Strange Lightning Cloud Seen All Over Southern California In Different Cities In Different Counties At Same Time
Strange Lightning Cloud Seen All Over Southern California In Different Cities In Different Counties at the Same Time
On Saturday, September 9, 2017 at around 7:30pm I noticed a bizarre looking cloud in the sky, but I was not the only one. Apparently, this cloud I saw was witnessed all across southern California. The cloud was huge and was hanging very low in the sky. Not only that, it was emitting bright flashes of lightning bolts every few seconds.
It was the coolest looking cloud. I've never seen anything like it. There was no sound and no other clouds visible in the sky. It was so unusual I needed to film it and apparently, so did other people across SoCal. We were all curious about this odd cloud or weather phenomenon. I looked it up and it's called Heat Lightning.
According to Wikipedia:
"Heat lightning, sometimes known as silent lightning, is a misnomerused for the faint flashes of lightning on the horizon or other clouds from distant thunderstorms that do not appear to have accompanying sounds of thunder.
The actual phenomenon commonly called heat lightning is simply cloud-to-ground lightning that occurs very far away, with thunder that dissipates before it reaches the observer. At night, it is possible to see the flashes of lightning from very far distances, up to 100 miles, but the sound does not carry that far. In Florida, this type of lightning is often seen over the water at night, the remnants of storms that formed during the day along a sea breeze front coming in from the opposite coast."
The entire phenomenon was witnessed across vast parts of Southern California and filmed by people in different cities and counties miles apart at the same time. I know nothing about weather to make any speculations, but how is it possible for all of us to witness what seems to be the same exact cloud at the same exact time miles and miles apart? Does anyone have an explanation for this?
I compiled the videos of the cloud making its appearance all over Southern California last night. I'm glad I wasn't the only one that found this cloud fascinating.
Here is my video that was taken in Riverside County, CA at 7:33PM
Here are 2 videos filmed by two different people. One in Simi Valley, Ca at 7:53PM and one in Northridge, CA. I looked up the distance on Google Maps and Simi Valley is 85 miles away from where I was located.
This is the cloud filmed in Northridge, CA. This is 71 miles away from where I am located. They filmed this cloud around the same time I filmed mine, at 7:30PM. How can we all see the same cloud, so far apart? I just want someone to explain the phenomenon. I'm not saying it's not possible. I just find it very odd and I'm looking for an explanation.
Here are the rest of the videos I found that people posted around the same time in various cities. Check them out. I would love to know what you think.
Van Nuys, CA
East Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Helicopter Was Spotted Circling A UFO in California San Gabriel Valley
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Helicopter Was Spotted Circling A UFO in California's San Gabriel Valley
The video, posted by Julian Lopez, appears to show a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department helicopter circling around an unidentified flying object, which some observers say may be an advertisement for marijuana products.
Fox 11 reports that the object was seen floating over the San Gabriel Valley on the morning of Aug. 28.
On the video, Lopez can be heard saying: “A helicopter is circling it. It looks like a big eyeball.”
I have no idea if this has been debunked or not, but I thought I would share the video in case it is a legit sighting. Check it out.
Mass UFO Sighting In Phoenix, Arizona On August 18, 2017
An incredible 30 second video clip shows intriguing sky action that allegedly took place on August 18th, 2017 in the Phoenix, Arizona area. We’ve been working to track down the original posting location of the video but have not yet been able to. If anyone knows who took the video below, please contact us as we’d love to ask a few questions.
In this sighting you will see 5 crafts in the sky in a ‘W’ like formation. They then move around the sky and then the video abruptly ends. As a long time explorer and researcher of the UFO phenomenon let me be the first to say “I really want to see the end of this video.”
This is some of the most clear and intriguing footage I have seen, not to say there aren’t a lot of great videos out there, but more so that this video gives a clear example of the stunning sightings that have been taking place over the last 10 years in increased frequencies.
The first question that popped into my mind when I saw this video was “why hasn’t this been reported anywhere else?” Good question. When I looked around I wasn’t able to find any other videos or articles related to this sighting. But, this was also the case with another sighting we were sent back in April of 2017. It also took place in Phoenix and shortly after our article went out, more experiencers of the sighting reported on it. Soon the mainstream news reported on it, but claimed it was just a meteor breaking up and falling through the sky.
