Thursday, October 27, 2005

Canada and Flying Saucers, Vol. VI [Wilbert Smith - Competent? Credible? - Part 2]

When it comes to assessing a person’s reliability as a source, or witness, two things need to be assessed – his competency, particularly as it relates to the matter in question, and his credibility. As indicated in Part V (see, Canada’s supposed UFO pioneer Wilbert Smith fails the competency test. That alone would be damaging enough. However, making matters even worse, he also fails the credibility test.


Because he was a contactee – a fact which goes directly to his credibility as a source for reliable information about UFOs, and a fact which pro-Smith ufologists have consistently ignored, or glossed over.

What is a contactee, you might ask?

Dr. J. Allen Hynek, in his landmark study The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry, provided the best description. He wrote, at pp. 29 - 30:

“The reader will recall that implicit in our definition of UFO is the basic credibility of the reporter (unexplained reports made by ostensibly sensible, rational, and reputable persons). The contactee cases are characterized by a ‘favored’ human intermediary, an almost always solitary ‘contact man’ who somehow has the special attribute of being able to see UFOs and to communicate with their crew almost at will (often by mental telepathy). Such persons not only frequently turn out to be pseudoreligious fanatics but also invariably have a low credibility value, bringing us regular messages from the ‘space men’ with singularly little content. The messages are usually addressed to all of humanity to ‘be good, stop fighting, live in love and brotherhood, ban the bomb, stop polluting the atmosphere’ and other worthy platitudes. The contactee often regards himself as messianically charged to deliver the message on a broad basis; hence several flying saucer cults have from time to time sprung up. He regards himself definitely as having been ‘chosen’ and utterly disregards (if, indeed, he were capable of grasping it) the statistical improbability that one person, on a random basis, should be able to have many repeated UFO experiences (often on a nearly weekly basis), while the majority of humanity lives out a lifetime without having even one UFO experience.”

Hynek concluded that:

“I must emphasize that contactee reports are not classed as Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that reports such as these have brought down upon the entire UFO problem the opprobrium and ridicule of scientists and public alike, keeping alive the popular image of ‘little green men’ and the fictional atmosphere surrounding that aspect of the subject.”

Dr. Jacques Vallee wrote, “No serious investigator has ever been very worried by the claims of the ‘contactees.’”

Barry Greenwood has observed that the rise of the contactee movement in the 1950s undermined the efforts of groups like Keyhoe’s NICAP to get the UFO subject taken seriously. According to Greenwood, “The infiltration of this element into serious UFO research would prove to be extremely damaging to efforts in turning about government UFO policy. There was a certain "guilt by association," causing officials to look at every UFO organization as a potential lunatic fringe group to be ignored or made the object of ridicule.” [See]

Wilbert Smith was not just a supporter of the contactee movement, which would have been bad enough.

He was a contactee.

In 1955 Smith wrote contactee Daniel Fry that “My own contacts as yet have been entirely indirect, and I would like to meet these people face to face. Even though I have had quite convincing demonstrations of their advanced technology and I am quite sure of their reality, I would feel much happier if I could meet them.”

It gets worse.

To contactee George Adamski (pictured, left), Smith wrote in 1955, “Yes, we are in contact with AFFA [a supposed alien], and others in his group. I have had many long and interesting exchanges with him, and have found him entirely consistent and was beyond me in mental powers.”

In 1958 he got in a tussle with Keyhoe over the contactee issue. He wrote to Keyhoe that, “I do not agree with NICAP policy on contact stories. I have spent too many hours conversing with people from elsewhere to have any doubts about their reality.”

In another letter, this time in 1959, Smith wrote, “I have never met any of these people from elsewhere face to face, although several of my friends have, and I have confidence in their veracity. I have communicated with them by radio and by ‘tensor beam,’ and indirectly through contacts, and I can honestly say that I am as well acquainted with some of these people from outside as I am with people with whom I work at my office.

Perhaps Smith’s most ridiculous claim came less than a year after Project Magnet had been discontinued.

In 1955, he wrote contactee Harry Gesner that “We have been in touch with one group of space people. They know of Alan [contactee Dan Fry’s “alien” aka "A-lan"] but they are not directly associated with him. Apparently, the time for us is very short and there are several groups who have an interest in the outcome. Most of them are friendly, but there is at least one group that is bent on exploitation. These latter have a base near North Bay.”

An alien base. Near North Bay.

One can only wonder whether Smith bothered to inform the RCAF!

Does all of this sound familiar? It should, because it is very similar to the kind of bogus stories that are spread today by exopolitics “whistleblowers,” and that are roundly derided by every serious UFO researcher (including a few who are pro-Smith, ironically), for good reason.

North Bay... Area 51. There is no difference, at least in a ufological context.

And yet somehow Smith has been given a free pass by some UFO researchers over the years, despite making claims that completely undermine his credibility as a source of information about UFOs.


Because they are so desperate to prove their crashed saucer / MJ-12 / government cover-up theories (all of which Smith provided support for) that they wilfully ignore the fact that Smith had no credibility (nor, as shown in Part V, any competence).

They choose to believe that this man – a contactee – was let in on the greatest secret ever by the American and Canadian governments, not because it’s true, but because they think it helps bolster their case.

They are wrong, and always have been.

If the Americans let Smith in on anything, it was for disinformation purposes, because they realized they could use him as intelligence agencies have always used the gullible - and still do.

It is also important to note that Smith had a propensity to over-exaggerate his own importance – particularly when talking to people who might not be able to tell the difference between his fiction and the facts (he was less inclined to do so when talking to people - members of Parliamentary committees, for example - who would be more discriminating). For example, in response to a letter from Gesner in 1955 about Canada building a “space ship,” Smith wrote:

“I can honestly say that I know noting about it, and I doubt very much if it is true. You see, I know probably more about the behaviour of field and various angles of attack than anyone else in the country, so I just can’t see them doing anything that I wasn’t in on.”

This would have no doubt given the folks at the Defence Research Board and A. V. Roe – i.e. real scientists – quite a laugh.

Smith was also a publicity hound - indicative of a fantasist, and highly unlikely for someone supposedly involved at the highest levels of super-secret research (but perfect for the target of a disinformation campaign). In 1953, for example, he gave interviews to the media about his new "flying saucer sighting station" at Shirley's Bay (much ado about nothing, as it turned out). Later in his career (after Magnet had gone, according to Smith, "underground") he continued to talk to just about anyone who would listen. His constant contact with the press, and the understandable embarrassment his pronouncements caused his superiors, is undoubtedly the reason they withdrew what little support they had given to Project Magnet and the Shirley's Bay station.

Was Smith an outright liar, like some of the contactees, or was he simply a well-meaning, but deluded, fantasist, like other contactees? We’ll never know for sure, but from the tone of his writings, I think that it was probably the latter.

Still, the answer to the question of whether or not Smith was a liar or a fantasist is irrelevant when it comes to the core question of his credibility. The point is not why he held his beliefs, but the very fact that he held them at all, and that he based his "work" on those beliefs.

Smith’s contactee-ism was not just, as Stan Friedman wrote in his May 2005 MUFON Journal column, an interest “which might displease some people.”

It was part and parcel of who he was, and what he believed about UFOs. It also helps to explain why Smith was so gullible, and why he was so eager to chat with the press, even while supposedly working on top secret projects.

He fits the pattern of an ordinary man who was dissatisfied with his ordinariness, and so created a world that was extraordinary, with himself at the center of it. After all, it was much more exciting to be Wilbert Smith, top secret UFO expert and recipient of the wisdom of the “space people” than Wilbert Smith, mid level civil servant in the Department of Transportation. He wasn’t the first, and he certainly won’t be the last, to try and create a more interesting reality for himself, to the point where he actually came to believe that the fantasy world was the real world, and vice versa. Given that there was no real government money spent on any of his research, and his fantasy-world did not seem to affect his ability to carry on his real-world duties at Transport, it was, in hindsight, harmless (although it made him the target of some sort of American disinformation scheme, no-one else in Canada really bought it) – which is probably why his superiors indulged him for as long as they did, even as others got about doing the real work of investigating the UFO phenomenon.

The problem lies not with Smith having created his fantasy world. The problem lies with those today who promote his tales as the truth.

In continuing to ignore Smith’s lack of credibility, these pro-Smith ufologists have only called into question their own.

Paul Kimball

Clancy-ism Runs Amuck!

Apparently it isn't just Dr. Susan Clancy.

Personally, I've never quite known what to make of the alien abduction claims.

Many of the people who make them are clearly sincere, and obviously believe that they were abducted.

But I have a deeply rooted distrust of hypnosis as a legitimate investigative tool, and many of the abduction researchers don't ring true to me. Their flaws - and the flaws in their methodology - are detailed convincingly in The Abduction Enigma, by Kevin Randle, Russ Estes and William Cone.

Still, who knows? The Hill case is enough to make me keep an open mind. As a certain ufologist of my acquaintance might say, in a different context, "it's in my grey basket."

