Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Shag Harbour UFO Incident - Sui generis?

As I was putting together the segment on Shag Harbour for the Best Evidence film (yes, there's another case that made the cut), this statement by Don Ledger really made me think:

What’s different about the Shag Harbour incident, the UFO incident, is that the witnesses, the laypeople, claimed they saw an airplane crashing into the harbour. They thought it was an airplane. And it was the military who classified it as a UFO. Usually it’s the other way around, the laypeople call it in and say they saw a UFO, and the military will say, “well, it’s just a misinterpretation of a prosaic object in the sky. It could be an airplane, or a planet, or a star, or something like that.” So this was different – it was completely switched around from the usual concept.

Unlike most, if not all, other so-called crashed UFO cases, Shag Harbour has a multitude of credible witnesses, and an investigation by two governments (Canadian and American) that is officially documented in the public record, and freely available.

And, as Don said, it wasn't the witnesses who said it was a UFO - it was the military, after investigation ruled out (as the CAF memo above shows) the more prosaic explanations on offer.

If Shag isn't quite sui generis in the annals of UFO cases, it's pretty darn close.

Paul Kimball


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Laypeople like yourself usually are surprised to find out that the military very often used the term "UFO", but before you jump to conclusions as usual, remember that the military considers any conventional aircraft that enters it's airspace a UFO, if that aircraft does not identify itself as friend or foe, and/or with it's registration number. The conventional aircraft that allegedly crashed into Shag Harbour was never identified, therefore the military considered it a UFO -- not a flying saucer but a conventional aircraft that wasn't identified -- big deal!

Nick Redfern said...

Shag Harbour - Good case.

Shag Harbour - Amusing name for those of us with a sense of humour that we really should have grown out of by now


Don Ledger said...

Hi Paul, Nick and anonymous.

Good of you to bring up that point, Paul.
Nick, Shag are fish but not nearly so enjoyable as your Shag.

I think you are laboring under a misapprehension, that we know nothing of the military use of the word UFO. In fact we are privey to tens of thousands of documents generated by various air forces of many countries of the world, as well as their navies and their armies. Then there are the police files, secret intelligence files, Federal Police files and what have you. I would venture to say that many of us have veiewed as many if not more military files during our investigations than you have during your career if you are a military person. We have been plces that your daily routine would not allow because in your job you are compartmentilized and need to know. We on the other hand can follow a old [historic]paper trail that goes through these various departments to higher authority sometimes to the top. Mind you this takes a tremendous amount of work and sometimes it's a cooperative effort but usually it's a lonely job with just the one person dedicated to that particular trail.
My little contribution to these investigations usually deals with the aviation sector. I sniff out the bullshit that surrounds that monsterous entity that is spread through the Earth's skies. If you are a pilot yourself then you know how much of what is seen on television and in the movies and is depicted as the world of aviation is bullshit squared.
So now on to the loose use of the word layperson as it applies to Paul Kimball, not that Paul is any more of an expert in the field of aviation anymore than I am in the law but Paul was passing along information in this case rather than formulating a theory. He was reacting to my opinion as to how unusual it was to see the RCAF tag the Shag Harbour craft as UFOs while the public was reporting a plane crash.
There was no plane crash. It was ruled out by RCC in Halifax who did a call-out from Cape hatteras to Cape race Nfld. looking for overdue or missing aircraft; private commercial and military. And then there were the 5 navy divers who spent three days on the scene trying to find any evidence of a crashed airplane. They found nothing. Dozens of documents support the military's claim that a UFO apparently went into the water in front of a few dozen witnesses who were widely dispursed and then tightly grouped. Three of these witnesses on scene were RCMP officers who responded to the call.
Much money was expended in a three day search involving a dozen fishing boats, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy, The RCAF, the USAF and the USN.
It is very clear that you are responding to a sentence rather than a scenario or the truth of an actual event-I say truth meaning the 6 day disturbance that this event caused. It is not hearsay it is a historical fact.There was no radar contact either admitted or claimed by the military. There were no transponder codes or IFF being squawked.
Get and read the book, "Dark Object", library or Chapters or Borders if you happen to be American or just plain
It will bring you up to speed as of about 2000. It will make me 26 cents richer and you won't have to worry about sticking your foot in you mouth again.

Don Ledger
PS-I've posted my web URL but my apologies as it's a very old and not updated but will be renewed sometime this summer and hopefully will be much more exciting or informative.

Paul Kimball said...


Thanks for the input. Indeed, if Anonymous had read the memo I posted, he would have seen that RCC had ruled out a plane crash, as you note. This was part of the reason why the military was called in, as I understand it (if it was an aircraft crash, they might not have been, at least not to the degree that they were, unless it was a military aircraft). That's why I put it there.

