ROSEVILLE — There wasn’t any talk of extraterrestrials or little green men at a UFO program at the Roseville Public Library April 17.
Those who attended hoping to find proof of life in the outer limits didn’t get it in Bill Konkolesky’s presentation. Instead, they got facts — the facts surrounding some of Michigan’s most curious reports of unidentified objects in the sky.
“We study UFOs, and we have a group of field investigators that study a manual, take a test and then are assigned UFO cases that are reported in the state,” Konkolesky said to an audience of about 20 people who gathered in Erin Auditorium on a rainy spring night for UFOs Over Michigan.
It’s a presentation Konkolesky has been doing for years. Konkolesky is the state director of the Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON.
“A majority of the sightings we do get, we do ultimately identify, be it airplanes or other aircraft, planets, comets, meteors and Chinese lanterns,” he said. “When we investigate, what we can’t identify, we classify as unidentified. We do not say what it is; we leave it as unidentified.”
In Michigan, MUFON investigators had a busy year in 2012, with 422 reports of unidentified flying objects throughout the state. Konkolesky didn’t focus on any of these most recent cases, though. Instead, he focused on some the state’s most notable reports, starting with one in 1953.
“There was a bright light that was seen flying over the Soo Locks themselves, and it was also caught on radar,” Konkolesky said.
A local military base, charged with keeping watch at the Soo Locks directly following the Korean War, feared their radar might be picking up on an attacking plane and sent a two-man team to investigate.
“As the (investigating) plane approached the UFO, they could see the plane and the UFO on the radar getting closer and closer and closer. Then, as the plane and the UFO intercepted, both dots disappeared. That was the last anyone has heard from the pilot or the flying object. They were both just gone after that,” Konkolesky said.
At the time the two men were deemed missing in action by the Air Force; subsequent investigations by the Air Force were unable to uncover anything, according to Konkolesky. In recent years, treasure-seeking divers have searched the waters of Northern Michigan looking for remnants of the plane or the object it collided with, but nothing has ever been found.
Konkolesky didn’t speculate on what happened, and that was probably good; not everyone in the audience was a believer.
“I was stationed in a couple of those places that he talked about, and I know a little bit of about what was going on back then,” said a Roseville veteran who asked not to be named. “In my opinion, some of the things people were seeing back then, and people see now, were really just aircraft. A lot of those aircraft is top secret. No one ever really knows what they are seeing, though.”
The believers, like Roseville resident Tony Sivalelli, author of the book “Ambassadors to the Stars,” probably wish Konkolesky said a little more.
“It was a great presentation — very well done,” said Sivalelli, who theorizes that the overall population is not ready to wholly conceive of and understand the universe, so he understands why Konkolesky kept it mild.
Konkolesky went on to speak about an incident that occurred at the University of Michigan in 1966.
“People reported football shaped objects doing tremendous aerial maneuvers over the course of four to six hours. … Over 100 witnesses from the U of M campus alone reported seeing these objects and others from the surrounding areas,” Konkolesky said. “Among the witnesses were several police officers, sheriff’s deputies (and) the Hillsdale civil defense director.
“One of the craziest stories of the week: One night, there were 60 witnesses, including more police in the Ann Arbor area, watching multiple discs, some witnessing a fleet or formation of five of these things, and six Washtenaw County sheriff’s vehicles even chased one of these things down Island Lake Road.”
The week is perhaps most well-known for what happened at the end of it, when 17 women at Hillsdale College reported a strange object flying near their dorm. The object flew over the campus for so long that, by the end of the night, when it finally flew off and disappeared, a crowd of more than 90 had formed, including police officers and the Hillsdale civil defense director, who had requested he be notified, should anything else occur, after the events at the start of the week.
What makes this event so notable though, Konkolesky said, is that there were so many witnesses that the federal government actually sent someone to investigate.
“His investigation lasted for two hours … and then he held a press conference under strict orders from superiors to explain the incidents that had been occurring. In the press conference, he said it could be multiple things, one of which was marsh gas, and the media went with that. It’s now called swamp gas and is used when people say ‘UFOs are just swamp gas,’” Konkolesky said.
Konkolesky went on to speak about other peculiar incidents. Each time just stating the facts — never once saying the sightings were alien spacecraft. He is a believer, though. When asked directly, he told a story of a strange occurrence in his youth and then quoted statistics that say there are about 100 billion candidates for habitable planets and moons in the Milky Way alone, and “chances aren’t bad.”
For more information on MUFON, visit www.mimufon.org.