Preston and the Magic School Bus

I first heard about Preston Nichols from one of the lone gunmen. He was described as this dude who drove around in an old school bus full of Watkins Johnson receivers and was into UFOs and old military bases. With an endorsement like that, how could I resist?

I was down at the 2600 meeting, and one of the lone gunmen told me Preston was speaking that evening at some new-age convention downtown. Never been a big fan of new-agers. They abhor technology and in many cases intelligent thought processes. Still though, it was like watching a train wreck, that bizarre fascination that keeps your eyes riveted to the scene. I hauled myself and my bemused spouse down there to hear him speak. Preston's claim to fame is being involved in some high weirdness over at the old Montauk Point Air Force SAGE Radar site out on the tip of Long Island. It's your typical paranormal story involving UFOs, space aliens, time travel, and secret government conspiracies. He even wrote a few books about it.

While sadly enough we don't have men in lawn chairs hanging around MOAs with binoculars and communications receivers, the Northeast has its share of interesting activity in the skies. Two counties I've lived in have the distinction of being on the MUFON top 300 list1 of reported UFO activity. By now I hope you realize that UFO does not necessarily mean the pilot is from way out of town. He (or she) might be a lot closer than you think2.

We paid the aging hippie chick the requisite admission fee, and went to go hear Preston speak. He alluded to all sorts of high weirdness out on Long Island's tip while extensively promoting his books. The granola and quartz crystal crowd hung onto his every word like it came down off a mountain carved in stone. Sorry, wrong religious imagery for this crowd. They hung onto his every word like it was beamed down from the Pleiades. Time for questions. I raised my hand, and eventually was picked. I asked about detecting and receiving RF signals associated with paranormal activity. He actually gave me a viable answer: Use an old black and white TV as a signal detector.

Old school trick. I use it all the time, especially with various frequency converters. Simple and works, especially for spread spectrum stuff3. Maybe there's something here after all.

We found out he had a meeting at someone's house every week, some Reki practitioner on Long Island. We decided to check it out. Vivian's enjoying this. She has little use for "white witches", and this crowd was beyond white. They were transparent. We show up and listen to Preston talk about the history and latest happenings around Montauk as it relates to high weirdness. His audience was about a half dozen groupies with about three brain cells between the whole lot of them. He starts talking technical. I get interested and the eyes start glazing over on his groupies. Vivian I think is enjoying this way too much. She was fucking with this one woman who was talking way too much about her wavelengths. Jedi mind tricks. Basic PsyOps. He starts talking about the 400 MHz. frequency range and radiosondes. Very interesting as the frequency range from about 390-410 MHz. is known to be one of the fun places in the spectrum to check out and radiosondes hold a particular fascination for me. Then he mentions the use of grid dip meters to check for implants. I suppose if they had a tuned circuit in them, and you had an idea of the frequency, it would work. GDMs are a useful tool by the way. You should have one in your kit.

The meeting ends, and we walk out to the magic school bus. It's filled with a battery bank, a huge inverter, and a few racks of Watkins Johnson receivers. I climb into the bus. Preston wants to show this weird signal he discovered around 900 MHz. He puts it on the spectrum display. Frequency hopping from 900-930 MHz. roughly. Hmm... 33cm ISM (and ham) band. Probably a SCADA. I tell him what he found.

Around the same time I was working with a fellow writer on an article about scanning the NY metro area. I received some copies of letters written by an anonymous contributor to the contact for the local scanner and SWL net that was conducted every week on a local ham repeater. "Mr. Anonymous" had some rather detailed observations of local Milair activity and compiled a nice list of Milair frequencies in the 225-400 MHz. range. The handwriting on the letter looked very familiar. Perhaps the letters might have been written in an old school bus?

The lesson here is that there is a grain of truth in every story, and as an explorer of invisible worlds you have to investigate these interesting stories of high weirdness in order to separate the fact from fiction. The dude may have been hung up on the illegal aliens who fall under the jurisdiction of INS Division Six, but he knew his RF and apparently his COMINT TTP as well. If you can sort through the more amusing ramblings, you'd have walked away with some interesting hints and kinks to add to your kit.


Many years have gone by, and things have not changed. The new-agers still hate technology and technical means to find the truth, and most scanner hobbyists have no interest in checking out the invisible world, The Great Black. I heard Preston moved up to Saugerties where he fixes high end tube amps for old rich hippies. The local 2 meter scanner and SWL net is no longer on the air. The magic school bus is no longer on the road. Perhaps someone will become inspired and build their own magic bus?



3 The_Pine_Tree_Journal_3.pdf

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