Unsealed: Alien Files (2012–…): Season 3, Episode 21 - Signs of Abduction - full transcript

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Have you ever seen a UFO?

And if you suddenly did,

would you have the presence of mind
to take a picture of it

before it disappeared?

Some witnesses have.

A photograph can give a piece of evidence

that testimony standing alone can't give.

[narrator] But what makes
photographic evidence reliable?

And how can you tell
a real UFO photo from a hoax?

Join us as we investigate
photographic evidence of UFOs.

A global effort has begun.

Secret files hidden
from the public for decades,

detailing every UFO account,
are now available to the public.

We are about to uncover the truth
behind these classified documents.

Find out what the government
doesn't want you to know.

Unsealed: Alien Files,

exposing the biggest secrets
on planet Earth.

There are three kinds of proof of UFOs.

Eyewitness reports.

Radar evidence.

And the most controversial of all,


Cameras and photographs
can absolutely help us

try to figure out the UFO phenomenon.

Photographs are extremely important
when it comes to investigating UFOs.

It's really one of only a couple of things

that takes a story
above and beyond hearsay.

[John] But to the camera lens
if you capture that very moment

if you capture something
that happens to be in the frame,

that isn't easily explainable,

that's something
that photographs can give us

that human testimony
and the human eye cannot.

[narrator] Unsealed case file:
the Trent photographs.

May 8, 1950. McMinnville, Oregon.

The Trent photographs

were some of the most
sensational UFO photographs ever taken.

And, indeed, to this day,

remain some of the most important images
that we have.

Evelyn Trent is walking across her farm

when she sees a metallic disc-shaped
object coming toward her.

She yells to her husband, Paul.

He quickly retrieves
his 35 millimeter camera

and is able to take two photographs
before the object disappears.

They show a disc-like object

apparently just hanging in the sky.

Now, a number of photographic
analytical techniques

were brought to bare on these images.

And no evidence of any faking was found.

You would naturally just want to explain
whatever this UFO or flying saucer was,

but you can't.

Experts have tried
to analyze these photographs.

Look at them.

They know they're not doctored.
They know they're genuine.

The object, whatever it is,
definitely is there.

But nobody can figure out what it is.

The Trent's themselves
seemed like an ordinary, everyday couple.

No motive for hoaxing this.

And, indeed, they sat on these photos
for some considerable time.

[narrator] Their local newspaper
gets hold of the story.

And the international news-wires
pick it up.

What was significant about these photos
was the way in which they really...

captured the-the public obsession
with this subject.

[narrator] Just three weeks
after Trent snapped his famous photos

they were on the cover
of one of the worlds leading magazines.

These photographs were literally
syndicated all around the world.

[John] You want to think
that it's your government flying

top secret military aircrafts

or whatever it is
that you wanna believe at the time.

But in reality,
it's something that we can't identify.

It's something that we can't explain.

[narrator] In 1967,
astronomer, Dr. William K Hartmann

is investigating UFO phenomena
for the Condon Committee.

He analyzes the Trent photos
and comes to this conclusion.

Saying, this is one of the few UFO reports

in which all factors investigated

appear to be consistent with the assertion

appear to be consistent with the assertion


there were only
a really limited number of ways

in which people could fake photographs.

[narrator] One technique is to construct
a model and throw it into the air.

But in those circumstances,
one can look for motion-blur

and one can start to do some calculations
about the size of an object.

And if it's a very small object
close to the lens

chances are someone
has just thrown something.

Another technique used by hoaxers

is to suspend a model from a thread.

But of course, with those
pre-digital investigative techniques

you can magnify in,
and you can find that thread.

Another classic pre-digital
hoaxing technique was the double exposure.

But again, photographic analysts
could spot that.

[narrator] By 1975,
the now famous Trent negatives

gained the attention
of a leading UFO investigator.

Bruce Maccabee
is an optical physicist by training.

And, indeed, worked for the US Navy
in that capacity.

He used his expertise to try
and figure out some type of explanation.

And at the end of the day, he couldn't.

And he was really on the forefront

of showing how
the Trent photographs were genuine.

[narrator] Could this 1950 photograph
taken by an unassuming Oregon farmer

be an actual UFO?

I think, what this says to me,

is that you can never look at the images

and indeed the moving films in isolation.

you don't just investigate the photographs

you investigate the people.

And very often, it's looking at the people
making these claims,

saying, "This is what I shot."

That's the key to solving the mystery.

That's the key to determining,
"is this real or is it fake?"

Photographic evidence of UFOs

is considered crucial to understanding
and verifying their existence.

One photographic case in 1966,

pits respected Michigan eyewitnesses
against the US Air Force.

