mercredi 21 janvier 2015

Space Re-Entry Stimulus as CE-3 Generator: The Example of a December 12 1987 case...

Extended version, July 2016

Cognitive psychologists generally regard perceiving and remembering as constructive processes in which, for example, an internal representation of an external three-dimensional object is "constructed" on the basis of the often shifting, ambiguous, or incomplete information available in memory or in the two-dimensional perspective projection incident on the sensory surface (Gregory 1970; Neisser 1967; Shepard 1975). The more inadequate the external stimulus or the memory trace of such a stimulus, the more the internal representation of that stimulus will reflect tendencies of the mind rather than properties of the stimulus. (Roger N. Shepard in the book directed by Richard Haines, UFO Phenomena and the Behavioral Scientists, wrote in chapter 10 - p.193 -).
When we do not know what we see, or if we already believe we know what we will see, then our perception can be easily distorted.[...] In general, the prevailing culture does not drive people to see things they do not know how to interpret, but provides them the contrary: an interpretation grid for the things they do not recognize. (In Rossoni, D.; Maillot, E. & Déguillaume, E. (2007). Les OVNI du CNES : 30 ans d'études officielles 1977-2007).
Ufologists, arbitrarily call the minor misinterpretations ‘false UFOs’ and the major ones ‘true UFOs’, and do not realize that there is a perfect continuity between the two series, and that the difference between them is of degree not of nature. Michel Monnerie, quoted by Jacques Scornaux in The Rising and the Limits of a Doubt.
At the end of August 2014, it was a great and sincere honor that one of the best and well-known satellite trackers, Ted Molczan, emailed me about a very special UFO report correlating a space re-entry, made December 12 1987 by a witness. For example, Ted Molczan is known for a February 2008 article The New York Times hosted (on the front page): as an amateur satellite observer in relation to the story about the falling American spy satellite USA 193. American officials were reluctant to provide information about the satellite, and instead, Ted Molczan, as the article says, "uncovers some of the deepest of the government’s expensive secrets and shares them on the Internet", as stated in Wikipedia. He has been quoted several times in this blog (for example concerning the solution of the famous 1996 Yukon UFO case - but he solved others - and in our French forum about the impressive work he is doing about space re-entries and UFO cases explained by them, and to have produced an (ongoing) chronological catalogue of space re-entries. The present case is very interesting, because a CE-3 (Close Encounter of the Third kind) component is present in the witness narrative. Recently, Ted Molczan made an impressive investigation about a 1979 case taking place in South America.

This case of a CE-3 sighting that strongly correlates with a known re-entry provides the same insights and information into the common misperceptions of satellite re-entries (airship effect see below), as craft with windows and more generally how ordinary stimuli (even rare) generate extraordinary reports.

(Source: Tim Printy SUNlite Newsletter 6-2)

Space Re-Entries Stimuli as UFOs Generators

In at least two previous articles in this blog, we have seen how space re-entries can generate UFO reports (narratives and drawings): The 1996 Yukon UFO case (in French) and several other cases included in our study of the 1896/97 Airships Wave
It leads us to several observations indicating that the UFO Phenomenon (and related, including abductions) may be SocioPyschological and Cultural in essence, which means no extraordinary stimuli, entities or mechanisms seem to be necessary to explain it. It leads in mirror to the finding that fortean hypotheses are useless to rationally explain the UFO phenomenon.

The hypothesis defended by UFO-Skeptics is that the phenomenon can be reduced to multiple and composite prosaic stimuli and cognitive mechanisms. Then, the term Composite and Reductionist Theory (CRT) of the UFO Phenomenon or the SocioPsychological & Cultural Hypothesis of the UFO Phenomenon (SPCH). Such findings (a non-exhaustive list) are the following:

1) The existence of extraordinary reports does not suggest the existence of extraordinary objects. It is perfectly possible to get extraordinary reports from ordinary objects (R. Sheaffer, 2012).

2) The a priori high strangeness contained in UFO narratives or drawings made by witnesses does not imply fortean stimuli and mechanisms are at play in the sightings made and is not sufficient and reliable evidence to support or to prove extraordinary theses, like Extra-Terrestrial beings visiting us, as inter-dimensional visitors, or as time-travelers, as to be imputed to an omniscient intelligence possessing a manipulative or insidious behavior, etc.

The first image depicts an example of slides used in an Edgar Wunder's experiment. He projected such slides to individuals and after a delay, asked the individuals to draw what they saw. The second image is a drawing obtained in Edgar Wunder's Experiment. The individual has “saucerized” the initial stimulus.

3) The unexplained cases have no unique peculiarities. Exactly the same patterns and the same characteristics appear in both explained (IFO corpus) or unexplained (UFO corpus) cases. We can state that the two corpora are more or less "twins". It seems there exists in the explained (IFO) corpus conventional and mundane stimuli which have generated all the aspects, parameters and contents contained and alleged in the unexplained corpus (UFO): from the simple ones, including shape, color, speed, size, duration, a priori reliable witnesses, all socio-economical classes, multiple or single witnesses, etc. to the more complex ones, including an alleged intelligent behavior, pursuit, interferences and physiological or physical effects to the witnesses, to the ground or to instruments (radar) as domestic devices (radio, TV, car, etc.), a priori high level of strangeness in the narrative, drawing, photography or video. In a previous article, I proposed several explained cases (narratives, photos or videos) as a recreation in order people realize that if they are not able to solve and to find the mundane explanation of the cases, it doesn't mean extraordinary entities are at play when you can't solve a case (see the 8th section after about "the syllogism of ufology").

4) There exists a continuity between the trivial (asserted by IFO cases) and the extraordinary (UFO or residual cases proposed by ufologists): for both, as summarized before, the characteristics and parameters alleged seem in reality in a perfect continuity, but their peripheral location is not perceived as such because ufologists remove the more central part of the curve, where the less strange phenomena are identified by the witnesses themselves or by the field investigators. Ufologists, Monnnerie says, arbitrarily call the minor misinterpretations ‘false UFOs’ and the major ones ‘true UFOs’, and do not realise that there is a perfect continuity between the two series. That's a reason UFO-Skeptics propose that the difference between UFO and IFO may be of degree not of nature.

5) There exist similar corpora where it exists unexplained or unsolved cases. Such corpora are for example murders, disappearances, kidnappings, rapes, domestic incidents or accidents (planes, cars, home devices), forest or home fires, etc. The presence of residual cases in such corpora have not as consequence that if a percent of residual cases exists, it is because entities, stimuli and mechanisms between unexplained and explained cases are different in nature and at play in the unexplained and residual corpora and why forensic or classical sciences and methods can't solve it. James Oberg already wrote in the 80's:
Since some airplanes and automobiles crash without explanation, are extraterrestrial traffic saboteurs at work? Since a good fraction of murders remain forever unsolved, are psychotic time-travelling killer-robots at work? Surely not, of course -- it's absurd even to suggest such ideas. But how far afield is the analogy to the evidential value of "unsolved" UFO cases?
The reasons that some and numerous cases remain unexplained and unsolved are or may be in reality numerous and logical, but mundane: the lack of the good information, of the good element, of the good expert, of luck. In the case of ufology, many ufologists recognize that if one or another case has been solved, it is due to luck or accident. The presence of residual cases is intrinsic and statistically logical and expected: it does not mean that if cases are unsolved, it is because extraordinary entities must be involved, or different causes are at play between unexplained and explained corpora. It is another reason why UFO-Skeptics propose that the ufological casuistic may be in fact in this intrinsic characteristic and component already shown and evidence by/in such other corpora. Hudson Hoagland in Science (1969) already said about ufology and residual cases: 
There will always be cases which remain unexplained because of lack of data, lack of repeatability, false reporting, wishful thinking, deluded observers, rumors, lies, and fraud. A residue of unexplained cases is not a justification for continuing an investigation after overwhelming evidence has disposed of hypotheses of supernormality, such as beings from outer space... Unexplained cases are simply unexplained. They can never constitute evidence for any hypothesis."

6) In our previous articles, we have shown that some cases presented by ufology as the best ones, so solid a priori (and maybe understandably) that only the ExtraTerrestrial Hypothesis (or extraordinary ones) must be invoked and the most reasonable explanation to retain, have been solved or explained. Again, the switch of such solid cases from the unexplained corpus (UFO) to the explained one (IFO) must engage investigators to be very cautious when they use the unexplained status of cases to defend or to depend upon extraordinary theses, entities, mechanisms. 

