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Analyzing UFO Waves - Surge of Sightings Imminent?

Joseph W. Ritrovato, MUFON UFO Journal, March, 1995

original source |  fair use notice

Summary: During my investigation into the UFO phenomena all promising sightings were collected from ancient times to the present to see if any noticeable patterns would arise. Nobody (to my knowledge) has been able to claim success in predicting UFO waves consistently, but this could be explained by many periodic factors interacting rather than just one or two waveforms.

My UFO experience began in a very personal way while only just a boy of ten. It was a crystal clear night in the fall of 1965, sometime between Labor Day and the Great New York Blackout. Something caused me to wake up and turn to look out the window. In the distant sky I caught sight of an elongated object of over thirty feet in length and was immediately entranced by its large brilliant lights that shifted in and out of my vision. The craft was hovering about 1,200 feet off the ground and around one and a half miles southeast of my home in Medford, Long Island, New York. Shortly after my discovery, one of two jets roared into view on an intercept course; the first coming from the northeast and the other eventually from the west. While the first jet was still a good distance from the target the silent visitor shifted smoothly, as if in no hurry, from an horizontal position to a tilt of 30 to 45 degrees and, after a pause of about two seconds, shot off faster than the eye could follow.

Many years later, on an evening in October 1973, while home on leave following boot camp, one of my brothers had an even closer encounter when he saw a UFO fly over our home, then in the Mohawk Valley of Schoharie county, upstate New York. Unfortunately, during the excitement outside, this writer was busy tinkering in the basement. By the time I learned what the commotion was all about and rushed outside with my spotting scope, it was already miles away, fading out of sight just over the horizon. Not much detail could be discerned, yet the formation and behavior of the lights did not bring a common aircraft to mind. Instead, it reminded me of a thrilling spectacle witnessed eight years before. My brother's excitement following the event reminded me of my own back then, yet for some reason I either chose not to pry him for details or the story faded from my memory since the experience was much more his than mine. Unfortunately, cancer took his life five years ago and it is therefore too late to now learn more of the facts. Perhaps he knew what was up that season, but it wasn't until much later that it occurred to me how I had been caught off guard in the midst of a UFO wave.

Two years ago a friend informed me that Europe had recently been having a rash of UFO sightings. While visiting Brussels, Belgium in the late summer of 1991, I was unaware that just over one year before their air force jets were chasing UFOs. Although it is my practice to scan the local papers for unusual events, any word related to the excitement in that country had eluded me. After a thorough CD-rom search the only item from the major local daily that could have informed me was in a column of statistical trivia from a Sunday paper early in 1991. Buried therein was the reported number of sightings (2,600) of a triangular UFO over Belgium the year before. While disappointing, it appears to be common for the major newspapers to deprive us of comprehensive coverage on such stories. It would seem that this media source normally becomes interested in UFOs only if a target is needed for a few laughs on a slow news day. It was time, I decided, to break through the disquieting silence from the established sources of "The NEWS" (which originally was intended to cover all the angles North-East-West-South) and get the lowdown myself.

Since then I've gleaned information from over fifty books and read many articles from the best of the periodicals on the subject, the MUFON UFO Journal included. During my investigation into the UFO phenomena all promising sightings were collected from ancient times to the present to see if any noticeable patterns would arise. Nobody (to my knowledge) has been able to claim success in predicting UFO waves consistently, but this could be explained by many periodic factors interacting rather than just one or two waveforms. Based on my research, it appears as though at least three separate cycles peaking in close proximity are necessary to produce a pronounced wave effect. Although the clues that were uncovered seemed to support this theory, pinning down the movement of as many as ten cycles and the times of their possible interaction made prediction complicated. Only within the last few months did enough of the right pieces fall into place for me to realize that some effect of real significance should be on the horizon. Not long before reaching this point, I was ready to take the easy way out and plan a UFO search during the Mars opposition (Mars passed closest to the Earth on February 11-12). As it turns out though, the present window for viewing UFOs started opening up at about the time favorable viewing of the planet Mars began (December 20, 1994, when the red planet entered the one eighth part of its current orbit that comes nearest to our own planet). Thus, whether it is a fluke or a factor, the planet Mars seems to have signaled the start of hunting season for the elusive Unidentifieds in the sky.

Before listing prospective search periods for 1995, let me share the sources of my discoveries. In "Challenge to Science: The UFO Enigma", Jacques & Janine Vallee found statistical significance for an approximately 13 month cycle or half of the roughly eight hundred day cycle that has often coincided with Mars oppositions.

