Monday, June 16, 2008

Stephenville MUFON Report Lacks Detail

Angelia Joiner & The Empire Tribune
Stephenville Lights Reporter

      The world waited for Mutual UFO Network's (MUFON) official report on the Stephenville unidentified flying objects report.

And waited. And waited.

That was cool. That meant a lot of work was going on and State Director Ken Cherry and Chief Investigator Steve Hudgeons were pouring through hundreds of eyewitness accounts, plotting on maps, coordinating radar data, and organizing field investigators.

Finally, the report was forthcoming in the May edition of the MUFON Journal. Eagerly, those of the UFO community as well as those not so familiar began scouring the document and Googling for news articles.

For what?

To find out, the Stephenville investigation was the largest sighting the Texas group had ever handled. And it showed. Crowds flooded the January Dublin meeting, more than willing to share their experiences of the unusual event.

Eight MUFON investigators answered the call for volunteers to interview witnesses. With all of the media attention, the job must have seemed overwhelming.

We find out Texas has had more than 550 sightings from 1947 to Nov. 1, 2007. The author of the article said that information was for perspective, but it seemed more like filler. Especially because the title of the article leads the reader to believe he or she will find more out about Erath County sightings. The title is, Stephenville: Report of Cluster of UFO Sightings in Erath County, Texas, Nov. 2007 to Feb. 2008.

Steve Allen is the pilot who first brought the sightings to the attention of the world. He and three friends saw something so unbelievably large and absolutely silent on Jan. 8 they didn't feel it should remain between friends. And, when a few minutes later the object appeared for the second time, apparently being chased by F-16 jets, it made the sighting all the more interesting. Allen is mentioned but the report does not recognize if his sighting was identified or is to remain unidentified. And, what about those jets? Did they show up on radar? Is there anything new in this report regarding Allen's sighting that wasn't already known?

A map is included with Allen's location in Selden along with the time (6:15 p.m.) Allen claimed he saw something a mile long and a half-mile wide. There are other anonymous witnesses plotted on the map at other locations from Stephenville to Dublin but no mention of sighting times. There are arrows, which show directions of something traveling along the path of the witnesses. But, where are numbers like altitude and speed? Why isn't there any information in the report to explain how the researchers knew the path this object took.

The report says that many of the sightings have been identified including one video presented by an unknown witness that resembled a black snake "being blown across the sky." MUFON identified this object as a "military sleeve." Where's the data? Meanwhile, it's mostly recognized that UFO sightings are eventually identified. James Fox, UFO filmmaker believes as many as 95 percent are identified and he has been known to say it's the other five percent we should be worried about.

What the report does not say is which cases were not identified or give any exact numbers.

Cherry has been quoted as saying most of the people in Erath County saw planets, stars or clouds. Maybe that is true, but where's the data? What planets and stars did they see? It would seem easy for an untrained observer to make that mistake.

The Doppler radar information provided by William Puckett for the official report was interesting. Puckett apparently found an object that piqued his interest at 6:34 p.m. on Jan. 8. It was something that was not using a transponder and something that did not show 10 minutes before or 10 minutes after this time period.

Puckett is quoted as saying, "I found a fast moving target moving on an eastward vector of about 700 mph. This was clearly not a passenger jet. It could have been a military jet or an unknown object. The object was not transponding."

Puckett goes on to state weather conditions for the area on Jan. 8.

Well, we all knew there were jets in the area. Even Maj. Karl Lewis with the Naval Air Base finally admitted there were 10 from his base alone on the evening in question after first denying there were any.

The report also mentions three area law enforcement officers and their accounts on Jan. 8, but mistakenly calls them "constables." A recent phone call to one of the officers confirmed that none of the three ever made an official report to MUFON investigators. Nor does the report state how the information or the computer drawings was obtained.

Bruce Maccabee, Ph.D., a ufologist studying the field for years was provided with a copy of David Coran's video. Coran is a Stephenville resident and first showed his film to Steve Allen. Allen gave Coran some money and Coran told him to use the film as he pleased, according to Allen.

Then Ken Cherry arranged a meeting between Coran and UFO Hunters of the History Channel to purchase the video. Maccabee is the organization's state director for Maryland. Without the original film or camera or being able to look through that camera at the precise time and place the film was taken, Maccabee determined that Coran was viewing an out-of-focus star. It's an analysis that many in the UFO community agree with.

A conclusion, Allen says, he will never believe. Allen said the tape he has shows trees and rooftops clearly in focus while the "star" is putting on a light show.

The report says some of the sightings MUFON received dated back as far as thirty years ago. That's nice. Now, more people feel they can come forward without being ridiculed.

Thanks, Steve Allen, for giving us all courage; courage to report, courage to write, and courage to look deeply into the unknown.

In Ken Cherry's short article for the Journal he says, "No doubt, this report will not satisfy the skeptics or true believers."

No doubt, he's right.

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