Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category
Alien Viruses: Crashed UFOs, MJ-12, & Biowarfare is a new book by Dr. Robert Wood (with Nick Redfern) published by Richard Dolan Press. Dr. Wood has a PhD in physics and had a long career in the aerospace technology field. He’s well known in ufology for his forensic work on the controversial Majestic Documents. The reviewer, Dr. Tyler Kokjohn, is a professor of microbiology at the Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine.
I had not planned to read this book, as its subject matter seemed quite contrived. Kokjohn’s review tells me my instincts were correct. Here are a couple lines from the review.
The book is fundamentally a one-sided interpretation of alleged facts extracted from written materials of dubious provenance and/or obtained from witness testimony much of which is indirect hear-say. Whether MJ-12 and other Roswell incident-related documents are authentic has long been controversial. Unfortunately, the accounts provided by the authors do not dispel doubts, they increase them. . . . The authors present an astonishing tale based heavily on falsified documents and sometimes indirect witness testimony. In the end, the story between the lines they probably never intended to reveal – of incurious investigators and fatal omissions – was the more interesting because it appears to be true.
I’m nearly done with David Marler’s new book Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation. In my preliminary thoughts about the book, I discussed the logical inadequacies of some of the assertions in the book’s preface, written by Col. John B. Alexander. The gist of my criticism of Alexander’s material was that he caricatured “conspiracist” thinking (which he defines as any view of the UFO problem that doesn’t end up embracing an alien explanation) and did so by means of flawed logic. I was also critical of the fact that neither Alexander or Marler, who really can think of themselves as well versed in UFO research, cared to factor in what is known about dirigible technology for explaining triangular craft. I’d like to expand on that omission in this post. Despite what follows, I would recommend the book to all those interested in serious study of the UFO phenomenon.
What’s My Point – in General
In what follows I’ll sketch the fact that dirigible airship technology has been known since the Civil War, at least in terms of the U. S. Patent Office and the “great airship controversy” of the 1890s. This is, for my money, important, since most of the behavior of triangular UFOs aligns pretty well with dirigibles (low speed, turning without banking). The exception would be high speed behavior, but Marler himself offers some explanations for at least some of the cases where high speed is a factor that could be used in defense of dirigible technology.1 Nick Redfern All the above makes it very odd that the words “dirigible” and “airship” do not even appear in Marler’s index. It’s as though research in that direction and behavioral overlap didn’t even register with him. Since those terms don’t appear in his index, it makes sense that the names of Busby and Danelek are also absent. They are the authors of the two major books on the airship sightings in the late 1890s.2
What I’m Not Claiming
Let’s get what I’m not saying out the way as we begin. The gist of what I’ll be saying here is that what’s known about airships from the 1800s onward to the continued aviation interest in them in our own time ought to be part of the discussion of a UFO that behaves in the manner of the triangles.3 Frankly, avoiding the data in that regard strikes me as very unreasonable. I think as we proceed you’ll see why. I’m not going to claim that dirigible airship technology is “the” explanation for triangular craft, or even that there is a direct line of evolution from the early patents to today. For sure one could make that case, but that wouldn’t actually prove that airships are behind the triangular UFOs. It would only provide a working theory. I don’t know that triangular UFOs are dirigible, even nuclear ones (And yes, such things have been on the drawing board for some time as we’ll see below). I’m no more omniscient than Colonel Alexander, but I’ll be more up front about that. What I do know is that this technology deserves to be part of the discussion.
A Visit to the U. S. Patent Office
I’m not going to take the space to give readers a full tour of patents related to airships / dirigibles / aerostats. If you’re interested, you can put those terms into a search at the U. S. Patent Office yourself. What follows are examples of what you’d find.
We’ll begin with Busby’s book. He has a scan of a patent (#43,449) from 1864 (pages 355-356). Here’s the page that shows the inventor’s illustrations (he called his idea an “aeron”). A pretty standard three-cylinder conception (the orientation is original):
Interestingly enough, two issues of the MUFON Journal are relevant here in terms of chronology. The March 1982 issue had a sketch of an etching of something sighted in the sky in 1894 (note the propellers; they will show up later):
That was followed by this patent of the same year (1894) that appeared on the May 1982 cover of MUFON Journal:
I wanted you to note the propellers because it’s representative of propeller technology associated with dirigibles in other patents you’ll find when searching the database. This one in particular drew my interest (see the red square):
The second of these last two images is how the airship would appear from the bottom. That is, this airship would look like a diamond or, if partially obscured, a triangle. (Marler includes diamond-shaped objects in his book).