7) Ufology seems only to lead and have as foundation of her (weak?) edifice the following "argument":  If some UFO reports cannot be solved, then their stimulus must be extraordinary and fortean in nature. Or, as James Oberg expressed decades before:
The syllogism, to repeat, goes like this: Since some UFO reports cannot be solved by amateur investigators working in their spare time, then there must exist extraordinary stimuli behind some UFO reports. As a technique of analysis, invert the syllogism to create a new one of equivalent boolean value. It now reads: if all UFO reports were caused only by ordinary stimuli, than amateur investigators working in their spare time would be able to solve every one of them. Worded this way, the syllogism is arguably untrue (there are numerous counterexamples of cases which happened to be solved only by "accident"); its untruth implies untruth for the first equivalent assertion, championed by UFO proponents.
 Yes, this syllogism is probably untrue, as our previous 6th point pointed.

Why Space Re-Entries as an UFO Generator ? And what can explain or potentially explain it?

A witness' drawing a "saucerization" or "airship effect" generated by a space re-entry (from James Oberg' works and collection, presented in our previous article about the 1896/97 Airships Wave)

The main reason is probably because a space re-entry is a really new and fascinating (but mundane and prosaic) spectacle for those who are present. In other words, it is understandable that they generate UFO reports. IFOlogy is rich of cases where  very mundane stimuli generate UFO reports  (the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, planes, artificial satellites, helicopters, balloons, etc.) and including narratives with a high degree of strangeness. Then, space re-entries being a relatively very rare event and very new event for a witness, and spectacular, it is normal and logical to expect extraordinary narratives, drawings, and reports. But what could be the cognitive processes at play here?

In our previous article devoted to the 1896/97 Airships wave (Ibid.), we have introduced what UFO-Skeptics (mainly French speakers call projective elaborations and transformations of (mundane) stimuli.

Projective Transformation: The witness is seeing elements in line with his own "expectations" and is altering the characteristics of the stimulus during the perception. (Such information processing strategies are called in cognitive psychology, top-down processing versus bottom-up processing) or concept-driven processing (versus data-driven processing). It is well known that our knowledge and our culture influence what we perceive in the environment, and influence the retrieval and the recall of the event (by memory processes). Stored information from different sources can therefore complement, anticipate or replace what we see, mainly when the stimulus is not recognized as a "world element" because it’s too ambiguous, too fast, unknown, etc. Some witnesses then "saucerize" the stimulus and ufologists jump on these tales. During a UFO wave, for example, a witness is encouraged to watch the sky, and will add a detail or details that create the structure of an observed but not identified stimulus (prosaic/conventional stimulus in reality) in the likeness of a UFO broadcast by the media (see below).

Projective Elaboration: The witness gradually develops a "cultural romance" during perception, adorned with many subjective and false memories (see below). A witness will evoke illusory physical interference of the UFO with the environment, providing psychological and/or physiological effects, an amalgamation of disparate elements close in time and space to the sighting, but having no relation between them in reality.

It means to propose (supported by cognitive psychology, the space re-entries corpus or Edgar Wunder - see previous articles available at this blog) that when some individuals are facing stimuli they don’t recognize, these subjects’ brains are making projective transformations and elaborations of the stimuli. The individuals are thus using their own mental representations of the UFO phenomenon (or airship) or using what is conveyed by the prevailing or surrounding culture, which changes with the times. And ufology perhaps only "jumps" and collects these individuals and narratives to support extraordinary beings...

This video compares and contrasts two models of sensation and perception, cognitive bottom-up & top-down processes. In general, top-down processes are information processes based on previous knowledge or schemata and they allow us to make inferences: to "perceive" or "know" more than is contained in the data. In other words, we often go "beyond the information given" in our mental processes. We learn to add assumptions and supplemental information derived from experience to the evidence of our senses, and that is how we make sense of our world. When a stimulus is not recognized and identified for what it is in reality, because it was seen under particular circumstances, or was new for the observers, the cognition is mainly driven by top-down processing and it processes by inferences using our previous knowledge, and our previous knowledge includes cultural representation and prevailing culture. In such cases, the prevailing culture may provide to some individuals an interpretation grid for the things they do not recognize.

Space re-entries in particular provoke for us, understandably, what we call "the airship effect" reported by some individuals, which means to give an aircraft structure and several aircraft details to what is in reality an ensemble of independent luminous points or lights. Psychologists early in the history of Human Sciences stated that "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts". In other words, some psychologists imply that the mind understands external stimuli as a whole rather than the sum of their parts. Taking into account that space re-entries are after all an ensemble of parts (lights), the brain processes it as a whole, irrepressibly. More, some individuals will use prevailing and surrounding cultural, backgrounds (motivated by media, books, movies) to make sense of and to structure this ensemble of points having in fact no significance because it was seen for the first time, under particular conditions, etc.

The psychology of perception has stated that the whole is structured, organized and driven using different cognitive laws and processes more or less irrepressibly, but driven by the personal culture of the individual (processing driven by concepts or top-down processes). These laws and cognitive processes deal with the sensory modality of vision, but there are analogous laws for other sensory modalities (auditory, tactile, gustatory and olfactory modalities too). As summarized in our previous article about the Yukon (1996) case, but in French, such laws are the following (from Wikipedia):

Law of Proximity: The law of proximity states that when an individual perceives an assortment of objects they perceive objects that are close to each other as forming a group. 

Law of Similarity: The law of similarity states that elements within an assortment of objects are perceptually grouped together if they are similar to each other. This similarity can occur in the form of shape, colour, shading or other qualities.

Law of Closure: The law of closure states that individuals perceive objects such as shapes, letters, pictures, etc., as being whole when they are not complete. Specifically, when parts of a whole picture are missing, our perception fills in the visual gap. Research shows that the reason the mind completes a regular figure that is not perceived through sensation is to increase the regularity of surrounding stimuli.

Law of Symmetry: The law of symmetry states that the mind perceives objects as being symmetrical and forming around a center point. It is perceptually pleasing to divide objects into an even number of symmetrical parts. Therefore, when two symmetrical elements are unconnected the mind perceptually connects them to form a coherent shape. Similarities between symmetrical objects increase the likelihood that objects are grouped to form a combined symmetrical object.

Law of Common Fate: The law of common fate states that objects are perceived as lines that move along the smoothest path. Experiments using the visual sensory modality found that movement of elements of an object produce paths that individuals perceive that the objects are on. We perceive elements of objects to have trends of motion, which indicate the path that the object is on. The law of continuity implies the grouping together of objects that have the same trend of motion and are therefore on the same path.

Law of Continuity: The law of continuity states that elements of objects tend to be grouped together, and therefore integrated into perceptual wholes if they are aligned within an object. In cases where there is an intersection between objects, individuals tend to perceive the two objects as two single uninterrupted entities. Stimuli remain distinct even with overlap. We are less likely to group elements with sharp abrupt directional changes as being one object.[13]

Law of Good Gestalt: The law of good gestalt explains that elements of objects tend to be perceptually grouped together if they form a pattern that is regular, simple, and orderly. This law implies that as individuals perceive the world, they eliminate complexity and unfamiliarity so they can observe a reality in its most simplistic form. Eliminating extraneous stimuli helps the mind create meaning. This meaning created by perception implies a global regularity, which is often mentally prioritized over spatial relations. The law of good gestalt focuses on the idea of conciseness, which is what all of gestalt theory is based on.

Law of Past Experience: The law of past experience implies that under some circumstances visual stimuli are categorized according to past experience. If two objects tend to be observed within close proximity, or small temporal intervals, the objects are more likely to be perceived together.

Another common characteristic of re-entries is that many witnesses have an impression of close range, as if the UFO was hovering closely in front of the observer. In reality, the debris may be 150/250 kilometers from the observer, with a real length of several kilometers, and moving with a real speed of 5 to 10 km/second, but they are very often perceived as very close to the observer, one or two hundred meters in length very slow (at the speed of the walk) and of course sometimes seen as a structured craft (airship effect).

