Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Review - The Utah UFO Display by Frank B. Salisbury

When I was a teenager there was a rash of UFO sightings that stirred up my home town and also quite seriously consumed my own thoughts.  I was so interested in it that I spent night after night outside watching from a great local vantage point.  Months passed and I never saw a single thing that was even remotely unusual.  I could hardly contain my disappointment.  Several people I personally knew and respected had remarkable UFO experiences; some on nights when I had been out earnestly watching.

I remember going to work and hearing the rumor mill churning about Valda Massey or Garth Batty having seen something "last night."  I remember groaning from the exhaustion of an all nighter and having missed a sighting that happened right on my watch.  It didn't help that I could see Valda's house clearly from my vantage point.  I began to feel gypped.

There were, of course, thoughts of hoaxes.  Still, as I said before, I knew and respected these people.  Then when Estel Manwaring had her remarkable UFO experience, the jury came in.  I trusted Estel with my life!  There was no way she was confused or lying.   I happened to see Estel at a funeral a few weeks ago.  We hadn't spoken for quite some time and had some catching up to do.  For sometime now, I've been considering writing about the phenomena and thought I'd start by interviewing Estel, and Valda and Garth.  I took the opportunity at the funeral to bounce some questions off Estel.  She responded with the same certainty she had 45 years ago.  The story hadn't changed.  Estel was not ashamed to stand by her guns.  She wasn't the least bit hesitant to state her case.  Valda's son, another close friend is just as adamant about what occurred at their house that summer.

I've written about this before.  In UFO Summer I tell the story of a hoax a friend of mine and I played to assuage our disappointment at having been left out of all the fun.  I also poked a little fun in Why Not Me?
I have also read the exciting book The Hunt for the Skinwalker:  Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah.  I wasn't reviewing books at the time so I'll comment a bit on it here.  I've been to the Skinwalker Ranch; delivered packages there.  There again, I never saw a thing out of the ordinary.  After the book came out, some nephews were in town for Thanksgiving.  I had not read the book yet.  They had.  I told them that I could take them there and before I knew it we were in the car.  Four of us.  We left about 10:15 PM and drove the 25 or so miles to the ranch.  They say it's remote; a bit of a joke around here.  Remote would be like the three hour drive on a dirt road to Main Canyon Ranch, not a mile off a well traveled, paved highway.  Anyway, we drove the mile off the highway and approached the locked gate at around 11:00.  The gate is around a bend, behind a hill.  The instant we arrived a set of headlights came on at the ranch house and headed rapidly our way.  No point in conflict; we hurriedly turned around and got out of there.  Still, nothing unusual; though I was sure surprised that after all this time the place is still under 24 hour guard.  Apparently, they're still very protective of the place.  They claim the ranch is a portal to another dimension or perhaps the entrance to a wormhole that delivers strangers from across the universe.  After years of scientific study Bigelow's NIDS group has proven nothing.  Of course, they've disproved nothing as well.  Frank Salisbury's done better than that on a far smaller budget.

I was thankful when I found The Utah UFO Display:  A Scientist Brings Reason and Logic to Over 400 UFO Sightings in Utah's Uintah Basin.  I was thankful because, I didn't really want to take the time to do all the research.  I can't imagine that Frank Salisbury, with all the other stuff he was involved in was able to find the time.  I'm thrilled to have all of these incidents recorded and cataloged.  Kudos to Junior Hicks whose Herculean effort to interview and record so many sightings is truly amazing.  Without his thorough work, Salisbury's book wouldn't even exist.

Salisbury went to great lengths to educate his audience in the scientific method.  He never considers a single incident without critical thinking.  Still at the end, he comes to the same conclusion as I have, that the only reasonable conclusion is that the phenomena cannot be utterly dismissed.  It is clear that what these people experienced was real.  There remains the unanswered question as to what it all is and what it all means; though the author presented more original and plausible hypotheses than I've ever encountered before.  While the book didn't answer most of my questions it did leave me content with my lot.  You see, Frank Salisbury and Junior Hicks have one major point in common with me; neither of them have had any sort of personal manifestation of UFO activity either.

The best part however, is that the book settled the issue for me.  I no longer care if I ever have such an experience.  Without spoiling Salisbury's most significant conclusion, may I say that this book has made the mystery and quandary of UFO phenomena a non-issue for me.  Why?  You'll just have to read the book and see for yourself.  I recommend it highly for doubters and also for jealous types like me.  If UFO's are already a non-issue for you - don't bother.

Four Stars.

1 comment:

Candleman said...

I sat down with Russ Perry yesterday and had a conversation about his incident as recorded in the book. Quite a chilling account. He's since had a visit from Dr. Salisbury who is hot on the trail of more and interesting stuff.

Again, Russ, like so many other friends, is very persuasive and equally frustrated at not knowing what it was.

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