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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 2

MUFON's Maine Director On 'Sturrock Review'

From: Stig_Agermose@online.pol.dk
Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 04:14:14 +0200
Fwd Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 09:22:25 -0400
Subject: MUFON's Maine Director On 'Sturrock Review'

From: The Portland Newspapers (Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday




Wednesday, July 1, 1998

To him, UFO sightings are far from alien

Bill Nemitz Column

=A9Copyright  1998 Guy Gannett Communications

For 17 years, he has devoted much of his life to ever-deepening
convictions that not all people who report seeing UFOs are nuts, and
that not all visitors to Maine are from Massachusetts.

But Leland "Bud" Bechtel knows that when the guys down at the local
Agway in his hometown of Weld ask between guffaws if he has seen any
flying saucers lately, he's not exactly winning converts to his cause.

And while the Maine director for the Mutual UFO Network does the wise
thing and chuckles right along with them, he wonders deep down why it's
all so hard to believe. Who's to say they're not out there - analyzing
us, charting our progress, zooming in for an occasional close-up late
at night when only the lonely are looking?

"When you look at the statistics on the number of suns out there, it
staggers the imagination," said Bechtel, 73, a retired associate
professor of psychology at Bates College who now spends much of his
time running down UFO sightings in Maine. "It simply isn't that
fantastic to think there is life elsewhere in the universe."

This week, at long last, that "out there" view picked up signals of
potential support: An international panel of scientists concluded that
for the past 30 years, UFOs have not received the scientific research
they deserve. Fear of the "giggle factor" and the dreaded label
"lunatic fringe" has discouraged most researchers from taking on what
the Society for Scientific Exploration now says is a legitimate issue
"in a very unsatisfactory state of ignorance and confusion."

In other words, the scientists said, it's time we stop chuckling about
the hundreds of reported sightings clogging the Internet - including
such Maine legends as the Allagash Abduction of 1976 (four canoeists,
two canoes and one spine-tingling story) - and start taking a closer

The report, launched by Stanford University physicist Peter Sturrock,
was music to the ears of Bechtel, who heard about it Monday while
returning from a MUFON conference in Denver.

"Just that little report shows movement in a positive direction," he
said. "It's not all I'd like, but they're opening the door a crack."

And here in Maine, Bechtel says, there's plenty to see:

There's the couple from Cherryfield who watched open-mouthed one night
while a 60-foot-wide object shaped like a top, with orange windows and
"ferociously bright" lights, hovered over the blueberry barrens for 20
minutes. They even had time to go rouse a couple of neighbors, who saw
the same thing.

There's the woman in Turner who awoke to a blinding red light outside
her bedroom window. She opened the shades and saw an airborne craft
slowly backing away from her house. Up the road a quarter-mile, her
brother saw the same thing - at the same time.

There are the two college women who went skating on China Lake on New
Year's Day in 1997 and, in broad daylight, saw a strangely shaped craft
move slowly over the ice and disappear behind the trees on the opposite
shore. Inside their camp, the father of one of the women simultaneously
lost his television reception.

Bechtel, who longs for the day when he'll see his first UFO, has met
with all these people - and dozens more like them. And while some end
up in his "delusional" file, too many are responsible, credible,
down-to-earth witnesses for him not to believe there's something going
on here.

"I think it's far out, too," Bechtel said. "And I can laugh about it.
But I think in a couple of decades, things are going to be different."

So call him kooky if it makes you feel better. Then go outside, look up
at the stars - and take a ride on the nearest "what if."

- Bill Nemitz (*e-mail) is a columnist for The Portland Newspapers.

You can contact us at *The Portland Newspapers.