Just Passing Through
by Graham Conway August 98
After sixteen years of sky watching in Ontario, my arrival here on the west coast in 1970 suddenly opened up a new field of aerial activity, namely meteors, fireballs, bolides, call them what you will. I know this to be true, because the planetarium always said so, (when consulted), although remarkably they very seldom witnessed what many observers over a very wide area had reported. Anyway, they should know, one would think.
Now this meteoric awareness did not take place overnight. About ten years elapsed before I began to notice that the west coast seemed to experience an unusually high percentage of spectacular meteors that always arrived from the north and seemed to travel south. I always had a very strong feeling that if a search was conducted of the Pacific coast newspapers over the last fifty years, we may very well be quite astonished at the number of reports. In fact I would venture that it would possibly demonstrate a predictable period and time when this planetary debris may be expected. Assuming of course that you took the trouble to log and plot these events.
Unfortunately, a proverbial fly in the ointment appeared on the horizon, (no pun intended) in the shape of satellite debris returning to earth. This tends to mess up the predictability tables considerably. What's even worse, the authorities, who are regrettably believed to be "all knowing", promptly label anything and everything in the space junk category. Make the announcement, ignore the evidence, "full speed ahead".
A case in point is ably demonstrated by the 14th November, 1997, "satellite debris" that was reportedly seen over Edmonton, Alberta, before numerous witnesses watched it pass over Vancouver in two majestic parallel lines, at what many observers commented was a remarkably slow pace for a meteor.
This spectacle was witnessed at many points as it travelled south. Reports even came in from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, which in itself is quite remarkable as the "authoritative" word was that this example of space junk crashed into the Pacific Ocean!
It is worthy of note that the Vancouver Planetarium claimed that they are generally made aware of all potential space debris arrivals, ahead of time. Only in this case, they werent!
Who knows, they might even describe UFOs as such! An almost unthinkable thought. Indeed, if we are to "finger" them for just a moment, then it should be mentioned that UFO literature is replete with multiple examples of "pattern forming" sightings that have been reported worldwide.
For example, researcher Alvin Edward Moore stated in the early eighties, "I analyzed the reports of 799 sightings catalogued by Ted Bloecher in his Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, for the period June 24th to July 11th. I noticed that each successive group of sightings shifted eastward. At the end of the wave of sightings across the United States and Eastern Canada another wave began in the far west, as if the objects seen were circling the earth in orbit".1
Very recently I was involved in some lengthy research reading and had the good fortune to come across a very intriguing, but all too short article that was written forty-three years ago by John Philip Bessor and published in the June 1969 issue of FSR magazine.
Not only does the author seem to concur with my own line of latter day thinking; better still, he provided diagrams to support his hypothesis.
THE GREAT CIRCLE ROUTE
Pioneer Ufologist John Philip Bessor2 studied the UFO reports of 1954 and drew up a rough map illustrating the distribution factors. This map was published in the Harrisburg (Pa.) Sun-Telegraph, February 27, 1955.
Mr. Bessor noted: "Oddly, the flying saucers adhere to certain "zones" or "belts" reaching from British Columbia, Oregon and Washington, through Idaho, Indiana, southern Ohio and into West Virginia."
Although he was dealing with random reports (distribution of information was far from adequate in those days), Mr. Bessor plainly discovered the factors that were still prevalent 12 years later in 1966. Then, as now, the objects were apparently pursuing pre-designated flight paths from the northwest into the middle west and then back again into the northeast.
Newspaper coverage has improved since 1954, and more witnesses are reporting, so we are now able to chart these courses more precisely. Ultimately we should be able to triangulate the exact point of origin through a careful examination of these "window" areas and the flight paths of the objects.
UFO activity in 1954-55 was concentrated in the same areas that were later affected by the November 1957 "flap" and the "flaps" of 1966. There were sightings in Ravenna, Ohio, in 1955, for example, and that city was the starting point of the famed "police chase" of 1966. The northern part of New York state, particularly the area around Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Au Sable Forks, N.Y., was the site of considerable UFO activity throughout the 1950s.
Methinks that Mr. Bessor is to be congratulated on his acute powers of observation particularly when taking into account the scarcity of nationally published accounts and the comparative difficulty of locating them during this barren period of reliable, factual, published UFO (meteor?) material.