Jenny Randles in "Anatomy of a UFO Wave", an article printed in the International UFO Reporter (CUFOS) of March/April 1986, makes a good case for a periodicity of 21 to 22 months. Prior to finding this material, my research resulted in a proposed cycle 50% longer than Randles' or 32 months in length. This proportional relationship revealed the likelihood of a smaller cycle fitting twice into her cycle or three times into mine.

The late Coral E. Lorenzen of APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) was perhaps the first person to claim that waves came in cycles of approximately five years in length (per her "UFOs Over the Americas," 1968). Interestingly, three of the 21+ month or two of my 32-month cycles yields sixty-four months (five years and four months).

Author John A. Keel in his book "Operation Trojan Horse," suggested that there was a cycle of exactly seven days in length (or a multiple of that) which would account for his "Wednesday Phenomena," or peaks in his collected reports for the years 1966 and 1967 that occurred most often on Wednesdays. Yet, if you look at Keel's cross section of reports for each day of the week, you see a uniform decrease from Wednesday forward through the week to Tuesday, which implicated a phase shifting to other days uniformly through time. In other words, if the peak was always on Wednesday, then it should drop off before and after that day like a reflected image or as presented in a bell curve. Following Mr. Keel's lead, I refined his estimation of when the short cycle repeats itself.

Some devotees of the UFO phenomena who are committed to the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis or ETH may discount the possibility of any periodicity. As justification they might point to Vallee and Keel who support the wave phenomena as a real aspect worth serious study, but frown on an extraterrestrial connection as if both cannot be right. However, I am not convinced that these two possible aspects of the UFO problem cannot both be involved in the solution.

In my view there is a periodic element (separate from psychological factors) that can be linked not only to UFO manifestations, but also to other strange phenomena (or even tectonic events) as related by John Keel and Jacques Vallee. In theory, this common factor would trigger the likelihood of experiencing any of these events. Yet, since it only triggers them and is not the root mechanism, it would not necessarily exclude an extraterrestrial relationship to at least some UFO visitations.

It is here suggested that periodic geomagnetic fluctuations magnify the effects of certain areas on the earth's surface acting as windows to other dimensions of existence. Aliens could be using the earth as a base of operations and normally not be detected since they exist on another dimensional plane that is usually beyond our senses of perception.

During my search for discernable patterns, a cyclic component to UFO appearances became more and more convincing. I am not discounting as factors at least some randomness, or even mass suggestibility or hoaxes that can artificially form a grouping following an initial sighting. For these reasons the data has been selected with care (placing the emphasis on quality rather than quantity) and the proposed cycles introduced here were persistently tested.

Combining all presently active cycles, I foresee the following:

Most of the year, or December '94 through September'95, will show an increase in observed UFOs. However, sightings during the first and last two and one half months of this period are expected to average only about half the number anticipated during the five central months. The best viewing should be during the entire spring season (perhaps starting as much as a few weeks before the spring equinox), but most especially on or near every other Sunday or Monday from the second weekend in April to the third weekend in May. Of course the timing of this depends on the accuracy of the estimates of when each cycle peaks. However, it is expected that if the wave crest doesn't occur at the end of April it should be no more than three weeks from that time. No matter what the exact date will be, the wave should be felt primarily throughout all or most of this spring and present the best season for a possible sighting this year and probably for a few years to come. January should have been the month that the longest or 5+ year cycle crested, the 13 month cycle peak is due to arrive in April (as early as the sixth or as late as the twentieth), and the 21+ and 32 month peak is expected in June of this year (around the third weekend). During the most intense phase of the wave period it is estimated that the shortest cycle will peak around Monday (give or take a day).

To clear up any possible confusion here, it would be important to explain that although the 21+ and 32 month cycles seem to remain in sync with each other every 64 months, they appear to not quite coincide with the cresting of the 5+ year cycle (I estimate that since the alignment of all three in 1952, they've been growing further apart at the rate of roughly 20 days after the culmination of each 5+ year period). The majority of cycle watchers may consider this later cycle more like 61 months in length, but in the course of my studies a 63-64 month frequency emerged that appears to fit the data better.

My estimate for the last appearance of the 5+ year cycle matches the start of the Russian wave (late September 1989). The 13-month cycle would have peaked just afterwards, when the Canadians had record sightings in October of that year. The 32-month cycles should have been centered on late January or early February 1990, and the 21+ month cycle would have occurred no later than that or more likely in December 1989 (the UFO invasion of Belgium began in November 1989, with the best reports from late November'89 to late March'90). However, as many as three other cycles could have been influencing matters during the 1989 to 1990 period. These other cycles are not likely to affect matters this time and are therefore not discussed here.

