UFOs over Dakota County? MUFON Field Investigator Reports
UFO Depiction
by Andrew Miller

Wednesday, 09 April 2008-As a field investigator with the Mutual UFO Network, Bill McNeff has collected data at the scenes of more than 50 UFO sightings.

In at least 30 of those cases, the witnesses reported seeing intelligent beings of some kind, he said.

McNeff, a Burnsville resident and retired electrician, is assistant director of the Minnesota chapter of MUFON, a Denver-based nonprofit dedicated to scientifically resolving the enigma of UFOs.

According to MUFON’s database, Dakota County has seen its share of anomalous aerial phenomena over the years.

One report filed with MUFON recounts an August 1953 UFO sighting just northwest of Highway 13 and Lyndale Avenue in Burnsville.

A couple parked in seclusion beside an old woodframed schoolhouse near the Minnesota River at about 10:30 p.m. saw a large disc-shaped craft about 300 feet away, hovering about 12 feet off the ground. The female witness reported that three beings were visible inside the craft, “handling levers connected to cylindrical devices.” After a few minutes, the object accelerated off into the sky.

More recently, a night janitor at a medical clinic in Hastings reported in June 2000 that he witnessed eight spherical lights that seemed to rotate in a circular pattern in the sky for more than 20 minutes.

And in May 2006, a UFO was reported in the sky above UMore Park in Rosemount.

A couple driving through UMore Park at about 11:30 p.m. saw a large black craft with red and orange lights about 100 feet off the ground.

According to the eyewitness account, “We kind of stared in awe at first and it started towards us. Suddenly we heard very loud noises all around us, sort of like gunfire, rapid gunfire … I kind of lost it and started driving fast out of the woods … About five minutes down the road, I heard the noises again … After that, the object disappeared in the sky.”

McNeff, who personally investigated the Rosemount sighting, ruled out commercial and military aircraft and concluded in his report, “These objects must be considered unidentified.” Eyes on the sky

McNeff’s interest in UFOs was triggered in 1947, when he read accounts of the Kenneth Arnold incident, the first widely reported UFO sighting in the United States.

Arnold, a pilot, reported seeing nine crescent-shaped objects flying near Mount Rainier in Washington. The term “flying saucer” was coined in connection with this incident.

McNeff later joined the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, one of the first national UFO organizations. He joined MUFON-MN in the mid-1980s.

He said his background in electrical engineering has proven useful in the course of his investigations.

“There are a number of cases where it appears these craft are emitting radio waves, microwaves, forms of electrical interference,” he said.

And McNeff’s research has helped him form an opinion on the existence of extraterrestrials.

“I think the probability is extremely high,” McNeff said. “There are a lot of planets out there that can support life, and then we have all these witnesses telling about beings.” Investigations

On average, MUFON-MN receives a few dozen UFO reports each year. Reports come by word of mouth, through newspaper accounts and via the MUFON Web site.

Others are forwarded to MUFON by the National UFO Reporting Center, a nonprofit clearinghouse and 24-hour hotline for UFO sightings, operated from an old nuclear missile bunker in rural Washington.

Of MUFON-Minnesota’s 60 members, about a half dozen are trained as field investigators.

Before an investigation is launched, the reports are vetted for legitimacy.

“Some of them are clumsy hoaxes – just a few,” McNeff said.

But, he added, the majority of the reports are worth checking out.

Here’s how an investigation unfolds:

A MUFON field investigator will phone or e-mail the witness to get further details about the sighting, and to get a lock on the person’s credibility and observational skills.

During these initial interviews, “sometimes you’ll find out that an on-site visit is going to be helpful,” McNeff said.

If that’s the case, a field investigator will visit the site to gather additional testimony, obtain a sketch of the craft from the witness and search for physical evidence.

If any sort of “extraneous material” or debris is found, samples are taken for lab analysis.

“Each case is different,” McNeff said. “You do anything you can to throw as much scientific light as possible on what happened.”

After the investigation winds down, the information gathered is entered into MUFON’s case-report database. Witnesses’ names are deleted from reports made public.

“MUFON has an ironclad policy: We do not release the names of witnesses,” McNeff said.

“There has been an atmosphere of ridicule. … People with spectacular cases have often gotten a multitude of crank phone calls.”

Far from resembling the lurid prose of pulp science fiction, field reports compiled by MUFON investigators are straightforward accounts, couched in scientific terminology, that read like the pages of a police blotter.

The hope of MUFON investigators is that the compiled reports are like pieces of a puzzle. Taken together, they give a better view of a phenomenon that’s been a bane to orthodox science since the late 1940s.

“We think it’s important to gather all the data that we can so that good minds can try to determine what’s happening,” McNeff said.

“We feel that the UFO mystery is of potentially great importance to humans. If we are being visited by intelligent beings from other places, there’s a concern about their motivations and purposes.”

Andrew Miller is at av.thisweek@ecm-inc.com.

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