The Unexplained #2 continued the first issue’s features on Bigfoot and extra-sensory perception, and introduced new series on hypnosis, spontaneous human combustion and black holes. That leaves just one more feature: the two-page “UFO Photo File” spread.
The magazine’s semi-regular section on UFO photographs really does bring home how The Unexplained was the product of a bygone age. We now live in a time in which vast swathes of the world’s population carry video cameras wherever they go, and yet there’s been no appreciable rise in UFOs being photographed. The rise of CGI has allowed UFO hoaxes to become more spectacular, of course, but they’re now too spectacular to be taken seriously. The smudgy sky-blobs that fascinated readers of The Unexplained in the eighties now look quaintly old fashioned.
Which makes them the perfect subject for a trip down memory lane…
Issue 2’s UFO Photo File discusses the 1950 McMinnville UFO photographs and notes their similarities to photos taken by a French air marshal in 1954. The article then moves on to a UFO photograph taken by the pseudonymous “Mr. Brown” of Balwyn, Australia in 1966, and finally a 1957 promotional photograph of a B-57 aeroplane with an anomalous object visible in the upper right.
Meanwhile, issue 3 brings back UFO Casebook, with Charles Bowen giving an overview of the 1978 Kaikoura lights and scoffing at attempts to explain them away. Issue 4 has another UFO Photo File, this time showcasing a picture taken from Salem Air Base in 1952, images of the 1958 Trindade Island UFO and – published for the first time – a photo taken by Anwar Hussein in 1978.
Issue 5 has another UFO Casebook from Charles Bowen. The first topic here is a UFO sighted in 1973 by three Italian pilots, including one Riccardo Marano:
He began to turn – and saw in front of him what appeared to be a bright white luminous sphere, which was emitting light of all colours of the spectrum. The light pulsated from bright to dim, but never went out completely. As he closed on the UFO, Marano reported that it was ‘flying in a most irregular fashion, making fantastic lateral deviations and sudden vast jumps to and fro’.
This incident, Bowen relates “was followed by a world-wide wave of UFO reports” and attracted the attention of two significant French personages: the prominent radio reporter Claude Bourret and Minister of Defence Robert Galley. The article describes an interview with Bourret in which he acknowledged that the French government had set up a secret section to study UFO reports in 1954, a subject discussed by Gordon Creighton in his translation of Jean-Claude Bourret’s book The Crack in the Universe. After chiding the British government for not taking UFO research as seriously as the French, Bowen moves on to a reported UFO sighting made by Robert Wildman near Tringford in 1962 (“It was white with black markings at regular intervals around the perimeter”).
There are no photographs of UFOs included in the article, only coloured-pencil sketches of the sort that anyone who read The Unexplained in the eighties will remember fondly.
Then we have a UFO Photo File in issue 6. Featured here are a 1966 photo taken from space showing a white object explained away by the NASA Photo Evaluation Lab as discarded rubbish; the 1952 Lubbock Lights; a 1975 image taken in Saasfee, Switzerland alongside a digital enhancement; and a red-orange UFO captured in Minnesota in 1965.
After this both Casebook and Photo File go on hiatus, with both features being absent from issue 7. They come back, of course, but I’ll get back to that later…