Are We Alone?

According to a January 6, 2009, story in The New York Times, scientists have discovered that the sun travels through the Milky Way galaxy at 600,000 miles per hour, 100,000 mph faster than previously thought – apparently while still in first gear. This same story also revealed that a recent measurement of the Milky Way galaxy showed it to be larger than the Andromeda galaxy, previously thought to be far larger than the Milky Way. I guess even in the farthest reaches of the universe, size matters.

For most people it is difficult to comprehend the vast distances between galaxies; it can be mind-numbing enough just imagining a sign showing the number of miles to the next exit. But what about the possibility of life among the stars? Are we alone in the universe? And if not, why do we keep getting their voice mail? The notion that humans alone are the only intelligent life in the universe smacks to some as the height of arrogance, especially if you happen to be watching us on cable.

I, for one, was excited at the possibility that travelers might ride this interstellar autobahn and visit other worlds, or at least eat out once a month, so I turned to that noted history authority, Classic Comics, and began reading about the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek, astrophysicist and civilian consultant to the U.S. Air Force on Project Blue Book, the military’s vast investigation into the phenomenon of Unidentified Flying Objects or UFO’s. It was Dr. Hynek who conceived the famous Close Encounter scale, used for classifying UFO’s and first dates.

Close Encounter of the First Kind – A sighting of one or more unidentified flying objects.

• Flying saucers, or other flying china or earthenware;
• Odd lights;
• Even lights;
• A cow jumping over the moon (hey, diddle-diddle).

Close Encounter of the Second Kind – An observation of a UFO and its associated physical effects.

• Heat, radiation or damage to terrain, such as an irregularly mowed lawn;
• Human paralysis in the form of standing with one’s mouth agape for more than a minute;
• Frightened animals, especially those dialing 9-1-1;
• The phenomenon of Lost Time, i.e., a gap in one’s memory, often experienced after one has been nabbed wearing a ski mask and carrying a crowbar.

Close Encounter of the Third Kind – Popularized by the movie of the same name, “animate beings” observed in association with a UFO sighting. Some of UFO researcher Ted Bloecher’s proposed subtypes are included here.

• An entity observed only inside a UFO, usually one that did not pay the fee to step outside the UFO;
• An entity observed inside and outside the UFO – at the same time;
• An entity observed near a UFO, but refusing to enter it until the air conditioning is turned on;
• An entity is observed, but UFO’s have left the area, returning shortly to tease the entity before allowing it back onboard;
• An entity is observed alone, looking for his wallet;
• No entity or UFO’s are observed, but the subject experiences some kind of “intelligent communication,” known familiarly as a psychotic event.

Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind – A human abducted by a UFO or its occupants; this has replaced immaculate conception as a reported cause of unwanted pregnancy. This type was not included in Dr. Hynek’s original close encounters scale.

Close Encounter of the Fifth Kind – Added by Dr. Steven M. Greer, founder of the Orion Project and CSETI, these purported encounters are joint, bilateral contact events produced through voluntary, proactive, human-initiated or cooperative communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence. In one reported event we received a device to annihilate all life on earth in exchange for a Cross Pen and Pencil Set.

Close Encounter of the Sixth Kind – When ET borrows money.

In 1969 the Air Force shut down Project Bluebook; its high-tech office was returned to its former use as a utility closet and its staff were returned to their prior duties in the mess hall. The Air Force had concluded that, save for 700 or so cases, most UFO sightings could be explained away as natural phenomena, mass hysteria or the result of a severe beating. Dr. Hynek, however, had experienced something of an epiphany, believing there may be an extraterrestrial explanation behind the sightings.

A closer look at a selection of these UFO incidents may well help to shed further light on the existence of extraterrestrial life, and embarrass the name of the good doctor forever.

The Case of Lonnie Zamora

Lonnie Zamora was a police officer in Socorro, New Mexico in 1953 when, while on duty, he witnessed a metallic, egg-shaped aircraft near, oddly enough, Socorro, New Mexico. Zamora claimed he saw two humanoid occupants outside the craft. Seeing Zamora, they went back into their craft and beat a hasty departure. They apparently left physical evidence of their presence, as there were indentations of the landing gear in the ground, and cigarette butts strewn about.

As of this date, no entirely adequate explanation has been presented to contradict Zamora’s account — in fact, in a secret memo to the CIA, Project Blue Book’s director at the time, Major Quintanilla, expressed his own bafflement at the case, saying he was under the impression that the aliens preferred a pipe.

Flying Disk Seen by U.S. Senator

On October 13, 1955, while traveling in the Transcaucasus region of the former Soviet Union, U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr. (D-GA), then-chairman of the U.S. Armed Services Committee, was on a train when he spotted a disk-shaped craft taking off near the tracks. Sen. Russell hurriedly called to his military aide and interpreter, and, figuring it would easily beat his train to the next station, asked him to book him a seat on the spacecraft. A minute after the aide had replaced the senator’s screwdriver with straight orange juice, another disk appeared on the rail tracks – this time witnessed by all. The disk rose and hovered above the train, and then shot up at an enormous speed, leaving stranded several aliens who had stopped off to buy souvenirs.

The 1966 Tully Saucer Nest

On January 19, 1966, George Pedly, a banana farmer near Tully, Australia, was driving his tractor past his blue lagoon when he heard a misfire in the motor. Leaning forward to listen, he heard a hissing noise he thought was either a tire leaking air or the usual greeting he received from his neighbors. To his astonishment, a large saucer-shaped object suddenly rose from the lagoon, ascended to the treetops, tilted on its side – resembling the way Frank Sinatra wore his hat during his Rat Pack days – and, in a fantastic burst of speed, vanished in a southwesterly direction.

Mr. Pedley described the object as being 25 feet in diameter and silver gray in color, even though silver gray was not offered, even as an option, on any model until 1972 – and then only in combination with a black vinyl top. The UFO made no sound apart from the hissing noise, and the total duration of the sighting lasted only about 4 seconds, which, Mr. Pedley recounted, reminded him of his wedding night.

Kirtland Air Force Base 1980 UFO Landing

On the morning of August 9, 1980, security guards saw a bright light briefly land at the Manzano Weapons Storage Area, Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico, zip code 87102. The UFO rose rapidly and proceeded four miles to a bunker used to store nuclear weapons, where it landed, staying on the ground for several minutes before taking off.

The incident was investigated by Richard Doty of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Doty determined that, whereas the head – military jargon for bathroom – at the Manzano facility was an older model with a pull-chain hanging from an overhead box, the facility at the nuclear weapons bunker had been recently renovated and included hand dryers.

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Whether our planet is a destination for frequent galactic flyers, an exotic wild game preserve, or a land of opportunity for itinerant day laborers, these incidents leave no doubt that Earth has been and continues to be visited by beings that can only be described as extraterrestrial, or at least someone without matching luggage.

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