This is the thing with UFO sightings; many people see them and don’t record, report or tell anyone about them. I’ve seen a number of sightings in my life that came during CE-5 expeditions I used to do in my hometown years ago. We never brought cameras and thus never had media of it, yet we would often see between 8 and 10 crafts show up each time. We took the time to learn the difference between satellites, planes etc. so we could properly identify what we were seeing. Some of the most stunning sightings I’ve ever had were done during those expeditions, and yet none were recorded or published.
Think within yourself, how many times have you seen something you thought you were certain was a UFO yet never reported or told anyone about it?
Check out the video of the August 18th, 2017 sighting and be sure to read on below to discover why I think the UFO & ET phenomenon is by far one of the most important things happening to humanity right now.
UFO Enthusiast Now Facing Child Pornography Charges Is Subject of Netflix Documentary
UFO Enthusiast Now Facing Child Pornography Charges Is Subject of Netflix Documentary Stan Romanek, a prominent self-proclaimed "alien abductee", says his computer was hacked in a government conspiracy to silence him.Stan Romanek, a prominent 54-year-old UFO enthusiast who claims to have been abducted by aliens “several times”, is set to face trial in Colorado on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography.
Romanek gained a certain newfound renown ahead of his 31 July 2017 trial date when Netflix released a feature-length documentary recounting 15 years’ worth of alleged extraterrestrial and supernatural encounters. Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story was originally made in 2013 by Seattle director Jon Sumple but not added to Netflix until July 2017, which in turn exposed the documentary — and the man — to the streaming website’s nearly 100 million subscribers.
The film is a series of vignettes without voiceover narration (all of which are presented as “mesmerizing” evidence) dating back to 2000. In dozens of home videos, photographs and interviews, often accompanied by dramatic classical music, director Jon Sumple presents “evidence” of unidentified flying object sightings, encounters with little green men in Romanek’s home, flying orbs, ghostly voices, and the purported alien abductions that have brought him public attention in the past.
The body of evidence is primarily made up of easy-to-fake, even occasionally laughable images of aliens and mysterious faces appearing in the background of photos; “lights in the sky” with mundane likely explanations; and the standard material of UFO hoaxes: lawn circles, abduction flashbacks revealed under hypnosis, and “abduction” wounds.
Indeed, Romanek’s claims have been challenged or debunked on a few occasions. In 2009, he was asked by ABC News to submit a purported alien implant in his leg to medical examination. When the time came, Romanek claimed it had disappeared from his body. The Rocky Mountain Paranormal research group recreated a famous video produced by Romanek, purporting to show a little green man peeking in his window. The groups claims they reenacted the video for $90. And in 2015, Romanek was forced to admit that he faked “moving objects” that appeared in the background of an earlier interview.
In a further twist, he explained the hoax by claiming that authorities had intimidated him into discrediting himself:
This particular UFO yarn goes beyond the norm, however. As if to address the obvious question as to why Romanek has been singled out for attention by extraterrestrial visitors over the years, the documentary presents a bizarre narrative, with the 54-year-old at the centre of a shady benevolent conspiracy to protect him from his own stubborn curiosity, after he moves into the “backyard” of a group of aliens in Colorado Springs.
This is manifested in a series of phone conversations with a disembodied woman’s voice, in a clipped, upper-class English accent, who addresses Romanek with the apparent codename “Starseed.”
“Now listen, Starseed,” the voice says, “You know you are different. Follow your instincts and stay alert. This is too important. Soon it will all be revealed. And Starseed, do not be afraid of what you are.”
At the same time, Romanek presents himself as being the target of an equally shady conspiracy to silence him, finding himself victim to hacking, harassment, intimidation and even assault. There are fleeting visits and phone calls from mysterious little girls. One, named “Kioma”, introduces herself as one of Romanek’s nine alien daughters, seven of whom are duplicates. At the documentary’s conclusion, Stan Romanek is presented as a prophet of sorts, whose mission is to convey a “spiritual message” from a group of extraterrestrials in order to help humanity evolve.
The movie’s epilogue is therefore all the more jarring: “On February 13, 2014,” a subtitle reads, “Stan Romanek was arrested on child pornography charges.”
