STRANGE POWER FAILURE DOOMED SWISS JETLINER
Officials believe a catastrophic electrical failure was responsible for the crash of Swissair Flight SR111 off the coast of Nova Scotia. The crash on Wednesday, September 2, 1998, killed all 229 people aboard.
Flight 111 took off from New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport at 8:18 p.m., bound for Geneva. Aboard the McDonnel Douglas MD11 jetliner were 215 passengers and 14 crew. At the controls were pilot Urs Zimmerman, 50, and copilot Stephen Loew, 36. Both men were veterans of Switzerland's air force with hundreds of hours of flight time experience.
At 9:14 p.m., Zimmerman radioed Canadian air traffic control, saying "Pan, pan, pan!" He then told controllers that there was smoke in the jetliner's cabin and asked for permission to turn back and land at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Editor's Note: Pan is an aviation code word for an inflight emergency. It's derived from the French word panne, meaning "breakdown.")
Air traffic control instructed Zimmerman to proceed north to Halifax International Airport in Nova Scotia, Canada, a destination much closer.
At 9:20 p.m., Flight 111 began its descent from 30,000 feet, starting its final approach into Halifax, 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the north.
"The 229 people aboard Swissair Flight 111 spent the last 16 minutes of their lives struggling with life jackets and choking on the smoke that filled the crippled plane as it shuddered over Canada's rugged Atlantic coast."
"The pilots struggled to keep control of the plane, aiming for an emergency landing in Halifax... 'Ten minutes more and the aircraft would have landed,' said Philippe Bruggisser, chief executive of SAirGroup, Swissair's parent company." (See the New York Daily News for Friday, September 4, 1998, "Jet fell minutes short of Halifax," page 3)
Air traffic controllers at Moncton, New Brunswick gave Zimmerman a private radio channel for use during the emergency. Flight 111 then jettisoned its reserve fuel over St. Margaret's Bay, south of Blandford, Nova Scotia (N.S.)
At 9:35 p.m., "at 8,000 feet, the plane disappears from radar, and radio contact is lost."
"Radio contact with Moncton was lost. Controllers were officially in the dark about the fate of Flight 111, but they knew the chain of events they had 'witnessed' could mean only one thing."
"Meanwhile, in the tourist hamlet of Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, perplexed residents rushed from their homes after hearing sputtering noises from the low- flying aircraft passing over them."
"'The motors were still going, but it was the worst- sounding deep groan that I've ever heard,' said Claudia Zinck-Gilroy."
"Eddie Boyle, a resident of the nearby town of Blandford, said the plane was so low, he thought it was a helicopter."
"'The plane went right overhead. It sounded terrible. I joked that it sounded like a UFO because it was just droning,' Boyle later recalled."
"Then, just minutes after the flight had disappeared from the radar screen, came the horrifying sound of a crash in the pitch-black ocean."
"'We knew it was an explosion; there was silence for two seconds after the explosion, then my ears popped,' said Darrell Fralick, 26, 'At that split second, I looked at my watch. It was 10:35 p.m.' (9:35 p.m. New York time)." (See the New York Post for Friday, September 4, 1998, "Final moments to death," page 3)
"Isabel Hubley, 80, lives five minutes from the crash site and helped local rescue teams locate where the plane went down."
"'I was sitting where I couldn't see out the window. But I jumped and put my windows down. I said, 'Holy smoke, that didn't give me no warning.' It sounded like a big clap of thunder because it rattled the house." (See the Boston, Mass. Herald for Friday, September 4, 1998, "Electrical failure," page 4)
"'The crash could be from something as minor as an overheated wire or something as major as a cargo fire,' said Herb Armstrong, a former FAA air-traffic controller and assistant dead of aviation at Dowling College."
"He said that when a plane drops off the radar screen like Flight 111 did, there's a '50-50' chance that a power shortage caused it."
"The Federal Aviation Administration cited faulty wiring in the cockpit as a safety problem on the MD-11s and ordered them replaced last year."
"But Swissair officials yesterday said they abide by FAA safety rules and replaced the wires on the MD-11 jet on March 6 of last year." (See the New York Post for Friday, September 4, 1998, "Electrical power failure likely cause of tragedy: experts." page 2)
Over 100 soldiers of G Company, Canadian Armed Forces, commanded by Maj. Bill Pond and based at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, were brought to the shore to search for victims' bodies. "They formed lines of up to seven abreast, looking intently downward and moving slowly down the shore, filling at least a dozen bags with debris...the 105-man G Company troop combed the small stretch from Bayswater to Blandford, the main focus of the land search." (See the New York Post for September 5, 1998, "Searchers find only horror on one-peaceful Canada coast." page 9.)
