Travis Walton and his witnesses - to this day - describe the UFO in dramatic terms, and the recreations for film - like the one above for the Sci-Fi Channel in 2012 - reinforce the image of a blindingly bright, spinning disc in a forest clearing.
But what did they report at the time?
1. The flying saucer was not in a clearing.
In my previous post I presented a witness from Ariel who claims UFOs and aliens did not land at the school on Sep 16, 1994. Any testimony should be open to criticism, but to anyone criticizing Dallyn's story I ask they do the same of the other witness testimonies from that event.
Here I present a critique of witness Emma's testimony - her changing stories cannot be reconciled, therefore at least some versions must be false or distorted. I do not believe she's lying now, or ever lied. The fact is, our memories do change over time, even from one day to the next. We absorb others' stories as our own. False memories are created. Yet the now-adult witnesses from Ariel (at least the ones speaking up) have not shown any awareness, to my knowledge, of this simple proven fact of human psychology.
"I know what I saw."
"I was there, you were not."
...But they weren't really there. Their childhood selves were there. And psychological studies on (false) memory and (mis)perception - not to mention countless examples in the field of ufology - have proven that sometimes: No, you don't know what you saw.
The 1994 Ariel School case has a special place in the hearts of many UFO fans. Dozens of innocent children witnessed something strange in the scrub about 200 meters from their playground during recess. With no adults around to interpret what they saw, at least some of them became convinced it was a UFO (or several UFOs) and an alien being (or several beings).
The sighting is remarkable in that we have contemporaneous footage of many witness interviews, thanks to visits by TV news crews in the days, weeks, and years following the incident. But when I placed all the children's testimonies in chronological order, they clearly show how the tales grew taller in the telling, starting relatively mundane and becoming more and more "alien" over time. As adults, some of the witnesses claim to be deeply impacted by the event, and even have "memories" of otherworldly details that nobody reported at the time.
Dallyn Vico was in grade 5. He was interviewed in 2008 by Randall Nickerson for the Ariel: Phenomenon movie, where only one irrelevant line was used in the final cut, and again for Netflix's Encounters, Episode 2 (2023), where he claimed he and his friends started the rumor that a shiny rock was the UFO. Because of apparent conflicts between Dallyn's two testimonies, the Ariel Phenomenon YouTube channel uploaded a longer version of his 2008 interview, titled: "Encounters" Ariel school UFO incident denier Dallyn Vico interviewed in 2008. Their Twitter account went so far as to imply he had been manipulated: "We are dismayed he [was] put in this position by the production company, & concerned for him."
While the now-adult witnesses talking about aliens get the spotlight, we rarely if ever hear from those who don't believe it was aliens.
A rotten egg: the plot
“Investigative journalist” Ross Coulthart (see: Jim’s ball) recently told a story on his Need To Know podcast (Aug 4, 2023) about an egg-shaped craft discovered in the 1980s that was analyzed in a UFO reverse engineering (RE) program at Area 51 in the 1990s. The story comes from a new source (let’s call him Bill) who sent Coulthart a photo of his uncle's patch that Coulthart is claiming comes from a RE program, along with a photo of his team, and sufficient evidence to convince Coulthart that Bill’s great uncle (let's call him Gruncle) worked at Area 51 for contractor EG&G from 1997-2014 and that Bill has talked to AARO about it for 45 minutes (with what amounts to a third-hand story).
Gruncle never saw the egg-shaped craft for himself. According to Bill, Gruncle's job was putting data from human tech into storage vaults. He never saw UFOs or aliens or even data about UFOs or aliens. Gruncle was told about an alien reverse engineering program by the senior engineer in charge of that program, when he started work in 1997. The senior engineer described an egg-shaped craft, silverish-grey, featureless, and the size of an SUV. It was never cracked open, was impenetrable to X-rays, but was nevertheless concluded to be a “probe craft from another planet”. He retired the next year and Gruncle died last year, so we'll just have to take Bill's word for all this.