Robert Sheaffer in his 2012 article (Ibid.) made additional interesting points concerning the perception of space re-entries and why, among other, such narratives seem to present a high degree of strangeness. More or less similar points have been made in France by UFO skeptics or "pragmatic" ufologists, like Robert Alessandri in one study he made in French about the 5 November 1990 event. Sheaffer wrote and proposed among them: 
Report: "many rows of lights"
Reality: The booster disintegrated into an irregular train of debris, that was perceived as an orderly pattern of "lights" on a huge solid object.
Report: the UFO was hovering approximately 300 yards in front of the observer. "Hynek Classification: CE1" (Close Encounter of the First Kind).
Reality: the distance to the re-entering booster was approximately 233 km (145 miles), so this was not a "close encounter." At no time did it stop, or hover.
Report: The UFO was approximately 500-750 meters (up to 1/2 mile) in length.
Reality:  It is impossible to estimate the size of an unknown object unless its distance is known. Since the disintegrating booster was about 145 miles distant, its debris train must have been spread over many miles.
Report: "stars blocked out" by huge UFO.
Reality:  the observers were viewing a long train of debris from the disintegrating rocket booster. It was not a solid object, and thus could not have "blocked out" stars. However, the light from the re-entry may have made nearby stars difficult to see.
Another fact found empirically both by cognitive psychology and by "ifology" is that individuals witnessing the very same event nevertheless produce different estimations: When individuals are attending, memorizing and recalling the very same stimulus, the estimated parameters (like the size, distance, duration, colors, speed, angular size, etc.) will vary from one individual to another – inter-individual variability – that is what we have represented by this following Bell Curve (by commodity). Thus, the UFO corpus should be in fact largely established by these extremes.

A "school case" has already been presented here and it concerns the investigation(s) made by Robert Alessandri. He has studied a case where 32 trainee French Gendarmes (a Gendarme is a soldier who is employed on Police duties in France, like Carabinieri in Italy) witnessed the very same stimulus, on the 5 November 1990 in France (the re-entry of the Gorizont/Proton rocket body), and the day after, their military drill instructor asked them to report this sighting and questioned them regarding multiple details. In the article, you will find how, despite the same individuals called to the scene for the very same event together, when they are asked to present or estimate different parameters, the inter-individual variability is "strong". For example, 5 of the individuals mentioning a cardinal direction (N=25) are mistaken by more than 70° off the real heading of the re-entry (or between them). In regards to the estimated duration, only 3 individuals reported this data: 10 seconds, 15 seconds and 2 minutes. What about the shape? We have 3 hexagons, 5 triangles or delta wings, one individual talks about a V formation, etc.

UFO reports, and the whole UFO phenomenon itself should be then an epiphenomenon – a secondary phenomenon linked to another one (extremes in Human variability facing conventional stimuli - in reality individuals didn't recognize what they were - and extremes in Human variability when estimating parameters as they are in reality) – and an illusory phenomenon consisting of belief, to accept and assume that the narratives and their contents would be other than the product of this inter-individual variability. A variability which altered this, in reality, conventional or mundane stimulus because it is novel for the observer, or seen under particular conditions or not, and described later, resulting in some extremes, in some over or under-estimations, and sometimes to a "saucerization", by many individuals.

After all and in essence, a UFO report is generated from complex human cognitive processes that involve sensation, perception, memory (of the event and then when the individual restores it): each stage is affected by the individual's expectation, belief and background, for example, the cultural and environmental ones (media, books, movies, etc.). Interactions with ufologists may influence the witness to the personal expectations of the ufologists or interviewer and it could be a "supra-additive" variable at play here (by suggestion-suggestibility processes), creating a strong corpus of UFO reports. On a side note, ufologists don't use standardized methods to collect UFO reports, like the cognitive interview used in psychology or criminology and such variables are not controlled or then not minimized. The more dependent the report is upon these processes, the more they affect and "pollute" the details of the original sensation. If the individual has "spaceship" sociopsychological and cultural "meaning" when facing a conventional stimulus he does not recognize for what it is in reality, the restored details can transform and elaborate a bright light or ensemble of lights in the sky to an object with windows, to a craft (airship effect). (inspired by M. Persinguer - private joke -).

A December 12 1987 CE-3 Report that correlates with a known Space Re-Entry‏

Presentation of the case:

This UFO sighting correlates with the re-entry of 1987-100B / 18632, which was the 8S812 stage of the Proton rocket that launched Raduga 21 r.

Capture of Visually Observed Natural Re-entries of Earth Satellites (Draft #8), compiled by Ted Molczan.

This spectacular event occurred on 1987 Dec 13, near 02:49 UTC. As the previous table indicates, the fiery descent was widely seen on the evening of Dec 12 (local time) from western Canada, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Florida too. Quickly, the sightings were attributed by the USAF to the re-entry, which was widely reported by the news media.

As is common with space re-entries and without surprise for UFO-Skeptics, some sightings were reported as "true" UFOs (here in his ETH meaning), many of which were logged by NUFORC's UFO Reporting Center located in Seattle, Washington. On the night of the re-entry, NUFORC's investigator, Robert Gribble, conducted a recorded telephone interview with a male caller from Missouri, who reported sighting a craft with humanoid beings - a CE-3 sighting component then. The interview duration was about 27 min. total. The case really entered UFO "media" as a CE-3 at least 2 years later, when in 1989 R. Gribble wrote one article speculating that "several large UFOs accompanied the burning space debris as it entered our atmosphere" in the MUFON UFO Journal, No. 254, Jun 1989: 14. In France too, and mainly concerning the 5 November 1990 space re-entry, ufologists can't recognize that space re-entries generate UFO sightings (ETH meaning here) despite the many studies that have proven that they match. Again, as exposed before here in this blog article or in previous ones, some ufologists probably make too much of little discrepancies in space re-entries narratives (as drawings): They consider them as "true" UFOs and the "good" descriptions are eliminated or recognized as "false" UFO and misperceptions of the space re-entry by them. So, they may not realize or take into consideration that it is probably the inter-individual variability in Human perception, memorization and restoration of such rare events (or conventional aerial phenomena in general) which is responsible for such extremes of narratives and drawings, not ET or fortean entities. It is highly possible and probable for these two sorts of narratives that ufologists label as "true" versus "false" UFO to be in a perfect continuity between them, aka a simple difference of degrees when reporting a space re-entry and more generally conventional stimuli not identified for what they are in reality. And this is understandable by some witnesses because of the projective elaboration and transformation processes stated before or at this blog (and in UFO-Skeptic literature).

In order to counter the argument that space re-entries are not the original stimulus described by such witnesses, but fortean ones, ufology and several authors invoke ad hoc and speculative arguments and notions like ET is "parasitizing" the space re-entry (aka accompanying it), ET mimic of space re-entries, and so on... Well, the reader can decide on his own if such "explanations" are solid, parsimonious, economic and not a sort of stubborn, bad faith and final attempt to counter the dissonant information proving the sightings correlate with such mundane events as space re-entries, in order to continue to maintain their fortean hypotheses.

Ted Molczan provided me Robert Gribble's article about the case in the MUFON UFO Journal, No. 254, Jun 1989. Here are the two pages (the witness is identified as "J.E"):

The case figures at NUFORC Web-Site, and curiously, no reference to the CE-3 component is made: 
Occurred : 12/12/1987 21:00 (Entered as : 12/12/87 21:00)
Reported: 1/12/2000 20:38
Posted: 3/21/2003
Location: Lake Ozark, MO
Shape: Cigar
Duration:10 minutes
3 vehicles traveling NNE to SSW at 25 mph or less. Bright white light on fromt of each. Large lights on sides. Large green tail light.

Three vehicles traveling NNE to SSW at 25 mph or less. Each 100' to 150' long and 40' in diameter. Large "porthole" lights on sides. Large green, sculptured, tail light. Thick blue-gray fog emitted from vehicles which, at times, blocked out "portholes." First observed just above tree tops. 50' to 100' off ground and 50' 100' away. No unusual smell. Green tail light looked like glass work of 19th century. The things looked more "Captain Nemo" than high-tech.

34: Climax Springs, MO. 12.12.1987. A man observes a UFO and its occupants.
He is interviewed by Robert Gribble on December 12, 1987.  27:281.

Correlation of sighting with re-entry trajectory.
Richard Hall, in The UFO Evidence Volume 2 is only mentioning the space re-entry:

Ted provided me the voice recording, present on YouTube since August 2011, in two parts (it will probably not remain advitam eternam):

For a better understanding and because YouTube links can be removed, new links available, etc., Ted Molczan transcribed the interview between the witness and Robert Gribble. The different emphasis (in bold) was made by me, because I found it probably important for the rest of the article and our attempt to rationalize this case.

The witness referred to this famous cinematographic cultural element.

On the night of 1987 Dec 12, Robert Gribble, of NUFORC’s UFO Research Center, in Seattle, Washington, conducted a telephone interview with a male caller from Missouri, who reported sighting a craft with humanoid beings, earlier that night. 