Part of me is hoping that Clancy et al are wrong, and that it can't all be explained as sleep paralysis, and other psychological causes, that have taken different forms over the centuries.

After all, any society that replaces the succubus legend with little grey aliens clearly has its priorities out of whack!

Paul Kimball

Source: The Western Mail - Wales, UK 26 2005

Close Encounters Of The Mind Kind

Alien abduction is probably all in the mind, according to research presented today. A new study supports the theory that people who claim to have contact with aliens are psychologically vulnerable to false memories.

Compared with other people, they also believe more strongly in the paranormal, and report experiencing more X Files-type activity, made famous by the programme starring Gillian Anderson (pictured) as Dana Scully.

Wales has been a hotspot for UFO sightings, including a spate of reports of extra-terrestrial experiences in 1977, which led to a government inquiry into strange goings-on in the so-called Broad Haven Triangle.

But research by Professor Chris French, head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College in London has suggested that this type of contact with alien life may be all in the mind. Prof French carried out the study by comparing 19 alleged "abductees" and 19 random volunteers. He found that in psychological tests, so-called "experiencers" scored more highly in a number of areas, including belief in the paranormal, a tendency to hallucinate, and "dissociative" tendencies which can lead to altered states of consciousness.

They were also likely to fantasise, and had a history of sleep paralysis. Like other paranormal experiences, such as encounters with ghosts, alien abduction is often associated with sleep paralysis episodes, Prof French says. In this state, a sleeper wakes to find him or herself unable to move but aware of their surroundings. At the same time, dream-like auditory and visual hallucinations may occur.

Prof French, who will present his findings tonight at the Science Museum in London, said, "In the late 20th century, an increasing number of people around the world began to claim that they had had a most bizarre experience." Typically, they would report being taken from their beds or from their cars by alien beings." These beings were often around four feet high, with spindly arms and legs and oversized heads."

The abductees, or 'experiencers' as they prefer to be known, would describe how they had found themselves on board an alien spaceship where they were subjected to (often painful) medical examination, during which sperm or ova might be extracted." Although it is hard to estimate just how many people have conscious memories of this kind it is likely to run into at least several thousand worldwide."

The findings were backed by Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, who suggested claims of alien contact were derived from a desire to believe in extra-terrestrial life.

"It's some kind of instinctive need to link up with life outside Earth, but the experiences that are recorded by these people are factors of the imagination. They have had the sensation of an encounter, but it can not be quantified or substantiated."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Kaiser Returns

Exciting news (well, for me anyway). My old pal "Kaiser" William Fraser, who has been in exile these past two years in Mississippi and England, will be popping by Halifax for a visit in early December. That's us above, at Cape Split, Nova Scotia, during an off day while shooting the television series The Classical Now back in 2004 (I wrote and directed the series, and Will hosted).

I strongly suspect that I won't be making too many blog entries during Will's 5 day stay in town. More likely I'll be making "grog" entries.

As Stimpy would say, "happy happy, joy joy."

Halifax may never be the same!

Paul Kimball

P.S. See also

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Canada and Flying Saucers, Vol. V [Wilbert Smith - Competent? Credible? - Part 1]

When it comes to judging the reliability of a source, there are two key factors to look at – the first is whether the source is competent, and the second, if he or she passes this hurdle, is whether they are credible.

It is time to lay to rest, once and for all, the contention that Wilbert Smith, Canada’s supposed flying saucer guru, has passed either of these tests, as they relate to the subject of UFOs.

Was Smith competent?

That depends on what you mean by “competent.”

Was he a competent civil servant, who fulfilled the job functions that he was assigned during his tenure in the radio regulations division of the Civil Aviation section of Canada’s Department of Transport? Here the answer is yes. Indeed, as pro-Smith ufologists constantly point out, he won a posthumous award for his contribution to the development of Canada’s broadcast industry.

For Smith's work at the Department of Transport put into proper perspective, see:




(4); and


However, by focusing on Smith’s years of service as a bureaucrat and radio engineer as evidence of his “competence,” pro-Smith ufologists like Grant Cameron and Stan Friedman have missed the boat completely. After all, a perfectly competent radio engineer and bureaucrat does not necessarily a perfectly competent scientist make, and it is on the issue of Wilbert Smith’s competence as a scientist, capable of devising, managing and completing experiments and observations related to the UFO phenomenon, that the question of professional competence is relevant.

When this area of his work is examined, the answer as to his competence is different. It is clear that he was not competent. Indeed, this was the conclusion drawn by Dr. Omond Solandt (who was a competent scientist, and then some), who wrote:

“He was not a good scientist… Frank Dawes, head of our telecommunications research Lab and an authority on terrestrial and other magnetism repeated the experiments with Smith and showed that the results obtained by Smith were due to sloppy measurements with uncalibrated equipment. There was nothing in the theory.” [Letter to Christopher Allan, 3 August, 1989]

Smith was not out to objectively examine the subject of UFOs, but was out to prove that UFOs were alien spacecraft. As Solandt said, “He was out to prove that there were UFOs and that the ‘Establishment’ was dedicated to suppressing all knowledge about them.” [Allan letter, ibid.] In other words, he did exactly what a competent scientist or researcher would not do – he formulated his conclusions first, and then conducted his experiments in order to try and make whatever data he found fit his conclusions. On the question of UFOs, he was a conspiracy theorist (and therefore the perfect target for an American disinformation scheme – see, not a scientist.

This can be seen in his work. Take, for example, his interim report for Project Magnet, from 1952. After a year of experimenting in his part-time, he was unable to offer any results. As Smith admitted, “The results to date have hardly been spectacular and may even be claimed to confirm only what could be expected in the behaviour of fields.” He also admitted that “the limited amount of information available regarding the flying saucers has proven a serious handicap in evaluating the characteristics and salient features of this possible other technology.” Nevertheless, this did not stop him from drawing the conclusion that “flying saucers exist,” demonstrated “strong magnetic fields,” and operated in a very particular manner (“rims rotate; rims not airfoil; rims get hot”).

In 1953, again with no evidence to support this conclusion (and in breech of security, which was supposedly, at least so far as his alleged American sources were concerned, two "points" higher than the hydrogen bomb), Smith gave interviews to reporters in which he stated that there was “a 60 per cent probability that [UFOs] are alien vehicles.” [Winnipeg Free Press, 12 November, 1953]. In his own mind, however, that figure was 100%, as his personal correspondence confirms beyond any reasonable doubt.

This is competence? Hardly.

But, you may ask, surely Smith didn’t just make this stuff up? He must have had something that underpinned his conclusions about aliens?

As it turns out, he did, which leads us to the question of credibility, and the extremely important aspect of Smith’s activities that pro-Smith ufologists rarely, if ever, mention. Instead, embarrassed by the truth, they resort to euphemistic phrases like the one Stan Friedman used in his May 2005 MUFON Journal column:

“Yes, Wilbert had many interests, some of which might displease some people. So what?”

If those interests had included things that were unrelated to UFOs (and so long as they were not criminal), then Stan would have a point. What Stan doesn’t tell you, however – in the process breaking one of his four “rules for debunkers,” i.e. the one that states, “What the public doesn't know, we certainly won't tell them” ( – is that the “interests” to which he refers relate directly to Smith’s “study” of the UFO phenomenon, and to his credibility as a source.

Because Wilbert Smith was a “contactee.”

To be continued…

Paul Kimball

Fields of Fear - Update, Vol. II

Halifax actor Jennetta Lamb will be providing the narration for our upcoming documentary, Fields of Fear.

Jennetta is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, and the acting programme at Dalhousie University here in Halifax. Her New York credits include productions of Hamlet, Titus Andronicus, and True West, and her credits here in Halifax include the films The Silent Horror, The Pianist, and my upcoming post-apocalyptic version of MacBeth. She is also a past member of Halifax's critically acclaimed Shakespeare by the Sea troupe (, and has performed in a number of theatrical productions, including a wonderful turn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter in 2003.

The Halifax Daily News called her performance as Eleanor "magnificent," an assessment with which the Halifax Chronicle Herald agreed: "Lamb, wearing a long, black velvet dress and a white scarf draped down the front, has a wonderfully cold and regal bearing. She tackles her manipulative, cruel and suffering character with a delight in Eleanor's verbal victories, wonderfully visible in the actor's eyes. She understands and slowly reveals the heart of her character... When Lamb and [Art] James [as Henry] really go at it, in a complex portrait of a political, once-passionate marriage, the play throws off sparks."

I saw it three times, and I'm happy to get the chance to work with her again.

Welcome aboard, Jennetta!

Paul Kimball

Best Evidence - The Production Team, Vol. I

A photo of my good pal Evangelo Kioussis, who is working with us as a co-producer on the Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Cases film. Evangelo has his own company, Chronicle Pictures, which has offices in Halifax and London (you can find out more at Besides being pals, he and I have worked together before - he directed Caesar, a drama special made for Bravo, back in 2000, and The New Light Experience of Henry Alline, a 1/2 documentary we made for Vision TV, also in 2000.