More triangular is this 1921 airship patent. First a side view:
Now a bottom view.
Frankly, if that doesn’t match what lots of people are seeing and drawing with respect to triangular UFOs, I don’t know what would. But again, it doesn’t prove a connection. It just demonstrates that a connection is certainly possible and ought to be part of the discussion. I have to wonder why it was missed by David Marler and Colonel Alexander.
Now, you might say, “well, that was the 1920s, what about now?” Patience. We’re not through with the old ones yet.
Dirigible technology from the 1920s not only gives us the cigar-shape and triangular UFO, but also the good old-fashioned saucer. Some examples:
1927 patent (the “Fig 4″ note orients you – that’s the top, so from below, this is an ovoid):
I think that’s enough to make the point. That there are UFO sightings of various shapes earlier than WWII doesn’t impress me so much. Again, I don’t think dirigible explain all the reports, but that sort of technology can explain a lot of sightings earlier than the jet era.
But what about the modern era? Oh, there’s plenty of interest in dirigible technology. And news flash to Colonel Alexander: the military and defense contractors are involved in triangular dirigible technology.
I almost don’t know where to start here. This connection has been reported by writers and bloggers on the UFO beat before. Here’s a smattering of examples.
Defense Tech reported this past January that NASA and the DoD have invested $35 million in prototype testing of an “Aero” that is a precursor to a 450-foot-long vehicle that can carry 66 tons of payload. The prototype looks like this:
This Aero-craft is being developed by Worldwide Aeros. As the link above notes, “It looks like a blimp but technically it isn’t one because it has a rigid structure made out of ultra-light carbon fiber and aluminum underneath its high-tech Mylar skin. Inside, balloons hold the helium that gives the vehicle lift. Unlike hydrogen, the gas used in the Hindenburg airship that crashed in 1937, helium is not flammable.”
Further, “According to an AP report posted at Military.com, the airship functions like a submarine, releasing air to rise and taking in air to descend. It can take off vertically, like a helicopter, then change its buoyancy to become heavier than air for landing and unloading.”
Interesting, but it’s only to make the point that defense contractors are thinking (and if our tour was more in-depth, have thought about, for a long time) airship / dirigible technology and its military applications. Let’s “triangulate” a little more (sorry, couldn’t resist that).
Here’s a pudgy triangle dirigible craft by Lockheed Martin: the SkyTug
This is just the latest such model, though. Other UFO sites and blogs have noted how triangular dirigible craft provide explanatory power for many aspects of sightings like the Belgian Wave and the Phoenix lights. But it seems no one is paying attention. Aliens are sexier. By way of example, the Stealth Blimp site notes:
“In 1981 the Navy contracted Lockheed Martin to develop a lighter-than-air (LTA) high altitude surveillance platform called HI-SPOT—HI Surveillance Platform for Over-the-horizon Targeting. At around the same time, NASA launched a similar program called HAPP—the High Altitude Powered Platform, which was designed to be a flying radar surveillance station.Feasibility studies for both these programs were conducted by ILC Dover. You can download their Final Report on the Design Definition of the Lighter-Than-Air High Altitude Powered Platform, directly from NASA’s online archives. And you can download the report on Phase II of the study from the Corporation for National Research Initiatives.”
The same site adds:
“In 2009 the army decided they needed a giant surveillance airship for the battlefield and called the proposal the LEMV (long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle). In 2010 Northrop Grumman announced the contract to build this vehicle with a first flight in 2011. While this development isn’t proof positive of a similar “classified” program, it goes a long way towards proving the critical need for such a platform exists.”
But for our purposes, the giant airship triangle below is much more telling. I’m not sure how Marler and Colonel Alexander missed this, as it was reported back in 2009 by UFO Mystic (“Pentagon Plans Airship UAVs“) and Real UFOs (“High Altitude Airships Similar Design to Large Triangle UFOs“). The latter link reveals some stunning photographs. It’s a triangle, and its pretty big.
None of this should be shocking. Back in 1999 a Popular Mechanics article (“Skunk Works Magic”) talked about the stealth blimp.
