. #hoax Sorry, no #Disclosure 
Neal Shepperson ‏@NealShepperson  Feb 19@ufologyresearch @anomalistnews You would say that though wouldn't you...   :D

The next day, after I had thought things had slowed down, I awoke to find the story was going viral. I knew someone had to investigate this story, and it obviously had to be me, since no one else seemed to want to do so. Mainstream media took a look and found quickly it was the military exercise, but I wanted to know who started the rumours, and what was actually seen that led to the report of a UFO?

I easily found a number for the Band Office, and spoke with a council member there. She laughed. She said that if everyone had been evacuated, she wouldn’t have answered the phone. I asked her about the rumours and she said that there was nothing to them at all.

I dutifully reported back on Twitter about what I had learned.

Chris Rutkowski @ufologyresearch  ·  Feb 19 No, there was no #UFO #crash in #Jackhead #Manitoba last night, and no one was evacuated by the military. #hoax Sorry, no #Disclosure

But there was no way that facts were going to get in the way of a good story. Rumours continued to circulate on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and UFO Media about the amazing UFO crash at Jackhead, which was variously described as a town, a reserve and a military base.

Posters insisted that they knew people who had been evacuated, who had been turned away at a military checkpoint, and who had definitely seen UFOs. Many said they knew people from Jackhead First Nation who had witnessed the crash and ensuing cover-up personally.

Of course, no one was talking about it firsthand. Obviously, the conspirators explained, they had been hushed up. Taken away, never to be heard from again.

I tried being the voice of reason again, the following day, as the story continued its viral ascent.

Chris Rutkowski @ufologyresearch  ·  Feb 20Good grief! That #ufo crash story at #jackhead is still going! We looked into it and there's nothing to it, people!

The news coverage, in which the military explained about the exercise, did nothing to stop the rumour mill. In fact, the comments on the news stories show that almost no one believed the explanation.

Things got worse that night when ThirdPhaseOfMoon had a phone-in podcast during which “eyewitnesses” from Manitoba called in to rave about the UFO crash.

Blogger Seashoremary, who posts about conspiracies such as vaccines, NWO and bible prophesy, documented the discussion.

She noted:

Throughout the hour the incoming Canadian callers would get disconnected.  Interference was felt by the radio host and his frustration over the situation. The host was able, during the live broadcast, share information that he had received emails from eye witnesses with texted cryptic information: “Your government needs you.  Keep quiet” pointing  a finger at them.“They told us we have one hour to evacuate.”“That’s all I’m allowed to say.”“Don’t send to anyone.” (implied text message)The eye witnesses have been intimidated and are now afraid to speak out.  People are unhappy with the shut down and the military presence in their area.

In other words, nothing to substantiate any of the claims.

There were also some very fanciful Facebook posts by a Brent Mancheese:

UFO crash reported on the Jackhead reserve in Manitoba, Canada. Apparently the Canadian Military have vehicles lined up on north shore. They are threatening anybody who tries to take pics…lots of eye witnesses. Thur is round object being hauled across the lake being pulled by snow mobiles and bombardier … Something was seen going down by 8 fishermen they reported it…why would they not let the media know if it was a plane crash.

There’s also a question about photographs. The first ones that were posted and reposted widely were the daytime shots of personnel carriers. Then, someone posted a nighttime shot of vehicles on the ice.

And then a daytime shot with annotations has been circulated, and posted on

Seashoremary noted:

The host mentioned he has received photographs that he feels are legitimate but unable to download them onto a video pending consent from the senders who are now not able to communicate outside their territory. According to the radio host, one photo shows that it’s not an airplane but has “definite structure” about half-size of a football field 40′ – 50′.  Another photo shows people running to the scene, including military personnel on snowmobiles.

There's even an "artist's conception of the object on the lake:

One post on showed exactly how far the conspiracy buffs are taking this:

Freetruth • There is also short footage of disk in sky. They have shut down the reservation, no in, no out, have cut off phone internet lines, went door to door, asking if people saw anything, to help investigate, then those who said they did have been detained. Early on stuff got out calls, emails made. If this is nothing then we demand let ALL these people be free safe & accounted for because whether military created or other worldly, the point is this is abuse of citizens, harrass ment, threats, & unlawful detainment. Further gagging freedom of speech or ability to call out for help. Gov mil say simple mil excessive crash, fine & well then release pics images, be done with it. Release ALL you have detained. Leaving them in full possession of their property, phones, computers, cameras etc.. All data. These people did get out to friends asking for help, can't understand why they are being threatened detained etc... Some taken for further questioning.

Many posters on social media really had no idea of what the facts of the case were at all. But the implications of their comments are making things uncomfortable. ThirdPhaseOfMoon’s second podcast stirred things up by stating that the residents on the reserve were mad that the military was covering up such an event on their land.

One poster on February 22nd, three days after the story began going viral, asked:

Kris H ‏@HargoFett
Did a Canadian Roswell just happen? …Why would military conduct exercise on Indian reservation?

The Truth That Won’t Be Believed by Conspiracy Buffs and UFO Fans

First of all, Jackhead is a name given to the Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg, about 300 kilometres due north of the city of Winnipeg. It’s not a military base. In fact, there’s no base anywhere near it.

Jackhead is quite remote, with only a single gravel road leading in from Peguis First Nation and the town of Dallas (really!), about 60 kilometres south, and nothing in between. There are about 225 people who live on Jackhead First Nation, and some fish for a living. There are few other communities anywhere near there. During the winter, weather conditions make it very challenging to travel around or about the lake.