He's an excellent writer as well, and has been developing what will be a groundbreaking science fiction series with a number of international partners for the past couple of years. He's also a HUGE James Bond and Star Wars fan, which explains why he and I first hit it off! We may be the only two people in the world who think that Timothy Dalton was the best Bond ever.

As I always say, the best part of my job is getting to work with my pals!

Paul Kimball

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Canada and Flying Saucers, Part IV (Dr. Omond Solandt)

When looking into the history of the government's study of the UFO phenomenon in Canada, it's important to understand who the key players were.

Unfortunately, some ufologists have spent so much time focusing in on Wilbert Smith, senior radio regulations engineer in the Air Services section of the Department of Transport (i.e. a mid level career civil servant), that they have overlooked the role played by others, or, worse, misrepresented that role.

No one has been treated more shabbily by these ufologists than Dr. Omond Solandt.

For those who may not be aware of who he was, here is his official biography from the government of Canada:

Omond Solandt
Insightful Interpreter of Scientific Research

BROOKE CLAXTON, Canada's Minister of Defence after World War II, said that Omond Solandt, as head of Canada's Defence Research Board, knew "more British secrets than any American and more American secrets than anyone from the British Isles."

Solandt, one of Canada's most distinguished scientific executives was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on September 25, 1909. Upon graduating in medicine from the University of Toronto, he embarked on research in physiology with Charles Best, co-discoverer of insulin. Pursuing advanced studies in physiology, Solandt, in 1939, was appointed lecturer in Mammalian Physiology at the University of Cambridge.

Early in World War II, Solandt was made responsible for the Southwest London Blood Supply Depot. He was asked to determine why army tank personnel fainted when their guns were fired. His conclusion - that fumes from the firing of the guns were sucked into the tanks and caused the tank crews to faint - led to his appointment as Director of the Physiological Laboratory at the British Medical Research Council.

Promoted to the rank of colonel in the Canadian Army in 1944, Solandt had contact With many British scientists in addition to senior military officials during the war. This enabled him to learn in some detail how British military policy was made and what roles scientists played in its development.

After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Solandt was made a member of a British War Office task force commissioned to examine the effects of the bombing in Japan. With Jacob Bronowski, a mathematician who later become widely known for his television series "The Ascent of Man, Solandt completed a careful analysis of the casualties of the atomic bombing.

Solandt and Bronowski worked together for two weeks in each of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Visiting hospitals, they met and conversed, through interpreters, with victims, their relatives, and others who could provide first-hand accounts of what had happened during the bombing. Solandt and Bronowski sincerely wished to learn what the victims of the nuclear bombing had experienced. Much to their surprise, they encountered no hostility.

Their on-site studies in Japan led to the publication of the first-known report on the deaths and injuries caused by the bombing of the Japanese cities. They provided detailed maps showing ground zero - the centre point of the atomic explosion in each of the two cities - and the various zones of injury.

After the war, Canada's military and political leaders agreed to consolidate the nation's defence research programs. Solandt was made Director General of Defence Research, 1946-47, and was invited to prepare plans for future military research. From 1947 until 1956, he was Founding Chairman of Canada's Defence Research Board Working closely with Canada's National Defence Department, the Board had liaison officers in London, Washington, and, eventually, in Paris.

From the outset Solandt was determined to ensure that the Defence Research Board would stress applied research. He was fully conscious of the need for pure research, but he was absolutely convinced that in defence matters Canada had to give priority to applied research.
In addition to work on traditional military interests such as explosives and propellants and, to a limited extent, missile development, the Board encouraged research, in particular, on Arctic atmospheric conditions. the region 50 miles above the earth’s surface is designated the ionosphere. Here electrically charged particles called “ions” are produced through the effects of radiation from the sun and other extraterrestrial bodies on the neutral atoms and molecules of the air. In the ionosphere, the number of ions is sufficient to influence the natural reproduction of radio waves.

The interest of Canada’s Defence Board in the ionosphere was pertinent to the siting and installation of the DEW line (the distant, early-warning radar system) installed across Canada’s northern region in the 1950s. This was one of a variety of applied research activities in which the board took a special interest during this “cold war” period.

When his responsibilities with the Defence Research Board ended in 1956, Solandt worked for nearly a decade as a senior corporate executive. From 1956-63, he was Canadian National Railway’s senior officer responsible for research and development. He assumed similar responsibilities upon becoming director of DeHavilland Aircraft and Hawker-Siddeley Canada. He then returned to work at the federal level as Founding Chairman of the Science Council of Canada. This council, established by an Act of Parliament in 1966, was established by the Federal government to advise on policy matters concerning science and technology.

Initially it was assumed that the Council would act on ministerial requests. However, experience indicated that the best approach for the Council was to operate without ministerial direction. Since the 25-30 members of the Council were essentially representative Canadian scientists, this approach seemed desirable.

During Solandt’s chairmanship, the Council gained widespread respect, particularly after its fourth report, “Towards a National Science Policy in Canada,” was published in 1968.

In this report the Council explored the desirability of encouraging personnel from private industry, universities, and government research agencies to work together on major mission-oriented projects. The council believed that, in the best interest of Canada and the world, such projects should involve the study of the atmosphere, diminishing water resources, the development of the Canadian north, transportation, the urban environment, and new energy sources.

Far-removed from public view, Omond Solandt was a dedicated medical scientist and distinguished scientific research executive. He contributed in many ways to the resolution of problems that imperil the lives of human beings throughout the world [The Toronto Star].
The idea of a series of mission-oriented projects as a means of assisting Canada in overcoming fundamental problems was never implemented. Many of the problems identified by the Council under Solandt’s far-sighted leadership continue to plague the daily lives of Canadians. The validity of the proposals he and his colleagues made is confirmed daily.

After completing his work with the Science Council, Solandt assumed chairmanship of an Ontario Government Commission created to deal with a multifaceted problem: the transmission of electric power. Often called “The Solandt Commission,” it was established to advise the Ontario Government of any potential problems associated with the transmission of power to certain areas of the province. Many potential ecological, political, scientific, social, and technical problems, as well as financial issues, required thoughtful resolution. He and his colleagues submitted carefully reasoned recommendations for action to resolve these concerns.

During the last 20 years of his life, Solandt made many significant contributions through his efforts to make the world a better place. He served, for example, as a consultant to the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa on the establishment of a centre for agricultural research in the dry areas of Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. During the same period he became a trustee and chairman of the Executive and Finance Committee of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre in Mexico City. He was also a member of the board of governors and the executive committee of the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya. Similarly he advised the International Livestock Centre for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Nigeria.

In 1982, the Ocean Ranger, the world’s largest semisubmersible drill rig, capsized and sank off Newfoundland when it was hit by 90 mph winds and 50-foot waves. The entire crew of 84 lost their lives. The government of Canada asked Solandt to investigate the disaster. Again he brought to bear the intellectual and creative gifts, knowledge, and insight he had drawn upon some 40 years earlier when asked to advise the British Army why tank personnel fainted after firing their guns. Solandt and the members of the Canada/Newfoundland Royal Commission on the Ocean Ranger marine disaster found that the rig had capsized as a result of concurrent effects: the raging storm, inadequate rig design, and lack of informed action by those involved.

Serving in 1984 as the chairman of the conference on offshore safety in Eastern Canada sponsored by the Royal Commission, he recommended sweeping changes in government regulations for training, safety practice, and procedures in offshore activities in Canada.

In the last years of his life, Solandt was a valued board member of the Canadian Institute for Radiation Safety (CAIRS). With a board of Governors representing industry, labour, government, scientific and educational agencies, the Institute, unique in the world, is dedicated to resolving and preventing problems faced by individuals engaged in ionizing radiation-risk activities.

Throughout his long and distinguished career as a medical scientist and scientific research executive, Omond Solandt was far-removed from public view. Through his careful application of knowledge in war and in peace, however, he contributed in many ways to the resolution of problems that imperil the lives of human beings throughout the world. His many contributions in Canada and abroad, while not widely known, were outstanding."


He was, in short, a great Canadian.

The problem with this is that if you believe the Wilbert Smith stories, then you have to also believe that Solandt was a liar. Take, for example, Stan Friedman's May 2005 MUFON Journal column, where he wrote, of an interview he had with Solandt:

"I felt that Solandt was being very careful in the manner I have founf common with people who have classified information they cannot divulge to others not having a clearance and need to know - trying to avoid direct lying, but not giving out much information either.

Actually, as I have pointed out before, Solandt gave out a great deal of information about Wilbert Smith.