Back in 2002, NIDS (National Institute for Discovery Science), funded by UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow, published a report about triangular UFOs, concluding it was plausible (but of course not certain) that the answer was DoD triangular blimps.
NIDS only had any hesitation the DoD explanation because of the openness of the sightings – there was no attempt, it seemed, to hide the flights. This suggested that it wasn’t a covert program. Maybe it isn’t (or maybe it is). Maybe it’s private industry. The large, high-altitude triangular airships pictured above are being developed by JPAerospace. It’s a private company whose projects have been funded, at least in part, by crowdsourcing. Other businesses are interested in large high-altitude dirigibles that are semi-triangular. Here’s one that provides cellular service:
Still other designers and commercial interests are looking at using dirigible technology for flying hotels (“manned clouds”). I like the whale / manatee design of this one:
Again, these are just samples from about two hours of research. Continuing …
The Orbital Airship
According to the Wikipedia entry on this craft:
“The orbital airship, also called the space blimp, is a proposed space transportation system that carries payloads to and from low Earth orbit. It is intended to achieve orbital altitude and orbital velocity using low thrust rocket propulsion by flying in the manner of an airship rather than arocket, employing buoyancy and aerodynamic lift rather than vertical thrust to sustain flight during its ascent.”
The note about orbital velocity is interesting. That’s really fast:
circular orbit: 7.8 to 6.9 km/s (17,450 mph to 15,430 mph) respectively
elliptic orbit: 8.2 to 6.5 km/s respectively
Now, for sure orbital velocity isn’t necessarily transferable to high-speed moves sometimes associated with triangular UFOs (and that is calculated based on sightings by multiple people in different locations, assuming the same craft is being seen). But that isn’t my point. My point is that there are dirigibles out there that can sustain amazing speeds and the forces that go along with those speeds.
Getting a little more edgy, dirigible technology actually – in theory – contributes to the discussion of some of the more bizarre details of large triangle sightings. The Labrador case is noteworthy, as the pilots who witnessed it reported smaller round craft that seemed to go into the “triangle mothership.”
The notion of airships being bases for smaller planes isn’t new. Here’s an example of the concept in 1934.
My point is not to argue that this concept was indeed developed and is behind the Labrador case or any other. My point is that the notion that this sort of thing is inconceivable to humans is bogus. The airships being developed by the defense industry now have huge payloads (note the 66 ton payload example earlier). Yeah, it could carry some other smaller craft, especially if they were dirigibles, too.
Other cases had witnesses saying the triangle changed shapes, specifically with two upturned ends like the handle on now-antique rotary telephones. Guess what – That can happen if your dirigible is segmented, as in the “Stealth Worm Airship” noted by Defense Tech in 2012:
All you need is a “worm” long enough to produce the sort of effects witnesses have described, especially if the ends are powered for turning and other navigational needs. And if such a “worm” was powered on both ends, it could move in either direction as well.
I think readers know this wasn’t intended as a dissertation. I only spent a couple hours of research to produce this. One advantage is that I collect this sort of information. So, at the risk of repetition, let me say again that I’m not claiming any or all of these explanations are “the” answer to triangular UFOs. But I’m absolutely certain these data ought to be part of parsing the question (especially with respect to the “the sighting’s too long ago to be human craft” argument). Their omission from the discussion is unwarranted. I read Marler’s book quickly and perhaps there’s some mention of any of this, but I would have missed it for brevity. He too quickly concludes that explanations not focused on ETs are only about delta-wing jet craft. He’s missed the airbus.
- I speak here of the matter of visual perspective and the possibilty that groups of people were seeing more than one craft in two locations, thereby not requiring one object to get from point A to point B at extreme speeds to be seen by the respecting persons. That said, as the reader will note by progressing through the post, I’m not claiming that dirigible technology explains all that needs to be explained about triangular UFOs. ↩
- See Solving the 1897 Airship Mystery and The Great Airship of 1897: A Provocative Look at the Most Mysterious Aviation Event in History. ↩
- Airship technology continues to fascinate aviation engineers for their transport capability. Like any technology, though, the airship has its critics. Readers should take note that both those links come from the same publication: Scientific American. ↩
I’m about a third of the way through the recently released book by David Marler, Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation. Despite what I’ll say below, my feeling at this point is that this is an important book that anyone with an interest in UFOs should have. Marler is to be commended for his research.
