Sunday, May 11, 2008

UFO HUNTERS - Hist. - Code Red

History Channel - Original Air Date: 4/30/08

This episode looks at reports of supposed UFOs over US Air Force bases.  The incident is an object (or objects) sighted at several locations on Edwards AFB and several nearby locations (5 areas altogether).  There are eyewitnesses and radio broadcasts from the time (Oct. 7, 1965).  The reports talk about UFOs (7 of them), and one of the air controllers says "We supposedly are having quite an invasion over here." Radar provides conflicting evidence, but people keep seeing strange lights in the night sky.  Aircraft tests seem unlikely, as the air controllers would have had to know about even secret flights in order to keep the airspace clear.  As one of the investigators points out, those scanning the night sky were looking for anything unusual, that could be called a UFO.  This does not mean the objects spotted, either visually or on radar, were alien craft; this was, after all, at the height of the cold war.  The team leader makes a big deal out of the base having a UFO officer -- though he seems to forget that UFO does not mean alien; it just means unidentified.  Official reports blame the sightings on weather balloons -- though the air controller doubts this explanation.  Eventually, an aircraft, an F-106, is sent to investigate.  The air controller tries to steer the plane to the UFOs, but they never catch up; the UFOs appear to be much higher than the plane, and then the UFOs vanish.  One expert believes that the objects were likely classified aircraft, possibly SR-71s or other secret projects.  The team then goes to check the official radar records, which were described by the military as unreliable because of weather conditions.  To at least one expert, the radar hits do not look like weather.  As to the radio reports, while the team leader claims, "The audio is the smoking gun," another member of the team points out that, "...There were a whole bunch of voices in that chatter that did not know what was going on."  That much, at least, is true.  And this, I think, shows clearly why scientists say that eyewitness stories are not evidence.

As usual with these historic reports, there's a lot of confusion at the time, and things haven't gotten any clearer since.  While "investigating" such reports may be good at building UFO mythology, it seems to serve little other purpose.  Remember, if you tell people to go out and look for strange things, they will find strange things -- even Air Force personnel are subject to this very human reaction. While something certainly had people excited that night, it seems unlikely that we will ever know for sure what those lights were.  Something strange happened, but the evidence for that something being alien craft is nearly zero.  If you want to hear these kind of UFO stories, watch this show; if you want investigation or some rational explanation for such encounters, forget it.  My best guess?  Test aircraft or high-altitude mirages/reflections.  As they say on Mystery Hunters, "Remember, things aren't always what they seem."

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