Monitoring UFOs

Many a truth is spoken in jest...
I did this "April Fools” article for Scanning USA many years back under the pseudonym of “Deep Throat”. After they published it, I still liked it enough to post it on Usenet. The cool thing was that unlike some periodicals I've written for, all the little inside references and jokes were not removed from this article.
I even photo shopped a a space alien onto a fuzzy picture of Lentini Communications (their old Newington, CT location) for the article. Sadly, I no longer have that picture on disk...
I find it depressing that people rarely look up at the sky these days. If they just turned their eyes towards the Great Black every once in a while they'd find a whole new world that they previously were missing...
We all need to look and listen a little more often...

I once had a "close encounter" with space aliens. (Or it could have been the FCC. That night was pretty hazy.) I had just come back from a party at a loft in Watertown, Massachusetts that involved interesting electronic devices, attractive ladies who were into geeks, and large amounts of Jose Cuervo. I poured myself out of my ride after a two-hour return trip (always have a designated driver when you go out to pickle your brain), and managed to fall up the two flights of stairs to my apartment where the downy comfort of my bed awaited. Properly situated, I had no sooner fell into that comatose state of bliss then I sensed a presence in the bedroom. Now fully aware and stone cold sober by way of adrenaline, in one smooth motion I hit the touch lamp on the nightstand and drew down on the intruder with the CZ52 I keep handy for unwelcome guests.

Taking a look at my target, I notice it is a small ugly gray-looking human with a big head. I first thought it was my landlord, and started to yell at him for not knocking on the door before entering. I then realized that my unexpected visitor was actually from way out of town. It turned out that "he" was a Grey Alien trying to abduct me, but the high levels of Agave in my system somehow thwarted the paralysis device they use. Faced with potential oblivion by way of armed, angry human denied a nice drunken sleep, they offered me Twinkies, Coke, and ride in their spaceship in exchange for a few minutes of my time. I told them that my parents warned me against taking rides from strangers, and that they better at least offer me a few Krugerrands in exchange for being a test subject. The space alien replied that they usually keep their gold bullion in Canadian Maple Leafs, and asked if those would be OK instead.

After that things get a little fuzzy and the only things I kind of recall are consenting to a brain tissue sample (considering how many brain cells I've fried, I thought a few more shouldn't matter), their sampling machine repeatedly printing out the words "Hermano del Diablo" before crashing, a heavily-modified Cobra 148GTL CB in the spaceship's cockpit set to Channel 19, and getting hustled off the spaceship after I started taking apart the ship's ion drive with my Leatherman Tool to see how it worked. I woke up the next day, and thought it was all a dream until I saw a stack of gold Canadian Maple Leafs on my nightstand next to the CZ52. That afternoon I sold a few of them to a local pawnshop and bought an Icom R8500 and more Cuervo. Being an electronic plumber by trade, this experience had gotten me interested in what could probably be the ultimate in scanner listening: monitoring UFOs, or Unidentified Flying Objects.

From my previous experience, I knew that space aliens make use of the Eleven Meter band on the frequency of 27.185 MHz. The problem with this frequency however is the difficulty in telling the difference between the terrestrial users and the extra-terrestrial ones. It would seem obvious to me that a race of beings capable of interstellar transportation would rely on more advanced communications than CB. Then again, there may be something special about the 27 MHz. spectrum that we humans are unaware of. On that note, noted musician and ufologist Mojo Nixon in his critically acclaimed work UFOs, Big Rigs, and BBQ puts forth the theory that some space aliens are actually intergalactic truckers who stop off at Planet Earth because we have the only truck stops in this corner of the galaxy (and serve the best food).

Scannists interested in this subset of monitoring should acquire a few pieces of auxiliary equipment to augment their efforts. The first is a good set of 10x50 binoculars. I have found these to be ideal for getting a better view of things in the sky. They offer a wide enough view and enough magnification to enable you to distinguish between mundane flying objects such as weather balloons, and things that might be a little more interesting. You may also want to get a telescope for those times when additional magnification is needed. The next items are some supplementary reading material. A good aircraft recognition guide such as Janes is essential, as are aviation and astronomy related periodicals such as Aviation Week, Air & Space, and Sky & Telescope. Part of monitoring UFOs is being able to identify the stuff that is terrestrial in origin, and a normal part of the evening sky. Nothing is more embarrassing to discover that your UFO was actually a B2 bomber, the International Space Station, or the planet Uranus. Armed with optics and information on craft indigenous to this planet, you can visually confirm information heard while searching via electromagnetic means.

Another potentially useful item is a compass; as in the type that normally points somewhere North. If it starts swinging around all over the place, things will probably start to get interesting real soon. UFOs have been rumored to cause magnetic anomalies, and unusual compass behavior could mean that a UFO is nearby. It may also mean that a local ham just turned on his linear, and started chewing the rag on 3880. Those of you who are still using real computers such as S-100, PDP-11, or TRS-80 systems may also notice your compass "twitches" slightly upon powering your system up. This is most noticeable on with TRS-80 Model 1 systems. One such hobbyist during the mid-1980s was reported to have booted up his Model 1 to play a few games of Lunar Lander only to discover black flying "triangles" hovering over his residence, and total white-out of TV reception in a mile radius. The hobbyist was later seen near Lakehurst, New Jersey a few years after the incident wearing clothing that screamed out the word "engineer" and sporting implants that would make a Borg jealous.

As far as frequencies are concerned, you should by now realize that frequencies for space aliens are not listed in Police Call. My approach is to listen to select terrestrial frequencies that may provide UFO event indication in my area, usually in the form of one pilot asking another "What the heck was that?!" or common mil-air frequencies that may be used by interceptor aircraft. Frequencies such as 121.5, 243.0, 364.2, 122.2, 122.75, 122.925, and 123.45 MHz. are good bets. I also listen to local aircraft test frequencies in my area, as many alleged UFOs turn out to be experimental aircraft. For example, Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut, the premier makers of black helicopters used in generating UFO (and other) conspiracy stories, uses 36.90, 38.90, 41.10, 123.15, 123.20, 123.275, 123.325, 123.425, 123.45, 123.525, 123.55, 123.575, 233.80, 275.20, 304.60, 314.60, 324.6, 359.40, 380.4, 382.60, and 384.60 MHz. for flight test operations. Searching 1435-1535, 2200-2300, and 2310-2390 MHz. will also alert you to any aircraft testing in your area. Those frequency ranges are allocated for aircraft test telemetry. Likewise, the local DME/TACAN frequency (960-1215 MHz.) assigned to your neighborhood VORTAC site, or the airborne SIF/SSR transponder frequency on 1090 MHz. is also useful. If your UFO is squwaking, then it's probably of terrestrial origin. The Aircraft transmit on DME/TACAN frequencies from 1025 to 1150 MHz. in 1 MHz. steps.

In the few years of UFO monitoring, I've mostly encountered experimental aircraft, celestial bodies, and the odd satellite. I only managed to snag one unidentified flying object that appeared to be extraterrestrial in origin. It appeared that the craft was having technical difficulties, and landed in a central Connecticut town well known for amount of RF that hobbyists generate there. They probably homed in the weird signals emanating on 147.555 MHz. The craft landed in a parking lot, its occupant got out, and proceeded to a local electronics store to (I assume) acquire repair parts. As our intergalactic visitor left the store, I tried to snap a quick picture of him, but for some reason, my digital camera (along with my other electronics) was on the fritz that evening.