This article was published in the daily newspaper Daily Herald Tribune, Alberta, Canada, on November 19, 2004.
Hello! Is there anybody out there?
by NEAL TALBOT
GIROUXVILLE - A loud humming noise breaks the silence of night, causing Ron Cloutier's dogs to bark crazily, and announces the arrival of Unidentified Flying Objects in the Girouxville skyline.
The skin-tingling X-Files-like scene has haunted Cloutier over the last five months, as he is awakened to watch strange lights and shapes cutting through the darkness above his home.
The appearance of the unexplained objects has deeply shaken the 41-year-old oilfield trucker.
"It's really disturbing to witness something like this and not know what it is," he said. "It's bothering enough to see this once, but it happens all the time now... and it gives me the creeps."
In hopes of having the objects identified, Cloutier has been carefully recording their appearance with precise times and dates through film, photos and his notebook since they began appearing in mid-July. Thus far he has received no answers as to what they may be.
The longtime UFO nonbeliever says he has seen up to four objects in the sky at one time, appearing from the north, and moving eastward until they all disappear.
Approximately 150 kilometres southwest of Cloutier's home, Grande Prairie resident Beverly Kettner admits she too has witnessed a UFO-like object move erratically through the night's sky on at least three occasions.
"Over the last couple of months I've watched what first looked to be a star dart across the sky and stop dead in its tracks, start up again, then stop and then finally disappear," said Kettner.
"It wasn't a plane, satellite or shooting star... it didn't appear to be anything from this world."
Especially unsettling for Kettner is that her four-year old daughter has recently discussed late-night conversations with alien-like people. She says the girl describes the stereotypical short, grey large-headed alien without having ever seen them on television or read about them in storybooks.
The sightings reported by Cloutier and Kettner are part of a record number of Albertans who have reported possible UFO activity in 2004.
UFOlogy Research of Manitoba numbers show Alberta has already broken last year's UFO sighting record of 76 with more than a month left in the year.
Canadian UFO researcher Brian Vike says a growing social acceptance to the unexplained has made Albertans more willing to report potential sightings.
"The acceptance of UFOs into popular culture, increased media attention, and the discovery of new planets in the galaxy have all helped convince people it's OK to come forward with unexplainable sightings," said Vike, who from his home in Houston, B.C., maintains a website tracking Canadian UFO sightings.
Vike points out Albertans have reported seeing triangular, round, square and glowing flying objects, an unusual beam of light enveloping an unidentified figure and claims of missing and stopped time so far this year. Those reports come from nearly every section of the province including metropolitan Edmonton and Calgary.
Former High Prairie resident and UFOlogist Rick MacDonald points to a 2001 poll by Leger Marketing suggesting 40.7 per cent of Alberta residents believe in aliens - the highest of any province - as an example that Albertans are starting to believe.
"More people then ever before are looking at the existence of UFOs and aliens as a real possibility," said MacDonald, whose Disclosure Project group claims Canadian and American governments already know of alien existence.
"After watching UFO sightings on TV and reading sighting reports from hundreds of Albertans on the Internet, disbelief is dwindling."
The increased sightings and growing acceptance of UFOs are both positive steps towards finally unveiling proof of extraterrestrial life, says Alberta UFO Study Group member Jim Moroney.
"There is now enough solid evidence from reputable people in Alberta and across the globe to support the idea we are being visited," said Moroney, who spent the last 18 years investigating Alberta UFO sightings.
"It is now just a matter of time now before we'll be able to prove the existence of UFOs."