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This article was published 5/6/2017 (1692 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Stan Michalak and Chris Rutkowski are closing the case on one of Manitoba’s best known and documented unidentified flying object encounters with a new book.
The two are co-authors of When They Appeared - Falcon Lake 1967: The inside story of a close encounter. The 240-page paperback details the experience of Michalak’s father Stefan, who on May 20, 1967 was badly injured while doing some amateur prospecting in the Whiteshell by what he described as a flying saucer.
Michalak was nine years old when his father returned home from the bush, burned, sick, and frightened by what he had experienced. It wasn’t long after being treated at the Misericordia Hospital for his injuries that the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the United States Air Force, media, and curiosity seekers from across the country came knocking on Michalak’s River Heights door.
"The media circus, which really didn’t leave us alone for the first six months, was insane," Michalak recalled. "‘When They Appeared’ refers to all the people who showed up at our door, and there were dozens and dozens."
Michalak said the 50th anniversary of his father’s encounter was a chance to reflect on how the experience had affected his family and set the story straight once and for all.
"The idea of a book was the best approach because it represented a chance to bring all the parts together under one roof," Michalak said. "Every bit of the story, not just dad’s perspective, but the family perspective and the official perspective."
Although the story of his father’s encounter has been published hundreds of times over the years and in different formats, Michalak said nine times out of 10 it was incomplete and neglected the personal impact of the encounter.
"We decided we wanted to show some of that and make sure that this story was told as completely as possible for the last time," Michalak said.
"Even if I put some stuff out there that was pretty personal, I thought I have nothing to lose, it’s not going to kill me, and it’s best that we should tell everything as best we can and I can finally say amen to this and be done."
Rutkowski, a St. Norbert resident, astronomer, and UFO researcher, has collected the hundreds of documents generated by government bodies and investigators on Stefan Michalak’s case. The encounter is one of the best documented in Canada, and perhaps North America, Rutkowski said, and using the extensive body of research, he set out to explain what really happened on that May afternoon near Falcon Lake.
"The conclusions of all the (investigative) bodies were that the case had no explanation," he said.
"It remains an interesting mystery; some have said it was simply a hoax, but there are so many details and complications that if it was a hoax, it certainly wasn’t a simple hoax.
"We simply don’t have an easy explanation of what happened."
Stefan Michalak never suggested the object he encountered near Falcon Lake was extraterrestrial, Rutkowski said. Rather, he was convinced it was a military vehicle and shared his story in hopes of preventing the same trauma from happening to someone else.
"He was doing his civic duty, and his family was supportive throughout all of this," Rutkowski said.
Whether the craft was extraterrestrial or not doesn’t matter, Michalak said. Knowing that his father had an experience that defied explanation but was always honest in his retelling provides some vindication for Michalak.
"I always believed what he said — you don’t not believe a man you admire. And my dad never gave us a reason to doubt him," he said.
When They Appeared - Falcon Lake 1967: The inside story of a close encounter is available at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Ave.) for $22.99.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.