NY UFO Sightings Subject Of MSNBC/WNBC Report C/588318.asp
STILLWATER, NY - As the last Halloween of the millennium approaches, the hundreds of members of UFO groups in New York state are watching the skies more than ever and investigating reports of unusual sightings. The 1990s have produced more sightings in New York than in any decade since a small New Mexico town called Roswell made unidentified flying objects a mainstream topic.
Consider these reports:
April 10, 1978 - A shiny oval object is reported over the treeline of Saratoga Lake. Witnesses said that it moved sideways, hovered, then descended and disappeared 40 minutes later.
April 6, 1978 - A police officer and his family report a large oval object hovering near their home in Baldwinsville, Onondaga County. A bright flash of light followed 10 minutes later and power was cut off to 3,000 homes. They said a helicopter appeared and the object flew away. Four others in two separate sightings in the county report similar sights the next night.
Oct. 17, 1973 - Sixteen witnesses, including a policeman, report a rotating object in the sky with alternating colored lights. For 40 minutes it hovered over Gloversville, then darted away.
These kinds of sightings are no joke to those who take them seriously. Databases are being compiled to track for the first time sightings nationwide and New York state,s more than 200 reports since a Saturn-shaped object was reported flying slowly over Norwood, St. Lawrence, on July 3, 1884.
"More and more people are starting to be open to this," said James Bouck, a state regional director for the New York chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, and a UFO investigator. "More people believe there is something out there, something visiting us, or something the government isn,t telling us."
A Gallup poll in 1996 found that 71 percent of Americans said they believe the government is hiding something and that officials know about UFOs. Forty-five percent said they believe UFOs have visited, and 12 percent said they have seen a UFO.
UFOs and aliens are linked to the Halloween season by more than costumes and Orson Wells, 1938 broadcast of a Martian invasion that panicked thousands. Bouck, who is compiling the state database, said that now is the busiest time for reports, despite the fact that more people are outside in warmer months.
However, skeptics maintain that there are simple, everyday causes for 90 percent to95 percent of these reports. Two who will tell you that are Bouck and Mike Scritchfield of Rochester, a UFO investigator with the group Skywatch. Their objective is to prove the sightings are anything but out of this world. They almost always do. But among the cases for which no Earthly cause is determined, a few patterns appear to be emerging:
These investigators aren,t the techno-geek conspiracy theorists of the X-Files or other TV programs and movies. Bouck is a state auditor. Scritchfield, a retired chief warrant officer in Army Intelligence, is a college tennis coach working on his doctorate in education. They don,t say "these are reports of alien ships." They call them as they see them - objects that are unidentified, flying.
"Some say we,ve been visited for breeding, or to warn us of impending doom, or just studying us. It depends on who,s idea you want to consider," said Bouck. "We want to stay open to the possibility of whatever we learn - we don,t have enough information, we don,t have a smoking gun."
Critics from government officials to science-based magazines such as The Skeptical Inquirer also point to a lack of proof. Where is even one chunk of hardware? One undeniable photo? A footprint?
The counter-argument is as fervent as it is unprovable.
"I think there,s substantial evidence that the government knows a lot more than it,s talking about," said Dana Schmidt, state director of MUFON. "If there,s nothing to it, one wants to know why are they are keeping the secretive approach?"
The theory has it that hardware and more have been collected and secreted away by the government for research and to avoid mass panic. One of these research sites was long rumored, but never proven, to be at the former Rome Air Force Base in Oneida County.
The explosion of interest in UFOs fueled by television, movies, books and magazines could be because the government duped the entertainment industry.
"What better way to acclimate the public to the idea of extra-terrestrial life?" said Scritchfield, who worked in an Army Intelligence unit unrelated to the paranormal. "In a counter-intelligence mode, you start feeding bits and pieces. You get the public accustomed to thinking there is extra-terrestrial life out there, and somewhere down the road a ship lands in the mall in Washington or the government makes an announcement."