UFO Convention Brings Skeptics, Scientists (and a Few Loonies) to Arizona

Categories: News, Weird Stuff
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Glass cases full of "alleged UFO evidence" were on display at the 2011 International UFO Congress
Joe Arpaio may be notorious for pursuing illegal aliens, but Arizona played home to those hunting a different type of alien -- or at least their spaceships -- this past weekend.

The Radisson Fort McDowell Resort, just north of Fountain Hills on SR-87, was the host of the 20th annual International UFO Congress between Wednesday and Sunday, drawing hundreds of amateur Fox Mulders and Dana Scullys from around the world.

More than twenty speakers graced the stage over the five-day event with stories of crop circles, extraterrestrial contact, government cover-ups, and even Stan Romanek -- the self-claimed most abducted American in history.

A vendor's area filled up a ballroom of the hotel, with folks selling all of the paranormal staples -- crystal skulls, DVDs of UFO footage, alien-themed jewelry and clothing, homeopathic remedies, and authors peddling their expertise and experience to anyone willing to listen.

There were no tinfoil-hat salesmen or alien implants for purchase, but there was some serious stuff going on in that vendor's room.

We came across Ben Hansen, of the SyFy channel show "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files," and he was a little pissed off.

Apparently a UFO debunker well known in the flying-saucer circles was making his rounds through the convention, trying to disprove everyone's alleged evidence.

He's not the typical skeptic like most UFO debunkers, Hansen says, and just goes out of his way to personally attack any and all research in the field.

Hansen gave us the detailed description of the guy -- heavyset, long-ish hair, glasses, and a bright t-shirt -- and told us to be on the lookout for him.

Aside from that, the UFO ladies loved Hansen, and they took as much of his time and autographed glossy pictures as he could bear.

Aside from the one hardcore debunker, Hansen was a happy guy, and he's stoked for the second season of "Fact or Faked," which starts its second season on March 23.

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SyFy's Ben Hansen

The book authors were just as diverse as the rest.

There was former aerospace engineer T.L. Keller and his book, "The Total Novice's Guide to UFOs," and investigative journalist Leslie Kean -- who raked in one of the largest presentation crowds of the conference -- presented stories from her text, "UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record."

During Kean's presentation at the conference Saturday, she drew gasps from the crowd when she displayed a yet-unreleased photograph of an alleged UFO from the Chilean government.

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Leslie Kean
But the convention wasn't just about selling things and watching speakers at the podium.
On Friday night, local UFO hunter Jeff Willes headed a sky watch out in the desert a few miles down a dirt road from the hotel.

There was a television set up with a feed from some high-tech video cameras on site, as well as some pairs of night-vision goggles being passed around to look toward the skies.

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Friday night's sky watch
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vercast in the sky and some technological issues set back the search for finding proof of extraterrestrial crafts above, but stories were shared amongst the dozens of people who made the trip.

Willes was showing some of his footage on the TV screen while cameras were being set up, and a light argument started between two men over the best locations to spot UFOs.

One man tells a new acquaintance nearby about how he often spots UFOs near his house in the mountains.

The man counters with his story, when he claims to have seen one overhead while driving on an interstate highway.

"I've never seen one float down the freeway!" the man replies to him, and they continue their discourse of UFO hotspots.

Other people at the site of the sky watch were just visiting the area, unaware that their location had just been overrun with UFO hopefuls.

But Willes - the king of Arizona UFO hunting, with more than 20 years of experience watching the skies and more than 250 hours of claimed UFO footage -- had skeptics and onlookers entertained past midnight.

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Jeff Willes
Back at the hotel, there were "experiencer sessions" just about every day, although off-limits to media members, we'd heard from some conference-goers that sighting and abduction stories were rampant.

Add in the film festival screenings that took place every night at the hotel and the sweet Roswell t-shirts we bought from a vendor; the 20th annual International UFO Congress -- in its first year in Arizona -- wasn't that nerdy.

Okay, yes it was.

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9 comments
Josh DeMott
Josh DeMott

After Reading this article and the comments that follow I am going to have to suggest that there is a crazy lack of understanding between the open-mind and the people that ignore the reality not handed to them...  Here is some facts:  We are living in a government that has decided to keep its population in a sort-of sheltered world.  We don't recieve as much media from other countries as other countries...  Next time you see a foreigner ask them about hollywood theyll know more about it than you do because they are recieving the media.  We don't have a clue about many other countries aside from what the government deems IMPORTANT to us.  Anyways im not suggesting conspiracy I am just saying before being negative please ask yourself this question...  Are you normal and sane because you ignore the millions of possibilities in the world or is someone insane because they believe in the abstract posibilities in our existance...  I personally feel like "UFO"  correlates with too much entertainment and poking fun nowadays.  I really hope that somewhere in the world somebody is taking these things a little bit more serious and professional.  I believe in Aliens and I myself have a list of over 30 races that are cited to exist in the universe known to man, in fact a race named the Arcturians are famous among many "traditional people" among Earth.  There are volumes and volumes of stories of this amazing race and whether or not it does exist the facts are this,  we need to stop thinking that Earth's inhabitants are the epitome of life in this universe.  We aren't the gold standard and It's going to be proven very soon.  Please Mock me and this message and other people who may believe in other thinking beings within our universe if it makes you feel more secure in "your" world on this planet, but i think the proof is all around you.  Obviously were being fed more and more information on these aliens look around art, signs, news, nasa, other countries...  Our White-House has paid more money than any of us are likely to hold in our hand in our life to insure they have information on other intelligent races that may be unknown to you or I.  

If you have something to say to me about my comment here is my email and you have my facebook info above in the profile info...  JoshDeMott2010@yahoo.com   Be skeptical Be rude Ask questions you wont hurt my feelings but expect a conversation nonetheless... 

convention display
convention display

It’s really helpful for me which I have ever seen.Its presented well and nicely written which easy to understand.Thank you very much for the information.

Coz
Coz

Arizona is loony enough without Aliens from space

Lee Majorbig
Lee Majorbig

When you eventually find out that Mother Nature, on planet Earth, has summoned a number of hungry alien races to EAT over 80% of you troublemakers who are not needed to keep the Earth functioning smoothly you won't be laughing so hard, idiots!

Docbob498th
Docbob498th

So, is that catsup cologne you're wearing?

Aka Me
Aka Me

Matthew, It's not nice to call yourself a loonie...

Social Misfit
Social Misfit

Arizona has more loony's and mental weirdos than any other state in the USA. its used to be California but Arizona took its place as the kook capital.

Docbob498th
Docbob498th

The only difference is that in Az., the loony's and weirdo's run the place.

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