UFO research center to host conference in Carter County

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   Have you ever seen a UFO? Or felt the presence of a ghost peeping over your shoulder? Or seen something that you could not explain? Or, are you interested in hearing the stories of others who have?
   If so, you may find comfort in talking to other people who have shared similar experiences to those described above.
   The United States UFO Center, which is based in Unicoi, will hold its annual Alternate Realities Conference later on this month in Carter County. According to Allen McGee, who is the national director for the center, the conference is focused on raising public awareness about paranormal activity. "Anyone who has an interest in the 'X-Files,' or in the paranormal will enjoy the conference," McGee said.
   This year, the conference will host Travis Walton, whose alien abduction story inspired the book titled "Fire In the Sky: The Walton Experience" and later in 1993 a movie entitled "Fire In The Sky" starring James Garner, D.B. Sweeney and Robert Patrick.
   According to Walton's story, in 1975 he was working as a logger in the White Mountains of Arizona when he disappeared for five days. His co-workers, who have reportedly passed four different lie detector tests, stated that they watched helplessly as their friend was immobilized by a blue beam of light, according to information from the United States UFO Center.
   In addition to hearing Walton's story, those who attend the conference will also hear lectures on the history and technology of UFOs, the story of the Tennessee Belle Witch, bigfoot sightings and the mysterious "spook lights" of the Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina Mountains.
   The Alternate Realities Conference is scheduled to begin Friday, June 27, at the Rotary Park near the Covered Bridge and will feature a band from Nashville called the "Frantic Radio Beings," who will entertain attendees with musical themes catering to the alien contact experience.
   Friday evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a dinner with the guest speakers of the weekend conference. Advanced reservations are required and the cost of the meal is $20. The band will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.
   On Saturday, the conference will move to Roan Mountain State Park with registration beginning at 9 a.m. at the Conference Center. Throughout the day on Saturday, the guest speakers will present their talks. The cost for attendance on Saturday is $50 per adult and $20 per child, 12 and under, if registration is postmarked by June 15. Admission at the door will by $65 per adult and $20 per child. Lunches will be available for a small donation that day.
   The conference will continue on Sunday with events being free and open to the public. Events will begin at 10 a.m. at Cloudland Park in Roan Mountain with a demonstration of "Global Dance" which is described as "dancing meets yoga." Later that day, attendees will get an opportunity to meet with the guest speakers and hear them give a private review of their experiences. The conference will conclude Sunday with a group picnic and tour of Roan Mountain State Park.
   The United States UFO Center was founded in 1994 by McGee as a research center to collect and study information about not only UFOs but also other types of paranormal activity, McGee said. "As a research center we study UFOs, ghosts, haunted places, anything paranormal," he said. "The reason we started the center was to have a place for people to get together and discuss paranormal events and occurrences, a place where people can talk freely about their experiences without feeling like they are being judged. It's like a support group, really."
   Aside from the fact that the organization offers a place for members to share their stories and feel accepted, the main focus of the Center is to research paranormal events. "The mission of the United States UFO Information and Research Center is to systematically collect and analyze data on UFO and paranormal phenomena, with the ultimate goal being the attainment of a stronger identity of who and what Humanity is and represents, that we might chance to understand our purpose and place in the cosmic community of sentient beings, living in this Universe and other dimensions and/or planes of existence," McGee said.