by Graham Conway
On August 16, 1974, at about 8:00 PM, three small boys were returning to their homes on the outskirts of Port Coquitlam, a community about 20 miles east of Vancouver lying on the shore of the Port Coquitlam river. They were David Bates, 8, and Steven and Henry Stillie, aged 10 and 7, whose two families live almost opposite each other in a trailer court.
Following their fairly common practice, the boys took a short cut through a small wooded area bordering the river. This route brought them to a small sandpit, no longer in commercial use. Passing it by, they joined up with the road leading to the street on which they lived. Halfway along the road they became aware of a high pitched whine that resulted in a number of things happening in short sequence.
David Bates, who was carrying a pet cat in his arms, found he could not control the animal as it arched its back and attempted to escape frantically. Releasing it, he watched it run several yards and then drop in its tracks, as if it "fell asleep," he said. The Stillie boys described it as "playing dead." The boys then turned towards the source of the noise and saw an object approach over the trees, traveling south or north over the railway bridge spanning the river. The object had a red light on top and green and white lights at either end of its length. These lights flashed on and off. Traveling slowly, the object reversed its course and with an undulating motion headed for the small cleared area amongst the trees where the sandpit was situated. The intensity of the noise disturbed David so much that his friends said he placed his hands over his ears and called out for it to stop. However, David does not recall doing this.
The UFO began to settle down for a landing and the noise became a buzz, the children claimed. All this took place within a few brief minutes. At that point the terrified cat recovered and returned to its owner, clawing David when he picked it up. The long scratch on his arm was still visible when I interviewed him in September.
In a state of petrified amazement, the boys remained at their point of observation about 150 feet from the touchdown site. As the object settled down to land it gave off a blast of hot air that disturbed the ground so violently the boys were covered in a film of dust. Immediately prior to making contact, the object extended short legs, then some action on the part of the machine caused sand and stones to be sucked upwards towards it in a violent swirling manner. A few seconds later, the boys said, "blue sparks came up from the ground as the machine made contact."
I gather at this point, although confusion and contradiction exist, the Stillie boys had seen enough, and established an Olympic record for the 100 metres required to find the safety of home.
David Bates, either more courageous or foolhardy, remained long enough to establish that it looked like, "two plates joined together, and had an outline in the side like a door." This fact was confirmed by the Stillie boys when interviewed. All agree that it had apparently no windows, "was square on the top, and had "something like a chain" in the centre of the machine.
David told me that his curiosity only kept him long enough to see if anyone came out of the door, but courage failed him and he too fled, down the dirt road after his companions.
Mr. and Mrs. Bates confirmed their son was "hysterical and bug eyed," when he arrived home, white-faced, and it took him some time to calm down. His story they brushed off. Steven and Henry Stillie's parents were out, but they have a teenage sister who was in the trailer washing up. The window from the sink faces the sandpit and although a few trees serve as screen between them and the sandpit, she didn't notice anything unusual. Describing the boys' entrance, she related that their first actions were to lock all the doors and windows, then draw the drapes. Very frightened herself, she had trouble calming them down, and extracting an accurate picture from them of what took place. She drew a sketch from the description they provided but tended at that point not to totally believe the story.
On this particular evening, nothing further transpired. No one was informed, nobody investigated the scene.
Possibly due to parental indifference and/or disbelief, the boys related the story the following morning to a close neighbor, Mrs. Lola Rogers, who lived on the same street. Being interested in this sort of thing, she accompanied the boys to the sandpit and found not only indentations in the alleged landing area, but also circular patches where the "aircraft" had left carbonized deposits either on take-off or landing. Bending down to pick up this material and rub it between her fingers she felt her hand go numb, and it remained so for over a week before gradually wearing off. The depressions formed a triangle and seemed to indicate that some heavy object with a tripod landing gear had indeed rested on the ground.
Returning home she phoned the RCMP who graciously hung up on her, after hearing the account. The local newspaper was not so skeptical, at least preferring to withhold any comment until having seen the witnesses and visited the scene. The reporter from the Port Coquitlam Herald was sufficiently impressed with what he found to suggest that a call to the military authorities at Chilliwack, asking them to do a geiger-count survey of the area, might be productive. The call was made and a voice at the other end stated that "they" would arrive the next day and conduct such an investigation. They never did. Although The Herald gave the story front page coverage in its once-weekly publication, and two weeks later again provided the same treatment to an independent study .None of the Vancouver's papers attempted to pick the story up.
X X X X
At the beginning of September, Brian Fewster, Mark Bauer and I began an investigation that continued for several months as we pursued different paths, securing assistance from a variety of surprisingly helpful people.
Our source of information was the newspaper article. From this we obtained our leads and knew what to ask the witnesses. By this time it was apparent that outside and TV influence was intruding into the children's' accounts. However, it was equally clear that the story possessed grains of unusualness that youngsters of that age would not dream of including in a fabricated story.
Despite the fact that several showers had occurred since the landing, the depressions and carbonized material were still clearly evident when we arrived at the site. A more ideal landing spot for seclusion could hardly be found. Surrounded on three sides by a 15-foot bank and with a large number of trees on the fourth side, it could conceal any reasonable large vehicle from outside eyes for a long period of time. Only by walking or driving into the sandpit area would an object be detectable and even then possibly only at the last minute or so, particularly if its lights were off. So perfect were the conditions, so accessible to the major highway nearby, we allowed ourselves to speculate that maybe the UFO wasn't attracted to the boys by curiosity, but originally intended to land to pick someone up or drop him off.
By placing a centre stake within the triangle, then measuring with an extended string to only two feet beyond the tripod indentations, we discovered that the object's diameter was 20 feet. from the boys' on-the-spot description, we found it must have stood 10 feet high when resting on the ground.
The dust was chalk-like and smooth to the touch when rubbed between the fingers. Two universities completed analysis of the material. Dr. Posnar reported that it showed no evidence of the residual material to indicate what, if anything, had been burnt on that particular spot. Evidence of radiation was also absent. The site did not appear to create magnetic distortions. Surrounding trees and leaves on the site perimeter did not indicate burning or damage, although checked over a period of several weeks.
Tom Bennett, who conducted a more thorough examination of the carbonized substance, stated that a high degree of heat would be required to produce such results, but even simulated conditions would not extend so far into the sandy soil. He made educated guesses as to how the substance could be duplicated by using a variety of common available materials. But the big snag was that not all the elements would be left that were present in the site samples. On completion of an x-ray spectrometry test, the print-outs showed what Bennett described as an abnormally high amount of zinc present in the deposits.
These findings were surprisingly similar to those of the Delphos, Kansas landing incident on November 2, 1971. In that case deposits with a high zinc content were also left by the object involved, and tests showed the presence of hydrocarbon of a type that might be an insecticide solvent or might show up in a diesel fuel. This, too, was found in the Port Coquitlam tests. Stranger yet, Mrs. Erma Johnson, housewife on the farm where the object landed, felt a numbness in the fingers (as did her husband to a lesser degree) after touching the residue, just as in the case of Mrs. Rogers. The numbness lasted "about two weeks" while Mrs. Rogers' lasted "over a week."
On August 16 it was clear warm night. No one we spoke to had TV interference during the time of the landing. But it is possibly worthy of mention that Mrs. Bates' electric clock ran one hour fast that evening, something it has never done before. We feel this event is not a hoax. The boys told the truth as they recalled it.
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