Monday, February 18, 2008

IS THIS REAL? UFO Investigator Tries To Separate Fact From Fiction

Flying Saucer Crash
The Times-News

     Start talking about UFOs and one of two things generally happen: People scoff, or they talk about the weird thing they saw in the sky that time.

Sometimes they do both.

Jim DilettosoJim Dilettoso is really interested in those stories. For nearly 30 years, he has made a sideline of looking at the photos and video that sometimes accompanies these stories to pick out the fake ones, so people can wonder about the rest.

“I find some fakes, but good fakes are hard to do,” said Dilettoso, who splits his time between Graham and Arizona.

You won’t learn that much about how he authenticates photos here.

A lot of his explanations of pixels, spectrum analysis and lines per frame mean next to nothing to a small-town reporter who spends a lot of time at city council meetings. A lot of it has to do with how to tell the size of an object by the amount of light reflected from its surface and its relationship to other objects in the frame.

Once he can say the picture has not been altered, it gets relatively simple. Dilettoso says he has a database made up of images of things seen in the sky from airplanes to meteorites. He compares those images to the ones in the photos. If he gets a match, then the photo is explained.

“If I don’t get a match, it’s an unknown,” Dilettoso said. “It’s not an alien spacecraft, it’s an unknown.”

Dilettoso does see video and pictures he thinks are fakes — just visit to read an account of Dilettoso analyzing a video he did not trust.

But not jumping to conclusions does not mean Dilettoso does not believe in strange things in the sky or even extraterrestrial visitors. He saw something in the sky once himself on Aug. 17, 1979, while traveling with fellow investigator Wendell Stevens on a rural road in California.

“I saw a huge illuminated boomerang and I thought it was the end of the world,” Dilettoso said. “I thought everybody in the world must be seeing this it was so big and so bright.”

Dilettoso said he could see it in the air for about 10 minutes and then it stood on its end in the air and shot straight up into the sky. He was so overwhelmed, so sure this was doomsday, he didn’t even get the two cameras out of the car to take a picture.

“I didn’t think there would be a photo shop open tomorrow,” he said.

In the late 1970s, Dilettoso says he was producing tours for rock bands. He had a background in film and when the Moody Blues tour he was running wrapped up for the winter, two men named Jim Lorenzen and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Wendell Stevens, both well-known UFO researchers, contacted him about testing some pictures.

He had a background in computers and video, too, very cutting-edge stuff in the late 1970s, and he started spending his winters looking at pictures of things in the sky.

Not everyone is impressed with Dilettoso’s methods. Put his name into an Internet search engine and see a comprehensive list of the ways one human being can impeach the character of another. It’s not skeptics attacking him for the most part; it’s other UFO researchers.

“A lot of the UFO research community is really vicious toward each other,” Dilettoso said. “If MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) says ‘this looks good’ another group will come in and dump on it.”

He does have friends in the field — a lot of them. Peter Davenport, who runs the National UFO Reporting Center in Davenport, Wash., says Dilettoso does great work. He especially praised Dilettoso’s work looking at pictures of a 1997 UFO sighting in Phoenix, Ariz.

A lot of people apparently saw it and CNN reported on it several months after the fact. There is an account, amateur video and still of a virtual reality model of the incident Dilettoso worked on at

Dilettoso says there are patterns to sightings. For example, he says, every five or six years there will be a reported sighting of an egg-shaped object. One was reported in Graham in 2001.

A few months after that, there will be a report of a cigar or boomerang-shaped object in the same state or region and a few months after that, there will be a report of a cluster of lights not far away.

Something like that was also seen in Graham in 1961. It was not reported until 2003.

Reports come from all across the United States, according to a monthly report of UFO sightings from MUFON, which is about the biggest and best-known of the many UFO research organizations in the country. But the vast majority of reported sightings are in the United States.

In MUFON’s January monthly report, for example, out of 606 reported sightings, 556 were in the United States, 15 were in Canada, six in the United Kingdom and 29 other reported sightings spread across 18 countries.

Within the United States, Texas led other states in reported sightings with 159, some of which made the news. North Carolina had 12 sightings reported.

Dilettoso says that in his conversations with Davenport he has learned there are reports from every county in North Carolina, although there seems to be a blackout over Fayetteville with its huge military bases.

Dilettoso said it could be that Americans want to report these things and have organizations and a relatively trusted government to report them to.

“Large numbers of unidentified objects could be flying around the Ukraine and there’s nobody to report them to,” Dilettoso said.

California, Dilettoso said, has the largest number of UFO investigators and the largest population and came in second in the January report with 75 reported sightings.

Dilettoso found four reports filed from Alamance County since 1998, one of which the Times-News reported in November, 2003.

“… people across the county were talking up the big boom that rattled windows and woke up even sound sleepers. At church and over lunch, people described jumping out of bed and looking out the window, expecting a hole in their roof or a blazing fire at the neighbor’s house.”

