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MAGONIA Monthly Supplement No. 11 January 1999

From: Mark Pilkington <m.pilkington@virgin.net>
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 18:35:24 +0000
Fwd Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 21:37:24 -0500
Subject: MAGONIA Monthly Supplement No. 11  January 1999

MAGONIA Monthly Supplement
(or the supplement formerly known as ETH Bulletin)

Interpreting contemporary vision and belief


         No. 11  January 1999


Magonia is a subscription magazine which appears only every
three months. This supplement is freely available on the
Internet and, being monthly, can be more up to date and provide
quicker reactions to events. This publication continues the
series started with ETH Bulletin and now deals with any of the
topics discussed in Magonia, instead of being exclusively
concerned with the evidence for the ETH.

Readers who do not have access to the Internet may write to the
editor requesting printed copies. There is no charge for this



UFO researcher Robert J. Durant (email: 70232.17@compuserve.com)
has sent me a copy of a new edition of a report originally
produced in 1959 about a sighting at Sheffield Lake, Ohio. (1)
Dr Menzel considered it sufficiently important to devote 10
pages to it in one of his books. (2) Readers of the Report are
invited to compare it with Menzel's account. So here goes. At
about 3 a.m. on the morning of 21 September 1958, Mrs William
Fitzgerald was lying in bed at her home in Sheffield Lake, Ohio,
when she noticed that the room was illuminated. She stood on the
bed, pulled back the curtain and looked out of the window. She
saw an object directly across from her which looked like a disc
with a hump in the middle. The object appeared to be of a dull
aluminium colour and was about five feet off the ground. She
estimated the size of the object as being 20 to 22 feet in
diameter and about 6 feet high.

The object moved north across the lawn, gradually losing
altitude until it was about 50 feet away and one foot off the
ground. When it stopped moving, smoke billowed around it. The
smoke came from openings in the rim, each of which contained
about seven pipes. During the time it was visible the object
made a noise like "a jet engine warming up".

It is generally agreed that it was cloudy at the time of the
sighting, but there is disagreement as to whether it was or was
not raining.

Mrs Fitzgerald's son, aged ten, also saw the object, his attention being
drawn by the light shining into his bedroom.

This case generated intense controversy, centred on questions as
to the accuracy of the witnesses' descriptions and possible
explanations. Two Project Blue Book sergeants visited Mrs
Fitzgerald to investigate the report. It was said that the light
that attracted Mrs Fitzgerald's attention was a spotlight on a
Coastguard vessel on nearby Lake Erie; there were other lighting
effects from a train which was said to have passed the house at
the time of the sighting; and the weather at the time of the
incident was a misty rain with haze and smoke. The investigators
concluded that " . . . the combination of moving lights, noise
of the train and prevailing weather account for the illusion
experienced by Mrs Fitzgerald". Mrs Fitzgerald's description of
the UFO and its manoeuvres was fairly detailed, so it is
difficult to see how she could have been so badly mistaken in
her interpretation of what she saw. Much of the controversy
centres on the fact that there were two main investigations of
the incident, one by Project Blue Book and the other by a local
UFO research group. The UFO group accused the Blue Book
sergeants of carrying out an amateurish investigation and
reaching a conclusion not in accordance with the facts. In the
new edition of their report, Robert Durant goes even further. He
was present when the Air Force sergeants interviewed Mrs
Fitzgerald, and he says that one of them was drunk.

According to Dr Menzel, Mrs Fitzgerald had prepared a coherent
account of the UFO sighting with the aid of the local UFO group.
Regarding the interview with the sergeants, Menzel alleges:

"To the amazement of the sergeants, Mr C [Robert Durant] seemed
to assume that he was in charge of the interview, answered the
questions put to Mrs Fitzgerald, and continually interrupted
with questions and statements of his own. After half an hour of
this frustrating procedure, Sergeant A led Mr C out into the
yard. In the house, Sergeant B resumed the inquiry and filled
out the official report form."

Durant's version of this episode is rather different. He writes:
"For the record, I was "Mr C". I did not answer questions put to
Mrs Fitzgerald. A frustrated Sergeant A did not lead me out into
the yard. It was I who, in my frustration, led him into the yard
when it appeared that neither investigator had the slightest
interest in looking at the place where the witnesses saw the

"For the record, the Sergeant who accompanied me into the yard
was plainly intoxicated and reeked of alcohol. We agonized about
making an issue of it, or reporting it to the Air Force, but
decided it was not the gentlemanly thing to do. (I am no longer
feeling very gentlemanly about any of this.)" According to The
Fitzgerald Report, a drawing of an object very similar to the
one seen by Mrs Fitzgerald appears in Project Blue Book Special
Report No. 14, (3) thus tending to confirm the authenticity of
the sighting. Menzel, of course, has a different interpretation.
He alleges that members of the UFO group had shown her the
sketch in the Blue Book report, before she prepared her drawing,
assisted by an artist. (The Blue Book sketch is the one in the
report marked Case VIII, Serial 0576.00.) It is very similar to
the Fitzgerald sketch.