‘Several of these girls are very young and unmistakably children’
Romanek and his wife Lisa deny the charges, and have claimed their home computer was hacked in an effort to silence him and warn other “experiencers” (alien abductees) not to speak out. Authorities tell a different story. “Romanek was arrested on a warrant that was issued on February 12, 2014,” a Loveland, Colorado Police press release reads:
The warrant was further progression of an eight month long investigation of the online sharing and possession of child pornography that included the execution of a search warrant in April 2013. The search warrant was executed at Romanek’s home and followed several tips that were provided by Homeland Security that were then investigated further by Loveland Police detectives and the Northern Colorado Regional Forensics Laboratory.
In 2008, Homeland Security Special Agent Darrel Franklin discovered images traced from a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to Romanek’s IP address, which showed “very young girls being sexually assaulted,” according to a Loveland Police report cited in a Huffington Post investigation. Local law enforcement were hamstrung in their ability to investigate further, however, because Loveland Police did not have a cyber crimes unit at the time.
In 2013, Franklin allegedly found child pornography once again could be traced to Romanek’s computer. The report reads:
The pictures contained images of girls that spanned an age range of approximately 5 years old to approximately 12 years old. In each of these photos, the girls are posed in a seductive manner and are exposing their breasts and genitalia. Several of these girls are very young and unmistakably children.
This time, the recently-established cyber crimes unit was able to serve a search warrant on the Romaneks’ home in April of that year, but lead investigator Brian Koopman found the computer’s hard drive had been erased. However, investigators later reportedly found hundreds of images depicting child pornography on USB sticks and similar videos on a laptop, and Romanek was arrested in February 2014.
The Trials of Detective Brian Koopman
That erased hard drive prompted the next bizarre chapter in the saga, when it emerged that Tammy Fisher (a former Loveland police officer) had befriended the Romaneks during 2012 and 2013, and had met with them as well as exchanged text messages with Lisa Romanek “at critical times” during the child pornography investigation.
Koopman suspected that Fisher had tipped off the Romaneks to an impending search of their home, culminating in the hard drive being wiped; he subsequently applied for a search warrant on Fisher’s phone records, but the investigation of his former colleague did not progress.
Fisher then sued Koopman and Loveland Police Chief Luke Hecker alleging malicious prosecution without probable cause, and accused Hecker of improperly training and supervising Koopman. After a protracted legal battle, the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in May 2017 that a District Court had been right to dismiss Fisher’s case.
Adding fuel to the Romaneks’ claims of police and government corruption and cover-up, Detective Brian Koopman has been the subject of other allegations in the intervening years. In April 2016, he was eventually cleared on charges of attempting to influence a public official as part of a 2013 murder investigation, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported:
The testimony in question is one in which Koopman discussed a Walgreens surveillance video in a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause for the stalking charge pressed against Wallace. Koopman said during the September 2014 hearing that Wallace was in the store at the same time that Gray and her friend Gabrielle Burlingham were, approximately three days before Gray was murdered in her home.
He filed a corrective affidavit on the same day Wallace pleaded guilty. Prosecuting attorneys argued he lied in that document when he stated the various reasons for his initial inaccurate testimony.
In January 2017, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed a long-running lawsuitagainst Koopman by Joshua Myers, who claimed the detective violated his constitutional rights during a 2007 arrest on suspicion of running a meth lab when Koopman was an investigator in the Larimer County Drugs Task Force.
The investigation collapsed and Myers was released after a lab test revealed that a substance seized during the arrest was sugar, not methamphetamine.
Stan Romanek has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. His wife Lisa has vowed to make extraterrestrial conspiracy theories a part of the trial, saying “We will be taking UFOlogy into the courtroom.” It remains to be seen whether Romanek’s attorneys will also make the trials of Brian Koopman a part of the defense.
Commercial Airline Pilots Films UFO From 41,000 Feet
Routine flight becomes bizarre as pilots attempt communication with UFO
Today’s UFO news focuses on a bizarre UFO sighting off the Atlantic Coast of the United States, where two commercial pilots attempted to communicate with a UFO by using the lights of their aircraft, according to a report filed with the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), and one pilot believes that they succeeded in doing so. The two pilots, who for obvious reasons given the history of UFO news reports, have chosen remain anonymous. Their UFO report outlines a 10-minute sighting that occurred off the coastline nearest to Atlantic City, New Jersey, during a routine flight from New York to Miami the day after Christmas.
