Have you ever wondered about unidentified flying objects? Have you ever seen one? Did you want to get it on videotape? Many people have, providing some of the most interesting evidence extant of unusual flying craft in, around, and through our planetary atmosphere.
One of the most amazing UFO videos of late was recorded by a young father in Kanazawa, Japan. While playing outside, his daughter noticed a strange silvery disk in the sky and ran inside to tell her dad. Dad took one look at the UFO and rushed for his Sony 8mm camcorder.
Mom got upset though, because she didn’t want the footage on the tape erased (sound familiar?). With trembling fingers, Dad hurriedly ripped the cellophane off a new package of videotape and rushed outside just in time to catch the UFO performing some rather remarkable maneuvers.
According to California-based UFO investigator and author Richard Haines, “the video clearly shows a beautiful silvery aerial object with a Sawn-like halo take a sharp 90-degree turn and take off at a very high velocity. The videomaker was a good tracker because he had the presence of mind to stand so that the neighbor’s roofline remained in the field of view, even during a zoom.”
Why is the neighbor’s roofline important? “Because it gives us relative size, speed, direction, and brightness references to the UFO,” explains Haines, who recently returned from a UFO lecture/research trip to the Soviet Union.
According to statistics gathered by Soviet researchers, 97 percent of the 6000 or so yearly UFO sightings are conventional visual reports seen with the naked eye, usually from the ground. Fifty percent of the craft sighted hover and streak around the sky for at least a minute before warping out.
This, of course, makes UFO tracking an ideal activity for camcorders.
How do you find a UFO to track?
A good question, with many answers. Haines believes finding a UFO is like fishing: You never know when you might catch one.
To prepare for an encounter, he suggests practicing camcorder tracking techniques on airplanes. “Track the aircraft while holding the camcorder really steady, using a tripod if available,” he says. “Keep the object in the center of your screen, with some kind of ground reference in the field of view. Leave the time/date stamp on for later reference.
“For night shots, set your camcorder for a daylight setting. You don’t care about the background. What you want is a realistic exposure of the object.”
For that truly professional, smooth-as-glass tracking movement, the UFO videomaker’s instrument kit should include a SteadicamJR (Cinema Products, Los Angeles) and an ETS-equipped (electronic image stabilizar) camcorder.
Your image will be so steady you’ll even be able to handle the wobble bound to occur as you’re abducted and whisked out of the atmosphere at hyperspeed. If this happens, make sure you have lots ofvideotape, as well as a solar-powered nickel cadmium battery recharger. Who knows when you’ll see AC again?
Tools of the Traipse
One serious new UFO videomaker is Ronnie Matheson, a California Raytheon engineer who helped design the guidance system for the Patriot missile. He loves to track fast-moving objects. And when it comes to UFOs, Matheson’s more a hunter than a fisherman.
“Catching Scuds was okay, but no real challenge,” says Matheson. “I want to track something beyond the primate technology we create.”
For his UFO work, Matheson packs a Canon LI Hi8 camcorder with interchangeable lenses and a night-vision viewer. The new second-generation night-vision viewers provide crisp, detailed images by amplifying existing light 45,000 to 55,000 times.
Capable of capturing images using only the light of the stars, the 18mm wafer-type image intensifier tubes used in modern night-vision viewers boast a resolving power of 28 line pairs
per millimeter or better, with clarity three to four times sharper than normal video.
One of the smallest available viewers, NightViewer R36,662 (Edmund Scientific, Barrington, NJ) is judged superior in overall quality and ease of use. It weighs only 10 ounces and lasts 25 to 30 hours on two AA batteries.
Who and Where
Hunting UFOs requires that you study your prey, evaluating it the same way you would a terrestrial creature. Learn its habits and habitat, its likes and dislikes, appearances and disappearances, patterns of behavior. Keep in mind that UFOs are not easily cornered may possess unique intelligence as radical as our own or nature’s.
Certain locations seem to attract UFOs. Many close encounters have occured in desert areas like Area 51, about 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and Joshua Tree National Park in California. Mountains are also often favored: the Adirondacks in New York, California’s Mount Shasta, and the
Four Corners region in the western U.S. Camcorders have caught UFO action in the skies above Westchester County in New York, Pensacola, FL, Belgium, and the USSR.
Individual people also seem to naturally attract and/or see UFOs. Sheryl McCartney, a visionary painter in Santa Cruz, California has seen and photographed unusual light formations in the twilight sky above Joshua Tree National Park-even when others nearby saw little or no atmospher- ic activity.
