Sunday, November 4, 2012

Source of the 1896 Portsmouth Naval Yard UFO Encounter Called Into Question


One of the most fascinating New Hampshire UFO cases I have come across in my research is the 1896 close encounter that two Naval officers reportedly had with a luminous UFO while guarding ships on the docks of the Portsmouth Naval yard.

The article, "Navy Shot at UFO in 1896" , was written by Art Champoux, and appeared on the UFO Digest website in March of 2007. According his account, after being approached by the UFO, the Naval officers shot at the glowing craft with their rifles as the object flew overhead. They heard the sound of their bullets hitting the object before it increased in brightness and flew out to sea.

In an attempt to obtain documentation of the original source of the article, it appears I have stumbled upon a major discrepancy in what is purported to be the original source of the story.

Champoux references the Portsmouth Herald newspaper as being his source for his article, saying: " I read the report of this sighting in the archives of the Portsmouth Herald Newspaper dated November of 1896."

I began my inquiries by contacting the Portsmouth Library regarding the Portsmouth Herald archive and was referred to special collections librarian, Nicole Cloutier.

In speaking with Ms.Cloutier, she informed me that the known archives of the Portsmouth Herald only went back as far as 1898, and that there is a local mystery surrounding the birth date of the newspaper. She also mentioned a  recent Seacoast Online article "Portsmouth Herald Seeks Its Own Birth Date" , which delves into the murky beginnings of the Portsmouth Herald and the hunt for the first issues, and the newspaper's accurate birth date.

In addition, Ms.Cloutier reviewed the microfilms for the November 1896 issues of both the Portsmouth Gazette and Portsmouth Journal in the event that the author had mistaken his source, but she was unable to find any articles pertaining to the UFO sighting.

Considering all these facts, this leads us to two possible conclusions: Either a.) author Art Champoux was mistaken about the date or which newspaper was his source. This is quite possible, but seems unlikely. The date is in the title of the article and is mentioned more than once in the body of the article, so one would think the author would be sure of this important detail of the story, and his source. Or b.) the source and story were fabricated, and the encounter never happened.

I contacted the editor of UFO Digest, Robert D. Morningstar regarding the discrepancy of Champoux's source for his article, and was told that they were unable to contact Champoux. It was also suggested by Mr. Morningstar that I address the discrepancy with Champoux myself. This I declined, because I feel it is an editor's responsibility to handle issues regarding the credibility of any articles they publish. Follow up emails sent to UFO Digest have gone unanswered.

Since my correspondence with UFO Digest, Champoux has published additional articles on UFO Digest.com, and "Navy Shot at UFO in 1896" remains on UFO Digest's website.

If true, this UFO encounter is an incredible part of New Hampshire's UFO history. If the source discrepancy is an honest mistake, it is an opportunity for Champoux to provide the correct source, and allow for further research into the case. Until proper documentation of the source is provided for this case, the credibility is greatly diminished and will weigh heavily in my gray basket.

© 2012 New Hampshire UFO Research All Rights Reserved
The contents of this article cannot be reproduced without prior permission of the author.

Sources:

Champoux, Art. ""Navy Shot at UFO in 1896", UFO Digest [cited 2012] URL: http://www.ufodigest.com/news/0307/portsmouthufo.html

Robinson, J. Dennis. "Portsmouth Herald Seeks Its Own Birth Date" Seacoast NH.com [cited 2012] URL: http://www.seacoastnh.com/History/History_Matters/Portsmouth_Herald_Seeks_Its_Own_Birth_Date/

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Serious Doubts In the Laconia Abduction Case




A little over a year and a half ago, on March 20, 2010, two Laconia, NH
teenagers claimed that their car was lifted off the ground by a UFO, and then subsequently dropped when one of the teens sounded the car horn. After careful examination of both witness reports, and statements made by the police, it is clear that there are some serious discrepancies and red flags in this case. It appears things are being overlooked or ignored by MUFON and those that are touting the Laconia case as legitimate.

The case which was reported to the National UFO Reporting Center and investigated by MUFON New England, received considerable attention on the web and received over 20,000 views on the Examiner website. It has also appeared on many other UFO websites and forums around the world. The case was also the focus of New England MUFON Director Steve Firmani's recent lecture at the 2011 Exeter UFO Festival.

Discrepancies in the case are immediately apparent when comparing the witness testimony with the statements made by the investigating officers in the Laconia Citizen article, "Youths Claim UFO Lifted them."

