On March 23rd, Phil Klass did over forty of us proud! Not only did we get his presentation, "Bringing UFOs Down to Earth," but we got a second hour's talk on "What the Media won't tell you about Roswell." The subsequent discussion session lasted until the library staff threw us out at 5pm. About twenty of us then moved on to Fisher's where the discussion continued over an excellent meal. We only broke up about 7.30 because Phil had to catch his train back to Washington.
Phil pointed out that UFOs are real and that reports of many events have been made by multiple credible witnesses. The problem is whether the reported events can be identified as alien spacecraft or whether investigation will reveal them to be misidentifications of mundane phenomena. He gave as an example an eye-witness report, from a distance of 1000 feet, which contained such details as windows and riveted-plate construction. This turned out to be the re-entry of a Soviet booster rocket seen at a distance of many miles. Another multiple report was of a mothership and several scout ships which flew close by three aircraft in turn, swerving to avoid the third. All three pilots had seen a meteor fireball with glowing fragments breaking off it. It hadn't passed within 300 feet of the planes, it had been 50 miles away. It was only identified because someone on the ground happened to photograph it.
After the Air Force gave up collecting UFO reports in 1969, the amateur groups took over. Their principle was to assume an extra-terrestrial origin if no immediate prosaic explanation could be found. As Phil pointed out, this encourages sloppy research, particularly as the UFO groups have a tendency to refuse to publish, or even to fire, investigators who probe too far and burst their best cases. However, even the UFO groups have had difficulty swallowing the Gulf Breeze photos which Phil convincingly showed to be a (highly profitable) hoax.
Phil then fielded questions on SETI, John Mack, multi-dimensional worlds, David Jacobs and the needless fear of alien abduction. On the Roswell Incident, the alleged recovery of a crasher saucer in 1947 and the subsequent government cover-up, Phil revealed that the recovered debris had come from a highly secret spy project and that, to that extent, the "weather balloon" story had been untrue. However, there had been no alien spacecraft. His proof was photocopies of once secret CIA and Air Force memos from the years just after 1947. In these the people who would be expected to know most about the "crashed saucer" are plaintively asking each other, "Have you any idea what these UFO things are?"
One theme to which Phil kept returning, both in the discussion session and in his Roswell exposée, is the extent to which UFOs are a media conspiracy. Though he has been interviewed many times for TV programs, little of what he has said has made it past the cuttingroom floor. The saucer proponents and conspiracy theorists get all the publicity but the man who can show that there is no government cover-up can't get a hearing.
Despite all this, Phil keeps looking, as he has been doing for 30 years, still hoping to find the evidence for a real extra-terrestrial spacecraft.