 Part 1/2:
00:10 UFORC: UFO reporting center. 
00:12 Caller: Hi, Have you heard about Missouri, yet? 
00:15 UFORC: Oh, yes. 
00:17 Caller: Oh, yes. 
00:18 UFORC: What did you see? 
00:19 Caller: Oh, shit. Ah, the Air Force gave me your number. Whiteman AFB, as a matter of fact, gave me your number. 
00:25 UFORC: Okay. 
00:27 Caller: They hovered 300 feet from me and stared at me like I was a zebra in the zoo, like a lion in a cage, you know, an insect in a jar. Three craft. 
00:39 UFORC: Directly overhead? 
00:40 Caller: Directly overhead. I saw their faces looking out the windows at me man. Pointing at me with their fingers. We're not talking about one. We're talking about three craft. Nothing like this has ever happened to me in my life. You know what I'm saying? 
00:54 UFORC: Yeah. 
00:55 Caller: They were shrouded in a cloud of mist. And my body wasn't able to move. I was not able to move. They stood there and they hovered about 300 feet from me - the closest one. 
01:08 UFORC: What did they look like. I mean, what did the objects look like? 
01:10 Caller: Cigar shape. 
01:12 UFORC: Were these large or small? 
01:13 Caller: Giant. I would say the size of a large jet airliner at a minimum. Okay? 
01:20 UFORC: Okay. 
01:20 Caller: With no wings or tails. Cigar shape. There was three of them flying in formation side by side. When they stopped over me, the closest one to me raised up, so that the next one to him could lower down, so the next one to him could lower down, so the rows of windows going down the side - be it however you want to phrase them - people, creatures, whatever, could all see me very plainly. Stood there and looked at me and tilted and cocked their heads and pointed like I was an exhibition in a zoo.
01:56 UFORC: What did those occupants look like? 
01:57 Caller: You couldn't tell. The light from inside the craft was so bright, shining out the windows that all you could tell was - all I could tell. 
02:07 UFORC: Okay. 
02:07 Caller: All I could tell. I mean I'm telling you right now buddy I'm sitting here not knowing what the hell to think. Their heads were human shaped. You could tell there was eyes in the head. You could tell the eyes were large. There was no visual appearance of hair or ears, from what I could see. But the light was so bright, emanating from inside this craft, that they looked like they evolved with no ears, but there was no way to really tell. But they definitely had a human head shape. They definitely had a human shaped body. They definitely stood behind these windows and pointed at me. And these craft looked like a jet airliner with no wings and tail, okay? On the back of them they had pods that resembled the same kind of pods that would be on the back of a 727 or something, okay? 
02:58 UFORC: Okay. 
02:58 Caller: Except, that they had a green glob of light that was mounted to the top of these pods, that it wasn't real bright, but it glowed. But out of the back of these pods, where would normally come on a jet, like as we know it, where would come the exhaust, was lights that were identical to the headlights of a car. That's what it really looked like. Okay? That's what it looked like. The headlights of a car. They were surrounded in a cloud of mist. When they hovered in the air to stare at me, it was like I was on visual show. At a zoo. You know what I'm saying? 
03:33 UFORC: Right. 
03:34 Caller: And you could see these rows of windows going down the side. And they were identical - virtually identical - to the rows of windows that you would see on an airliner. And there was beings behind each one of these windows. They were looking at me and pointing. And I could have seen their faces and features very clearly, if it wouldn't have been for the fact that the light was so intensely bright, coming from inside the aircraft. They made no noise. Absolutely none. They were no more - the closest one - the first one, that raised up higher than the other two, so that the other two could raise in stair steps, so the occupants in the windows could see me - was no more than 250-300 feet from me. My body could not move. I wanted to scream for my girlfriend, my sister-in-law, my mother, my brother, and the seven children that were in the house to come look too. I was not able to move. I tried to scream. The minute they ceased with looking at me, so to speak, and started to move off without making a sound, and there was no change in these lights that were shining out from behind – they were just like headlights in fog, okay? 
04:49 UFORC: Okay. 
04:50 Caller: And they were surrounded in mist. They started moving out across the lake at the 51 mile marker, here, in mid-Missouri. <brother’s name unclear on recording> and I jumped in my car then and drove to the top of the hill as these things were going over the lake and on their way out of sight. The sky's totally clear here. There's not a cloud in the sky to speak of. None. Okay? These things were clouded in a shroud of mist. Three of them. Cigar-shaped. Pods on the end of them. Green glows on the top, shining headlights out the back of these pods, just like headlights in a fog in a car. I'm standing on top of the hill with my binoculars looking for them to come back. People were passing me, going, "you saw it too". I go, "yeah, I saw it too". "What did you see?" And I told them what I saw. I called Whiteman AFB. They gave me your number. Who else has reported this? Am I nuts or what's going on out here? 
05:38 UFORC: No, what time did you see it? 
05:40 Caller: God, I don't know, about 9 o'clock. 
05:42 UFORC: Okay. 
05:42 Caller: I don't know man. I lost all track of time. I lost all track of anything like that. I mean, I was so, I was so immersed in what was happening here, the last thing I was going to worry about was looking at a goddamn clock. But two people, that stopped to talk to me, who live in the same area of the Ozarks that I do - and live on the lake here with me - they stopped and they saw me standing on top of the hill in the dark, standing on top of my car with binoculars - they stopped and they go, "you saw it too, didn't you?" They rolled down the windows of their truck, and said, "you saw it too." I said, "yeah”. And they go, "what did you see?" I said, "three cigar-shaped aircraft, hovering in a mist of fog. No noise. They said, "that's exactly what we saw. We saw it cross over highway 7. We pulled off our car, our truck, off the side of the road. Shut off our motor. Shut off our headlights. Got out with our cameras." And you know what really bugged me about it? They told me they were unable to remove the lens caps off their camera. And that was the only thing... 
06:37 UFORC: You know those people? 
06:38 Caller: Yeah, I do know them personally. They're my neighbours! I don't know them personally. We live in the Lake of the Ozarks, where a lot of people are vacationers. They come down here only on the weekends during the summer. Lake of the Ozarks - I don't know where you are from - where the hell is 206 area code? 
06:50 UFORC: Washington. 
06:50 Caller: Okay. I don't know these people. I never met them before personally. They are full-timers here like we are. 
06:57 UFORC: Okay. 
06:57 Caller: We're in an area - Lake of the Ozarks is 110 miles long, and we have 1400 and some odd miles of shoreline. It's the vacation capital of the Midwest. So a lot of people, they retire and live down here in Missouri - this is a retired couple. A lot of people are only down here on weekends during the warm months, okay? These people live down here. They stopped and got out and tried to photograph it, and the only thing that really bugged me about what they said was, they go, "we couldn't get the lenses off our camera." Why couldn't they? Now this really bugged me, I'm going to tell you what buddy, whatever these three things were - and I'm not necessarily a believer in Jesus and I ain’t necessarily a believer in UFOs - but I'll tell you what - I saw three things as big as jet airliners hover 300 feet above my ahead, atop the trees here in the woods around my house. And they hovered there without a sound in a cloud of mist and as they stopped dead, the mist thinned out enough that I could see that there was windows going down the side of the these things. You know what it gave me the idea? Like a Carnival cruise or something. You know? And these things were looking at me - out the windows - in all three craft. I was like on display all of a sudden. 
08:01 UFORC: Did you hear any sound? 
08:02 Caller: No sound. Not a sound. And none of us that saw it down here - and I've got quite a few witnesses - not necessarily just people that are in my household and my family around here, but other witnesses that all live in these houses around here. There's a bunch of us that saw it. And I called Whiteman and they told me their phone was ringing off the wall - they even accepted my collect call about it to hear what I had to say. I said, I called and I said, hey, I said I don't know if they know what's going on, but operator you tell them this is a collect call from person who just had, although this sounds movie-ish, a close encounter of the second kind. And they accepted my collect call and talked to me. Transferred me to some big shot at the Whiteman AFB, with the radar. 
08:42 UFORC: Okay. 
08:42 Caller: And he goes, “yeah”, he says “our phone's ringing off the wall from Kansas City to Camdenton”. Now I live about, oh 20 miles as the crow flies out of Camdenton. 
08:52 UFORC: Okay, when these craft took off, did the mist reappear around them? 
08:57 Caller: It never left them. 
08:58 UFORC: Okay. 
09:00 Caller: It was like continuously there. 
09:02 UFORC: What color was that mist? 
09:04 Caller: Like fog! 
09:05 UFORC: Like white. Off White. 
09:06 Caller: Yeah, grey, white. 
09:07 UFORC: Okay. 
09:08 Caller: Tonight, we have no moon. It was greyish white. 
09:10 UFORC: Okay. 
09:10 Caller: Like, when - I'm standing outside in my driveway, looking out across the lake. Something all of a sudden - I mean it was really weird - it was like something told me - turn around! And my body all of a sudden reverts around, and as it does, I look up in the sky, and just like out of the movie - like Poltergeist or something - man, I mean this isn't even real. I don't know how I can even talk to you about this, but I have got to talk to somebody. This cloud of mist, steam, fog, whatever you want to call it, just comes rolling up over the tops of the trees, and it's so thick and so low that it's engulfing the top of the tree limbs. And I'm looking at it, and as I look at it, I see these three things that look like caution lights - all in a row - they're facing due west, but they're moving east. And, I'm going, “what the hell! There's no cars up there. They 
couldn't be doing that!” And all of a sudden they ceased to move, and when they ceased to move, the fog began to thin. 
10:07 UFORC: Okay. 
10:07 Caller: As the fog thinned, you could see lights. You could see the shape. You could see these craft. Now, I don't know what color they were, but they appeared in the dark sky - at this time of night - it was - the reason I say I think they were dark green - is because these lights shining out the back of them was so bright, that they illuminated the mist. Okay? This fog, or whatever. 
10:34 UFORC: Yes. 
10:34 Caller: The fog gave the appearance that these craft were a dark green color, but they could have been dark blue, they could have been dark anything. <unintelligible> but they were a dark color. They were undoubtedly - beyond any shadow of a doubt - they were cigar-shaped. There was no cockpit windows, as cockpit windows would be in a jet as we know it. The only windows went down the side, like an airliner's windows. And then there was pods on the back that really resembled pods that a jet engine would have on the back, like a 727 or something. 
11:06 UFORC: Okay. 
11:06 Caller: And on top of them, there was a round circle of green glowing light, not real intensely bright, but glowing emerald green. Obviously like some kind of a round dome shape projectile that sat on top of the main light. Now out of the back of these pods - now the pods were pointed on the front. And the mist was enough [that] I can't describe the exact appearance of them, but they looked more or less like they were pointed on the front. I couldn't see a dark spot in the front of them like an air intake, as a jet engine as we know it, but the back of them was definitely flat as far as I could see, because this beam of light came out that looked just like a headlight in the fog of an automobile. There was no tails on them. There was no wings. They made no noise. And whatever was on board, was peeking out the windows, like people looking out the windows of a bus. You know what I'm saying? 
12:01 UFORC: Did you have a chance to count the number of those lighted openings? 
12:05 Caller: Well, there again. I couldn't move my body. I couldn't even - I'm 20 feet from a plate glass window - picture window - from where everybody's sitting here watching TV. I wasn't, for some reason, and this is what scares me the most - or what's got me upset the most - is I wasn't able to scream to anybody in the house. My body froze dead still. I wasn't able to move. As these things hovered there, dead still in the air, I couldn't move until they started to move away. When they started to move away, then all of a sudden I can move again. There was at least - to give you a minimum, 15 to 20 is minimum. 
12:45 UFORC: Okay. 
12:45 Caller: I'd say 30 is maximum. Windows down the side, directly resembling porthole windows of a jet liner, but to be honest with you, I'm so upset from the situation, I can't tell you if they were square or round. 
13:00 UFORC: Okay.
13:01 Caller: And the light was coming out of them so brightly, that it would be hard to tell you if they were square or round. There was an incredible light coming out of the inside of the thing. But the light undoubtedly showed the fact that there was beings, creatures, whatever you want to term it, behind each and every window - looking out and pointing. Sir, I mean there was several of them that were pointing at me! Like I was an exhibit at the zoo - an aquarium! And they stopped there dead, and what really got me was the way they hovered into a stair-step position. The closest one moved up, the middle one moved down a little, and the one on the farthest from me moved down even yet, to where it damn near touched the tree tops here. Now I'm talking - we're talking this craft was six feet over the trees, and this mist was covering - engulfing the trees on top of the hill above me – 200 feet, 300 feet above me. 
13:51 UFORC: Okay. 
13:51 Caller: And they moved... 