The details included in the report are both professional and appear to be highly reliable. The pilots describe the altitude of their aircraft, the weather, and a detailed report about how the UFO appeared to them. Like many other UFO reports over the last two months, this UFO disappears.
“At first sight the light was approximately at our 1 o’clock position. It moved to 12, 10, 11, back to 12. At that time, the light appeared to move North, then south at a pretty rapid rate. Or I would describe it as closer and further from our position as the size seemed to get larger and smaller. The light ended in the 1st position and then moved out east and once at our 10 o’clock position disappeared.”
In this description, the pilots are clearly establishing a fast-moving UFO, as earlier in the report the pilot commenting established that his aircraft was moving at Mach 0.80. In civilian terms, the pilots are traveling at over 600 miles per hour. That means that the UFO in this news report is moving at a rate of speed that likely exceeded Mach 1, or breaking the sound barrier, many times in order to close the distances both toward and away from the commercial airliner. At this point, the pilot who was captain on this flight turns the report from interesting to astonishing.
“The other pilot stated he could see an orange/red flash in between the white flashes. We did flash our lights at it a few times, and the other pilot believes it flashed back in sequence; I felt the return flashes were probably coincidental, but possible. The flashing didn’t really appear to have any pattern. The whole incident lasted a minimum of 10 minutes.”
It’s important to establish a key point regarding this UFO news. A commercial pilot’s experience is invaluable, but that pilot’s conclusions about a UFO are just as subject to confirmation bias as anyone else’s. Is the captain filing this UFO report seeing random light flash responses, or is the second pilot seeing patterns where none exists? Two human beings that operate at a high level of situational awareness are watching the same object, and both are seeing entirely different realities. That makes this UFO news more interesting and raises other questions.
The uncertain shape of the craft and the red and orange colors do mimic those UFO news stories. However, unlike the other reports, these pilots were observing a craft at high altitudes instead of on the ground so it is hard to know without more specific details about the UFO sightings from the ground. But the witness in Texas did note altitude changes with the UFO he observed.
That disagreement strengthens the veracity of this report by acknowledging the differences in experience, but it also begs a question. Does the disparity also serve to validate the probability that a UFO was moving along the New Jersey coastline? Neither pilot is in dispute that a UFO was moving at extraordinary speeds and with fast changes in altitude and direction. Two highly trained observers of the sky are unable to identify a craft moving in front of them, which is worthy of the news coverage alone, but could this also be a UFO that is similar to the news in the states of Washington and Texas a few days later?
The uncertain shape of the craft and the red and orange colors do mimic those UFO news stories. However, unlike the other reports, these pilots were observing a craft at high altitudes instead of on the ground so it is hard to know without more specific details about the UFO sightings from the ground. But the witness in Texas did note altitude changes with the UFO he observed.
It would be fascinating to get further details on why the second pilot perceived communication in the flashes. Did two commercial pilots communicate with a UFO? Hopefully, further research will clarify that exciting possibility.
UFOs and Disney: Behind the Magic Kingdom
The role played by Hollywood in shaping our notions of potential alien life has long been a subject of fascination and contention in the UFO research community. Although there seems to be a consensus among UFOlogists that big screen depictions of UFOs serve to acclimate the populous to the reality of the phenomenon, opinions diverge on whether this acclimation effect is the product of design (inferring the existence of a "Hollywood UFO conspiracy"), or is merely the result of a natural cultural process driven by generic trends and stemming from a simple recognition among Hollywood executives that, when it come to the box office, aliens sell like hotcakes. Within this ongoing debate concerning UFOs and Hollywood, the name of one studio consistently has rung out over the decades - Disney. The House of Mouse has overseen the production and/or distribution of numerous UFO and alien-themed movies in recent times, with the best known examples including Flight of the Navigator (1986) Signs (2002), Lilo and Stitch(2002), Chicken Little (2005), Lifted (2007), I am Number Four (2011), Mars Needs Moms (2011) and the forthcoming John Carter (2012).
Once Upon A Time...