The Times-News never got a good explanation for what caused that boom or booms. The paper went so far as to file a freedom of information act request. The Navy wrote a letter saying there were no military planes in the area and commercial planes don’t go that fast, so this is indeed unidentified.

It does not take much reading about UFO investigations to hit talk of government conspiracy. In some cases, the government is accused of working with aliens or some Zionist conspiracy in some of the more extreme theories.

Dilettoso says he has never run into government interference.

“In all the work I’ve done, I’ve never had someone come to me and say, ‘You better cut that out or we’re going to kill you,’ ” Dilettoso said. “I wish they would; it would make me feel like some of what I’ve done had some meaning.”

While Dilettoso does not seem to jump to conclusions in his investigations, he does have beliefs.

“Aliens are looking at us because we’re more advanced with our free will and spirituality.”


These are UFO reports files with the National UFO Reporting Center. Director Peter Davenport says he does not give out the names of the people who report sightings.

•This Nov. 16, 2003, incident was reported on Nov, 17, 2003. The Times-News also reported it. “OK many people in Mebane heard it over a wide area, car alarms went off and folks all over were awakened Sunday morning at about 1:10 a.m.

“It was one very loud sonic boom followed about three to five seconds later by another not quite as loud, which leads me to believe it was more than one object. I ran outside and that’s when I heard the jet engines (or jets) heading south southwest from where I live — 1 mile north of I-85/40 and Buckhorn Road. I believe the engine sounds were from fighter-type craft not commercial transport planes.) I’m pretty sure it was more than one due to the two very separate sonic booms.

There was a cloud ceiling so I never saw any lights.

Don’t want to get any of our Air Force pilots in any trouble, but it did startle a lot of people.”


•This Jan. 10, 2001, sighting in Graham was reported the same day. “I had contact with Peter Davenport as to a questionable sighting of circular or egg-shaped objects in southern sky shortly after noon, our time.

I did the same with almost the exactly same time and weather conditions today. I have now obtained digital photographs of same type of objects taken today 01/10/01. One photograph even shows northeasterly commercial jet traffic to verify size (small) of objects and direction of travel.

If this is some natural phenomenon, I would like it explained. I will have to get my daughter to download and send as soon as possible. I do not know how to download these pictures. Thank goodness for computer generation kids.

In the picture containing the commercial jet, there was no interference between the object and the jet and the object appeared to be much higher than the jet. (estimated at 30,000 feet) This occurrence has been very questioning to me.

I have over 4,000 hours as a private pilot and I have never witnessed anything of this nature.”


•This April 15, 1971, sighting in Burlington was reported in 2003. “While riding home from middle school in the back seat of a Volkswagen Beetle, I was gazing out the rear window of the car when I saw a silvery perfectly round object that resembled a full moon rising steadily against a gray overcast sky. There was no rain occurring, just a dry overcast gray day.

At that time, I was 13 years old. I knew that what I saw was not a weather balloon, due to the fact that my father, a small aircraft pilot, had taken me numerous times to the local airport to view weather balloon launches, and I was very familiar with all that weather balloons involve, both visually and mechanically.

While watching this object for about 30 seconds, I felt that I was not intended to see it, and I made what I felt was a conscious decision to never discuss what I had seen. I noticed the object ascending from the East, and I watched it with apprehension until the vehicle in which I was riding turned a corner and went down a hill toward my home, and my view was blocked by landscape and trees.

When I first noticed the silver circle, it was about 20 degrees above the visible horizon, when I lost sight of it 30 seconds later, it was in what I would consider the 11 a.m. position, but not overhead, still east of me. To the east of my sighting location there was no developments, airports, cities, etc. — just rural area. The object seemed to be very close in proximity and relatively the size of a full moon, and metallic — silver in color. Twenty-seven years later, I can still visualize and feel exactly what I witnessed in 1971, and I still have an eerie feeling when I think about it, which is mostly all the time.”


•This Oct. 1, 1961, sighting was reported in 2003. “Three flat, large white lights in delta pattern, no sound, flying at treetop level at 35 to 40 mph.

As I exited my car and was walking toward my front door, I glanced up to the sky and was surprised to see three large circles of white light in a triangular pattern sailing treetop level over some trees in my side yard. I walked out into the yard for a better view and didn’t feel fearful since “it” was flying away from me in a southwest/northeast direction at approximately 35 to 40 mph.

The light was a flat-type with no projection. Perhaps the strangest thing I noticed, in addition to the whole scenario, was the absence of any sound. I didn’t see any structure around the lights but they were in a triangular/delta pattern. I watched it until it disappeared, then went into the house and called my boyfriend who lived 1 to 2 miles away in the direction that the UFO was traveling. He looked out but saw nothing. For a day or two, I watched the newspaper for any other reported sightings, but saw none. All I can say is, I know what I saw and I don’t care if anybody believes me or not.”

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