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

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