Part 2 /2: 
00:02 Caller: ...stair-step, so that all three craft - I looked at all three rows of windows on all three craft, and I could see these occupants, whatever you want to term them, in all three windows. On all three sets of windows going down these craft, and they were looking at me. They were staring at me. They were definitely - you know, you read about these things in the papers, and - they were definitely humanoid-looking. 
00:24 UFORC: Okay. 
00:25 Caller: As far as I could see, they had arms that they could point at me, like you and I would point at something. Look at that ant on the ground. They had heads that were shaped like ours. As far as whether or not they had ears, or they had hair, I have no idea - the light was too bright, but they undoubtedly had two eyes. You could see these areas that appeared dark - they appeared very dark where their eyes were. It was darker than it was - like even though the light was so intensely bright, you could see that there was undoubtedly two eyes. I don't know how to explain it to you, the way it looked. But you could see – that, you know there was undoubtedly two eyes on every head. And they were undoubtedly carrying on a conversation, because the way their heads were pointing and looking at each other while they pointed, you know you could tell these things were talking about the fact I was standing down there on the ground. 
01:17 UFORC: Okay, any estimate of the length on those objects? 
01:19 Caller: Of what? 
01:19 UFORC: How long they were? 
01:22 Caller: Well, I'll tell you what. At a minimum - at a minimum - because I'm a travelling salesman, I've done a lot of flying - at a minimum, if you peel the wings and tail off a 747, you got it. 
01:38 UFORC: Okay. 
01:38 Caller: I mean, of a 727. On a maximum, if you peel the wings and tail off a 747, you got it, but no hump. No cockpit windows. Only windows going down the side.
01:52 UFORC: Okay. 
01:54 Caller: And these things - well, not only did me and a whole bunch of my neighbours see them - I apparently saw them the closest of all of us, but I understand from Whiteman, it’s been reported from - at the time I talked to them - from Kansas City to Camdenton, which Kansas City is about 150 miles as the crow flies - no, about 120-130 miles as the crow flies. Camdenton is about 20 miles as the crow flies. They've got thousands of reports on it. They even accepted my call collect. I couldn't believe it. 
02:23 UFORC: All right, sir. Could I get your name? 
02: 26 Caller: Well, yeah... 
02:28 UFORC: This is strictly confidential. 
02:29 Caller: My name is <deleted from published recording>. 
02:31 UFORC: Is that your first name? 
02:31 Caller: Yes. 
02:32 UFORC: Okay. 
02:32 Caller: How many other calls you got about this tonight? 
02:35 UFORC: Oh, dozens. Now which, town were you at? 
02:39 Caller: Okay, Climax Springs, Missouri. Just like it sounds, Climax Springs. I don't know where they ever got that name. But, I'll tell you, I got several of my neighbours that saw the same thing I did. Three craft in formation, moving without any noise, in a cloud of mist. And I'm going to tell you what. I've never in my life experienced anything like this tonight, but my whole attitude just got a total rearrangement tonight, because I know I'm not nuts. I know what I saw. I was stone sober, and I don't do drugs, or anything like that. I'm a man with four kids. I know what I saw, and I know what my retired neighbours across the way saw. I know what my mother saw. I know what all the rest of us down here on this part of lake saw. We all saw the same thing, whatever this thing was, I'll guarantee you the Air Force don't have no machines like this. My brother in-law is in the Air Force big-time. He sent me pictures of the SR-71 Blackbird before they were even supposed to exist. 
03:41 UFORC: Okay. 
03:42 Caller: America don't have nothing like this. You know what I'm saying? 
03:45 UFORC: Right. 
03:45 Caller: Whatever this was, it wasn't Russian or American, and so it leaves to mind to have to decide what the hell it definitely was, but I'll guarantee you what - whatever these things were, they were large, they were silent. Why they were covered in mist, I don't know, but the cloud of mist moved along with them. You understand what I'm saying? 
04:08 UFORC: Right.
04:08 Caller: It preceded them as they moved through the sky. The noses of these craft never broke this cloud of steam or mist, whatever you want to call it. It constantly preceded them, and as this thing moved through the sky it made no noise, and there was - each one of them was definitely loaded with multiple occupants, that were staring out windows. They were looking out the windows, sight-seeing man! These things were sight-seeing. Whatever they were, they were sight-seeing. And they stopped so close to me, to look at me. And I could see no seams. They were close enough that I could see no seams, no rivets, no plates on this craft. The skin of this vehicle was totally smooth. Totally smooth! And it was matte. There was no shine. It was flat-textured. 
04:54 UFORC: Okay. 
04:55 Caller: No shine. Whatever it was man, I’m going to tell you what, it was real bizarre. Definitely cigar-shaped, but it had these two pods on the back that shone out light like flashlight beams, and they were awful damn close to me. Awful damn close. Scared the shit out of me. 
05:11 UFORC: Did you hear any, or feel any increase of temperature in the air at the time? 
05:15 Caller: Not that I recognized, but I’m telling you what. I was so scared, I don’t know I’d have noticed it if there was. 
05:22 UFORC: Okay. 
05:22 Caller: I was so scared, I don’t know if I’d have noticed it if there was, but I can tell you this: that they were close enough to me, that the steam cloud that surrounded these craft perpetually, as they moved through the air, covered the trees in my yard - covered the trees all over my hill, and that’s no kidding, because that third one, when it dropped down far enough so that it’s windows could look out at me too, it was virtually touching the tops of the treetops on top of my hill here, and I’m almost to the top of the hill. I’m about 50-60 feet off the lake, and the top of the hill is probably 150 feet from me where it crests. 
06:02 UFORC: Could you see any movement of the top of the tree at all? 
06:04 Caller: No. 
06:05 UFORC: Okay. 
06:05 Caller: There was no movement of anything but these craft, but they were moving slow, my man! 
06:08 UFORC: Okay. 
06:09 Caller: I’m telling you, these things did not move fast. They idled away, so to speak. You understand what I’m saying? 
06:14 UFORC: Yes. 
06:15 Caller: And when they came into view for me, they were like idling into view. And when they idled into view, it was really bizarre. I mean for some reason, my body just turned around and looked up, and I just saw this cloud of mist boil up, like right out of a movie or something. It didn’t look real. And when it boiled up and moved over, then you saw these things move into view. And then they also moved into view, they stopped. And then when they stopped, the mist thinned. And then they moved into this stair-step position, so that all three of them could look out the windows of all three of these craft. And they stood and stared at me – I don’t know how long that was. I don’t know whether they stared at me for 15 seconds or whether they stared at me for 15 minutes, because the problem was, I walked – I had just loaded the fireplace with wood. I put on my coat and I walked out the bottom story of my house. Everybody else was upstairs. I walked out, and went out into the driveway, so I don’t know how long I was standing out there in the driveway with them staring at me, because – but I do know that I was trying to yell and scream for everybody inside the house, and I was not able to. And I was not able to yell and scream until they got through with looking at me, so to speak, and started to move away. The minute – I mean the very instant that those craft started to move away and started initiating a forward movement again, then all of a sudden my body would move, and that’s when I ran right in the house and started screaming, “<unintelligible> everybody, come out here right now. I mean I was screaming like a madman. Come out here, see this right now, because I thought I was nuts. I thought I had lost my mind. I mean I was freaking out. I said, “come out here and look at this right now, and everybody – I was so hysterical that everybody ran out immediately and they all saw them too. And a whole bunch of people in our area did. And then that’s when my brother and I went up on top of the hill. He got scared. He was so scared, he came back down to the house. He wouldn’t even wait up there with me. 
