Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Milestone for National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP)


By Billy Cox
De Void

Billy Cox     Considering how American schoolkids trail 16 nations in science scores and rank 24th in math, lamentations from the executive director of a team of scientists shouldn’t take anybody by surprise. Ted Roe, a co-founder of the 11-year-old National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena, reports that its Web site draws a modest 4,000 to 5,000 visitors a month, and that maybe 50 percent of those peeks last less than 30 seconds. “Most don’t get past our home page,” Roe says.

Never mind that NARCAP’s roughly 50 members — research associates, mostly, with disciplines as disparate as aviation engineering and perceptual psychology — are studying UFOs, one of the most heavily trafficked subjects in cyberspace. (They refer to the mystery by another acronym, UAP, or unidentified aerial phenomena, in an effort to avoid the UFO baggage.) Never mind that their perhaps forbiddingly technical analyses — such as last year’s sobering Project Sphere — are routinely ignored by the mainstream media and never referenced by so-called skeptics alleging a lack of data to review.

Without the sort of public squabbles that have lately characterized the much larger, anyone-can-join MUFON, NARCAP labors largely in obscurity as members, which include pilots and radar techs, tend to focus on aviation-safety issues raised by near collisions and electronics malfunctions. But maybe the low profile is about to change.

Unlike the U.S., the Chilean government has a formal and transparent UAP reporting system called the Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (CEFAA), which was established in 1997 following a major sighting wave too widespread to ignore. Last December, NARCAP scored a huge and possibly unprecedented coup when it signed onto a partnership with CEFAA under the auspices of Chile’s General Direction of Civil Aviation and National Aviation.

Signatories included the somewhat fearless CEFAA director Gen. Ricardo Bermudez Sanhueza. In 2000, Bermudez dispatched a memo to the Pentagon via the American embassy asking if U.S. anti-missile exercises might account for yet another rash of sightings along Chile’s central coast in 1999. He also expressed an interest in working with an American counterpart to investigate the unremitting weirdness in the skies.

“Both requests went unanswered,” Bermudez wrote last year in Leslie Kean’s UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record. “To be frank, we’ve had no response from the United States any time we’ve tried to enlist its cooperation.”

“Actually,” says Roe, “Bermudez approached us about a year and a half ago; they’ve had ongoing UAP issues with their military for a number of years. So we’re looking forward to working with them. We’ve had a cordial relationship with Chile since we started NARCAP.”

Roe’s hope, obviously, is that a NARCAP/CEFAA alliance can create momentum for expanding formal international cooperation and data-sharing. Any bets on what the U.S. response will be?

“I guess science just isn’t sexy,” says Roe. “People don’t want to look at the data because it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s so tedious.’ We can’t control that; a lot of people have their minds made up. We’re just going to keep doing the work for peer review and keep looking for outside publications.”

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