Bill Buckingham had a secret to share when he called the News Bulletin
– one forged by three men who saw something 45 years ago they felt no
one else would believe.
The pact made by Buckingham and two other men
was never to tell what they saw in October 1971, until there was only
one of them left.
Lying in his bed at a Nanaimo seniors facility,
hard-of-hearing but with watchful eyes, Buckingham said the last of the
crew died in April. He was ready to tell their story.
Buckingham was a man of all jobs at MacMillan
Bloedel, but on this day in October he was driving a truck with fuel
and logging equipment and two passengers, a machine operator and
spotter. They’d just gone over a hill overlooking Whiskey Creek north
of Qualicum when he saw an object he believes to this day was a UFO.
“I thought, a torpedo? No. Shell? No. I’ve seen
too many of those,” he said. “There was this object, flaming red, and
it was coming closer to us and I said to the two guys who were with me
– get out.”
The trio hid and the object came so close he
said he could hit it with a stone. He describes the object as six
metres long, just like two inverted saucers and in the middle, what
might have been a command post.
“It was like – you know what a Dixie cup looks like? The Dixie cup for ice cream? It was like that.”
Then it left, looking to Buckingham like a lit cigarette on the horizon.
He tried to tell the logging superintendent
about what he saw but the reply was, “oh I’ve seen pigs fly, did you
see them yesterday?” He tried telling one of his friends, but he
thought Buckingham had been into the “goose goose.”
So a pact was made not to say anything to anybody.
UFO sightings happen every year in this country
including 1,267 in 2015, according to the Canadian UFO Survey, which
collects data on reported sightings. Last year saw the second-highest
reported number of sightings in 30 years after 2012, when there was
media attention and pop culture that brought attention to the so-called
end of the world.
There were 244 UFO sightings last year in B.C.
Chris Rutkowski, a Canadian science writer who
puts out the survey, said Buckingham’s story is similar to what people
were reporting in the ’60s and ’70s, and there were a number of cases
in Canada descriptive of objects seen in close range. Rutkowski found
there was a UFO sighting on New Year’s Day 1970, in Cowichan, where two
nurses observed an object outside a hospital window.
He said it’s unfortunate Buckingham felt he couldn’t tell anybody.
As for why people connect what they see in the
sky with UFOs, Rutkowski says it’s a yearning for meaning in our lives
which is sometimes upwards rather than in our own selves – that we are
looking for salvation.
“And of course with the continued exploration of
space, astronomers have found thousands of possible planets that might
harbour life,” he said. “It’s very possible to believe that we’re not
alone in the universe and if we’re not alone then maybe somewhere out
there, there’s someone who’s asking the same questions about life in
the universe as we are.”