Fighter pilot, Royal Navy 1945, Hydrographer Iraq 1947-52 India 1952-53, Canadian Hydrographic Arctic explorer 1953-1960, Writer-producer Canadian National Film Board 1961-72, Freelance journalist, audio-visual producer 1972-2009, National Press Club of Canada 1961 - 2006

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Important Notice:
There are roughly (at times very roughly) six point something billion (6,???,???,??? billion) human beings living on planet Earth.
Though usually known by the madding crowd as ‘people’ these organisms were always known and classified, in the Royal Navy, simply as ‘ratings’.
This is the terminology used in this educational UFOugh offering...   

A Ramble along the Rocky Planetary Road 
to Alien Ratings

Recent astronomical observations disclosing the existence of a hitherto unknown multitude of earth-sized planets — many of them probably of a rocky composition — could well mean our contemporary blinkered world philosophy is on the verge of gaining fresh insight into the real nature of our solar system and the incredibly modest part it plays amid the actual mechanisms of universal existence.
Because the tantalizing possibility of there being other forms of life, distinct from our own terrestrial array, is now strengthened and appears to be obvious.

This will surely mean that all the ludicrous fictional ju-ju religious beliefs manufactured and practised by mystics, charlatans, propagandists, witch doctors, and other such artists throughout the many past millenniums since the dawn of history, and still amazingly noisily embraced either rampantly or softly muted, and still so pervasive even today, will soon be so discredited as to lead to their final blessed demise. 

Already there are indications by the more rational segments of society to entertain sober considerations of the seemingly increasingly reality of the hard core of facts in UFO sightings.  
This despite the continuation of dispassionate witnesses and moderate advocates being mocked by the majority of earthlings who are as yet still intellectually paralysed by the fairy tales indoctrinated into them from infancy by their elders, who were themselves, either gently or severely, mentally misled in similar fashion when children.
There is also derision from otherwise rational and educated people burdened with excessive ingrained codes of credence for reasons of blurry conformity.  They cannot visualize meeting alien ratings of similar intelligence to themselves.
Yet there is no reason to expect that our first contact with other vastly differently-evolved advanced life forms will compare in any understandable degree to our own uniquely developed but limited intelligence.

At last it appears, some earthly national governments are investigating the facts, tenuous as they are, and realizing that all the prosaic airline and military aircrew who have publicly recorded actual sightings (plus many more who do not, for fear of ridicule and potential harm to their careers) and also the scads of reports by other responsible ratings, and groups of ratings, could indicate that there actually may well be unknown super-intelligent ratings poking about inside our solar system’s boundaries.  
It’s all made out to be rather dopey by stories about little green men or beings with big heads, bulging eyes and other animal grotesqueness but basically built (as we’re so instructed by our own somehow superior religionist shipmates modestly clad in their long flowing gowns and funny head-dresses) in the likeness of our own particular genetic chief rating — usually known as God.
Even reputable science publications and organizations steer well clear of making plain comment in favour or against giving credence to the controversy — because of the possibility of further evidence unfolding either way in the near future. 
Surely more credence must be given to reports by clear-headed practical aviators than the fuzzy scary appearances, as related in religious fable, by feather-winged angels, playing trumpets, to ju-ju-believing shepherds of suspect reasoning powers.

But today, despite the automatic pooh-poohing by so many of our otherwise laudable senior leadership ratings, there is more likely evidence for the existence of intelligent other-world life forms, and thus a rational belief that those such ratings plausibly possess better forms of interplanetary travel than do we poor ratings who still have trouble designing even a decent and reliable toenail clipper.   
In fact, the evidence for the probability of existence of aliens who possess a capability for cosmic travel is much stronger than there is, or ever has been, for believing in the existence of any of the welter of gods generated through fanciful human imaginings over the past several thousands of years.  

The Vatican’s chief astronomer, one José Funes, when asked by the New Scientist magazine’s Eugenie Samuel Reich if religion affected his research agenda, replied that he had discussed the matter with the Pope and received complete freedom for research and so his astronomers studied planetary science, clusters of galaxies, cosmology, and the big bang — all of which seem quite appropriate subjects for any astronomer.
He also averred not to see any religious implications for Catholic theology by possible discoveries of extraterrestrial life.   So that’s all right then.  Full steam ahead.
(But on this point it now seems likely that Britain’s famed Second-World-War Prime Minister and the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, disagreed with the modern view held by the Vatican’s José Funes and the Pope.  Because evidently our W.W.II allied leaders banned the, newly-disclosed, RAF report of a soberly believable wartime UFO encounter, partly because they considered it would degrade the religious beliefs of the allied civilian population).

