Note: Lest I receive volleys of slings and arrows, let me be clear. I am not, in any way, trolling or attempting to subvert the projects of To the Stars, Luis Elizondo, Tom DeLonge, nor any other individual connected to this club. I remain romantically and open mindedly skeptical, critical and pragmatic. My six-ish years of active investigation, privately, or with local groups or with MUFON, into the anomalous has taught me a thing or two; chiefly being that no one has a damn clue as to what is going on or what they are doing. Moreover, it has taught me to be leery of those who make bold claims of truth and knowledge in a discourse that hinges upon the unknowable. With all that being said, I remain, as I think we all must, in the “I don’t know.”
For reasons both in and out of my control, I have been revisiting the works of John Keel and Gray Barker. I consider their body of work essential reading for any UFO or paranormal researcher and enthusiast, and not because they are “right” or “trustworthy.” Within ‘UFOlogy’ and paranormal research, there is no “right” or “trustworthy.” The phenomena itself never fits into these ideologies. Rather, they are worth reading because of their active and open agenda to enshrine one honest and fundamental principle; all paranormal research, be it into ghosts, UFOs, cryptids and other weirdness, is essentially an ever evolving mix of fiction and fact. That is not to say that these bizarre and strange events do not objectively happen, but that the interpretation of those events are not objective, but hang upon mythology, archetypes, symbolism and the current historical and cultural paradigms we dwell in.
The Contactee movements of the 1950s and 1960s saw Venusians and men from Lanulos named Cold, and flying saucers with landing struts. The 1980s into the present bore the imagery of navigationally inept grey EBEs who dined on strawberry ice-cream, evil reptilian abductors, and technologically clunky interstellar travelers armed with 20th century syringes for breeding hybrids (though the alien hybrid narrative was mentioned in Keel’s “The Mothman Prophecies” in the mid 1970’s). Today, we engage in much of the same interpretive operation. We track Tic-Tacs with gun cameras and radar, much like we used to stare at photographs of landing marks and crop circles. Countless hours used to be spent pouring over pictures of flying discs with magnifying glasses looking for filament wires or testing the veracity of poorly shot 90’s video footage, God help us, before the age of High Definition. Today, not much has changed. We continue to watch and re-watch “Gimbals” and “Go-Fasts” and “F4s”. We still lament the fact that much data is missing, and if the government truly was democratic, they would finally disclose the “reality” behind the phenomenon. We can trust the government and its former employees, and we can’t trust the government because it is lying to us. Everyone and no one is a disinformation operative. Rick Doty is an outcast who thinks the UFO community is going to the “shit house” yet, most recently, spoke at a UFO conference and has been welcomed back into the fold like the Prodigal Son (to be honest, he is a nice guy).
As the legendary Shirley Bassey and The Propellerheads so eloquently put it,
“The word is about, there's something evolving,
Whatever may come, the world keeps revolving
They say the next big thing is here,
That the revolutions near,
But to me it seems quite clear
That it's all just a little bit of history repeating.”
Every UFO enthusiast and researcher since Arnold landed his plane in 1947 has argued that their era was going to be the most important in all history. That 1948 would be the year that the lid would get blown of this thing. Or was it 1949? Or 1950? 51? 52? I honestly can’t remember because the same claim has been made for every year and every decade. To suggest that these paranormal pioneers were wrong or foolish is hubris. I have little doubt that in twenty years when I am a “UFOlogical dinosaur,” many new young guns will laugh at my belief that 2019 or 2020 or 2021 would chime in the revolution.
Keel points out in The Mothman Prophecies that paranormal enthusiasts have been playing this game before UFOs even became ‘a thing.’ Ancient shamans and prophets who spoke to their gods, medieval men and women of various religions who saw visions and prophesied, and regular everyday Forteans who found themselves communing with Lam or encountering the supernatural or paranormal have all bore the mantle of researchers of the strange, and have always made claims of great change, paradigm shifts, and sought official confirmation of some esoteric force. In all this, the phenomenon has existed. In all this, the phenomenon has evolved and changed with those who chase it. Like it or not, it will continue to do so long after you and I are dead. Barker and Keel never reached “The Truth.” Neither did Corso, Keyhoe or Hynek. Neither will Greenwood, Dean, Jornlin, Graham, Rutkowski, Lukes, Costa, Sprague, Damante, Corbell, Kloetzke, Knapp, Bigelow, Puthoff, Pasulka, Green, Nolan, Clark, Vallee, DeLonge, or Elizondo (and you and me for that matter).
