Thursday, January 29, 2009


History Channel - Original Air Date: 1/28/09

In 2008, Britain, experienced a rash of UFO sightings, over 200 by August.  The team looks at a helicopter chase, a triangular UFO, and a UFO near a twister.  The show compares the current rash in England to the summer of 1952 flap in the US -- plenty of people seeing things in the sky.  The triangle and a silver object in a blue sky are pretty fuzzy in photos, but the team hopes to clean them up digitally.  The police copter chase was later denied by the cops, though Bill digs up a corroborating report from an airplane pilot who was in the area -- but he won't talk on camera.  Though there are a lot of witness reports, few provide solid evidence.  There is some speculation that the lights in the sky might be Chinese Fire Lanterns (a.k.a. ghost lights) -- tiny hot air "balloons" powered by candles that make them rise into the air and glow.  The show does a fire lantern test, but will the witness agree this is what she saw?  Nope (of course not).  She says what she saw had bright, electric lights.  The twister photo is a strange blur (unnoticed at the time) near a white funnel.  An optical expert doesn't think it's a piece of debris.  Ted's analysis rules out birds, insects, and other mundane objects.  They think the motion blur on the object means that the thing was moving faster than the 5/1000ths of the camera's shutter speed.  (But they don't mention that it might be blurred by the depth of field of the focus.  They seem convinced it's closer to the tornado, rather than something tiny closer to the camera.)  Sightings continue into September, though the show -- which must have been in production before then -- only mentions these new cases.

The lights look like lights to me--could be aircraft in formation or fire lanterns, or anything.  (Possibly even a military test vehicle.)  Lights in the night sky are just not great evidence.  The silver object certainly could be a Mylar balloon (see the Mexico episode of UFOs Over Earth), though the show doesn't mention this idea, or offer any other non-UFO explanation.  And the tornado footage seems more likely to me to be something tiny close to the camera. rather than something large near the funnel.  And, once again, I have to ask, with 200 British sightings in 2008, is this the best evidence they have?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

UFO HUNTERS - Alien Fallout

History Channel - Original Air date: 1/14/08

In December of 1980,near Houston, Texas, two woman and a boy were buzzed by a diamond-shaped object so hot it burned the women.  The craft was allegedly circled by helicopters before moving away.  The witnesses claim they saw (23) helicopters looking for something; others saw a craft moving over the trees.  Later, both women suffered mysterious illnesses and death.  The surviving boy, Colby, describes the craft spewing flame and heat at their car, and one of the women got out, fascinated.  Other witnesses also suffered illness.  A doctor opines that the symptoms the women had indicates radiation poisoning, though the hospital refuses to release their complete records (despite the doctor having treated one of the women for years).  Colby, now a man, seems to have no current medical effects from the incident -- though he was sick for several weeks after the incident.  Could there have been radiation damage to the road as well as the people?  Shortly after the incident, the road was torn up and resurfaced.  Road core samples prove inconclusive.  The crew talks to a military officer, who says the military has no record of 23 helicopters operating in that area -- though a hand-written note shows 100 copters landed at a nearby base that night.  However, other military people surreptitiously came to the women's doctor, and claimed that the craft they saw was a test of a "Wasp 2," a nuclear powered personnel transport, that went wrong.  The women sued the government and the military, but couldn't make the case stick.

In another case, in 1979, a Minnesota police officer's car was truck by a ball of light which broke the windshield, dented the car, and bent the areal.  Both the clock in the car and the officer's watch were 14 minutes slow after the incident.  The deputy first responder confirms some of the case's details to the team.  In a similar case in Australia, a family claimed to have their car lifted by a ball of light.  Amazingly, the police car from Minnesota survives, with the original impact marks.  Though the show says the evidence doesn't make sense (there should have been more damage at 65 mph), it seems to me that ball lighting, or some other EMF phenomenon might have caused such effects.