There is no earthly or cosmic reason to suspect that any of the ratings we may contact from other planets would appear or share similar characteristics with the assembly-line look-alike appearance as do most of we ratings here gathered together on planet Earth.  You know the type (just take a look in the bathroom mirror) — all we ratings with a wonky round head stuck atop a body full of gurgling fleshy plumbing apparatus, an arm thing sticking out on both sides and two legs poking out underneath.  (Yeah, plus motley other bits and pieces which we needn’t get into just now.  We’ve had enough trouble with those on our own planet).

With aliens having their own particular brands of chemistry, physics, brewing techniques and favourite comestibles it is highly unlikely that they would look, behave, or think anything remotely akin to that which we good and true ratings here ensconced on Earth consider normal.  And if they are a bit loopy and partial to cogitating about supreme beings they probably have their own distinctly godly ideas and views.  

So all in all, intriguingly, with new scientific observations confirming a plethora of planets of differing masses and gravity in orbit around a variety of stars, double stars, and even multiple stars, the likelihood of their harbouring very strange other life forms is increasingly to be expected.

Of course, what would suddenly bring some of us up standing with a sharp round turn (and simultaneously vindicate others) at such a first meeting with intelligent alien life ratings, on a planet millions of light years away from earth, would be if the ratings inhabiting the place were found to be deeply religious and at once marched our first visiting astronauts off before their Pope, senior Imam, Rabbi or Buddha to be forcibly converted, confirmed or otherwise processed — thus unexpectedly proving that the hitherto completely imaginary existence of all our traditional earthly Gods is indeed part of a cosmic reality.

A very interesting note:

The first absolutely creditable and believable witness to record a UFO sighting — eighty years ago.

An excerpt about Sir Frances Chichester:

In 1940, as a fourteen-year-old mailroom office boy, my several daily trips around a scientific instrument factory  were full of interest.  There was the echo-sounder shop, the sextant shop, the compass shop and shops where Ralston Stability and Trim Indicators, binnacles, Kent Clear-View Screens, navigational dividers, telescopes, binoculars and many other aids and instruments of marine and aerial navigation were made and tested.  One mail stop of special interest was an electrical shop set-apart in some secrecy which was devoted to the research and production of the first radar sets.
 But, even this paled in interest against my second port of call.  Because this stop on my never changing internal mail route, at times with live episodes of the Battle of Britain taking place in the blue skies overhead, always took me into the office of the adviser on navigational design matters.  
The room contained his secretary’s desk, his own large desk, and always several navigational sextants, both marine and aeronautical bubble, and fascinating wooden models of devices in the design stage, together with other oddments of intriguing appearance.  And around the walls were shelves of books on aviation matters, maps, and many pictures of aeroplanes, predominant among them photographs of a de Havilland Gipsy Moth.  It was just as well that he, who occupied this office, was nearly my first client as his copious mail was often heavy with books and copies of wonderful, though somewhat expensive, glossy magazines.  The Aeroplane, Flight, The Aeroplane Spotter  and other technical and general-interest publications on aviation made his slot in my mail carrier bulge to full capacity. 
 Though already well known and respected in aeronautical circles for his epic feats of navigation in flying his light aeroplane between England and Australia and New Zealand, at that time, during the early years of the war, this gentleman whose office so delighted me each working day was, to me, just that — an extremely interesting, and kindly, gentleman.  This especially because, when he saw how absorbed I was in his photographs and magazines, he not only took to passing on to me some of those books and magazines, but even at times asked his secretary to pour me a cup of tea and give me a biscuit from his managerial tea tray.  His name many years later became a household word in Britain and other parts of the world for his record-breaking and adventurous, around-the-world, solo ocean voyages in his yacht, Gipsy Moth IV.  He was also knighted by the Queen and became Sir Francis Chichester.
At that time, when I was confiding in him my ambition to become a fighter pilot, I did not know that he himself was busily bombarding the Air Ministry and Royal Air Force with applications to get a wartime flying job.  Yet with all his valuable experience, he was refused time after time.  Eventually, I believe his expertise was acknowledged by an appropriate appointment at the Air Ministry.

