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More On Voronezh: An Interview With Jacques Vallee

by Valiant Thor

What were your first impressions, when you heard about the Voronezh landing?

Jacques Vallee: I had received a copy of the original dispatch from Moscow through one of the wire services. It said that the site had been investigated by the use of “biolocation.” The next day, that appeared in The New York Times as “the site was investigated by ‘bilocation,’ ” which didn’t make any sense. And there were a number of other things that were distortions and misunderstandings.

What was the term “biolocation in reference to?

Biolocation – as in biology – is the Soviet term for dowsing. That intrigued me; also the fact that there wasn’t one case, but a whole series of cases. I had been discussing all this with a French science journalist, Martine Castello, who works for the largest daily newspaper in France, Le Figaro. I told her that what we should do is try to get over there, because there’s no way to tell what’s going on from the media.

It took a long time. In spite of glasnost, it’s not that easy to travel to the Soviet Union. We went there under a press authority rather than under a science label. The Soviet agency that handles press at first thought we were crazy to want to look into UFOs, but they did transmit a request to various groups, and the response was incredible.


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Were you able to interview witnesses?

We were not able to interview any witnesses. We did not go to Voronezh; that’s a 10-hour train ride from Moscow. Instead, investigators from Voronezh were brought to Moscow. They were from an independent UFO group called the Voronezh Collective. One man was a professor of material physics at the University of Voronezh; two were from a local aviation factory, including the chief engineer, and one was a journalist from a Voronezh television station.

They brought their film, records, and drawings. We spent the whole day with them, and it was clear that what had been reported in both the Western and Russian press was only the tip of the iceberg. There were many sightings in Voronezh; there was not one, but several landings.

The witnesses in the close encounters were kids, but they were not little kids. They were 17, 18 and 19 years old – very articulate, lively teenagers. We had a chance to watch how the interviews had gone with them and see the site on television. I regret not actually going there, but at least we had a chance to talk to people who had been involved in the investigations.

Was the Voronezh case an isolated incident?

There were many other cases in Voronezh. There were a total of at least 1,000 witnesses. Voronezh is a large city of over a million inhabitants. It has a nuclear power plant and aviation factory. It’s a large industrial center. Perhaps one of the most interesting cases was an object that hovered near the rooftop of an apartment building, in full view of 500 people. This happened after the initial incident.

Before we left Moscow, we had dinner with Vladimir Azhazha (one of our main sources in the Soviet Union) at his apartment. There was a phone call, and he excused himself and got up. When he came back, he said, “I have to work more on Voronezh, because I just got another case where an object came close to the ground, and a beam came from the object and melted the asphalt in the parking lot of the nuclear power plant.”

All we heard about in America were three-eyed aliens taking a stroll in the park!

I asked the people at Voronezh, “What’s this we hear about beings with three eyes?” And they laughed and said well, some of the witnesses said they saw beings with three eyes; others said they saw beings with two eyes, with a third thing in the middle of the forehead that might be an eye, or might be something else – a device of some sort. They were not close enough to be able to tell. All they could see were three kinds of openings.

What do you think they were?

I really don’t know the answer to that. But I came back convinced that the pattern of observations matched what we have seen in other parts of the world. In other words, it was no different than what has been reported during intense waves in South America or the States or France. There was the same type of confusion. Of course, everyone was jumping in with their own interpretation, so you had everyone from the skeptics to the crackpots. There was insufficient investigation. Certainly they were not prepared do an investigation all of a sudden of something of that magnitude, with so many cases. I felt the witnesses were obviously sincere and shocked. They had obviously seen something.

What kinds of UFO beings were typically described?

When I first read the Voronezh reports, I was amused that they reminded me so much of the Brazilian cases I am used to, in the sense that witnesses were describing very different types of beings – very sensational and bizarre. I could find cases like that in the U.S., too, but we tend to sweep them under the rug.

You have to take into consideration that in this country, we have been bombarded in the last few years with a lot of marketing imagery – starting with the cover of Communion and the drawings made by people studied by Budd Hopkins – which have tended to create the impression that there are only a couple of major types of aliens. That’s not in fact what people have been reporting.

Why do you think Western ufologists almost exclusively tend to favor the extraterrestrial hypothesis in explaining the aliens’ origins?

I think the tendency is specifically American. There is a rift now between European ufology (particularly British, French, and Italian ufology) and American ufology. I am part of both, and so I am caught between two camps here – an uncomfortable position. What American ufology wants to talk about is the message that UFOs are here. They are extraterrestrial, interplanetary visitors that use nuts-and-bolts spacecraft. They come here and learn, and the government is hiding the data.

We’re talking about government coverup very much along the same lines as once discussed by Donald Keyhoe. I heard John Lear recently say that people should write their congressmen and call for congressional hearings. Wait a minute! We’re back to 1955!

It’s now decades later. We have a lot more facts and are able to identify the major patterns, and they do not fit the extraterrestrial model. What good is it going to do to have congressional hearings about UFOs? It’s not Hangar 18 anymore; it’s Area 51! American ufology has failed to move along with the data. It’s emotionally stuck in the 1950s. I have been attacked for my viewpoint, occasionally fairly viciously.

