Close Encounters "The Eyes of Texans Are Upon Them" by D. L Dobbs
D.L. Dobbs K8NQN
6612 Pleasant Street
Cincinnati OH 45227
Something strange was moving up there! Across the glittering star fields of
moonless Texas night it crept, a small orange light, pulsating slightly and
growing brighter Abruptly, it changed direction, Reddish now, it proceeded
right angles to its former course, away from the smudge of light on the
horizon that marked a distant city.
A flight controller hunched intently over his radarscope. Its eerie glow
illuminated an expression of amazed disbelief. A silent whistle escaped from
his pursed lips. An 80o turn at 16,000 mph and out of range already?
Involuntarily, his throat muscles tensed to speak to the pilot of the only
plane on the scope, then relaxed. Who would believe him? Probably an
equipment malfunction, he thought. Yet stories told by oldtimers, stories at
which he had scoffed, began to filter into his mind.
Much lower now, the object skimmed slowly over an area of rough terrain A
lone car probed the dark county road with high beams. Nearing the crest of a
hill, it switched to low as a glare showed someone was coming. The beer net
on 34/94 was pleasant company. Suddenly there was only dead silence. Worse
yet, the engine and headlights had quit at the same moment!
Too busy braking to question the source, the driver was thankful for the
light as he brought the car to a stop on the berm. But now the approaching
blaze looked like a jet-propelled magnesium flare. Just as it seemed that it
must smash right into the car, it was up and over and off into the sky
behind. And a ham sat quietly, shaking for five minutes before realizing
the engine was running, the headlights were on, and the repeater was
chattering away as though nothing had happened "What was that?" was still
At that moment, not far away, as it had all day, every day for months, a
unique laboratory waited to answer that question. Near the very limit of
their sensitivity, recording instruments deviated slightly from the norms of
their tireless monitoring. Inside a low building, pale by starlight against
the dark hillside, electrons surged through microcircuitry. A minicomputer
swiftly executed its intricate series of commands. An alarm shrilled,
alerting duty personnel. Quickly all posts were
manned, and the sophisticated technology of the only known scientific
facility in the world dedicated solely to UFO research was ready for what
Still adjusting headsets, observers manning three phototheodolites at widely
separated locations on the 400-acre site scanned the stars for one that
moved, waiting for instructions. They were not long in coming. "Magnetic
anomaly, 270 degrees, increasing in intensity. Stand by." Inside the
laboratory, the director studied the endless white tongue of paper extruding
slowly from the chart recorder. Light fine lines were being penned on it,
measuring the output of various sensors.
Periodic blips indicated time signals being received on 60 kHz from WWVB Two
of the channels were now showing deviation well above their baselines.
Attention shifted expectantly to the color video terminal.
From high atop a tower rising into the darkness above a nearby building,
powerful radar pulses were sweeping a 12-mile radius For several rotations
there was no unusual return Then, "Radar lock-on!" As coordinates of the UFO
were relayed to the field observers, excited cries doubled in the headsets.
"Got it! Orange lenticular object, moving in fast."
All three phototheodolites were now tracking the object. Each operator
concentrated on keeping the image of the UFO centered on an illuminated spot
in his aiming scope, while shaft encoders on the pan-and-tilt heads of the
telescopic cameras were feeding coordinates into the computer. At the same
time photographic evidence was being collected, data sampled from each of
three locations every few seconds was being processed into a video display.
The UFO's path was seen superimposed over an image of the area beneath it.
Actual distance readings were being printed out for permanent record.
Busy as it was, though, the computer was also performing a number of other
vital functions. As the vidicon operator focused on the approaching UFO, it
measured the arc subtended by the image and computed the size of the object.
It also computed the visibility radius of the object, and retrieved the
and phone numbers of ARGUS volunteers who should be able to see it. Several
telephone lines were being pulsed with the dual tones so familiar to
autopatch users, and
sleepy voices began answering phones shrilling on bedside stands miles away.
As each answered, the name and phone number was printed out and the
heard, "This is an Operation ARGUS alert! Please do as you were instructed."
