By Carter, Toni OwenA spate of UFO sightings leaves investigators baffled
The first recorded UFO sighting came from the Biblical prophet Ezekiel, who reported seeing a flaming chariot racing through the heavens. Since then, UFOs have included everything from brightly-lit globes and cigar-shaped airships to this century's classic flying saucers. Now, black triangles can be added to the list. In the last year, at least 14 Albertans have reported seeing such geometrically-shaped craft in the night sky. The most recent sighting came last month in Edmonton.
The phenomenon has stumped UFO researchers Gordon Kijck and David Thacker. Mr. Kijck, who founded the Alberta UFO Study Group in 1989, says he can quickly dispose of some 90% of UFO sightings. Aircraft, weather balloons, celestial objects such as stars, planets or meteors, and even flights of geese are commonly mistaken as UFOs. To rule out such explanations, Mr. Kijck and his group's dozen volunteer researchers interview witnesses, contact the military, check commercial aircraft activity and compare UFO accounts to weather conditions and "cosmic patterns".
The group protects the identity of those who report UFOs. Many of the most credible witnesses, including police and pilots, fear going public would invite ridicule or damage their careers, explains Mr. Kijck. He also refuses to ascribe UFO sightings to extra-terrestrials or other proposed catch-all phenomena such as hysteria or unexplained geological activity. Says Mr. Thacker: "We aren't advocates of aliens or extraterrestrial visitors. We just think these sightings deserve an explanation. In the absence of any public agency that will give answers, we try to do it."
With the black triangles, however, answers have proven elusive. The first sighting came last August in Lethbridge. It was seen about midnight and had orange-red lights. On April 15 in Red Deer a group of six people reported seeing a similarly shaped object with flashing lights dart silently about 100 feet over their heads. Another Red Deer couple saw an unlit black triangle flying at aircraft altitude a half hour later.
Then, on April 23, an Edmonton couple reported seeing an unlit triangle the size of a large house pass 100 feet over their heads at about 20 miles per hour. And on May 11, four other Edmontonians told city police they had seen a black triangle moving silently at high speed through the sky about midnight.
While Mr. Kijck's group has dealt with more than 50 Alberta UFO reports in the last year, the similarity between the triangle accounts has proven particularly intriguing. The two April 15 sightings in Red Deer are a good example. "These were credible, unrelated witnesses who agreed on time, duration, direction and other details," says Mr. Thacker, a Red Deer agricultural computing consultant. "And their drawings of the object were identical."
The triangles haven't just been seen in Alberta. In the Netherlands, a home-made film of a similar object was broadcast on television last year. And other sightings have been reported in the western U.S. That has led some to speculate that they are actually a secret U.S. aircraft like the Stealth bomber. The Stealth flew for eight years before its existence was made public. And the U.S. is working on a new, top-secret successor to the Stealth, called the Aurora.
Mr. Kijck, however, says reports that the craft were absolutely silent would seem to rule out any possible connection to an actual airplane. The Lethbridge witness also said the triangle he saw performed a bizarre flip just before it disappeared, a manoeuvre the UFO researcher believes would be impossible for a man-made craft. For now, he says, the sightings remain "true mysteries."