By Frank WarrenAs most UFO aficionados are undoubtedly aware, we have been graced with not one new addition to the airwaves, but two additions, (regarding UFOs) and they both are “reality type” shows with an “investigative format. Now if that wasn’t enough, they both have the same names, i.e., “UFO Hunters!” One can hear the lawyers counting their money already!
The two networks involved are “Sci-Fi” and “The History Channel”; the former, taking the name of “UFO Hunters” as a sort of spin-off to their popular series, “Ghost Hunters”; both (Ghost Hunters & UFO Hunters via Sci-Fi) are executive produced by the same company.
The History Channel (THC) ran with the name as an extension of one of the “UFO Files” shows that was sub-titled “UFO Hunters,” featuring various Ufologists; it being produced by a company that was involved with some of the “UFO Files” programs.
Ironically, there are “some parenting ownership commonalities” for both networks; one has to wonder if this was done on purpose, and perhaps A&E will produce another reality show to watch the fight! Hmmmm . . . “Cable Channel UFO Program Wars—Live!” ad nauseum Any independents reading this please disregard this paragraph!
I watched both shows last night; THC’s version in real time, and I taped Sci-Fi’s and watched it shortly thereafter.
THC’s version is framed around a so-called investigative group from “UFO Magazine,” spear-headed by publisher, “Bill Birnes.” Now, it’s important to point out that it’s difficult for me to “stay neutral” about these shows, and not for reasons one might expect; I personally don’t believe one can do good research regarding the UFO phenomenon with a camera crew in tow. Moreover, it’s important to note that the priorities are different; serious, dedicated researchers are worried about acquiring the data first, and not ratings, or how well the show is doing.
With that in mind, I went in attempting to remain “unbiased.” I won’t bore you with the “infinite” details of the show; suffice it to say it’s premise is an investigative group headed by Bill Birnes (UFO Magazine), the show’s design was very reminiscent of “Ghost Hunters” with a tad more theatrics and drama; their aim is to investigate current and past UFO events. They heralded the notion that this would be done from a “scientific perspective.
Now, I wasn’t put off by the campy-ness of the show; in fact I was expecting it. Admittedly, I sometimes watch “Ghost Hunters” . . . it’s “fun!”
Birnes’ team on this premiere episode was investigating “The Maury Island Incident” of 1947; although this case is known to most researchers; it’s news to the “UFO abecedarian.” I was particularly interested, as I have done extensive research on this case.
The show hadn’t been on 10 minutes, and I began noticing errors, minor ones mind you, in some of the elements (facts) presented; they weren’t too big a deal, but knowing some of the “easily accessible data about the affair, I was curious how these errors could occur in the first place; however, as these “little inaccuracies” continued to pop-up throughout the show, it appeared to me it was just “poor research.” Not the “killing of a man” as an old Irish friend used to say to me; still, something you wouldn’t expect from a debut of a show concerning such a controversial subject, and “promoting scientific investigation.”
A short time back, someone new to the “Maury Island Incident” case, located the wreckage of the Mitchell B-25 that Capt. William L. Davidson, and 1st Lt. Frank M. Brown met their demise in; Davidson & Brown, CIC agents of the Forth Army Air Force, were tasked to investigate the mysterious craft that we’re then being seen “all over the country” that summer in 1947, which many refer to as the “dawn of modern day Ufology.”
In this instance they flew to Tacoma at the request of Kenneth Arnold, who was investigating the “Maury Island Incident.” On their return, shortly after taking off from “McChord Field,” their left engine caught on fire, and they crashed near “Kelso Washington.”
It’s important to point out, this crash (at the time) was “headline news” and remained in the public spotlight for weeks; the location of the crash was “common public knowledge!” More over, the then “Air Force” (formerly Army Air Force) did a thorough investigation of the crash, as well as an inspection the wreckage, and its final resting place.
Some of the articles published a few months back, painted the image that this plane, the B-25 had been “lost!” Although it may have been “lost to the person looking into the case,” its location has always been “public knowledge” for anyone interested, and willing to make a few inquiries.
That said, again this is well known to most Ufologists; consequently, I was surprised that “Birnes & company” would also allegorize this same dogma, i.e., previously “lost,” and now miraculously found; of course, I was viewing this from the eyes of a researcher, forgetting momentarily that this is a TV show, who has “other priorities.”
OK, so far there have been “several” minor discrepancies, there has been “over-dramatized” and “distorted” facts presented, and then we come to the last segment of the show—which I found contemptuous.
To better understand, it’s important to note that prior to leaving Tacoma, Davidson & Brown were given a “corn flakes box” of “fragments” (rocks) allegedly from the UFOs seen by Harold Dahl near Maury Island. That box was loaded on their B-25, and was on the plane when it crashed. The show incorrectly states that Dahl presented the box to Davidson, when in fact it was Crisman (another minor error). Personally, I don’t believe that the contents of that box came from the UFOs sighted near Maury Island period! (More on that later . . ..)
