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Posted on Tuesday, May 02 - 2006

Move over, Roswell. South Orange County is recording its own share of UFO sightings. Several residents have reported the sightings to the Orange County Sheriff's Department in recent months. And word has even reached a Canadian UFO researcher who has posted information about the sightings on his Web site.In one case, witnesses reported seeing glowing disks zigzagging through trees and hovering above the Aliso Viejo Town Center at night. About a yard in diameter and studded with flashing lights, the four UFOs dance around one another in the night sky.These flying saucers aren't a top-secret military project. But they aren't being piloted by Martians, either.The saucers are made in thegarages of Gaylon Murphy and Steve Zingali, who get their kicks shocking people and hope to earn a few bucks hawking their remote-controlled saucers.

After all, a few UFO sightings can only be good for business."We fly them in formation. It's pretty funny," said Murphy, a cardiovascular surgeon and Aliso Viejo resident. "People stop, people scream, one cabdriver ran his car up off the road."Nick Peterson was stunned when he saw one of the disks fly past his girlfriend's upstairs apartment."I thought, 'That can't be a UFO, can it?' " he said. "It's pretty weird."The disks are made of foam and weigh about a pound. Each runs on a 7.4-volt lithium battery and has a propeller.On weekends, Murphy flies the disks in Aliso Viejo, Newport Beach, MissionViejo and Laguna Niguel. He and Zingali, a facilities engineer and Mission Viejo resident, have sold four of the gizmos at $1,000 each and concede their streaking light show is part hobby, part promotion."It's good marketing," he said.The Canadian UFO Web site, which logs oddities from supposed saucer sightings to alleged alien abductions and offers an assortment of paranormal literature, indicates that the homemade disks have captured the attention -- and the imagination -- of both the skeptical and the true believer.The disks sparked a confrontation between Murphy and Erik Strong, a manager an Aliso Viejo restaurant and bar. Strong said Murphy was spooking his staff by hovering his disk near the restaurant."It looked like something right out of a movie, a little too real,"Strong s...

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Posted on Sunday, April 23 - 2006

Mankind has been spotting strange objects in the sky since biblical times, but it wasn't until the 1940s that terms such as "flying saucer" regularly appeared in the headlines. Footage of an alien autopsy near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 reached an estimated global audience of one billion before being exposed as a fake. The film of this story - Alien Autopsy, starring Ant and Dec - opened earlier this month. However, it would appear that public interest in UFOs has waned significantly since the 1970s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind suggested we are not alone. A forlorn statement on the website of the British UFO Research Association (Bufora) declares that they are scalingdown their activities.

"The halcyon days of ufology are over," explains chairman Robert Rosamond, bemoaning the effects of "dwindling subject material". A number of regional affiliates have closed down altogether, some of them blaming the end of The X-Files series for waning interest. It is a far cry from 1951, when the ministry of defence set up the flying saucer working party. Although the committee dismissed reports of alien sightings as "optical illusions and psychological delusions", its findings were not made public until 50 years later, fuelling suspicions of a cover-up. Public paranoia was not helped by the fact that most UFO sightings have occurred near RAF bases, with the result that the MoD has been reluctant to release too many details. Today, however, rationalexplanations appear to exist for most UFO sightings. Last October, drivers on the M25 pulled over to stare at what turned out to be Thai lanterns. In December 2004, Southern Electric was moved to persuade its customers that a huge flash of light was due to a power surge and not any extraterrestrial interference. Even the infamous Rendlesham Forest incident in December 1980 was later blamed on a prank-loving American airman. Kites, soap bubbles, feathers, weather balloons, parachutes and tumbleweeds have all been mistaken for alien visitors. UFO enthusiasts have also suffered by association with their fringe, loony element. The Flying Saucer Review - which bizarrely claims to have Prince Philip among its subscribers - has an online article suggesting HIV was brought to earth by aliens. A documentary in 2004reported tha...

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Posted on Wednesday, August 11 - 2004

Shortly after her cattle business went bust, Judy Messoline looked to the heavens for salvation. She had never thought much of flying saucers but knew that her San Luis Valley ranch sat in a region renowned for bizarre, unexplained phenomena. So Messoline erected what she believes is the world's first UFO watchtower. "I opened it as a tourist trap," she acknowledged. But it became bigger than that. Over the last four years she has seen self-described alien abductees, psychics, channelers and visitors from Pluto, Jupiter and points beyond come through her door. The straight-talking rancher has learned to bite her tongueduring these close encounters, occasionally of the third kind.

"Who am I to doubt?" she asked. The last year has been her busiest yet. Thousands have pulled off Highway 17 near tiny Hooper in south-central Colorado to climb the tower and scan the skies over the craggy Sangre de Cristo Mountains. People search for mysterious flying lights, soaring triangles or hovering balls of fire. Messoline, 59, shows documentaries of local UFO sightings and discusses assorted odd happenings in the 120-mile-long alpine valley that stretches into northern New Mexico. The UFO WatchTower isn't exactly towering. It's a metal platform in the middle of the desert standing about 14 feet above a spaceship-shaped gift shop."Idon't know why more people are coming," said Messoline, who doesn't charge admission but accepts donations.She's taking advantage of the newfound popularity by holding a conference at the site next weekend with UFO experts from around the country. And she's writing a book about her experiences here titled "That Crazy Lady Down the Road."There is certainly enough material."I had a guy come in and ask if I had a place to sign in," she recalled. "I told him yes and he said, 'No, do you have a place to sign in for us?' and I said, 'Where are you from?' and he said, 'Pluto.' "A woman claiming to channel the thoughts of extraterrestrials rebuked Messoline because thealiens. ...

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Posted on Friday, August 06 - 2004

There's something fishy going on in Manitoba's skies. Unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings in the Keystone Province are nearing an all-time high, according to an independent group that investigates and records reported sightings across Canada. More than 50 have already been counted so far this year, double the 25 sightings recorded in 2003, said Winnipegger Chris Rutkowski, co-ordinator of Ufology Research of Manitoba. The most sightings in one year in Manitoba was 74 in 1993. The reason for the increase is just as puzzling as details of some of the sightings, Rutkowski said. In July, two people driving along Highway 6 nearPonton, south of Thompson, saw two bright, orange-coloured lights zoom across the early morning sky.

"The first one rose up out of the bush beside the road and flew in front of them, a second ball of light came across the road and then both flew away," Rutkowski said. "A woman (in the car) said they were very frightened." Winnipeggers have reported seeing "round patches of light" chasing each other in the sky above the northeast corner of the city, Rutkowski said."I suspect it's some sort of (spotlight) advertising mechanism," he said. That sighting is one of more than 400 that have been reported by Canadians up until the end of last month, a large jump compared with last year'stotal of 300 during the same period, Rutkowski said. One of his favourite sightings is from Caraquet, N.B., where odd pairs of lights were spotted in January above a highway. "One person reported seeing something with two or three lights and some sort of structure attached to it," Rutkowski said. "That area seemed to be quite a UFO hot spot this winter." Canada is on pace to top last year's total of 670 sightings, the most recorded in one year, he said. Most UFO sightings can be attributed to natural phenomena or human activity. "There's a small percentage that we simply don't have explanations for. We can't say they're alien spacecrafts because we don't have that proof,"Rutkowski. ...

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