The Disney/UFO connection can be traced back to 1953 when the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel recommended that the US government make efforts to strip UFOs of their "aura of mystery" through the exploitation of mass media including television and motion pictures. In this context, the panel highlighted Walt Disney Productions specifically as a potential conduit for its propaganda. The panel's singling-out of Disney made sense given the animation giant's then firmly established working relationship with the US government: during World War II Disney made numerous propaganda shorts for the US military, and in the 1950s corporate and government sponsors helped the company produce films promoting President Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" policy, as well as the retrospectively hilarious Duck and Cover documentary, which depicted schoolchildren surviving an atomic attack by sheltering under their desks.
That the Robertson Panel highlighted Disney is significant in that the Panel's general recommendation to debunk UFOs through media channels is known to have been acted upon in at least one instance: this being the CBS TV broadcast of UFOs: Friend, Foe, or Fantasy? (1966), an anti-UFO documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite. In a letter addressed to former Robertson Panel Secretary Frederick C. Durant, Dr Thornton Page confided that he "helped organize the CBS TV show around the Robertson Panel conclusions," even though this was thirteen years after the Panel had first convened. In light of this case alone, it seems reasonable to assume that the government may at least have attempted to follow through on the Robertson Panel's Disney recommendation.
With this in mind, consider the case of the Oscar-winning Disney animator Ward Kimball. Best known for creating iconic Disney characters such as Jiminy Cricket and The Mad Hatter, Kimball also worked as Directing Animator on Disney classics including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938) and Pinocchio (1940). While at a MUFON symposium in 1979, Kimball claimed that the United States Air Force (USAF) had approached Walt Disney himself in the mid-1950s to request his cooperation on a documentary about UFOs that would help acclimate the American public to the reality of extraterrestrials. According to Kimball, in exchange for Disney's cooperation, the USAF offered to furnish the production with genuine UFO footage. Kimball claimed that Disney accepted the deal and - ever faithful to Uncle Sam - began work immediately on the USAF project. It wasn't long, however, before the USAF reneged on its offer of UFO footage. When Kimball challenged the USAF Colonel overseeing the project he was told that "there was indeed plenty of UFO footage, but that neither Kimball, nor anyone else was going to get access to it." The Kimball case, though, seems to be at odds with the Robertson Panel's recommendations, which were to debunk UFO reality through media channels, not promote it. But perhaps another faction within the military-intelligence community - one with a UFO acclimation agenda - had similarly recognised Disney's propagandist potential? We can only speculate.
Disney's Alien Encounters
A tantalising case of alleged Disney/government UFO collusion is that of the 1995 documentary Alien Encounters from New Tomorrowland, which officially was produced with the sole purpose of promoting Disneyworld's then-new 'ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter' ride. Yet, the content of this curious "promotional" documentary raised was viewed with suspicion by UFO researchers for the following reasons:
In an hour-long telephone interview, Thomas revealed to me that he had been selected by Disney for the documentary project based on his background in reality television, having been the original producer of the phenomenally successful TV show, Cops: "Making things exceptionally real was the line of work that I was in at the time," he said. The other key factor was Thomas's previous position as head of "special marketing" for Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) in the mid-to-late 1970s. Regarding Close Encounters, Thomas explained that marketing executives at Columbia Pictures were concerned that Spielberg's chosen title for the film made it sound "suspiciously like a pornographic movie, because no one had any reference to what that vocabulary meant." This was where Thomas came in:
"Eighteen months before the film Close Encounters was going to premiere... before we'd even sold it to audiences, we had a campaign to introduce that vocabulary and make it part of the vernacular, so when the film opened-up everyone would know what was being discussed, and there wouldn't be any question. So what I did was I worked with a planetarium to create a planetarium show that was about twenty-minutes long... you sit down and a UFO shoots across the planetarium dome and then the audience is trained on how to figure out whether that was a meteor, a comet, or actually an extraterrestrial. We managed to bus-in tens-of thousands of kids from all around the country on the pretence of seeing an educational planetarium show, but what they really got was a sophisticated message to explain to them that extraterrestrials and UFOs are real and what an encounter of the first, second and third kind actually meant."
