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Looking it straight in the eye
Ted Roe, UAPMed, seek to mitigate experiencers' trauma
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain” — Henry David Thoreau
How are you supposed to talk seriously about something that sounds absolutely insane? How could it not put you at a distance from everybody and everything you’ve ever known? Like that teenaged summer night in 1978 when you and your buddy Brian decided to grab a pack of PBR, shove Queen into the eight-track, and take a back road into the forests of Montana. You get a campfire going, heat up some soup, and –
“The next thing I know, I’m watching a can of beer fall away from me in slow motion and bounce on the ground and start spilling out and I fell over into a view like a camera falling over on a tripod, and I’m laying on my side and it was pitch black.”
From ground level, eye level, not much taller than the high grass, you notice the approach of intruders that are “kind of like bugs, with big heads, kind of spiderlike, and I wasn’t connecting them to humanoid bodies, I just saw the arms and eyes and heads and thought, Jesus, what is this? There were about half a dozen of them, but if there was a craft, I never saw it.
“What I remember is, they pulled up my left eyelid and a very long thin probe or a hypodermic went under my eye and went right through my occipital orbit in my skull. I woke up later, crawling around on the ground, nausea, vomiting, sweating, freezing. I was about 30 feet from where I remember falling, and Brian’s in a fetal position. I was in shock and losing my thermal regulation. I crawled over my friend and fished the keys out of his pocket, climbed into the truck and turned it on to get warm.
“He and I never talked about it again.”
This wasn’t a one-off thing for Ted Roe. He’d had, and continued to have, occasional freakish experiences throughout much of his life, starting maybe as early as age 5. He grew up in the Great Falls region of Montana, next to Malmstrom Air Force Base. He was in single digits when UFOs crippled selected missile systems at the SAC base in 1967.
Watching the Pentagon catch up
So when, on June 25, 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its historic “UAP Assessment,” Roe had to read it several times over just to make sure: “UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.” It conceded most reports “probably do represent physical objects” that “were registered across multiple sensors.” No less significantly, “Sociocultural stigmas and sensor limitations remain obstacles to collecting data on UAP.”
So the feds had now officially declared UFOs a flight safety issue? Shit, Roe had been compiling those numbers for 20 years. And “sociocultural stigmas” were now obstacles to data collection? Time out. What he’d been going through since forever – that was data, wasn’t it? Did science really have the luxury of ignoring data it didn’t like?
Within a week or so of the ODNI report, Roe was in for another surprise when he was approached by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Formed in 1963, AIAA’s 30,000 members constitute the world’s largest aerospace technical society. Suddenly, they were inviting him to present UFO research generated by a project that had consumed the last two decades of his life – the nonprofit National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena, founded in 1999.
As former Chief of Space Human Factors Office at NASA-Ames, Richard Haines had followed the UFO scent for years, separate and apart from his space agency duties. Drawn to Haines’ no-nonsense approach to high strangeness, and thinking his own management skills might present an opportunity, Roe reached out. The two joined a common mission, and Roe became NARCAP’s executive director.
Published in 2000, NARCAP’s first paper – “Aviation Safety in America: A Previously Neglected Factor” – reached back to 1950 to identify 56 near-miss cases, some of which resulted in injuries to passengers and flight crew when pilots overcorrected to avoid collisions. Another 38 incidents described UFOs pacing civilian flights, some of which triggered transient electromagnetic effects capable of scrambling onboard instrumentation. Some of those dramas occurred over restricted air space, but are presumed vastly underreported due to longstanding concerns over career tracks.
NARCAP advocated developing a confidential reporting system, and began offering safe harbor to frustrated pilots who had nowhere else to unload. Researchers in the U.S. and abroad collaborated to clarify the reports, historic and contemporary, which eventually grew to thousands, dating back to 1916.
