Summary: Last November (1978) an event that may well prove to be one of the most significant of our time took place on international soil. Addressing the 1977-1978 General Assembly meeting of the United Nations, Prime Minister Eric Gairy of Grenada - an island country in the Caribbean - introduced a resolution calling for the establishment of an agency to study UFOs on a global scale.
Last November an event that may well prove to be one of the most significant of our time took place on international soil.
Addressing the 1977-1978 General Assembly meeting of the United Nations, Prime Minister Eric Gairy of Grenada - an island country in the Caribbean - introduced a resolution calling for the establishment of an agency to study UFOs on a global scale.
Such resolutions had been proposed before only to be hastily dismissed by a majority of delegates who thought the subject of UFOs unworthy of the U.N.'s attention. This time, however, no one was laughing when Prime Minister Gairy stood up and said: "I know that flying saucers exist because I myself saw one three years ago, and U.N. diplomats will not think I am crazy for saying so. I am convinced that persons from outer space are studying us, or perhaps living among us as earthlings."
It had long been a source of constant bewilderment to the UFO research community as to why the United Nations did not keep so much as a single file on close encounters in its 149 member countries. Ostensibly dedicated to the promotion of international peace and understanding, this august world body is the closest thing we have to an international government. With its worldwide network of specialized agencies and bureaus, the U.N. would seem to be the natural coordinator of saucer study everywhere.
For the first time within its 33-year history, delegates to the General Assembly may have finally realized the need to add this function to their list of important activities. After Prime Minister Gairy's short but impassioned speech, his proposal was quickly adopted by a majority of members, who instituted a special committee to study its feasibility. If the committee recommends the creation of a special UFO agency, the proposal will be put to a vote by the full membership during this year's autumn session.
At this writing, inside sources at the U.N. Secretariat report that the vote seems likely to pass, a turn of events that is due in large part to UFO scares that have occurred in recent years throughout the world.
Delegates from opposite ends of the earth - the same people who often vote against each other - have rushed to Prime Minister Gairy's support in their agreement to support his proposal. "The U.N. should be concerned with any question that affects the planet as a whole," said Ambassador Shailendra Kumar Upadhyal of Nepal, representing the Asian contingent. "I think it's a good idea that the General Assembly has agreed to discuss UFOs."
Speaking for Bulgaria, a lone voice from behind the Iron Curtain, Ambassador Alexander Yankov declared: "I recall other subjects that the U.N. called science fiction, but which turned out to be real. I believe that the U.N. should be open-minded in considering new ideas such as the Grenada proposal."
The American Position
Other members polled randomly preferred not to be quoted on the matter until the vote is called, but most expressed a serious interest that had not been shown previously. Andrew Young, the controversial United States Ambassador, said that he would decide whether to support Gairy after studying the evidence. When asked if the U.S. would turn over its Project Blue Book file - currently gathering dust in the Pentagon - to the United Nations if an international investigation committee were to be formed, a State Department spokesman issued the following statement:
"Before the United States would allow access to classified files on UFOs, it would review the request to determine if the release of this information compromised the defense or security of the United States."
As usual, the American military powers-that-be seemed to be hedging on the UFO issue, and indicating that the Air Force might be less than cooperative in an all-out effort to make contact with and discover the identity and point (or points) of origin of UFOs and those who fly them.
It seems likely that President Carter would lend his support to an international study group, for he has often spoken about his October 1969 sighting of a luminous globe "about the same size as the moon, maybe a little smaller." When Carter was campaigning in 1975, he promised to "make every piece of information this country has about UFOs available to the public and scientists. If I become President."
While President Carter did ask the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to set up a board of inquiry to verify the existence of UFOs, he has unfortunately done little more to enlighten us on this important but much-ignored matter. So far, NASA has not set up such a board, although it promises to do so "in the near future."
If he decides to release the remaining Blue Book files that are still kept under lock and key, the President may well find opposition still exists within the Pentagon - and not necessarily because of the valuable information contained there. From the first, the project was designed to squelch information on UFOs and to disprove their existence rather than to investigate them seriously.
