Marketing the saucers, Mirage Men style

March 1950: was the USAF testing the limits of belief with a far-out flying saucer lecture at a Colorado University?

Earlier this year there was an unwarranted kerfuffle surrounding a report by FBI agent Guy Hottel, filed on 29 March 1950, that begins:

An investigator for the Air Force stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico…

As newspapers all over the world disingenuously ran the story as evidence of the US government’s ET coverup  – all very healthy for click-through rates, of course – those in the know pointed out that the memo was rather old news (61 years young in fact!) and the end product of an intricate game of Chinese Whispers.

At the root of the memo’s claims were a shady businessman looking to make a fast buck and, perhaps, the grander agenda of a rather more respectable organisation.

Continue reading

Posted in Deception, History, UFO | 3 Comments

BUFORA conference, 2 July 2011

I’ll be speaking at the  British UFO Research Association conference on 2 July, in the Victoria Room of the Royal Station Hotel, Newcastle.

The conference runs from 10.30am until 7.30pm and my presentation is at 6pm.

Also on the bill are Nick Pope, Andy Roberts, Tony Eccles and John Hanson.

More info here

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Aliens and the Imagination 28 June, British Library

On Tuesday 28 June I’ll be on a panel as part of the British Library’s excellent ‘Out of This World‘ science fiction exhibition alongside film director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, above), author Gwyneth Jones, scientists and writers Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart, (What Does a Martian Look Like?: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life) and David Clarke, consultant to the National Archives UFO project.

It should be a wide-ranging and enlightening discussion, do join us if you can.

Tue 28 Jun 2011, 18.30 – 20.00

Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions


Posted in Events | 2 Comments

Gaddafi in spaaaace?!!

The militarisation of space, or at least near-Earth space, has long been a matter of serious concern for warhawks and peaceniks, and has given rise to a number of conspiracy theories of the sort that got Gary McKinnon into so much trouble.

The extent to which the world’s militaries have taken the fight out of the atmosphere remains something of an unknown to those of us not privy to their secrets. Sure, we know that there are dozens, if not hundreds of military satellites whirling around the planet, some of which may now be capable of destroying other satellites. We also know that just over the horizon (or at least the visible horizon) wait the next generation of manned and unmanned spaceplanes, like the Boeing X-37B and DARPA’s Falcon (pictured above). Some of these may soon emerge as real nuts and bolts vehicles, others will forever be gleaming pies in the sky.

But what are we to make of this titbit, revealed in the 18 March 2011 issue of Private Eye? A short article on the editorial page details some of the recent arms sales to Libya approved by the UK’s Foreign Office. Alongside the usual roster of military transport aircraft, APCs, tear gas, smoke grenades, water cannons, machine guns, tanks, night vision equipment and the like is a listing, from July and September of 2010, for ‘spacecraft’.

Unfortunately the article doesn’t mention the spacecrafts’ country, or planet, of origin, but I’m certainly curious to know what they were. Sensible suggestions in the comments box please!

Posted in Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Remote control flying saucers

With all the wow and flutter this past few days about Iran’s alleged flying saucer design, I thought it worth reminding readers of just two of the many active flying saucer projects, miniature or otherwise, being worked on around the world in recent years.

Here’s a noisy British-made version, apparently bought by the Pentagon, being demonstrated in 2007:

And here’s another, somewhat more homebrew-looking affair, flying in France around the same time:

Both the above craft utilise the Coanda effect, discovered by Romanian engineer Henri Coanda in the late 1920s and early 1930s, which exploits the way that air flows over a curved surface to create lift.

It’s interesting to note the distinct wobble in the flight patterns of both the above remote control designs, a ‘falling leaf’ motion that has been inherent to flying saucer witness reports dating back to the early 1950s. I’ve often wondered whether some of these people may have seen tests of genuine experimental and – as one commenter has noted below –unstable aircraft.

The design of both these mini-saucers also reflects classic era 1950s and ’60s UFO sighting reports, but this is presumably there to enhance the Coanda effect, rather than their retro-saucer stylings.

As I show in Mirage Men, there’s nothing alien, or even particularly unusual, about disc-shaped or round-winged aircraft, which have been successfully flown since the early 1930s, and sporadically come back into fashion [in fact a mere £10 will get you your very own RC saucer for home use].

As a case in point, here’s rare footage of two of the earliest working American designs , the Arup S-2 and S-4. Designed and built by CL Snyder and Raoul Hoffman, these flying heels performed extremely well in the air but were never able to get off the ground commercially, though the concept would re-emerge in the 1940s as the US Navy’s famed XF5u ‘Flying Flapjack’:

Posted in History, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mirage Men on Boing Boing!