Suddenly wide awake, the observers hastily pulled on clothes, jammed feet
into shoes, and grabbed binoculars and cameras on the run. This night they
were not to be disappointed. Here was UFO event-sharing on a silver platter,
in contrast to the ordeals suffered by our friends in "Close Encounters" on
the silver screen. Unlike the movie, the scenario we have imagined is hardly
fantasy. This laboratory actually exists. At this very mornent, whatever the
time, its equipment is scanning the sky, waiting for the real thing to
happen. This is where history may be made-Project Starlight International,
In the rattlesnake- infested hill country north- west of Austin, Texas,
accessible only by four-wheel drive, lies the 400-acre site of the
for Instrumented UFO Research, a facility unique in the world. At this
location, field research is conducted for Project Starlight International, a
research division of the Association for the Understanding of Man, which is
nonprofit educational organization based in Austin. PSI's purpose? To
and irrefutably the existence of UFOs. Ray Stanford, founder and managing
director, is an acknowledged expert in the field of UFO research. Author of
Socorro "Saucer" in a Pentagon Pantry, he conducted a fascinating and
well-documented investigation of the Socorro, New Mexico, landing of April
24, 1964. According to Stanford, there is no known research facility in the
world dedicated to UFO investigation which even approaches the so-
phistication and capability of PSI.
This high-powered research effort is directed by a professional astronomer,
Dr. Daniel H. Harris, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona. Dr. Harris,
something of a modern pioneer, is the first scientist to accept a full-time
paid position in UFO research, Right now, final touches are being completed
on the most sophisticated of the equipment, and the laboratory will be fully
operational. Much of the equipment is already scanning Texas skies
twenty-four hours a day. And a most impressive array of scientific goodies
What are the prospects for irrefutably document- ing a close encounter? Much
better than you might think, as witness the photographs showing only one of
several UFOs observed at the site. But wouldn't it be better to go to the
UFOs rather than hope they appear at one location? Actually, that was the
historical approach. During the green fireball episode in the late '40s and
early '50s, teams of investigators for Project Twinkle rushed from one area
to another where sightings were being reported. Invariably, they arrived too
late to see anything. The UFOs, it
seems, didn't wait around for them. PSl decided that it would be more
productive to establish a permanent laboratory with sophisticated equipment
and man it around the clock, seven days a week. The other option is still
open, however. A vital core of instruments can be transported on short
by four-wheel-drive van to any location where it might be needed.
Until now, most UFO research has been anecdotal. Witnesses of past events
could be interviewed and second- or third-hand information could be
correlated. Infrequently, a fortuitous amateur photograph, usually of very
poor quality, might turn up. Or perhaps a bit of soil from a purported
landing site could be secured for analysis. Immense effort went into
analyzing and rehashing data of this kind, and there is a lot of it. UFOCAT,
the computerized files associated with the Center for UFO Studies, now
contains over 60,000 close encounters. And Ted Bloecher
has indexed over 1500 close encounters of the third kind, in which contact
with entities was reported.
However, there was no way to study UFOs directly and scientifically. Like
weather, lots of people talked about UFOs, but nobody did anything about
them-except for the military, which was busy trying to shoot them down.
Scientific voices have cried in the wilderness almost from the beginning of
the modern UFO era in World War II, urging serious investigation. Back in
1968, the House Committee on Science and Astronautics held a hearing on
Dr. Garry C. Henderson, then project leader on the lunar surface
gravimeter/surveying system, proposed an implemented plan to acquire hard
facts about the existence and nature of UFOs. He even detailed the
instruments which should be used. And Carl Sagan, an astronomer who is as
outspoken an advocate of the well-inhabited
universe theory as he is a skeptic about UFOs, has said that anyone really
interested in the supposed phenomenon should use high-quality
to probe its nature. Finally, someone is doing just that!
PSI is equipped to study a broad range of physical effects which might be
associated with UFOs. Their objective is to gather a maximum range of hard
data and to disseminate this information quickly to members of the
community. At a local level, larger numbers of people, probably including
some hams, will be able to share in UFO events through Operation ARGUS.
The Greeks, as usual, had a word for it. Argus was a character in Greek
mythology who had eyes all over his body to make him a good watchman. At the
Laboratory for In- strumented UFO Research, ARGUS stands for Automated
on Geo located UFO Sightings, and we have illustrated how it might work in
practice. But there is a lot more to scientific UFOlogy than this.
UFOs have been reported to cause magnetic, radio-frequency, electrostatic,
and gravitational effects, as well as temperature changes, barometric
disturbances, and sounds. PSI's automatic recording equipment therefore
includes three magnetometers and a gravimeter, as well as a microbarometer,
an electrometer, and a sky camera activated by magnetometer deviations. An
ambient microphone records voice input and audio effects, while a
highly-directional microphone can handle distant sounds. The eight-channel,
sensoractivated chart recorder
displays low-frequency data up to 150 Hz correlated with universal time from
WWVB. Radiofrequency scanners and recorders also incorporating UTC input
cover the rest of the spectrum.