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In a foreshadowing analysis called Project Sphere published in 2010, Haines and a host of contributors took an in-depth look at the generally small, round, silent, metallic- and/or white orb-looking UFOs noted for their dazzling maneuverability and unnerving recurrence in commercial air corridors. NARCAP urged the adoption of formal reporting procedures and systematic pilot training and education. It also warned of real-world consequences in the absence of preparation:
Should accident investigators encounter “incontrovertible proof concerning the involvement of a UAP, the courts must decide the outcome. If UAP are judged to be naturally occurring – so-called ‘acts of God’ – such as wind shear or other weather phenomenon, then airlines have less to fear in litigation. If, on the other hand, UAP are determined to be intelligently controlled or otherwise artificial, then quite a different legal judgment could be made, whose outcome could only be guessed at.”
Thirteen years later, in April, before a Senate audience, the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office reported that spheres accounted for 52 percent of its growing caseload. It also played brief orb footage captured by surveillance drones. A bungled briefing by two defense intelligence uniforms before a Senate Intelligence subcommittee in May 2022 also cued up footage of a sphere.
Haines left NARCAP in 2015, but when the AIAA contacted Roe two years ago, he accepted its invitation to speak. But he wondered: Was a 25-minute general briefing sufficient? His involuntary relationship with the phenomenon went far beyond nuts ‘n’ bolts. “The hardest thing about being with NARCAP was, I was an experiencer and I couldn’t talk about it,” Roe recalls. “It was an irrational predicament. Why would somebody who’s had up-close experience with a phenomenon be less believable than a scientist with no experience? It made no sense.”
So in his 2021 address, Roe decided to stick his toe in the water. Pausing at a slide about UFO flight characteristics, he made what sounded like an off-handed remark: “They often appear with a glow or a distortion around them. Personally, in our research and studies, I’ve seen a disc with an orange, very defined sphere around it, and the disc fit exactly in it, with nothing hanging out, if you wanna call it that.”
That was the extent of it. There was no blowback, and the AIAA invited Roe back for more consultations. Still holding his experiencer cards close to his chest, however, he says the weather got a little chilly when he began discussing, with physicists, possibilities that can’t be measured, weighed or calculated.
“Let’s just say there’s a ‘they’ there, and they’d probably be, what, master nanotechnologists, right? ‘Oh yeah, of course,’ they all agreed. And I said probably master biological engineers? And it was ‘Oh yeah, yeah, very much.’ So then what do you suppose their capacity is for surveillance and social engineering? And the room just got quiet. Nooobody was ready to go there, because that’s where the next shoe drops, that’s what’s coming, that’s the next part of the conversation. And that’s absolutely toxic – it’s toxic to individuals and it’s toxic to society.
The airborne toxic event
“When they stop wondering how these things do what they do and start wondering why they do it, that’s when the weight of the world gets real heavy. And I had to carry that around a long time by myself.”
Ted Roe’s airborne toxic event, the one that ultimately led him to contact Dr. Haines, occurred on January 23, 1999, on I-880 southbound outside Oakland; more specifically, the time warp began at 4:15 that afternoon, broad daylight, in traffic. Susan was driving, Ian was in the back seat, Roe rode shotgun.
A distant white-yellow light appeared in the sky, low on the horizon. It closed rapidly, “turned broadside to us – a long cylinder with two white lights under it, about a quarter distance from each end.” In an instant – “if I’d blinked, I would’ve missed it” – the thing “jumped from the front of the car to my passenger side and slid down until I was basically 10 feet away.” Car still moving. “And it was framed in a way that I thought I was seeing silhouettes, like three of its crewmen or whatever you want to call them were staring at me, from just the other side of the guardrail. I felt like an exposed rat.
“Susan and I both blurted out ‘Stop the car!’ at the same time, and later we figured we’d said it because we thought we both heard it being said to us simultaneously – they asked us to stop the car. But she kept on rolling down the road and I was really foggy for a moment, and then it was dark, with traffic around us that hadn’t been there before.
“The blue-white light from this thing as it broke away left shadows of dead bugs on the windshield when I looked down at my hand. I turned to Susan and said ‘What time is it?’ and she said 7:34. We were driving at 55 miles an hour and we’d covered a four-mile stretch in three hours and 12 minutes.