The inherent wisdom that both Barker and Keel understood and attempted to impart upon their readers is that the ontological “Truth,” the destination, is and forever will be unreachable. What matters most of all in this paranormal theatre of the absurd is the journey. The path we tread stretches on well beyond us, and paths are not built all at once, but with the placing of one stone at a time. Those stones we place are the stones of our time. Our collective zeitgeist, our cultural and social ideologies which seem so vital and essential now but will change and evolve as the years progress. Tic-Tacs, Black Vaults, AATIP, and metamaterials will fade into the past as did Catherine Crowe (I bet you had to look her up), Richard Shaver’s stories (if you had to look this one up, you should be embarrassed), and Project Sign (no excuse if you had to look this up, just go back to ‘being normal’). However, those Tic-Tacs, FOIA archives, government programs and alien artifacts stand upon the same path great women and men have walked before us, and future great women and men have yet to trod long after we have become footnotes in the paranormal narrative.
Keel got it right when he wrote,
“Many of the choicest tidbits in UFO lore were not actual events but were put into circulation by contactees who placed their complete trust in their contacters. The entities spun wild tales about crashed saucers being confiscated by the U.S. Air Force, farmers shooting and wounding spacemen, and so forth. Contactees repeated the stories to wild-eyed UFO enthusiasts and so they spread in ever-widening circles until they appeared in articles and books.” (The Mothman Prophecies, 1975).
UFO writers and supposed experts will continue to expound their theories and hypotheses concerning anti-gravity propulsion, raising the planet’s vibration, or the distant stars which allegedly house great civilizations who traverse space, time or dimension to communicate with little old us. Ashtar Command and the Secret Space Program will continue to manifest in different ways and under different names. We will continue to have conspiracies and ‘disinformation’ agents. More government intelligence officers will come forward to talk about their work and what they saw. All the while, the phenomenon itself will, to paraphrase Eliot, hold our coats and snicker.
I return to the expertise of the great Shirley Bassey,
“And I've seen it before
And I'll see it again
Yes I've seen it before
Just little bits of history repeating.”
This all begs a question; what is the point then? Why research at all? Why chase the paranormal or UFOs or the strange? Beyond the simple fact that it is so very fun, do not all human endeavours follow the same pattern? The long well walked roads of mathematics and science have not yet been completed. Future math will build upon contemporary math. Future science will rest its hindquarters on current science. Language, culture, and art are all constantly evolving, ever pressing forward, and never being totally finished. What is the point doing any of it? Because we must. In some strange odd way, it is our compulsion. We are naturally driven to see what is around the next corner or over the distant hill. Interestingly, the phenomenon, whatever it may be, seems to coax us. We are lured to it. Just when we think we are getting close, something changes. Flying saucers become Tic-Tacs. Landing traces become radar tracks. Black and white photographs become HD gun camera footage. Turn and look back every once in a while, and hope that those who come after you will look back also. The path gets longer. More stones will always be needed, so keep placing them down one by one.
- MJ Banias
Chain of Custody, and Why Doggedly Pursuing the Facts is Essential.
In 2017, the (in)famous “2004 Nimitz Flir1 Video” was released by To the Stars Academy (TTSA). Commonly known as the “Tic Tac Video,” it was taken during an encounter in November of 2004 with an object resembling a white Tic Tac off the coast of California. The story has been repeated ad nauseum, but if you need to catch up, I’ve linked to the TTSA website for your convenience.
1) The Nimitz Report
2) An interview with the pilot who took the footage
I admit that this event, all the attached witness reports, anonymous whistleblowers, and documentation is a massive tangled web. I, like so many others, are unsure where it begins and ends. However, right smack dab in the middle of this web (of mythological proportions) is not TTSA or AATIP or AAWSAP or any other acronym under the sun, but some unknown individual who, in 2007, brought this incident too light for the first time.
I want to state that I have no evidence beyond what is already online. Moreover, I wish to thank the illustrious Isaac Koi for acting as my sounding board and allowing me to bounce ideas off of his brain, and providing some great insight.
I will begin at the end. In 2017, TTSA brought the video back out of the murky depths of the ether. Providing details, reports and some insight, the TicTac Video began making the Ufological discursive circuit. On their website, they claim,
“this footage comes with crucial chain-of-custody (CoC) documentation because it is a product of US military sensors, which confirms it is original, unaltered, and not computer generated or artificially fabricated.”
Ok, so “chain-of-custody” according to TTSA’s definition, is simply that the footage is authentic because it came from military FLIR hardware. What is missing, however, is the CoC documentation which explains HOW To the Stars got its hands on this video. So, we can argue the video is authentic. What we do not know is where the video came from.
