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Rendezvous with a UFOlogist
What we saw weren't UFOs

By John Happs

Originally published in the Skeptic 15(3), 36-37, Spring 1995. Dr Happs is president of WA Skeptics.

"It is easier to attribute UFO sightings to the known irrationalities of terrestrials than to the unknown efforts of extraterrestrials". Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman 1918-1988

At the end of December 1994 I received a telephone call from reporter Stephanie Pegler of The West Australian. She excitedly told me about reports of UFOs being "called in" by an avid UFOlogist called Danny, and that a number of people, including two UFO investigators, Stephanie (with camera and tape recorder), and myself as an invited skeptic with an interest in astronomy, might be able to meet him. Would I be interested? We would be taken to a UFO rendezvous site whose location would be relayed to Danny by telepathy from a passing UFO. It was a potential double bonus -- I could become the first skeptic to witness an alien visit following a demonstration of action-telepathy. I could hardly wait!

Ideal conditions
We met in the city at 8.30 pm on a warm, still and perfectly clear evening. With no haze in the sky to create mirages, it was ideal for sky watching amd for witnessing extraterrestrial spacecraft -- although, had the evening been wet, with thunder, lightning and the sound of wind in the trees, it would have seemed ideal for witnessing terrestrial ghosts.

Danny had brought along two of his friends, and he was obviously happy to be joined by a skeptic, other UFO investigators, and someone from the media. We chatted amicably for a few minutes and the impression that I gained of Danny was that of a regular, everyday guy who firmly believed he could communicate with, and indeed had met with, the occupants of a number of visiting spacecraft.

I asked Danny about his telepathic powers. He said his ability to communicate telepathically with aliens was due to specific genes inherited from his grandmother who was well known for her psychic powers. Danny, it turned out, was a regular communicator with visitors from outer space, and he assured me that it was certain he would make contact that very evening. He was confident that we would actually witness a close encounter.

The adventure begins
So, with a contingent of six passengers in my vehicle, we waited for Danny to make mental contact with passing extraterrestrials so they could point the way towards our rendezvous point. It was arranged that we would follow his vehicle once he had been given the extraterrestrial nod. We waited a few minutes and then we were off, cameras and tape-recorders at the ready. We followed Danny in tight formation, driving in various directions before finally settling down to a course that took us due north on the Mitchel Freeway for about 30 minutes. We all felt that something remarkable was about to take place. The tension increased as we continued north and my UFOologist passengers looked as if they were ready for anything.

Danny left the freeway after having indicated well before the turnoff, which suggested that his telepathic contacts were most definite about where we had to go. We followed him into a new residential area where Danny slowed his vehicle to a crawl. I had never heard of aliens in the northern suburbs before but this could be a first. Finally Danny stopped and we found ourselves in an elevated position overlooking the city of Perth. This was not exactly my idea of a UFO rendezvous point, which were said to be always far from habitation, but then I had never been invited to one before. There were a few street lamps but not enough to prevent a clear view of the night sky and stars down to 3rd or 4th magnitude. A UFO would have to be very distant to escape our eyes on a night such as this.

Now we see it, now we don't
When Danny hopped out of his vehicle he was clearly excited. Running back to us, he asked if we had seen the UFO that had been following us up the freeway. We hadn't but no matter. Danny explaimed that it was now hovering high in the sky behind us and was clearly visible. The last time my car emptied as quickly was when our four-year-old daughter threw up during a drive to Geraldton. Excitedly, Danny pointed towards the north east where a clear reddish-orange orb was stationary in the sky and emitting a bright glow of light. Danny's two friends were positively ecstatic about the UFO. They were adamant that they hadn't noticed one in that position in the night sky before, but they were confident it was a UFO because Danny had been in touch with it all the way up the freeway.

At this point my enthusiasm waned. I asked Danny if he knew where the planet Mars was. He indicated that he didn't know. I said as gently as I could that the UFO we were observing was actually Mars. I then predicted it would appear to move westward as the evening progressed and would eventually disappear over the western horizon early the next morning. My observations were boldly made and the invited UFO investigators agreed. Danny and his friends remained noncommittal.

Back to basics
Undaunted, Danny then said we were very close to where he had witnessed his first UFO. We agreed to follow him, albeit with diminished optimism. After a short two-minute drive Danny parked in a cul-de-sac and announced that here we would see a number of rapidly moving UFOs for sure. We didn't have long to wait. A number of glowing lights moved swiftly from the west coast towards the city. One of them appeared to hover while another got noticeably brighter. Danny and his friends became more and more excited until our UFO investigators pointed out that we were observing aircraft making approaches to Perth International and Domestic Airports. The lights were certainly FO's but hardly UFO's.

Danny questioned their stationary appearance since fixed-wing aircraft can't hover. It hadn't occurred to him that an aircraft flying towards us would not only display their landing lights but would also appear to be stationary for some time. As for me, I still can't understand why spacecraft crossing interstellar space would have the same green and red navigation lights that are so familiar to us, and which are so frequently reported in UFO sightings worldwide.

Sanity returns
When it became evident that we were about to spend the evening observing a stream of passing aircraft, the two UFO investigators and I agreed that it was time to leave. Did Danny and his friends really believe they were seeing spacecraft from other planets, or was it all wishful thinking? Either way, it left in doubt the presence of intelligent life on Earth. Ironically Danny missed the only real highlight of the evening -- the brilliant trail of an incoming meteor at exactly the time he was trying to arrange our next group visit to what he claimed was a UFO landing site, saying "Perhaps with your scientific contacts you could have some soil samples analysed for radiation scorch marks or the presence of Element 115". I think not Danny, I think not.

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