UFO team leader Bill insists that the Texas encounter is the work of Task Force 160 -- a secret military operations unit.  While I can't vouch for the unit identity, for once, I agree with Bill.  The features of this case have the hallmarks of a military test gone horribly wrong.  LIke the show's producers, I hope that details of such accident will some day be fully disclosed to the public.


History Channel - Original Air Date: 12/31/08

The show's crew go check out some old cases, including a famous photo that looks like a hat.  In 1954, physicist James E. McDonald and his meteorologist friends are driving through the Arizona desert when the notice an "aluminum" object hovering above the mountains -- none of them can identify it.  This case prompts McDonald to become an UFO researcher; now the crew picks up some of his old cases.  The first case they look at is the Rex Heflin "hat" photos from 1965; the second is the 1957 RB-47 UFO case, where an aircraft was pursued for 700 miles; the final case is the 1964 Zamora UFO landing case, witnessed by a New Mexico police officer.  McDonald believed the Air Force and other authorities were involved in covering up information about UFOs.

Heflin claimed to have photographed a UFO three times (with his Polaroid camera) as it flew over his car, and then photographed the smoke ring that it left when vanishing.  Project Blue Book dismissed the photos as fakes, but the show tracks down copies of the photos to McDonald's biographer.  Heflin claimed the photos were takein by NORAD only to be mysteriously returned years later.  Heflin died in 2005, sticking to his story even to the end.  Could Heflin have snapped 3 Polaroids in 20 seconds?  A Polaroid representative brings a 101 camera (same make & model) and finds he can do it in 17 seconds.  Could they be a double-exposure hoax (suggested by the deep depth of field)?  But the camera was capable of taking exposures focused from 3 feet to infinity--so depth of field proves nothing.  And the smoke ring photo could have clouds (while the others don't) because of automatic overexposure of the pictures taken from inside the truck's cab (washing out the sky).  The Polaroid expert says he saw no signs of hoaxes (wires, etc.) when he examined the duplicate prints.  The team then creates a 3D model of the photos, to test whether Heflin's estimates of the object -- 20' around at 700' away -- matches the photos.  And the team concludes that they do, and also that it's unlikely Heflin would have been able to guess how big an object would appear at that distance if what he said weren't true.

In the Zamora sighting, the officer heard a loud roar and saw a blue flame and went to investigate.  He found an egg-shaped craft about thirty feet wide (RV size) standing on four legs in the desert.  As he investigated, the craft took off, vanishing into the sky.  When other investigators arrived, plants were still smoldering from the craft's liftoff.  Lonnie Zamora is alive and agrees to speak to the show.  Zamora goes over his sighting, saying that at first he thought he was seeing an Air Force experiment.  The craft left indentations in the ground (apparently still visible(?!)), burned brush (confiscated by the FBI), and turned some of the sand to glass -- sand that the team discovers takes 2100 degrees to melt. The RB-47 case has lots of "hard" evidence, as the planes in question were equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.  During a mission, a strange hit appears on the RB's radar--a hit confirmed by other equipment.  Later a bright light sped directly toward the aircraft before mysteriously vanishing.  The RB sighting was confirmed both visually, by the aircraft's radar, and ground radar.  The team concludes the evidence for these two sightings is strong.

While the show claims to have brought modern technology (and investigative techniques) to these reexaminations, there is little evidence of that on the show. Mostly they seem to go over the McDonald evidence and agree with his conclusions.  While the Zamora and RB sightings remain very compelling, the Heflin photo still looks like a hat to me.  And it seems to me that rather than trying to prove such photos are real, it would be more useful to know how easily they could be faked.  (And my sense as a photographer is that they could be faked fairly easily.)  Unfortunately, the original Heflin photos still have not been computer analyzed -- another missed opportunity for UFO Hunters.

