Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, cults, ghosts, myths, strange facts or just plain weird, weird goings-on.
This week: Ufology
If a regular Earth-bound person tells you they've seen a UFO, it leaves plenty of room for doubt. Maybe they misinterpreted what they saw, or maybe they were hallucinating after a bad ham sandwich. Like we said – there's lots of room for doubt. If an astronaut tells you they've seen a UFO while in space, on the other hand, it's a completely different story.
There are allegations that Neil Armstrong did in fact see and report an encounter with UFOs when he landed on the moon. The story goes that Armstrong saw two UFOs 'parked' on the far ridge of a crater. This story was released to the public some time after it happened. It's said to have been made known by Christopher Kraft, a man who had been director of NASA's Houston tracking base at the time this transcript was first recorded:
Apollo 11: "Those are giant things. No, no, no… this is not an optical illusion. No one is going to believe this!"
Mission Control (Houston Center): "What… what… what? What the hell is happening? What's wrong with you?"
Apollo 11: “They're here under the surface.”
Mission Control: "What's there? Emission interrupted… interference control calling Apollo II."
Apollo 11: "We saw some visitors. They were there for awhile, observing the instruments."
Mission Control: "Repeat your last information."
Apollo 11: "I say that there were other spaceships. They're lined up on the other side of the crater."
Mission Control: "Repeat…repeat!"
Apollo 11: "Let us sound this orbit a… In 625 to… automatic relay connected… My hands are shaking so badly I can't do anything. Film it? God, if these damned cameras have picked up anything. What then?"
Mission Control: "Have you picked up anything?"
Apollo 11: "I didn't have any film at hand. Three shots of the saucers or whatever they were that were ruining the film."
Mission Control: "Control, control here. Are you on your way? Is the uproar with the U.F.O's. Over?"
Apollo 11: "They've landed there. There they are and they are watching us."
Mission Control: "The mirrors, the mirrors… have you set them up?"
Apollo 11: "Yes, they're in the right place. But whoever made those space ships surely can come tomorrow and remove them. Over and out."
That transmission is said to have been heard by people monitoring the mission on their personal ham radios – implying quite a few witnesses. It's also gotten a stamp of authenticity from others on the government side of things. A decade after Armstrong's crater sighting, a former chief of NASA communication systems, Maurice Chatelain, said:
"The encounter was common knowledge in NASA, but nobody has talked about it until now."
When that transcript was released to the general public, ufologists wrote their congressmen demanding the US government end the coverup. NASA responded to their requests by saying that all astronaut interaction with mission control had been released to the media live, and between 1000 and 1500 media representatives were there on-site as the messages were received – implying there's no way it's a true document, and they've nothing to hide.
That's not the only transcript that's surfaced. This next one is reportedly from the early nineties, and is about a flyby a UFO pulled on the shuttle Endeavour. The astronaut here is David Walker:
Walker: "Bogey at 3 o'clock… God… what is it? My God – it's coming right at us…"
NASA: "What's there?"
Walker: "THERE'S NO WAY! Oh God! Get back. MOVE!"
NASA: "Endeavour! Endeavour! What… explain…"
Walker: "What the… where are we? Where is it? Where… it's gone IT'S GONE. Not (unintelligible)… UFO. Spacecraft… huge… intelligent… OVER THERE!"
NASA: "Endeavour. Switch… NOW!"
Then the tape abruptly ended. The "switch now" thing could have been referring to a more secure transmission channel. Whatever it meant, the sudden end lends itself to loads of conspiracy theories. But who really knows – maybe the whole thing is fraudulent to begin with. As hecklerspray recently had it's NASA high security clearance revoked for violently rocking their candy-filled vending machine, we no longer have a way of investigating further. We only had Euros at the time.
One quote on the matter we can promise you is absolutely true is this next one. It's from former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, as he's quoted on a 1996 edition of Dateline NBC:
“I have no firsthand experience, but I have had the opportunity to meet with people from three countries who in the course of their official duties claim to have had personal firsthand encounter experiences… with extraterrestrials.”
There you have it. Plenty of fuel to further a determined ufologist, but not enough to really nail anything down. Do you think UFOs are real? And if so, who's flying them? Speculation does nobody any good, but for now it's all any of us have.
[story by Shawn Lindseth]