What’s prompting me to blog about the book at this point is primarily the foreword, though I’ll be critical of a lapse in critical thinking on Marler’s part as well (in Part 2 of my thoughts).
The book’s Foreword is by retired Colonel John B. Alexander.1 Alexander is an expert in non-lethal weapons and a central figure in John Ronson’s book The Men Who Stare At Goats (made into a motion picture starring George Clooney), which dealt at length with the military’s involvement in remote viewing. He’s also known for attempts to use neuro-linguistic programming to create “Jedi warriors” for the military. Lastly, Alexander is the author of UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities.
Clearly Alexander is qualified to write the foreword to Marler’s book. Dr. Alexander (he has a PhD from Walden University), now in his seventies, is a high profile figure in ufology. That said, he’s also one of the more shadowy, as a career intelligence officer. While I’m predisposed to appreciate Alexander’s often unpopular candor about his own ignorance of whether there’s a genuine conspiracy within the U.S. military to hide the truth about UFOs, it’s fair to say he’s been involved in some conspiracies of his own, such as what has become known in UFO studies as the “Carpenter Affair” – an episode related to the experiences of abduction researcher Leah Haley. After a long commitment to the notion of alien abduction, Haley now believes there are no such things, but rather the military plays an important role.
Regardless of what side Alexander is on at any given point in his career isn’t why his foreword irked me. Rather, it’s the condescension in it, which both presumes ignorance on the part of his readers and reflects flawed logic.
Alexander opines that any conspiracy theory (that doesn’t cater to aliens being the answer to the UFO mystery) “defies facts and logic.” As examples Alexander writes:
Specifically, while the government does develop advanced aircraft in secret, they do not conduct test flights of well-illuminated prototypes near major metropolitan areas. Yet, that is where many of the large triangular UFOs have been observed. (p. 2)
It doesn’t take too much thinking to realize that the reason the military wouldn’t be testing craft in the way described by Alexander is that the sort of test craft that we know gets tested are jets or high-speed aircraft. You can’t really have the stealth fighter break the sound barrier right above a city. But triangular craft are (without exception?) noted for “floating” at low speeds or hovering. The nature of the craft means there’s no real obstacle (other than secrecy) to deploy such a craft over a heavily-populated area. Alexander (and for that matter, Marler) doesn’t even bring up dirigible technology that could explain a lot of the behavior of the triangular craft (more on that below).
Alexander’s reasoning process also eliminates a priori any psychological warfare benefit to such tests. Within the UFO research community genuine documentary evidence exists that our military did in fact note with all seriousness that UFOs were useful for psychological warfare — making people thing something or some sort of propaganda. The context for that documentation was the Cold War period. If (and of course all our talk about the truth about UFOs most start with that qualifier) there is something to the idea held by some researchers that at least part of the UFO mystery involves terrestrial development by the U. S. military, there might be some psychological benefit to perpetuating a belief in alien visitation. One simple benefit that should be familiar to anyone who grew up in the Cold War era, is that there’s always an enemy out there – and a superior one at that- to justify pouring billions of dollars into any weapons program that might serve to protect us and our interests.
Alexander also suggests that if we had triangular UFO technology of our own we would have deployed it in recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically for logistic purposes. Here he draws on the immense size usually reported for triangular UFOs. For the “conspiracist” this, too, isn’t an enigma. It could easily be argued that, if this technology was ours and an item at the highest security level, we wouldn’t roll it out unless we were in a war that had to be won or our national security and sovereignty would be lost. In other words, there’s no compelling reason why, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that logistic business-as-usual would need to be abandoned or improvised. Our country wasn’t at stake, so why use the triangles? Equally as obvious is the psychological warfare angle. Why not use triangular craft at our disposal in these conflicts? Because then the mystery is over — and any “new Cold War” benefit that went with it.
Alexander goes on to add more “proof” to his argument by relating a conversation he had a non-lethal weapons conference with “an Air Force Major General whom I had met years before when we were attending courses at Harvard” (p. 3). This person, Alexander informs us, “had previously been the director of all USAF research and development at Wright-Patterson AFB” (p. 3). Fully knowing the place Wright-Patterson has in UFO lore, Alexander uses these credentials to bias the reader’s take on what he relates next about this conversation. Alexander asked the mystery man if he had any knowledge of large triangular craft in man-made arsenals. The mystery person “indicated we had nothing larger than the C-5, though the Russian Antonov AN-124 is even bigger.”