Later, Gruncle saw hanging on the wall of a secure data storage room at Area 51 a “close-up crystal-clear” “huge image” of “the same exact object” (i.e. a featureless silver egg he'd never seen in person).
Coulthart was sent the one and only photo that Bill sneakily took of Gruncle's insignia patch from the program (he took it while Gruncle was sleeping).
In showing the patch, Coulthart’s worst nightmare came true: it got analyzed.
Here I lay out the problems with Coulthart’s story and his source, and present the actual origin of the patch. The evidence comes from Twitter users' interactions with Bill as well as research done on Metabunk.
In 1952, Shell R. Alpert, US Coast Guard photographer, shot this formation of four bright lights through the window of his photo lab in Salem MA, in the middle of the 2-week “Washington flap”.
It’s hailed as a classic UFO photo. It was in all the papers!
Was it a genuine UFO? A misunderstanding? Or a hoax?
"Vengeance is mine"
As part of my research into the PR Disaster Hypothesis for the Westall school sighting in 1966, in Dec 2022 I corresponded with Steven Thorn, the pseudonymous author of a memoir about the HIBAL project whose book I cited on my Westall pages. He worked at Mildura from 1963 for four years and wrote the book around 2018 (published 2021).
Some of Steven's memories in 2022 contradicted what he'd written about a few years earlier. He flew on the tracking plane for HIBAL missions and did not recall ever going further south than Charlton VIC (250km/160mi from Mildura), despite evidence of one mission reaching Bendigo (another 100km/60mi further southeast) and in his own book a mission that reached Salt Creek in SA (315km/190mi southwest). And he "did not recall any special NASA flights", only piggybacking by Adelaide University, despite describing special NASA piggyback missions in his book. I mention these examples only to show that memory is fallible.
Steven told me the crew was "sworn to secrecy" regarding the HIBAL missions, but that there was chatter in the tearoom.
Just because a vintage UFO photo has been analyzed by experts and pronounced either genuine or, at the very least, undebunked, doesn't mean we shouldn't take another look at it.
In 1965, while on the job taking photos of road signs that needed replacing, Rex Heflin took three shots of a UFO passing over the road with his Polaroid 101 camera. For some reason he didn't get out of his vehicle first. He estimated the UFO was 1/8 mile (200 meters) away and 150 feet (46 meters) up in the air.
My immediate instinctual reactions to these photos are (1) it looks like a small, close object, and (2) it looks like a simple machined object from an Earthly factory, or the most boring UFO in UFO history. But instincts aren't enough to debunk the fanciful tale of an honest-man-who-never-retracted, so let's take a closer look.
I've turned many of my Twitter threads about Anjali into third-density mini-blogs across two pages - a more readable format and a backup in case Twitter self-implodes. If you're new to the doomed Expedition of the Millennium and the coming Anjapocalypse, these articles will give you an idea of how the story unfolded. The pages take a while to load, but you'll learn...
Steve Pierce is one of the seven witnesses to Travis Walton’s 1975 UFO and “abduction”. I’ve been corresponding with him since July 2021. It’s been a rocky road. Over time, he’s opened up about doubts that he doesn't voice on podcasts. His thoughts have shifted.
A reflexive reaction from many experiencers is to assume skeptics are accusing them of lying. I have always told Steve I think he was duped, and he has always struck me as someone very concerned with getting the details right. He was initially angry with me for explaining the many indications this incident was a hoax, and even when we came to a friendlier understanding he has been reluctant to consider the possibility.
Even so, he did express doubts about parts of the story. He considers Travis to be a liar and “the kind of guy who went to a party and everyone else left.” He says Mike never paid him, and told lies about him that ended up in Travis's book and which Travis refuses to correct. These things may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, but they're important to him.
A few days ago, Steve wrote to me: "It was a hoax."
I'm blogging about the Three-Dollar Kit.