A computer-interfaced magnetometer system has been completed which will
process field-effect data. Newly-designed sensors with 60-Hz filters respond
up to 700 Hz and are oriented in three dimensions. Thus a three-dimensional
video model of the magnetic field around a UFO can be displayed, showing
component in a different color. Pulsations or changes in light emitted by a
UFO can be monitored by an electronic system utilizing solid-state sensors
having a bandwidth of 10 MHz.
OZMA and CYCLOPS are strange-sounding names for serious projects funded by
the U.S. government to search for intelligent life in space. Possible
communications from selected stars have been monitored. SETI, Search for
Intelligent Life, is an ongoing NASA project which is developing designs for
a very large system of antennas and computers for the purpose of contacting
extraterrestrial life. Since NASA scientists are convinced of the importance
endeavors, PSI has not neglected this aspect of UFO research. Are UFO
intelligences, if they exist, capable of or interested in exchanging
intelligent communication? To answer this question, a modulatable Liconix
605M helium-neon laser has been installed which can transmit voice, code, or
television signals. Any m6dulated light response which a UFO might make to
the laser signals can be detected as sound or as a TV image.
Radio transmissions other than noise have not been reported from UFOs.
Disruption of radio transmission and reception, on the other hand, is
frequently reported. This is why laser light rather than rf was chosen for a
communication experiment. According to many reports, what appear to be
coherent light beams of various colors have been projected from UFOs. And
searchlight beams directed at UFOs have been seen to bend sharply, due
perhaps to some field effect or variations in atmospheric density. These are
phenomena worthy of investigation for
which the laser equipment could be used. In addition, the system can be
adapted to determine the distance of an object with extreme accuracy using
reflected laser light.
As you might expect, photographic documentation is an important aspect of
laboratory program UFOs within range will find that they are captured on
moving picture film. A Super-8mm sound movie camera with a 1-to-12 ratio
lens is also available. From various stations at the site, three
automatically synchronized 35mm cameras, one of which is equipped with a
diffraction grating for spectral studies, record any UFO event.
Highresolution, close-up images of objects being tracked can be obtained
using Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes of 2,110mm and 1,250mm focal lengths, as
well as a 240mm telephoto lens on the 35mm movie
UFOs have often been reported to investigate new or unusual light patterns
the ground. Some have responded to lights flashed or directed at them. For
this reason, a light pattern response experiment has been devised, although
it is rarely used. A hundred-foot circle consisting of ninetyone 150-Watt
spotlights contains a single light in its center Solid-state circuitry and a
microprocessor make it possible to sequence the lights in any desired
pattern, or even to mimic the light patterns of a UFO.
KI2XBj, the only known radar facility in the world dedicated exclusively to
UFO research, was Iicensed by the FCC on june 8,1977 Although it is planned
to install a more effective system for broadrange sky coverage when funds
permit, the present Raytheon Model 1700 covers a 12-mile radius with 360
degree rotation. Operating on 9375 MHz, its 7.5 kW pulses can detect
reflective objects up to 20 degrees above the horizon.
How big was the UFO? This easy-sounding question is one of the most dif-
ficult to answer accurately when a sighting has occurred. Was the object
large and far away, or was it small but close to the observer? Few people
around with optical range finders in their pockets, and it is rare that a
passes in front of some background object which can provide a distance
reference. At PSI, however, Operation ARGUS can determine distance
electronically by radar. Not all UFOs reflect radar signals, apparently, but
this poses no problem. Accurate horizontal
and vertical coordinate data from shaft-encoders on optical tracking
equipment can be triangulated by the computer to provide ac- tual distance,
horizontal distance, and altitude. If the area of an image can be measured,
the size of the object can then be computed from the distance data.
When a UFO is being tracked, the ARGUS computer has been programmed to
from its memory of 472 square miles of terrain that sector of a full-color
topographic map over which it determines the object to be passing. The path
of the UFO then appears on the video display superimposed over the image of
the terrain. Sequentially- tracked positions are indicated by successive
ters or numbers. The entire episode, correlated against UTC, can be
from computer memory for later study. Ground objects over which the UFO
passed or hovered
as well as possible landing sites will thus be a matter of record. They can
be examined for evidence later, if the UFO departs before a mobile unit can
reach the site.
