The Unending Search for UFOs
No alien "mothership" lurks in Comet Hale-Bopp's sensational tail, a glance at the nighttime sky will reveal. But UFOs enjoy a more down-to-earth following than last month's cult suicides may suggest. Indeed, many self-described "ufologists" fear the Heaven's Gate incident will only hurt efforts by "legitimate organizations" to prove that E.T.'s exist.
This week, one such group, the Asheville, N.C.-based Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), plans to present its evidence at a background briefing for interested members of Congress. Among the "definitive smoking guns" are photographs, a video allegedly taken by a gun-camera on an Air Force fighter in hot pursuit of intruding "UFOs," and eyewitness accounts from several U.S. military, intelligence, and private-sector workers who claim to have studied the debris of alien craft. Apollo astronaut Ed Mitchell will cohost the event.
The aim, explains CSETI's director, Steven Greer, an emergency and trauma physician, is to move the UFO debate out of the tabloids and into public hearings. The group also is pushing for the government to disclose whether there have ever been experiments in remote mind-control, alien cryptography, and other supersecret "unacknowledged special access projects."
There may be little to divulge, however. A 1993 inquiry by New Mexico Rep. Steven Schiff turned up Project Mogul, a covert venture to develop nuclear-test-sensor balloons; officials say people mistook the balloons for spacecraft at Roswell in 1947. And last week, the Pentagon revealed the Air Force stopped investigating UFO sightings in 1969. Meanwhile, the original SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project popularized by Carl Sagan, cut from the government purse in 1993 and now privately funded, continues to scan the heavens for microwave or radio signals that might point to something more earth-shattering than the intriguing, but unreproducible, events--called "wows"--received so far.
This story appears in the April 14, 1997 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.