Alas, some people are so keen to make their point, they don't bother to take a look at the facts.


Paul Kimball said...


Shag Harbour is a cool name, but nothing beats Dildo, Newfoundland!


Paul Kimball said...


I never said that "UFO" meant "flying saucer", so don't put words in my mouth, even by loose implication. What UFO referred to was something that could not be explained in the prosaic terms referred to in the memo. The key letter is "U". Could it have been an alien spacecraft? Yes. Was it? Who knows? The case remains unsolved to this day - no matter how much you might like to brush it off as a plane crash.

Paul Kimball

Anonymous said...

Actually a Shag is a bird - "Cormorant" to be exact. I live in Shag Harbour by the way. :)

Anonymous said...

Indeed, a Shag is a commorant (the bird, not the helicopter). Don, as a Maritimer (and as someone who has written and spoken ad nausium about Shag Harbour) you should really know that, old friend.

As for the term "UFO", in aereonatics, it does, indeed, simply mean something in the sky that can't be identified". However, the general public has always associated the term with "flying saucers", even before my Oct. 7, 1967, story started the ball rolling on Shag Harbour. The phrase "UFO", in a bright red page one headline, frightened many people and started the mythology of "the Shag Harbour UFO incident" even before conspiracy buffs got ahold of it.

The truth, as always, is what people percieve it to be.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for not proofing that last comment before I posted. I was in a major rush to an event. "Cormorant" and "aereonautics", spelling edits, just in case anyone is getting picky!

And a note to Paul Kimball on his last comment:

Michael Bentley, who brought his KPI film crew from New York to Nova Scotia a few years back, made the most recent documentary on the event. It was shot for use on The History Channel, and had a lot less of the foggy sensational touch
Mike MacDonald's offering for the Space Channel had a few years earlier. Anyway, Bentley and I had a chat after the filming and I was anxious to get his perspective as a newcomer to the event. Like me, he said, he came to the conclusion the object was military in nature, probably American or Russian.

That would account for the Canadians quite openly talking to me and others initially. They were out of the loop and didn't know what they were dealing with. Then suddenly there went up this wall of silence after, presumably, the American word got to them to shut up and, basically, mind their own business.

It would also account for some heavy government pressure, direct or indirect, on my newspaper to do damage control on what the idiot Canadian military had inadvertantly let out of the bag.

After I broke the story, I was immediately replaced by David Bentley, a golden boy for the Old Guard in the executive office at our newspaper, who went to obscene lengths to find "UFO experts" who not only contradicted but mocked the public assumption that this was a "flying saucer" story.

Of course, my story never said it was a "flying saucer" event, but arguing day after day that there were no such things as flying saucers was a truly effective way of taking all attention away from what else it might have been.

Also notable is the fact that the day I was told I was off the story, Bentley came to me and appologized for what he was about to do....meaning, as I see it, he had advance orders on what he was to do. And, if that wasn't enough, the managing editor who directed my story be the headline on page one was immediately given an unscheduled "vacation" because, rumour had it, management thought he needed a rest. Either that or someone told them to put the man away for a while where he could do no more damage.

Paul Kimball said...


The problem with that explanation is that it doesn't account for why the government - either ours, or theirs - hasn't fully explained what happened to this day. Shag was over forty years ago, after all - I can't think of any reason to keep military secrets from that era.


Anonymous said...

Really? Then you don't know the military. They keep secrets BECAUSE THEY CAN! Logic has nothing to do with it!

Paul Kimball said...

That's glib, but it's not an answer.

Anonymous said...

Glib ranks a good degree below sarcastic, and a bit above ironic. It comes from too many years observing the human race and the institutions it spawns.

Your blurb says you also on occasion looks at the paranormal. Ever done anything on devination? It's been in my family for at least three generations.

Call me some time if you would like to talk Shag Harbour, devination, or anything else. Ray MacLeod. Waverley. 434-5491. My blog might interest you:

Steve said...

you are a journalist and a school teacher and yet you argue as if you are an angry 13-year-old trolling on a message board.

stop making us look bad, Ray - err, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

For all of you out there who are arragaunt enough to believe that it couldn't happen take a long look in the mirror and ask how we have evolved.

Anonymous said...

"Nick, Shag are fish but not nearly so enjoyable as your Shag."

Shags are cormorants. I think you are confusing the words 'shag' and 'shack'. We call certain types of fish (hake, cusk) 'shack'. I live in Shag Harbour.

As for the 'incident', when you live near an Air Force Station (one used to be here, CFS Stonehorse) that is in line with a CFB, you are more likely to attribute the incident to the military than to aliens.

Anonymous said...

The whole story is best explained by considering how the human minds visual and auditory system works and how human imagination helps to construct explanation s. There is no proof here of anything alien (ET).