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UFOs in the Daily Press:

UFO sightings center on New Brunswick village, Canada, 2002:

This article has been originally published by the newspaper "The Ottawa Citizen", writer David Stonehouse, February 24, 2002.

See also the "news" section for February 2002 for more information on the New Brunswick sightings.

The X-Files come to Inkerman

If UFOs have indeed been hovering in the skies above this tiny New Brunswick town, as the many sightings suggest, the folks here aren't bothered. Except, of course, for those who say they've actually seen the alien spacecraft.

INKERMAN, N.B. - It was a crisp, clear January night, and 22-year-old Mathieu Robichaud was at the wheel of his Chevy Cavalier, his girlfriend next to him holding his hand, headed for the video store the next town over.

They were looking forward to a quiet Saturday night - just the two of them nestled together, watching movies back at the apartment they shared in the basement of her mother's house.

The conversation between the two had fallen to silence. The familiarity of the road, the music on the radio and the tranquilizing hiss of the car heater cranked on high had lulled them into a quiet comfort.

Then: "Jesus!" he exclaimed. "What's that?"

Two lights low in the sky.

Jenny Laplante noticed them just at that moment, too. "It's a plane," the 17-year-old high school student thought, "and it's about to crash."

But as they drove closer, the details became clearer: two lights morphed to four white lights - translucent, like light spilling through a distant window. Smaller blue lights were set between the white.

There was no way, they thought, that it was an airplane: it wasn't the right shape and it moved too slowly.

Craning his neck to follow it as it approached, Mr. Robichaud also noticed white lights on bottom. He quickly pulled into the nearest driveway and jumped out of the car.

He figured it was only about 15 metres above him. He couldn't see the body of it in the dark, but the arrangement of lights made it appear as if it was shaped like a diamond. It looked to be about twice the width of his car and four times as long.

He was struck by the silence - the thing made no noise. He watched as it banked into a sharp turn over the house to his right and floated off toward a neighbouring thicket of forest.

He jumped back into the car. His girlfriend was frightened, crying. He raced down the road, trying to follow it. He lost it over the woods.

He remains convinced that what he saw that night at about 9:30 p.m. was not an earthly invention, but a spacecraft from another planet. A genuine alien-owned-and-operated Unidentified Flying Object.

"I'm sure it was," he says, driving the same two-lane stretch of mottled road weeks later. He is a confident young man, square of jaw, unassuming, earnest. He earns his living outdoors, cutting back trees that encroach on hydro lines. A black leather jacket hides the athletic build on his six-foot-plus frame. His hair is short and ink-black, his eyes framed by small, metal-framed glasses. He sports a wispy moustache.

He has come without his girlfriend. She would like to forget it all. She went to bed that January night and dreamed about coming face-to-face with a big-headed alien with red eyes that chased her through a neighbour's yard.

He has agreed to talk about what he saw only if his real name is not revealed, nor that of his girl. He says he has talked to none of his friends about the incident - he has disclosed this to only a select few, for fear others will think he is a lunatic.

He is not alone - in either the sighting or his fear. There have been more than 15 other reports of similar objects in the sky over this stretch of northern New Brunswick since - making Inkerman, a fishing village of 900 souls on the Acadian Peninsula, the new UFO capital of Canada.

Like Mr. Robichaud, most folks who are reported to have witnessed a UFO in the skies above the village will not talk about it if their real identities are revealed. Either that or they flat-out refuse to discuss it.

"I don't want to talk about that," firmly declared one reported witness when called at home.

Those who weren't eyewitnesses themselves don't mind chatting about it.

"My brother saw it three weeks before Christmas," says Nicole Gagnon, a 27-year-old who works at the 30-bed nursing home in the village. "He saw it with two of his friends."

A friend of hers also saw it, she says. It came in low and falling as if it were about to crash. "It's strange," Ms. Gagnon says. "Very strange."

Almost all of the sightings have been over Pallot Road, a two-lane stretch of asphalt dotted with modest homes, barren farms and thick brush. It cuts through Inkerman's main intersection - a four-way stop home to the only gas station, along with an auto parts store and a convenience store-deli, the Marché Inkerman. "Try our hot'n'Tender Pressure Fried Chicken," suggests a white banner tacked to the front of the store.

Ask the attendant at the Shell what else the village has to offer, he mentions the nursing home, the peat moss plant and "and the strip club over the bridge." He forgets to mention the Catholic church.

Declared one New Brunswick newspaper in its dispatch on the Inkerman sightings: "If an extraterrestrial explorer wanted to check out the planet Earth without attracting a lot of attention, this is a pretty good place to do it."

Indeed, the folks in this village - unfailingly polite and friendly - go about life without paying much care for the reason behind their new notoriety. If alien spacecraft have indeed been hovering the skies above, it doesn't bother them. Their reaction is neither excited nor scornful, only nonchalant. Life meanders along as normal.

The UFO was supposed to have sailed right over Cyrus Robichaud's farm.

