Another year… another UFO Congress! Rogue Planet was mostly in full-force the entire event (We missed you dearly Maureen!), rubbing elbows with the Ufological elite and the awesome people of OpenMinds as they brought another year of unforgettable speakers, vendors, and weirdos from all over the world. Speaking of weirdos… Jason McClellan and Ryan Sprague were in the vendor room all week representing Rogue Planet and selling their books, which included McClellan’s Only Weirdos See UFOs: An Introduction to the Public’s Misperception of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and Extraterrestrial Life and Sprague’s Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon. But most importantly, they were hearing from listeners of UFOmodPod and spending hours digging deep into every corner of the UFO mystery. So here are some highlights from this year’s International UFO Congress!
The opening day brought us Noe Torres who spoke about UFO sightings in the Old West. Torres introduced us to many UFO cases reported throughout North America in the 19th century, as documented in numerous newspaper articles and books of that time.
Our very own Ryan Sprague presented his first ever talk on the convergence of UFO experiences with UFO studies, and how both need to work in tandem to perhaps bring some understanding to the phenomenon itself and the study of it.
We also heard a deeply personal talk from Ted Roe, co-founder and the Executive Director of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP). Roe brought us through the mission of NARCAP, regarding aviation safety, the role of UAP researchers and teams with respect to the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis, and the future of UAP research.
In the morning, Alejandro Rojas of OpenMinds spoke on ETs and religion. He eloquently gave us insight into how religious leaders, those who participate in religion, and those who do not, might react when it is finally confirmed that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists. He then looked at how the belief in extraterrestrial intelligence is inspiring the creation of new religions today.
Directly afterward, Erica Lukes took the stage to talk about the frequency of strange aerial phenomena plaguing the skies over Utah, including areas such as Skinwalker Ranch, the Salt Lake Valley, Dugway Proving Ground, Tooele Army Depot, West Desert Bombing Range, Hill Air Force Base. She also brought us up to date on a case she’s been researching involving pilots and ground witnesses to an American Airlines UFO sighting. It was a refreshing look at these mysterious objects over Utah.
Later in the day, we were treated to a special panel discussion for the 20th Anniversary of the Phoenix Lights Event. It was moderated by our good friend, James Fox, and featured a wide-ranging discussion by Dr. Lynne Kitei, Richard Dolan, and Jim Mann of Phoenix MUFON.
The following day brought us a very intriguing talk by heavy-hitter, David Marler. Best known for his work into triangular UFOs, Marler switched it up this time and talked to us about the 1942 Battle of Los Angeles case, given that February ushered in the 75th anniversary of this startling case. Marler argued that this wasn’t just “war jitters” and that it was indeed a genuine aerial anomaly that caused the catastrophic events that night over the skies of Los Angeles.
Stepping our of the nuts-and-bolts arena for a bit, we were thrown head-first into a deeply fascinating presentation by author, Greg Bishop. Bishop introduced us to the “Co-Creation Hypothesis”. Using some of the newest theories about psychology, perception, and memory, he examined how we should take into account and more effectively assess the most important instrument we have for measuring UFOs: our own brains. This fresh approach will also be discussed by Bishop and touched on by Ryan Sprague in the upcoming book, UFOs: Reframing the Debate, which will be available in May by White Crow Books.
The evening brought us a controversial panel discussion about what the government knows about UFOs. The panel was moderated by Alejandro Rojas and featured government insiders and researchers such as Col. John Alexander, Col. Charles Halt, Ted Roe and Stanton Friedman. While all had varied opinions on just what the government may or may not know about the UFO topic and how it’s handled, they navigated a civil discussion that truly ran the officialdom gamut. It was quite a group to have on stage together, and one that will surly be remembered for years to come.
Friday evening also included a staple of the Congress, the annual Sky Watch hosted by Ben Hansen, Congress speaker and lead investigator of SyFy’s Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files. Hansen introduced a passionate crowd to a whole new line of night-vision equipment supplied by Night Vision Ops, and walked everyone through a lesson in how to disseminate the many objects that litter the nighttime skies.
