Bob Mitchell is an unabashed believer in alien life. The former big city crime reporter is investigating unexplained flying objects or UFOs.
“There’s been some very interesting, unexplainable things happening out here,” said the Brantford resident, who became a field investigator for Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), a non-profit, civilian organization that investigates alleged UFO sightings, about eight months ago.
“There’s a couple of people who seem absolutely genuine and they believe they’ve been abducted, more than once,” he said.
One case involves a “loss of time” incident for a Bright’s Grove-area man. He and a friend were snowmobiling and were enveloped by a bright, white light. Spooked, they thought a plane or helicopter had come down.
“When he got home everybody was pissed at him,” Mitchell said. The duo was three hours overdue and could not account for the loss of time.
“It’s things like that that make the investigation more interesting,” said the former Toronto Sun and Toronto Star crime and court reporter.
Mitchell says his journalism training and reporting instincts help him with the UFO investigations, especially interviewing witnesses. There’s also a “CSI” side to the investigations that he enjoys, he added.
In addition to investigating, Mitchell has taken on a communications role for MUFON Canada. The group’s Canadian leaders, who met at a recent conference in New Jersey, want the Canadian chapter to become an entity of its own but maintain the connection to U.S.-based MUFON.
They’re also looking to start a Brantford chapter. The first meeting is being held on Monday, Aug. 18 at the Brown Dog Cafe at 7 p.m.
Mitchell will be joined by former CFTO sportscaster Stu Bundy, the Ontario director for MUFON.
The gathering will include a presentation of photos – explained and unexplained – and chance for anyone interested to tell their UFO story.
Mitchell himself reported an unexplained sighting to MUFON a few months ago. While walking his dog he saw a bright, white light move quickly from west to east above the treeline in the distance, in the vicinity of Veterans Memorial Parkway.
“It was the brightest light that you’ve ever seen,” he said.
The investigation, handled by Bundy, was inconclusive so the sighting remains unexplained.
“I go out every night looking and I’ve never seen it since,” Mitchell said.
It was Mitchell’s third brush with an unexplained phenomenon. Twice while living in Bronte, he and his wife saw strange lights in the sky. One time, swirling winds, accompanied by a bright light, hurled objects around their yard.
“It was really weird,” he said.
Mitchell, a fan of science fiction TV and movies, said he’s been interested in extraterrestrial life “as long as I can remember.”
On TV, Star Trek pointed to alien civilizations; the more macabre X-Files to paranormal activity and space visitors. On the big screen, aliens range from adorable E.T. to hostile invaders. Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio drama about a Martian invasion touched off a panic in 1938.
More often than not, subjects in alien encounters report not “little green men” but that they’ve seen or been abducted by “the Greys.” The alleged extraterrestrials are small-bodied, sexless beings with smooth grey-coloured skin, a large head and large black eyes.
“I firmly believe we’ve been visited thousands of times,” Mitchell said, citing ancient cave drawings.
“How do they make that up? Why would they make that up?”
It’s Mitchell’s job to remain objective in his investigations, about 35 so far in eight months.
“Just because it’s a UFO doesn’t mean it’s a flying saucer or spaceship,” he said.
MUFON checks known occurrences such as satellite paths, weather and flight data as part of its investigations, plus the possibility of drones and Chinese lanterns. Drones, which are becoming increasingly common, sophisticated and affordable, in particular can easily be mistaken for a UFO, he said.
“I’d say MUFON probably believes 95 per cent are explainable.”
MUFON has about 3,000 members worldwide, including 800 field investigators. The not-for-profit organization is volunteer-run. Membership costs $35 and includes a monthly newsletter.
MUFON is holding a meeting to organize a Brantford chapter on Monday, Aug. 18 at the Brown Dog Cafe at 7 p.m.