“I think this has something to do with a person’s belief system,” McCartney says. “People who are truly open to the possibility of contact are much more likely to experience one.”
While camping in the desert with friends, McCartney saw dozens of lights suddenly rise from the horizon and “dance,” seemingly in concert with each other. She was able to capture the movements of a few of the multicolored lights on her 35mm camera. “I wish I had had a camcorder at the time. Watching these lights was one of the most wondrous things I ever saw.”
Television director, videomaker, and Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) officer Ron Lakis hired a private helicopter to investigate Dulce Canyon, Arizona, an area reputed to be fill of alien activity and secret underground bases.
Armed with Betacam and a professional camera operator, Lakis flew 500 feet above ground in the canyon area, looking for unusual artifacts and activity.
His video, shared at the most recent West Coast MUFON meeting, shows a well-kept road in the middle of nowhere leading to large fences at the top of a ridge on an Apache Indian reservation. The road was not marked on any map.
Also documented were large numbers created from tree branches on a hilltop inaccessible by ground. Possible coordinates of some sort?
Lakis additionally spotted two military Chinook helicopters landing at the small Dulce airfield serving as his base of operations. There for only half an hour, the army helicopters, based in Fort Ord, CA, had apparently suffered oil pressure loss and landed for repairs.
Lakis’ early research on UFOs is documented in his video The UFO Experience.
Last November my brother and I investigated an incident that occurred in downtown Montreal, Quebec. Also attracting the attention of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, nine yellow-orange lights forming a circle suddenly appeared at about 8 p.m. an indeterminate distance above the heated rooftop pool of the downtown Bonaventure Hilton Hotel.
The lights simply hovered about the pool. Swimmers notified the Bonaventure staff, who summoned the police. The police thought the aerial ring of lights was a reflection off clouds, caused by some bright construction lights on a new skyscraper being built across the street.
Exercising the long arm of the law, the police had the construction lights turned off. The circle of lights continued to hover above the pooi absolutely steady in brightness and position until about 10:30 p.m.
Then, after baffling everyone, including aj ournalist from the daily paper, La Press, the luminous circle simply faded to black, dissipating slowly into the late autumn skies. The only image recorded of the two-hour encounter was a 35mm photo snapped by the journalist and published the next morning.
I used my Canon 860 1-118 camcorder to document the location of the encounter and the construction lights. I also interviewed the hotel desk clerk on duty at the time. What was most surprising was how nonchalant most witnesses seemed to be.
“Guests would look up for a while and it would just be there. After craning their necks for a
minute or so they would go back to their business,” the desk derk told us. “What were they to do?”
Earth Week, a weekly diary of the planet syndicated in newspapers worldwide, usually tracks global events like oil pollution, tropical storms, wild- fires, unseasonable weather, and other global disasters and events. For the week ending February 22, 1991, however, Earth Week reprinted a Soviet TASS story reporting that the skies over Uzbekistan, USSR were teeming with flying saucers. Locals suspected the aliens were after the region’s vast gold deposits.
There were also reports of alien robots in the town of Daugyztau, in central Kyzyl-Kum, described by local teenagers as “truncated pyramids, covered with metal scales.” They also had what looked like wings on their sides, and made huge leaps, covering four or five yards. Soviet UFO experts sald they found powerful magnetic fields in places pointed out by the children.
Videos of these close encounters of the third kind are what we need to crack the issue of UFOs wide open.
In the Bag
To capture UFO phenomena with your video camera, it pays to be quick on the draw. Practice taping fast-moving objects and fleeting phenomena. With a high shutter speed, catch that odd bumper sticker speeding by. Track a hummingbird, or an airplane in flight. Stalk a thunderstorm, taping those lightning bolts in full glory. Make sure your images have a steady reference, and use your natural fishing, hunting, and tracking skills.
I pack my camcorder all the time, and have found that after awhile you can’t help but get good at it. Using it becomes a natural reflex and extension of your body. If you carry your UFO videomaker’s instrument kit like a doctor carries a medical bag, you’ll be ready for all experiences that cross your path.
I believe a concerted group effort of camcorder trackers could lead to a genuine breakthrough in comprehending the UFO experience. There are approximately 20 sightings a day occurring on a global scale. If we could videotape just one sighting aweek, that would be major progress.
Using presently available video and computer editing techniques, it should be possible to organize existing sightings in such a way as to see overall patterns of UFO activity and behavior. Ship shapes and movements, psychological experiences, and alien motivations will be interesting to identify.
Allan Lundell is a Califomia-based journalist specializing in the computer/video/multimedia/virtual reality frontier.