UFO: POWER, COINCIDENCE, or OTHER CAUSAL LINKS?
Many UFOlogists say that a case "has" to be due to an unknown presence, because the probability of a coincidence is extremely
low. I beg to differ:
- One case involved a power failure, allegedly caused by a UFO. In a sense, this was true, because that bright UFO was
actually a wet tree branch shorting out the power line.
- In another case, house lights dimmed and brightened in time with the pulsations of a flickering UFO. This was another case
of a shorted power line, but in this one, an insulator failed on a high-tension tower.
- Another case was a report that a UFO caused streetlights to go out, and simultaneously caused a car radio to quit playing.
The investigation revealed that a power failure occurred first. When the power went off, the streetlights went out, and the
local radio station lost power too. That caused the car radio to "fail." When the lights went out and the radio quit, the
witness looked around for "the cause." The UFO turned out to have been an airplane with a (then new) strobe light on it.
- The 1965 Northeast Blackout was another seemingly inexplicable case (until I took a good look
at it). The power failure is explained by the fact that the lines were being operated very close to the trip point of reactive
power (follow the link above for an explanation of this). When the lines tripped out, the resulting surge in voltage caused an
arc to jump from a line to a nearby tree. This was the brilliant red ball the pilot near Syracuse saw. Some other UFOs seen
during the blackout were planets and stars noticed by people with not much else to look at.
- This one WAS a coincidence, because I saw it myself. A friend (who wants to remain anonymous) saw a large white
bird-shaped object following a car down a nearby street. It made a loud roar. She described this to me as we went to the
site. It happened again while I was there. The UFO was really a seagull, much closer than the car was. The roar came from a
power crane that was hidden behind a hill. This was a low probability coincidence, but it did happen.
- Another report I saw firsthand complained that a UFO was making the lights of a nearby subdivision flicker. I went to the
scene the next night, and saw the same thing. Mars was very bright on the eastern horizon, scintillating right above the
subdivision. There is a large shopping center parking lot between the subdivision and the location of the witnesses. Heat
rising from it caused the lights to flicker, also through scintillation.
- There is a very large set of cases where the following happens: The engine or lights (or both) of a vehicle fail at night
in an isolated area. The occupants get out, in rather a bewildered state. Then they see a light moving in the night sky (It
would actually be an unusual occurrence for a light to NOT be there in this age of aviation). The same type of occurrence has
happened to me (minus the UFO) several times. In one instance where both the lights and the engine failed, an intermittent
short in the hot battery cable was responsible. In another, a bad motor mount had broken the engine ground strap. In a third,
a low battery caused the starter solenoid contacts to stick, continuously cranking the engine until the battery ran down. No
UFOs were present in any of these cases.
- A UFO was once accused of making strange things happen to a truck. Actually, the driver was operating the truck wrong.
The truck had dual gearshifts. The driver did not know that one shift lever was an axle ratio selector, intended to be changed
only when the truck was stopped. He was shifting with the axle lever instead of the transmission one, which quickly chewed
up the gears (since there were no synchronizers on them). Meanwhile, the driver observed a UFO. When the truck started acting
up, the driver pulled off the road and put the (axle) shift in neutral. He then climbed down and was astonished to see the
drive shaft spinning (the main transmission was still in gear). The driver called his boss and claimed that the UFO damaged
- One car refused to accelerate when a UFO was nearby. It was later fixed by replacement of a $2 spring after it did the
same thing again when no UFO was present.
- A car engine refused to turn off when the key was turned off, while UFOs were visible. It was fixed by a mechanic, who
discovered that a service-station attendant checking the generator bulb shorted its leads when reinstalling it. The UFOs
were scintillating planets.
- There is an inordinate number of cases where the following happens: A radio or TV picks up interference, loses signal,
flutters, flips, or goes blank. The owner of the set rushes outside, expecting to "see" what caused the trouble. An object
is seen flying overhead. This is a normal, everyday event. TV and FM radio waves bounce nicely off
aircraft, causing multipath reception of the signal. When the reflected signal (delayed by the longer path) is out of phase
with the direct signal, cancellation occurs.
- On the other hand, if the TV turns all black, either something is wrong with the TV set, or an unusually strong or
unmodulated signal is present. One case was reported that TVs all over town blacked out while an orange object hovered
over the town. It turns out that a prankster with a Tesla coil made a glowing UFO from a tethered helium balloon. The Tesla
coil happened to be tuned right in the middle of the TV band, and the long tether made a dandy transmitting antenna. He
didn't realize that a Tesla coil is also a radio transmitter.