Who pulled the video from the F-18’s FLIR camera? Who uploaded it to the Nimitz’s computer system? Who pulled that file and made a physical copy? Who authorized its potential declassification and release? Who gave it to TTSA? While these questions may seem immaterial to the believers, these questions are essential to sorting out the story. Moreover, what seems to continuously be swept under the rug in this narrative is the fact that TTSA was not the first to release this video.
Let’s rewind to 2007. On February 3rd, an Above Top Secret Forum user, ‘thefinaltheory,’ posted a story in which he describes his time on the Nimitz in 2005 (note the year). Describing an alleged UFO encounter, thefinaltheory explains that he accessed the Nimitz computer system and made a copy of several files including FLIR footage from the gun camera of an F-18.
Quote (Raw, no edits):
“I logged on to the top secret computer network *NOTE! I edited the name of the network out due to a suggestion/safety* and did a search of our File Server drive for the most recent modified files. This scanned all users, regardless of rank. Nothing was hidden from me. I especially looked for new files and those that were modified around the time of the "sighting".
I found many videos and powerpoint breifs (navy standard) and written reports and even message traffic that was being passed through our radio division. It was all there. I couldnt believe it at first, but then our ship called in the Air Force because even the captain didnt know what the hell was going on.
I burnt all these files to a disk and stashed it somewhere, unfortunently I dont have it anymore....I've forgotten where i put it... though i think it might be out of state at a close relatives house...ugh...
well here is what the video was:
It was taken directly from the cockpit camera of one of our ships fighter pilot jets F-18 I believe but cant be sure. It was in black and white and showed the altitude, the pilots "nickname" and the tempurature and all those little critical stats.
The UFO was floating extremely still in mid air, this was 30,000 ft above ground level. It looked literally and i mean LITERALLY just like a disk, no stupid traingles or any gimicky things like Independence Day or whatever. It looks exactly how the goverment wants you to NOT think it looks like. It's simply put, a disk.
So it was floating, the figher pilot tried to get numerous locks on the UFO but everytime the cross hairs tried to hone in the crosshairs scaled back and forth. I dont know how to put it into words well, but I know what i saw. Crosshairs move in and move back out, it couldnt get a lock whatsoever.
After about I say 10 seconds or so the UFO started to move. It moves in ways that we have never seen before, it spontaniously moved in a half circle upward and paused once again. Then it suddenly teleported about five times all over the pilots screen. The movement is instant and cannot be followed. It simply put, is amazing and so fast the eyes cant see it.
There was a bright light and suddenly it dissapeared, out of sight.”
Being that it was 2007, no one really paid any attention. It was just another UFO story on the UFO forum.
The next day, on February 4th, thefinaltheory posted a second thread including a link to the video (known as “F4” due to its download name) as well as a “cut and paste copy” of a corresponding report. While not official, the report was dated November 14th, 2004 (note the date, which now correlates to the Nimitz event). There is no way to confirm the report, and to most at the time, it was deemed a hoax. Furthermore, it doesn’t jive totally with the current testimony made by the pilots. I don’t want to wade into those waters. I leave it for other researchers to make heads or tails of.
Here is the link for the video as provided by thefinaltheory in 2007.
As was pointed out by Isaac Koi, in 2007, the website was hosted by a German film company. Again, at the time, most took this to be an elaborate hoax. User thefinaltheory never provided any documentation regarding the video. If you wish to see the video now, you can access it via the Wayback Machine. I have also downloaded a copy from that link and uploaded it here.
To convolute this story even further, a second forum user, cometa, came forward, and according to the dozen pages of forum content, aided thefinaltheory in uploading the video file to the German Vision Unlimited server. In other words, according to cometa, the German film company basically allowed the video to reside on their server, so people could view it. Cometa’s profile was disabled by ATS admin. He created a second profile, cometa2.
To add to the mystery, thefinaltheory’s account was created the day of his initial post, and she/he only created two threads, the two cited in this blog post. The last login was in May of 2009. Cometa was a well-established user when he aided thefinaltheory. Again, we can speculate that thefinaltheory and cometa are the same person. Or they aren’t. It doesn’t matter. Much of the content from thefinaltheory and cometa, such as the event logs and reports, have come out in the last year via TTSA and other individuals. I leave the researchers with more time to cut through it and sort out what is what.