Unfortunately, Durant is unable to remember whether or not Mrs
Fitzgerald was shown a copy of the Blue Book report at any stage
of the investigation. Also, Menzel does not say who told him
that the ufologists showed her the sketch in the report.

There is also much disagreement over the theory that the smoke
seen by Mrs Fitzgerald came not from the flying saucer but from
a steelworks about one and a half wiles south-west of her house.
The ufologists say that the wind at the time was from the
north-east, basing this assertion on a statement by a Coast
Guard man mentioning "the sea condition out of the northeast".
However, this could refer to the swell generated by the wind on
some distant part of Lake Erie. The weather reports from
Cleveland give the wind direction as SW or SSW, as Menzel notes
in his book. Menzel alleges that this meant that the smoke
reported by Mrs Fitzgerald came from the steelworks. This seems
reasonable until you start to think about it. A plume of smoke
comes from a steelworks chimney, pours down to the ground and,
without dispersing, snakes along the ground for one and a half
miles until it reaches the Fitzgeralds' back yard. It doesn't
seem likely, and I have never seen smoke from factory chimneys
behaving in such a strange manner. It seems to be agreed that
the air was smoky and misty, but the UFO was only a few feet
from the witness, and it seems to me that it is necessary to
look for some other explanation if one wants to regard the
sighting as being satisfactorily explained.

Menzel explains the noise heard by Mrs Fitzgerald as the sound
of a train passing the house about 100 yards away, although she
says in her statement to the local UFO group: "The noise was
unlike any I have ever heard made by the trains which run

Menzel ends his account by quoting from a letter from astronomer
Dr Thornton Page to a member of the UFO group in which he
writes: "As a scientist I am interested in unexplained
phenomena, but the one or ones responsible for Mrs Fitzgerald's
sighting is or are undoubtedly highly complex. It is just as
false to say simply that she saw a flying saucer 20 feet in
diameter as it is to say that she saw nothing, or that she
simply saw the train headlight on a mist." Page states that if
ufologists insist that she saw a flying saucer, the onus is on
them to prove that there is no other explanation of what was
seen and heard.

As this incident happened such a long time ago, and in view of
the disagreements between official and private investigators, it
is unlikely that any general agreement will be reached as to its
explanation. It could perhaps be useful, though, to compare the
case with other, similar reports.


1. Durant, Robert J. The Fitzgerald Report, MidOhio Research
Associates Inc., Box 162, 5837 Karric Square Drive, Dublin, Ohio
43016, 1998

2. Menzel, Donald H. and Boyd, Lyle G. The World of Flying
Saucers, Doubleday & Company, New York, 1963, 279-288

3. Air Technical Intelligence Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force
Base, Ohio. Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14, 1955


Philip Klass has kindly sent me some articles and press cuttings
about the Hudson Valley UFO reports and this has prompted me to
take a closer look at them. It is now becoming clear to me that
the reason why ETH ufologists are not very interested in these
sightings is that they already know the explanation, and it has
nothing to do with alien spacecraft.

The problem for ETHers is that it was quickly established that
there were many amateur pilots in the Hudson Valley area, and
that some of them had got together to practice formation flying
at night. Their skills improved with practice and the number of
aircraft in the formations increased so that they presented an
impressive sight in the night sky.

Some of the UFO reports generated by these flying displays were
quite impressive and contained obvious exaggerations and
inaccuracies. Instead of conducting rigorous and critical
analyses of these reports, the ufologists attempted to preserve
the mystery by asserting that, while some of the sightings were
of light aircraft in formation, others were genuine UFOs. They
were helped in this by some witnesses who claimed that they
could easily tell the difference.

It is important to examine these reports to see how witnesses
and ufologists claim to distinguish between aircraft and "real"
UFOs. We must bear in mind that, as the objects were seen by
hundreds of witnesses, there was do doubt as to their reality.
This reminds us of Jenny Randles's finding that UFOs seen by
many witnesses invariably turn out, on investigation, to be IFOs
(identified flying objects).

One of the main distinctions between the aircraft and the UFOs
was gleefully seized on by the ufologists. The UFOs often
hovered silently over the witnesses. Light aircraft cannot hover
and are not silent, therefore they must have been genuine UFOs.
It does not seem to occur to them that if the aircraft were much
higher than the witnesses thought they were, and if they were
moving towards them, against the wind, then they could indeed
appear to be hovering silently.

The authors of Night Siege (1) attempt to make many of the
sightings seem impressive by taking the witnesses' descriptions
as being accurate. They fail to take account of the fact that if
you fail to identify an object in the sky, then you have no way
of estimating how far away it is or how big it is.  	An
interesting feature of some of the reports is the irrational
behaviour of witnesses in attempting to chase the objects in
their cars. The car chase is a familiar feature of many action
films, but this consists of one car chasing another. A car
attempting to chase an aircraft, or any other airborne object,
is an obvious absurdity. Yet the UFO literature contains many
reports of cars chasing things in the sky, usually Venus. A
curious feature of these accounts is that investigators rarely
comment on the irrationality of such behaviour. A notable
exception is Allan Hendry, one of the few ufologists who does
not obviously have a few screws loose, who remarked: "What
amazes me is that people are surprised when they are incapable
of chasing after an airplane in their car." (2)

The main value of the Hudson Valley sightings is that they
provide the opportunity for studying the development of the UFO
myth in a limited area, over a limited time period. The stimulus
which started and sustained the reports is known, and a number
of witnesses have been repeatedly interviewed and the
development of their experiences and beliefs regarding UFOs has
been recorded. Some have claimed repeated sightings, and even
abductions. The large collection of reports from this area
provides a good opportunity for those with the necessary
abilities and resources to devise a fairly precise version of
the psychosocial hypothesis. However, the desire of most
American ufologists to believe in ETs is so strong that this is
unlikely to happen.