"Project Blue Book was ballyhooed by the Air Force as a full-fledged top-priority operation," says Dr. J. Allen Hynek, America's leading UFO researcher. "It was no such thing. The staff, in a sense, was a joke. In terms of scientific training and numbers, it was highly inadequate to the task. And the methods used were positively archaic. And that is the crack operation that the general public believes looked adequately into the UFO phenomenon."
Like Dr. Hynek, researchers around the world would like to examine material the Air Force still labels "classified" in order to discover if their guess is correct: that the files are kept hidden because of the ineptitude of the project's research and its unfounded conclusions. If the Pentagon has its way, it seems likely that Project Blue Book - discontinued in 1969 - will continue to be marked "case closed."
The Russian Position
In the Soviet Union, the official position taken by the Communist Government is no more enlightened than the official view in the United States. After Prime Minister Gairy introduced his resolution, the Russian delegation to the U.N. expressed little interest in supporting it. True to form, the Soviet satellite countries of Czechoslovakia, Rumania, East Germany, Poland and Hungary also appeared to be disinterested. The only dissenter was Ambassador Yankov of Bulgaria. It remains to be seen whether he will continue backing an international UFO study if the Russians vote against the proposal.
Until the 1960s, the Soviet party line was to deny the existence of saucer sightings and other encounters throughout their vast country, which spans two continents. Sightings there had coincided those of other countries, of course, dating at least as far back as 1946 when the modern "flap" began.
Russian peasants had been the first to spot strange, luminous objects soaring and darting through the skies and had duly reported them to authorities. To uneducated and traditional farmers, however, UFOs represented a religious event that many believed heralded the second coming of Christ. Because the official Soviet policy is to stamp out all religion, such reports were eventually prohibited under penalty of a fine or incarceration in a mental hospital for "rehabilitation" - a common penalty for those who stray from the party line.
Another reason for the suppression of reports was the government's inability to come to grips with the problem. As in the United States, officials simply did not know what to make of the possibility of visitors of another world hovering overhead. The result was an across-the-line, so-called "scientific," debunking that was as hopelessly inadequate as our own Project Blue Book.
Meanwhile, dedicated researchers continued an underground network that secretly kept track of encounters of all kinds. At the time, the Cold War had effectively cut off ties with the West, and this small band of men and women had no idea that UFOs were also becoming a problem in other parts of the world. With the detente of the 1960s, scientific and cultural materials were finally exchanged by Russia and the U.S., and the results proved to be remarkably similar.
Nevertheless, when New York Times reporter Henry Kamm reported in December 1976 that the Soviets had set up an official organ dealing with UFOs, the government issued a firm denial. The organization in question, officials pointed out, was simply an informal, loose-knit group of scientists who discussed the problem in their off-hours. The men involved, however, were all leading members of Russia's scientific community.
As a result of the publicity, the Stolijarov Committee was forced to suspend its activities, although discussion of saucers was still permitted individually. The Russian move was surprising since there have been so many observations there. Unlike his American counterpart, the average Russian citizen has no compunction about reporting uncanny events in the skies. According to a Gallup Poll, 90% of encounters in the U.S. are not reported, while in Russia today everyone reports them freely without fear of embarrassment or being branded a lunatic. For a time, both Russia and the U.S. believed that the "other side" was responsible for the phenomenon. It was unthinkable that space aliens piloting crafts from other worlds were circling the earth, which led military leaders to speculate that the enemy was sending over a new kind of earth-bound aircraft for the purpose of spying.
As in other parts of the world, UFOs had been spotted hovering over highly sensitive Russian and American defense installations, leading the countries to suspect each other of possessing a secret craft. Although both nations had constructed aircraft that resembled flying saucers, the fact that UFOs moved at speeds and angles impossible to duplicate with modern technology eventually cancelled out the mutual suspicions.
Within the last few years, Russian policy on UFOs has shown a gradual enlightenment, although it by no means permits free, unbiased examination of those who have had encounters. Professional debunkers abound there as here, and the daily newspaper Pravda recently reiterated the official line that every sighting could be explained as "having a natural origin."