Moving on. Some examination was done comparing the original video from 2007 (referred to as F4) and the TTSA TicTac video on Metabunk. According to the video’s metadata, there are some differences. Most importantly, the metadata on the two videos, according to the poster elevenaugust, suggests that the videos were edited and cut differently with different software. This would make sense. Whoever edited the 2007 F4 footage would have different software than TTSA in 2017. Furthermore, the video was edited using North American NTSC formatting, and not using the European PAL format. This proves nothing, but it suggests that the German film company was merely a hosting service, and not responsible for creating/editing/cutting the film. Begs a big question though; who edited the original F4 and why is it identical to TTSA’s 2017 TicTac video?
My last point regarding the content of the footage is a quote from the Metabunk user elevenaugust.
“1- In comparison with the TTS video, it [F4] lasts longer, 1’16.717 vs 1’16.209.
2- There are two missing frames in the beginning of the f4 video.
3- There are three missing frames at the end of the TTS video.”
So, the 2007 F4 video and the 2017 TicTac video are basically the same. We can account for the changes in the metadata because the TTSA version has text explaining the video’s content. TTSA clearly edited the video to provide context. This could account for the differences in metadata, higher resolution, frame rate changes, etc.
Moving forward in time to 2017 and TTSA’s re-release of the F4/TicTac video; we are left in an interesting situation. According to the TTSA,
“While there have been leaked versions on the internet, the CoC establishes the authenticity and credibility that this (TTSA’s TicTac, emphasis mine) version is the original footage taken from one of the most advanced sensor tracking devices in use.”
Ok, according to what? The 2017 TicTac video is the same as the 2007 F4. Herein lies the essential problem; while the video may be authentic, in that it is from a military F-18, how do we know that TTSA’s released video is not simply a copy of the video released in 2007? We have no chain-of-custody documentation proving that the DoD or any government agency gave the video to TTSA or its contractors. All we can do is speculate. Everyone, from the ardent die-hard fans to the staunch overzealous debunkers, is speculating. No one, apart from the contractors and employees of TTSA, are holding any cards. This is why “chain-of-custody” is important. I’m all for taking TTSA at its word, but, as the Lannisters remind us, “words are wind.”
Since no chain-of-custody documentation has been provided, as I stated above, no one knows who pulled the video from the F-18, from the Nimitz, or the DoD archives, or anything. Why is the TTSA version “credible” and “original” when it came out a decade after the 2007 F4? Furthermore, the content of the footage is identical. Why is F4 not “credible” and “original?”
Without any of the chain-of-custody documentation, this all smells a bit off. I’m not saying that the video is a fake; rather, I’m questioning why and how it was released, and to what end. At this point, you should have some questions running through your head.
Does this mean that TTSA’s version of the video is different (that is, from a different source, and not the alleged stolen copy), yet for some reason, edited and cut identically to the 2007 F4? If TTSA does have an “original” and “authentic” copy, why edit it to be the same as the footage released a decade earlier? Moreover, if this is the case, then records will exist for its declassification and release to TTSA or one of its contractors. We could also speculate that the DoD does have the original uncut footage, but only released aspects of the video already in the public domain to TTSA. It is also possible that a DoD staffer saw the post on ATS back in 2007 and downloaded a copy of F4 for DoD records. If the video was declassified/released to TTSA, or one of its contractors, years later, then all they were potentially given by the DoD was a copy of F4.
It may be the case that TTSA’s 2017 TicTac version IS the 2007 F4 video. This would obviously account for why it is identical beyond some cosmetic editing. If that is the case, why does TTSA insinuate that their version is “authentic” in relation to the “leaked versions” on the internet? Perhaps an unknown source provided the video to thefinaltheory in 2007 and to TTSA in 2017?
With all this being said, let’s assume that TTSA has all the proper CoC documentation, and are simply choosing not to release it. Capitalism is king after all. Perhaps they are saving it for a future release? Perhaps they will include it in some future documentary film? I get it. It’s a for-profit company. The only people who know what TTSA has and does not have is TTSA. If all that CoC paperwork does exist however, we are still left with our original leaker, thefinaltheory.
We need to appreciate that whoever thefinaltheory is, he or she got to the finish line first. A decade before the vast majority of the world got the 2017 TicTac, a single post on ATS in 2007 brought the Nimitz event into the light. While it was a whisper, and not a bang, the implications are massive. Beyond the basics of thefinaltheory’s identity, which I would love to know, is how they got the footage.