In any event, the idea that there might be some of what was in that box left at the crash site is attractive, and if nothing else makes for good TV. Now remember, when that plane went down, Flying Saucers, i.e., UFOs were headline news, coast to coast; the powers-that-be, in this instance, the Army Air Force/Air Force were highly concerned. Moreover, they were aware of the “box of the “disc-bits” that Davidson & Brown had in their possession, and took it very seriously; the point being that the site was searched thoroughly for “all evidence” including the “corn flakes” box of alleged UFO debris; this being done with a multitude of men, when the scene was fresh, before mother nature ravaged the location with 60 years of overgrowth.
Still, of course it’s possible that something could be found, albeit remote, and quite frankly, regardless of any fragments, I think anyone would jump at the chance to visit the site, and any producer would be derelict in their duties not to include this in a show about Maury Island, if it were within their means.
Now here is where the show decides to go delve into fantasy, and pure flapdoodle!
After leaving the crash site with soil samples, plane debris etc. in hand, the team returned back to HQ (Birnes’ office in Los Angeles); the next segment begins with the narrator, stating they’ve come to the laboratory of a scientist who will “attempt to define the cause of the B-25 crash,” thus alluding to the notion that this was “unknown!” I’m afraid for me, this was very disappointing, as either this fallacy was presented purposely for reasons unknown, or it’s an example of the worst research done in Ufology!
“The accident,” i.e., the plane crash, which took the lives of Capt. William L. Davidson, and 1st Lt. Frank M. Brown was just that and was thoroughly investigated by the Air Force; let us also not forget that there were “two survivors,” one of which I personally interviewed a few years back.
To be clear, the cause of the crash had “nothing to do with UFOs” with exception to the fact that both decedents were “investigating the phenomenon at the time of their demise.”
That particular “plane had it’s engines replaced” in June, about a month and a half before Davidson and Brown took it to Tacoma. In July during one of the “test flights” of the “new engines” it was noted that it had “low hydraulic pressure.”
When D & B took off for McChord Field the “new engines” had a total of 1-½ hours (slow time) attributed to them. Additionally, all exhaust “stacked” aircraft of that time period were prone to “cracking.” The official opinion of the Air Force investigators was that the left stack, fell off allowing “hot exhaust” into the engine cowl. This coincides with eyewitness testimony of the two survivors, one being the “crew chief” that was responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft!
To suggest that a “box of rocks” allegedly from a Flying Saucer had something to do with the “engine catching on fire” is quite frankly ludicrous . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.
After setting the stage, i.e., “suggesting that that cause of the B-25 crash was unknown,” and alluding to the notion that it might be “UFO connected,” in the lab, and with the help of a couple of scientists, it is demonstrated via the analysis of a piece of the aluminum fuselage that it was exposed to “high heat” and the reaction of the “team” is one of surprise. Now this in my view is a phenomenon unto itself, as one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that after a “freshly fueled plane” spirals towards the ground from an altitude of 10, 000 ft and “explodes” that the remaining debris will show signs of “high heat exposure.”
This also coincides with the eyewitness testimony of one of the survivors referring to the “high temperature, and not being able to get to close to the wreckage.
The next tests were done illustrating how a piece of “metallic slag” if “magnetized could affect an electronic relay; this was performed by “touching” the slag “directly” to the relay, and giving rise to the notion that one of the passengers in the plane was rubbing the corn flakes box all over the interior of the craft ad nauseum.
After that display, came the fireworks; scientist no # 2 illustrated how a metallic slag would ignite under the proper circumstances—neat feat, but having absolutely no bearing on the contents of the corn flakes box, since there is no evidence of its composition.
So basically, what Birnes and company suggest, is a corn flakes box full of lava like looking rocks of unknown composition, that may have come from a Flying Saucer, and if by chance were magnetic, could have caused a relay to malfunction, assuming the box got within inches of a relay, which in turn “could cause” electrical short somehow; or, some unknown short caused the rocks to ignite, unbeknown to anyone in the cramped space of the B-25. All of this by the way ignoring the evidence already on the table—this is what Birnes refers to has “scientific investigation!”
Generally, when one sees something so outlandish, and far-fetched it usually comes from skeptics ignoring the noses on their respective faces; speaking of skeptics, this particular episode will no doubt provide plenty of ammunition in their arsenal to criticize Ufologists in general.
Moving on, by the time I watched the “Sci-Fi’s version” of UFO Hunters I was so disgusted at that point, it was hard to imagine how anything could have been worse!
To my delight, it wasn’t bad. The show in short was basically a duplicate of the popular “Ghost Hunters” series, using the same formula for UFOs less (at least in this episode) the wacky antics of GH.
Again, it’s very difficult to do serious research with a camera crew in tow, along with having different priorities.
Both shows were entertaining, I’m sure they’ll garner an audience, particularly with all that’s going on lately with UFOs. The Sci-Fi crew certainly was more palatable for researchers then Birnes' group, and one can only hope that future episodes will evolve around more “facts” then the fiction demonstrated in this premiere episode.