As usual, Russian officialdom looked the other way last September when a spectacular jellyfish-shaped UFO as large as a football field allegedly descended on the town of Petrozavodsk in northern Russia. Observers reported that the mammoth orb seemed to be burning a luminous gas when it materialized over the city at about 4 a.m. on September 20, 1977.
"The city was bathed in golden streams of light," reported Aleksander Kazantsev, a physicist who is also president of the Research Group in Physics in Moscow, and an unofficial UFO investigator. "The object hung over the city for 12 minutes before suddenly moving off again, traveling northeast and then disappearing into a bank of clouds."
Tass, the heavily censored Soviet news service, reported the initial sighting but neglected to report subsequent ones. "A total news blackout went into effect," a Soviet astronomer recently told an American visitor to Moscow. Before investigators were told to keep their mouths shut, the following facts were reported:
After leaving Finland, the UFO flew south. "Leningrad and Moscow offices reported the phenomenon," the UPI news service reported. The official explanation was that "the fireball could have been a satellite reentering the earth's atmosphere."
The craft so alarmed a group of dock hands at the shipping town on Lake Onega that they began to say deathbed prayers. "We thought it was a nuclear attack from the United States," one of the men said.
Spotters in Helsinki, Finland - 500 miles west - had seen a bright ball of light passing overhead an hour and a half earlier. A plane or helicopter was suspected, but a quick check on radar screens at airports and military bases revealed that the sky was clear.
"The object came low over the harbor," Vladimir Azhazha, a Moscow physicist and oceanographer told an American reporter. "It hovered over a moored ship 465 feet in length. A comparison to the size of the ship would place the UFO at about 350 feet in diameter. After a while, a smaller object separated from the main body and fell straight down, disappearing under the water. At that moment, the main part suddenly accelerated and disappeared.
"In my opinion," Azhazha continued, "what was seen over Petrozavodsk was either a UFO, a carrier of high intelligence with crew and passengers, or it was a field of energy created by one."
Whether the U.S.S.R. will allow access to such documented information if a U.N. investigating committee is formed despite their protests is anyone's guess. Most researchers believe that the answer is "no," however, citing Russia's intransigent attitude towards admitting errors in judgment. So far, a news blackout has never been reversed, except in the unavoidable admission of the murderous crimes of Joseph Stalin.
The Italian Position
Another country likely to support Prime Minister Gairy's resolution is Italy, a country that has seen many UFOs passing through its skies. Recently, residents of the trouble-ridden "boot" were unlaced by an uncanny close encounter of the third kind.
On August 29, 1977, seven men were visited by space-suited humanoids in the tiny southern Italian town of Sturno. The visitation began as two college students, Michel Giovanniello and Rocco Cerullo, who were out for a walk about a mile from town. Attracted by a red light glowing from a nearby quarry, the young men went to investigate.
"We approached the light cautiously," Giovanniello recalls. "It was making strange noises like something in a science fiction movie, like 'bleep, bleep.' I was terrified."
Mesmerized by the glowing light, the students watched the outline of a tall, human-like figure emerge from the brightness. "It looked like an athlete in a luminous body suit and wearing a luminous helmet," they told authorities. "We were 35 feet away and petrified with fear. When the figure turned to face us, it looked at us with red and orange flashing lights that were where a person's eyes would usually be. We turned and ran back to the village."
Arriving at the village square, the two men told three others who were gathered there about what they had seen. "Our first impulse was to laugh," recalled Antonio Pascucci, a 24-year-old schoolteacher. "But we went to check it out anyway."
The humanoid was still there when the men returned with their companions, as if the creature had known they would return. "It was just as they had described it," Pascucci said. "It had arms and legs, but we couldn't see whether it had normal hands and feet."
In the distance, they spied a large round craft surrounded with lighted portholes topped with a dome that seemed to have a rotating spotlight.
On their way back to town to alert police, the five men happened upon two friends who also wanted to see the strange apparition in the quarry. Seemingly pleased by the arrival of more people, the humanoid extended his hand as if in greeting, a gesture that elicited only panic. "It started to come toward us," reported Mario Sisto, one of the group." But we had a gun and threatened it. The thing didn't answer, but it stopped about 15 feet from us and stayed there."