But of most importance, Chichester was probably the first absolutely creditable and believable witness to publicly record a UFO sighting, though at the time the term was unknown.  In one of his books, I think it is Return to Australia,  he recorded that in the middle of his remarkable and epic feat of air navigation in flying from New Zealand to Australia, in 1931, he saw:        
 Suddenly, ahead and thirty degrees to the left, there were bright flashes in several places, like the dazzle of a heliograph.
  I saw a dull grey-white airship coming towards me.  It seemed impossible, but I would have sworn that it was an airship, nosing towards me like an oblong pearl.  Except for a cloud or two there was nothing else in the sky.  I looked around, sometimes catching a flash or a glint, and turning again to look at the airship I found that it had disappeared.  I screwed up my eyes, unable to believe them, and twisted the seaplane this way and that way, thinking that the airship must be hidden by a blind spot.  Dazzling flashes continued in four or five different places, but I still could not pick out any planes.  Then, out of some clouds to my right front, I saw another, or the same, airship advancing.  I watched it intently, determined not to look away for a second: I'd see what happened to this one, if I had to chase it.  It drew steadily closer, until perhaps a mile away, when suddenly it vanished.  Then it appeared, close to where it had vanished: I watched with angry intentness.  It drew closer, and I could see the dull gleam of light on its nose and back.  It came on, but instead of increasing in size, it diminished as it approached.  When quite near, it suddenly became its own ghost--one second I could see through it, and the next it had vanished.  I decided that it could only be a diminutive cloud, perfectly shaped like an airship and then dissolving, but it was uncanny that it should exactly resume the same shape after it had once vanished.  I turned towards the flashes, but those too, had vanished.

1960 report:

Squadron-Leader Gordon Burgess, whose RAF service dated from 1940, reports that in 1960 he was flying a Shackleton long-range maritime patrol aircraft with twelve people aboard, from Cyprus to Malta.
During two hours of morning daylight, beginning in the vicinity of Crete, a cylindrical-shaped metallic-appearing object, with red illumination at its forward end took up position on the Shackleton’s port side and followed its every movement for two hours.
After reporting this sighting two RAF Javelin fighters flew out to meet the Shackleton and their pilots also confirmed the object’s presence just before it suddenly disappeared skywards at extreme speed where at 60,000 feet it was lost to Malta radar.
All concerned reported what they had seen and the incident became an Official Secret.

Recent News item that’s causing a flurry of speculation...
Winston Churchill was accused of ordering a coverup of an encounter between a UFO and an RAF aircraft in the Second World War because he feared a "panic" and a loss of faith in religion, state newly-released secret files.
The claim is contained in files on UFOs declassified today by the National Archives. The files, covering 1995 to 2003, are made up of more than 5,000 pages of reports, letters and drawings.
The allegations involving Churchill were made by the grandson of one his personal bodyguards, who wrote to the Ministry of Defence in 1999 inquiring about the incident after he learned of the details.
According to the letters, a reconnaissance aircraft was returning from a mission when it was shadowed by a metallic UFO near the coast of England, possibly over Cumbria. Its crew photographed the object, which they said "hovered noiselessly" near the aircraft.
The writer, a physicist from Leicester, claimed that his grandfather, an RAF officer, overheard Churchill talking to Eisenhower about the incident.
During the meeting, a weapons expert dismissed suggestions the object was a missile because the event was "totally beyond any imagined capabilities of the time." Another person raised the possibility of a UFO, at which point Churchill ordered the report to be classified.
"There was a general inability for either side to match a plausible account to these observations, and this caused a high degree of concern," wrote the physicist.
"Mr. Churchill is reported to have made a declaration to the effect, 'This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic among the general population and destroy one’s belief in the church.

Is this where the views of the Pope and his chief astronomer, which contradict those held by Winston Churchill and Supreme Commander General Eisenhower in World War Two, are answered?  (I wonder if they asked generals Montgomery and de Gaulle for their views at the time)

