Wheel in the Sky?
My earliest fascination with UFOs – outside of the Great Gazoo’s flying saucer on “The Flintstones” and Marvin the Martian’s Flying Saucer X-2 of Looney Tunes fame – was a short-lived TV series called “Project U.F.O.” in the late ‘70s.
I’ll never forget the show’s intro, with the serious-toned Jack Webb voice-over stating, “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel.” That shit would give me Goosebumps – and just did again as I searched for and found a clip on YouTube.
If you’ve never seen this show, which is very likely, it was a sort of forerunner to “The X-files” as the storylines were based upon the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book.
I loved “Project U.F.O.,” which of course, means it was cancelled after two seasons.
Whereas the SyFy channel didn’t exist yet, there was plenty of UFO/alien and outer space stuff dominating pop culture and entertainment in the late ‘70s with of course “Star Wars,” “Alien” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” massively successful in theaters and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” and “Battlestar Galactica” on primetime TV.
But “Project U.F.O.” struck a nerve – we lived near the airport, and I always saw things up in the sky that didn’t seem to look like planes – and I believed the show to be based on reality, because, you know, they said so.
And I had seen the space shuttle when it was on display at the airport so I was aware of the advancement in space travel, and I learned about the solar system in school.
Webb’s intro to “Project U.F.O.” continued:
"These are Unidentified Flying Objects that people say they are seeing now. Are they proof that we are being visited by civilizations from other stars? Or just what are they? The United States Air Force began an investigation of this high strangeness in a search for the truth. What you are about to see is part of that 20-year search."
Years went by and I became a cynical journalist – especially when calls from conspiratorial doofuses flooded into the newsroom claiming they’d seen UFOs right there above their trailer park. I filed this right beside the notes about giant tomatoes, family reunions and unsolicited baked goods.
Whereas I don’t generally believe the UFO sightings, I don’t discount that there is life on other planets. I mean, how can we be so bold to believe that we’re the only industrious and intelligent life form that exists in the universe?
Until it can be disproved, then you can’t close the door on the possibilities.
That’s basically the way I feel about UFOs as well, although I’ve never seen one with my naked eye.
But back to the questions raised by “Project U.F.O.”...
It seems that UFO sightings were fairly active in our area in 2012, with more than 100 reported to the organization that tracks such things.
In the next county north of Horry across the North Carolina border, the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach is set to delve into the argument about the existence of UFOs with a formal debate set for Saturday. You may have tired of the back and forth of the Obama-Romney debates, but this one is shaping up to be more interesting than any political dust-up could ever be.
“A YouTube search for ‘unidentified flying objects’ results in thousands of posts of grainy videos that show unexplained objects in the sky. Are these popular sightings hoaxes or are they genuine? Is planet Earth really being visited by aliens from outer space?” asks a press release issued by the planetarium.
Intrigued by the prospect, we dispatched intrepid correspondent Derrick Bracey to track down the participants in this UFO debate and to find out what’s in store for Saturday’s extraterrestrial smackdown, and you can read his report, which is this week’s cover story, starting on page 9.
Did I say 9? Is that coincidence, or interplanetary alignment, as we’ve also learned that there’s going to be a local screening of the cult classic “Plan 9 from Outer Space”? You can also get details on that by checking out Bracey’s epic scribbling.
ONE FINAL PUSH
OK, faithful Surge readers, this is my final push.
Make sure to click on the graphic for our Story of the Year contest for 2012 that’s on our homepage because voting ends Friday (Jan. 18).
Voting only takes a few seconds, and you can vote multiple times (but only once an hour) for multiple stories if you want to shower our merry band of freelance writers with some love.
The winner will be announced in next week’s edition.
Kent Kimes, Editor