Clearly, then, Thomas was a natural choice for Disney's Alien Encounters documentary, the entire purpose of which, according to the director, was to promote the ride itself. Thomas told me that Disney had requested a documentary "about the history of mankind and aliens. Not a film history, but more of a realistic approach... a special about the history of UFO sightings," with Disney's only stipulation being that "the last five minutes had to focus on the ride." Thomas confirmed to me that, instead of giving the documentary network time, Disney's plans from the outset were to "seed it into independent television stations across the country."
But why did Thomas's documentary take such a strong stance in favour of UFO/ET reality? He summed-up his approach as follows:
"I figured... instead of asking people to question 'could it be possible?' to just adopt the point of view that this [alien visitation] has been going on for 50 years, everybody's known about it... And I thought it fit with the hyperrealistic nature of the ride that we were eventually trying to promote... I did it really kind of naively - I said to myself 'okay, I'm going to believe this right now, and I'm going to believe everything and I'm going to collect all this stuff and construct what would be a documentary if we all just had a consensus that it [the UFO phenomenon] was real...' We didn't make up anything, but it certainly surprised the people at Disney."
Somewhat disappointingly for conspiracy theorists, Thomas claims to have written the script in just a few hours while flying back from Florida to his home in Los Angeles. "There was nothing to it," he said, "it just kind of came out, it was easy." Furthermore, Thomas claims to have conducted the vast majority his research at the National Archives and stressed that, beyond these archival visits, "there was no direct government contact" on the production. "I didn't get any special access from anybody," he said.
But how did Thomas come to acquire his information about the NASA meteorite? "I found it on the Internet," said the director, matter-of-factly:
"It wasn't a big secret. NASA had been doing that - they'd been getting meteorites... and inside I believe they were finding some complex amino acids, some material that could only be produced organically, that sort of thing, so it was an easy jump [in logic]. And the reason that NASA released the information months later is because they take their time. They don't find something and release it. They find it and they study it."
Thomas's meteorite information did raise a red flag at Disney, however: "They called me in and they said 'we're really concerned about this thing about NASA exploring rocks in Antarctica.' I told them it was absolutely true and to let me go back to the office and I'll get the material [sources] so they can check my facts... no big deal. So it wasn't any big secret, it was just that the official [NASA] announcement came later."
There were aspects of the Alien Encounters project, however, that even Thomas considered strange - not least of all was the fact that Disney CEO Michael Eisner took a direct interest in the documentary, personally vetting its content and even filming his own introduction for the piece:
"I thought it was really odd because to me this was kind of a minor marketing project, but they [Disney] put a lot of weight into it. I mean Eisner doesn't have to stop walking down the street to pick up a twenty-dollar-bill - it's not worth his time. But they had him look through this. And he filmed this intro to the show. I didn't do that. He had his own film crew take him out to a sound stage and film his own intro, which I thought was just really surprising."
Also surprising to Thomas was Disney's inexplicable TV scheduling for the documentary, which he described as "completely counter-intuitive," because "it played on independent stations in the afternoon at like 2 o'clock or 3 o' clock, or some horrible time when no one would be watching it."
Overall, Thomas's testimony punches serious holes in the theory that Disney's Alien Encounters documentary was a government-sponsored UFO acclimation effort. Yet questions remain; indeed, some of Thomas's statements only add fuel to the fire: why was Michael Eisner so personally invested in what - on the surface at least - was a minor TV marketing project? And why the bizarre and "totally counter-intuitive" TV scheduling for the documentary?
Indulging the conspiratorial interpretation of events for a moment: if powerful UFO-related interests were involved in the documentary - perhaps having recommended Thomas knowing what he would produce based on his sophisticated work on Spielberg's Close Encounters - then Thomas himself would likely be oblivious to this fact. He would have been a pawn in a much larger game, so to speak. I'll be the first to admit that this interpretation sounds farfetched; but it is not entirely beyond the realms of possibility. Certainly, during the time the Alien Encounters documentary was produced in the mid-1990s, Disney was working closely with the Pentagon on two separate pro-establishment Hollywood movies: In the Army Now (1994) and Crimson Tide (1995), both of which received generous production support from the Department of Defense in the form of expensive military hardware and on-set advice from DoD personnel. Indeed,
Disney's continuing willingness to support establishment power structures was effectively demonstrated more recently when it released the TV movie The Path to 9/11 (2006), which was heavily skewed to exonerate the Bush administration and blame the Clinton administration for the 9/11 attacks - provoking outraged letters of complaint to Disney from former high-level Clinton Administration staffers. The nature of Disney's output makes sense given the company's historical ties not only to the US defence department, but to the arms industry also. Even now, a long-time Directors Board member of Disney is John Bryson - also a director of The Boeing Company, one of the world's largest aerospace and defence contractors.
Despite Disney's demonstrably cosy relationship with secretive institutions, however, and putting aside a couple of unanswered questions regarding the documentary's personal vetting by Eisner and its curious TV scheduling, there simply is no direct evidence to suggest that Alien Encounters was ever anything more than marketing project for a theme park ride. However, a much more compelling case for Disney/government UFO collusion recently has come to light.
Race to Witch Mountain
Directed by Andy Fickman - a self-confessed "UFO buff" born and raised in Roswell, New Mexico - Disney's Race to Witch Mountain (2009) depicts the arrival on Earth of two blonde-haired, blue-eyed, human-looking extraterrestrials (UFOlogy's 'Nordics') and their plan to save their own dying planet from total atmospheric degradation. In a September 2010 interview, Fickman explained to me how he had sought to ground his movie as firmly as possible in UFOlogical reality by personally schooling his cast in UFO history: "I would spend time with my actors literally just going through 'UFO 101' - we'd watch every DVD that was out there, every documentary; I would give them book, upon book, upon book."
Although the vast majority of the film's UFOlogical content came from Fickman, at least some of it was the result of CIA input. In a highly unusual production arrangement Fickman claims he was closely assisted by an active employee of the CIA whose advice extended so far even as to designing the alien writing seen in the UFO during the film's climactic scene. Fickman is unwilling to name this advisor, but claims he is an Air Force Colonel with a background in Technical Intelligence, that he had been "very active in Hollywood" and "had a lot of connections in the computer world and experience in satellite imagery." Fickman said of his CIA advisor:
"All of the on-camera alien language in terms of their spaceship and everything - that was all designed by him in the sense [of what] the mathematics of communication would be, so you know... there would be a similar mathematical equation that the government probably has if they were to ever come across an alien race. So a lot of the things we ended up using were things he was bringing to me... and the next thing you know, that's what I had on screen."
While on-set, Fickman took the opportunity to ask his CIA man some probing questions: "In typical 'can't confirm, can't deny' manner," said Fickman, "no matter what I would personally ask him about anything from 'who killed Kennedy?' To 'what happened at Roswell?' He always played it with a nice smile that implied 'I don't think you have the security clearance for me to talk to you about anything.'" The CIA advisor also recommended that certain UFOlogical content be removed from the script: "there were things we got rid of in the script that he was just trying to follow logic on from a protocol standpoint," said Fickman, although he would not elaborate on the nature of the changes made.
Andy Fickman, director of Race to Witch Mountain (2009)
Fickman further claims that he was afforded a visit to NORAD's sensitive Cheyenne Mountain facility in 2008, where - accompanied by his CIA advisor - his team spent 12 hours taking photographs and talking with on-duty military officers, including the heads of NORAD. "We wanted our Witch Mountain to resemble what NORAD and Cheyenne Mountain look like inside," he said. "We took a thousand photos and then by the time they released us into the wilderness maybe we had three hundred that had been approved for us to somewhat copy [for production design purposes]."
Incidentally, Fickman's Mountain visit took place just a few weeks after the high-profile Stephenville Texas UFO sightings. Remembering that witnesses had described seeing fighter jets in pursuit of the Stephenville UFO/s, Fickman raised the incident with NORAD officers: "I asked the question of all the NORAD people point blank: 'so, what about those jets - did you guys release those jets?' And after a kind of thoughtful pause, the guy in charge said 'hypothetically, if something had invaded US airspace, we would have responded in kind. I have no indication one way or another that jets ever pursued any unknown object at the time you're referring to.'" Fickman found NORAD's 'non-denial denial' to be "very telling."
The CIA, for its part, claims to have had no involvement in Race to Witch Mountain. In an email to the author, Paula Weiss, Media Spokeswoman at the CIA Office of Public Affairs, said: "We have no knowledge of any CIA officer having assisted with this film...It's very easy for outsiders, including Hollywood film people, to assume any US intelligence officer is CIA when in fact he could be from DIA, NSA, NGA, etc. Sorry I can't resolve this for you based on the available information."
