Skeptics encouraged to step up

Skeptics across the globe are being encouraged to step up their game, with constant UFO reports instantly being dismissed by skeptics as simply being ‘Weather Balloons’ – an age old excuse often turned to in order to easily dismiss sightings and eye-witness reports as being without merit and requiring next to no investigation to support their standing.

While history will show that the onus of proving a UFO sighting will always be on the reporter, it seems that despite the growing number of sightings and evidence being provided to back up the claim skeptics are quick to dismiss any sighting almost immediately as a Weather Balloon.

The most famous case of ‘Weather Balloon’ sightings came in 1947 with infamous Roswell UFO Crash at a ranch in Roswell, New Mexico.

On June 14 1947, William Brazel, a foreman working on the foster homestead noticed clusters of debris on the ranch initially not thinking much about it the foreman returned to the location where he had found the debris on July 4th with his wife and son to clean it up.

On July 7, Brazel saw Sheriff Wilcox and “whispered kinda confidential like” that he may have found a flying disc.

Wilcox called RAAF Major Jesse Marcel and a “man in plainclothes” accompanied Brazel back to the ranch where more pieces were picked up. “[We] spent a couple of hours Monday afternoon [July 7] looking for any more parts of the weather device”, said Marcel. “We found a few more patches of tinfoil and rubber.”

On July 8, 1947, Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut issued a press release stating that personnel from the field’s 509th Operations Group had recovered a “flying disc”, which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell. As described in the July 9, 1947 edition of the Roswell Daily Record,

The balloon which held it up, if that was how it worked, must have been 12 feet [3.5 m] long, [Brazel] felt, measuring the distance by the size of the room in which he sat. The rubber was smoky gray in color and scattered over an area about 200 yards [180 m] in diameter.

When the debris was gathered up, the tinfoil, paper, tape, and sticks made a bundle about three feet [1 m] long and 7 or 8 inches [18 or 20 cm] thick, while the rubber made a bundle about 18 or 20 inches [45 or 50 cm] long and about 8 inches [20 cm] thick. In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe five pounds [2 kg]. There was no sign of any metal in the area which might have been used for an engine, and no sign of any propellers of any kind, although at least one paper fin had been glued onto some of the tinfoil.

There were no words to be found anywhere on the instrument, although there were letters on some of the parts. Considerable Scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in the construction. No strings or wires were to be found but there were some eyelets in the paper to indicate that some sort of attachment may have been used.

Colonel William H. Blanchard, commanding officer of the 509th, contacted General Roger M. Ramey of the Eighth Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas, and Ramey ordered the object be flown to Fort Worth Army Air Field. At the base, Warrant Officer Irving Newton confirmed Ramey’s preliminary opinion, identifying the object as being a weather balloon and its “kite”, a nickname for a radar reflector used to track the balloons from the ground. Another news release was issued, this time from the Fort Worth base, describing the object as being a “weather balloon”.

However, the weather balloon excuse has been used constantly by skeptics, with one UFO sighting close to home being re-evaluated and now deemed by skeptics as a weather balloon sighting which has cause controversy amongst Ufologists and believers.

On the 6th of April 1966 for about twenty-minutes over 200 students and teachers witnessed a UFO in Melbourne, the case more commonly known as the Westall UFO sighting was wear two schools witnessed an unidentified flying object which descended into a nearby open wild grass field (now a nature reserve) shortly after 11am.

The object then ascended in a north-westerly direction over the suburb of Clayton South.

Andrew Greenwood, a science teacher, at the time said that he saw a silvery-green disc. According to witnesses the object was descending and then crossed and overflew the high school’s south-west corner, going in a south-easterly direction, before disappearing from sight as it descended behind a stand of trees and into a paddock at The Grange in front of the Westall State School (primary students).

After a short period (approximately 20 minutes) the object – with witnesses now numbering over 200 – then climbed at speed and departed towards the north-west. As the object gained altitude some accounts describe it as having been pursued from the scene by five unidentified aircraft which circled the object.

The Australian Skeptics described the object as potentially having been an experimental military aircraft. They suggest that it may have been a nylon target drogue, like a wind sock, towed by one plane for the others to chase and known to be in use by the local RAAF at the time.

However, more recently, it was claimed in UFOlogist Magazine, that four years ago a new explanation was handed forward by Keith Basterfield that the object in which was seen by over two hundred people was simply a case of mistaken identity.

The Australian Government was conducting high altitude balloon tests at the time, in order to test and monitor the upper atmosphere for radiation and nuclear contamination over Mildura. The flights were monitored carefully and followed by aircraft so the experiment samples and equipment could be retrieved.

One of these balloons was scheduled to launched the day before the Westall event occurred, therefore this, as Mr Basterfield claims, would explain how authorities arrived so quickly at the Westall School after the reported sighting.

For this theory, and all other theories in which skeptics claim that sightings are purely ‘weather balloons’ would mean you have to simply dismiss all of the witness accounts – in total over 200 from the Westall case alone.

In relation to the Westall case it would also be hard to explain how a weather balloon left large circular impressions on the ground, and how it later took off in a flash, leaving several pursuit aircraft in it’s wake.

It was also seen moving through tree branches, without getting caught in the branches as it moved through.

So while the UFO community attempts to find the evidence that finally proves that earth is being visited by extra terrestrial beings, the call has gone out for skeptics to offer more to the community rather than relying on the ‘weather balloon’ excuse.

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