A great short write-up from David Pescovitz over at the mighty Boing Boing!

I first met my friend Mark Pilkington, the UK journalist and publisher of Strange Attractor Press, a few years ago when he was visiting San Francisco researching a new book about UFOs. Mark (smartly) wasn’t trying to find out if UFOs are “real” in the extraterrestrial sense. Rather, he was exploring what I think is much weirder territory: the story behind the UFO story — a history of disinformation, paranoia, hoaxers, espionage, and weird psy-ops. Mark interviewed dozens of characters across the country, from kooky ET enthusiasts to former air force officers whose truths, if you believe them, are far stranger than the fictions you’ll get from most UFO books. The result of Mark’s intrepid reporting is Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs. It’s a provocative, informative, freaky, entertaining, and often damn funny book.

Posted in Mirage Men Book, Reviews | 2 Comments

The Abuses of Enchantment: October Gallery, London

In the first of several talks I’m due to give this year, I’ll be presenting an updated version of The Abuses of Enchantment at the October Gallery as part of their excellent Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness series, programmed by Dr David Luke.

Tuesday, 22nd February, 2011

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL

Entry £7 /£5 Concessions, Arrive 6pm for a 6:30pm Start – Wine available

In this newly updated audio-visual presentation Mark shows how military and intelligence operators have shaped and exploited beliefs in UFOs, ghosts, monsters, vampires, and elements from folklore and conspiracy theory to create an armoury of supernatural weapons of mass deception capable of manipulating consciousness on a grand scale. The inspiration for these toys, tools and techniques has come from a range of sources including fiction, cinema, stage magic, advertising and occultism and has, for many of its intended and unintended targets, altered their very perception and understanding of the world around us.

Posted in Events, Mirage Men Book | 1 Comment

Wikileaks vs UFO Disinformation?

When the first mention of UFOs in the tranche of diplomatic papers unveiled by Wikileaks proved to be less than explosive, the ufological rumour machine went into interstellar overdrive with a wackyleak of its own, released on 17 January via ‘Allnewsweb’:

New secret UFO Wikileaks cable revealed

A source from within the inner circle of the Wikileaks team has confidentially leaked to All News Web the content of a State Dept cable, concerning UFO affairs, that Wikileaks has declined to upload onto their website.

“It is critical all embassy staff understand that they are not to discuss under any circumstance concerns DOD has with UFOs entering orbit, once again the seriousness of this matter cannot be overstated”

The cable was sent on 9 November, 2005 by the State Dept to a diplomat connected to the US embassy in Kiev, Ukraine.

Unlike Wikileaks’ own releases this one contained no actual documents (couldn’t they at least have made one up?), just a sensational message that was sure to get Exopolitical juices flowing and make Wikileaks look a bit hokey if the story ever escaped into the mainstream media – which, by the way, it didn’t. It even copied the Russian origin for this alleged cable from the earlier Wikileaks release, which emerged from the US embassy in Minsk.

The author of this message, and others like it (‘Barack Obama to make UFO Announcment’ etc), was one Michael Cohen, while the site carrying the story, Allnewsweb is part of the All News Network, which describes itself as ‘The Official News for the Tea Party’ and appears to allow anyone to post stories as long as they don’t obviously conflict with the Tea Party message. (Update: There seems to be some question as to the extent that the site is actually connected to the movement – see comments below).

So where’s all this leading? I’m not exactly sure, but this story in the Independent newspaper might provide some pointers:

The computer hackers’ collective Anonymous has uncovered a proposal by a consortium of private contractors to attack and discredit WikiLeaks…

The PowerPoint presentation claims that a trio of internet security companies – HB Gary Federal, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies – are already prepared to attack WikiLeaks which is rumoured to be getting ready to release a cache of potentially embarrassing information on the Bank of America.

The presentation, which has been seen by The Independent, recommends a multi-pronged assault on WikiLeaks including deliberately submitting false documents to the website to undermine its credibility, pioneering cyber attacks to expose who the leakers to WikiLeaks are and going after sympathetic journalists.

Now I don’t want to make any grand leaps of conspiratorial connectivity, but I will propose the following:

if someone was trying to discredit Wikileaks – and there are many people and organisations who might wish to do so – then one way to do it might be to stir up nonsense UFO stories (the ‘Allnews’ posting  was just a few days after the first bona fide, if unsensational, UFO-related diplomatic paper had gone public) and disseminate them via a grass roots, broadly right-leaning political movement. This would certainly add an extra dimension to the idea of astro-turfing!

