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The Paranormal Roots of the Pentagon’s UFO Program

© Jeremy Corbell

Alejandro Rojas
Den of Geek

The ridge on the ranch known as the “path of the Skinwalker” for the frequent reports of paranormal activity in the area.

At the end of 2017, The New York Times broke the story of a secretive Pentagon program with a budget of $22 million to investigate UFOs called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). The man who exposed the existence of the program, Luis Elizondo, was the former head of the project. Elizondo’s ongoing efforts to investigate the UFO mystery with his new employer, the To the Stars Academy (TTSA), will be featured in a History Channel series premiering May 31 called Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.

However, what The New York Times apparently did not know when they published their story is that the program went by a different name at its inception, and the scope of the program was much broader than just UFOs. In fact, according to a senior manager on the project, the investigations included “bizarre creatures, poltergeist activity, invisible entities, orbs of light, animal and human injuries and much more.”

It is unknown whether Unidentified will cover the paranormal aspects of the program. Although Elizondo did work with this paranormal project, he only worked in the UFO division. By the time he was the head of the entire program, the UFO division was all that was left. The rest of the program had been shut down, and you will never guess why. It wasn’t because people inside the Department of Defense (DoD) thought the program was too weird, although some did. It was shut down because of demonic forces.

Don’t worry, demons didn’t attack the Pentagon, but apparently, some people inside the government were afraid the potentially paranormal incidents being investigated could be demonic, especially scary occurrences taking place at a ranch in Utah, and they wanted no part of it. They didn’t want the government messing with demons either, so they lobbied for the program to be ended and it was.

This may sound extremely odd, but according to those involved, it’s true.

The New York Times story that broke the Pentagon UFO program began when an official with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) approached Las Vegas billionaire Robert Bigelow “to visit Mr. Bigelow’s ranch in Utah, where he conducted research.”

That sounds innocent enough, but what the article did not cover is what Bigelow researched at this ranch in Utah. Bigelow was known for his interest in the paranormal and UFOs, and by the time the DIA official had approached him, Bigelow had already spent decades and large sums of money researching the paranormal. Bigelow’s first significant foray into the unknown was an organization created in 1995 called the National Institute for Discovery Sciences (NIDS). Its purpose was to conduct scientific investigations of the paranormal.

The ranch the DIA official wanted to visit is nicknamed “Skinwalker Ranch,” and is the subject of the 2005 book Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah. Las Vegas investigative journalist George Knapp co-wrote the book with biochemist Dr. Colm Kelleher, NIDS’ lead scientist.

After hearing rumors about paranormal phenomena occurring in the Uintah Basin in Utah, primarily focused on Skinwalker Ranch, Bigelow bought the ranch in 1996. It was the perfect place to conduct NIDS investigations. The ranchers who owned the property stayed for a while but left because they did not feel comfortable there. If their stories are to be believed, they had good reason to go.

The family, using the pseudonym Gorman, said they had several terrifying experiences. Among them was the sighting of a giant wolf-like creature that attacked cattle, could withstand multiple point-blank gunshots and seemed to disappear into thin air. The incident that caused them to leave for good, however, was when their beloved dogs chased glowing orbs of light into the forest at night never to be seen again.

The NIDS investigators had their share of experiences as well. As detailed in Knapp and Kelleher’s book, the strangest occurred in the middle of the night while two researchers were observing the ranch from the edge of a bluff. As they were packing up to leave at around 2:30 am, one of them noticed a light in the forest below. At first, they thought it might be a reflection. However, as they watched, the light began to grow. Once it became a couple of feet wide, they say it looked like a tunnel opening up, and they saw a creature within. It was large and black with no face. It crawled out of the light and into the dark forest. The light then began to disappear until it was gone.

Kelleher said years ago he felt whatever was going on at the Skinwalker Ranch outsmarted them and anticipated their actions.