"As dawn broke yesterday (Friday) morning, the 200-foot submarine HMCS Okanagan began mapping the 150-foot depths with sonar, but the seach was suspended late yesterday afternoon without a sign of the plane's larger pieces or the so-called black boxes--the cockpit voice recorded and the flight data recorder." (See the Boston, Mass. Herald for September 5, 1998, page 4)
Among the victims were two scientists employed at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Shoreham, Long Island, N.Y.
Per Spanne, 53, was born in Sweden and resided in Shoreham, N.Y. Spanne "worked for the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France." He was also "a Brookhaven National Laboratory guest researcher and pioneer in diagnostic X-rays and related fields."
Klaus Kinder-Geiger, 36, was born in Germany "and worked at the Nuclear Theory Group at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Shoreham, N.Y." (See USA Today for September 4, 1998, "Crash Victims," page 3-A)
The Brookhaven National Laboratory achieved notoriety in 1994 when John Ford, then president of Long Island UFO Network (LIUFON), claimed that crashed or retrieved UFOs were being evaluated at the facility.
On Friday, August 21, 1998, at 12:30 a.m., Mary B. was at her home on the east side of Detroit (population 1,016,400), Michigan's largest city, when she spotted a UFO.
"I was looking straight up at the sky," Mary reported, "Trying to catch some spiders for my fish--two big Oscars-- when I saw a large burning ball of light streak across the sky. It was light blue on the outside turning to a small bright orange color in the center and had a number of sparks tumbling from it. At first I thought it was a firework of some kind, but it was very high and exhibited no sound. It lasted about four seconds. I couldn't believe that I had been looking straight up when it appeared." (Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr. for this report.)
On Sunday, August 30, 1998, Jeff B., 51, and his lady friend, Gabrielle, were driving through Perth Amboy, New Jersey (population 41,967) on their way to New York City's Staten Island borough when they spotted something gleaming in the daylight sky.
"I was in New Jersey approaching Staten Island on Highway 278," Jeff reported, "I was about ten minutes from the toll booths for the Outer Bridge (which connects Staten Island to Perth Amboy--J.T.) I looked out at about 30 degrees to the horizon to the west and the object appeared to me to be a flattened oval. It was about the size of a child's aspirin held on edge at arm's length and was silver. It appeared to be completely motionless. There was blue sky and a few cumulous clouds at great distance beyond it."
"I said to my lady friend, Gabrielle, who sat in the passenger seat, 'What is that?'"
Jeff then commented that the object "did not look like any aircraft known to me--no wings, no tail, nothing in the way of a distinguishing profile."
"It diminished in size very rapidly. It appeared to be moving at a high rate of speed straight away from us at an angle of ascent of about 10 degrees above my original line of sight. Its color changed to gray once it began to move. It was gone in three seconds."
"Gabrielle's eyesight is much better than mine. She felt that its shape, which was roughly that of a flattened oval, was actually trapezoidal--she could discern edges and to her the object appeared to be five-sided."
"Approximately ten minutes later, we were just approaching the Outer Bridge. Gabrielle was looking out the passenger window to the south when she saw another object of the same relative size...She thought, 'What a big bird,' when the object moved straight down very smoothly and with great uniformity of motion." The second UFO then disappeared.
"I'm an atheist, and my mental bent is very skeptical," Jeff added. "I've always approved of Carl Sagan's statement that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I've never seen a UFO until last Sunday." (Many thanks to Paul Williams of WBAI in New York City for this report.)
Two college students, a girl and her boyfriend, went camping last week in Pinnacle, North Carolina, in the state park between Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of Raleigh, and had a UFO encounter.
"We were at a campground off Route 52 North, exit 129, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Winston-Salem," she reported. Around 11 p.m., "the dogs began barking. As he (her boyfriend) opened the opened the tent to get a better look around, he saw an object quickly fly away. Too quick to be an airplane. He woke me up, but it was too late. It had flown away."
"Then, at 1 a.m., it was back. A ball of light, getting bigger, then smaller as it moved back and forth. We were a bit shaken."
"After 30 seconds, we thought, 'let's shine a light on it to see what it does.' It became agitated and moved around more vigorously. It seemed as if it mimicked the patterns in which we were shining the light. Now we were really scared."
Shortly thereafter, the couple walked to another campsite and pointed out the weird light to the other campers. One man "also saw it moving. He said in fact he had seen something similar a few nights before, and there are no air/military bases nearby."
"At 1 a.m., we noticed a second smaller craft at 8 o'clock (position). The last thing we both remember before succumbing to sleep was two red flashes of light spreading across the sky. I woke up suddenly and startled around 3 a.m. I woke my boyfriend up. He also was shaken. This time the first craft (light) was at 4 o'clock (position). We decided to leave, so we threw the dogs in the car and headed back to the campus."
She added, "The size of the object at its brightest was about three stars put together, twice as bright as the North Star (Polaris)." (Many thanks to Rev. Billy Dee and UFOSSI for this report.)
(Editor's Comment: According to author Manly Wade Wellman, those mountains are the haunt of a strange "critter" called "the Behinder." See the Wellman story, The Desrick on Yandro.)
On Saturday, August 29, 1998, at 9:30 p.m., a woman motorist driving on Ohio Route 42 between Ashland (population 47,507) and West Salem (population 1,534) spotted "a peculiar cluster of four lights the color of a 'caution traffic light,' i.e. yellow or amber.
The woman "observed a bright flash of 'yellow' light. Her attention was immediately drawn to four yellow circular lights that appeared to her to be 'two trees high' (above the ground)."
"According to the witness, the object 'flashed' several times, perhaps as many as five flashes. After each flash, a long 'tail' of fire--'like a jet's exhaust'--was seen to shoot out the 'back' of the object. She said that the 'exhaust' seemed to be physically separated from the object."
"After she had witnessed several light flashes, she stopped her car and stepped outside to get a better look at whatever was causing the light. While she was standing on the edge of the roadway, the object flashed several more times, after which she witnessed the 'exhaust' again."
"She detected no sound during the entire incident. The oddity was last sighted as it moved to the west of her position." She then called the National UFO Reporting Center in Seattle, Washington to report the incident.
The case was further investigated by Tri-States Advocates for Scientific Knowledge. T.A.S.K. public relations director Kenneth Young spoke to a female employee at the Hidden Acres Campground near Ashland to see if anyone else had reported a UFO.
"'It was certainly strange,' said the campground employee. 'It looked like a red light with flames coming out the back. It almost looked like a flame coming from it, but it's hard to say after I think about it.'"
"'We were doing safety checks at 11:15 or 11:20. just making sure that the campgrounds are quiet and that everything was fine. And, while driving around the grounds in a golf cart, we spotted the red..an unusual red light. It looked like it had a tail of fire. I commented about it to my husband, and we later assumed that it must have been the new cell-tower (cellular telephone relay tower--J.T.)."
"The weird thing about this is that three teenagers all came screaming about it, and they wanted to report a UFO," she added. "We just thought they must have seen the cell-tower, too."
Meanwhile, the original witness spoke to neighbors in West Salem, and a nine-year-old girl told her about "a fire that was in the sky last night."
A four-year-old boy said he saw something "that was like a ball and had a tail."
Young telephoned both the Wayne County Sheriff's Department and the Ashland County Sheriff's Department, but police dispatchers said there were no UFO reports received that night.
West Salem is located 46 miles (73 kilometers) southwest of Cleveland. (Many thanks to Kenneth Young of T.A.S.K. and Peter B. Davenport of the National UFO Reporting Center for this news story.)
(Editor's Comment: For more lowdown on a UFO with an 'exhaust,' see the following story.)
On Sunday, August 23, 1998, at about 4 a.m., Mauricio de Souza, the famous Brazilian cartoonist, was driving from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo on the old coast highway.
Crossing the border into Sao Paulo state, he was midway between the small cities of Poa and Ferraz de Vasconcelos "when he saw what appeared to be a strange star in the cloudless sky."
"The point of light moved at first very slowly, but, after a moment, both its speed and its glow increased dramatically."
Souza "stopped the car and was about to grab his Nikon...but worried that he would not have enough time" to properly focus the camera, "he preferred to keep observing the object."
Souza described the UFO as "an intense orange color that was flying at an estimated altitude of 10,000 meters (33,000 feet). The speed at this moment was typical of a commercial airliner, and the object had a bluish jet flame that did not touch its body, like the flame of a solder (acetylene torch--J.T.)."
