UFO (page 2)
It is obviously impossible to evaluate sightings made in historical times: we have no means of knowing just what the ancients saw when they spoke of wheels of fire, fiery serpents, flaming crosses or simply "discs" although there are some graphic descriptions in ancient literature of what seem very like some modern notions of inter-planetary space-ships. For example, take the prophet Ezekiel, who lived in exile in Babylon circa 586 BC, and right at the beginning of his Book, seems to describe a vehicle that corresponds to some of those reported more recently:
"I looked up and saw a storm coming from the north. Lightning was flashing from a huge cloud, and the sky round it was glowing. Where the lightning was flashing, something shone like bronze.... There was something that looked like a blazing torch, constantly moving. The fire would blaze up and shoot out flashes of lightning.... I saw four wheels touching the ground ... each one had another wheel intersecting it at right angles, so that the wheels could move in any of the four directions.... There was something that looked like a dome made of dazzling crystal..."
Modern writers such as Erich von Däniken and Robert K. G. Temple have constructed interesting theories based on ancient texts or drawings the Biblical "pillar of fire" in Exodus, the star of Bethlehem, the "fiery chariots" and angels of the Bible have all been claimed as UFOs, as have reports of burning shields described by Pliny in 100 BC, and a spacecraft said (by Gervase of Tillbury) to have anchored itself to an English church steeple in 1270 (a spaceman emerged, but died in earth's atmosphere). The astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1743) reported an inexplicable subject he saw in the sky in 1716, which seemed to re-fuel itself in flight. More recently, the so-called Miracle of Portugal which took place in 1917 has been explained as a UFO mistaken for the Virgin Mary. However, not all ancient sightings are clearly tall stories; nor are they necessarily simply cases of such phenomena as ball-lightning. And not all modern reports are the products of hoaxes or hysteria — although there are many delightfully ingenious cases of fake photography — UFOs which have turned out to be models thrown into the air or suspended from wires, hand-held cut-outs illuminated by flashlights, drawings superimposed on photographic prints, reflections photographed through clear glass.
The McMinnville saucer was no model, and there was never any suggestion that Mr. and Mrs. Trent would have been capable of faking a photographic negative. A United States Air Force Committee examined the photographs in great technical detail, went to McMinnville, checked every aspect of the story and concluded firmly that "this is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated — geometric, psychological and physical — appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses. It cannot be said that the evidence positively rules out a fabrication, although there are some physical factors such as the accuracy of certain photometric measures of the original negatives which argue against a fabrication. "
Since this conclusion was reached, the photographic negatives, computer-enhanced, have been re-examined, and their genuineness seems beyond question. The McMinnville case is not the only convincing one although the photographs are by far the most concrete evidence available. Many men and women who had much to lose by insisting that they had seen an object from outer space, have stuck to their stories despite enormous pressure and — sometimes — loss of promotion or even of their jobs. Both civil and military pilots have been among them — as have trained astronauts.
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