- Radio interference caused by fireball meteors streaking overhead is a proven fact. The energy dissipated by entry
into Earth's atmosphere creates a plasma, producing some radio waves and reflecting others. This is a rare, but known
- Here is a case where the events might or might not be related. A TV set blurred. A witness half a mile away saw a
glowing UFO. The next morning, the owner of the TV found his car covered with little dents. A severe storm (with hail) or
a tornado could cause all three effects. But it's also just as probable that the three events had nothing to do with
- Many cases of cattle mutilation were actually cases where the owners of dead cattle turned uninsured losses into
insured ones by lying about a UFO. Others were caused by a satanic cult performing ritual sacrifices with other people's
cattle. They had a helicopter rigged to look like a UFO at night. They were finally caught and jailed, but the sentence
- There are also many cases of this kind: The sky lit up with a bright glow for several seconds as the power went out
and a loud boom was heard. A little research usually shows that a large power transformer shorted internally and blew
- Many car engines stopped at the instant of each above-ground nuclear bomb test. Some underground tests also stopped
engines. Electromagnetic pulse is the culprit here (in fact, these engine stoppages were
instrumental in the discovery of electromagnetic pulse). All US bomb tests were moved underground after the
electromagnetic pulse from one bomb test fried the electronics of a brand new military satellite (and you thought the
protesters made them go underground). Note that the semiconductor ignition systems of newer cars would have been
destroyed by this.
- A report of TV sets "dimming, finally losing picture and sound" as a UFO chased a car into town seems dubious unless
an increasingly strong interfering signal had been present. If the line voltage had dropped, the pictures would have
shrunk as they dimmed (voltage regulated power supplies in TV sets were rare then). The cause was really a tube failure
(remember tubes?) at the TV station that cut off power to the modulators in the transmitter. The TV station was the only
one on the air in the area at that time. The UFO was Venus glowing at its maximum brightness on the western horizon.
- Some "fantastic" events never happened. A report of people burned by radiation from a UFO at Ft. Itaipu, in Brazil,
is a fabrication. There were no burn admissions at any area hospitals then, and no military records or newspapers
reported the event. The first reports of this "event" actually surfaced in the US.
- An airliner engine sputtered, and cabin lights dimmed, during a UFO sighting. If the engine of an airplane is running
rough, the cabins lights will dim, either because the generator is putting out less power, or because
the pilot switched the lights over to an auxiliary battery to put less load on the engine. The UFO (whatever it was) was
nowhere near the plane, and the flight crew did not see it.
- November 2, 1957 - Levelland Texas: Many motorists saw lights in the night sky, some of them on roads ahead of their
vehicles. As they approached these lights, their engines quit. What was not generally reported in these cases was the fact
that the air was full of dust and was charged with electricity. This phenomenon is known in association with dust storms,
and is also seen frequently at the tops of mountains (Pike's Peak is a documented example).
- This charged atmosphere was sucked into engine compartments by radiator fans, charging the spark plug wires. This
caused the spark plugs to fire continuously, wasting the fuel-air charges, and stopping the engines. If the car so
affected had a 6-volt battery (as over half of the cars then had), the headlights dimmed to less than half brilliance
without the generator going (which is one reason cars now have 12-volt batteries).
- Once the discharges through the spark plugs ceased, the engines could be restarted. The UFOs were modified forms of
St. Elmo's Fire caused by the charged air and dust. The subsequent report that the engines somehow restarted themselves
without the drivers using the starters is sensationalist malarkey, contradicted by the original testimonies of the
- The page author came into possession of a copy of a strange case that, while having no UFO, duplicates a group of
cars stalling at the same time. It happened along a desert road in Colorado in the 1920s. Sand was blowing, and every
car on the road died if it had the Kettering-type distributor-and-points ignition. The only cars on the road that still
ran were Model T Fords with magneto ignition. Static electricity from the sand caused the spark plugs on the Kettering
ignitions to fire continuously, wasting the gas-air charges in the cylinders before time for the power stroke. The
magneto ignition had no distributor on the secondary, so the plugs fired only when they were supposed to. This induced
malfunction of the Kettering ignition system seems to be the most likely cause of the Levelland stalls.
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