08:06 UFORC: Okay, how many other people saw that? What’s the total number? 
08:09 Caller: Well, in my family alone, ten. 
08:11 UFORC: Okay. 
08:11 Caller: Because everybody’s here this week. I have four kids. My brother’s got three. I mean, not a young - I’m not 20 years old, okay? 
08:18 UFORC: What is your age? 
08:18 Caller: I’m 34. 
08:19 UFORC: Okay. 
08:20 Caller: But then I stood up on top of the hill, with my binoculars, and I’m looking around the horizon, and this pickup truck drives up, sees me standing there, and they stop, and they roll down their window, and the first thing they said to me was, “you saw it too, didn’t you?” And I said, “yeah, I saw something, what’d you see?” And they go, “oh we don’t know. What’d you see?” And, they were like real apprehensive, you know? And I said, well, I’m not sure what I saw, but I saw something floating through the sky. They said, “so did we”. They said, “how many of them did you see?” I said, “I saw three”. They said, “so did we”. I said, “in a cloud of mist?” They said, “yeah”. I said, “where’d you see them?” And then they opened up a little more, after it was obvious that we both agreed on what we had saw. And they said they were sitting down around Climax Springs, and they saw craft hover across [highway] 7. This is a retired couple, now, they’re both grey haired, and they proceeded to tell me that they shut off their – when they saw them, they realized that something was strange with the craft, the fact the lights were shining in the opposite direction that the craft were moving, that they stopped their truck, shut off the lights, put it in park, shut-off the motor and got out. When they realized that they heard no engine noise, they tried to get their cameras. For some reason, and this is what the strangest thing is that struck me about what they said, was they go, “but we couldn’t get our lens caps off the cameras”. Now, that seems real strange. Now I don’t know whether they really got pictures, or whether they really couldn’t get their lens caps off the cameras , but I’ll tell you one thing, I really couldn’t move out in the driveway, so I believe them. In the sense, maybe I believe them in the sense that they couldn’t get the lens caps off their cameras, because I know as long as those things stood – for however long that was they stood there and hovered away from me, I was not able to move or scream, and I’m twenty feet from the plate glass windows of my house, where everybody’s sitting in the living room watching TV. And if I’d have been able to scream, they could have heard me instantly. They’d have heard me yell. I mean down here in this part of the country, it’s so quiet – we’ve got no traffic, there’s no road noise, there’s no airplane noise. I mean it’s dead silent. If somebody screams a half mile away, you can hear them. And I couldn’t scream. These people couldn’t get the lenses off their cameras. 
10:29 UFORC: Do you see them quite often? 
10:31 Caller: I’ve never seen them before in my life. They live on Coffman Bend 11. Now let me explain to you what that means. On every cove of the lake, one side of the cove will be Coffman Bend 2, the next side of the cove is Coffman Bend 3, okay? 
10:43 UFORC: Okay. 
10:44 Caller: And you have lots and lots and lots of coves. Get out your map of Missouri, and look up Lake of the Ozarks, it’s in central Missouri, just west of Jefferson City, just south of Sedalia and Columbia, just north of Springfield. 
10:55 UFORC: Okay. 
10:55 Caller: Lake of the Ozarks. You’ll get the picture, although the map will not show you how many coves the lake actually has, because the lake’s like a 110 miles long, but we’ve got 1,456 miles of shoreline. That tells you we’ve got a lot of coves. So the map doesn’t tell you all the coves. Now in our area, it’s known as Coffman Bend, and the first cove’s Coffman Bend 1, the other side of the cove – the north side of the cove – is Coffman Bend 2. Then the next cove you come to – the south side of the cove – is Coffman Bend 3; the north side of cove is Coffman Bend 4. Savvy? 
11:22 UFORC: Right. 
11:22 Caller: Well, I’m Coffman Bend 7; these people live on Coffman Bend 11. 
11:26 UFORC: Okay. 
Caller: So they live, you know, four coves or so away from me, whatever the case may be. But they definitely stopped and tried to photograph it, but they tell me they weren’t able to. Now I don’t know whether they were just telling me that because really weren’t able to, but they tell me they couldn’t get the lenses – they said they were not able to remove the lenses from the cameras. And I know that I wasn’t able to yell to my family inside the house until these craft started to move away. The minute they started to move away, my body could move again, and man the first thing I did was run in the house and start screaming, <unintelligible> everybody, get out here now and look at this. And I brought all four adults out there, and of course one of the children was way too young, but the other six of the children all saw it too. In fact, the 
children that ranged in ages from six to ten, were so scared I had to really give some rationalized accountances for what it meant. 
12:24 UFORC: Okay. 
12:24 Caller: These are children, and they go to church. They don’t understand what UFOs are about. Me, myself I don’t go to church, but my mother and the rest are real religious – they go to church every weekend – Sabbath school – you know their comprehension is Jesus is born 2000 years ago, and we’re you know… 
12:40 UFORC: Right. 
12:41 Caller: …they don’t grasp things like the fact that somebody else may live on another planet, that makes us look ignorant. But, I’m going to tell you what. After tonight, I believe wholeheartedly that somebody’s, somewhere out there, because I’m going to tell you what. Whatever these things were, I know I don’t have hallucinations. I know, I don’t have hallucinations. I know what I saw and even if I did have hallucinations, all my neighbours don’t have the same exact hallucination. 
13:04 UFORC: Right. 
13:04 Caller: Not all my neighbours, but some of my neighbours don’t have the same exact hallucination. My brother, my girlfriend, my mother, my sister in-law, and my kids aren’t going to have the same hallucination. I got four kids. They all saw it. And, I mean it shook them up. Big time. They don’t, you know, they don’t comprehend stuff like that. When they see something like that they think of the Day the Earth Stood Still, or something, you know? 
13:26 UFORC: Okay. Well thanks very much for calling, and if we get any follow-up on this, we’ll get back to you. 
13:31 Caller: All right. I would be real interested to know just what the hell it was. I’d be interested to know who else in my area saw it. 
13:39 UFORC: Okay. 
13:41 Caller: Have a good evening. 
13:42 UFORC: Thank you again. 
13:43 Caller: Bye. 
13:43 UFORC: Bye, bye. 
End of recording.
Associated Press excerpt of the Albany Herald, Dec 14, 1987.

Does the sighting correlate with the re-entry trajectory?

From the interview, Ted remarked that the witness described his mid-Missouri location at the time of the sighting in sufficient detail to locate it with great precision. In part 2 of the recording, beginning at 10:31, he explained that he lived on one of the numerous coves of Lake of the Ozarks, and at 11:22 he stated that he was on Coffman Bend 7, which is readily found to be near 38.2039 N, 92.9642 W:

Ted calculated the key events of the re-entry trajectory visible from that location. The emphasis (in bold of the third line of the table) is important here: 

CST          AZ    EL    km     deg/s       Description
20:47:10   302      0    1130   0.08         Rose above horizon
20:48:50   286    10    422     0.47         climbed to 10 deg elev.
20:49:10  273    15    300     0.94          climbed to 15 deg elev.
20:49:24   256    20    232     1.56         climbed to 20 deg elev.
20:49:40   224    24    197     2.20         culminated 24 deg in SW
20:49:56   191    20    224     1.71         descended to 20 deg elev.
20:50:10   173    15    286     1.06         descended to 15 deg elev.
20:50:27   161    10    382     0.60         descended to 10 deg elev.
20:51:56   144      0    899    0.10          Set below horizon

The absolute trajectory time uncertainty is ~30 s and the elevation uncertainty at culmination ~1 deg.

As we can read in the interview, the witness was uncertain of the time of the sighting, but he stated ~9 PM ("God, I don't know, about 9 o'clock"), therefore the witness' estimation regarding the time of his sighting is actually close to the space re-entry time. What about the trajectory? Did the "UFO" trajectory correlate with the space re-entry trajectory? The witness provided little information on the trajectory of the UFO, but it was sufficient to evaluate the re-entry trajectory, stated Ted Molczan: "The witness described his location as hilly, with trees, which Google Maps confirms. This probably restricted his view of the trajectory to the portion above about 15 deg elevation, which lasted about 60 seconds". His initial sighting is described in part 1 of the recording, at 09:10 (see above). As we read him, when the UFO appeared, he was "looking out across the lake". Because he lived on a cove on the west shore of Lake of the Ozarks, it means he was facing substantially east. Then, he happened to turn around, which meant he now faced substantially west, and it was then that he saw the UFO approaching low over the trees. The above ephemeris states that the approaching re-entry trajectory reached 15 deg elevation at azimuth 273 - west.

We can say with a great level of likelihood that there is strong evidence that his UFO occurred at about the same time and on the same trajectory as the re-entry.

Earlier, we provided an excerpt of an Associated Press newspaper. Regarding the mist or fog reported by the witness to have surrounded the UFO, the AP report includes a very similar description from an observer located ~275 km to the SSW of Lake of the Ozarks: Tom DeMont of Siloam Springs, Ark., said he saw two sets of lights, "maybe 100 feet long, twin sets of light". DeMont said fog appeared to come from the lights, "like there were clouds around it". Notice the other reports never mention humanoid beings... The Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. witness provided few details of the object's motion, but his description of their west-east orientation, and eastward motion, is reasonably consistent with the above re-entry trajectory. 

In other words, the two witnesses (as others) saw the very same stimuli (the space re-entry), but only our witness mentioned humanoid beings and this CE-3 component in the narrative. If there was a fortean craft "accompanying" the space re-entry with humanoids aboard, why did the other reports not mention this component? Why no corroboration by other witnesses of the CE-3 component? Or, in reverse, why did our witness (or others) never mention two flying objects, aka the space re-entry and the "space craft"? Because the witness' aircraft and the stimulus of the other reports are one, the space re-entry. Remember that a car stopped and its occupants discussed with the witness. They probably saw the same stimulus, and not far away from his own sighting, but no CE-3 component. The CE-3 component is then probably a "detail" added by the witness because, as introduced before, individuals witnessing the very same event nevertheless produce different narratives. We will return to this CE-3 component later.

What about the "departure" of the UFO? Did it correlate with the space re-entry? Again, Ted Molczan did the analysis, and he noticed that the witness described the departure in part 1, at 04'50'': "They started moving out across the lake at the 51 mile marker, here, in mid-Missouri." The reference to "the 51 mile marker" establishes that the objects passed south of him.

The Lake and its markers.
That lake is particularly "unusual", in that it is very long (110 miles), narrow and sinuous. Positions on the lake are specified with respect to mileage markers at 1 mile intervals. Assuming the markers are in the middle of the lake, here is the approximate location of marker 51 on Google Maps:

Google Map representation of the 51 mile marker mentioned in the interview by the witness and "where" the "departure" of the UFO took place.
Mile Marker 51 is then about 1.1 km south of the witness's approximate position on Coffman Bend 7. The azimuth from that point on Coffman Bend 7 to mile marker 51 is ~167 deg. The uncertainty is +/- ~20 deg, given that we do not know the witness's exact position, and the ~850 m width of the lake at mile marker 51. We can, however, reasonably conclude that the witness's description of the departure of the objects taking them over the lake, was in the same approximate direction as the departure leg of the re-entry trajectory, as seen from his location (see the previous table when the space re-entry starts her descent below the horizon, Az: 173° then 161° and finally 144°).

The following image represents a day aerial view of the scene oriented with south at the top. Coffman Bend 7 is clearly labelled near the lower right. The witness almost certainly lived in one of the houses within the yellow bordered box, which spans about 150 m along Coffman Bend 7. A span across Lake of the Ozarks, at the 51 mile marker, has been drawn. When the witness lost sight of the UFO, he drove to higher ground, almost certainly by driving west on Coffman Bend 7.

Now, we attempt to simulate the different events of the UFO for the witness and how it correlates with the space re-entry. Concerning the apparition of the UFO: Before he spotted the UFO, he was "looking out across the lake", which was to his east. Then, he turned around, which means he now faced west, and it was then that he spotted the UFO, as it rose above the trees. The following graphic depicts the re-entry trajectory not long after it rose in the west. The alternating red and white line segments each represent distance travelled during 10 s of time. The caption at 02:49:10 UTC (8:49 PM CST), corresponds to azimuth 273 deg, almost due west, and elevation 15 deg relative the true horizon, which is obscured by hills. The trees are not shown, but given the proximity and grade of the hill, even ones of modest height would have reached 15 deg elevation in that direction. The re-entry trajectory was 83 km above the Earth, and 300 km from the witness.

Culmination and then middle period of the UFO sighting. The next graphic shows the trajectory near the point of culmination (which is the maximum elevation of the space re-entry), which occurred at about 02:49:40 UTC, at azimuth 224 deg (SW), elevation ~24 deg above the true horizon. The trajectory had descended to 80 km, and was at its closest approach to the witness, about 197 km. He reported the distance of the UFO as no more than 300 ft (90 m). In part 2 (1'17'' to 1'38) of the recording, he estimated its length between that of the fuselage of a Boeing 727 and a Boeing 747. That corresponds to a physical length between 35 m and 70 m, which at 90 m range, would subtend between 21 deg and 42 deg of arc, which is huge. At the 197 km range of the re-entry, the corresponding length would have been between 72 km and 144 km, which is not unusual for a re-entry fireball and its trailing debris.

Figuring the culmination of the space re-entry.
Under-estimation of the distance between observers and space re-entry is a common feature in space re-entry narratives (seen as UFO or not). It is then not a surprise that it is the case for this witness. More generally, it is impossible for a witness to estimate the real distance between him and "lights in the sky" if the stimulus is not identified or known for what it is in reality. So, the witness's perception of the distance of such lights from him was vastly and understandably in error. He reported their closest approach as 200-300 ft. (0.06-0.09 km), at which point they were actually no closer than ~197 km away. At departure, he placed them over Mile Marker 51, ~1.1 km away, when they were actually 200-400 km distant.

Concerning the departure of the UFO, we have seen it correlates with the space re-entry. The following image depicts the re-entry trajectory in relation to the 51 mile marker. The lake was obscured by the hill immediately to his south and south-east, but he knew where it was, about 1.1 km to his SSE. At 02:50:10 UTC, the re-entry trajectory was in line with the centre of the lake, at azimuth 173 deg (just east of south), about 15 deg above the true horizon, descending below the elevation of the treetops. It had descended to 77 km altitude, and was now 286 km away, and rapidly receding. In little over a minute, it would have passed below the true horizon. By the time the witness drove the short distance west to higher ground, the re-entry was gone; so was the UFO. He stood atop his car with binoculars waiting for its possible return, but he never saw it again, as expected because the space re-entry was now below the horizon.