Monday, January 5, 2009

HISTORY'S MYSTERIES: Monsters of the Sea

History Channel - Original Air Date:

The show starts with a supposed sound recording of a lake monster from Sweden, and then quickly flashes through some intriguing looking video of various possible lake monsters.  It then talks about Champ (in Lake Champlain), and its history and sightings -- the earliest sighting may have been a gar pike.  But other people saw things that resembled dinosaurs, and the sightings continue to this day. The leading theories about Champ are that it is either a prehistoric reptile or whale.  One expert says it is a tanhysophius (sp?) a long-necked reptile with legs.  But that expert's Champ footage has been debunked as possibly just beavers crossing the lake.  The show then displays the famous long neck 1977 Champ photo.  What the photo shows remains unknown.  A quick recap of the discovery of the celocanth and the megamouth shark follows - indicating strange, unknown creatures may still be found in the future.

Dead specimines of an oarfish and a frill shark (very eel-like) are displayed, and the history of washed-up carcasses are discussed.  Could some of them have been giant octopuses? The New England sea serpent of 1641 is then discussed, and the 1870 Gloucester sighting.  (Sadly, no pictures, though 600 witnesses over a month of sightings.)  Various historical sea serpent sightings are then discussed.  One serpent supposedly slain by a fishing crew, was cut loose from a net rather than hauled into port.  What scientific information may have been lost in that decision is unknown -- unless it was just a fish tale.

A series of 1983 sea monster sightings in California are discussed, where many people saw a sea serpent frolicking in shallow water. The creature even swam toward some surfers -- who swear it was one long creature, and not a pod of whales or seals.  Scientific investigation of the serpents has not been helped by hoaxes and showman frauds (Barnum and others).  The show then moves onto Cadborosaurus "Caddy," in Canada.  A fuzzy film of Caddy is shown.  A sea serpent carcass supposedly from the stomach of a whale (fuzzy photo) disappeared before any scientists could investigate.

Ogopogo is then discussed, and its legend recounted.  More fuzzy films and pictures follow, as do witness sightings.  Only one local offers the explanation that Lake Okenagan is known to be populated by very large sturgeon.  Finally, the Loch Ness Monster is discussed, including photos (the famous fake), and even (scripted) motion picture clips.  Dr. Roy Mackal claims to have seen it, and thinks it's a zeuglodon (prehistoric whale).  Attempts to find the monster and famous hoaxes are discussed (including the "surgeon's photo").  The show concludes that thoug skeptics and believers may never agree, sea monsters, and sightings of them, are here to stay.

This is a decent overview of the phenominon of sea & lake monsters, but offers very little in the way of tangible evidence or scientific analysis.  If you're looking to get up to speed on sea and lake monsters, this may be useful.  For the rest of us, there's nothing new or particularly insightful.

Uncanny Merchandise

You, our listeners, requested it, so Linda (Godfrey) and I (Steve/Manwolf) decided to make some Uncanny Radio merchandise available using CafePress.  You'll find T-shirts, jackets, mugs, bags, clocks and all sorts of other things to order. Here's the URL:

Merchandising the show is still experimental at this stage, so when you buy stuff, make sure you drop us a line and let us know how you like the products.  We're always looking for ways to make your Uncanny Radio experience better!

Enjoy, and don't forget to check our page at BlogTalkRadio for upcoming live call-in shows!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Uncanny Radio Featured - New BTR URL

Happy news for the start of 2009!  Uncanny Radio has been selected as a featured show on Blog Talk Radio.

Unrelated to this, we've also changed the show's URL (now that we known it's going to work) from including my name to including the actual show name.  Adjust your links accordingly:

We've got an exciting live call-in show tonight (1/2/2009), at 8pm Central, featuring conversation about the Jersey Devil.  Be ready to call in and ask your questions during the second half of the show (after 8:30 Central).  The show will repeat on WBSD next week (1/7/09)

Thanks for all your support.  Help us keep UR a featured show on BTR!

-- Manwolf (Steve) & Linda