Do you believe in UFO's? Such an emotional issue, such passion on both sides. I know plenty of people who summarily dismiss even the possibility of UFOs as childish rubbish not even worthy of discussion. And yet others believe just as vehemently in their existence.
I used to live in one of the nation's hot-spots for UFO sightings. The Pensacola suburb of Gulf Breeze, Florida was the home of Ed Walters, a building contractor who claimed to have sighted and been visited by aliens on numerous occasions beginning in 1987. He even took photographs of their craft, the authenticity of which is still debated to this day. His story was chronicled in the book, "The Gulf Breeze Sightings."
There is a segment of society that vigorously, fervently debunks any such "flying saucer" stories. The debunkers went after Walters with great gusto. He was branded as a kook and a faker, and is still regarded rather unkindly in some circles. We haven't heard much from Walters lately, and in fact reports of UFO sightings have dropped off too.
For as long as I lived in Gulf Breeze and the Pensacola area (which was during Walters’ purported sightings), I never saw a single UFO. As a pilot, my eyes are always turned skyward (watching planes, the weather, etc.). But I've never seen anything even remotely puzzling or inexplicable. Some of my friends have though. They've seen lights that behaved in very strange, non-customary ways - at least, non-customary as we currently understand physics. And my friends are debatably not idiots or LSD-takers; they typically do not wear hats of tin-foil. You can read more about the Gulf Breeze controversy here. I think it gives a fairly objective overview of the events.
I bring this up because in his blog, a friend of mine (and current helicopter pilot for PHI), Hal Johnson has a link to another blog by a guy named Kevin Randle. Randle is a former Viet Nam helicopter pilot and author who's been involved in the subject of UFO's since the 1970's. Randle's blog is called, "A Different Perspective."
As far as modern "Ufology" is concerned, it all starts with an incident near Roswell, New Mexico back in June of 1947 (as the U.S. Army Air Forces was becoming the separate U.S. Air Force).
Now, depending on whom you believe, either an alien spaceship or a weather/spy balloon crashed on a ranch outside of Roswell. Either bodies were recovered or they weren't. The debate rages still. Kevin Randle is one of the foremost authorities on the Roswell incident. It is a subject of which he will not let go. His books stand alone in their steadfast adherence to known facts, not rumor or innuendo or hearsay and avoidance of hyperbole. He is baffled by the discrepancies in all of the stories, both official and unofficial.
To me, the most curious thing about about "Roswell" is that it happened before the invention of the Mighty American Spin Machine, before the days of smooth, slick public relations and disinformation campaigns. Indeed, Roswell may have been the impetus for them.
The discovery of an alien spaceship crash must have been huge news to the local military brass! The head of the Army Air Force base must have thought that this revelation would surely be greeted with great worldwide enthusiasm and excitement. So Air Intelligence Officer Major Jesse Marcel was directed to issue a press release stating that an alien disk had been found. Marcel had actually been out to the site and had seen the wreckage with his own eyes. But within days, this story was changed to say merely that a "weather balloon" had crashed.
Huh? Say what?
That's the thing that has always struck me as odd. Why would the military initially claim that a spaceship had crashed and been found? These guys weren't dummies; Roswell was a base for bombers with nuclear weapons (the 509th Bomb Group, the same one that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan). Major Marcel was not some uneducated, gullible boob private with a big imagination. Surely he could tell the difference between a weather balloon and "something else." But no, the military said that he was mistaken. Subsequently, he said he was mistaken too. He retracted his "alien spaceship" story and went with the weather balloon story.
Okay, back on topic, please. People are divided into two camps: Those who believe in UFO's and those who don't. But I think the real questions should be, "Do you believe in the possibility of alien life? Or are we 'it?’ Are we God's only living creation in the universe?" Which actually begs the question, "If you believe in God, whom you cannot see or prove the existence of, do you also believe in UFO's?"
Like I said, I've never seen a UFO. But I am open to the possibility that we are not the only life form in the universe. In other words, I don't dismiss them out of hand as so many do. I cannot prove they exist, but I won’t swear that they don’t.