Swamp gas-or UFO?

Swamp gas-or UFO?

By Rod Myers

Swamp gas—what is it? It’s not something you get after eating alligator. Swamp gas is the gas produced from decomposing organic material beneath the water’s surface in a lake, pond, swamp or bog.

Swamp gas was a lame excuse given for a series of UFO sightings in 1966, given by none other than the U.S. Air Force.

I was in junior high school when I first heard the term “swamp gas.” It was sweeping the hallways and study halls that term—not the actual gas. It was the first time many of us took UFOs as being real. We’d all seen those scary flying saucer movies in the ’50s. I remember being taken to an outdoor movie in 1958 when I was seven, by a teenaged baby sitter to see Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Alligator People and The Fly. Alligator People and The Fly were bad enough, but during the flying saucer movie, I was scared enough to keep my head buried in Janet, the babysitter’s lap. But what the hell, they were just movies. Flying saucers weren’t real. No one I knew believed in them, and that’s what the government wanted Americans to think.

On March 14, 1966 at 3:50 a.m., two law officers watched disc-shaped objects hover over the town of Dexter, Michigan. Later, the Air Force tracked the objects leaving the town at incredible speeds. Three days later, another law officer traveling in his squad car near Milan, Mich., was tailgated by a “flying saucer” for half a mile. His radio failed him during the encounter.

On March 20 near Dexter, a farmer and his son watched a luminous object hovering over a swamp; it was cone-shaped with multi-colored lights. Suddenly, the object began to glow with a yellowish-orange color; then it sped off rapidly without making a sound. On the same evening, other strange lights were reported in the same area above different wetlands. On the following night, more UFO-type lights were seen near wetlands in the Dexter area. One report was turned in by a civil defense director and a group of students who watched UFO lights maneuvering for two hours.

Several days later, the Michigan sightings received national media attention. Vietnam War footage, a common feature on the three national networks’ nightly news programs, was followed by UFO reports from Michigan.

By then, the government decided to act, so the Air Force responded by sending Dr. J. Allen Hynek, director of Project Blue Book, to Michigan to help calm fears. Project Blue Book was the government’s official inquiry into UFO matters.

As soon as Hynek arrived, the Air Force hastily set up a press conference and shoved Doctor Hynek in front of a microphone. Hynek had no time to do any fact finding, so he grabbed for an explanation out of thin air. He said the UFOs were probably nothing more than swamp gas. But the press, who was well versed in the details of the sightings and the credibility of the witnesses, didn’t buy Hynek’s explanation. Subsequently, the press turned Project Blue Book into a laughingstock. It was a major turning point in the credibility of the U.S. government and its truthfulness about UFOs.

But it was par for the course, as more and more people believed that our government was not honest about the war in Vietnam. Many were sick of the propaganda, and they were turning against the war. The propaganda machines were falling apart, and the truth was a rare commodity. But, true to the times, much of the country’s establishment stuck with the hawks and their reasoning for a war in Vietnam. Off in a lesser corner, the establishment supported our government and its debunking of UFOs.

The war in Vietnam continued, and UFOs continued to fly, even in Vietnam. There are parallels between the present and the turbulent war days of the ’60s. Once again, we are neck-deep in war propaganda. And business as usual, the government is working hard to suppress the truth about UFOs. In the present, though, UFO sightings make the ’60s pale in comparison.

The number of sightings that are received and posted with the National UFO Reporting Center varies from 10 to 200 on any given day. UFO sightings from 10 years ago to the present, in comparison to sightings from the ’60s and before, are, as a whole, more varied, more complex, and at times more interactive with other UFOs, human aircraft and humans. Some truly spectacular encounters have occurred in the last 10 years.

Let me conclude with a little modern-day drama. In mid-October, just weeks ago, a cameraman for WXXA Television, a Fox affiliate in Albany, N.Y., was filming planes in the air at Albany International Airport. When he and others in the lab were watching the film he shot, they saw something strange in one of the sky shots. In it, a long cylinder with four fins darted across the sky. There were two fins near each end of the cylinder. WXXA knew it had rare footage, so they sent a copy to Fox News headquarters in New York and CNN in Atlanta. Both did a story on the Albany UFO.

I spoke to Jeb Rowledge, news assignment editor for WXXA Television, and this is what he had to say: “The cameraman didn’t know he filmed the object till he played it back in the studio. It was only in eight frames because it was moving fast. Still photos of the film showing the UFO were sent to the National UFO Reporting Center, where they subsequently had them analyzed.”

According to analysis, the object was large and genuine. NUFORC claimed the object is in a class of UFOs called rods. Rods are rod-shaped with multiple fins; they can be hundreds of yards long, but most are much smaller. Some are bird-sized.

I asked Jeb whether the government was interested in the film. “Yes, the FBI asked for the original tape, and we complied. They said they wanted it for reasons of national security.”

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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