Depicting when the space re-entry reached and disappeared below the horizon.

The witness provided vastly more detailed descriptions of the appearance and small-scale behaviour of the phenomenon than he did of its overall trajectory. We can divide the appearance of the UFO into four main features.

The first is the craft appearance. Three (3) cigar-shaped craft,  no cockpit, wings, or tails,- fuselage length estimated between Boeing 727 and 747, rows of windows along fuselage, resembling porthole windows of a jet liner, number of windows: 15-20 min, 30 max, pods at the aft end, like engines on a 727, green glow of low intensity on top of pods, light beam similar to car headlights in fog emanated from rear of pods, facing direction opposite UFO's motion, intense bright light emanated from the windows, each craft surrounded by a grey-white mist or fog, this mist dissipated somewhat when the objects were closest to the witness and in a hover, enabling him to see the occupants in the windows, despite the bright light emanating from within and it was silent. The "airship effect" is common when individuals witness or draw space re-entries. We provided examples in a previous chapter, and you will find more of them in previous blog entries, mainly in our article about the 1896/97 UFO wave. Zond IV space re-entry provoked same "airship effect".

The second could be the formation flight. The three craft flew in formation side by side, they manoeuvred to permit the occupants in the windows of each craft to observe the witness, accomplished by closest craft flying higher than other two, which could manoeuvre to raise in stair-steps. Well, Gestalt-theory and its laws explain perfectly some of the "airship effect", and why people perceive moving points (here lights) having the same trajectory to have a "common fate". The lights are then transformed and elaborated as objects or craft in formation, and yes the different debris of a space re-entry have a common fate. Again, Zond IV space re-entry reports mentioned this "typical" feature perceived by witnesses ("Formation flight""They flew in a perfect military formation."). One a priori major discrepancy between the UFO's behaviour and that of the re-entry, was that the UFO stopped and hovered for a period of time that the witness could not estimate. The witness may have been the subject of what is called autostasis, which is to perceive stopping of objects known to be moving in reality.

Capture of The Dictionary of Psychology by Raymond J. Corsini
Autostasis is defined in French GEIPAN as "Even more rare, an inverse phenomenon [to the autokinetic effect] can take place. During the sighting of a plane which was perceived as a UFO, some witnesses described it as stationary despite that it was moving during this time; other individuals close to them didn't make this error. It is this phenomenon which explains why witnesses of satellites (which move constantly) sometimes believe they are stopping or changing direction. This phenomenon appears when observing luminous points without landmarks, and as with the autokinetic effect, it is due to movements of the eyeballs". The term is also present in the Zond IV study (Ibid.). Or, another definition is "autostasis (sometimes called reverse autokinesis) which is the apparent cessation of motion of an observed travelling object resulting from irregular movements of the eyeballs as they attempt to follow. This phenomenon has led observers of artificial satellites to report them as UFOs which make repeated stops on their flight paths".
The third CE-3 component is the humanoid occupants. Definitely had a human shaped body, the heads were human shaped, with large eyes, detectable by dark areas on head where eyes would be expected, no visual appearance of hair or ears, but intense light from windows made it difficult to be certain, "had arms that they could point at me, like you and I would point at something", were pointing at witness and conversing about him, "stared at me like I was a zebra in the zoo, like a lion in a cage, you know, an insect in a jar." Among the several reports made that evening, this witness is in our knowledge the only one to report this CE-3 component. In our impression, Robert Gribble conducted a good interview of the witness. The Cognitive Interview is a method used by psychologists and criminologists to collect testimonies in order to minimize co-influence factors between the witness and the interview, to minimize false memories and to control other possible well known biases. On a side note, French CNES/GEIPAN has adapted the Cognitive Interview for the collection of UFO reports and is implementing the technique for use by investigators delegated to interview UFO/UAP witnesses. In 2010, in my book, I already suggested to adapt the technic for "ufology", so I'm very happy of that.

One of the major points of the Cognitive Interview is to encourage free narration, to avoid suggestive or forced choice questions. Gribble did a good job for us regarding such points. But after collecting the testimony itself, it is important, especially in ufology, to use several tools in order to control other variables, obtained from the personality evaluation of the witness (for example fantasy prone personality tests) to his cultural background. As we have summarized before, the prevailing culture may influence perception, memorization and restoration of an event where a stimulus is perceived and mainly when not identified by the witness or seen for the first time. Of course, we can't blame Gribble to have not done that, because it is not his job. However, because the space re-entry correlates with the witness UFO sighting, and the event had been seen by other witnesses, from close to him and other places, and because the CE-3 components are not present in the other narratives, such a post-interview to evaluate different possible variables (psychosociological and cultural) is necessary, regardless of what people believe about this sighting. In 2015, it is too late to evaluate the personality of the witness. However, psychology has demonstrated that some individuals (fantasizers) who have difficulties to differentiate fantasy and reality, may experience "hallucinations", self-suggested images depending on cultural background as self-suggested physiological effects. Another well-known personality trait is what is called absorption which is when an individual becomes totally absorbed in his (internal) mental imagery. Again, this disposition or personality trait can be evaluated by psychological tools, like thTellegen Absorption Scale or inherent to different Multidimensional Personality QuestionnaireOf course, using a battery of tests on a UFO witness is very difficult and delicate for the researchers or investigators, because it places the witness in a situation in which the authority (here the investigator or psychologist) may appear to believe him to be mad or psychopathologic. Critics, aka some ufologists, believe that "skeptics" are trying to psychopathologize UFO witnesses when they are addressing or suggesting such leads in order to try to explain and to rationalize UFO sightings, or when a CE-3 component is present in the narrative. This is more frequent when "skeptics" or academic psychology address the abduction phenomenon subject. But to encourage a witness in his CE-3 (or more when it concerns abduction) as some ufologists and pseudo-therapists did or do is in our opinion more reprehensible and dangerous.

Concerning the question whether such psychological, sociopsychological and cultural variables can explain the CE-3 component of the sighting, or not, we will never know for this case. But Ted Molzcan's impressive work demonstrates that the space re-entry correlates with the sighting. The correlation is "multiple": time, azimuth, and for other components we have already presented. Others reports and witnesses that evening narrated two to four objects, the mist and fog, but not the alien being. Did he see three cigar-shaped craft with visible alien beings aboard or the space re-entry, stimulus he misperceived (understandably) and for which he added details? Is his narrative the "expected" product of inter-individual variability when individuals perceive, memorize and restore such an event? It seems we have delivered much evidence that it is highly probable to be the case.

In the interview, it seems the witness had a UFO background, for example when mentioning the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. And the family had a religious background too. Did he imagine such occupants and why? We will never know for sure. Another cultural reference by the witness during the interview was to the Poltergeist. It seems too that the witness considered himself as different and more "open-minded" than his family circle. "These are children, and they go to church. They don’t understand what UFOs are about". "They don’t grasp things like the fact that somebody else may live on another planet, that makes us look ignorant." Did the witness have some sort of significant but unstated conflict with his family circle and then "fantasized" the space re-entry? We will never know about the pertinence or not of such leads for this case. Anyway, such details in a relatively short interview suggests that the witness is not culture-free regarding UFOs. Did his UFO background provide him an interpretative grid to a stimulus he had not identified (understandably) for what it was, the space re-entry? That's possible.

The last features in the narrative are the physiological effects on the witness: Unable to move his body while UFO hovered near him and occupants observed him, wanted to scream at this time, but could not, regained mobility and voice once UFO resumed its eastward flight. Well, mundane stimulus like the Sun can generate UFO/UAP/Unusual objects reports, so more complex (but prosaic) like space re-entries too. In this recent report where we have determined the Sun was the stimulus, the witness confessed and admitted he had chills from head to toe. Surprise, fear, impression and stupefaction to believe (understandably) enables an extraordinary event to provoke physiological effects, or, a posteriori, you can imagine some: the spectacle offered stuns some of UFO (in reality IFO) witnesses. For example and from a review of the excellent book The UFO Handbook by Allan Hendry, the phenomenological analysis of IFO cases is startling. Extreme emotional responses are recorded in a significant number of (IFO) cases. What is one to make of IFO case no. 871, where a star changing colour, caused one witness to pray, fearing the end of the world... Or the terror provoked by the Moon in case n° 280 which "made my hair stand on end"? Or sightings of stars which caused responses like "scared to death", "torn between terror and curiosity", or "a sign, premonition". This sort of reaction makes one wonder if there are any clear dividing lines between IFOs and UFOs. Such physiological effects are real in the sense the witness feels and experiences it or them, but may be auto-suggested.

Gilles Fernandez. Janvier 2015.

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