Here's another little peanut of a squib
Following four years of Arctic exploration from Hudson Bay to Eureka, at eighty degrees north latitude, 1958 was for me another active year, during which as a Canadian advisor I spent many weeks aboard the United States Coast Guard Cutter Bramble, engaged on charting the waters of Baffin Bay between northern Baffin Island and western Greenland, followed by weeks aboard HMCS Nootka running Decca Navigational tracks between the Atlantic and Quebec City.
But those duties followed an earlier two-month period as the senior assistant to D’Arcy Charles who was in charge of the large new Canadian Hydrographic Service research icebreaker, CGS Baffin, employed in charting the extensive waters of Cyrus Field Bay off southeastern Baffin Island and around Monumental Island.
During this earlier part of the season I spent periods in charge of two shore parties erecting temporary Decca transmission masts on two widely separated and isolated islands at the southern end of Cyrus Field Bay.
One of these shore excursions included the only time I was to be touched by the mysticism of the arctic loneliness.  
If I was asked right now, after the passage of a half century of time, I would be hard pressed to pinpoint the exact location of which I speak—even though I made several astronomical  observations to fix its position at the time (we had no GPS or computers then).  Now it would require a complicated, and cooperative, delving into old records buried somewhere in Canadian Government storage rooms to locate its position.  Years ago I did search for for the location on aerial photographs to no avail.  
Anyway, like an unbeliever who sees a ghostly, inexplicable occurrence, or I imagine, a dyed-in-the-wool scoffer who himself sights strange flying objects, which to my chagrin I never experienced, I would prefer to keep it all a private memory.  Something special to myself.  Something to mull over in quiet moments.  Because, it is still hauntingly, familiar in my mind:  
The whole beautiful scene that was displayed that evening I strolled through a deeply-coloured arctic landscape along an Arctic shoreline.  Maybe, it was nothing.  Or perhaps everything in its implications?  One thing is certain.  It was no passing, momentary thing.  If it was then, then it is now.  And can still be confirmed by other eyes.  Unless...
Let me try to describe what I experienced.

It was during a late evening with a most strangely purple-coloured sky.  After supper I decided to leave the hut and my five or six semi-marooned companions and stroll along the island’s northern shoreline.  All was still and quiet.  The sun was low down in the north with the greater part of its orb below the horizon. The varying hues and tones of purple touched the sea, the beach and the bare, rocky inland hills.  Not even the smallest wavelets washed the beach.  The sea was mirror calm, a tranquil palette of colours from the deep blue end of the spectrum.  The only sound in the desolate landscape was the constant wild calling of a pair of arctic loons on a small lake nearby.  The only other sign of wildlife I encountered was the massive hulk of a dead walrus lying on the high-water line.  There was no smell, death had been very recent and the large tusks gleamed their own sheen of purple.
Half a mile further on I turned a bend in the coast and was brought to an abrupt halt by the scene before me.  Along the gentle slope of the bare rock-face, stretching up from the shingle beach and reaching inland as far as I could see, was a wide, flat, level scar.  Straight as it was, at right-angles to the shore and about two hundred feet wide, it appeared to extend inland for thousands of feet to where the hills rose up from the plain.  Startled to be suddenly standing on the edge of such a harsh and definite geometric feature after wandering for so long amid the natural randomness of the regional geography, I could not at first grasp its reality.  My first bewildered thought was wonderment at why anyone had decided to build an airport runway in that remote place.  And left it uncompleted!  At once I dismissed such a ridiculous notion.  No wartime or peacetime use could have been made for an airfield in that remote area.  And surely the cutting of the feature before me would have entailed an impossible amount of equipment and blasting operations at astronomical expense.  Therefore, what was it?  A geological formation?  Could an ancient sheering movement of rock against rock leave such a spectacular fault? 
I could not credit it.  And also it seemed, the deep purple colour of the exposed vertical rock faces which formed the sides of the scar appeared on a closer look to be scorched.
By what?
What was I thinking of?
No meteorite would leave such a scar.  A crater, yes.  But not a survey-straight dimensional scar.
Where did that leave my capacity for rationalization?
Bemused, I sat on the edge of the scar, quietly smoking my pipe for some time in the low light of that late summer arctic night.
Finally I roused up, took one final look around to prove to myself I was not dreaming, then slowly wended my way the couple of miles back along the shore to the huts.  The next day I was picked up by one of the Baffin’s six launches on the other side of the peninsula and within days I was far distant from that strange place.
For me, it remains my only unsolved arctic mystery.

Of course now, I curse my foolishness, not only in this event but many others over those Arctic years for not always carrying a camera with me.  The small number of black and white photographs I did take were mostly of the fish I caught, boats and ships.  Many were used in magazine stories I wrote.  But the old folding camera that I used, purchased in Iraq years before, was inconvenient to carry and use.  But before leaving Ottawa that particular year, 1958, I had bought one of the first compact 35 mm reflex cameras, an Asahiflex.  Some of the Kodachrome slides I took with it appeared in the Canadian Geographic Magazine and elsewhere.

But even with all the other cameras I’ve owned since then not in one single instance did I get the chance to photograph a UFOugh.
It’s a mystery.