Question 1: Could you outline the basic investigative procedure you follow?
First MUFON field investigators are volunteer persons who are extremely interested in the subject, are computer literate and who most of all desire to research the phenomena. They are certified by MUFON International which as candidates includes a MUFON security background check. They are required to obtain and studying a 300 plus page MUFON/Training manual and then pass a 100 question exam. The manual serves as the investigators field manual, details the on-line Case Management System (CMS) and covers all things pertinent to investigations. Field investigator training initially is by the manual but we also hold ongoing training session where we discuss and reinforce such things as:
• Investigative Ethics. Adhering to witness anonymity.
• Active listening, sequence of completing reports, witness perceptions and body language, interpreting oral accounts and drawing conclusions.
• In given circumstance, resolve misperception, determine the person’s reliability as a witness, and identify others who might be witnesses.
• Knowledgeable on subjects of weather anomalies, astronomy, conventional/military aircraft (lighting configurations), space satellites, photographic equipment and use, and the soil sciences.
The vast majority of cases come to MUFON through the CMS which has increased the case load over the last few years as the system has become better known. Cases are assigned automatically by state as submitted by witness (http://www.mufon.com/reportufo.html).
After case assignment field investigators acquaint themselves with the information the submitting witness supplies on the CMS submitting forms. Phone numbers and e-mail address are commonly provided. The form asks specific question and gives answer options, and supplies a box for witness written statements. With experience and being good listeners we are often able to understand what witnesses are telling us and where they are coming from emotionally.
Our Indiana out-state field investigators are experienced and know the ropes. Our new MUFON Indy group is talented, well-educated and most have investigative experience. Either I or my chief investigator review incoming cases before making investigator assignments. Many of our Indiana investigators are former military including Air Force pilots, military Special Forces and other technical specialist. Although not in Indiana, I know MUFON investigators who are current and past law enforcement persons.
MUFON's Mission is the scientific study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity through investigation, research and education.
Question 2: Have you collected anything that could be called physical evidence? How about photos or videos?
This is the 64 Quad Trillion dollar question! In Indiana in my twelve years, with the two previous State Directors, and as far back as I’ve been told, the answer is no. That’s not to say we have not come across some strange things. To my knowledge most such evidence which has been submitted to be such, almost always to turn out to be more terrestrial than extraterrestrial. I cannot speak for Ufology in general on this subject. There are those who hold to some government agency who tracks the skies and can within hours move into a supposed landing/crash site, move out whatever was there, clean up and be gone without leaving much behind. This supposedly is what happened with the Kokomo Boom in 2008. There were reports of huge semi-trucks in the area but we found no such evidence for the presence of such vehicles where the events were supposed to have happened. If it is the case they are very, very good at it.
In the case of terrestrial objects the term “terrestrial compounds” may be more suited. The earliest event regarding a compound that I’m aware of is the Maury Island Incident from 1947 where Slag-like material allegedly fell from a UFO hitting a boat damaging it and a killing a dog on the deck. (Slag; a by-product of smelting ore to separate metals from unwanted materials.)
More recently are the alleged alien implants in alien abductees a few of which have been surgically removed by Dr. Roger Leir (Alien scalpel). Reports are of not finding super high tech nano objects but rather mineralized particles of common Earthly minerals primary consisting of iron, carbon, silicon, oxygen and other trace elements. Some tests have shown isotopic ratios not common on Earth.
One alleged abductee here in Indiana whom I worked with tells of such an implant in his left ear lobe which as a teenager he could easily move around. So easy to move around, he used it to freak his classmates. He carried it for 12 years until one day he found he no longer had it.
A most recent event lends more credence to mineral and trace elements being associated with UFOs. The January 2012 issue of the MUFON Journal has an article on a November, 2011 Arizona witness encounter in which a red orb followed the witness in her vehicle on her way home from work late at night for some 40 miles. There is more to this report including a type of entity encounter. The next day a Ranger map the magnetic readings on the vehicle and pulled the oil filter. MUFON analysis of the oil filter showed high levels of sodium nitrate in the filter paper, a very unusual place to find such a compound. The reporting witness verified changing oil regularly on the manufactures recommendation. Analysis showed normal oil additive wear with the sodium nitrate being the only unusual substance.
Here in Indiana we have been involved in three investigations of close encounters with UFOs where vehicles involved showed highly unusual magnetic readings. We however at the time of investigation never considered looking for vehicle oil contaminates.