For example, in 1989 he wrote to British researcher Chris Allan:

"I knew W. B. Smith fairly well. He worked for the Department of Transport in Ottawa. He was not a good scientist. He was out to prove that there were UFOs and that the 'Establishment' was dedicated to suppressing all knowledge about them - why no one knew. The Defence Research Board officially adopted an open mind on UFOs and spent some time following up reported sightings in Canada. We never found anything that even suggested the existence of a UFO. We even gave Smith some facilities on DRB property for his radio watch and offered to have some experts repeat his experiments which were the basis of his claim to have found a mechanism for the magnetic propulsion of UFOs. Frank Dawes, head of out telecommunications research Lab and an authority on terrestrial and other magnetism repeated the experiments with Smith and showed that the results obtained by Smith were due to sloppy measurements with uncalibrated equipment. There was nothing in the theory."

This is hardly a man who was trying to avoid giving people information. Remember as well that by this time Smith's Project Magnet had been declassified for over a decade, and his theories had been known to the general public since the 1950s, and so there was nothing secret about it, or Smith.

For more of Solandt's correspondence on Smith with various researchers, see

Now, Stan had an answer for this, sort of - he wrote that "Solandt could denigrate Smith when nobody was around to defend him."

No-one to defend him?? I hope Stan, who has always had a pretty good sense of humour, was kidding.

The truth is that, because it buttresses their conclusions about certain aspects of the UFO phenomenon (namely the government cover-up, of which Roswell and MJ-12 are part and parcel), some ufologists have been not only defending Smith, but actively promoting him as a key part of the UFO story (and an important corroborative source for both Roswell and MJ-12) for decades.

In the process, these ufologists have either ignored, or attacked and misrepresented, Dr. Solandt, whose statements about Smith are consistent with the historical record, and with Smith's own statements (see

In doing so, they have backed the wrong horse, and completely skewered the real history of Canada's involvement in the UFO phenomenon. They have led themselves, and those who would listen to them, on the ufological version of a snipe hunt.

Their "study" of Wilbert Smith has never been about history, and the search for the true story about Canada and UFOs (which is plenty interesting in itself); it was, and remains, about the reinforcement of their own conclusions - conclusions which they had already drawn, and which they refuse to re-visit, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

To be continued...

Paul Kimball

Canada and Flying Saucers, Part III [Enter... the Nazis?]

Rumours have existed for decades that the Germans, towards the end of the Second World War, were working on creating a flying saucer. Indeed, some fringe conspiracy theorists today maintain that the Germans actually made at least one, and got it to work (the follow-along contention often being that these projects were taken over by the Americans and / or Soviets after the war).

While there is no doubt that the Germans were working on advanced aircraft and missile design throughout the war, there has never been any credible evidence that the claims of "Nazi flying saucers" was anything other than a myth, in the purest sense of the term (i.e. not true). Anyone who tells you otherwise simply has no idea what they are talking about.

However, while we might know this now, things were much different back in the early 1950s. It was an era of heightened Cold War tension between the superpowers, but it was also an era of intense competition between the western allies, particularly the Anglo-American-Canadian triumvirate, for technological advances. Finally, the myriad reports of UFOs being seen around the world had gotten the attention of everyone - especially the Air Force, both in the United States, and in Canada.

So, when a German came forward and claimed that he had knowledge of a secret Nazi flying saucer program, the authorities, at least in Canada, took him seriously.

In the late spring of 1952, a German immigrant to Canada approached a former RCAF officer of his acquaintance, and told him that he had knowledge of German flying saucer design and production. The former officer reported this to the RCAF, which arranged an interview with the German. On 21 June, 1952, according to the formerly Secret interrogation report, the German (referred to in the report as the "Source") was interrogated at RCAF HQ in Ottawa by Squadron Leader G. A. White, Flight Lieutenant H. Brooks, and a Mr. S. Shramshenko. Group Captain N. W. Timmerman and Flying Officer H. P. Korntoff sat in as observers.

Three things immediately stand out from this initial interrogation.

First, the level of the officers involved. All were commissioned officers, and two - White and Timmerman - were senior officers (a Squadron Leader was the equivalent of a Major, and a Group Captain the equivalent of a Colonel; a Flight Lieutenant was the equivalent of a Captain, and a Flying Officer a 1st Lieutenant). They were members of the Department of Air Intelligence. This indicates that the RCAF took the claim, at least in the beginning, seriously.

Second, the thoroughness of the interrogation. The source provided his alleged full history, the supposed history of the programs he had allegedly work on, and some of what he claimed were his own design plans, which he stated were superior to the original German plans. The fact that the officers didn't seem to think much of his story shows that they knew their stuff. For example, they immediately recognized that the plan the source showed them was actually a conventional jet with a circular wing.

Third, the lack of civilian involvement (other than Shramshenko, who was probably an interpreter, although this is a point that needs to be confirmed). This was a matter that related directly to flying saucers, and therefore national security. It occurred after the creation of Project Second Story (of which Timmerman was a member) earlier that year, and yet it was run entirely by the Air Force.

The interrogators sent the source on his way, and that most likely would have been the end of it, except two days later the source contacted DAI and told them that he had not divulged all that he knew about the flying saucer program, and that he had a number of drawings that pertained to the construction of the German flying saucer. The DAI determined that it could not afford to ignore this information, and arranged for a second interrogation later that day. Once again, it took place at Air Force HQ in Ottawa. It was conducted by Timmerman, White, and Brooks, with an unnamed civilian observer present.

This time, the officers could not immediately dismiss the new information provided by the source - it appeared to them to be outside their area of knowledge. Accordingly, they arranged for a third interview, which would involve members of the National Research Council who did have the knowledge to assess the new claims.

This third - and final - interview took place later that day, at the National Research Council offices in Ottawa. Squadron Leader White represented DAI as an observer, but the questions this time were asked by four experts - F. R. Thurston, Chief of the Structure Laboratory at the NRC (in 1976, he would be awarded the prestigious McCurdy Award by the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute; see; T. Stephens, Chief of the Aerodynamics Laboratory at the NRC; A. H. Hall, the Assistant Chief of the Structures Laboratory; and R. A. Tyler, a research officer in gas dynamics at the NRC. According to the report, they "thoroughly questioned" the source on "all aspects of the design and technical detail of the alleged flying saucer. At this point, under hard questioning by scientific experts, it became clear that the source did not know what he was talking about. As the report states:

"Source was, however, unable to answer with any accuracy, questions pertaining to types of metals used, fuel used, how various parts of the aircraft operated and / or their size, etc. He was unable to answer many of the questions at all."

The NRC officials concluded that the source was a "thorough liar," that he was "trying to bluff his way through the interrogation," that he was "technically unqualified to have such knowledge of aircraft structure or design," and that there was "nothing new, technically or in design, in the plans produced or information heard from the source." As a result, the source was sent on his way, and the matter closed - although neither the NRC officials nor the DAI officers ruled out the possibility that such machines had existed, or the possibility that they could be built (which, given some of the work the Defence Research Board was involved in at that time, comes as no surprise).

What this episode demonstrates, yet again, is that the real investigation of the UFO phenomenon in Canada was being run by the Royal Canadian Air Force. When a potentially important source of UFO information surfaced, it was DAI officers that conducted the investigation, and then NRC scientists who were consulted about the technical aspects.

It was not being run by the far too credulous Wilbert Smith, the Senior Radio Regulations Engineer in the Air Services Section of the Department of Transport, who at this time was working on an interim report for his pet Project Magnet that somehow managed to conclude - without any evidence - that "saucers are real," and that they operated in a very precise manner.

After all, the Defence Research Board and the RCAF took the subject of UFOs seriously.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Canada and Flying Saucers, Part II [The Beginning]

When did Canada's serious investigation into the UFO phenomenon begin, and what was the nature and focus of the effort in those early years?

Was it with the set-up of Wilbert Smith's part-time Project Magnet, and his theories of extraterrestrial visitors?


It was Project Second Story, which was set up in 1952 under the auspices of the Defence Research Board to look into "Flying Saucer" sightings. As the minutes noted, "the frequency and persistency of the sightings" tended to discount hallucinations as an explanation. However, at that time the method of gathering reports was "haphazard," and the response of the various services was "passive." It was decided to make a more "active and intensive effort" to obtain data on an organized basis.

The committee considered the theories of the proponents of terrestrial explanations, and extraterrestrial explanations, which demonstrated an open-mind. However, the committee members clearly favoured the terrestrial explanation theory even then. Smith was given the opportunity to present the ETH, but it was quickly "generally agreed" that "no electromagnetic radiations had ever been found which could not be traced to terrestrial origin." Smith then "elaborated on the work of the ionosphere stations which has been asked to report any unusual findings, but with 'nil' returns to date."

In contrast to the low-level Smith, who was the advocate of the ETH, it was DRB Chairman Dr. Omond Solandt (pictued at left) himself who outlined the terrestrial theories - namely a new type of aircraft, presumably Russian, at least as far as the committee was concerned. This theory mirrored similar American sentiments at the time. However, it should be noted that despite the fact that there was no evidence to support the ETH, it was not discounted. However, when a sub-committee was formed to lead in the investigation and standardize procedures, Wilbert Smith was notable by his absence. If the ETH was being seriously considered (which is a different thing from saying that it "had not been discounted"), then it would have been logical to include him on that sub-committee. That he was not initially included is telling. However, Smith did manage to get himself included after the meeting was over - one can only presume that Smith, a persistent man if nothing else - prevailed upon either Solandt or Millman to let him sit on the sub-committee, and that they agreed, much as they had with Project Magnet, and later his work at Shirley's Bay, simply to get him off their backs. If there is another logical explanation as to why he would have been left off the original sub-committee list, determined at a meeting which he attended, and then found himself on the sub-committee two days later, I would love to hear it.