References 1. Hynek, J. Allen, Imbrogno, Philip J. and Pratt,
Bob. Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings, Llewellyn
Publications, St Paul, Minnesota, 1998

2. Hendry, Allan. The UFO Handbook, Sphere Books, London, 1980,


Until shortly before his untimely death in January 1996, Roger
Sandell provided information for readers of Magonia on the
Satanic child abuse scare in Britain. However, he was unable to
obtain details of a particularly disturbing case in Pembroke,
south Wales. There was very little about it in the papers,
mainly because it resulted in a trial which lasted for seven
months, and the accused and the alleged victims could not be
named for legal reasons. Now, journalist Byron Rogers, who comes
from that part of the country, has conducted an investigation
and published his findings in The Sunday Telegraph (10 January

The story began in May 1991 when a local boy, aged nine, already
in care for a year, accused his father of sexually abusing him.
He was then subjected to "prolonged counselling by social
workers", as a result of which he told stories of orgies in
barns, where men in gowns fired shotguns into the roof to ensure
the silence of the children who were being abused. Goats had
been ritually slaughtered in the local cemetary. The boy went on
to accuse his mother and other local adults.

In June 1992 a 14-year old girl ran away from home and accused
her father of abusing her. The man pleaded guilty and was
sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. The men who had been arrested
following the allegations made by the boy had been freed without
charge, but the girl also started telling fantastic tales when
"counselled" by the social workers, with the result that
eighteen children from nine families were taken into care and
eleven men and two women were arrested. Six of them were
convicted of child abuse, in spite of the fact that some of the
prosecution witnesses recanted their statements. One of them
said that she had been told what to say by social workers, who
threatened her that if she did not say what they wanted her to
say she would never see her children again.

On appeal, only one of the six was successful, in spite of the
dubious evidence and the fact that few local people believe
there to have been any substance in the accusations.


ODDS AND ENDS =================================

Chthonic fantasies. For several years some British ufologists
have been aping their American colleagues by indulging in
fantasies about secret underground bases - some of which might
even conceal aliens or crashed saucers, who knows? The custom
over here is to return to this topic whenever there is a
shortage of UFO reports; if you see nothing in the sky then look
underground. Of course, there are real underground bases and
there has been a lot of rubbish written about the one near RAF
Rudloe Manor, a place with which ETH ufologists are obsessed.
This base, intended to be a seat of government in the event of
nuclear attack, has recently been opened to the media and
pictures of it have appeared in the press and on television. The
fantasy about the underground railway from Rudloe Manor to
Downing Street probably arises from the fact that the Box Hill
railway tunnel is adjacent to the base. A number of similar
bases have already been opened to the public. At this rate there
will soon be nothing left for the fruitcake tendency to
fantasise about.

The maniac on the platform. Magonia No. 19 (May 1985) contained
an article by Michael Goss entitled "The Maniac on the
Platform". This was inspired by a conversation he heard in the
London Underground about a maniac who pushes young women under
trains. He discussed the folkloric implications of this story
and concluded, " . . . I don't think I want to believe in him. I
prefer him as foaflore . . . " Unfortunately, it wasn't very
long after this article appeared that a maniac pushed a woman in
front of a train at Wimbledon station (south-west London). There
have been similar incidents since. The latest incident, this
time on the New York subway, occurred on 3 January when a young
woman was decapitated by a train after being pushed off the
platform at 23rd Street station by a man with a long history of
mental illness. (The Daily Telegraph, 6 January 1999)

UFOtrash. Each member of the Magonia editorial team is equipped
with a delicate scientific instrument, known as a Crap Detector.
I should have left mine switched off when I tuned in to Channel
5 on 4 January to watch Stranger than Fiction: The Great UFO
Conspiracy. No sooner had the familiar and, er, distinctive,
features of Stanton Friedman appeared, and before he even opened
his mouth, my Crap Detector indicator showed "Overload" and its
chips were fried, or whatever the technical term is. The other
persons talking utter garbage in this programme were Wendelle
Stevens, Bruce Maccabee, Nick Pope, Timothy Good and Robert
Oechsler. Need I say more?

MAGONIA Monthly Supplement is available on the Magonia web site,
with printed copies sent to the favoured few. Please send all
articles, letters, etc. direct to the Editor: John Harney, 27
Enid Wood House, High Street, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 1LN  UK


Mark Pilkington
Magonia Online


"Mutated beaver's pretty good.
But mutated beavers that can telepath and teleport are really something."
Bron Fane, Beaver Mutation

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