"It could be," says the 68-year-old, his face heavily creased, weathered by all those years working the railway. "If I had seen it, I'd tell you the truth. But I didn't see it."

A mother who lives the next farm over seems unfazed.

"I can't say I don't believe it," she says, standing in her doorway of her well-kept farmhouse as three children do homework at the kitchen table behind her. "I can't say I believe it, either. I'd have to see it."

The village started attracting attention after L'Acadie Nouvelle, the province's French-language daily newspaper, wrote about the first eyewitness account. Others started coming forward saying they had seen the same thing. In at least one case, it was a sighting three months earlier, but most were in mid-January.

Gaëtane Caissie read the newspaper report and called over her 11-year-old daughter, Janick. "That's what I saw," the girl said.

She was outside the hockey arena in Baie-Sainte-Anne - roughly 150 kilometres south of Inkerman - with a girlfriend on Jan. 13, the day after the first reported sighting. Their brothers were playing a bantam game inside, their folks cheering from the bleachers.

The girls were bored of the game and went outside to grab some fresh air. It was about 3:30 p.m. Janick noticed a black, diamond-shaped object in the sky. It looked bigger than a car. She watched as it cleared the arena rooftop. If it made any noise, she could not hear it.

The girls ran back to get their parents and convinced them to come outside. They made it out in time to see it sail out over the mouth of Miramichi Bay.

"I watched it until it disappeared," Ms. Caissie, a 41-year-old mom and part-time tree farm worker, says from her home in Neguac, a coastal community roughly halfway between Baie-Sainte-Anne and Inkerman. "It was weird."

To this day, she still wonders what it was. She is skeptical that it could have been a craft from outer space. She says she doesn't quite believe in such things.

"Not really," she says. "Do they come out in the daytime?"

Chris Rutkowski would say yes. The Winnipeg science writer, schooled in astronomy, tracks UFO sightings across Canada. He has been collecting reports and keeping statistics for more than a decade as part of his research into unidentified flying objects. He received the initial report from Inkerman and doesn't know what to make of the others - he is waiting for documentation on those.

"At this point in the investigation of the Inkerman cases," he says, "we do not yet have enough data to understand the breadth of the flap."

A flap is a sudden surge in sightings in one area, and this one has pushed Inkerman over the top. There have never been so many sightings in New Brunswick in such a short space of time.

According his records, the highest number previously reported was nine - in one year, for the whole province. In all of last year, there were five. None were from the Inkerman area.

He took the first Inkerman call, phoned in by the distress line that Mathieu Robichaud's father called that night after his son dropped in to tell him what happened, body trembling.

After getting the call, Mr. Rutkowski says he checked with the Coast Guard's Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax to see if it could have been an aircraft and was told no - there were none in the area at the time.

He also called Stanton Friedman, a renowned UFO researcher and lecturer who just happens to live in Fredericton, some 300 kilometres southwest of Inkerman.

Since that call, Mr. Friedman has been collecting reports of other sightings from Inkerman. He doesn't tend to get excited over reports of lights in the sky. After all, his work is largely focused on what he calls the "cosmic Watergate" - a government coverup of an alien ship crash landing in the desert at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.

"Is there a bigger story than visits to planet Earth by alien spacecraft, and successful coverup of the best data, bodies and wreckage by the government for 55 years?" he says. "I don't know a bigger story than that."

The New Jersey-born nuclear physicist was the first to begin documenting Roswell. He's written books about it, including The Roswell Incident and Top Secret/Majic, a volume of classified government documents from the late 1940s and early 1950s belonging to a top secret group of scientists, military leaders, and CIA officials that dealt with Roswell and provided briefings to the White House. The United States government has insisted the documents are bogus and that no such group existed.

Mr. Friedman, 67, is firm in his belief that aliens exist and they have visited Earth - though he hasn't seen any himself. He has given more than 700 lecturers around the world, debated the subject at Oxford, and given countless media interviews.

After interviewing witnesses to the Inkerman sightings, he remains intrigued - even though they are just lights in the sky, not crash sites. He says the witnesses impressed him. They did not appear to be attention-seekers, he says, their claims were not outlandish, and they all had others with them at the time that also saw the lights.

He is convinced a UFO was hovering over the Acadian Peninsula. Airplanes don't have the same lights, he says, nor are they able to turn so sharply or cruise so slowly.

"It is a good unidentifiable flying object," he says. "Certainly not anything conventional," he says. Still, he cautions, that doesn't mean that he believes quite yet that there were extraterrestrials looking to land in Inkerman.

"I can't guarantee that the drug-runners of the world haven't come up with a new kind of vehicle," he says and laughs. "But it's unlikely."

As for Mathieu Robichaud, he went back out with his father that January night to try to find the flying object. But now, he says he would be happiest if this stayed a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I would like to see it again - if I had a camera and some film," he says. "But if I don't have that, I don't want to see it."

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This page was last updated on February 25, 2002.