John Alexander, a retired Colonel in U.S. Army Intelligence who also spent time working at Los Alamos Laboratories and still does some work as a defense consultant, helped organize NIDS investigations. In a YouTube interview for OpenMinds.tv in 2013, he describes what they encountered at the ranch as a “precognitive sentient phenomena.”

“What we learned was that the events were real and tangible, and definitely occurring,” Alexander explained. “These weren’t figments of someone’s imagination, or folklore or any of these sorts of things.”

“But, as for the etiology, nope,” says Alexander. “We remained mystified.”

According to a recent interview with Knapp, Investigations into the ranch petered as the paranormal phenomena occurring on the ranch also waned. By the early 2000s, not much was going on. It was during this lull that Bigelow allowed Knapp to begin working on the book. Once the book was published, it brought a lot of attention to the ranch, but paranormal experiences were still rare.

So when the DIA official approached Bigelow in 2007 to visit the ranch, no one thought there would be anything to worry about. However, precognitive sentient forces on the ranch had other plans. Soon after arriving at the ranch, the DIA official had a paranormal encounter that Knapp described as “remarkable, and it made a very big impression on this guy.”

The New York Times says shortly after this visit, DIA officials met with Senator Harry Reid because they wanted to start a research program. It turns out Reid, a friend of Bigelow’s, was kept in the loop regarding Bigelow’s work researching the paranormal because he shared Bigelow’s interest in the topic.

Reid then found bipartisan support from a couple of fellow members of Congress, secured the funding, and got the project launched – all within 2007. Soon after, a requisition for a contractor to conduct research for the program was posted, and Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace won it. Bigelow created Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), led by Kelleher, to manage the contract.

However, the project was not called AATIP, as The New York Times reported. Per Knapp and documents he obtained, it was called the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System (AAWSAP), and it was set up to investigate not just UFOs, but primarily all of the weird stuff going on at the Skinwalker Ranch, including that list of weirdness at the beginning of this story.

Due to the nature of the project, it was kept as quiet as possible. Few in Congress knew it existed. However, it didn’t take long for religious factions within the government to raise concerns.

“They’re basically high-level people in different intelligence agencies who are fundamentalist Christians; who think that anything involving UFOs and the paranormal is satanic,” says Knapp.

“Certain senior government officials thought our collection of facts on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) was dangerous to their philosophical beliefs,” Elizondo wrote in a post on Medium. “They decided the data was a threat to their belief system.”

Elizondo explained to Den of Geek that by 2008, the negative attention their paranormal investigations received caused them to create a sub-group inside of AAWSAP that only focused on military UFO cases. This was AATIP. When Elizondo joined AAWSAP (the paranormal program), it was to work with AATIP (the UFO division). Eventually, the DIA closed AAWSAP, and only AATIP remained. Elizondo took over leadership of AATIP in 2010.

As for The New York Times, one of the authors of the article, Leslie Kean, told me via email “at the time, our focus was AATIP. This was the name on the documents that we had, and this is what Lue Elizondo had talked to us about in interviews with him, as did others associated with the program.” Elizondo says that since his involvement was primarily with AATIP and the UFO side of things, he did not feel at liberty to share AAWSAP information with them.

Filmmaker Jeremy Corbell has recently completed a documentary titled Hunt for the Skinwalker. He worked with Knapp, who intended to make a film when the book came out in 2005. The footage Knapp obtained back then is a large part of the new documentary.

“That $22 million that was created to study the phenomenon was really inspired wholly by Skinwalker Ranch and what Bigelow had been doing there privately with NIDS,” Corbell told this reporter in a recent podcast interview. “The public is going to see by watching this film that connection very clearly and yes, our Department of Defense, specifically the intelligence organization within the Department of Defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), they took this very seriously…Secrets have been kept, big secrets about this ranch for more than, I would say, two decades, and everybody wondered what has been going on there,” says Corbell. “This has been embargoed, this information. All of that has changed, and this story can now be told.”

These stories, although they sound fictional, are accounts from credible sources, and according to Corbell, Knapp, and Elizondo, there are still more shocking revelations to come. Elizondo recently told Den of Geek, “You ain’t seen nothing yet, baby!”

Those of us following this story have been wondering when the time will come for us to find out more. Elizondo says much of what we have been waiting for will be included in the History Channel series Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation premiering May 31.

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Paranormal

The Best Paranormal Movies Since 2000

Paranormal films can capture the imagination like no other genre.

Whilst they are certainly not for everyone, a good horror movie can be the perfect way to spend an evening snuggled up on the couch hiding behind your favourite blanket. Paranormal films appeal to our most primal human instincts of curiosity, fear and deeper meaning, with very few other genres able to get such a visceral reaction as horror.

Of course, classics such as The Exorcist and Halloween are deservedly looked upon as true classics of the horror genre, yet we think that paranormal movies really came into their own in the 21st century, with the introduction of advanced technology and the obvious benefits this brings.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the very best paranormal movies since 2000, taking you on a journey through a selection of films. Some of these were huge commercial successes, others critics’ favourites, but one thing unites them: they are all absolutely terrifying.

So, without further ado, our list of the best paranormal movies since 2000…

The Witch – 2015

The debut feature from Robert Eggers is perhaps the most critically acclaimed of any film on our list and, for our money, it is the best paranormal movie of the 21st century so far. Whilst debate among purists continues to rage over whether or not this slow-burning, understated and moody film is a true horror in the classic sense, the way in which The Witch unsettles and disquiets audiences make it a truly exceptional film.

Set in the northeastern United States, a region with a long tradition of bizarre superstitions around the supernatural, The Witch tells the story of a family of English Calvinists banished from their community and their subsequent struggle to set up a new life. Things begin to go catastrophically wrong and it soon becomes apparent that there are supernatural forces at work.

As both a parable on human nature and straight-up supernatural horror, The Witch has a devastating effect and is the kind of film you will be left thinking about long after the credits roll.

Modern horror continues to draw on classic elements of the genre for scares

Paranormal Activity – 2007

Although a critical success for the most part, Paranormal Activity will surely go down as one of the biggest box-office coups in movie history. On a budget of just $11,000, director Oren Peli managed to create a movie that would go on to make more than $193.4 million in ticket sales. As a result, Paranormal Activity has since gone down as the single most profitable film ever made.

The genius of this 2007 horror lies in it’s simplicity, with the found-footage conventions employed to chilling effect in the telling of the tale of a young couple haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. Both critics and audiences alike were left floored by what is to this day considered one of the scariest films ever made, something all the more impressive considering the movie’s tiny budget and immense financial return. 

The Conjuring – 2013 

The film that spawned an entire universe and subsequent franchise is just as terrifying today as it was upon release. Starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as paranormal investigators, this film draws brilliantly on classic haunted house conventions that have long spooked audiences across the globe. 

The genius of The Conjuring lies in the work of director, James Wan, who drums up such a level of prickly tension throughout the picture that by the end you are left feeling deeply shaken. With that said, there’s nothing particularly original about this movie and this is perhaps why it manages to be so effective. The Conjuring draws on our deepest fears and carries off the old-school Amityville-inspired scare-fest to a tee, perhaps even surpassing the original haunted house classic in quality and sheer terror. 

Nowadays the film is maybe best remembered for one of the most terrifying dolls in film history. In fact, The Conjuring uses cliches such as these and a not-quite-ironic level of self awareness to devastating effect – instilling fear in audiences who know exactly what is coming yet who can never quite convince themselves that this, after all, is just a movie.

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Paranormal

Ghost Hunters and Psychic Kids return to A&E for a Back to Back Debut

On Wednesday August 21st both Ghost Hunters and Psychic Kids return to A&E channel for back to back debut episodes starting at 9PM ET/PT.

From having the opportunity to preview both new episodes I can tell you its straight back to business for both shows.

Fifteen years ago the world was introduced to Ghost Hunters with Grant Wilson, Jason Hawes and the TAPS team investigating lots of haunted locations over 11 seasons.

Seven years ago Grant Wilson decided to quit Ghost Hunters to spend more time with his family but now in 2019 Grant is back with a whole new team of hand picked professional ghost hunters as they use their decades of experience to investigate hauntings across America.

Grants new team members are Daryl Marston co-lead investigator, Kirtsen Luman co-lead investigator, Mustafa Gatollari Historian and site analyst, Richel Stratton paranormal investigator, Brian Murray paranormal investigator and Brandon Alvis paranormal technician.

The season premiers with “School Spirit”.  Grant is contacted by the principal of Pocatello High School in Idaho after security cameras capture unexplained electrical light disturbances and a ghostly apparition in the hallway.

The school has long been rumoured to be haunted, but most rumours are thought to be just urban legends, but are they?

Psychic Kids first debuted in 2008 and became a hit series for A&E. It brought together children who had psychic abilities and helped them to harness and cope with their abilities to try and stop them from being afraid.

Now with the new series, the kids from 10 years ago are now in their 20’s and ready to assist the next generation of children with psychic abilities.

In the first episode we are introduced to Kendyll and Ethan. Two children who are scared and having a hard time controlling their abilities and turn to mentors to help them cope.

The mentors Peri Zarella and Ryan Michaels, two psychics who featured in the original series when they were children, try to help and guide Kendyll and Ethen with their abilities via different scenarios.

Will you be watching?

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Staff claimed to have seen creepy Mothman-like creature before blast

L.J. Charleston
news.com.au

The terrifying creature rose above the horizon of Chernobyl and Pripyat, a hideous humanoid with giant wings, a black headless body and red glowing eyes sending a message of doom to all who gazed upon it.

In the days leading up to the Chernobyl disaster, several of the workers in the control room of the nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine claimed to have seen the creature that is known as the Blackbird of Chernobyl.

Those unlucky enough to see the creature were said to be plagued with terrifying dreams and threatening phone calls.

Still others believe the Black Bird of Chernobyl was a form of the creature known as Mothman whose presence only ever meant one thing: that a catastrophic event would soon follow.

Last month marked 33 years since the Chernobyl tragedy and it seems the further time moves away from the event, the stories, folklore and legends continue to captivate and grow. And, since the huge success of the TV series, Chernobyl, there’s a seemingly endless desire for more knowledge about the disaster – the known as well as the unknown.

The Black Bird Rises In Chernobyl

Sydney archaeologist Robert Maxwell is the only archaeologist who has ever worked at Chernobyl, completing two field excursions at the exclusion zone in 2010 and 2012.

He is passionate about the place in both a historical and archaeological sense; there is little Maxwell doesn’t know about Chernobyl, on matters of both the physical and supernatural world.

Maxwell told news.com.au that the legend of the Blackbird of Chernobyl was something he heard about when he was in the exclusion zone.

“The legend states that in the days leading up to April 26, 1986, that a supernatural creature was sighted in the sky over Chernobyl by many of the men in the control room. They also claimed to have seen this terrifying creature just before the explosion,” Maxwell said.

“Now it’s become one of those fables that’s difficult to track because it relies on the accounts of people who died due to radioactive contamination.

“The Blackbird has also become one of those fairly safe legends where, if you try to look for proof, it might not be available because the workers are dead, or maybe the sightings were never officially recorded.

“So, for people trying to check the voracity of these claims, of course, you’ve got to take them on face value because there’s not a lot of history or archaeology to go on.

“But the stories persist, even to this day.”

Maxwell describes the legends around Chernobyl as “the fireside stories of the 21st century.”

These days, the Blackbird of Chernobyl is something of an internet legend, similar to “Slenderman“, and creepy pasta legend “The Smiling Man“.

“These legends fill a place for us as humans that the ghost stories and stories by the fireside fulfilled back in the earlier centuries. But there are a couple of versions of the Blackbird story, and the earliest known account seems to have come from 2005,” Maxwell said.

“According to the legend, rumours went through the ranks of Chernobyl, that five employees had seen a large, dark headless creature with gigantic wings and fire red eyes. Chernobyl employees began sharing strangely similar experiences, some had horrifying nightmares, while others received threatening phone calls,” Maxwell said.

“The second account I’ve heard of this story comes from 2007 which says that people in and around the power plant began to experience a series of strange events revolving around sightings of a mysterious creature – also described as a large dark and mutated creature with large wings and piercing red eyes.

“People affected by the phenomena also experienced nightmares and had first-hand encounters with the winged beast.

“Some of the workers reported their bizarre experiences to supervisors of the facility but there was very little these officials could do even if they’d been willing to take action. Then, in April, disaster struck.”

Reactor number four of the nuclear power plant exploded on April 26 and, two days later, the entire city of Pripyat was evacuated.

It was several years later that the stories of the Blackbird began to spread.

“Because the workers apparently described the Blackbird as a headless, large-winged black creature with no head, but with fire red eyes – which most people take to mean the eyes appear in the torso, it sounded very similar to the Mothman sightings in the west.

“Many people believe the Mothman, like the Blackbird of Chernobyl, are the harbingers of doom, in the same way the banshee was a herald of doom and death to many Celtic societies.”

The Mothman

Mothman sightings are an enduring mystery that began in November 1967 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. More than 100 locals reported seeing what they described as a six-foot (182cm) tall beast, covered in hair or feathers with a wingspan of six to ten feet (182-305cm) and bright, glowing red eyes.

Then, in December, a chain suspension bridge across the Ohio River, from Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, crashed into the river at peak hour, killing 46 people.

Some reported that they saw the Mothman on the bridge just before the collapse.

Due to the bridge collapse happening around the same time as the Mothman sightings, inevitably the two became intertwined.

Whether you want to believe the legend or not, one irrefutable fact is that the story of one can’t be told without the other: the bridge collapse and Mothman are forever linked. There’s even a Mothman statue in Point Pleasant which is now a popular tourist attraction.

The Mothman was also reportedly spotted in Germany, on September 10, 1978, when a mine collapsed in Freiburg, killed several miners. But more than 20 miners who were supposed to work that day were apparently scared away by the sight of a Mothman-like creature perched at the entrance of the mine.

This creature was known as “Freiburg Shrieker“. And now the Mothman is seen as a “grim reaper” appearing just before death.

Of course, sceptics dismiss the Mothman as an elaborate hoax or an example of mass illusion. Some believe the stories have actually been created by Pripyat authorities in a bid to prevent people from entering the radioactive area as looters are still a security problem.

The herald of doom

According to Maxwell, while some see the Mothman as a herald of doom, others see the creature in a different light, that it seems to be a time traveller of some kind that keeps returning to sudden, unexpected disasters.

“And for others, the Mothman is a completely supernatural entity that’s drawn in, like a moth is drawn to a flame; the Mothman or the Blackbird is simply drawn to the energy of disasters, or so the story goes,” Maxwell said.

“It’s a fascinating little spooky sidenote to the story of Chernobyl because not many people are aware of the stories of this creature. But it certainly adds to the creep factor.

“As if the Chernobyl disaster wasn’t terrifying enough, then you’ve got these alleged encounters with a black winged red eyed creature at night.”

And as for Maxwell, the question remains: during his two field excursions to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, did he see anything supernatural?

“No, absolutely not. It was entirely very much real terror when you’re there. What’s truly frightening is that you’ve got the all-encompassing overwhelming threat of radioactive contamination if you do the wrong thing or go in the wrong place or lean against the wrong object.

“There are certain things in the zone today for which any contact for any prolonged period of time will definitely kill you.

“There is one thing in particular that I still think about quite a lot: The Claw.”

Next week news.com.au will bring you the story of The Claw: the most contaminated thing at Chernobyl.

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