Thursday, July 14, 2016

UFOs in Utah

A few years ago a young friend and I were talking. John is a true believer in the paranormal, and despite my own skepticism I am interested in believers and their beliefs. He is open with me in his own strongly held belief that UFOs are spacecraft from other worlds. He also claims the U.S. government covers up what they know, and that aliens and spacecraft are kept in locations within the continental United States. Even in Utah.

The story he told me during that conversation was a second-hand account of a UFO sighting: “My cousin and I were supposed to get together, so I called him. When I talked to him he told me last week he and his dad had been fishing. When they got home it was dark, after 9 o’clock. He said they got out of their truck and noticed a huge black triangular shape in the sky, blocking out the stars. It was just sitting overhead, not moving. He said they looked at it and commented on it, and watched for a few minutes to see if it did anything, and then they went in the house.

“I told him, ‘You saw a goddamn UFO and you didn’t think to call me!?’” John’s voice went up a few decibels. “Well, yeah,” his cousin told him. “We’ve seen stuff like that before.”

I spoke up. “You know we are the home to Dugway Proving Grounds, ‘Area 52’…there’s a claim the government moved all of the flying saucers they’ve collected from Area 51 to Dugway.” I had just watched an episode of UFO Hunters where they were nosing around the west desert looking to see any evidence of alien spacecraft in Utah. I said it in a joking tone. John just nodded. “We don’t know the half of it,” he said.

In 2015 this issue of Utah Stories was in local stores. It is a monthly giveaway magazine with stories of interest about the state. I picked it up because of the cover, and because of an article, “Hidden Utah” by Richard Markosian, who is listed on the masthead as the publisher of Utah Stories.

After describing an “X Files experience” Markosian describes a visit to the gates of Dugway. According to him, “I was denied access four years ago. On June 21, 2015 I was denied again. Although about 500 Utah residents live in Dugway, I ask one man who was entering the gates from which I was barred, ‘Excuse me, I have to ask: What are they doing in there?’

“’Bio and chem defence [sic] testing,’ is his simple answer.

“’But of course there is much more to it than that.’ I then point out that I know about the massive Michaels’ airfield large enough to land the space shuttle. ‘So what goes on there?’

“’I really can’t tell you anything more than what I’ve told you.”

Markosian then meets Bonnie, the communications manager for Dugway, who tells him he can probably get an escorted tour if he leaves his driver’s license number and date of birth. “I can see if we can get you cleared.”

He concludes with, “I decide to ask Bonnie a few questions to see if she flinches. She doesn’t.

“Bonnie says she used to joke with people that at 5 PM each night the mountain opens up and all the alien space ships fly out. According to those who have watched Dugway from afar, Bonnie’s description is not far from the truth.”

On the next page Carolyn Kingsley’s article, “UFO watching in Utah’s west desert,” tells us how to spot flying saucers. I didn’t see any mention of giant triangular black spaceships, but the article does include some tiny pictures of other supposed sightings. I have blown them up for both clarity and for the sake of my weak eyes. I also note that a credit slug says they are from

 UFO over Utah Lake, 2005.

Following the link to the website I see some eyewitness accounts of triangular objects in the sky. The anonymous 17-year-old who reported one sighting in July, 2007, had this to say: “Me and my friend were laying on my lawn talking when I was [sic] a shadow in the sky.  I stood up to see it more clearly but it was not visible when I stood up.  I could only see it by looking from a certain angle almost as if it was invisible.  My friend had briefly seen it too.  It was completely silent and had no lighting.” That story is from my hometown of Sandy, Utah. (Hmm, maybe I should spend more time outdoors after sundown with my camera.) However, another story of a “metallic triangle,” seen in Hatch, Utah, is of a clearly seen object with multicolored blinking strobe lights. According to the witness, that one appeared in August 2007, and returned the following November.

There could be more stories, but has not been updated since 2009.

So what does any of this do to my natural skepticism? I can’t say because neither of the triangle stories had photos, and even with pictures I would still be skeptical. We live in the age of Photoshop, after all.

But if I let my imagination loose and think like conspiracy theorists do, I wonder if the NSA setting up a huge datafarm a few miles south of Sandy has anything to do with stuff going on within the Dugway Proving Grounds? Is any of the action of Utah legislators, suing the federal government over public lands (70% of Utah is owned by the Feds), because of secret stuff going on within our state borders? It’s a conspiracy theory within a conspiracy theory, and I’m almost ashamed of myself for bringing it up, but then many of my fellow Utahns are sure the federal government is conspiring against them.


DEMiller said...

Now with personal drones, people will think they are seeing UFOs even more. I was walking to my car recently and heard a buzzing sound over head. I looked up and it was a drone right over me, apparently watching me! I was the only person around. I flipped it the "bird" and it took off.

Postino said...

Dave, "Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won't you please take me along, I won't do anything wrong."

If you did flip the bird at a genuine UFO they probably wouldn't know what it means, anyway.

DEMiller said...

Good point. Although, it could mean something different to them, like "Please probe me!"