Unsealed case file:
the Hillsdale UFO.

May 14, 1966.
Dexter and Hillsdale, Michigan.

In 1966, police officers
in the Sheriff's department

were receiving phone calls of multiple
sightings of these disc-shaped objects

that were being seen
in and around the area.

Many of the witnesses
were actually police officers.

Disc-shaped crafts were seen.

Extraordinary speeds and maneuvers
were witnessed

including sudden turns
that would have produced G-Forces

fatal to any human occupant.

I mean, these really were
extraordinary sightings.

[John] Selfridge Air Force Base confirmed
that objects were seen over Lake Erie

that they could not identify.

Normally when Air Force bases get involved

they can pretty much account
for what the sightings are.

They scrambled an aircraft
for whatever reason,

and that could be what the witnesses saw.

But not in this case.

Taken on the night of May 15, 1966.

This photo shows the type
of highly maneuverable UFO

that was described over and over again
by respected eyewitnesses.

Whatever these UFO
and disc-shaped objects were

they lacked any viable explanation.

[narrator] With so many respected
witnesses and military radar evidence

the government calls in their leading
Project Blue Book investigator of the day,

Dr. J. Allen Hynek.

J. Allen Hynek went out to try
and figure out what these objects were.

Now, he found them
a little bit interesting

because they lacked
that viable explanation at first glance.

Hynek analyzes the eyewitness accounts,

the radar, and photographic evidence.

A good way to try and smoke out
the hoaxes here was to say,

"I don't want to just see the prints.
I want to look at the negatives."

And that was very often the key
to finding out whether something was real

or whether it had been done
in a dark room.

[narrator] But Hynek
is barely into the investigation

when he allegedly gets a call
from the government.

But he gets a phone call from the Pentagon

to say these things
need to be discredited.

You need to pretty much solve this.

[narrator] At the time, the US Air Force
often pointed to a visual phenomenon

known as autokinesis
to explain and debunk many UFO sightings.

Autokinesis is the phenomena
where if you look at a point of light

and it is surrounded by darkness
and it lacks texture,

and you really can't see the depth
between you and this point of light.

What this does
is it causes someone, for example,

to see a distant star or planet

and think, "My goodness, there's a UFO."

So, they reach for their camera,
they start taking images of it.

Your brain actually will start playing
tricks on you that this light is moving.

It could be absolutely stationary

and yet your brain sees it
as moving around in the darkness.

[narrator] But a considerable number
of compelling incidents

with multiple eyewitness accounts,

cannot be explained
by the optical illusion of autokinesis.

When the US Air Force
sent Hynek to investigate,

the whole thing was dismissed as,
"Oh, it's just swamp gas."

Now, the extraordinary thing about that

was that there
really were no swamps in the area.

So, the whole situation was laughable.

During the years of Project Blue Book,

the United States Air Force loved
the explanation of swamp gas.

Whenever a UFO was seen by a witness

swamp gas was always the fall-back
explanation for what the UFO was.

It didn't matter if it was metallic,
it didn't matter if it was an orb

or yellow or green.
It didn't really matter.

It was essentially always swamp gas.

[narrator] The government uses
the swamp gas explanation so often

it gains a reputation.

But it almost became
a kind of lazy short-hand

for the US Air Force.

It became a cliché. A meme.

Almost any UFO photograph or sighting

could be dismissed as,
"Oh, it was just swamp gas."

But, when you
really look at what swamp gas is

and you look that the swamp gas
is not flying through the sky

and making right angle turns,

stopping, hovering and being intelligent.

When we finally come to that conclusion

we realize swamp gas
probably isn't that fall-back explanation

the United States Air Force
wanted us to believe.

But why did Allen Hynek,

one of Project Blue Book's
leading investigators

continue to push
the swamp gas explanation?

One theory is that there was
rising public hysteria about this.

The US Air Force
tried to diffuse the situation.

Well, in this case, it didn't work.
It made people angry.

Including, in the longer term,
Hynek himself.

And this case was, I think,
one of those waves of sightings

that led to Hynek's later transition
from skeptic to believer.

And, indeed, he was quite angry at the way
he felt he had been used

by the Air Force to debunk all this

when actually
people were seeing very real things.

[narrator] By the mid 1980s,

a brand new invention,

the digital camera is about to make
everyone on Earth a photographer

with the means to collect proof of UFOs.

But with the advent of digital photographs

comes the technology
to easily manipulate them.

I think when you contrast those cases

from 40-50 years ago to versus today
in digital photography,

I think those are
a little bit more valuable to the field.

You've got the uh, really kind of lack
of ability back then to fake photographs.

[narrator] From the 1980s onward,

UFO investigation
is flooded with UFO images.

