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


Nicole said...

Oh come on... no one wants to visit Canada, not even the aliens.

Paul Kimball said...


Hmm... considering your profile lists "picking up strange men in seedy bars" as one of your interests, I'll take your comment for what it's, er, worth.


P.S. Lots of strange men and seedy bars in Canada. You may wish to reconsider. :-)