History Channel - Original Air Date: 4/9/08
Investigating a recent sighting is a new tack for this show, thus the team heads to Stephenville, TX to track down what they can about the January 2008 incidents. At first the government said there were no military aircraft in the area; later they recanted, saying that ten F-16s were conducting a training exercise. Stephenville residents aren't buying it, as they insist the objects made no sounds. The crew sets up their HQ in Stephenville, goes on the local radio station, and starts taking calls and eyewitness reports. One eyewitness has a video, and though his testimony is compelling, the fourteen minutes of video is still just a blur of light in a darkened sky. When slowed down by the show, it makes amazing multicolored ribbon shapes. But, are these shapes real, or operator error/vibration? A good scientific set of tests fairly well duplicates the ribbon and multicolored lights; for once the team scientist concludes this video is of a terrestrial aircraft seen at great distance. A MUFON member insists that the incident in January is just part of a larger "mass sighting." The show also digresses briefly into stories of cigar-shaped UFOs and century-old airship sightings. A second video doesn't show UFOs, but does seem to show a mysterious beam of light coming from the sky, but not touching the ground. Though this looks like a reflection to me, it coincides with other witness reports of UFO activity. Stephenville, though, is virtually surrounded by military bases. The team tries to triangulate the sightings, to see if they coincide with military bases or flights. The team then recreates the sightings using a balloon and lasers. According to the team's findings, the object on January 8th hovered at 1000 feat near the Stephenville airport -- a place where no aircraft were reported to be. With the show's history of dodgy investigation and recreation, I'm not sure I buy that.
Several things the show doesn't point out in its usual rush to be sensational: first, that seeing a strange light in the sky doesn't necessarily equate with alien craft. The second, vis the airships, is that newspapers 100 years ago often printed stories that had been completely fabricated. (Even before the days of the late, lamented Weekly World News.) Such fictitious "news" stories have started many a rural US legend. You may also want to check out my Howl's & Growls segment on Uncanny Radio 011 (David Walks-As-Bear) for a discussion of Radio Lab, the War of the Worlds, and what astonishing things frightened/and or confused people will believe. Recently, I caught the end of a show titled "An Alien History of Planet Earth" (a.k.a. UFOs: The Secret Evidence). I hope to catch up with the whole show to do a review one day. One of its conclusions was that most UFO sightings are military aircraft. (And the military may be using UFO hysteria to cover up secret tests.) To me, this seems a likely explanation of Stephenville.