Second, related to the first point about the isolation of the site, the Canadian Forces chose Lake Winnipeg as the perfect place for winter training exercises.

On their website for Arctic Bison 2015:

Exercise ARCTIC BISON 2015 (Ex AB 15) will be conducted by 38 Canadian Brigade Group (38 CBG) from 13-22 February 2015 along the length of Lake Winnipeg.  Ex AB 15 will see approximately 110 members of the Canadian Army travel by snowmobile from Gimli to Grand Rapids, with approximately 40 members remaining in Gimli in the Land Component Command (LCC) headquarters or in supporting roles.  The exercise will focus on the achievement of the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) Full Operating Capability criteria, specifically focussing on the ability of the ARCG to force project and sustain itself 300 km from its support base.

In other words, about 70 soldiers were traveling by snowmobile from Gimli far to the south of Jackhead to Grand Rapids far to the north, and because of the nature of the geography, they passed close to the western shore near Jackhead as they travelled.

And what about the aircraft seen?

Ex AB 15 will provide realistic and challenging scenarios in harsh environments to the ARCG to ensure readiness for events that may arise. The exercise scenario will include response to a major air disaster, support to Ground Search and Rescue, and public relations activities in some communities along the shore of Lake Winnipeg.

So they staged a fake airplane crash to practice search and rescue techniques under extreme winter conditions. And the object "dragged along the lake?" The military exercise included constructing an emergency landing strip on the ice, which would have required digging a smooth patch on the ice, and removing the show to a certain depth. That was what is on the surface of the lake in the photograph.

(But yes, they obviously failed in their “public relations activities.” Because even though the Band Council and administrators knew about the military exercise that could pass near the community, the residents themselves were not told enough about what was going to be seen.)

Seashoremary’s transcription of the ThirdPhaseOfMoon’s podcast included the few details what can be thought of as UFO sightings from that night:

“I talked to one eye-witness seen something falling 1:30am Wednesday morning with bluish-green lights, he’s wondering what it was he saw, another honest fisherman said they were told to leave the lake Wednesday and not allowed to take pictures.”

It’s easy to understand these eyewitness descriptions knowing what we know about the operation. The lights in the sky (if that’s where they were seen) were aircraft. As for fishermen told to leave the lake, it would have been dangerous to have civilians near a military operation and were told to leave. As for photos? Well, it was a military operation.

All this is speculation based on the facts of the event. We have not actually heard from first-hand witnesses from the community.

What about the rumours of people being taken from their homes and cut off from the outside world? What we do know is that Internet access out there can be spotty and dependent on phone lines. I was able to reach people in the band office by phone, and it’s obvious that someone out there is on Twitter and Facebook, so Internet access has not been cut off. Nor have posts been removed.

Another thing that should be pointed out is that the military exercise started on February 13th, several days before the “UFO crash.” If a saucer did crash on the night of the 18th, it’s odd that the military would know about it before it happened, and also were in the exact location where it would occur.

There are plenty of second-hand sources of information about evacuation and saucers on the frozen lake, but apart from the fishermen, no one has admitted seeing or experiencing any of the strange events.

This is what’s on

UFO crash reported on the Jackhead reserve in Manitoba, Canada. Apparently the Canadian Military have vehicles lined up on north shore. They are threatening anybody who tries to take pics…lots of eye witnesses. Thur is round object being hauled across the lake being pulled by snow mobiles and bombardier … Something was seen going down by 8 fishermen they reported it…why would they not let the media know if it was a plane crash. Apparently a disc shaped craft was seen crashing through the ice on the lake, at least one person got photographic evidence but has since been detained by the Canadian military.

Let’s look at this summary of the conspiracy line by line.

UFO crash reported on the Jackhead reserve in Manitoba, Canada.
FALSE. A simulated plane crash was on the lake itself, significantly offshore.

Apparently the Canadian Military have vehicles lined up on north shore.
FALSE. There would be supporting military vehicles near the exercises, but this is the west shore.

They are threatening anybody who tries to take pics.
PARTLY TRUE. The military likely was discouraging civilians to take photos.

Lots of eye witnesses
POSSIBLY TRUE. If this refers to the UFO seen, then yes. The rumour says “eight fishermen,” though none have come forward officially. But what else were people witnesses to?

There is [a] round object being hauled across the lake being pulled by snow mobiles and bombardier.
PROBABLY TRUE. The military exercise involves a 300-kilometre trip across the frozen lake in -40F conditions. I sure hope they have plenty of supplies.

Something was seen going down by 8 fishermen.
See above.

Why would they not let the media know if it was a plane crash?
ANSWER: Because there was no real plane crash.

Apparently a disc shaped craft was seen crashing through the ice on the lake.
UNSUBSTANTIATED. There is no report of such an event, and no evidence to this effect. (I hope this did not refer to a military accident involving personnel, but we would have heard of this by now through conventional media if they had.)

At least one person got photographic evidence but has since been detained by the Canadian military.
UNSUBSTANTIATED. Who? Wouldn’t anyone from the community know who this was and object, perhaps going right to media? This would have been something to tweet out for sure, that “John White was arrested by the military.”

So, despite the lack of evidence of the wild claims, the story of the “UFO Crash in Jackhead” continues to go viral. Why did the story get made up, anyway? I suspect because of the general distrust of the military and the poor communication by the Canadian Forces public relations office about is operation, the activity was viewed as suspicious by some people in the remote community.

And the UFO conspiracy community did the rest.


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