Discover more from Life in Jonestown
AARO data clear as mud
Time to drag the Gimbal report into the light
In the five years following its release, the Gimbal image/footage has become the de facto 21st-century emblem of the UAP brand. So how come the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office won’t tell us the first thing about it? [U.S. Defense Department]
Of the three UFO videos officially released by the Pentagon, the hands-down most riveting is the “Gimbal” sequence. Recorded by an F-18 Navy crew during training exercises off northeast Florida in early 2015, this one has everything – solid, contoured definition in two camera modes, several attitude maneuvers, embedded metadata and, most important, comm chatter which has become as familiar as a marketing jingle: “There’s a whole fleet of ‘em, look on the AESA … they’re all going against the wind, the wind’s 120 knots out of the west …” “Look at that thing, dude!” “It’s rotating!” If you’re a newsie, you don’t need half a brain to know this is your money shot.
And yet, the most extensively studied of the three vids is the fuzzier Tic Tac clip, acquired by F-18 aviators attached to the USS Nimitz off California in 2004. Nearly three times longer than the 34-second Gimbal sequence, the Tic Tac lacks the tension of audio, but retains visual drama as the Hornet’s weapon systems officer struggles – in contrasting camera modes – to stay locked on the target. What the Tic Tac footage also has going for it is testimony from eyewitnesses aplenty, pilots, radar operators, security. And the result. in 2019, was a 270-page examination of the incident by an independent nonprofit, the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies, which stands unchallenged as the definitive accounting of what happened in the Pacific 19 years ago.
But even as SCU concluded that the Tic Tac had to pull liquifying descent velocities requiring nuke bomb-equivalent energy to execute, that run-in still can’t match the theater projected by the Gimbal encounter. So why don’t we have more data on that one? Mainly because not a single eyewitness has been questioned outside classified channels. And if the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Pentagon’s All-Domain Anomaly Research Office hope to convince taxpayers they’re actually serious about their mission, a full accounting of the Gimbal video is in order. After all, it’s not a secret, not anymore.
Straining to be diplomatic
During Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s pursuit of statutory accountability for a UFO investigation two years ago, the New York Democrat called for an independent advisory board that would include, among others, members of the Galileo Project, the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics, and SCU. That idea got scotched without explanation from the bill’s final language in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. Thus, earlier this week, SCU chose restraint in its diplomatic response to ODNI’s emaciated wraith of a congressional UFO progress report in January.
“Our initial statement was very negative,” admits SCU co-founder Robert Powell. “We had to go through it a buncha times to figure out how to write a report that wouldn’t alienate anybody.”
The board managed to craft a statement that lauded Congress for its persistence, and even “commended” ODNI and AARO for “reducing the stigma in the study of a subject that has long been neglected.” But — and but is the only thing that matters — it reminded ODNI, in simple bullet-point fashion, of its unfulfilled obligations to detail and substance. As of last August, the ODNI’s database contained 510 reports; yet, not a single one has been served up to public scrutiny. In fact, one of the reasons SCU was able to flesh out the Tic Tac so well was on account of an uncredited but data-jammed Defense Intelligence Agency “Executive Summary” of the Tic Tac event, written a good 10 years before anyone thought about forming AARO.
But ODNI hasn’t shared any information about AARO’s staffing or budget, either. An email query to Defense Department spokesperson Sue Gough for clarity went unanswered.
“I’ve heard rumors that they consist of three guys now,” says Powell from his home in Austin, Texas. “So there’s no way, from what I understand, that AARO has the staff that can handle 500 cases, or answer what’s required in the 2023 NDAA. To not only do the (UFO) history back to 1945 but also to dig through every agency’s hidden pile of information and report back to Congress? I don’t think so.”
Powell rocked the boat as MUFON’s research director when he and Glenn Schultze reconstructed the 2008 Stephenville Incident using eyewitness accounts and radar records. In terms of high strangeness allure, Stephenville was a sexpot. It involved F-16s, an Air Force coverup, and a UFO that defied the no-fly zone around President Bush’s residence in Texas. That and subsequent research for SCU have given Powell sharp insights into what a credible investigation demands.
How about a price tag on this stuff?
“Over the last 16 years I’ve done this, I’ve probably put in an average of 20 hours a week. That’s about how much time a student takes to get a PhD,” he says. “So, if you were just going to analyze those 500 cases and nothing else, if you have one guy to maybe do 20 cases a year, which I think is quite a bit for one person to handle actually, then you’d need 25 guys.”
How much would that cost?
“Given the efficiency of our bureaucracy versus the efficiency of corporate America, I think you’d want to contract it out,” says Powell. “The industry standard at this level – you’re talking about someone who’s degreed, with a science or investigative background – works out to be something like $200,000 per employee to make things work. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re paying these guys $200,000 a year, but you’ve got to factor in overhead like travel, expenses, insurance, retirement, that sort of thing. So multiply 25 by 200,000 and you’re looking at something like a $5 million budget.”
Sheesh, that’s less than the cost of a single M1 Abrams tank.
However, Powell isn’t making a pitch — SCU’s policy of declining to work with classified data would disqualify him and his colleagues from collaborating with AARO. “I mean, right now, even the shape of the object is classified information, and with that level of classification you can’t do any work if you want it to be done in an open manner. But we could at least knock out a few cases, for example, that don’t involve classified information.”
Like maybe the Gimbal.
“We’d need to interview those pilots, who as far as I know are still on active duty. We know they were from the (aircraft carrier) Roosevelt. And we could tell pretty much when it happened because they’ve indicated the wind speed at 120 knots – you can go back and find out the date when the wind was that high at that altitude.
“If my memory is right, we’ve found only two days in January-February (2015) when the wind was that high, and on those two days, if you check (tracking platform) FlightAware, you’ll see where civilian aircraft have all departed the military operating area. They normally fly off the coast, but when this happened, it’s the only time when you see them just over the mainland instead of flying out over the ocean. That’s because military operations are going on.”
The Gimbal showed up on video eight years ago. Taxpayers learned about it five years ago. The virtually worthless AARO report came in nearly three months after its congressionally imposed deadline. But not all is lost (yet):
Last week, DNI Director Avril Haines actually said this in a speech: “Over-classification undermines critical democratic objectives, such as increasing transparency to promote an informed citizenry and greater accountability.” Hint, hint, AARO: Give us a report on something we all know about anyway, like the Gimbal. With a show of good faith, you could probably buy another five years for stalling on everything else.
Life in Jonestown is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.