Fickman was puzzled by the CIA's denial. When I asked the director whether or not the CIA man could have been retired from the Agency and had been acting in a private capacity (as is the case with a number of ex-CIA operatives in Hollywood, including Robert Baer, Milton Beardon and Chase Brandon), he replied: "there's no way we would have had what we had, had he not been an active CIA employee..." Indeed, throughout the NORAD visit, Fickman claims he relied heavily on the influence wielded by his CIA man: "Nothing happened at NORAD without him flashing his card and making his calls."
Fickman believes it was due in large part to the fact that his military and intelligence advisors were secured "through back door channels" that his production was granted such extraordinary access to the inner-workings of the national security apparatus, but he insists there was no hidden agenda behind his government's uncharacteristic generosity in this regard: "All of a sudden I was in places that I don't know I would have been had I gone through normal channels. I don't think there was anything abnormal about what they were doing, I just think it was [that] phone calls were being made and doors were sort of opening."
Fickman's claims carry with them the weighty implication that the CIA may be operating in Hollywood beyond the dry remit of its media liaison office, which is to provide "impartial advice on matters of accuracy and authenticity" in relation the CIA's image while on set, and certainly does not extend to accompanying a director on a private trip to NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain facility, nor designing fictional alien language for a feature film in which the CIA itself is not even depicted.
Behind the Scenes
The real reasons for the CIA adopting an "advisory" role on Disney's Race to Witch Mountain (as well as on numerous other Hollywood productions) were pointed to in a solitary comment by former Associate General Counsel to the CIA, Paul Kelbaugh. Whilst at a College in Virginia in 2007, Kelbaugh delivered a lecture on the CIA's relationship with Hollywood, at which a local journalist was present. The journalist (who has since requested anonymity, but who is known to me) published a review of the lecture which related Kelbaugh's discussion of the 2003 Disney-produced thriller The Recruit, starring Al Pacino. The journalist noted that, according to Kelbaugh, a CIA agent was on set for the duration of the shoot under the guise of a consultant, but that his real job was to misdirect the filmmakers: "We didn't want Hollywood getting too close to the truth," the journalist quoted Kelbaugh as saying. In a blunt email to my colleague Matthew Alford, however, Kelbaugh denied having made the public statement and claimed that he remembered "very specific discussions with senior [CIA] management that no one was ever to misrepresent to affect [film] content - EVER." The journalist stands by the original report, and Kelbaugh has refused to be drawn into further discussion of the matter.
As a closing thought on Disney's establishment ties in relation to the UFO question, in January 2011, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) staged its 5th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum (GCF) - a major International business convention which this year featured keynote speeches by the likes of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Intriguingly, this year's GCF event also featured a special panel discussion entitled: "Contact: Learning from Outer Space," in which names such as Stanton Friedman, Jacques Vallee, Nick Pope and Professor Michio Kaku addressed the wide-ranging implications of UFOs and potential extraterrestrial life. How is this relevant to our topic? Well, it might not be, but the primary sponsor of the GCF event was Boeing - a company highlighted by Disclosure Project witnesses as being a key player in UFO-related 'deep black' programmes and which you'll also recall is linked at a directors-board-level to the Walt Disney Company - and a key note speaker at the event was none other than Chairman of Walt Disney International, Andy Bird. UFOs, Disney, Boeing, even former heads of state - all under one roof, so to speak. It proves nothing of course, but is nevertheless worthy of mention in that it brings to mind what the famous ex-CIA operative Robert Baer once told me regarding the Hollywood/Washington relationship: "All these people that run studios - they go to Washington, they hang around with senators, they hang around with CIA directors, and everybody's on board." Certainly, Disney has long been "on board" with supporting government and military power structures; as to whether or not this support extends to an involvement in some indefinable "Hollywood UFO conspiracy" is impossible to say. For now, at least, all we can do is weigh-up what little evidence is available to us and each draw our own conclusions as to precisely what UFO secrets - if any - might lie behind the Magic Kingdom.
This article was first published in UFO Matrix magazine: Vol. 2, Issue 1: Summer, 2011.