October 18, 2000
(From the Lifestyles Section)
The truth is out there
Richard Mostyn - News Senior Reporter
Time loss is a common subject on the flying saucer circuit.
An example: while driving down the road, you'll see an otherworldly disc. You'll stop to admire the lights and, the next thing you know, it's the next morning and you've, somehow, been the victim of a cosmic memory-robbing bender.
In fact, such stories highlight a common complaint about the aliens routinely zipping through the Earth's atmosphere and hovering, silently, over fields and streams - they're sneaky.
They abduct you, cut your hair, take blood samples, operate on your lymph nodes or, in some cases, steal fetuses right out of your womb, then, perhaps compassionately, impede your memory of the incident.
Such time losses can be disconcerting. I know, because it happened to me, last Sunday during Whitehorse's UFO Conference.
I'm missing about 45 minutes. Not a lot of time, but enough.
It happened some time after UFO*BC founders Graham Conway and David Pengilly gave a speech on the best saucer sightings in their province to about 250 conference delegates in a ballroom in the Westmark Hotel.
This on a day when the Canadian Alliance could barely field a quorum to nominate Jim Kenyon as its candidate in the next federal election.
In the next room, in fact, an important conference on the connection between animal abuse and societal violence drew just 50 people.
Not that there weren't similarities between the two conferences.
In fact, sometimes they were eerily similar.
As speakers at the Tangled Web of Abuse conference recounted how cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer mutilated animals, UFOers told stories about a saucer seen abducting an elk in the Midwest and how other aliens abducted and operated on unwilling humans.
The elk was found dead eight days later. There were no signs of injury and, more eerily, it was untouched by scavengers.
Odd? You bet.
And I'm still missing 45 minutes.
To the best of my knowledge, Conway's and Pengilly's slide show was finished around 4:30 p.m. Sunday. That's when I started to talk to Conway.
He's an old-school UFOer, a 73-year-old Englishman who was turned on to the saucer phenomenon in 1947, after Kenneth Arnold saw a "saucer skimming over water," near Mount Rainier, Washington.
"I pursued it with passion," said Conway, who retains the vestiges of his Sheffield, England, accent, despite having lived more than 34 years in Canada. "I come from a country with a lot of mystery."
Britain is famous for its tales of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Knights of the Round Table, haunted houses and castles, the Loch Ness monster, fairies and sprites, he said.
As a child, Conway used to play on a road built by the Romans.
"I grew up with ancient history and mystery surrounding me."
Has he ever seen a UFO?
"In 54 years watching the sky, I've seen objects 34 times, at least."
There were three significant sightings, said Conway, who has been a top-flight hotelier, teacher and auxiliary cop in his working career.
His first notable UFO sighting occurred in Ontario, in 1964.
There, near a nuclear power plant, he watched as two objects hovered over Lake Ontario.
Beneath them was a T-shaped bar that was rotating in a counter-clockwise direction, he said.
He gathered some neighbors to watch, then the vehicles vanished.
"In a clear blue sky, they went from zero to 1,000 in a second, or dematerialized, who can say?" he said.
He filed a report with the Canadian government, even though it supposedly has no interest in such strange things, he said.
Years later, he found his UFO report on microfilm at the archives, he said, suggesting Ottawa is more interested in such things than it's letting on.
Later, he saw a red disc "about six feet in diametre, visually," dancing around the skies over Vancouver one afternoon while he was driving home in July, 1986.
He watched it for about five minutes.
The last big event happened in August, 1997, when he saw a totally silent airship, at least 30 metres long, pass over his veranda at his home in Delta, BC.
The airship, flashing a brilliant strobe light, could be seen for two minutes.
It wasn't a blimp, he stressed, because he knows what a blimp engine sounds like.
He's investigated hundreds of cases, including a mysterious Port Coquitlam sighting, where three children watched a saucer land in a gravel pit.
Conway recovered soil samples from three depressions in the pit, allegedly where the vehicle touched down.
Analyzed by UBC, the samples contained elements that could be created by a blowtorch, the destruction of a car battery and from the exhaust of a motorcycle, but not to a depth of 25.4 centimetres, as in the depressions.
It's one of those odd stories, the ones that can make the hair on the back of your neck prickly.
But Conway's not all that interested in sightings anymore.
It's like chasing phantoms, there's no evidence, just anecdotes about flashing lights, hovering objects and high-speed vanishing acts, he said.
And while talking to him, you get the impression that such things are of interest to those on the cusp of believing, but hold less value to true believers.
No, Conway is more interested in the so-called experiencer mysteries.
Have a run-in with a UFO and you're probably going to be monitored for life, said Conway.
He's interviewed hundreds of people who have experienced time loss, and other odd things at the hands of hairless and obsidian-eyed creatures.
One Vancouver woman, following the demands of her infant who still couldn't walk, strode onto a soccer pitch at 2 a.m.
There, she saw a UFO. She awoke the next morning on the far side of the nearby Capilano River.
For 20 years, he's kept in contact with her. The visitations have continued.
Conway dug around in his briefcase and retrieved an old Turtle chocolate box.
Inside were a handful of her tapes, the cases melted into Dali-esque shapes during an
alien home-invasion, said Conway.
Though the tape cases have been damaged, however, the actual audio tape wasn't
melted, he noted.
Such odd things are not uncommon.
All you have to do is stand up in any office, extend your arms, and you'll probably encounter a person who has experienced something strange.
"I'm not only convinced something is happening out there, it's happening on a massive scale," he said.
"Most of them are coerced into being silent - if you speak, people think you're a nutcase."
Of course, there are nutcases out there, but you get a sense of truth in a person's voice, their actions and body movement, said Conway.
"The flakey types are few in number. Credibility is like virginity. You can only lose it once and you never get it back."
So, for decades, Conway has investigated strange brushes with interstellar beings on Earth.
His wife tags along.
"In 45 years, she has not written me off as a nutcase completely," he said, smiling.
"When we got married, I told her we'd never be rich, but it will never be dull being married to me."
His eldest son ignores the topic, but his youngest son is "very psychic," and his eldest daughter has had "things happen to her."
His adopted daughter has expressed relief that none of his blood runs through her veins - "You're a bunch of nuts," she jokes, he said.
As for his own mysterious experience, he's never had one, he said, though his kids can cite strange happenings.
"There's evidence to indicate I have," he finally admitted.
Evidence of experiencer phenomena is fairly easy to come by - streetlights go out as you pass them, lightbulbs in your house burn out frequently, fridge magnets jump off as you walk by, television channels change by themselves, computers crash without you having touched them the list is long, and may suggest a brush with interstellar destiny.
Ask your parents whether you ever vanished, inexplicably, which may point to an abduction, he said.
But recalling such meetings can be painful, and, in his case, he doesn't want to do the necessary digging.
"I don't want to know about it."
And then we shook hands, and I left the conference.
It was 6 p.m., and a 45-minute interview had suddenly become a 90-minute talk. I'd lost 45 minutes.
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