We've had a look at the GUS of Operation ARGUS, which is primarily
technological The AR, automated ringup, deals with people, for it is in this
way that local volunteers can get involved. Ray Stanford terms this aspect
the operation "UFO event- sharing." Here is a concept of great potential to
us as amateur radio operators, wherever we may live. As a movie, "Close
Encounters" was great entertainment and could even be con- sidered
educational in some
respects. But, fantasy aside, what is the actual status quo with regard to
UFO knowledge at the present time?
To be honest about it, there is a great diversity of opinion on the subject.
UFOlogists, many of whom have been investigating the phenomenon for thirty
years, present a spectrum of opinion. Some take the position that little or
nothing is known concerning the true nature of the UFO. Official government
interest vanished with the dissolution of Project Bluebook and the issue of
the infamous "Condon Report," which as much as denied their existence. On
other hand, a number of authorities believe that the reason for governmental
disinterest, including the recent
refusal of NASA to reopen the field for investigation,. is that they already
know all about UFOs. In his book, Situation Red: The UkO Siege, Leonard
Stringfield builds a strong circumstantial case that intact spacecraft have
been recovered from crash sites, and that extraterrestrial humanoids have
been autopsied. If so, it now appears unlikely that military authorities
voluntarily expose these facts to public view. However, a lawsuit filed by
one UFO group against a government agency under the Freedom of Information
Act could produce evidence of such concealment.
Between these viewpoints, one finds many theories about the nature of the
UFO. Some UFOlogists believe that the phenomena may be psychic in nature.
Others think UFOs are a mass neurosis, a psychological projection from the
race mind. A few like the idea that they are a control mechanism, designed
in- fluence human evolution in the manner we saw dramatized in the movie
"2001." Most, however, believe the evidence points to hardware from outer
space, vehicles from some distant star system which operate through
space/time in a manner we cannot
yet comprehend. It is this hardware aspect of UFOs which renders them
susceptible to instrumental investigation. We may be on the way to answering
what UFOs are, but the questions of where they are from and why they a here
will ultimately have to be answered as well.
Where, then, does all this leave us, as interested citizens who want to know
the truth? And what can we do to help, or to be prepared when the next
or wave of activity once more fills our skies with something strange?
There are things we can all do. For those fortunate enough to live in the
vicinity of Austin, training and participation in PSI activities as a
volunteer might be possible. The expense of supporting a research ef- fort
such as this suggests a way in which we might contribute. As radio amateurs,
however, we have unique qualifications for par- ticipating in UFO event-
sharing on a national as well as a local level.
We can keep informed through groups which correlate and communicate
information, such as the Center for UFO Studies. Dr. J Allen Hynek, Chairman
of CUFOS, was technical advisor for the production of "Close En counters."
Much of the realism of this film can be attributed to the case information
was able to provide. We can also join or support investigatory groups such
MUFON or CSW, for example. MUFON amateur radio nets meet weekly. On Saturday
mornings at 1200 UTC, the 40 meter section meets on 7237 kHz, and the 75
meets at 1300 on 3975.
Every section of the country has investigators trained by some organiza-
to investigate UFO incidents. They are often interviewed by the media. Most
of them would be more than happy to speak at a radio club meeting, or to
that local hams are ready to help during a local UFO flap. Many of them need
education in the tremendous capabilities amateur radio has for tracking and
reporting sightings and landings. Repeater groups in particular may be
interested in learning who to call and what to do if UFOs appear in their
area. So the relationship can be one
of mutual benefit. Getting qualified investigators to the site of a UFO
incident, while it is still in progress if at all possible, is the key to
solving the mystery. The government agencies can offer no help, since they
have officially declined to investigate UFOs. The police, if they do
at all, generally report the incident to the Center for UFO Studies via
hotline. Ultimately, news of the incident may filter down from there to the
headquarters of one of the investigatory groups
such as MUFON. A local investigator is finally informed and hopefully
the scene. By then, the UFO and most of the evidence is long gone. Wouldn't
it be much more efficient if hams knew who to contact in their own area to
report an en- counter? And a call on the 2 meter repeaters in any city ought
to furnish plenty of tracking observers or witnesses in a hurry. We can't
have a Project Starlight International in our backyard, but we do have an
a mobile, or a low-band rig and know how to com- municate. We also have some
technical traiping which helps in describing a UFO and its effects. Working
together, we can solve the UFO problem.
Current UFO activity has recently shifted from South America to Australia.
The lull in sightings in the U.S. may end at any time. UFOs, the eyes of
Texas are upon you! And we'll be keeping ours open, too.