Also of interest is the fact that the committee was aware of American investigations, was aware that the United States government had not been completely forthright with its public answers, and that their investigatory program had been re-opened, after being publicly discontinued, as a classified effort. There was a clearly expressed desire by the committee to obtain information from American interviews and investigations, if they had been conducted according to proper procedures. However, it was equally clear that the information about these investigations was provided by the Air Force representatives on the committee, and not Wilbert Smith (odd, if he was truly "in the know"). Further, when Canada sent representatives down to the United States to liaison with Project Blue Book, it was RCAF personnel, not Smith. See

"Status of Project Blue Book...

D. RCAF Interest in Project Blue Book

Two RCAF personnel, members of the Directorate of Scientific Intelligence, Defence Research Board of Canada, visited Project Blue Book at ATIC on 14 May 1952. Canada is setting up a project very similar to the U.S. Air Force project for the investigation of reports of unidentified aerial objects. The RCAF people were briefed on the operations of the project and the difficulties that had been encountered, and the proposed future plans were discussed.

Action is being taken to establish channels for communications between the Canadian and U.S. project personnel."

These actions would begin to take shape in 1954, but, again, involved the American and Canadian military establishments - not civilian agencies (see Vol. III, to come), and certainly not Wilbert Smith.

It was also at the first meeting of Project Second Story that the idea of making use of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the investigations was first raised, by Group Captain D. M. Edwards of the Department of Air Intelligence (D.A.I.). As he stated, they "might prove invaluable as observers" and "had the added advantage of having trained interrogators."

And thus began Canada's first serious investigative effort into the UFO question. Project Second Story, however, was an advisory group, and did not head up the investigations, as Group Captain Edwards made clear in a letter written in 1954. He also made it clear that despite interest from various departments (including, presumably, the annoyingly persistent Smith at Transport), it had been the military that had spurred the first serious effort to investigate UFO sightings, and which remained in control of that effort in the years that followed - not the other agencies. He wrote:

"Sightings of unidentified flying objects have been recorded in the Canadian Press since the turn of the century but it was not until about 1947 that the Services took more than casual notice of these sightings. Since that date, reports of sightings have been collected by various Government departments on a voluntary submission basis. While these reports were reviewed the data presented never appeared to warrant a systematic and scientific analysis. In 1952, however, the sightings became so numerous that the Services agreed to take a really serious look at these phenomena."

Thus, it was only when the military started to take the UFO phenomenon seriously that the real investigations (and not Smith's part-time efforts with Magnet) got underway, and when it did, it was clear that, as in the United States, the management and direction of the investigation would be left to the military.

It was certainly not left to Wilbert Smith, the Canadian equivalent to Philip Corso (more on that conclusion to come).

Of course, there are some ufologists who will tell you that there was a Top Secret committee that did the "real UFO work" in Canada. The time has come to stop taking them seriously. They have no evidence to support this contention, and it conflicts with the actual evidence that does exist, and has been accessible for years. However, to admit that there was no Top Secret committee would be to admit that they have been wrong about Smith, and so many other things, for so many years.

Unfortunately, this is something they cannot - or will not - do. They have blinded themselves to the truth.

The real shame is that the truth is still extremely interesting, and still leaves open all sorts of possibilities with respect to the UFO phenomenon.

But their minds have already been made up, and for years they have been trying to make the facts fit their pre-conceived beliefs. Anytime that this happens, regardless of the subject under study, the truth usually gets lost in the shuffle.

To be continued...

Paul Kimball

Friday, October 21, 2005

The National Archives and UFOs

In Canada, the first place to look for UFO records is the National Archives, located in Ottawa, Ontario. They maintain a varied group of records relating to how Canada dealt with the UFO phenomenon over a period of decades, beginning in the late 1940s, and extending into the 1990s.

I'll be there early in 2006 for a couple of weeks or so, rooting through the records. For others who want to do it themselves, here's where to look:

1. Records of the Department of Transport (RG 12)

The Department of Transport kept reports on UFO sightings between 1976 and 1978.

Transportation; general; Unidentified Flying Objects, 1976-1978 (RG 12, vol. 3930, file 2-1-33, pt. 1)

2. Records of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RG 18)

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police kept reports of UFO sightings from 1959 and 1987.

National research; Radio and Electrical Engineering Division; Unidentified Flying Objects (sighting of), 1959-1987 (RG 18, vol. 3779, file HQ 400-Q-5, pts. 1-7)

3. Records of the Department of National Defence (RG 24)

DND kept numerous reports on the possible security risk UFOs could pose.

Intelligence sightings of unknown objects, 1947-1964 (RG 24, vol. 17984, file S-940-5, pts. 1 and 2; on reel T-3291) (See: Note 1)

Intelligence sightings of unknown objects, 1950-1964 (RG 24, vol. 17988, file C-940-105, pts. 1 and 2; on reel T-3291), (See: Note 1)

Intelligence sightings of unknown objects outside Canada, 1950-1952 (RG 24, vol. 17988, file S-940-105-3; on reel T-3291) (See: Note 1)

Counter intelligence; flying saucers, 1952-1957 (RG 24, vol. 22349, file 9150-4)

Target detection; search; flying saucers; general, 1950-1967 (RG 24, acc. 83-84/167, box 7523, file DRBS 3800-10-1, pt. 1)

Target detection; search; flying saucers; general, 1968-1973 (RG 24, vol. 24031, file 3800-10-1, pt. 2, 1968-1971 and pt. 3, 1971-1973)

4. Records of the National Research Council (RG 77)

The National Research Council has looked into the scientific validity of UFO claims.

UFO sightings, 1965-1981 (RG 77, reels T-1741 to T-1744)

UFO sightings
(RG 77, acc. 1985-86/179, box 1 (1981-1984);
(RG 77, acc. 1986-87/377, box 1 (1986);
(RG 77, acc. 1989-90/005, box 1 (1987);
(RG 77, acc. 1989-90/016, box 1 (1988);
(RG 77, acc. 1990-91/073, box 1 (1989);
(RG 77, acc. 1991-92/022, box 1 (1990);
(RG 77, acc. 1992-93/016, box 1 (1991);
(RG 77, acc. 1992-93/308, box 1 (1992);
(RG 77, acc. 1995-96/008, box 1 (1993);
(RG 77, acc. 1995-96/096, box 1 (1994);
(RG 77, acc. 1997-98/046, box 1 (1995).

For contextual information on the NRC's collecting of UFO sightings, refer to the correspondence included on microfilm reel T-1744, as well as:

Proceedings of the meetings of the Associate Committee on Meteorites (RG 77, acc. 1997-98/094, box 34), 11th meeting, 1967 and 12th meeting, 1968

5. Records of the Department of Communications (RG 97)

Air services; sightings of unidentified aerial objects; Project Second Story, 1952-1953 (RG 97, vol. 115, file 5010-4)

Space research and satellites, UFO's, 1953-1966 (RG 97, vol. 182, file 5010-4, pts. 1 and 2)

Space research and technology, 1959-1964 (RG 97, vol. 104, file 5010-1, pts. 1-3)

Note (1) Available in part for research purposes at the National Archives only. This file has been reviewed in accordance with Access to Information and Privacy legislation. Some documents have been removed from the file; deletions are indicated on file.

Some of these files can be found on-line, which is convenient and makes for some interesting reading.

Go to:

Of course, there are probably those out there who think that rummaging about in archives is boring. That's okay - not everyone can afford the time to do the heavy lifting, and, frankly, not everyone is qualified to sift through the data, and sort the wheat from the chaff. For my part, I've spent more time digging through various archives than I can remember, and, no matter what I've been researching, I always viewed it as a treasure hunt.

Fortunately, for those who don't like treasure hunts, and are more concerned about the medium than the message, the National Archives has a nice little on-line interactive display of some of Canada's best known cases.

It even has a few bells and whistles for the armchair theorists to get excited about.

We Canadians aim to please.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

High Strangeness in Halifax

Here's another case - this time from my own neck of the woods - that the RCMP investigated back in the 1970s. Again, the reference is courtesy of Halifax researcher Chris Styles, who included it in a presentation at the 2004 MUFON Canadian UFO Symposium.

In the map shown below, the red star shows the location of the sighting. The area was significantly less urbanized in 1976 than it is now.


