UFO Investigations- Methods Of Investigation
Unlike ghost investigations where claims involve ongoing activity, a UFO sighting report often is a one-time occurrence based on a witness report of something he saw earlier. However the fact it generally takes place outside where many could conceivably also have seen it, there is a good possibility other witnesses could also be found. Often these people will call various agencies asking about it as well. As an investigator your task is to get in contact with these people to collaborate your report. To do this you need contacts.
Long before you take your first case you should have already made contact with those agencies most likely to receive these calls. That would include police and emergency services. Radio and TV station news departments should also be on your contact list, as well as newspapers and even utility companies. Often these people will put your name in their files and will call you when they get such reports! In the case of media outlets, such contacts often lead to exposure of your activities. Media interviews are a great way to get your name out to the public, then when something happens people know who to call.
Another type of contact is also important. Those are agencies which make it their business to know what is going on in the sky. If you get a light in the sky report one of the first things you may need to rule out is conventional aircraft. So your local airport should be one of your contacts. Remember too that helicopters are also seen frequently, and they hover and make odd turns at times. Emergency services fly helicopters regularly, so a call to your local dispatcher handling such calls might resolve the case. Check your local hospitals for patient transfers by air, that might also account for the sighting.
Don't forget your local weather service either. They also keep track of things in the sky. If you have a local amateur astronomer he will be able to tell you if a star or planet might account for a light where and when your witness said he saw it. You can also check much of this yourself online.
The two links above will help in this area. Space Weather tracks recent natural activity such as solar flares, comets, meteors, and similar activity. The Heavens Above website will allow you to enter a location and determine if the sighting is the result of a satellite pass. It also allows you to enter a location and will provide a forecast of upcoming satellites for that area. This includes the Iridium Satellite flares. These cause many sighting reports since they abruptly appear and for a few seconds are brighter than any star in the sky. Then they fade away. The cause is simply sunlight bouncing off of their solar panels as a giant mirror. This happens even though the sun has already set since it is still shining up in space.
Finally consider the possibility of getting a case of claimed abduction. These can be touchy cases to deal with, often those reporting this aspect may exhibit some signs that could be indicative of emotional strain or behavioral problems. of course, unless you are trained in those areas, you would do well to leave these for professionals. However it would be a good idea as an investigator to have someone in that field available who could serve as a consultant should the need arise.
Beginning Your Investigation
Conducting an investigation into a UFO sighting is something that can be done with a little preparation. This report will assist you in getting started, a few pointers on how to proceed, and some recommendations on dealing with the witness. It is not a complete step by step instruction manual because cases vary greatly and it is not possible to outline exactly which way the outcome of your particular case will be.
Once you begin investigating, you will most likely encounter one of three distinct types of report. The most common is the "Light in the Sky". These are most often somewhat vague, lacking any real detail. Often the light will turn on or off, blink, or move in some manner. Generally speaking these are natural or man made objects. The witness will give you times, dates and maybe a description of what the light did but little else. Often that is enough to pin it down to a meteor, satellite, some type of aircraft, or other common explanation.
The second kind of report you will get involves a definite object of some kind. There may be a description that includes some details about the object, color, shape, sounds, etc. Possibly some effects were noted on the ground or to surroundings. Animals nearby may have reacted to it. People may experience impressions from being nearby. There may be some disruption of nearby electrical devices. As an investigator you will need to interview witnesses and determine from their response the direction your investigation should go.
Finally there are those reports where close contact is alleged. These are the most complicated cases. They encompass all of the above mentioned areas. In addition you now have the possibility of physical evidence to consider. This evidence must be handled in an appropriate manner to preserve its integrity as well as prevent possible contamination of the investigator or witnesses. All evidence gathered should be stored in some type of clean, sealed container and treated as hazardous material until proven otherwise. Another concern is the witnesses. They may have experienced something traumatic and the investigator may need to deal with that issue as well. He will need to be aware that their actions may be triggered by what they experienced or it could be a result of a psychological problem. At first contact it may be unclear what is behind their actions. The investigator will have to sum up what he sees and use his judgment to proceed. He will need to approach the situation initially with an open mind and let the case itself determine the course of action.
The first step in any interview is to establish a confidentiality level for the case. Your report from should include a provision to establish this near the beginning of the page. I use three levels of confidentiality that applies to all cases regardless of type. It should be mentioned that cases with a low level of confidentiality are usually considered more credible than those with many details withheld. But some witnesses don't want any identifying details included, so it becomes a trade-off. ( I should point out that under NO circumstances do I release witness contact information to others regardless of confidentiality level. Phone numbers or e-mail addresses are never given out.) The three levels of Confidentiality I use are:
Level One - The least restrictive level. Here most details may be disclosed. The witness's name and city are provided. The witness narrative of the event may be disclosed, subject only to minimal editing as needed to maintain personal privacy. Photos or other evidence may be released provided basic privacy guidelines are maintained. Cases may also be published or discussed in the media, however names will be withheld from those discussions.
Level Two - This is the level most choose. Some restriction regarding disclosure, only basic details may be divulged. Only the witness's city and state may be released, names are not. The narrative will not be released, however an investigator's summary of the event may be disclosed. Photos and other evidence are held back unless the witness permits specific disclosure on an item by item basis. Cases may be discussed in the media; however both locations and all names will be withheld.
Level Three - This is the most restrictive level. Most information will be hard to validate, thus this level is the least credible. Only the witness's state or region may be revealed. An investigator's summary may be disclosed; however this will only contain generalities about the case, no particulars as to what happened. Any media discussion of this case will be limited to the generalities, no details will be provided. Also, no contacts will be forwarded since it is apparent the witness does not want to be associated with his sighting. I generally try to discourage people from choosing this level unless there is some aspect to the case of a highly personal nature.
Once the interview is complete, you may want to go out to where the object was seen. In the case of light in the sky reports, if an object was seen near the ground, take a few pictures of the area preferably using a zoom lens to bring in details of any possible ground based object that might be responsible for a misidentification. If the object was high in the sky, note any stars or planets which are in that general area. Ask the witness if he is sure one of them was not responsible for his sighting. If he says no, get a reason why not. Celestial objects are responsible for many UFO sightings, so you want to be sure that is not the case here.
If you are investigating a landing report, do not enter the area after dark. It is possible there could be physical evidence present and you would not want to destroy it inadvertently by walking through. If it is daylight, enter the area carefully. Start from one end and work through the site being careful to note anything unusual. This could be depressed vegetation, burn marks, or foreign material on the ground. If you do see anything, take pictures first before moving it. ( More about that in the next topic.)