Whether Michael Cohen is an apolitical hoaxer, perhaps one hoping to turn a fast web-buck (see Kandinsky’s comment below), an overzealous believer in ET visitation, a ‘private security’ specialist working on behalf of someone else, or a mixture of all of the above, remains to be seen. In the mean time it’ll be interesting to look into the amount of cross over between the Tea Party movement, which is a very broad church, and the UFO/Exopolicial movement.

As for feelings about Wikileaks itself within the Tea Party, they are quite clearly divided, with libertarian Tea Party affiliate Ron Paul supporting it and the move towards greater transparency in government, while others, like Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, are calling for Julian Assange to be executed  as a traitor.

Posted in Culture, Deception, Events | 18 Comments

Star over Jerusalem

Seeing as this video’s making waves [I even had Channel Four News on the phone asking about it this morning] I thought I’d throw my tuppence into the ring.

Much as I’d like this to be evidence of something – whether that’s an exciting new military toy, an alien spacecraft or The Truth and Light of The World returning to lead humankind to salvation – I’m confident that it can be filed away in the ‘too good to be true’ drawer as a crafty hoax.

It’s an unfortunate truth that the clearer a UFO video, the more likely it is to be fabricated, and I don’t think we’ve yet seen anything to counter this rule of thumb.

What’s clever about this new Jerusalem footage, however, is that it responds directly to some of the usual criticisms of such material:

– The video is clear and the camerawork is reasonably stable
– The ‘UFO’ is simply that, an unidentified light in the sky (that happens to be hovering over one of the most contested religious sites in the world), and not a retro flying saucer or a Predator’s RV
– The light behaves somewhat according to pre-established UFO behaviour patterns as defined by multiple witness reports over the years
– We see footage of the event shot from different perspectives (as neatly demonstrated by the split screen version above), thus providing the appearance of multiple witnesses. Though if this UFO event really did happen so dramatically and visibly, I would expect to see more footage emerging – CCTV for example.

So why do I think it’s a craftily constructed fake?

For all the above reasons, and because the light itself is poorly matched to its backgrounds – it’s too crisp, luminous and clearly defined, for example, if I can be technical for a moment, it doesn’t leave proper fuzzy trails – even the trails that we can see are sharply defined. There’s nothing organic about the way the UFO and its setting are integrated with one another, they have come from two different sources.

On a narrative note I also think that the American woman’s voice talking about seeing similar things in Mississippi is a little heavy handed on the humour.

I’m happy to be proved wrong and learn that the End Times are upon us (though I wouldn’t be happy about that, more unpleasantly surprised), but I fear that in this instance we’re looking at a well-executed and creative hoax, one that is sure to generate the desired buzz amongst the UFO community, and may even have repercussions in the debate over the site itself.


Reader Robert Dee comments:

that first image is a still with camera shake added to it and the blob comped [composited MP] on top, most likely in After Effects [Adobe video special effects software MP]. You can tell because the lights are static despite camera movement and there is no parallax movement (perspective change) on the moves/zoom – look at the edges of buildings at different distances which don’t change. There is also no camera noise and the image noticeably degrades on the “zoom” like it would do if you were moving a virtual camera into a still in After Effects.


There are now apparently four videos online! How many, I wonder, are ‘video responses’ to the first?

Posted in Culture, Deception, UFO | 13 Comments

Interplanetary Competitiveness Forum

Back in the 1950s the Space Brothers who came to Earth often espoused socialist values,  piquing the interest of the FBI and others orgs. Welcome to the 21st century, where things have changed a little bit…

From the Global Competitiveness Forum

World business leaders to discuss UFOs & extraterrestrial life

A leading business forum discussing global competitiveness will in its annual conference host a panel discussing UFOs and extraterrestrial life. The Global Competitiveness Forum is hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and discusses business trends and insights essential for future business investment and competitiveness. The panel is titled: “Contact: Learning from Outer Space”, and features famed astrophysicist Dr Michio Kaku and a leading Islamic scholar, together with prominent UFO experts Stanton Friedman and Nick Pope. The Global Competitiveness Forum is poised to introduce, perhaps for the first time, many world business leaders to key issues concerning UFOs and extraterrestrial life, and how these impact on economic competitiveness.

At first I assumed that this was another hoax, but it appear to be genuine. For those who are unfamiliar with them, Stanton Friedman claims that many UFOs are extraterrestrial spaceships visiting planet Earth. Nick Pope is a former MOD civil servant and the Sun newspaper’s UFO pundit; he has also stated that we are being visited by advanced ETs. Perhaps he will be advising the Saudis on the potential post-oil market for UFO tourism?

Posted in Culture, UFO | 3 Comments