Division: "H"
Subdivision: Halifax
Detachment: Bedford
RCMP File References: 76-085-117
Date: 27 OCT 76
Sightings of - Lower Sackville
Halifax County, N.S. (16/17 OCT 76)

16 OCT 76

At 11:45 P.M., this date, a call was received at this office from Mr. & Mrs. Percy WEBSTER of 39 Hillside Avenue, Lr. Sackville, stating there were three unidentified flying objects in the area of their residence. An immediate patrol was made by the writer to the WEBSTER residence and upon arrival and with the aid of the complainants' binoculars I noticed three unidentified flying objects. All of them were round in shape and had red flashing lights on the bottom and also a flashing white light. There was a stable green light which appeared to be located inside the objects. At this time the objects were stationary; however, I noticed that they began to move and when they did, the lights changed to a turquoise color. As the objects began to move, their altitude became greater. There was no sound or smell. The sky was clear at this time.

2. An immediate check was made with the Halifax International Airport Tower and it was learned that there were no airplanes or helicopters in this area at this time and nothing was registering on their radar.

3. Other witnesses are Mr. & Mrs. Robert BEDFORD of 37 Hillside Ave., Lr. Sackville, and Percy WEBSTER, age fifteen years, son of Mr. & Mrs. Percy WEBSTER.

4. Upon discussing this matter with the WEBSTERS, it was learned that the unidentified flying objects had been seen earlier in the evening; however, had not reported it. At that time the objects appeared to have been round, cigar shaped with four lights. They were flat bottom and had three long windows. Complainant also stated that one of the objects appeared to dock on top of another for about two minutes and then they split again and each went off in their own direction. These objects were visible to the writer for approximately two hours and when I left the scene, they were still there.

5. I might add it is the opinion of the writer that there is no possibility at all that what I saw might have been stars or even another planet as I was looking through the binoculars and therefore, would have been able to tell the difference.

P. PHARAND, Cst. #29983
Bedford Highway Patrol


That's the official report. Styles tracked down the Websters. In his 2004 MUFON paper, he noted:

"In the fall of 1996 I met with Mrs. Webster and her son... At the time of the interview the family still lived in the same house. Mrs. Webster recounted the same story as that in Pharand's narrative. There were no added embellishments in its second telling. My impression, at the time, was that the Webster's UFO sighting had been a strong 'nuts and bolts' case. And that might have been the end of it."

But then Styles, good investigator that he is, visited the other witnesses to the event, the Bedfords. Constable Pharand referred to them in his 1976 report, but did not provide their account of what happened.

At first, Mr. Bedford had trouble remembering the night in question. As it turned out, his wife was better with the details - when she told him that it was just after they had moved into the house from Ontario, he recalled the evening. Here is what he told Styles:

"He apologized for not being able to help me. As he was saying, 'Goodbye,' he paused. 'Wait a minute... I do remember. I know what you're talking about now. You see... I didn't see anything. That's why I was confused.

I asked Mr. Bedford how that was possible in light of the fact that the RCMP report had listed the couple as witnesses. Mr. Bedford explained that on the night of October 16, 1976, Constable Pharand knocked on their door. The couple spoke with the mountie at the doorway. They never stepped outside to look up. They did not want to. Previous to Constable Pharand's intrusion the Bedford's had been hiding upstairs with the blinds drawn. The cause for concern was a loud, persistent roaring noise unlike anything that they had heard before. Mr. Bedford felt that the source of the strident noise was something hovering low over their suburban home. Mr. Bedford was just as certain that whatever that 'something' was it was not anything like a helicopter or conventional aircraft. It should be noted that at the time of the incident Mr. Bedford was employed by DND as a naval architect and had considerable experience with such equipment.

Robert Bedford refused to speculate as to how his house could come under a threatening din of noise while just next door, the Webster's and Constable Pharand managed to enjoy a two hour exhibition of three UFOs that hovered and maneuvered in silence. He was just grateful that the ordeal ended at the precise moment that the mountie knocked on the door. At the end of our conversation Mr. Bedford once again apologized for his reluctant memory. He expressed regret about how he reacted that strange October night. Fear of the unknown had got the better of him."

This is the epitome of "high strangeness." Credible witnesses experiencing the same incident, but in completely different ways.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Breen Case

Brad Sparks (another one of those ufologists who "walks the walk" as opposed to just "talking the talk") has sent me a list of questions about the 1974 Breen case that shows how much there is to learn about many of these largely unknown cases.

It just serves to reinforce my original point from yesterday, that ufologists should be looking at all the old (and new) cases that have slipped under the radar, so to speak, and analyzing them,
instead of endlessly re-hashing the same old arguments about a few old chestnuts (Gill, Socorro) that, barring new information, have little to offer. The RCMP and DND files in Canada, and the Blue Book files in the United States, have all sorts of cases that need sound analysis.

I know this bores certain people within ufology - you know, the kind of folks who would rather listen to Britney Spears than Mozart (or McCartney, for pop afficiandos), or read the latest issue of People Magazine than Shakespeare, but that's their problem. They're the kind of people who can't enjoy baseball unless steroid-powered sluggers are launching home runs every inning. What they don't realize is that the key to solving any mystery, including UFOs, is to set yourself in for the long haul - most of the time, it's a lengthy pitcher's duel. If the UFO enigma is ever to be solved, the easily bored types may be the ones who try to take the credit (anything is possible with this sort), but they won't have been the ones doing the work, and the original thinking. Besides, as my Dad once told me, if you're bored, then you have no-one to blame but yourself.

I have added a very rough map projection of the flight based on the RCMP report. The flight was coming from Deer Lake, which is to the slight northwest of Grand Falls - Windsor, so this rough trajectory makes sense to me. I doubt that Breen flew directly over Grand Falls - more likely he flew a bit to the north.

As a side note for those who have never been to Newfoundland - I have driven across the Province, from Port-aux-Basques to St. John's and back, and can tell you that there isn't much of anything between Deer Lake and Grand Falls, and Grand Falls and Gander, except trees and moose.

Paul Kimball

From Brad:

This sounds like a very good case but it's frustratingly full of gaps. It badly needs investigation. While still fresh in my mind let me indicate the holes in the story that need to be filled:

It is unclear exactly how the UFO was spotted and by whom. One sentence says that pilot/air traffic controller (a very unusual combination first case I've ever heard like that) Breen and girlfriend Gould sighted the UFO 40 miles NW (or was it really W?) of Gander as they were flying in. The very next sentence contradicts that by saying Gould first sighted it 60 miles W of Gander. Did Gould see it first then called Breen's attention to it later? At just over 2 miles/min speed this is almost 10 minutes of sighting by Gould without telling Breen? Or did she see it but it was below the aircraft in a position Breen could not see down far enough to catch it until after 10 minutes of the UFO moving around? Could they both really see down to 90 degrees depression angle or is that just casual talk? What was the depression angle? Weren't there times that one could see it but not the other?

Timothy Good's account [PK Note: Beyond Top Secret, pp. 201-201] quotes from a 1978 article by Gregory Kanon in Canadian UFO Report which does have more of a continuous narrative. He does have Gould seeing it first for an unstated length of time before pointing it out to Breen. And he he has the sighting begin about 50 miles from Gander, which fits the data about sighting the UFO over Grand Falls, see below.

The 60-mile range from Gander is consistent with their 134 mph speed and a 25-minute sighting duration out to perhaps 5-6 miles from Gander (56 miles plus disappearing? a few miles from Gander airport). However it says that Breen's "observation period" was approximately 25 minutes, as if not including a first part by Gould before Breen saw it. But that would make the total sighting actually about 35 minutes and the aircraft would have had to be about 78 miles W of Gander when Gould first saw it. That would fit with the sighting occurring at about 10:10 PM and being reported to Gander at about 10:45 PM, a difference of 35 minutes.

But if they were sure they were over Grand Falls (48° 55' 44.4" N, 55° 39' 1.8" W) then the distance and direction from Gander Airport runway (48° 57' 0" N, 54° 34' 0" W) would be only 48 miles not 60 miles, and it would be almost exactly due W of Gander (azimuth 268°). In that case the total sighting duration would have to be 21.5 minutes or so, not 25 or 35.

It is unclear how it visually disappeared to Breen and Gould on the aircraft. The story just shifts to the radar. The radar data make no sense either. How can the UFO blip be "showing" its heading on the radar screen? It must have a transponder to be doing that. A radar of only 6-mile range sounds like a Precision Approach Radar which are usually narrowly focused on the glide path of landing aircraft so it is very likely an object like a UFO could drop out of the beam by going below treetop level or by ascending above the narrow beam. But if on the scope for only two sweeps not even military radar could tell that the UFO had changed course from heading NW to heading W from one sweep to next (it would need to see course changes between at least 3 sweeps). Also if the UFO had just been reported by Breen-Gould to Gander Airport while 5-6 miles out and it had been paralleling their course then the UFO's heading should have been the same as theirs, or basically headed E not W. Did it suddenly reverse course? But how then could Breen still see it while over the Gander Airport presumably some minutes later so that he could try to circle around to see it again? The PAR radar cannot detect objects in a huge blind zone directly over the airport, they have to be some distance out. The PAR beam is from say 0° at or close to the horizon up to roughly 10° elevation, so an object at 3,000 ft altitude would be lost in the blind zone at a range of about 3 miles unless it dropped lower to stay in the beam (as landing aircraft do of course). Presumably that is when the UFO was briefly acquired by the PAR radar and then lost. But when did Breen lose sight of it? If it was about this time then its course reversal was the cause evidently.

