CLANCY, Mont.— For nearly two years Dr. Richard O’Connor has kept two cameras pointed at the sky with the deep hope and belief that something might be out there.
And then, after nearly 280,000 photos captured by motion detection, it happened.
Or maybe not.
But O’Connor’s findings of what he believes are two unidentified flying objects has set off a barrage of email exchanges, some of them angry, in the community of UFO fans and experts.
About noon on Nov. 4, his cameras captured five photos of something flying through the skies of Montana that is hard for some to explain.
“It appears to be a light source,” O’Connor said. “In my opinion, even a hardened skeptic would say ‘Wow, that is what I expect a UFO would look like.’”
But his discovery has sparked some debate, leaving the doctor to find his own photo experts to determine what his cameras may have captured.
The answers to this mystery remain up in the air.
O’Connor comes by his fascination with UFOs honestly. He said that for more than 25 years he was friends with Jesse Marcel Jr., perhaps best known for being a longtime doctor in Helena. O’Connor, now retired, worked as an anesthesiologist at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena.
But Marcel may be even better known for something that happened to him as a child in New Mexico in July 1947.
His father, Maj. Jesse Marcel, was sent by his base commander to investigate the crash of a UFO on a ranch outside of Roswell Army Air Field. He loaded some of the wreckage into his vehicle and drove it home to show Jesse Jr., who was then 10.
They couldn’t make sense of what they were seeing. According to Marcel Jr.’s Sept. 1, 2013, obituary in the Helena Independent Record, The U.S. Army Air Corps issued a press release saying a “flying saucer” was found, but public uproar forced them to retract the statement and say a weather balloon had been found instead.
Those who were at the crash site were then sworn to secrecy. But in the ‘70s Marcel Sr. and his son began speaking about what they had seen, believing the coverup was a grave injustice to the public.
Marcel Jr. had a distinguished career not only as a doctor, but in the military as well. He was 76 when he died.
And after knowing him for nearly a quarter-century, O’Connor deeply believes Marcel saw what he saw as a child.
O’Connor, 60, even set up the Jesse A. Marcel Jr. Library on his rural property and his friend was there for its dedication.
He says he told him, “Your story is important, and to continue to educate the public we should open a library.”
And then he installed two Reconyx Hyperfire PC 900 Trail cameras on the southeast corner of his house with the goal of educating the public about the UFO phenomena. When triggered by motion, the cameras, which are about 30 feet off the ground, shoot 20 photos at approximately 1-second intervals.
He also posted a message on the Internet, giving the latitude and longitude of the cameras in the hopes that aliens would see it.
“Come, let us take your picture,” he said, reasoning that if they had the capability to get here they would also have the ability to find people who are reaching out to them.
The cameras were programmed to take photographs of moving objects. Among the 280,000 photos are a vast array of birds, squirrel tails and treetops dancing in the wind.
And then on Nov. 4, O’Connor says he noticed something.
“Basically what you see is a very symmetrical, smooth and reflective surface that appears to have his own light source,” he said.
Neither the FAA, nor the Air Force nor NASA handle UFO calls anymore, an FAA spokesman said, adding they are referred to National UFO Reporting Center, an organization that investigates UFO sightings and/or alien contacts. It was founded in 1974 by Robert J. Gribble.
The website features listings of UFO sightings by state. For instance, on Nov. 18, someone reported seeing three flashes of green light that lit up the entire sky after a power outage. On Nov. 11 in Great Falls, someone reported seeing a silent triangular object heading east to west before turning smoothly south and going out of sight. Massive in size. On Sept. 26, someone in Great Falls reported seeing a green glowing fireball.
O’Connor, who says he has no knowledge of how to manipulate photos on a computer, forwarded his photos to NUFORC, which were there for a few weeks and then came a query to them from the Tribune.
Peter Davenport, now the head of the NUFORC, forwarded the photos to “a skilled photo-analyst,” requesting that he try to ‘extract’ more information about the object than mere visual inspection would permit.”
NUFORC is a self-funded website that Davenport describes as a “labor of love.”
“I do it so people have a place to call if they see a UFO,” he said.
The first review was heartening.
“Bottom line, I think the images are real, but remain a mystery,” the photo analyst wrote. “I suspect the lights in the first and last photos are sun reflections off of something rather than any propulsion system.”
And higher up in his assessment he wrote: “Thus, I conclude it is a puzzle to solve rather than a fake.”
But another analyst didn’t agree and angered O’Connor by proclaiming the photos “100 percent fake.”
O’Connor expressed his anger in an email to Davenport, saying he would get an unbiased photograph analysis. Davenport also suggests that O’Connor submit his photos to someone whose reputation he trusts.
O’Connor has also offered to take a polygraph.
O’Connor now plans to meet with various experts in photo analysis to get their take on his pictures.
In an earlier interview, O’Connor said, “What you see there is what came off that camera.”
He said his main intention is “to let people know that UFOs are real. These photographs are proof positive that UFOs are real.”
He added they deserve to be studied in a “well-funded, unbiased scientific study to determine if we are being visited …”
O’Connor recently received an assessment from a photo analysis from another UFO research organization.
This person wrote, “This photo is an interesting one. The colors of the object resembles the surrounding blue sky and clouds. This would naturally occur with highly reflective silver objects. The fact it was 1/20 second frame rules out balloons or other man-made objects. It also indicates the objects decelerated and accelerated and held position for just one frame, as there’s no elongated motion line that would have occurred if the velocity was constant.
“I’m sure some will say it’s one frame of hot pixels; which is impossible for just one frame and a wide selected zone of linear pixels,” the analyst wrote. “Some will say it’s a digital recording artifact; this is not possible because the pixels comprising … the objects are linear with gradient fall off. When all other explanations are ruled out the proverbial ‘flying swamp gas’ explanation is offered, and this is done by those who choose to ignore the laws of physics.”
O’Connor said he understands the skepticism of others.
“They did not have the opportunity in their lives to know Dr. Marcel,” he said, adding that once he knew him and trusted him, his attitude changed.
His said his biggest fear is that the truth will be covered up.
“I am interested in the truth,” he said. “If I am subject to criticism to get to the bottom of this, then I guess it’s part of the deal.”
What’s out there?
To see UFO sightings from Montana reported to the National UFO Reporting Center, go to: http://www.nuforc.org/webreports/ndxlmt.html
To know more
To contact Dr. Richard O’Connor, email richard@cropcirclesresearchfoundation