According to the ATS post, thefinaltheory burned a copy to a disc while serving on the Nimitz and simply snuck off with it. Apart from the legal implications, wouldn’t the computer system on the Nimitz track who accessed what, when and if they made copies? As pointed out by CPO Kevin Day in an interview on Phenomenon radio, every time someone uses radio communication, a log is made, and an audio copy is recorded and saved for future reference. Would not logging in and accessing top secret files on the internal computer system, and yanking those files for copy, also be tracked?
Perhaps thefinaltheory was court marshalled for espionage, or, maybe got away with stealing Top Secret Naval data (which would be damn impressive). Perhaps, as the story goes, it was illegally stolen from a computer onboard the Nimitz. Perhaps thefinaltheory fabricated the story. When you read the account, it does sound a little absurd. Therefore, if the only known source of the original 2007 F4 video was dishonest, then what does that say about the video itself?
Again, this is why the actual chain-of-custody documentation is essential. Without it, all TTSA can do is ask to be trusted and taken at their word. Luis Elizondo concludes his latest blog post by stating,
“Humans have only been able to accomplish all that we have because we are able to receive and process new information, and adapt to new realities. As for the topic of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, we have a choice. We can allow our beliefs to fill in the gaps or we can continue to doggedly pursue data in hopes that what we know informs what we believe.”
Ironically, the UFO community is being asked by Mr. Elizondo’s current employer to believe. The F4/TicTac video is authentic not because we know, but because we believe. We are being asked to have faith in TTSA and its various contractors. As Mr. Elizondo proclaims, we ought to “doggedly pursue” the data. I agree with Mr. Elizondo, and that is why the chain-of-custody documents for the TicTac video need to be made public. That paperwork is the “data” which will give us the knowledge to “inform” our beliefs.
There are very few people who actually have an answer, and this web is continuing to be spun. With every Twitter post, internet radio interview, and news article, the Nimitz event is being lionized as one of the most important UFO events in history. It very well may be. Half a dozen contractors and Tom DeLonge know how to unravel this tangled and curious web. As for the rest of us, all we know is that at the center of this web sits a little forum post, a man named cometa, and his buddy, thefinaltheory.
The above thirteen minute interview with Richard Dolan has been circling the Ufological world. Published by Earth Mystery News on July 6th, Dolan presents his interpretation of the day after Disclosure, its effects, as well as some interesting political rhetoric concerning American foreign policy. One very interesting point in the interview occurs when Mr. Dolan posits that any disclosure would have to be forced out by, or at least, fully controlled by the public. His concern is that the current political powers will package the disclosed information, and feed it to the public however they saw fit.
Dolan refers to a shadowy elite group who desire and work to keep the public in check. The people are controlled by, to quote Adam Smith, the “masters of mankind,” the elite who maintain all for themselves and none for the rest. If there does exist a cabal of controllers, how then can we have “honest disclosure?”
It was 9 years ago, almost to the day, that on April 23rd, 2007, Ray Bowyer and his passengers aboard flight A-Line 544 departed Southampton, England. It was a routine 45-minute flight in good weather and visibility- and as they neared their destination, they witnessed two large unidentified objects hovering over the English Channel for several minutes. This simple flight, flown hundreds and hundreds of times previously, threw Boywer and his passengers into the world of ufology, and their experience has been dubbed the 2007 Alderney UFO Sighting.
It’s Spring, and I’m back out at my cabin in the wilderness of Manitoba (that’s a province in Canada). The cabin is in the woods about 20 minutes east of Lake Winnipeg and about 20 minutes north of the Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation Reserve. I usually don’t write about cryptozoology, but I feel that my present situation necessitates a post about my favourite but underrated cryptid- the Wendigo, a creature that inspires so much fear that many refuse to talk about it, as uttering its name may summon it to you.
The Wendigo legend is prevalent across North America, however, the Anishinabe people in Southern Manitoba (made up predominantly of Ojibway and Cree peoples) have a deep seeded fear with this spirit/creature. While the legend has variations, the prairie provinces of Canada seem to hold a very consistent lore concerning the Wendigo.
In response to a question from someone, I had found a review I had written many years ago of the first St. Paul UFO Conference in 1998. I was one of the invited speakers for the event.
I originally posted the review to the former UFO Updates, and I posted it recently to the new UFO Updates Facebook page. In case you didn't see it there, here's my review.
As it turns out, humans have been tracking planets like Jupiter much longer than originally thought- about five centuries longer, if not more. Does this mean that ancient alien theorists have been right all along? Have the Ancient Babylonians been receiving special help from their "Sky Gods" to decode the movements of our solar system? No. No, they have not. Don't be silly. Humans did this...we sorted this out on our own, and we should be proud.