MP’s concern more than a flight of fancy

The credibility accorded to reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) depends on who is reporting them. If, for example, a fellow leaving a long and thirsty evening at a Manitoba social says his lurching walk home included seeing weird lights in the sky, perhaps he would be best advised to sleep it off.

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Opinion

The credibility accorded to reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) depends on who is reporting them. If, for example, a fellow leaving a long and thirsty evening at a Manitoba social says his lurching walk home included seeing weird lights in the sky, perhaps he would be best advised to sleep it off.

But when hundreds of civilian and military pilots report sightings of objects that move at irregular velocity, speed away when approached and sometimes evade radar signals, simply dismissing their accounts seems a bit foolish.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Conservative MP Larry Maguire (Brandon-Souris)

Tory backbencher Larry Maguire says it’s time Canada stopped scoffing and gave serious attention to reputable sightings of unexplained objects in the sky. The Brandon-Souris MP, acting in his role as vice-chair of the House of Commons natural resources committee, plans to table a motion for a parliamentary committee to probe the issue.

Mr. Maguire’s effort got a boost of legitimacy on May 17, when two senior U.S. military officials testified during the first public U.S. congressional hearing into the topic in 50 years. They said there’s been a recent rise in what they call “unidentified aerial phenomena.” A catalogue of sightings by military and civilian pilots had reported 144 cases as of last year, but the number has since increased to 400 reports.

The objects in question typically move faster than any known aircraft, often defying the laws of physics with sharp directional shifts. They don’t attempt to communicate. Some have been spotted near nuclear plants, a possible security risk.

That’s what the U.S. officials know. What they don’t know, and don’t speculate about — at least publicly — is whether the objects are extraterrestrial or are craft used for alien visitation.

Department of Defense/TNS The Pentagon released three videos last year which depict unexplained "unidentified aerial phenomena" that were recorded by pilots between 2004 and 2015.

Mr. Maguire, who has been briefed by U.S. officials, wants Canadian officials to look for patterns in the many similar sightings north of the U.S. border.

A Canadian military report has said there are about 1,000 UFO sightings in Canada each year. The same report includes a Winnipeg link, saying the military sends all Canadian UFO sightings to “Canada’s pre-eminent ufologist,” Winnipeg science writer Chris Rutkowski.

Mr. Rutkowski agrees with Mr. Maguire that there is a strong need for better information on the unidentified objects so humanity can determine what it is dealing with.

Ufology Research, an organization that includes Mr. Rutkowski, says most reports can be explained as astronomical events or aircraft, but about 10 per cent of sightings remain unexplained.

Since 1995, the military has sent reports of UFO sightings to Winnipeg science writer Chris Rutkowski, describing him in the briefing as “Canada’s pre-eminent ufologist.” (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

Few are as famous as a reported Manitoba sighting that has since been commemorated by a coin released by the Canadian Mint in 2018. Stefan Michalak says he saw two flying saucers near Falcon Lake in May of 1967, one of which landed and emitted a beam of light that knocked him to the ground. A photograph of his chest showed burn marks in a pattern of dots.

While reports of such personal encounters are sensational, they are also extremely rare. The vast majority of UFO reports relate to unexplained objects in the sky, many of which are confirmed by two or more people trained to be accurate witnesses, including police officers, pilots and military officers. These are the reports that demand investigation guided by a scientifically rigorous standard.

Mr. Maguire warrants support for his push to destigmatize UFO sightings and encourage more open dialogue. The quest for more information should be non-partisan and meshed with international intelligence, recognizing that the unidentified objects don’t seem to heed human-made political boundaries or airspace designations.

The evidence at this point seems to indicate some of the mysterious objects racing about our skies are beyond humanity’s knowledge and control. It’s a matter of considerable curiosity — and, perhaps, astronomical importance — to find out what’s going on over our heads.

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