“And I had this really forlorn moment – I don’t think I ever felt as alone as I did then. And I think the stigma (around UFOs) contributed to the trauma.”
Even Congress has signaled that hardware may be just one aspect of the UFO puzzle. Its National Defense Authorization Act last year ordered the Director of National Intelligence and the Defense Secretary to prepare “as assessment of any health-related effects for individuals that have encountered unidentified anomalous phenomena.” Last month in its annual report, AARO dispensed with the obligation in a single sentence: “To date, no encounters with UAP have been confirmed to have directly contributed to adverse health-related effects to the observer(s).”
Because AARO doctors are the best
At least a few people – and not just Ted Roe, who has complained of physical illness in the aftermath of his run-ins – would like to know just what sort of effort AARO invested in its health-effects research. The Pentagon agency won’t even say how many cases it looked at. Here’s one it for-sure didn’t:
In August 2022, shortly after midnight, a couple of hardcore UFO field researchers staked out a sightings hotspot on a Long Island beach. Their van was loaded with sensors, microwave detectors and Geiger counters, ultraviolet filters, night-vision and thermal cameras.
Two of the witnesses wrote up the results of their 10-month investigation, and their 160-page paper is under peer review. Details – names, dates, times, locations – will soon be public record, Roe says. Until then, the two recorded this extended video explaining what happened on that summer night 15 months ago. Their narrative includes grainy night-vision footage of the encounter, which unfolded over the black water beyond the breakers.
Using night-cams to track activity not visible to the naked eye, they targeted several lights hovering above the water but below the horizon. They zapped it intermittently with blasts from a hand-held infrared emitter. After the fifth provocation, something – it’s unclear, a light, several maybe, one vaguely chevron-shaped – apparently raced toward them, underwater, in an aggressive thrust that made them turn and haul ass.
Roe says the researchers likely wanted him to read their report due to his work on the AIAA’s UAP Integration and Outreach Committee. When they told him they hit the object with lasers, Roe stopped. “Wait, they never pushed back?” he asked the two. “Sometimes they’ll push back if you bother it too much. They paused for a minute and said yeah, it did, we’ve got video here.”
But it wasn’t really the video that grabbed Roe’s attention – the witnesses had decided they weren’t even going to attach the vid to their paper. What he wanted to know more about was the physical consequences of that encounter.
“They reported swollen lymph glands and mental dis-ease, agitation,” Roe says. “Swollen lymph glands is what we continue to run into at UAPMed, and we’re really beginning to suspect there’s some kind of radiological exposure involved in some of these incidents, and perhaps (traumatic brain injury), white matter damage, this kind of thing.”
Creating a ‘safe place to be’
Roe founded the Unidentified Anomalous Phenomenon Medical Coalition last year as a networking resource for the medical community, first responders, and experiencers. Noting the broad spectrum of physical and psychological afflictions sometimes associated with UFO encounters, UAPMed published a white paper last week advocating for first-responder education.
“I’ve got a team of 30 people around me, and about a third of them are people with repeated exposures looking for a safe place to be. The whole point is not to introduce bias, but to create a functioning system that is addressing all of the issues and informing mental health and medical professionals on UAP information and exposures,” he says.
Every flood begins with a trickle, and the steady trickle of public input to UAPMed could be a potential indicator of an eroding stigma. Perhaps ironically, Roe has not submitted to a brain scan himself. “I’ve been terrified to ask, honestly. If they go in there and find out everything’s all right,” he says, “that’s almost as terrifying as going in there and finding no evidence.”
From his home in Alaska, Roe says a serious commitment to the study of physical injuries could be a doorway into policy-level discussions. But comprehending the mystery’s deeper layers will demand stone-cold sobriety, and active listening by agenda-free professionals.
“We’ve got to be very responsible about what we say and how we say it, and who we say it to,” Roe says. “We’re not here to scare the herd. We’re not here to add to the ontological shock. We’re here to mitigate it.”
But if AARO keeps studying UFO injuries, maybe they’ll just go away.
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