What did you say that attracted such ire?

It wasn’t just that they disagreed. It was that they laughed down any suggestion, for example, that there might have been descriptions of UFOs in folklore, going back to the ninth century, and so on. The suggestion that there might be psychic phenomena; that there might be phenomena that went beyond the normal extraterrestrial interpretation was something that just couldn’t be tolerated. I’m sorry, but we have to be guided by the data.

If you were to articulate a hypothesis more suited to the current data, what would it be?

I would do it in two stages. One stage is something that I believe I could stand up in front of a committee of scientists and state, and prove – that there is a UFO phenomenon; it is physical, and it is not explained by the classic explanations that we have. Number two is more of a personal hypothesis that I cannot prove, although I could state it in front of the committee as an hypothesis. I believe that the phenomenon is associated with a form of nonhuman consciousness that manipulates space and time in ways we don’t understand.

Where do you think such a consciousness comes from?

If I listen carefully to what the witnesses are telling me – and I want to spend more of my time talking to witnesses, and not to ufologists; the witnesses were there, the ufologists were not – what they tell me is that they observe things that very often come out of nowhere, disappear into nowhere, can shrink on the spot, and change shapes dynamically. Physical objects that merge together, or separate, and so on.

There was a lot of that in the Soviet Union. We have the same thing in the French files and the American files, except very often we sweep it under the rug. If such reports are true, then the objects can be from anywhere, anytime. They could be from another dimension, or a parallel universe – whatever you want to call it.

The vocabulary we have can’t tell the tale.

That’s true, but in the last five years, there are theories that have evolved in pure theoretical physics, which are telling us we don’t understand space and time. This is not news to a physicist. Both in terms of elementary particles and in terms of cosmology, there are theories now of multidimensional universes – string theory. There was an article recently in Sky & Telescope that talked about multiple universes generating each other, moving perpendicular to each other.

So this is now mainstream science, and that is why I am interested in the UFO phenomenon. I think it is an opportunity to do some good science; it’s an opportunity to test some of those physical theories. That’s what the Russians are saying. I asked them, “Why are you so interested in this?” And they looked me straight in the eye and said, “We are going to turn a new page in the book of science.” It’s not that they believe in little men from Mars; they want to turn a page in science.

Ufologists here – and even scientists and academicians – often can’t seem to make that leap in understanding.

You could take a room, like the meeting we had in Moscow, and fill that room with 25 people of equal caliber, from the United States, who have done research on UFOs. They may be physicists and doctors and so on, but they have an attitude of arrogance. They think they are so damn good that they can solve the problems themselves. They’re going to go around, find a piece of a flying saucer, and they will analyze it and build a flying saucer that flies! That’s not going to happen.

This is a difficult problem, and it’s going to take many people from many disciplines. It’s going to take creating a team with a lot of trust. I don’t see that happening. I see an incredible level of arrogance from the few scientists studying UFOs in this country. I think the role I can play best is to try to put people in touch with each other, to help build some bridges, because it is an international phenomenon.

The massiveness of the phenomenon, and its role in manipulating people and groups, was an important element in your book, “Messengers of Deception.”

To a large extent, the things that I said in Messengers were rejected with outrage by the mainstream UFO community in the U.S. I feel that now most of the things in the book have been vindicated. I was trying to call attention to the fact that the UFO organizations were infiltrated, and that bothered me, because cases should be handled confidentially.

If every case that’s reported, in confidence, to a UFO group is immediately known to people within various government agencies, it obviously opens the door to all kinds of manipulations. But the whole idea was violently rejected by most of my friends in ufology. Now, as you know, others have come forward with the revelation that government infiltration and manipulation has been going on. So I feel vindicated by that.

In “Confrontations,” you detail a number of case investigations. Did any cases in particular seem to reveal the more pertinent aspects of the phenomenon?

There were a number of cases, such as a series of cases in Happy Camp, California, near Oregon. I spent quite a bit of time there with a whole team of ufologists and made a number of interviews there. It is a microcosm of the phenomenon. The two weeks I spent in Brazil, also presented cases that were a microcosm of the whole phenomenon. I went there because there were reports of injuries and even deaths among UFO witnesses in Brazil. With that kind of thing, you have to go to the spot to verify; you cannot rely on the press, public rumor, or even reports by ufologists.

What we found was that many of those reports were exaggerated, in the sense that the phenomenon was not hostile, necessarily, but it caused harm. It caused injuries to many of the witnesses. We spoke to people who had been injured specifically by beams from those objects. We spoke to 50 people who had seen the beam or who had been caught in the beam at various times.

You’re making a differentiation between outright, conscious hostility and inadvertent harmful effects as a result of contact with the phenomenon. That’s a big distinction.

Yes, it is. If you stick your finger into an electrical outlet, you get a jolt of electricity, which can kill you. That doesn’t mean that Southern California Edison is hostile to you; it just means that you’re dealing with a powerful phenomenon that will “do its thing” without regard for human welfare.