"Another witness that was passing by confirmed this sighting, and both of them 'seemed not to have the faintest idea what it was, but it was definitely not an airplane.'" (Muito obrigado a Sergio Graciotti por eso caso.)
More crop circles have appeared in the western Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
On Monday, August 17, 1998, a single crop circle measuring 15 feet in diameter was found in Midale, Sask. (population 497), a town on Provincial Highway 38 about 93 miles (144 kilometers) southeast of Regina.
The following week, on Monday, August 24, 1998, three crop circles were discovered in a neighboring field in Midale, just west of the first site.
On Tuesday, August 25, 1998, a strange formation was found in a wheat field in Cando, Sask., about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Saskatoon. The formation consisted of circles and the numbers 4:20.
According to Paul Anderson of Circles Phenomenon Research-Canada, the circle was about 15 to 20 meters in diameter. "Top circle is anti-clockwise; the bottom circle is clockwise...Neighbor also reported seeing a 'large shiny object' near the spot the previous day."
During the last days of August, three more crop circles were found in Midale. Each circle measured 22 feet in diameter.
On Tuesday, September 1, 1998, an airplane crew spotted 11 crop circles in an oat field outside of Vanderhoof, British Columbia (population 4,028), a town on Provincial Highway 16 about 58 miles (93 kilometers) west of Prince George, B.C.
According to Graham Conway of UFO*BC, "All circles have very nice spiral lay patterns, with the crop pressed hard to the ground." The formation "covers an area approximately 500 by 200 feet," with the crop circles "ranging in size between 10 feet to 100 feet in diameter. Most circles are very close together, almost touching. The circles are beautifully spiralled with no broken plants, no footprints or other tracks seen, and no disturbance to the soil beneath the flattened plants."
On Wednesday, September 2, 1998, two more crop circles appeared in the field at Cando, Sask. about 100 to 150 feet away from the 4:20 formation. The circles were found by a farmer combining the field. (Many thanks to Paul Anderson of Circles Phenomenon Research-Canada and Michael J. Strainic, Bill Oliver and Graham Conway of UFO*BC for these reports.)
A strange quadruped animal, described as being "like a black panther" was reported to be responsible for the death of a sheep on a station (ranch in the USA--J.T.) at Jarrahdale, Western Australia (W.A.)
"The mysterious predator believed responsible for unexplained livestock killings in Jarrahdale has struck again."
"The hunt for the animal, thought to be a cougar-like cat, is to be stepped up after the discovery of another savaged lamb."
"Veterinary technician Harry Findlay said he was waiting for a second opinion on what animal was capable of biting the lamb cleanly in half...The cruel kill happened within 500 metres of the site where a pet lamb was mauled in May." (See the Perth, W.A. Sunday Times for August 16, 1998, "Killer 'cat' strikes again." Many thanks to Diane Hamilton for forwarding the newspaper article.)
(Editor's Comment: For more on Australia's weird critter, see this week's from the UFO Files...feature story.)
Cruise ship passengers reported seeing a UFO at sea last week, just off Mexico's west coast. The motor vessel had left Puerto Vallarta, in Jalisco state 774 kilometers (484 miles) west of Mexico City, and was bound for Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur when the sighting occurred.
"The group of six passengers," including one woman from Los Angeles, California, "spotted a very big ball of light in the distance. At arm's length, it was larger than a quarter, but she estimated that it was over five miles (8 kilometers) away."
At first, the UFO "was stationary, but it was not stationary very long. It moved slowly, like a hummingbird, making dips toward the (Pacific) ocean, then sideways, then downward. The movements were erratic. Then it zoomed off across the sky and disappeared." (Many thanks to Jim Hickman for this report.)
On Tuesday, September 1, 1998, Adam W. "was just closing my window to got to bed" at his home in Telford, UK "when I saw something flying in my direction. I was struck by the silence, so I opened my window again" to get a better look at the UFO.
"The shape was like a squashed pyramid, more like the top half of a diamond. At arm's length, it was about 1 1/2 inches wide by about 1/2 inch high. There was a red light on the left of the object and a green light on the right. Between them was a white strobe light. As the white light strobed, it looked as if it was going (across the pyramid's base) from the red light to the green light."
"I went to bed, and about five minutes later, I heard a helicopter in the area, so I watched the sky for a while and spotted the 'copter at a fair distance away with just the usual red flashing light." (Email Interview)
Twelve U.S. Air Force crewmen were killed early Friday morning, September 4, 1998, when two helicopters collided north of Indian Springs, Nevada (population 1,164).
