A Report on the 2011
“1st Annual UFO Revival”
Copyright 2011 by Bob Soetebier
With the lure of an admission price of only $2 per adult ($1 per child) per day, the Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19, 2011, “UFO Revival” conference in Patterson, Missouri, was too tempting for us to pass up in making the trip down from the St. Louis area. That, plus the interesting line-up of featured speakers; who, from what I was told, donated their time and efforts, as they received neither speakers’ fees nor travel/accommodation expenses.
The conference -- commemorating the 1973 UFO “flap” (which turned into a long-lived UFO “wave”) in Piedmont, MO, and the s.e. Missouri region -- was held at the Patterson Community Center in the (former) Patterson School Gym. It was sponsored and organized by the Cultural Arts Alliance, Wayne [County] Ozark Region, Inc. (CAAW). The conference was a worthy first-time effort with a respectable attendance: approximately 100-plus attendees throughout the day on the Friday, and at least that many on the Saturday.
During the two days of the conference CAAW’s director Dawn Allen and conference emcee Barbara Decker kept things running fairly smoothly. Along with their helpful and friendly team of about a dozen volunteers, Allen and Decker did their best to see that everyone in attendance got more than their money’s worth of both informative -- and, at times, entertaining -- presentations, along with reasonably priced on-site food and refreshments. They had even arranged for an on-site visit of the St. Louis Community College Mobile Tech Center educational van.
First up to speak on Friday was Denny Hovis (former St. Louis area policeman), who was the local radio station manager and announcer in Piedmont, MO, during the UFO wave in the 1970s. During his “Historic Recap” he played many interesting audio clips recounting the ongoing UFO sightings and encounters from the period. One of these included the seminal close UFO encounter well-known local Piedmont high school basketball coach, Reggie Bone, and a few of his basketball team members had on an evening return trip to Piedmont after an away basketball game.
A featured speaker on both days was Mark Rutledge, son of (deceased) Dr. Harley Rutledge (Ph.D.) who was the chairman of the physics department of Missouri State University (SEMO) in Cape Girardeau, MO. Mark’s talk (on both days) was titled, “Project Identification: An Historical Perspective”, which highlighted his father’s “First Scientific Field Investigation of UFO Phenomena.” Mark, along with some of his father’s students from the university, spent hundreds of nighttime hours manning triangulated field observation points. They managed scientifically document -- with quite an array of electronic equipment -- many anomalous, and impressive, UFO sightings in the southeast Missouri area.
Another presenter on both days was Earl Mullins, director of The Space Museum in Bonne Terre, MO. During his “Space Exploration: An Expense or an Economic Investment?” he made sure that anyone who heard his lecture would not leave with any doubt about the literal value of our space program. In his passionately enthusiastic presentation he stressed not only American “pride of ownership” (via U.S. tax dollars), but also the tangible benefits to society borne out by the many useful items we now use in our daily lives that have directly accrued from the space program’s R&D. On both days, he also did an -- at times, explosive...literally! -- educational “Rockets Rule!” demonstration that particularly held the undivided attention of both the older and younger attendees.
On the Friday afternoon, it was a distinct pleasure to get to meet Lowell Grissom, the brother of Project Mercury astronaut Virgil (“Gus”) Grissom. Lowell’s presentation, “An Astronaut’s Life,” about his brother left no doubt that Virgil was a truly a courageous American hero. (Unfortunately, Gus died -- along with Ed White and Roger Chaffee -- during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission when an electrical malfunction ignited flash fire of the pure-oxygen atmosphere inside the capsule.) Lowell noted that the home where he and Gus grew up in Mitchell, Indiana, has been converted into a museum. That’s in addition to the Gus Grissom Memorial Museum which is located in Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell, Indiana.
The scheduled presentation of the “NASA Space Suit Inventor” by 93-year-old Paul Vance was a no-show. (For those who don’t know this fact: It was the Playtex company -- experts in body-fitting garments -- who beat out other space-suit design competitors.) We never did learn why Mr. Vance was unable to make it to the conference.
A friend of ours, Dave Marler, former Illinois MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) State Director, ended up giving his excellent “The 1973 UFO Wave - Piedmont And Beyond” Power-Point presentation on both days of the conference. His interest in participating in this particular conference stems from the fact that his father’s family was from the Piedmont area. As a young child, Dave accompanied his father and uncle on field-observation excursions to the Piedmont area during the 1970s UFO wave. Dave played audio clips of first-person UFO sightings in the area, including one which highlighted KPLR-TV (St. Louis, MO) reporter Harriet Woods’ direct on-site UFO experience at night in the vicinity of the drive-in movie theater just east of Piedmont. (Ms. Woods later became the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri.)
