Date: Sun Sep 25 1994 00:00:18
From: Sheppard Gordon
Subj: Identified UFO
Even skeptics fooled by mysterious lights
When it comes to UFOs, even skeptics can be fooled.
Take Charles Tolbert, a professor of astronomy at the University of
Virginia and member of the Society for Scientific Exploration.
One night, Tolbert saw a strange sight a bright light rising out of a
grove of trees. The light divided into two lights and one moved higher than
the other, then disappeared.
Later, Tolbert realized an airport was 10 miles away on the other side of
the trees. The lights, he deduced, were coming from a plane taking off and
climbing. The one landing light separated into two as the plane drew close
enough for Tolbert to distinguish them.
One light moved higher than the other as the plane banked. The lights
suddenly disappeared when the crew turned off the lights.
"If I had gone in the house to get other people to look at it, and it was
gone when I got back, I would have been convinced that the light that rose up
out of the trees was a UFO," he said. "If enough data were available, all UFO
sightings would be explained in terms of perfectly normal phenomenon."
"I'd like to see some of these extraordinary claims really turn out to be
true, but so far the evidence I've seen presented and the arguments are not
proof of extraordinary events," said James Oberg, an aerospace engineer and
author who lives in Dickinson, Texas.
Oberg is a member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of
Claims of the Paranormal, a skeptics' group.
"Certainly the Center for UFO Studies people are of high intelligence and
integrity," he said. "I'm not questioning their motives, but I think many of
their methodologies are inadequate for the phenomenon."
Contrary to what many people believe, Oberg says pilots "are among the
poorest observers of UFOs," mainly because they are trained to fly
defensively, to take evasive maneuvers to avoid collisions with aerial
objects. This does not exactly make for cool and calm analysis, he said.