The crash took place in the rugged Spotted Mountains, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas.
The two HH-60G helicopters were from a rescue squadron of the USAF 57th Wing, headquartered at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
"Mike Estrada, a Nellis spokesman, said it was more likely the helicopters collided before they crashed. But he and others said it was also possible the helicopters both crashed into the rugged mountainous terrain."
The USAF crews were reportedly on a night training exercise that "called for using night-vision goggles and officials assumed crew members were using goggles at the time of the crash."
"Early yesterday (Friday) afternoon the Air Force confirmed all crew members had perished."
"'We were hoping for survivors. It's a fairly remote area. That's why we took so much time,' said Brig. Gen. Theodore Lay, commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis."
"The helicopters were operating on Nellis Range, 5,200 square miles of mountain and desert stretching north of the base." (See the Boston, Mass. Herald for September 5, 1998, "12 Die as Air Force helicopters crash in Nevada," page 3)
"A momentary loss of electrical power led to an explosion that destroyed a Titan 4A rocket and the top secret spy satellite (Vortex) it was carrying, the Air Force said."
"Investigators for the Air Force and Lockheed Martin, which built the rocket, are trying to determine what caused the outage."
"The Titan 4A, the most powerful unmanned U.S. rocket, blew up 42 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral on Aug. 12 in one of the most expensive space disasters in history." (See USA Today for September 3, 1998, "Titan Probe.")
"Faulty commands sent by NASA controllers caused the June 24 failure of a U.S.-European science satellite orbiting the sun, " the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a.k.a. SOHO.
"An investigative board said controllers at the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland failed to fully monitor the $1 billion" SOHO satellite "and inadvertently disabled some systems. Engineers regained radio contact with SOHO last month. They hope to put it back into a useful orbit within two months." (See USA Today for September 4, 1998, "SOHO Woes" by Paul Hoversten.)
1978: PANTHER-LIKE CREATURE SEEN IN AUSTRALIA
Mysterious black-panther type creatures have been seen all over the island continent of Australia. The majority of the sightings have taken place in the states of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
Ancient Aboriginal legends tell of a "black furry monster" that terrorized the tribes during the long-ago "Dreamtime." Indeed, cave paintings of these "devil dogs of the Dreamtime" have been found west of Alice Springs.
Here's a typical encounter:
In August 1978, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Waites reported, "We were driving across the Nullarbor Plain on the Eyre Highway towards Ooldea around 8 p.m. one night in mid-August. There were no other cars on the road. Suddenly, we were surprised by a massive black monster caught in the glare of the headlights, walking across the highway some distance ahead of us."
"As I brought the car to a quick halt about 20 feet from the animal, it snarled directly at us, then dashed off the road into the darkness across open ground."
"The animal looked like a giant panther--big head, large body and long tail--and at least seven feet from head to tail, and about three feet in height on all fours. Its legs were powerful-looking and it had big paws."
According to author Rex Gilroy, "In October 1972, at Latham, north of Perth and west of Lake Moore, the settlers of the outlying areas were concerned about a number of cattle mutilations and sightings of one or more enormous catlike or panther-like beasts."
Gilroy postulates that the "panther" may be an unknown marsupial predator, distantly related to the opossum and the kangaroo, fulfilling the same role in Australia's ecosystem as the cougar in North America or the jaguar in South America.
"And some eyewitnesses claimed to have seen 'panthers' carrying pouched young. If so, it is obvious, as I've already claimed, that we are dealing with some hitherto unknown species of giant marsupial cat, perhaps related to the marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, which roamed Australia during the last ice age at least 12,000 years ago." (See MYSTERIOUS AUSTRALIA by Rex Gilroy, Nexus Publishing, Mapleton, Qlnd., 1995, pages 87 through 93.)
Chupacabras and UFO author/researcher Scott Corrales has a website about to go online. If you'd like a sneak preview of his Inexplicata website, go to this URL: http://188.8.131.52/
For the latest Bigfoot sightings, drop in at Northwest Mysteries at http://www.nwmyst.com
Cory Kostyniuk just lauched a new UFO website. It's at http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Station/7649/
For more information on the recent UFO sightings in the Ardennes, check out UFOCOM of Belgium's page at http://184.108.40.206/UfocomHq/uscharleville1.htm
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UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1998 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post items from UFO Roundup on their websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.