The first issue that arises is that the witnesses gave conflicting reports to the Laconia Police and MUFON as to where the alleged abduction attempt took place. The police were told by the witnesses that the incident occurred at Opechee Park, but in their account submitted to NUFORC and MUFON, the witnesses claim the incident occurred at The Fun Spot, a local arcade.

According to Chief Michael Moyer "As of Friday evening, however, the case remains uncleared because of a discrepancy between where Moore told Batstone the incident allegedly occurred and where she and her boyfriend later told UFO investigators it happened — namely the parking lot at Funspot — said Laconia Police Chief Mike Moyer."

"'The long and short,' said Moyer,' is that we got this call to Opechee Park and the officer basically closed the case because there was nothing for us to do; and then I got a call from the UFO guys and they came and took statements and I didn't realize until yesterday in reading the statement they [Moore and her boyfriend] gave the UFO people the discrepancy in what they told the police.'" Chief Moyer also notes that there was no mention of a UFO until MUFON contacted him.

Looking at the testimony of the male witness, when describing the damage to the windshield of the car he claims "It popped outwards like it was pulled out." The male witness also goes on to say "He [Officer Batstone] said that there was no reason for this to have happened to the car when there are no dents or scratches and no reason for the windshield to shatter and pop out the way it did. He had no explanation for why the windshield popped outwards."

This statement is in direct conflict with what officer Batstone says in the Laconia Citizen article, Officer Batstone clearly states that the damage on the windshield was "consistent with the cover to the air bag being launched into the windshield when the passenger side air bag had deployed." You can also plainly see in the photos taken of the interior of the vehicle by MUFON investigators that the airbag has clearly deployed, and caused the windshield to shatter.

During his examination of the vehicle, Officer Batstone also noted that dirt on the car was undisturbed, and that the inside of the vehicle showed "no indications that any sort of impact had happened." After interviewing the witness and examining the vehicle at her house, Officer Batstone went to Opechee Park to search the site of the alleged incident and found that there was nothing "to indicate that a collision had occurred."

There is also the issue of the actual site of the event, The Fun Spot arcade. The Fun Spot parking lot is known in the area as a place where teens go hang out and jump their cars off a curb in the parking lot. The damage done to the undercarriage of the vehicle and the deployment of an airbag could be consistent with this sort of jumping of a vehicle.

The evidence that New England MUFON Director Steve Firmani has referenced in different lectures, podcasts, and articles consists of: the testimony of the witnesses, marks in the curb at Fun Spot that he claims he was able to match up with parts of the undercarriage of the witness vehicle, and the claim that both witness cell phones ceased functioning after the incident. There was also a mechanic's report of the damage done to the vehicle that supposedly states electrical damage occurred to the vehicle that wasn't consistent with a typical airbag deployment. Pictures of the vehicle and the alleged abduction site can be viewed online at Examiner.com, "UFO picks up Laconia, NH car with teens and drops 180 feet away."

It is unclear to what extent MUFON has analyzed this evidence, but one can only hope that the cell phones and unusual electrical damage to the vehicle were further examined and corroborated, not taken at face value given the problems with the witness testimony. It would be very easy to test the cell phones and request phone records from both witnesses to prove that their phones were functional up until the event, and ceased due to the incident. It would also be very easy to seek out a second opinion on the mechanic's report.

While this is not an all-out debunking of this case, what I have laid out here are some serious reasons to doubt the credibility of the "Laconia Abduction Case." My hope is that by bringing attention to the discrepancies in this case, it will help encourage people to re-examine the facts and evidence involved, and inspire a fresh look at the case.

 © 2012 New Hampshire UFO Research All Rights Reserved
The contents of this article cannot be reproduced without prior permission of the author.


Sources:

"Youths claim UFO lifted them", Koziol, John. Laconia Citizen. April 24, 2010 [cited 29 December 2011] URL:http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100424/GJNEWS02/704249930

Davenport,Peter."National UFO Reporting Center Sighting report from male witness" [cited 29 December 2011] URL:http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/074/S74787.html

Davenport,Peter."National UFO Reporting Center Sighting report from female witness" [cited 29 December 2011] URL:http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/074/S74788.html

Marsh,Roger."UFO picks up Laconia, NH car with teens and drops 180 feet away" April 18,2010 [cited 29 December 2011]URL:http://www.examiner.com/ufo-in-national/ufo-picks-up-laconia-nh-car-with-teens-and-drops-180-feet-away