Sodium nitrate, a type of salt is used in fertilizer, as a food preservative, rocket propellant and in the manufacture of gunpowder among other uses but none associated with oils. There is no reason why it should be found in a vehicle oil filter short of being placed there on purpose. However with UFO involvement sodium nitrate does seem to fit in with the normal mineral compounds which typically seem to be associated with UFOs.
Photos and videos here in Indiana! Photos we receive are generally of poor quality and not much can be obtained from them. Most are taken at night and show some kind of light most at a distance and I’ve never seen one showing any kind of structured craft. Photos taken of something in daylight sky typically only show something very small at what looks to be a great distance. They are extremely difficult to verify. Most all of them are digital photos and when they are broken down to the pixel level show only blur results. This is especially true for cell phone cameras. Photos we receive attached to the Case Management System are publically viewable.
The same is true for videos. We have cell phone videos which verify witness event descriptions but lack detail as above. The best videos I’ve viewed is one taken over a year ago in Fort Wayne showing an illuminated crown shape object traveling northward. There are trees and a building giving a good perspective. These videos were taken by two college students digital taping a high school band practice in the schools parking lot. The excitement of the students trying to take the video and the camera movements lend perspective to the video. The problem with the videos is they are often too large to attach to either our data files or an e–mail. Placing them on DVD or to cloud storage works.
Since the U.S. Air Force discontinued UFO investigations in 1969 there has been no public funding, no university support and open active hostility from most sectors of society toward the phenomena. Is it not understandable that such a phenomenon, on which experiments can’t be done and appears only sporadically and with no predictable pattern, would have little or no physical evidence? To study anything scientifically requires resources which makes it impossible except in rare circumstances to obtain data on UFOs in real-time. This leaves almost exclusively “testimony for data” which by its numbers worldwide is sufficient to establish the phenomenon existence and a general mystery but limits going beyond simple searches. However we are beginning to find the alien abduction issue is beginning to provide some probable insight now that it is taken more seriously within MUFON.
Question 3: How does Indiana rank in terms of UFO activity? Do we have more or less than other parts of the country?
In the years 2010/2011 we’ve received just over 200 case submissions per year through our on-line Case Management system. In comparison to other States that leaves us about 10th in the country currently.
Question 4: Has recent activity been increasing, decreasing or static?
In 2009 Indiana cases submission through the case management system exceeded 300 and for the period of 2007 through 2009 time Indiana was in the top five states in the nation. Only California, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania received more. For a state with an approximate population of 6.5 million that leaves Indiana with a pretty high case/population density ratio . In fact a report analysis I can site is an article in Open Minds by Alejandro Rojas (referenced here). Using MUFON data Rojas data finds Indiana rank 4th nationally in UFO hotspots by population. (http://www.openminds.tv/ufo-hotspots-805/) In the published magazine version of this article Rojas writes regarding Indiana, “Of all the states to make the top five list of UFO hotspots, Indiana was the most surprising. We, at Open Minds, had not heard of any “famous” past Indiana UFO sightings. Indiana’s status as a UFO hotspot was no surprise to UFO researcher Craig Howell who writes: For some reason they (UFOs) like Indiana a lot. There is heavy activity from Evansville area up through Bloomington up to Indianapolis and from there up to South Bend. If you follow that line you will see the main UFO trail emerge. Other areas are up by Lake Michigan and down to Richmond, near the Ohio boarder. Of all the states, Indiana has the most number of different places where reoccurring sightings occur.”
I’ve not previously heard of Craig Howell but after twelve years of managing MUFON cases in Indiana I must concur with his observation. This is information which we’ve had a sense of, but are only now coming to grips with the data.
I would estimate today Indiana has better than a third fewer reports than we did three of four years ago while nationally the level remains about the same. However todays reports are of a higher more complex nature.
There are variables in all this. The case management system came on-line in 2005 but has only become better known in the last several years. The National UFO Reporting Center, a UFO clearing house, still receives a good number of reports nationally but they have been on the Internet longer and still have a major presence for anyone searching to report a UFO sighting.
Question 5: Is there anything that distinguishes the sightings that happen in this area from those in other areas?
I would say no. We have had our share of just about every type of case with the exception of cattle mutilations. Even Big Foot has been around and crop circles found. Cattle mutilations are more out west with the closest ones in Missouri and the Dakotas.
In the past UFO reports seemed simple and straightforward. They were undoubtedly extraterrestrial from the nearby cosmic neighborhood. This was before abduction cases and before the more bizarre became more known.
The vast majority of UFO sighting reports is of “lights in the sky” such as the Fort Wayne videos show. Most of these are orb like either white or colored, particularly orange or what we know as the orange balls of light or OBOLs. Sprinkled in are the virtually night time triangles some reported showing structure but many just three lights in a triangle moving together.
