Welcome to the February 2008 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
Like all the editors of Hot Gossip, I was deeply saddened by the recent death of our Editor in Chief, Georgina Bruni. Her death follows a long and courageous battle against illness which she fought with great dignity. Georgina was not just a colleague, but a friend. I have many happy memories of good times spent at her Knightsbridge apartment, eating Italian food (she was an excellent cook), drinking champagne and wine and generally having a good time. Her parties were legendary and attracted a fascinating mix of people ranging from ambassadors to actors, from musicians to military personnel. She accomplished so much in her life, but given the topic of my column it would be remiss of me not to focus on one of her greatest achievements. Her book on the Rendlesham Forest incident is the definitive work on one of the best known UFO cases in the world. The book was the result of years of meticulous and diligent research, much of it stemming from tracking down and interviewing the military witnesses. It won her praise not just from the UFO community but from former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Hill-Norton and from General Gordon Williams, who had been Commanding Officer of the bases where the incident occurred. Georgina moved freely in political, diplomatic and military circles and the title of her book, You Can't Tell The People, stemmed from a conversation she had about UFOs with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The launch party for her book was held in the King Henry VIII Wine Cellar in Ministry of Defence Main Building on Whitehall. Georgina was intrigued by this fascinating UFO incident and did more than anyone to try to get to the bottom of the mystery. Perhaps she now knows the answers.
Last year the MoD announced that it intended to release its entire archive of UFO files. Recently, MoD announced the details of what this will involve. There are a total of 160 files dating from the 1970s to the present day. Older files are already available at the National Archives. These new files will also be sent to the National Archives in Kew, where they will be available in paper format for visitors. But for those who are unable to visit, the files will also be available digitally, via the Docs Online service. The files will be released in a rolling programme, in chronological order, starting with the oldest files. It is hoped to release the first files this spring, but the entire process is likely to take three years. The reason for this is the need to ensure that certain details are removed, such as names and addresses of witnesses and information the release of which would prejudice national security. Watch www.mod.uk and www.nationalarchives.gov.uk over the next few months for further details. I will provide updates on this exciting new development in future columns.
UFO Sightings in Texas
Last month the town of Stephenville in Texas became the focus of attention when a wave of UFO sightings were reported by numerous local witnesses. There was extensive media coverage of these sightings including an item on Larry King Live, where guests included several of the witnesses, documentary filmmaker James Fox, UFO researcher Stanton Friedman and sceptic James McGaha. In an era where some sceptics suggest that ufology is dead, this mainstream media coverage reminds us that the UFO mystery is events-led and still has the power to fascinate the public and the media.
Out of the Blue
Following on from the above, filmmaker James Fox has revealed that he is working on a follow up to the classic documentary, Out of the Blue. Entitled Beyond the Blue, few details are yet available, but the film will focus on government, military and aviation community witnesses. This documentary is not yet available, but the updated 5 year edition of Out of the Blue is out. Click on www.outofthebluemovie.com for details of this fascinating film. The full uncut DVD of the 12 November 2007 Coalition for Freedom of Information event at the National Press Club is also available from this website.
I could hardly mention Out of the Blue without mentioning another top drawer UFO documentary called Best Evidence. Made by Canadian documentary filmmaker Paul Kimball, the film focuses on 10 UFO cases, some well known, others less well known, that collectively represent what both Paul Kimball and the wider UFO community regard as the ... best evidence. A trailer is available on You Tube. Additionally, check out www.bestevidence.blogspot.com for further details.
As mentioned last time, an interesting new magazine is about to hit the newsstands. Alien Worlds is the brainchild of Stuart Miller, who previously ran the successful ezine UFO Review. Alien Worlds will feature subjects such as UFOs, SETI and astrobiology but will also delve into broader issues concerning extraterrestrial life and indeed the origins of life on Earth. The first issue should be available on 8 February. Check out www.alienworldsmag.com for more details. I wrote an article for the first issue, giving the inside story of Project Condign - a formerly classified UFO study sponsored by the Defence Intelligence Staff and now released under the Freedom of Information Act. In the article I explain some of the behind the scenes politics that led to the setting up of the study.
Laughlin UFO Congress
Later this month I am off to Laughlin in Nevada, where I shall be speaking at the 2008 UFO Conference and Film Festival. This marathon conference runs from 23 February to 1 March and other speakers include Budd Hopkins, Peter Robbins, Russell Targ, Richard Dolan and many more. In fact, there are a total of 40 speakers, making this event the biggest of its kind in the annual cycle of UFO conferences. This is always an international event, but this year the Brits are coming. Aside from myself, UK speakers include Philip Mantle, Spyros Melaris, Ross Hemsworth and Mike Oram. Check out www.ufocongress.com for details of this conference.
New Jersey UFO Conference
There is to be a 3 day UFO conference held at the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, from 15 - 17 February. Speakers at the Atlantic Coast UFO Conference include Budd Hopkins, Peter Robbins, Bill Birnes, Paola Harris, Richard Dolan and Lynne Kitei. Check out www.atlanticcoastufos.com for further details.
Nick Pope has written four books. Open Skies, Closed Minds is an overview of the UFO phenomenon with the emphasis on his official Ministry of Defence research and investigation. The Uninvited is an overview of the alien abduction mystery. Operation Thunder Child and Operation Lightning Strike are science fiction novels about alien invasion, incorporating UFO and abduction data. All four titles are available from most good bookshops and all the usual Internet book sites.
Nick Pope has a website, which can be accessed at www.nickpope.net