Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Ed Conroy's phantom helicopters
Many UFO reports involve alleged sightings of mysterious helicopters, which are usually said to have no visible identification markings. Some of these are eventually identified, either definitely or provisionally, but other sightings remain unexplained, although there are generally either single witnesses, or no independent witnesses to confirm the reality of the sightings. Most of these seem to be too vague or unreliable to be worth intensive investigation.
However, I have recently been reading a book by Ed Conroy (Report on Communion: An independent investigation and commentary on Whitley Strieber's Communion, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1989), in which the author reports experiencing strange phenomena, such as those described by writers such as John Keel or Jacques Vallée, after becoming involved in interviewing Strieber, and others concerned with reports of alien abductions, ranging from Budd Hopkins to Philip Klass.
Conroy recounts his strange experiences in his "Epilogue" at the end of the book, and these include the most remarkable phantom helicopter stories which I have found in the UFO literature. What is so remarkable about them is that these strange sightings are said to have taken place in full view of dozens, or possibly hundreds, of other witnesses, or likely witnesses.
One morning in March (date not given) 1987, Conroy was "momentarily distracted" from his work by the sight of a Bell 47-model helicopter outside his window in an office block which is "a seven-story structure located in the middle of downtown San Antonio [Texas]." This helicopter was equipped with a searchlight which was shining brightly, even though it was full daylight. This helicopter then began circling the office building, coming as close as 50 yards, and making wider circles around other buildings in the area. Conroy phoned the local Federal Aviation Adminsitration office, whose officials were polite, but regretted that they could not clarify the matter as he could not see any identifying numbers on the helicopter. Similar incidents allegedly happened a number of times, and there were said to be other witnesses. Conroy says he was given binoculars to help him to observe the helicopters but, curiously, he does not mention cameras.
The point I am trying to make here is that we are presented with a set of reports which should have been definitely confirmed or refuted soon after their publication, in view of the large number of persons who would have seen and heard the helicopters, and been distracted from their work by them, and would surely have made numerous official complaints and enquiries about them if these incidents had actually occurred as described.
If these helicopters were not real, however, we are left to puzzle out how to make any sense of what has been written. If Ed Conroy were just another hack writer of gee-whiz books about UFOs and other odd subjects, we could assume that he just made it all up. But his book is evidently a perfectly serious attempt to analyse Whitley Strieber's Communion, and, apart from the Epilogue, is one of the few serious works on alien abduction reports and beliefs.