What to Expect/Where to Be

Since 1947, about one out of every five years has been a wave year. Of these, around one out of every five waves is a great wave. If the U.S. Air Force had not shut down Project Blue Book in 1969, and were still evaluating UFO sightings, an average non-wave year would bring in around 500 reports. In contrast to this, the less frequent wave year would yield about 1,000 reports (as derived from Blue Book's yearly total report tallies from 1953-1968). However, since a wave usually only lasts a few months or weeks, the portion of the year where the wave primarily manifests shows an increase of approximately three times greater than normal (based on the monthly average for a wave with an intense phase lasting three months). For a great wave, the most active months would produce sightings more like six times greater than normal (or even beyond that; the head of Blue Book during thereat wave of 1952 stated that at the height of the flap they were receiving 20 or more reports a day with Unknowns comprising 40% of all reports). It would have been considered normal if Blue Book had collected 43 reports in a given month, but if they had 129 reports, that would have been considered a typical wave month (or "flap" as they termed it). Do not be surprised if we experience similarly large numbers in the coming spring months.

Only about one out of ten sightings are truly a UFO while, at the same time, it is commonly believed by researchers that no more than one out of ten sightings ever get reported. Because of this situation, I estimate that the above Blue Book figures give a good estimate of what the total number of true UFOs would be in the United States under ideal circumstances. In other words these numbers would come close (although probably a conservative estimate) to the figure of remaining Unidentifieds if all sightings were reported, contained sufficient information for evaluation, and were thoroughly investigated. However, the total reports for the year 1952 appear lower than they should be. Edward J. Ruppelt conveyed in his "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects" (1956) that while heading Blue Book in July of '52, they were so busy with incoming reports that they had no time to investigate or evaluate the foreign reports that were arriving. Also, Ronald D. Story in his "The UFO Encyclopedia" gives a figure almost 30% greater than Blue Book's final official estimate of the total sightings for that year.

There is one factor not considered in the estimates above that could significantly affect the true figure. Normally a witness to a UFO is totally caught off guard by the experience. If a few thousand people had advance knowledge of when a wave would occur and acted on that information, what would happen? If people in such numbers scheduled a few hours a week during the most intense phase of the coming wave to search the skies, the reported sightings during those months might be twice of what a typical wave year would bring. So, under the proper circumstances, a regular wave could become a great one. But timing isn't quite everything; location is important as well.

An experienced researcher should already know the hot spots to camp out at, but for most everyone else a study of the historical record of activity can help pin down a good prospective area. As a start in this direction, the Blue Book record of unknowns, when broken down by state and after factoring in population density, would rate as follows. The states that would be labeled 'top contenders' include New Mexico, Montana, and North Dakota. Still, 'very good prospects' can also be found in the states of New Hampshire, District of Columbia, Maine, Mississippi, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Delaware, Wisconsin, and Texas. The remaining 'just above average' states include Ohio, Idaho, Maryland, Iowa, Virginia, Michigan, Florida, California, Arizona, Massachusetts (Boston area), New Jersey (surrounding Newark), Kansas, and Oklahoma.

In regards to this list I feel it best to reveal a controversial decision I made which affected it’s ordering. Reports for the period of 1947 to 1952 were excluded since it appeared as if UFO's during that time were targeting the areas from the state of Washington, south through Oregon and California, and east through Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Although some fault can be found for this decision I still feel that it gives a more accurate distribution for a preliminary list, especially in assigning the states with the highest ranking. An updated list of state rankings can be found at this web page:


It should also be pointed out that some of the states' ratings could have dropped slightly if there were a large number of military reports since they were assigned a lower value than civilian ones. The reason for this is that often military sightings are from jets in isolated areas of little or no population (especially Alaska) or at high altitude, when there would normally be no chance to witness the UFO. Also, some states in the last category were moved up slightly in rank due to exceptional circumstances. For example, in the states of Massachusetts and New Jersey, four of the five unknowns were all located within a strip of land that ranged between one and two percent of the total land area of each state. In Michigan, by the same ratio, the Unknowns were in areas of very low population density, much less than the state average and thus deserving of a higher position. California was also raised up due to strong, though circumstantial evidence of a negative bias on the part of Blue Book following the Cisco Grove (near Truckee) close encounter of September 1964. The last Unknown listed for California was three weeks before this sighting even though 1965 through 1967 was an exceptional wave period. For those not familiar with this report, it started with a lost hunter becoming stranded up a tree due to at least two aliens and a robot bent on abducting him. He first attempted to chase the invaders away by shooting arrows at the robot and, when that failed, frantically set torn pieces of his clothes on fire and threw these down upon them. This ploy may have granted him some sense of security until he found that there was no more ammunition to spare. Not surprisingly, Blue Book labeled the report "Psychological." Based on the frequency of reports prior to the apparent bias, there should have been at least four more Unknowns and California's rank was raised accordingly. It can be pointed out here that Hynek and Vallee list a total of four very good reports during this void period.