So let me see if I’m follow this piece of compelling logic. Alexander has a conversation with someone he had met many years earlier whose later career made him well-positioned to know about triangular craft . . . and the fact that this distant acquaintance said “no” means Alexander got the truth? Really?
I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that if the mystery man did know about triangular craft, and if they were highly secret, then that person would still be bound by oath to keep his mouth shut, especially since distant acquaintances aren’t in the need-to-know. The same goes for Alexander’s follow-up about defense contractors who couldn’t get funding for such logistics craft. Did he talk to all of them? Could he have missed the one who did get the contract? Better, were any of those contractors in the loop and, if they were, who is Alexander to them? He may be a war hero, but is he in the need-to-know chain of information that is part and parcel of intelligence compartmentalization? Apparently the fact that a high-ranking officer who worked on weird projects had these conversations and didn’t get answers is supposed to mesmerize readers and nudge them toward an ET hypothesis for the triangles.
Frankly, colonel, this asks me to extend too much faith in what you’re offering as the basis for your conclusions. Not only is your logic not compelling, it isn’t sound. As readers of this blog know, the idea of ET visitation isn’t going to upset and theological, religious, philosophical, or intellectual apple carts for me. I’m not here to debunk. Debunkers (like Phil Klass) were just as irritating to me for the same reasons of incoherence. I just want clear thinking and real proof. It’s not an unreasonable request.
Lastly, Alexander thinks he’s got anyone who disagrees over a barrel with the fact that triangular craft have been reported since the late 1800s, before Kitty Hawk. He also makes a big deal about early sightings in the 1950s. It’s at this point that I have to wonder if he’s deliberately excluding relevant research into human flight technology to bias his case. I speak here of dirigibles. I’ll get into this in Part 2 of my thoughts, but for now let me just say that there are patents on the books as far back as 1864 (that’s right, during the Civil War) for dirigible airship technology. All one needs to do is look in the Patent Office files, which are available online. When you do that, you come across some really interesting things . . . like the dirigible “airship” patent below from 1921. Hmmm. . . . More on what Alexander (and Marler) omit from their discussion next time.
- For Facade readers, this post and its “Brian vs. the Colonel” flavor isn’t lost on me. ↩
I just finished the book, Encounters with Star People: Untold Stories of American Indians (Anomalist Books, 2012), by Ardy Sixkiller Clarke. I can review it in one word: disappointing. Or four words: don’t waste your money.
When I heard about this book I was immediately interested. I thought it would fill a gap in UFO research – namely, that it would be a book about ancient Native American lore about encounters with flying saucers and their occupants. I’m part Native American (not sure of the percentage), so this sort of thing is an interest. The book is anything but what I thought. Instead of ancient texts or traditions, this is nothing more than anecdotes from Native Americans about stuff they saw or heard (sometimes second, third, and fourth hand). It contributes nothing to serious UFO research, as it confirms something I don’t think anyone doubted in the first place: Native Americans see unidentified objects, too. (Was that a controversy?)
The book is not merely a disappointment for what it doesn’t cover, but also for how it covers what it does cover. Unless the back cover had told me the author was a (retired) professor at a university of note (Montana State) I never would have guessed. There is virtually no critical thinking in the book. Whatever someone says is taken at face value. Familiar historical cases that have been roundly criticized by serious UFO researchers are taken as the gospel truth. For example, it’s as though the author is completely unaware of the problems with the Hill case (like Betty’s “star map” astronomy, or how Barney initially said the “aliens” looked like Germans in Nazi garb). None of the people interviewed by the author are ever challenged or asked for evidence. (And several of the reports contained clear items or elements that could be falsified or supported with data – but doing that might have shown they were fantasies).
In a nutshell, the book is the paperback equivalent of a polite nod when someone you don’t want to offend says something nutty.
To be fair, the author does say she seeks only to report. That’s nice. If anyone had seen a leprechaun or a pterodactyl during their experience that would have made it in, too. It’s fine if you want to report something, but that has little value in furthering research. My advice is to buy and read something more serious in terms of analysis or building a case for why people ought to care about the UFO issue (like Leslie Kean’s book). This book just doesn’t accomplish anything that will matter for the field.