Are You Feeling Alienated? You're Not Alone
A column by Tom Sharpe
Of the Journal
Twenty-five years ago this summer, as I sat on a runway in Winslow, Ariz., waiting for an airplane to take my forest firefighter team (the "Questa Cubs") to etch fire lines near Springerville, Ariz., I saw an unidentified flying object.
Actually 20 of us did. For about 10 minutes. And we were cold stone sober.
This UFO wasn't particularly spectacular. It was simply a white light in the sky, like a star that jumped around at jagged angles. I know of no celestial object or flying machine that moves that way.
We couldn't judge the distance. It could have been a bird, an insect or even a piece of wind-borne garbage caught in a spotlight from the ground. But from our position at the airport, in the dark wee hours of the morning, we could see no other source of light.
STARGAZING: Last month, when Stacy and I pointed out the Hyakutake comet to our teen-agers, they shrugged at the fuzzy ball of flotsam passing by our planet and went back inside to watch television. Later on, a TV report on the comet seemed to validate it for them.
If you watch the sky long enough, you'll probably see something you can't explain. Pauline Herrera of Guadalupita in Mora County says her skywatching has brought her two glimpses of the unknown.
She said about five years ago, she and her daughter trained binoculars on a moving light in the sky and saw something "oval shaped with windows around throwing off blue and red lights like it was rotating."
In September 1994, Herrera said, she and her husband saw a big white light in the sky to the west, toward Holman Hill. "I looked out the back door and it took off real fast," she said. "It looked like it has gone over the mountain toward Chacon."
The next day, Herrera's neighbors were talking about a cattle mutilation. A hunter in the area told the Journal that he saw a cow pulled across a field by what seemed to be a sound beam, which stopped when he fired his rifle in its direction. Later, he found a dead cow with its tongue and anus missing.
Darren Vigil Gray says that in the late 1960s, when he was a fourth-grader on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in northern Rio Arriba County, he saw a flying saucer on his way to parochial school about 6:30 a.m. A "dirty metallic colored" disk about 20 feet in diameter passed about 50 feet in the air over his school bus between Dulce and Lumberton, he said.
"It created all this chaos on the bus," Gray said. He said his brother, then a sixth-grader, yelled, "It's a flying saucer," but the priest driving the van didn't stop to investigate the phenomenon and instead stepped on the gas.
Gray said the disk appeared to come from Archuleta Mesa and continued for several miles over the low hills south of the highway. He said cattle mutilations soon began to be reported in the same area, and the mesa was said to be a sort of UFO base.
"The experience really changed my whole scope," said Gray, now a well-known artist in Santa Fe.
ALIEN MEDIA: It's not the people who say they experience extraterrestrials who worry me. It's those who go to the media.
Walk into a newsroom anywhere in the country and tell a reporter you've been abducted by aliens. Just see what happens.
Nobody's happy with the coverage. Ken Rommel, an ex-FBI agent who investigated cattle mutilations in the early 1980s, ultimately blamed it on the press, specifically the Rio Grande Sun in Espanola. Rommel said reporters had blown the mystery out of proportion and that the "mutilations" were the work of predators.
On the other hand, Max Littel, secretary/treasurer of the International UFO Museum at Roswell, says the media can be "ruthless, overbearing and rude" in pursuing those who claim to have seen aliens. He said that's why he won't say who gave the museum a sliver of metal said to have been picked up near the site where something -- what is in dispute -- crashed in 1947.
Littel said Thursday that the sliver of metal, about one-hundredth of an inch thick, has been analyzed at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and determined to be made of copper with silver plating. He said he doesn't know if it's other-worldly.
NEW REPORTS: Cattle mutilations and TV-inspired images of big-eyed aliens may be becoming passe.
Dean Balsamo, who is planning a monthly lecture series on "UFO related themes" in Santa Fe, says that about eight months ago when he was walking near the West Alameda dump in Santa Fe, he noticed an intense heat on the right side of his body and found himself drawn into an arroyo to his right. He said about 20 yards up the arroyo, he saw a young guy who "looked like he was hovering above the ground."
He said the "human entity" made a "rumbling" sound "like he was trying to form some sound." But Balsamo said he couldn't understand anything and being "a little shocked, I didn't feel prepared to see what else might happen," so he left the area. He said he later had a feeling of "heightened perception."
Balsamo, who interviewed a number of "contactees" for his series in this month's Santa Fe Sun, speculates that a "tear in the fabric of space time" is causing a "fusing with other kinds of dimensions." He told me that some contactees report that aliens performed medical procedures on them or gave them instructions "about the ways in which the universe acts which they translate into a kind of paradigm."