If this was not sufficiently gratifying unto itself, the same issue contained a second offering by another indefatigable author, namely John Keel, whom also offers supporting testimony in his nine-page article3, from which I have extracted a few relevant paragraphs, as follows:
But the non-conforming "meteors" are nothing new. They appeared repeatedly throughout places like Nebraska, Michigan, Canada and New Mexico during the 19th century. One, Professor C. A. Chant of the University of Toronto, made a study of the strange "train" of meteors that flashed across Canada on the night of Thursday, February 9, 1913. Unlike natural meteors, the fiery-red objects travelled slowly across the sky in a straight horizontal line. They glided majestically out of the northwest and sailed away to the southeast.
"Other bodies were seen coming from the northwest," the Professor wrote, "emerging from precisely the same place as the first one. Onward they moved at the same deliberate pace. In twos or threes or fours, with tails streaming behind them they came.... They traversed the same path and were headed for the same point in the southeastern sky .
Very odd meteors, indeed!
..(also) It is a curious coincidence that our "meteors" manage to turn up during the same periods when thousands of witnesses are also getting close-up views of other strange lights, cigar-shaped objects, and those troublesome "flying saucers".
Not only do our "meteors" refuse to obey the laws and regulations set down for them by our learned astronomers, but they also have an unnerving habit of travelling in formations with a military-like precision.
The late Morris K. Jessup, a professional astrophysicist, was especially interested in the fireball-comet-meteor reports and did study them extensively. In his book, The UFO Annual (1956), he described many of the "meteor" reports of 1955 and had this to say (p. 96-97):
"We are having an influx of fireballs, and these have had an unusual amount of attention because of their number, brilliance, and the kelly-green colour of some of them. There does, indeed, seem to be something queer about them. . . . For the record, it might be stated that the green fireball flurry did not originate in the U.S.A. but apparently in Sweden (1946). This was a few years ago and essentially before the greatest intensity of interest in UFO or saucers. They were then thought to be Russian rockets or missiles; and to this day we cannot prove that they were not Russian. In the U.S.A. the green fireballs made their debut in New Mexico and were thought to be associated with atomic energy experiments. Now, however, they have spread over much of North America and, frankly, we dont know what they are nor why, nor from where."
..(furthermore) The author has collected and studied hundreds of these neglected reports and some startling patterns have come to light. In the majority of all these cases going back to the 19th century, the objects (if they are "objects") have consistently appeared from the north and followed apparently controlled courses southwards. A surprising number seem to enter the U.S from the section of Canada lying north of Michigan.
Our UFOs and "meteors" do follow precise patterns which can now be predicted to some degree.
Shortly after 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, 1966 (10:05 according to a newsman witness and another person), a blazing object hurtled across the skies, heading southward over York, Nebraska.24 Perhaps their watches were wrong, or perhaps they got a preliminary glimpse of the thing that would be seen by many thousands five minutes later at 10:10 p.m. At that time scores of people in Muny Park, Cozad, Nebraska, saw "a very bright object with multi-coloured smaller bright stars trailing it" They all agreed that it appeared in the northwest and headed southeast.
As green seems to be the colour of the month, then it may be just as well to mention other notable reports that are more current. However, it should be emphasised that these are only a minute percentage of what is being seen worldwide.
THE GREENLAND METEORITE4
Something hit southern Greenland or exploded above it late last year. Reports from fishermen on three Danish and Norwegian trawlers at widely separated sites on both sides of southern Greenland, corroborated by a surveillance videotape made at a car park in the capital Nuuk, say that a flash lasting from two to five seconds lit up the dark sky at 5:11 am local time on 9 December . The Nuuk video, shown repeatedly on Danish television, shows a bright flash of light from a moving source reflected in the curved bonnet [hood] of a car. Bjorn Ericksson, first mate on the trawler Regina, saw "a very strong light rolling down from the air. It was like a circle burning, a very strong light blue, and the air around the circle was very light green. The light disappeared in the mountains. It is something from space."
Seismometers in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany recorded a 10-second shock, and there are reports of a huge cloud of steam rising from the ice cap after the object descended. The presumptive impact was at 61° 25' N, 44° 26' W, a remote and forbidding site about 30 miles (48km) northeast of Narsarsuaq Airport, near the settlement of Qaqortoq (formerly Julianehab).