Martin Shough, a very keen radar analyst, has pointed out in agreement with me that there is no way that two UFO course changes could be determined from only two sweeps of a radar, and most likely is a garbling and meant that the UFO target was located W then NW of Gander not that it changed headings from W to NW. Martin also points out that the "6-mile range" is really a typo or error for a standard 60-mile range air traffic control radar, so it probably was not a PAR radar. He pointed out the account in Good's book where Breen is quoted saying that 2-3 sweeps of the radar was about 10-12 seconds which is more consistent with a typical 15 rpm air traffic control radar. The UFO would probably not have disappeared into the overhead blind zone of an air traffic control radar until within about 1/2 mile of the airport radar if still at about 3,000 feet. So Breen could in fact have been over the airport and circling to try to find the UFO again at about the same time as the radar report. However that would still not quite explain why the RCMP report states Breen made the report about 5-6 miles or about 3 minutes out from the Gander airport. Was there a 3-minute delay before the Gander radar briefly picked up the UFO for a few sweeps? Also the account by Good has the first radio report of the UFO made to Gander at about 25-30 miles out not 5-6 miles out.

Naturally one wants to know more about the apparent size of the "greenish light." If Breen could be sure from his dynamic interaction cues that it was about 2,000 feet lower than his plane then his rough distance of 2,000 ft combined with an angular size would give us its actual dimensions. Also we want to know its brightness and how it may have changed if any.

Good's account claims the witnesses reporter a triangular or delta-shaped greenish object, not just a "greenish light" as if of no apparent shape or just a point source. The object at first flashed off and on regularly every 2-4 seconds then became steady. At one point it was seen reflected in the water of Gander Lake.


Meet the New Planets

From the most recent issue of Time Magazine.

Just when we thought we knew everything!

There is a UFO connection here, in that Dr. Clyde Tombaugh, the discover of Pluto, had a famous UFO sighting in August, 1949 (see

Anyway, I always had a soft spot for poor old Pluto, so I hope it makes the cut.

Paul Kimball

Meet The New Planets

We used to think of the solar system as nine lonely worlds traveling in neat rings around the sun. But the harder astronomers look, the more crowded our cosmic neighborhood seems to become.

By Michael D. Lemonick

Neil Degrasse Tyson owes his colleague Michael Brown a big thank-you—and flowers wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Back in 2000, Tyson, an astrophysicist and the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, triggered an international furor when he decreed that in his prestigious establishment Pluto would no longer be listed as a planet. Henceforth, it would be considered just another ball of ice in the Kuiper Belt, a swarm of debris orbiting the sun out beyond Neptune. He was on firm scientific ground: many professional astronomers have been leaning that way for years. But people evidently had a soft spot for the runt of the planetary litter. Almost overnight, Tyson became the Grinch Who Stole Pluto.

But in July, Brown, an astronomer at Caltech, made an announcement that took the debate to a whole new plane. Along with his colleague Chad Trujillo, Brown had found something very much like Pluto, only bigger, and last month he declared that the object known officially as 2003 UB313—and temporarily nicknamed Xena—has its own little moon. Suddenly, the question Tyson had raised to make a provocative educational point became something much larger: if Pluto is a planet, then Brown’s new object must be one as well.

And it doesn’t stop there. What do you call all the other planetlike objects that have lately been discovered orbiting around our sun, tiny worlds with names like Sedna, Quaoar and 2004 DW? Part of the problem is that there is no precise scientific definition of the word planet. The International Astronomical Union (iau) is trying to hammer one out, but the decision is proving more difficult than anyone thought. An apparent consensus, reached just weeks ago, seems to have fallen apart. “The current state,” admits Brian Marsden, director of the iau’s Minor Planet Center at Harvard, “is rather confusing.”

No wonder. The solar system most of us studied in school was a deceptively simple place. There were the sun, a few asteroids and comets and, as of 1930, when Clyde Tombaugh spotted Pluto on a telescopic photograph, nine planets. Memorizing those nine names has long been a childhood rite of passage, up there with learning to tie your shoes. Yes, Pluto was always an oddball: not only is it tiny (two-thirds the size of our moon), but it has a weird, elongated orbit that is tilted at a sharp angle to the plane the other planets inhabit. Still, the gap in size between Pluto and the biggest asteroids was comfortably huge.

But when astronomers started thinking about where comets actually came from, they realized that there was an enormous cloud of icy chunks, named the Oort Cloud (after the Dutch astronomer who proposed it), orbiting invisibly tens of trillions of miles from the sun. A second group of comets, according to Gerard Kuiper (a Dutch American), must come from closer in, falling sunward from the disk-shaped cloud of icy chunks just beyond Neptune that bears his name. Sure enough, when astronomers trained their telescopes on the Kuiper Belt 15 years ago, they started finding all sorts of objects. In the past few years, Brown and Trujillo have been turning up some pretty big ones, including Quaoar (about half the size of Pluto) in 2002 and Sedna (probably a bit bigger than that) in 2004.

Tyson’s heretical planetarium exhibit was based on the theory that there must be lots of things out there the size of Pluto. Brown and Trujillo found some of them, and for the past year and a half, the pressure has been on to decide once and for all which are planets and which are not. 2003 UB313 just upped the ante. But it is like trying to define continent, says Brown. “Some geographers call Australia a continent,” he says, “and some call it a very big island. There is no scientific definition.” It is human nature to put things into categories, but nature rarely cooperates. What, precisely, is the dividing line between a hill and a mountain? A rock and a boulder? A stream and a river?

Most people don’t worry much about such distinctions. With planets, however, it’s different—as Tyson discovered. How do you resolve the problem he created? One idea would be to arbitrarily set the lower limit for a planet at about 2,000 km in diameter, which would let Pluto remain a planet and make 2003 UB313 one as well, but keep the rest of the riffraff out. “Pluto,” says Alan Boss, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and a member of the iau working group, “has historically been considered a planet, and so any definition we adopt really must include it.” Another proposal would drop the limit to 1,000 km, letting Quaoar and Sedna into the club as well.

Yet another idea, favored by Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, would open the door even wider. By his definition, any object massive enough for gravity to squeeze into a spherical shape is a planet—unless the object orbits a bigger planet, of course. Otherwise, dozens of moons would have to be reclassified as planets. “Defining planets by size is purely arbitrary,” agrees Marsden, who likes Stern’s idea. “The Pluto-crats want to cut things off there, but it’s absurd to say that an object 2,000 km across is a planet and one 1,999 km across isn’t.”

The roundness rule would add lots of planets to the solar system in one fell swoop: not just Sedna, Quaoar and 2003 UB313 but also two more icy worlds spotted by Brown and Trujillo—2004 DW, a little bigger than Quaoar, and 2003 EL61, probably about seven-tenths the size of Pluto. The latter made headlines when it was formally announced to the world by Spanish astronomers who, according to Brown, knew where to look because they had used the Internet to tap into his telescope logs (the Spaniards deny the charge). At least five or six asteroids would also qualify, says Marsden. There would probably be two dozen newly designated planets in all.
There’s no telling when the iau might make a decision. It could be as early as the end of this month. But it can’t wait forever; Brown and Trujillo have even more discoveries waiting in the pipeline (they’ve put their logs behind a firewall to keep prying competitors away) and they’re not done yet. Just about all the new worlds have been found by looking even farther outside the plane of the solar system than Pluto’s orbit. “Nobody really expected to see anything way up there,” says Brown. “But based on what we’ve found so far, we expect to find at least two or three more of these.”

Tyson, ever the iconoclast, thinks the word planet should be retired entirely, not just stripped from Pluto. “You tell me something’s a planet,” he says, “then I have to ask you 20 more questions to figure out what it actually is.” As an educator as well as a scientist, though, he is thrilled that the question of planethood has been opened for freewheeling public discussion. “The point,” says Tyson, who is working on a book about the Pluto debacle, “is that the solar system is a lot more interesting than just a list of nine planets.” And thanks to Michael Brown and his associates, that fact is impossible to avoid.

Backbeat - Vol. I

Meet Bloc Party (and no, it's not a get together of French Canadian separatists).

Silent Alarm is one of the best new albums this year, and a "must own" for anyone truly interested in vibrant, challenging alternative rock.

Like a number of bands these days (The Killers, Franz Ferdinand), they take the best of the 1980s New Wave / punk movement, and update it with a 21st century sensibility.