Can the power or energy wielded by UFOs be likened to electricity?

It’s different. People are describing a beam that was not just a beam of light. The beam would pin them down so they couldn’t move. It was hot, but the injuries were not burns. In Confrontations, I included pictures of the injuries, taken by medical people in Brazil. I spoke to the doctors who had treated those cases. They were small, round injuries on the skin that tended to be red or purple. They were primarily on the face and chest areas.

Do you find any correlation between these medical injuries and the trauma experienced by witnesses claiming abduction?

None of the people to whom we spoke had been “abducted.” They had been hit by a beam, and very often were in the presence of other people. The correlation with abduction cases is that often there were marks on the neck or behind the ears, and we have heard of similar cases in abduction descriptions.

You may remember the Michalak case, where a prospector came close to an object and was irradiated by some form of energy from the object. That was similar to what I investigated in Brazil. But in the Brazilian cases, it was more concentrated; it was a very specific beam. The beam was retractable. It had mechanical properties. For example, it would push or pin them down. Of course, we don’t know how to make a beam like that.

There were two cases we looked into where the witness survived less than 24 hours. I spoke to the medical people and to the police who had done the report. Their feeling was that in both cases, these people had a heart condition, and that the death was due to overexertion and stress from the incident. Obviously, the UFOs were not trying to kill.

Many of those people were out in the forest at night. Since Vietnam, we have had the technology of silent helicopters, infrared scopes, and so on. It is easy to kill in that scenario. But I spoke to the family of one man who had been chased by one of those things, and hit repeatedly by the beam from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning. He was hiding in the bushes or in caves, and always the object would come around and find him and zap him again. They were definitely after him, but didn’t kill him. We have weapons that would kill that guy with one bullet, and yet he is still alive.

You can’t call that outright hostility. Were there any reports of the abduction sequence we hear about so frequently in the U.S.?

No, but again, the phenomenon is very complex. It has many aspects, and I think researchers here have been a little bit too quick to pigeonhole and categorize it.

Have you done any research on cases where there have been overflights or penetrations of nuclear installations?

Going back to the 1960s, when I was working with Dr. Hynek, I looked at a number of cases around Air Force installations. I have never said this before, but I think those cases should be approached with very special caution, because in some cases, they may be training exercises. People who are in the business of trying to penetrate nuclear installations disguise themselves in various ways. One of the cleverest would be to disguise yourself as a UFO.

This brings us to an issue of particular concern to us. I believe you’re the only ufologist (other than John Keel) who has openly commented on the use of the phenomenon by unknown agencies as a tool of psychological warfare and mind control.

I will give you a very direct example. Suppose you are a guard at a missile base. You have a machine gun and have been told to fire at anything that goes over the fence. Those are your clear instructions. You see a helicopter at low altitude coming over the fence. What do you do? You start firing, because those are your orders. Suppose you are a guard and you are a devout Catholic. You have a machine gun and your orders, and what you see coming over the fence is not a helicopter, but the Virgin Mary, beaming and smiling at you, and blessing you.

Are you going to aim that machine gun and start firing? How could such a vision be created? We have the ability to take a silent helicopter and disguise it to match all kinds of things. We did not have that capability 20 years ago, but now we can create things that look like something other than a military device. All you would need to do, then, is to confuse the guards long enough to land inside the perimeter for five or ten minutes, and you’ve got control. I believe that such operations have in fact been done, and I believe that in some cases they have been deliberately engineered as UFO cases.

How often do you think that sort of thing is done?

I don’t think it’s a large percentage (of UFO cases). I think those would be fairly limited operations. But I will make the assumption that some highly publicized UFO events are examples of this. I will eventually publish something on it, but I want to have my facts in order. I can think of three very well-known cases that I think fit exactly that kind of situation, and some are recent.

Perhaps many UFO researchers don’t go far enough in their investigations, or they might be able to determine more readily when a particular case is a sophisticated fabrication rather than a “real” UFO!

What it tells us is that we have to be open. Among the hypotheses we have to consider when we ask, “Could it have been an airplane, could it have been a weather balloon, etc.” is “could it have been some sort of simulation?”

I want to segue into another area: Hollywood’s treatment of the UFO subject, which hasn’t always been the greatest. It’s part of the American “image-making machine” so hell-bent on extraterrestrials. Do you see other approaches?

I hope to have a chance to influence that. But the model in this country has been sort of a science fiction model. I love science fiction, and I’ve written science fiction, but the movie message has always been “the extraterrestrials have come here,” in one way or another. The most interesting model was Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Spielberg was very familiar with the UFO phenomenon. He had read everything he could get his hands on about the phenomenon, and he drew his inspiration from actual cases. I argued with him, saying, “What if they are not extraterrestrial?” And he said that might very well be the case, but that’s not what America is waiting for! This is a movie, this is entertainment, and I want to give the public what they are waiting for.

He was right. Close Encounters is one of the great movies of all time. But I think now, the time may be right to explore other directions.

Printed with the permission of New Saucerian Press

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