From descriptions of the size of the steam cloud, it is suggested that as many as five billion tons of ice were vapourized, requiring a substantial meteorite or comet, the mass of which cannot be estimated at present. "According to the accounts, the flash was so huge that we have good reason to believe that this is a giant," said Bjoern Franck Joegensen of the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen. He said the Qaqortoq meteorite - named, by tradition, after the nearest post office - was likely to have been a one-piece, solid object. It appears to have been travelling at Mach 10 - 7,600 mph.
If any solid material remained after the object landed, it might have been hot enough to melt its way through the ice-cap, which would then freeze behind it. The Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen estimated that it was probably comparable to the Kap York meteorite that fell south of Thule, Greenland, in prehistoric times. Iron meteorites totalling 50 tons have been collected at the site.
Professor Mark Bailey, director of the Armagh Observatory, speculated that the fireball might belong to the Geminid meteor shower, which occurs annually this time of year as the Earth passes through the asteroid Phaeton. A falling spacecraft or other debris re-entering the atmosphere was ruled out.
Another all too brief report again highlights the prevalence of this frequently observed colour.
5A Daly City police spokesman said two residents who live off the Skyline Drive area reported a green glowing object falling from the sky into the ocean off the coast Tuesday night [5th May, 1998]. Lt. Mike Scott said the neighbors spotted it a few minutes after 9 p.m. directly due west off Mussel Rock.
Daly City police asked the Coast Guard to try to determine what the object was. A Coast Guard spokesman said he contacted a tugboat operator who was in the area at the time. The operator of the inbound tug Robert L. said he saw three green lights in a vertical line as bright as traffic lights that were visible for a half-hour before going out, the Coast Guard said.
For the grand finale permit me to offer a local selection that appeared and was reported as recently as the 25th September, 1998. According to Peter Davenport6 of the National UFO Reporting Center, a veritable torrent of sky flying objects were relayed to him, from Vancouver Island to as far south as Texas, and eastward into Utah and Wisconsin. He estimated between 400 and 500 accounts were received from numerous astonished observors along the western seaboard.
It is noteworthy that here in British Columbia we can point to four more "fireball" reports. Two, from Surrey and Victoria, on the 23rd of September, 1998, indicate the bright green object was seen travelling east to west and in view for a period of 5 seconds. Again, the next day, a fireball was reported travelling from the east to the west, but this time it was reported as bright white, not green. On the following day, the 25th, a green fireball was reported as "coming from the south, heading east".
However to pursue this any further will merely digress from my original train of thought lets get back to "meteorites".
It would appear that these "meteor" type objects are entering our air space from a consistently northerly direction. At the very least, the frequency of reported observations would seem to indicate that.
I cant help but recall meeting by chance many years ago an ex-serviceman who was stationed at St. Huberts Air Force base outside Montreal. His job was to decode messages being received from the DEW (Distant Early Warning) line, located in the Arctic Circle. He told me that although the intended purpose was supposedly to watch for Russian aircraft approaching this continent, he frequently received reports of U.F.0.s approaching on a similar trajectory. This was during the 1950-60 period.
Invariably this line of thought leads me to a very popular debate that held sway fifty years ago, namely the hollow earth researchers7, lead by the biggest advocate of that era, namely Ray Palmer, popularly known as "hole in the pole Palmer"8.
The idea of our "visitors" being based inside a supposedly hollow earth and entering or leaving via a cavernous entrance is not a new idea. This line of reasoning was greatly supported in the sixties when the first satellite pictures of the Arctic regions displayed a darkened area9, about 1600 miles in diameter, that "hole buffs" promptly acclaimed as confirmation of their theory. Choosing to ignore the probably more mundane technicality of printing problems.
Anyway, if such a theory as wild as it is (and let us not pretend it doesnt have numerous equally outrageous contenders) should be considered valid, then maybe on reflection I should have titled this article "A Doorway To The North?" instead.
- "Mystery of the Skymen", Alvin Edward Moore, 1980
- Flying Saucer Review June 1969, John Philip Bessor
- "The Flap Phenomenon in the U.S.A." John Keel, (Flying Saucer Review, June 1969)
- Fortean Times, March 1998
- San Mateo County Times, San Mateo, California, May 7th, 1998
- Art Bell radio show, 23rd and 25th September, 1998
- "The Hollow Earth", Raymond Bernard, Carol Publishing Group, 1991
- "Amazing Stories", Ray Palmer, (Editor) 1930-40s
- UFO Universe, Vol #1, #5, Page 20, 1998