Making a gesture toward the sky, perhaps indicating its point of origin, the creature once again began to send out a series of bleeps and flashes from its eye hood. "It seemed like a rhythm in a regular pattern like a Morse code," Pascucci said. "We couldn't understand it. We tried sign language, but the thing didn't understand our gestures."
At about 3:30 a.m., the humanoid suddenly emitted a brilliant laser-like blast from its helmet and lit up the entire quarry. Terrorized, the seven men ran for home, this time for good.
Returning with police officials next morning, the men searched for the creature, but it was nowhere to be seen. Three triangular imprints arranged in a circle bore mute testimony to the craft that had been parked there the night before.
The story was widely reported in Italy and - more important - it was thoroughly investigated. After sifting through the evidence and personally interviewing the men involved, Sturno Mayor Alberto Forgione, told the press: "I am totally convinced that they are not lying. They are not close friends, so it is not as if they would get together to fabricate such a fantastic tale."
Put into trances and questioned by medical hypnotists, two of the witnesses added an almost irrefutable conclusion to the story. "They are not telling lies," stated Professor Franco Granone of the University of Turin. "Under hypnosis, the subjects referred to facts they actually lived through. Each time, their stories matched in every detail."
While encounters of all three kinds happen frequently in Italy - usually in remote areas - the country is unfortunately in such poor financial straits that an official UFO investigating committee is out of the question at this time. Hopefully, Italy will vote "yes" to the U.N. proposal in order to help probe their and other nations' reports of the continuing saucer invasion.
A Soviet-American Conference
While the U.S. and Russia continue to turn thumbs down on a concerted UFO effort, they have concurrently come to an agreement on a program that may change their mind in the future. Acting independently of the U.N., they held the first Conference on Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CETI) during September 5-11,1971.
Bringing together leading chemists, biologists, physicists, astronomers, anthropologists, computer technicians, linguists and radio physicists, the conference was set up to find ways to communicate with civilizations on other worlds. The conference pointed out that for the first time in human history, it has become theoretically possible to achieve such a cosmic breakthrough, thanks to modern science and technology.
"If extraterrestrial civilizations are ever discovered," a CETI paper noted, "the effect on human scientific and technological capabilities will be immense, and the discovery can positively influence the whole future of man."
Rather than investigate extraterrestrial craft and beings that have appeared on earth, however, the CETI has chosen to focus its attention on interpreting radio signals from outer space and beaming out our own. As of this writing, no meaningful signals have been received - only random celestial static that is energy radiating from dying stars.
"This may mean that either nobody is out there or that perhaps astronomers are listening on the wrong frequency," said a spokesman for the International Telecommunications Union, a U.N. agency set up to monitor the findings of CETI. The radio frequency currently being used is in the vicinity of 1420 megahertz, a spectrum declared off-limits for normal broadcasting in much the same way that 500 kilohertz is reserved for distress calls from ships at sea.
To those who argue that CETI's findings indicate that the idea of extraterrestrial life is a fluke, the U.N. agency replies: "It is just as ridiculous to assume there is nothing out there as it is to state, without proof, that the universe is teeming with life."
At present, CETI and the Telecommunications Union are helping to coordinate a "solar-polar" project scheduled to take place in 1983. A joint American-European venture that will send vehicles over both poles of the sun, the fly-by will be equipped with powerful radio transmitters able to pick up signals too faint to be heard on earth. At present, the "solar-polar" flight is in danger of being scrapped, thanks to the intervention of Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire. An avowed foe of CETI (and UFOs), Proxmire plans to lobby for a drastic cut in its budget. He also plans to bestow upon it his "golden fleece award," which he reserves for projects he considers particularly foolish.
Hopefully, reason will reign at the next meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this autumn and the long-awaited international UFO investigating agency will at last come into existence - and the work begun.
Defending its position of open-minded investigation into the possibility of extraterrestrial civilizations, a spokesman for the U.N.'s Telecommunications Union might well have been speaking for all who want to get at the heart of the UFO matter: "A much more positive approach," the spokesman said, "would be to consider the spiritual and philosophical benefits that would result from such an exchange of knowledge, leading to a new respect and humility if we found that man was not alone in the universe."