Question 6: Which UFO sighting or incident that has happened in Indiana do you consider to be the most intriguing, and why?
For a particular incident in Indiana, videos by two college students in Fort Wayne. The videos have not been publicly released by the submitting witnesses and are too large for on-line attachment. The students were videoing a high school band practice in the school parking lot when a crown shaped light appeared in the western sky moving over north Fort Wayne. The excitement and scurry to video the object lends authenticity to the videos. The school building and tree line give a good perspective plus there were quite a number of witnesses. At one point the object moves quickly up vertically and then drops in a differential path to its original altitude. This is the best video I’ve ever viewed, where I was one of the investigators and know the source and history behind it. I typically show this video at presentations I’ve done.
Question 7: Given that they are “unidentified” this is an inherently flawed question, but what do you think UFOs are, generally speaking?
My background is electronic engineering and I grow up in the 1950s with a keen interest in UFOs and all the early Sci-fi movies. Essentially I believed in what we know as the extraterrestrial hypothesis up until more recent Times. Over the last decade a much more complicated picture has emerged regarding the UFO phenomena. Our space probes and ground based technology is now painting an ever expanding picture of what the requirements are for the potential of life is in its simplest form. Our own solar system once thought to be “common” in the galaxy is now considered to be the extreme exception. In the Sun's neighborhood of the some 700 plus confirmed planets, no twin match to the Sun has been found and they have turned to the numerous red dwarf stars in their search for habitable planets which is controversial among scientist. The Kepler probe is providing a massive number of candidate exoplanets but these are at extreme distances and tentative at best when the research data is viewed. On-going studies continue to show increasing challenges to the potential for life’s development in our galaxy. One such recent study of habitable zones around the various types of stars suggests that variations in a star's elemental composition might alter the zones behavior, significantly affecting its location and lifetime. Taken collectively there is not a positive prospective for any neighborhood habitual planet which we can also say is supported by SETI.
There are those who support the more than one phenomenon concept. While I am no longer keen on the extraterrestrial hypothesis I’ve found Jacques Vallee’s concepts for UFOs to be more in line with the events and data we are seeing. Vallee is well respected in the UFO community and has written a number of books on the subject. His interdimensional hypothesis has scientific support but is mostly ignored by the UFO community. Vallee’s UFO phenomenon is:
•partly associated with a form of non-human consciousness that manipulates space and time. •has been active throughout human history. •seems to masquerade in various forms to different cultures. •Appears to be the intelligence behind the phenomenon attempts social manipulation by using deception on the humans with whom they interact.
This is supported by the MUFON Omega abduction studies and it very much relates to our Indiana case investigation and research. It’s not a popular approach at the current time but we are seeing momentum for it.
Question 8: Can you describe in more detail how you became interested in the subject? You mentioned Sci-Fi movies of the 50s. Were there one or two that had more of an impact on you than others?
Like most anyone else who might have an interest in a particular subject. With flying saucer stories in local newspapers in the late 40’s and early 50’s there was bound to be wide spread interest and we all like a good mystery. There were local stories which help spark community talk. I remember an early 1950’s story in my hometown newspaper regarding a military looking aircraft that flew southward over the town and released some type of object that flew away to the north. Two groups of three persons each witnessed and made the same report to the town daily newspaper; workers at the big town cemetery and some junior high students. The newspaper printed not only their names but their address also. I remembered this and researched some time ago to find the article. Also remember the talk regarding the military’s involvement in flying saucers that followed.
In regard to films of the 1950’s, the flying saucer reports of that era did create a number of films with that theme, particularly in 1952 which was the year of the Washington DC appearances. However the film that now impresses me most was the 1956 film “Forbidden Planet” staring Leslie Nielsen when he was a character actor. The film had outstanding graphics for the period but what most stands out now is its science references to Sigmund Freud’s work particularly his “Iceberg metaphor. I didn’t understand it at the time but after seeing the film on television numerous times and studying Freud’s work in college the implications became clear. MUFON’s Omega studies, mentioned previous, gives quite bit of credence to what Freud termed “the unconscious self” and how that has now been manifesting itself in the MUFON hypnotherapy program.
Another inquisitive point in this film is the design of the flying saucer shaped model used in the film. This model was also used a few TV sci-fi shows of the era but similar designs to it have shown up in alleged UFO photos over the years. Such a craft was given to us in a graphic for a Indiana August 2008 report. That graphic can be viewed on our “indianamufon.com” web site on the UFO reports Year 2008 Archive page. That design seems to have a way of showing up over the years?