If I had to pick a band to compare them to... well, I used to hate it when people would try to pigeon-hole my old bands like that (unless, of course, we were being compared to either the Beatles or the Smiths, in which case it was fine), so I won't. But, should you happen to be a fan of The Clash, the Cure, the Icicle Works, or even The Fixx, from those halcyon days of yore (i.e. the 1980s), you're probably going to like Bloc Party (or, for Canadians, think a bit of Blue Peter's classic "Don't Walk Past").

Or, as Rolling Stone said in it's 4 star review:

"One of punk rock's greatest joys is when group members interlock to the point of becoming a visceral, vibrating dance machine. London's Bloc Party achieve this manic bliss on nearly every track of their superb long-playing debut. Drummer Matt Tong provides enough speedy syncopation for several bands, guitarists Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack lend nervous string interaction, and bassist Gordon Moakes adds suspenseful, propulsive shifts. Pointed pop tunes yelp and cry and tug at your heart even as the band's rhythmic friction spews sparks at your feet. Singer Okereke is black and Tong is of Asian descent, and together with their pale mates they distill twenty-five years of spiky British rock, from the Cure to Blur to hot Scots Franz Ferdinand. Silent Alarm is dance rock, but highly caffeinated."

But don't think that Bloc Party is some nostalgia act. Like Franz Ferdinand and The Killers, there may be echoes of another era in their music, but they have a unique, 100% contemporary sound. Check out their website at

Take my word for it - you need to give these guys a listen, if you haven't already. And, if you live in Europe, they have just been nominated for Best Alternative Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards which take place in Lisbon on November 3rd. You can vote for them to win using this link:

Now, back to UFOs, or whatever it is that I do around here.

Paul Kimball

Monday, October 17, 2005

Moving Beyond Ufology's Comfort Zone

There is an ongoing discussion at UFO Updates this past week or so about a couple of famous old UFO cases, the Father Gill sighting and the Socorro case, with proponents and opponents of each case weighing in... again.

I say "again" because these cases, like a few others, are the ones that always seem to get dredged up whenever someone wants to talk about cases. However, nothing new is really being added in either of the discussions referenced above. Yes, there was a question raised about Lonnie Zamora's eyesight with regards to the Socorro case, which is of some relevance, but this is a relatively minor point. Other than that, the discussions are just a rehash of positions that the various participants have held for years. Frankly, it reminds me a bit of one of those family get togethers where a father and son, long estranged from each other, meet again. Instead of discussing what is new in their lives, however, or talking about something else, they immediately start in on the same old debate. Or, to put it in a science fiction context, the two versions of Lazarus from "Alternative Factor" episode of the original Star Trek series (left).

This isn't a discussion where one side is trying to persuade the other that they are right - both sides are firmly entrenched on these cases. It isn't a discussion that is justified in terms of offering someone unfamiliar with the cases the story - there are far more well-documented resources that they could peruse if they wanted to examine the cases as history.

Nope, it's just ufologists (whether skeptics or proponents) doing what they seem to do far too often - falling back on the old familiar cases, like a comfort blanket. It isn't an investigation - it's two groups of people talking past each other, to no real purpose, other than to re-affirm their own perception of the debate, and to toss off a few tired one-liners and ad hominems (really, does anyone need to hear John Rimmer called a "pelicanist" again? Or for Rimmer to accuse Jerry Clark of being non-responsive, and rigid in his thinking?). It isn't about finding answers - it's about scoring debating points. It reminds me of high school .

A pox on both their houses (and they are equally to blame). The shame is that there are LOTS of cases out there that go overlooked when ufologists fall back on discussing the "old faithfuls." Good cases, that have not been thoroughly investigated, and that very few people know anything about. Socorro and Gill are both interesting cases, but there is little left to say about them, other than what we already know - barring new information surfacing.

There ARE ufologists out there who know this to be the case, but sometimes even they get sucked into the re-cycled "Old Faithful" discussion.

As I discovered while researching the Best Evidence documentary, the "Old Faithfuls" are not always the best cases anyway (some are - more are not, for various reasons). The best cases, after all, should have multiple witnesses, and some form of independent corroboration (like radar). Those are the kinds of cases that true debunkers will rarely want to discuss, and are the ones that ufologists should focus upon.

Here's just one, with which some readers might be familiar, but with which more should be, that occurred in Canada in 1974. Many thanks to Halifax researcher Chris Styles for bringing it to my attention, and supplying me with a copy of the original RCMP report. Chris is one of the good guys - he spends more time "walking the walk" (i.e. interviewing people, digging through archives, and following up leads) than "talking the talk."

There are hundreds of cases like this out there, from all around the world, that have not received the attention, and investigation, that they deserve. It's time to move away from another tired re-hash of cases like Gill and Socorro, and towards a discussion of cases like this. Until this happens, ufology will continue to be easy to dismiss.

Paul Kimball

Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Gendarmarie Royale du Canada
Division - B
Sub-Division - St. John's
Detachment - Gander Airport Detail
Date: 11 Nov 74

RCMP File References - 74-B-400-53 (Div. File)
74-400-3 (Det. File)
Telex #GANAIR 109
Telex #GANAIR 110

Unidentified Flying Object (U.F.O.)
Report of - Gander International AirportGander, Nfld. 10 OCT 74

10 OCT 74

1. On the above date, at approximately 10:45 p.m. (Atlantic Time) a report of a possible sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object (U.F.O.) in the Central Newfoundland area was made to the Gander Airport Detail Office.

2. The sighting in question was made at approximately 10:10 p.m. (Atlantic Time) by one John BREEN, Gander, Nfld. BREEN, a three year veteran as an Air Traffic Controller now employed at the Gander Air Traffic Control Centre, was at the time of the sighting flying a Cessna aircraft, Canadian Registration C-GLCF. BREEN was flying at an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet and experiencing clear skies with occasional cloudy periods and was returning to Gander, Nfld., from Deer Lake, Nfld. When approximately 40 miles north-west of Gander, Nfld., BREEN, along with his only passenger, sighted the possible U.F.O. Janice GOULD, Gander, Nfld., BREEN's passenger and girlfriend, first sighted the Object just as they had passed over the town of Grand Falls, Nfld., a small town situated approximately 60 miles west of Gander, Nfld.

3. The object was described by BREEN as being a solitary greenish, aluminous light. When first noticed by BREEN, the light was directly below BREEN's aircraft at an altitude of approximately 3,000 feet. BREEN's first interpretation of this greenish light was that his starboard aviation light may have been reflecting on something below. He then turned off all his aviation lights for a moment; nevertheless, the greenish light continued directly below the aircraft. BREEN at this time, along with GOULD, attempted to determine whether or not the greenish light was part of a bigger unlighted mass; however, this met with negative results as nothing but the greenish light could be noted.

4. BREEN further stated, that at this time, the Cessna was travelling at a speed of approximately 134 M.P.H., and that the greenish light could, and did at times speed up and remain some distance ahead of the aircraft, still at approximately 3,000 feet. This greenish light would then slow down and allow BREEN to once again get directly above it. The light would then continue to slow down more, and as a result lag some distance behind and then go back to its original position below BREEN's aircraft. BREEN's observation period of this greenish light lasted approximately 25 minutes.

5. When approximately 5 to 6 miles north-west of Gander, Nfld., BREEN contacted the Air Traffic Control Centre and advised them of what was taking place. Controllers, at the Air Traffic Control Centre, then attempted to pick up this object on their radar screen. One Robert LAWRENCE, the supervising controller on duty at the time, advised that a target was picked up by their 6 mile radar; however, the object remained on the screen for only two sweeps of the radar needle. The target did not show up on the screen as an aircraft. The target did, however, indicate while on the screen that its course had now changed from a north-west course to a westerly course and that the reason it could no longer be picked up on radar was that it was now believed to be flying at tree-top level. Continued attempts to regain contact with the target on radar met with negative results. BREEN, upon arriving over the Gander area, circled his aircraft in an attempt to further identify the object; however, upon circling, all traces of the greenish light were gone.

6. Continual attempts to further identify the greenish light in question by both the Air Traffic Controllers and BREEN met with negative results. LAWRENCE, upon losing all contact with the target on radar, contacted the authorities connected with the Early Warning defensive system at Goose Bay, Nfld., and notified them of the incident.

7. Upon the landing of BREEN's aircraft at Gander International Airport, both BREEN and GOULD were immediately contacted. It was noted at this time that neither BREEN nor GOULD appeared to be under any sort of influence, from either alcohol or a drug. Their accounts of the incident are neither exaggerated nor are they dramatized and both BREEN and GOULD appear to be of a mature and responsible nature.

Cst. F.D. CHIASSON #26936
Gander Airport Detail

PK notes

- There was a 2nd sighting in the same are by a DC-8 jet-liner the following evening that was also included in the RCMP report. The characteristics of this subsequent sighting were very similar to Breen's, except for the fact that there was no radar confirmation. Both the Captain and co-pilot of the DC-8, however, stated that the object was not an aircraft, and ATC confirmed that there were no other aircraft in the area at that time.

- Only the addresses of Breen and Gould have been omitted (by me) from the report reproduced above.

- For more information on the RCMP, go to: