UFOs: Extraordinary discoveries require extraordinary evidence

By Thomas Wilson

   FLAG POND -- Between Johnson City and Asheville, Highway 107 rises into the mountainous terrain of southern Unicoi County.
   Free of light pollution, a driver or stargazer can look up at the Milky Way galaxy and wonder, "Is there anything out there?" An organization based in Unicoi has been attempting to answer that question for over eight years.
   "When I was a child growing up in Limestone, I remember lying out on the old well cistern we had, looking up at the stars," said Allen McGee, president of the United States UFO Information and Research Center of Unicoi.
   McGee is the director of the United States UFO Information and Research Center. An amateur astronomer for over 20 years, he founded the organization in 1994. Today, he and other Center investigators actively probe a wide range of phenomena including sightings of the commonly known unidentified flying object (UFO).

  • The UFO Center held its eighth annual conference at Roan Mountain last weekend bringing several attendees and three guest lecturers to discuss matters related to UFOs and paranormal phenomenon.
       McGee said the Center's mission statement was to carry out detailed, accurate investigations information regarding UFOs and other paranormal phenomenon.
       He also said he had talked to several people who related encounters with what they believed were extraterrestrial vehicles and visitors from beyond the planet Earth.

  • The mystery of UFOs and alien creatures has captured the public's imagination in recent decades, thanks in no small part to science fiction literature, motion pictures, and "The X-Files."
       Searching for UFOs is no longer limited to what most mainstream society classifies as "fringe elements," he added.
       "It is very difficult to get people to talk about it locally," said McGee. "We have had people in years past see something in the night sky and being fearful of reporting it."
       McGee said he and several colleagues have observed unidentified lights and objects in the skies about the Tri-Cities including above the mountains of Unicoi County between Erwin and the North Carolina state line near Sam's Gap.
       The Center's Web site at dreaman.org features photographs and links to UFO and paranormal phenomenon from around the world.
       Of course, an unidentified flying object could be anything from a plane disappearing behind a cloud to a moving spotlight on low-level cloud cover emanating from a St. Patrick's Day blowout at Bennigan's.
       Extraordinary discoveries require extraordinary evidence, which is what McGee said the Center's investigators have been gathering.
       The Center is not alone in conducting scientific research into the phenomenon of extraterrestrial life.
       The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute based in Mountain View, Calif., has been scrutinizing radio signals in the vicinities of nearby sun-like stars since 1995 in an attempt to detect an alien signal.
       The Institute's Web site reads that their search is based on science -- not photographs, myths, or conspiracy theories.
       The SETI Institute was featured in the film "Contact" starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. No SETI search has yet received a confirmed, extraterrestrial signal.
       The UFO Research and Information Center is the parent organization of "The ARC -- Alternate Realities Center," which conducts research into the nature of UFO phenomenon, and other "paranormal" subjects.
       The Center gathers information from smaller groups such as the Southern Appalachia UFO Network (SAUN), said McGee. The Center has members in all 50 states and 18 countries.
       The 2003 ARC Conference has already entered the planning stages, he added.
       McGee said phenomenon such as crop circles appearing in wheat fields and thousands of sightings of objects around the world meant UFOs were not a mass hallucination, but a collection of similar events worthy of investigation.
       "This is a real phenomenon that is happening in our reality," said McGee. "Reality as we know it is not as cut and dried as we'd like to think it is."