Whenever Dave Marler gives one of his
presentations -- he also has spoken at other UFO conferences in the U.S., he is
always well-prepared and includes a wealth of both historical and topical
material. This is partly due to the fact
that he has an impressive collection of UFO-related material covering all
aspects of the UFO phenomena, in addition to his years of personal
investigations of reported UFO sightings and encounters. (Dave also does an impressive presentation on
his specialty in the field: “Triangular UFOs.”)
In preparation for the conference, Dave went out of his way to put
together a display of copies of many of the various historic newspaper articles
(local, regional and national) that covered both the original UFO flap and then
wave of the 1970s period. This
supplemented the excellent display of similar newspaper article clippings that
the CAAW group had on display at the conference. (NOTE: Dave Marler also administers the UFO News Service Service.)
The day’s presentations on Saturday began with a repeat performance by Mark Rutledge, followed by former (31-year veteran) police detective, and “UFO researcher” Oklahoma MUFON Field Investigator Ken Storch. Ken’s talk, “Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt Versus Scientific Proof,” emphasized the fact that the preponderance (“weight”) of evidence leaves no room for denial that “flying saucers” are real the real deal. That is, nuts-and-bolts craft -- with capabilities way beyond what our “terrestrial” air craft -- are flying in our skies…and, in some case, into and out of bodies of water, too.
Ken highlighted a recent UFO-related (concurrent to) cattle mutilation case he had personally investigated near Norwood, MO. There have literally been thousands of such cases throughout the U.S. (and other countries) since the 1960s. The typical cattle mutilation case usually involves the precise surgical removal (with laser-like precision) of part of a cow’s jaw cleanly to the bone, a missing eye and one ear, perhaps an udder removed along with the reproductive organs and the anus cored out. Even more striking is that the cow’s blood is completely removed…with NONE remaining within or upon the cow nor anywhere on or near the carcass. (As the veterinarian who at the crime scene examined the most recent Norwood, MO, mutilated cow -- the tongue of which was cleanly sliced off way back in the back of its mouth, with grass it was eating still in its mouth -- commented: “It was as if the blood had instantaneously evaporated from high heat.”) Additionally, there are NEVER any tracks -- neither the cow’s own, nor any predators’ or persons’ -- leading to or from the mutilated cow. And, in most cases, the cow is lying in body-fitting depression…as if it was dropped from a height. (There has even been a case or full-grown mutilated bull found high up in the fork of a tree!)
As a major aside, Ken noted his analysis of the historic photos associated with the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, UFO crash-retrieval case. He pointed out in the two purported “weather balloon” debris photos (taken in General Ramey’s office), two of the (three, total) officers obviously were out of uniform: wore no hats; wore no ties, with unbuttoned collars; were not wearing I.D. tags; lacked proper rank insignia; etc. Ken, as an U.S. Air Force veteran (serving as a Strategic Air Command radar operator at Offutt air base near Omaha in 1973) pointed out that being out of uniform -- in public; especially during a P.R. photo shoot in a general’s office -- at that time, would have normally resulted in a court marshal. Along with other evidence in the photos, Ken’s theorized that P.R. photo shoot was hastily assembled as part of a rush-job disinformation cover-up effort.
Ken also noted that, at the same time the UFO incidents were occurring in 1973 in the Piedmont area, UFOs were tracked on over the Pacific Northwest and into Canada. He pointed out that resulted in our nuclear missiles going to Defcon status (the underground missile silo covers were blown off in preparation for launch!) President Nixon had to get on the red phone hot line to Russia to tell them that they were “not ours.” This dramatic UFO incident literally came within a few minutes of setting off a nuclear war!
At 2:00pm, during Earl Mullins “Rockets Rule” repeat performance, something triggered the failure of the electricity to the building. Fortunately, Earl’s demos didn’t require any electricity…just fuel, oxidizer and ignitions source.
The next speaker was to be another friend of ours, the Missouri MUFON State Director, Debbie Ziegelmeyer. Debbie was to give a presentation on “Missouri Sightings.” Debbie has also spoken at various UFO conferences in the U.S. We had recently seen her well-done presentation in the St. Louis area. (We had also seen a recent presentation given the following scheduled speaker, Margie Kay, the MO MUFON Ass. State Dir.) So, my wife and I called it a day and decided to head on home early.
We sincerely hope that the CAAW group will be able to follow through with a “2nd Annual UFO Revival.” We are particularly rooting for them to be able keep the admission at such a bargain price!
I would just have one (hopefully) helpful suggestion for the next “UFO Revival” conference:
Have it on one day only on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; with an afternoon 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. lunch break. They could then allow time for two speakers before lunch and two speakers after lunch. The one-day schedule would be a lot less work for them and make it more convenient for attendees, too. It would also serve to avoid some duplication of effort that was experienced on their first go-round.
Regardless, all in all, it was time well spent.