CADIZ Unidentified flying objects have haunted the skies for generations, leaving unearthly clues and inspiring a myriad of questions, but few answers. On Sept. 28 the Puskarich Public Library in Cadiz hosted a presentation by the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) of Ohio to review common and little known facts about UFOS both abroad and near to home, throughout history, and in recent years.
"It's one of the most fascinating subjects out there," said Terri Althouse, researcher, adding that she was initially skeptical of many UFO claims. "I consider myself to be a fairly cynical person."
She added that MUFON has established a vast database of confirmed sightings and unexplained phenomena.
"There are MUFON organizations all over the world," she said. "We get thousands and thousands of reports every year."
She added the caution that 90 percent of their reported sightings can be attributed to natural causes.
"But when you look at the bulk of sightings, even 10 percent is a very large number," she said. "It's got a lot of very smart people scratching their heads."
MUFON has compiled a massive database of reports that their researchers comb in an effort to uncover clues to the nature of these strange encounters. While hypothesis are many, definite conclusions are scarce, but the bare facts are nothing if not unsettling.
Paul Althouse, field researcher described sightings, events and encounters from ancient to modern times, worldwide, and provided photographs of UFOs taken accidentally or deliberately. He noted that the infamous Roswell event of 1947 was merely one of the most publicized and modern stories.
"They were here before that," he said, mentioning sightings reported in Wales at 1875, in Scotland 1586, Rome in the fifth century, and ancient China and Greece. Althouse added that many of these sightings were surrounded by superstition and taken as omens and portents, with the 16th century Scottish sighting resulting in one woman being put to death as a witch.
He provided photographs from the 1930s, 1950s and onward by people who were in the right place and the right time. While about 75 percent of sightings conform to the traditional flying saucer, other configurations are also prevalent.
"There are an infinite number of shapes and descriptions, from lights at night to close encounters," he said.
He cautioned that the technology available today permits imaginative and mischievous people to invent realistic UFO images.
"Hoaxes and fakery is something extremely easy to do," he said, adding that there are documented cases where a hoax is very unlikely.
"It's hard to see how some of them can be faked," he said.
He added that Ohio and this and this region has proven a fruitful site for UFO hunters.
"This area of Ohio has had a lot of UFO sightings, Bigfoot sightings, and unexplained events," he said.
Bill Jones, state director, also spoke. He was the owner of one of the world's largest collections of UFO publications and has devoted years to the study of possible extraterrestrial activity.
"Most of our research comes from witnesses and a lot can be explained," he said. "The more detailed the sighting, the more likely it's going to remain unexplained."
He added that the number of witnesses that report a sighting also lend credibility.
"There's an intellectual challenge to this," he said.
He noted the more common mistakes include cases where advanced military aircraft are mistaken for UFOs. However, this does not account for all sightings. He referred to a case in Canada, 1966, where a vast object was seen by more than 30 people over a lake in the Ukraine near Alaska. Witnesses and researchers estimate that the craft could have been a mile in diameter.
"You find things that are special, that make you think 'this is for real,'" he said. "A lot of people in different areas saw it. I don't care if they were off by 10 or 20 percent; that is huge. It could be an extraterrestrial craft. We don't know."
Jones recommended books by such UFO experts as John Alexander, Eduard Meier, Jacques Vallee, as well as the sightings and encounters chronicled by Richard Dolan.
He has spoken to Travis Walton the abductee of five days who's story inspired the movie "Fire in the Sky."
"It's an embarrassment of riches," Jones said. "We know so much about that subject and we can't figure out what it is."
Afterward, attendees spoke about their own UFO experiences.
David Nemeth of Jewett recounted a sighting in Canada 18 years ago during a fishing trip. He and his three friends were driving along the road when a light from the sky pulsing orange, red and blue hovered about 80-100 feet above before disappearing.
"Boy was I glad when it left," Nemeth said. He added that he observed another UFO in a Jewett cemetery in the mid 1990s. He described a cylindrical metallic device that landed and then lifted off again while he and friends observed. "We were scared to death. We hid behind a big tombstone."
An unidentified woman spoke of an encounter closer to home as she encountered what she described as a ball of light while driving toward her home in Scio in 1974. It followed her to town, then reappeared later that night.
"It just kind of pulsated," she said, describing the phenomenon that appeared outside her home. "It got dim and bright. It flew around and disappeared."
Another woman who did not wish to be identified said she observed a red, pulsing orb in 1954 on Belmont Ridge above Piedmont, between her house and barn. More recently, she observed strange lights in a V-formation in Barnesville this past May. She added that the light moved in a way that did not correspond to terrestrial craft and vanished.
Josh McAibben of Cadiz reported sighing strange, oddly-moving craft on Deersville Ridge Road about 14 years ago.
More information can be found at MUFON's Web site, www.mufon.com/ourOrganization.html
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.