There may be other states that deserve additional consideration for possible position adjustment (perhaps Washington state for example), but that would require more time than I had available. The states that I chose to investigate were those that looked obviously too low or too high on the ladder based on my prior knowledge of sightings for those areas.

Since my rating approximation has its limitations, one should not necessarily feel left out if your home state is not included. For example, even though Pennsylvania is not listed, the southeastern part of that state has had many good reports in the past (mostly on a line from Middletown to Easton & Jonestown to Willow Grove; see David Saunder's "UFOs? Yes!" on Orthoteny). [In hindsight I would mention here that the southwestern portion of Pennsylvania, particularly the Pittsburgh and Greensburg areas may have an even greater number of sightings than the southeastern part of the state; but if so it may be due more from a better record of sightings being kept by Stan Gordon, a very active investigator and resident of that area, than from an actual greater frequency of the phenomena]. Similarly, the vast majority of sightings in North Carolina are concentrated in the lower half of that state [again this may be due mostly to a very active Ufologist in that area, George D. Fawcett]. During the wave of 1989 to 1990, there were over two hundred sightings in the region of Fyffe, Alabama. In New York, many people believe that on November 24,1992, a UFO crashed into a remote area of South Haven Park adjoining North Shirley on Long Island. Curiously, this date and the time of my encounter in 1965 (the UFO was then hovering just three miles west of the apparent crash sight), were sandwiched between a 13 and 32 month peak (averaging 8-9 weeks to either one) although November 1992 is also when I estimate another cycle (not discussed here) had peaked [the cycle referred to is the 3.19 year cycle which is discussed in my article on UFO crashes]. There was a flurry of activity in Stonewood (not far from Clarksburg), West Virginia during the months of September and October 1993 (early September is my estimate of a 21+ month peak). West Virginia may not usually rate very high in its average frequency of sightings but would no doubt earn an elevated position if it were being considered in the category of high strangeness reports (see John A. Keel's "The Mothman Prophecies").

In a like manner, states ranked in the lower, 'just above average,' category should not be underestimated. From December 1993, through May 1994, equipment set up by seismologists in Parkfield, California, recorded unusual magnetic changes. Besides a possible relationship to the January earthquake in Northridge, there may have been a UFO connection as well. During the period of the magnetic anomalies there were increased sightings in Ventura (primarily), and Santa Barbara counties. In the middle of this period was a 13-month cycle peak (also in line with 125 witness reports from western Michigan for March 7-21, 1994).

And California may just end up riding atop the next incoming wave. At the dawn of the proposed period of increased sightings, two newsworthy events occurred within California that just might be UFO related. On December 14, a mysterious blackout affected seven western states and British Columbia. There was no massive power consumption or storm to account for the disruption. But some problem developed along a sixty mile stretch of 500 kilowatt line between Fresno and Tracy, triggering a glitch to develop in the power switches at either the Los Banos or Coalinga substations, and causing the "Pacific intertie transmission system" to shut down at 12:26am. Less than twelve hours later, at just before noon of the same day, an unusual crash of a Lear jet into Fresno occurred, killing both pilots and injuring at least fifteen people. The jet was returning from a military exercise with the state's Air National Guard when one and then, in less than a minute, the other engine failed. The civilian aircraft was acting as a target in the training mission and was said to have been carrying sophisticated radar equipment.

Lastly, perhaps the experimental NASAX-31 supersonic jet was chasing a UFO before it crashed in the desert north of Edwards AFB on January 19, 1995 (this air base has had some impressive UFO reports in the past). While reportedly wrapping up a test flight of the aircraft, specifically designed to greatly increase maneuverability, the test pilot had to eject himself to avoid sudden death. The news stories went into surprising detail as to the jets dimensions, the number of these jets and pilots assigned to them at Edwards, the special qualities and design features of this craft, and the name of the manufacturers. One noticeable omission was any possible reason for the crash or the time of its occurrence. Do more frequent and even stranger events lie ahead for California?

In whatever location one may be, the best general area to dig-in for a lengthy UFO vigil would be on top of a large hill, overlooking a sizeable body of water (high voltage power lines in sight is also a plus), at or close to a place having a history of reliable sightings over a long period of time. To obtain a comprehensive database of UFO reports you can either purchase a CD-ROM (Windows version only) of the UFOCAT database from the Center for UFO Studies or the *U* UFO Database on diskette. The former has over 109,000 entries, but many of those are duplicates of single events from several sources and likely contain many IFOs rather than UFOs. The latter has around 17,750 entries, but the emphasis is on quality over quantity (with much less duplication or IFOs).

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UFO Waves