Often the busiest day of the event, this year’s weekend was no different. The morning began with an in-depth analysis of recent comments made by Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and former president, Barack Obama. Using his knowledge, having worked with the FBI. Hansen looked at the variety of body language of these individuals during interviews where they discussed UFOs.
The next speaker brought a whole new presentation to the Congress, focussing on media bias in UFO coverage. This was presented by UFO historian, and Congress favorite, Richard Dolan. Dolan dug deep into how the media not only covers the UFO topic, but how it influences our beliefs in the phenomenon itself. He also recommended ways to overcome this bias, and where to turn to get objective and respectable coverage of the UFO topic. One can only hope that UFOmodPOD was included in that list!
Perhaps one of the most intriguing talks of this year’s Congress came from Prof . Erling Strand, who spoke about The Hessdalen Phenomena that took place in the Hessdalen Valley in Norway, from 1981 to 1984, in which at least twenty reports came in a week about these strange lights being seen. In 1983, Project Hessdalen was established and runs up until today, still gathering reports of the lights in the valley. Erling presented the history, major milestones, and key findings of the Hessdalen Project and why it is just now beginning to get the attention of mainstream science.
We then continued discussing the Phoenix Lights Incident in a presentation by investigative filmmaker, James Fox. Fox shared his investigation into the Phoenix Lights and then brought several of the witnesses on-stage to share their incredible experiences that night in 1997. Then audience members were treated to never before seen video of former Arizona governor, Fife Symington, discussing his own Phoenix Lights sighting. It was a wonderful collection of information that truly shed new light on this mysterious mass sighting.
The evening ended with the EBE Awards Ceremony. The film festival awards found Robert Hasting’s UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed winning the Best Short Film award. In the Feature Length category, Patty Greer won both the Feature Film Award and People’s Choice Award for her film, Crop Circle Diaries.
The Awards didn’t end there, however. The Life-Time Achievement Award went to Yvonne Smith, abduction researcher and hypnotherapist. A standing ovation brought tears to her eyes as she accepted the well-deserved award.
In perhaps the most surprising award of the night, Researcher of the Year went to former Blink 182 frontman, Tom DeLonge, on his current work in his Sekret Machines project. DeLonge made headlines when his correspondence with John Podesta was made public in an email Wikileaks release. DeLonge is currently working with a circle of government and military officials on getting information out to the public about past, present, and future research and projects relating to UFOs. DeLonge graciously accept the award via video, announcing in a rather cryptic way, that his work has only just begun.
The entire Congress concluded on Sunday with three very special events. The first was that of Paul Stonehill who brought us some amazing UFO reports out of Russia and across Eurasia. He also spoke at length about underwater UFO reports that remain unsolved until today. One particular USO mystery, the “kvakeri” phenomenon, warranted a special Soviet Navy research program and is still a state secret.
We then heard from former NASA aerospace engineer, Ken Johnston who spoke about alien bases on the moon according to NASA photos. Against all authority, he acquired many classified photos and hid them for over forty-seven years. He has made his personal archive available to the world so researchers can have access to the high definition digital copies of his first generation pictures. They can be found HERE.
We then heard from our last panel, which featured Yvonne Smith and Kathleen Marden, discussing the future of abduction research, and just exactly how important it is to listen to those having the experiences. It was a powerful discussion that led to many more questions than could ever be answered.
With closing remarks being made by Alejandro Rojas, the 2017 International UFO Congress came to a successful end. Rogue Planet was honored to be present among so many people from around the world coming together with one purpose: to find answers to these deeply perplexing phenomena. And we have no doubt that next year’s Congress will usher in new speakers, new ideas, and some of the most forward-thinking individuals in this crazy arena we call Ufology.
Also… don’t ask James Fox where the 701 film stands. Ben Hansen did just that and receieved a left hook to the jaw. You’ve been warned…
Ryan and Jason were fortunate enough to catch up with some of the speakers at this year’s event for UFOmodPOD.
To hear the interviews via UFOmodPOD, CLICK HERE