Friday, November 18, 2005

“Like Two Dimes in the Sky - The Great Falls Flying Saucer Film and the Cold War in Montana"

UFO Great Falls Montana Cropped Enhanced
Bright lights, small city

By ALANA LISTOE
The Helena Independent Record
11-18-05

     Jon Axline, historian for the Montana Department of Transportation, doesn’t necessarily study Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) because he believes in them — but he does feel there is validity and worthiness in studying the history of the recorded sightings.

     “I’m really interested in the unusual history of the United States,” Axline said. “The more unusual tells you a different side of the story. It shows people’s fears during the time.”

     Thursday night’s presentation was the third time Axline, adjunct history professor at the University of Montana n Helena College of Technology, gave this speech, but on this occasion he says he was a bit nervous.

     “I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning thinking about it,” he said. “The topic is unusual, so I’m a little nervous.”

     There were few people in attendance, but those who did show up left with not answers, but possibly more questions.

     Axline’s presentation, “Like Two Dimes in the Sky: The Great Falls Flying Saucer Film and the Cold War in Montana,” focused on the flying saucer sightings of Nicolas Mariana, the manager of a Great Falls baseball team, in August of 1950.

     Mariana recorded about 20 seconds of color images of two bright circular objects passing in the sky — and he believed to his death the lights were UFOs.

     Mariana was a journalist and a Corporal in the Air Force, and, according to Axline, a well-known, honest and reliable member of the Great Falls community.

     Mariana passed on his footage to officials. To date, his recorded sightings remain classified as “unknown and unexplained.”

     Many UFO sightings took place during this era and whether you believe it was Russian spies, reflections off jets from the Malmstrom Air Force Base, birds that glow or a government conspiracy, it is hard to reject what appears on film to indeed be flying saucers.

     Axline grew up believing in UFOs, but as he aged he became a skeptic. Today, he is willing to investigate and consider that it may be true.

     Axline, a published author, believes studying UFOs is a good historical subject and a legitimate field of study, even though his wife and mother don’t share his enthusiasm.

     “I don’t make a judgment on the issue,” he said. “But you can’t always be objective. UFOs are one of my guilty pleasures. I didn’t use to admit to it, but now I’m ‘out of the closet.’ ”

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