UFOs: Close Encounters of the Second Kind (CEII)
Close Encounters of the Second Kind are rare, probably because the evidence they leave is often identifiable and/or explainable after investigation. At the core of paranormal study is the researcher's or scientist's ability to examine tangible evidence. The rare instances of unidentifiable evidence found in CEIIs may turn UFO skeptics into Ufologists.
Credited with categorizing UFOs into "Close Encounters", astronomer J. Allen Hynek was skeptical of UFO reports when first hired by the Air Force as a consultant in 1949. However, in a 1970 interview Hynek admitted that were a small number of UFO reports worthy of detailed study . In fact, his enthusiasm for extra-terrestrial research prompted Hynek to later create the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS).
Roswell, New Mexico—Weather Balloon, Military Test, or Bona Fide CEII?
Probably the most famous, longest-lived, and one of the first CEIIs to be investigated is the Roswell, New Mexico incident. On July 2, 1947, a rancher reported a UFO crash. Later, witnesses reported that the U.S. Government recovered four alien bodies from the crash site and relocated them to Area 51, a military test site in Nevada. An early press release stated that the government had recovered a flying disc . However, the U.S. government claimed that the "UFO" crash and resultant recovery was only that of two weather balloons. The veil of secrecy surrounding the sensational Roswell incident kept this CEII in the public eye through much of the rest of the 20th Century.
Then in July 1997, the Pentagon published the results of a four-year investigation. Roswell Case Closed reports that the wreckage was a high altitude balloon with four life-sized dummies that simulated parachute drops. The report also asserts that the balloons were launched as part of the US Army's "Operation Mogul" initiated to detect Soviet nuclear tests in the upper atmosphere. However, a 1997 poll showed that 65% of the American public still believes that the Roswell incident was a genuine Close Encounter of the Second Kind.
Crop Circles are a phenomenon often found to be hoaxes or later explained as geological or meteorological phenomenon. However, in some cases crop circles are discovered after UFO sighting reports and classified as Close Encounters of the Second Kind. One such case came from a small town in Minnesota back in 1975.
A group of approximately 20 people, including police, witnessed a UFO hovering over Medford High School football field in November of 1975. The bright red-orange disk with rotating lights was only visible for a minute before it "just disappeared" from sight. However, it left evidence of its presence behind. A circle of burnt grass remained where the craft had hovered over the field.
Dr. J. Allen Hynek and seasoned UFO investigator, Ted Phillips investigated the incident. Phillips, who specialized in physical trace cases, took soil and grass samples from both inside and outside the burned area. His tests showed that soil samples from inside the circle exhibited fluorescence, while those in the outlying area did not. Minnesota MUFON quotes Hynek as stating, "Samples of the grass were found to have been subjected to considerable heat. This is similar to hundreds of other cases." Although similar to other cases and first thought by local law enforcement to be a hoax, the Medford CEII remains unexplained.
Close Encounters of the Second Kind are not exclusive to the United States. In 1991, a skull was discovered in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS-a group made up of some of the former Soviet Union satellite countries). Sh. B. Begaliev, the head physician at the Panfilovski Regional Hospital described the skull as belonging "to a creature with highly developed intellect, but of non-human origin." He based his opinion on the facts that the skull contained a "large volume of cerebral hemispheres" but had no normal eye-sockets or nasal holes and a "low volume of calcium in the bone structure". However, although Lebedev documented Begaliev's findings in "The Soviet Scene 1990", (The UFO Report 1992) that report remains the only source cited in UFO literature.
2. David Lamb, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Philosophical Inquiry (New York: Routledge, 2001) 128-130, 202. Questia, 28 Jan. 2009 <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=108095865>.
3. Barry Parker, Alien Life: The Search for Extraterrestrials and Beyond (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1998) 222, Questia, 28 Jan. 2009 <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=99921745>.
4. Older UFO Sightings. Mutual UFO Network, Minnesota. 4/08/06.1/30/2009. <http://www.mnmufon.org/ufoold1r.htm#70s>