Sunday, September 21, 2008

'They're Out There:' Farmer Remembers His Close Encounter

Flying Saucers Over Canola Field in Langenburg
By Darren Bernhardt
The StarPhoenix

     It was 34 years ago this month when Edwin Fuhr encountered five dome-shaped objects hovering about a half-metre above his canola field.

The passage of time has done nothing to quell the 70-year-old Langenburg man's conviction that we are not alone in the universe. In fact, Fuhr believes his visitors are still keeping watch -- from a distance.

"They're out there, there's no question," he said in an interview.

About five or six years ago, in the northeast part of the sky, four or five lights did something strange.

"They followed you," Fuhr said, saying they looked like stars but "a star doesn't move or change colours."

In 1988, he moved from the farm, about 10 kilometres north of Langenburg, into town. The urban lights tend to wash out the night sky, but every so often in the northeast, the lights show up and follow along, Fuhr said.

"I'm pretty sure they're the same ones (that were in the field in 1974). That's the direction they took off in '74," he said.

Many UFO sightings on the Prairies occur in fall, when farmers are harvesting before the frost hits. That's when reports of crop circles tend to . . . er, crop up.

Going to inspect the landing area the day following his encounter, Fuhr found five rings of depressed canola swirled in a clockwise direction. More circles were found in the area later that month, according to media and police reports from the time.

Over the next while, the site was visited by the RCMP, scientists, UFO researchers from across North America and even the FBI. Sniffer dogs used by the police refused to enter the circles, according to Fuhr.

"Something was there and I doubt it was a hoax. There's no indication anything had been wheeled in or out and Mr. Fuhr seemed genuinely scared," RCMP Const. Ron Morier was quoted in a StarPhoenix story of Sept. 19, 1974.

On Sept. 27, 1974, another newspaper article referred to a Martensville police constable and his wife witnessing a UFO over Saskatoon. It hung above the Nutana neighbourhood briefly before taking off. The officer, Albert Goddue, described it as being dome-shaped.

"No one will ever convince me it was any type of conventional aircraft. It was like nothing I have ever seen in the sky before," Goddue was quoted as saying.

Not everyone remains a believer after a close encounter. On Sept. 19, 1963, an 11-year-old boy and three friends were playing in a Saskatoon schoolyard when they saw a bright oval object hover and drop something. They claim a figure stood up three metres tall, made a moaning sound, held out his hands, and floated towards them.

The 11-year-old told investigators the figure was a man dressed in clothes "like a monk's" which were "white like a crayon."

The accounts are recorded in two books, Passport to Magonia: on UFOs, folklore, and parallel worlds, by Jacques Vallee, and The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings, by John Keel.

The children ran off and one girl became so hysterical that she had to be hospitalized.

"Sometimes I could see right through him," the 11-year-old said.

Now 56, he refuses to believe it ever happened.

"It was just overzealous kids with good imaginations," he said in an interview Friday, the 45th anniversary of the event. "I don't want to discuss it."

The man said he went through a "tough time" in school after the supposed sighting was made public. Since then, he has moved from Saskatoon and no longer associates with the other three children who were with him that day. He has been married 35 years and neither his wife nor any of his immediate family members know anything of the incident, he said, asking his name be kept out of the newspaper.

"It's in the past and that's where it should stay," he said. "I don't need the headache."

Fuhr was 36 when he saw the saucers around 10 a.m. Initially, he noticed one metallic object in a depression on the land. He walked to within 15 feet of the object.

"I saw the grass was moving and I looked up and saw this thing spinning at one hell of a speed," he said on Thursday.

There was no sound, no smell, no windows to peer into, said Fuhr, whose joints ached as he walked backwards to the swather, keeping his eye on the saucer.

Then he noticed four more off to the side, arranged in a "half-moon" formation. He estimates the two largest ones were 30 feet in diameter with the rest slightly smaller. They hovered about 15 minutes before taking off, one-by-one, with a gust of vapour.

A few weeks after the incident, a scientist from the National Research Council (NRC) in Ottawa suggested the rings were caused by mushrooms. Allen McNamara, head of the NRC's upper atmosphere research section, also theorized the glow from the saucers may have been caused by the fungi.

The crop circles were exactly the same as "fairy rings" produced by underground mushroom filaments, he was quoted as saying. When asked by reporters about the canola pressed in a circular motion, McNamara guessed it was caused by wind.

Fuhr has never been provided an explanation that would convince him he was imagining things.

"Imagination doesn't leave marks in the ground, does it?" he said, noting the landing site was tested as recently as four years ago and is still emitting radioactive waves.

For the first year, nothing would grow where the circles were and "the ground was hard, like cement."

Though he no longer works the land, it remains in the family, farmed by a nephew. Fuhr has never asked him whether he's encountered anything strange.

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