For the first time, a large-circulation general interest magazine in the U.S. has unequivocally stated that UFOs are real.

The May, 2001 issue of ?Popular Mechanics? contains the provocative lead story ?When UFOs Land,? which talks about the investigations by Peter Sturrock and others of physical evidence from UFO landing sites?evidence that has been suppressed and ignored by the media. Sturrock was on Dreamland last year to talk about his book ?The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence.?

In 1997, Laurance Rockefeller, who has long been interested in UFOs and other scientific enigma, asked Peter Sturrock, the former director of the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics at Stanford University, to convene a meeting of a dozen top scientists to discuss UFO evidence. Researchers from places such as Princeton, MIT, Stanford and the Center for Space Research in France focused their attention on cases where physical traces were left behind. ?While their findings were not conclusive, Rockefeller said, ?I hope they will raise the level of the debate.?

?Ask most scientists what they think of the UFO enigma and you will almost certainly get a scoff and a brushoff like, ?There?s not one shred of evidence,?? says astronomer Bernard Haisch. ?That answer is simply not true. The problem is that this evidence does not follow our expected scientific logic, and so scientists dismiss what is, in fact, a huge number of accounts. Many sighting reports, as absurd as they sometimes appear, are probably real. Most professional scientists never bother to look at the evidence. Instead, the dogmatic dismissals by professional debunkers, which are often patently ridiculous, are simply taken at face value.?

Three of the cases are reviewed in the article. In one, a UFO exploded after hitting the water near a town in Brazil in 1957 and left behind metallic debris composed of an extremely high grade of magnesium. It is now suspected that the craft was a classified U.S. military plane that used magnesium as part of its fuel source. When the material was sent to the Air Force for analysis, it was ?accidentally? destroyed.

The other 2 cases have no conventional explanation. One, which took place in 1992, concerns a UFO sighting by a Florida policeman that made his cruiser stop dead. ?The scientific panel was very impressed by cases in which electrical equipment was disrupted,? said Michael D. Swords of Western Michigan University.

In another case, which took place in Trans-En-Provence in France in 1981, a hovering UFO left circular marks behind on the ground. The French UFO organization GEPAN removed soil from the area and found it had been contaminated with traces of metal, while the surrounding vegetation was damaged.

In 1977, a UFO ejected 40 pounds of molten, red-orange metal onto the ground in Iowa. After the metal cooled, samples were collected by local astronomer Robert Allen, who sent them to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and to the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University. Wright-Patterson would not publicize its findings, but stated that ?reentering spacecraft debris does not impact the earth?s surface in a molten state.? Ames Laboratory director Robert S. Hansen said it was not a meteor impact.

Former Lockheed scientist Bernard Haisch, who was on the Rockefeller panel, says, ?We need to be skeptical of both the believers and the scoffers.? He has created the website to encourage mainstream scientists to reconsider UFO evidence. ?UFO sightings are not limited to farmers in backward rural areas,? he says. ?There are astronomers and pilots and NASA engineers who have witnessed events for which there is no plausible conventional explanation.?

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