But are the photos real?

There are great differences between

35 millimeter films
and modern digital photography.

I mean, these days, it's all about
pixels and computers.

There's a whole new range of,
uh, techniques that can be brought to bare

both when it comes to faking images,
but also the flip-side of that

when it comes to investigating and
seeing whether somebody has cheated it.

[narrator] Photographic evidence
of unidentified flying objects

helped usher in the modern UFO phenomenon.

But as the world
continues to evolve into the digital age

more and more people
are capturing images in the sky

that they are unable to explain.

Digital cameras
and the invention of digital photography

has given us a lot more UFO evidence.

Sometimes that's problematic.

Because, now you are just
absolutely flooded with evidence.

But in the same sense,
it gives us a lot more evidence

that it's not a seagull,
or a crow, or a commercial airliner,

or something that we can
easily explain in the sky.

There's a lot there that is still being
captured with digital photography

that no one can explain.

[narrator] Unsealed case file:
the Chile copper mine UFO.

April 2013. Collahuasi, Chile.

Four technicians working
in a remote copper mine

witness a soundless silver disc
32 feet wide, slowly approach.

It allegedly lingers for more than an hour
hovering in different positions

about two thousand feet above.

One of the technicians
snaps some incredible pictures

with his digital camera.

Now, they claimed that these lacked
any viable explanation whatsoever

and truly were UFOs.

In the sense that they were craft,
they were there,

and they couldn't figure out the origin.

[narrator] The Chilean Government
takes up the investigation.

[John] When a government gets involved
and they come out with a UFO story,

there's something to be said about that.

Now, in a era when governments,

the military, the Air Force
in countries all around the world,

that they're getting out of the UFO game.

They're closing down their UFO projects.

Chile seems to be ramping up it's efforts.

[narrator] Investigators do a thorough
examination of the digital camera settings

to verify the authenticity.

They looked at these images
from the copper mine

and they said
there is no evidence of any fakery here.

These-these are not faked images.

There's no hoaxing here.

It has, let's say, the time stamp
of the time of day.

or the date the photograph was taken,

it holds a lot of evidence

that an investigator
can extract from the photo

and try and unravel the mystery
or-or the origin of a UFO case.

They're able to eliminate
all the sorts of things

that usually cause misidentifications.

Aircraft lights,
weather-balloons, et cetera.

Chilean Air Force investigators

are able to account
for other potential objects

in restricted airspace at the time.

But exactly what is depicted
in the photos above that Chilean mine

is still a mystery.

I think we really
have to entertain the thought

that this could be the United States.

That this could be
technology that we have.

Is it? I don't know.

If they're inquiring with
the United States Government,

the United States military and they say,

"Hey, by the way,
was this your UFO that was seen over?"

Chances are, they're gonna get a no,
and they will move on.

So, to them, that all of a sudden
becomes part of the investigation.

They come out and say,
"Well, it's truly unidentified."

The bottom line is,
that the Chilean Government said

"We don't know what this is,
but it's for real.

And it doesn't look
like any known aircraft

or-or areal phenomenon
that we are familiar with."

When high quality images such as these

still cannot yield incontrovertible proof,

it points to a bigger problem.

Thirty five millimeter
photographic evidence

ushered in a convincing
investigative element

to the UFO phenomenon.

But the modern advent
of the digital camera

has brought a flood of hoaxes.

And it has many experts
questioning the validity of UFO images.

With technology advancing the way it is,

it's difficult to see
how photographic evidence

is going to fit in to UFO investigation
in the future.

It's like there's a war going on.

The hoaxers have more and more
sophisticated techniques.

I mean, it started off
with Photoshop and CGI.

But it's going to get
increasingly complex.

I think with that invention of technology,

and with that, uh, acceleration of science

that allows us to bring
so much photographic evidence

and videographic evidence along with us,

of our daily lives chances are,

we're going to catch UFO evidence
in these pictures, in these videos.

And if we do capture UFO,

how can we be sure
that the image is authentic?

The only way to get to the truth

is to analyze not the photograph,
but the person who says they took it.

Whether it's looking at eye-movement,

whether it's looking at body language,

whether it's looking at
the combination of words that people use,

or whether it's even
monitoring people's brainwaves

because ultimately,

a picture can tell a thousand words.
But a picture can lie.

[narrator] But some in the UFO community
believe otherwise.

I think that technology
is really going to pave the way

for unraveling this mystery.

Because if there's something in the sky,

chances are,
there's gonna be a camera rolling.

And that technology,
hopefully, will capture it

give us the evidence we need
to try and figure this out.

This is Unsealed: Alien Files,

exposing the biggest secret
on planet Earth.