Welcome to the March 2008 round up of news and views on UFOs, alien abductions, crop circles, ghosts, the paranormal, the unexplained, the weird and the wonderful.
Tributes To Georgina Bruni
Like all Hot Gossip editors, it is still hard to accept that our good friend and Editor In Chief Georgina Bruni is no longer with us, having passed away on January 19. I heard a lot of feedback from the UFO community, all of whom were deeply saddened by her death and full of praise for her investigation into the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident - sometimes dubbed Britain's Roswell (indeed, I think Georgina may have coined the phrase). I was particularly struck by the comments I heard from former United States Air Force personnel who had been involved in the incident as witnesses or who had been serving at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge at the time. Without exception, whatever their beliefs, they thought Georgina had undertaken a first class investigation and written the definitive text on the case, You Can't Tell The People. Georgina was both liked and respected by these USAF personnel - a pretty tough and close bunch of people whose respect and trust is not easy to earn.
The History Channel series UFO Hunters is in full swing and on February 27 in an episode entitled Military and UFOs they tackled the Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. Contributors included Charles Halt, Jim Penniston and Gary Heseltine. Some interesting new points emerged. I was interviewed too and was filmed at Bentwaters. Despite my long coat, I can testify that filming at a windswept former airbase on the East Coast of England in November is an experience that I will not forget in a hurry. I have only recently thawed out. The episode also covered the 1956 sighting involving the bases at Lakenheath and Bentwaters. Check out http://www.history.com/minisites/ufohunters/ for details of the series. This series was filmed late last year, but while the producers were keen to interview Georgina, illness precluded this. Nonetheless, as with all documentaries on this case, her book You Can't Tell The People, played its part in guiding the producers through this most complex of UFO cases.
As previously trailed in this column, Alien Worlds has now gone live, with issue one of the newsstand magazine available in the UK from W H Smiths, Borders and other newsagents and also available via subscription. The magazine is edited by Stuart Miller and looks superb. Covering not just UFOs but SETI and other space topics, this magazine should have a broad appeal. Issue one includes an article I wrote on Project Condign, a major new article on Roswell by the always controversial Nick Redfern, an interview with UK SETI scientist Professor Ian Morrison and features by innovative thinkers such as Mac Tonnies and Paul Kimball. Check out www.alienworldsmag.com for further details, the online forum, news updates and details of how to subscribe.
21st Century Ufology
One of the most interesting articles in Alien Worlds was penned by filmmaker Paul Kimble, who argued that ufology needs a Barrack Obama, i.e. a young and dynamic figure to sweep away the old guard. In this article and in his http://redstarfilms.blogspot.com/ blog he has made the related point that the ufological Establishment are living in the past and failing to engage with young people, largely because of their failure to embrace new media such as blogs and social networking sites. I am not sure I entirely agree with this, because I think sometimes less is more and there is a danger of spreading yourself too thin, but nonetheless this is one of the more interesting debates to have started recently in ufology. Arguably, it applies to other areas of paranormal and mystery research too.
MUFON 39th International UFO Symposium
Details of the Mutual UFO Network annual conference this summer have just been announced. The event will be held at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose and speakers include General Wilfried De Brouwer, Dr. Anthony Choy and Captain Rodrigo Garrido. I will also be giving a presentation which will include an update on the release of the MoD archive of UFO files, due to begin imminently. The event lasts from July 24 - 27. Check out http://www.mufon.com/symposia.htm for further details.
As mentioned above and covered in previous columns, the MoD will very shortly begin the process of releasing 160 UFO files previously unseen by the public. Do not expect everything to be released in one go, as was the case last year when the French Government released their archive of files. Rather, expect to see 3 or 4 files released each month, starting with ones dating back to the Seventies. This rolling programme of disclosure will take around 3 years and will be more manageable for the MoD. It will also make it less of a story for the media and this may have formed part of MoD thinking on the mechanics of this file release.
Phoenix Mars Mission
On May 25 the Phoenix Mars Mission will touch down on the Red Planet. Part of the wider Mars Exploration Program, this lander will study the Martian arctic, looking for signs of water and perhaps even helping determine whether there was once life on Mars. Check out http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/ for details of this mission - the first to be led by a public university.
If you get a chance, go and see Cloverfield. It is one of the best movies I have seen in a while and I speak as someone who regularly watches movies and commentates on them in the media. Try to avoid finding out too much about the movie before you see it and steer clear of the reviews - even though most of them say the film is superb. Just go, wonder what on earth is going on, then sit back and enjoy the ride. Awesome.
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