Almost 75 years after Roswell, the possibility that we are not alone in the universe is once again the talk of mainstream politics.
The imminent publication of a Pentagon report on the activities of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) has sparked a wave of interest and the recent pronouncements of the former director of the program, Luis Elizondo, have surprised ufologists around the world .
“We are quite convinced that we are dealing with a technology that is multigenerational, several generations ahead of what we consider next generation technology,” Elizondo said. the washington post earlier this month.
But a world away from Washington, perhaps the biggest ripples have been felt in Todmorden, a sleepy market town on the Pennines. About 20 miles north of Manchester, the city of 15,000 has been the scene of a series of unexplained events and reported sightings, earning a reputation as the British answer to Roswell in the process.
“I’ve had people stop me on the street and ask me, ‘What do you think of this report then?’” Says Colin Lyall, a Todmorden-based ufologist and convenor of the local UFO society.
Lyall started the partnership in the summer of 2016 after completing a triptych titled A Landmark Event, which he describes as an attempt to “visually convey the strange events that occur in the Pennines Valley before, during and after Alan’s event.”
Alan Godfrey, a former police officer and longtime Todmorden resident, claims he was abducted by aliens in the city in 1980 while investigating the mysterious death of Zigmund Adamski, a 56-year-old miner who was found on top of a coal pile six months earlier.
Godfrey has become something of a local celebrity, especially since the publication of his 2017 book Who or What Were ?, which is now in development with Hollywood production company Graisland Entertainment.
Lyall is certainly proud of the association and happy to see Todmorden receive the widest attention in the world: “Alan’s event was 40 years ago, but it has become such an iconic moment in the UFO world. The association between Todmorden and UFOs will always be there and that’s great because it makes it unique. “
When coronavirus restrictions allow, the society meets Tuesdays at the Golden Lion Pub. It provides a forum where both locals and hikers can discuss their experiences and learn more about Alan Godfrey and ufology. Meetings typically attract 30 to 50 people and include different types of truth seekers, from those motivated by an interest in space travel and advanced technology (“nuts and bolts,” in the parlance of ufology) to those with more of a “new” old connection “with inexplicable phenomena.
“Ultimately, it’s about lighting … not everyone at night UFOs thinks of them in terms of flying saucers from other planets,” says Lyall.
However, he cannot deny that people have been “thrilled at the prospect of [the US government] clarifying what they know about our relationship with aliens. “
Whether the Pentagon report will reveal anything interesting has been a source of disagreement in the UFO community in recent weeks.
Gary Heseltine, an investigator (and former police detective) based in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, has been emboldened enough by the forthcoming report to establish the International Coalition for Extraterrestrial Investigation (ICER) to coordinate the global response. and “prepare awareness classes for the public.”
“Whether in 10 days or 10 years, [confirmation of the existence of extraterrestrial life] it’s coming and it will be a huge impact, ”says Heseltine.
Heseltine met with Luis Elizondo ahead of ICER’s May 25 launch (exactly one month before the report was released) and says the former AATIP program director “fully supports” the group’s global approach.
“Luis Elizondo has said many times that he has seen high-quality videos of unidentified objects being recorded by Navy pilots. Where are those? I want the ruling figures to put pressure on the government to release all of this. If there is nothing to hide, what is the problem? “
However, other experts are more circumspect. Steve Mera, the owner and CEO of Phenomena Magazine, the UK’s leading UFO magazine (1.8 million online subscribers), urges caution, hoping it will have no more of an impact than the New York Times Report December 2017, which produced a flurry of excitement but not conclusive evidence.
“I don’t think I’m going to give any answer, but [the Pentagon report] it reflects the fact that these things are real, they are out there and it is no longer a laughing matter. “
Dr David Clarke, Principal Investigator at Sheffield Hallam University and co-founder of the Center for Contemporary Legends, says: “I think it will be a huge wet squib. People who hope this report will confirm all their preconceptions about aliens visiting us in flying saucers and US Navy pilots will be greatly disappointed. “
“UFOs are really just a modern manifestation of that desire for a higher power … Places like Todmorden have a long tradition of people seeing strange lights, fooling around, or even being abducted by fairies.”
“In the United States, people have these experiences in remote desert areas like Area 51. But we live on a small island. Our closest equivalent is Rendlesham or the Pennine Hills, ‘enchanted forests’ where you can go and have one of these out-of-this-world experiences. “
Regardless of what the experts may think, there has been much speculation in the Facebook and #ufotwitter groups about the possible contents of the report and the impact, if any, the results they will have on the world.
Ash Ellis, a 34-year-old poker dealer, founded the North West Facebook group UFO Research and Investigation in June 2020, which has since grown to nearly 500 members.
“The report is on everyone’s lips at the moment and we are anxiously awaiting its release,” says Ellis.
Ellis’s focus is on UFO sightings in the UK, he says there have been 165 so far in 2021, but says he has been following the recent conversation online with interest, if only because it has sparked a change in shape. in which it is perceived. “I’ve been called a madman, a conspiracy theorist, but that’s a lot weirder now. The fact that the United States government simply said the words ‘UFOs are real’ was a great moment and a vindication for many people. “
According to Nick Pope, who researched UFOs for the Ministry of Defense in the early 1990s, “The rise of the internet and social media fundamentally changed ufology. He gave everyone a voice. But in this field, that means some pretty colorful characters. “
“The revelations about AATIP have taken the issue out of the periphery and made it mainstream. For the UFO community, it is as if all their Christmases had come at once. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism