The Battle of Los Angeles, which took place during the night between February 24th and 25th in 1942, is one of the strangest events of World War II and is still a mystery to this day. When unidentified objects were reported over Los Angeles, the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing anti-aircraft shells at them, as they moved from Santa Monica to Long Beach, but none of the shells were able to actually hit. Originally thought to be Japanese bombers who had come to attack the United States after Pearl Harbor, to this day, nobody has ever been able to explain what happened, and there continues to be documented cases of UFO sightings around the world.
The new sci-fi/action film Battle: Los Angeles, opening on March 11th, takes things one step further and shows what could happen if UFO sightings became a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces. At the film’s press day, Col. Charles Halt, Capt. Robert Salas, Mark Easter, the Director and National spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON.com), and William Birnes, who is the leading UFO investigator and creator of the TV show UFO Hunters, talked about the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Los Angeles, the presence of UFOs around the world, the increase in sightings after movies and TV shows highlight the subject, how cell phone cameras and video have helped in documentation, and whether the government might have actual contingency plans if something like what occurs in the film were to really happen. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
If you’d like to watch them talk about the events, Sony provided us with video from the press conference. Otherwise, the quotes are below.
BILL BIRNES: It depends on who you ask. The point is that, for people who really investigate the phenomenon seriously, what we all try to do is not jump to a conclusion about the nature or the origin of things they’re seeing. Looking at it from a strictly logical perspective, if it’s flying, if it looks like an object and you don’t know what it is, it’s a UFO. If it walks like a duck, it’s a duck. To say that it’s extra terrestrial when you don’t know where it’s coming from is conclusary. In order not to be conclusary, generally people who investigate this call it UFOs or unidentified ariel phenomenon.
With so many of these incidents, when do you guys suspect their might be a full-on attack or invasion? Why haven’t they tried harder to reach us in a way that can’t be covered up?
CAPT. ROBERT SALAS: The short answer is that I don’t know what their intentions are, and I don’t think anybody knows what their intentions are. What we do know is that they have been visiting our planet for hundreds or thousands of years, maybe. I have a report from 1808, from a woman’s diary, that talks about seeing these strange lights. I can’t answer whether or not they’re going to attack tomorrow, whether they’re going to let us be in peace, or whether they are actually contacting us in various ways that we don’t even know about. What we are saying is that our government knows more than the public knows, and we would like to know what our government knows.
Why is the historic Battle of Los Angeles linked to the UFO phenomenon?
BIRNES: First of all, when you talk about the history of UFOs, you try to go on what’s documented. The whole west coast of the United States, but Los Angeles specifically, was under this absolute panic after Pearl Harbor, that immediately there was going to be a Japanese attack. In fact, there was a Japanese attack, up around Ventura county. After Pearl Harbor, a Japanese submarine fired on something on shore. So, when this object appeared that they called a balloon, and somebody else called an aircraft, immediately the newspapers jumped on the fact that it was a flying saucer or a UFO or an unidentified object. Immediately, it was considered something extra terrestrial, while everybody else was downplaying it. If you look at it from the military’s point of view, the one thing you don’t want is to panic a civilian population, and you’ll see that in the motion picture. The whole point of the military is not to panic civilians because it’s like a human cattle stampede. How can you fight a war with hundreds of thousands of civilians running right at your own lines, fleeing in terror? So, what you do is calm the situation. How do you calm the situation? Easy. You say, “It’s not a flying saucer. It’s not a UFO. It was a balloon and the balloon flew over and flew out to sea. No problem. Everybody go home. There’s nothing more to see here.” That’s really the attitude that they took in 1942. Later on in the war, there were these glowing orbs called Foo Fighters. We thought, at first, that they were secret German weapons. We knew the Germans had incredible weapons that they never deployed. And, the Germans thought they were our weapons. Then, we thought they were Japanese weapons, and the Japanese thought they were our weapons. We never found out what a Foo Fighter was, but those glowing orbs have appeared ever since the 1940’s. They’re appearing to this very day, in places like Indiana, the Ozarks and Utah. They have not gone away. They are still here. And, there’s a lot of thought that they’re not craft, but actually objects. That’s the history of this phenomenon.
MARK EASTER: Basically, I’m happy when movies like Battle: Los Angeles come about because it does increase sightings and reports, and the main reason is because people walk out of the theater and they look up in the sky. Most people go about their daily lives and they never look up in the sky to see what is actually up there. I’m not saying that there are UFOs in the sky all the time, but you go about your daily life and people never look up to be able to see and do what’s called ground observation. So, when movies like Independence Day, Battle: Los Angeles and War of the Worlds come out, we do get an increase in sighting reports because people are excited about it. They step out of the theater and want to see for themselves, at that point, because it’s generated their interest, so they look up in the sky and do see things.
Does that increase, along with the ability for people to report anonymously, make it more difficult to figure out which reports are legitimate?
EASTER: Yes and no. It does make it more difficult because we can’t actually physically go talk with the witness, but the report is there and the information is in the case management system, if they report it to our online report form. It’s the information that we’re looking for, not the person’s identity. We’re trying, day to day, to find out what this phenomenon is. We want to know what the truth is. Regretfully, there are just so many detours around that straight path to the truth. We don’t push witnesses to come forward, if they don’t want to. One of the main things with our code of ethics with MUFON is to protect the identity of a witness. It’s very, very important. There’s nothing more important than that person and their personal life. That’s more important than what they saw in the sky. We just want the information.
With the advent of social media and cell phone cameras and video, has there been an increase in actual documented reporting, in the last decade or so?
BIRNES: The answer is an absolute yes, in various cities, around the world. A lot of them are delusional events and hoaxes as well, so not everything you see on YouTube has a basis in absolute reality. Does that mean there are more UFOs now than there were in the 1950s? The stock answer is that there are more sightings that are being recorded only because more people with cell phone cameras and video cameras are taking pictures of UFOs. This goes straight to the disclosure question of, “Will the government ever disclose UFOs?” Well, the fact is that the existence and reality of UFOs has already been disclosed. You can see it on YouTube, you can see it on the Internet, you can see it on cell phone cameras. The Rex Heflin photos were disclosure of UFOs. What most people want to know is if there will be a confirmation of the disclosure of UFOs, and that’s the bigger issue than whether UFOs will be disclosed. Five U.S. presidents have admitted to the existence of UFOs in some way, shape or form.
COL. CHARLES HALT: Probably yes and no. They do have contingency plans, but I’m not sure they would be effective. I’m not firmly convinced that the phenomenon we’ve experienced is hostile, at this point. I think there’s pretty good evidence that they’ve abducted people and done strange things to people. So, yes, there are contingency plans. Would they work? Probably not. There have been enough cases where we’ve fired on UFOs with little to no effect at all. There was a very good case in Iran where they went up and constantly shot, but every time they locked on and went to shoot, his radar system would go down. They probably have very effective defenses, whatever they are.
SALAS: I think our government does have the advantage of at least 50 or 60 years of having recovered craft and possibly worked on back engineering craft, so that they have somewhat more of an idea of how these things operate and what they’re capable of doing. Maybe they have been able to develop some defensive weapons to defend against them, but who knows. This is all very hush-hush and very secretive. If I had to guess, I would say that these objects and these craft still have the advantage because they’re probably built by civilizations much more advanced than ours.
HALT: I think if they were going to be hostile, they would have been so by now. Let’s assume they land and not invade, you’re still going to go to work, and you’re still going to have to pay your taxes and pay your bills. Life is probably going to go on. It’s going to be altered drastically, but life will go on.
BIRNES: If you seriously wanted to take over a planet, what would we, as space explorers, which we are now, want to do to take over a planet. What we would do is try to find the least invasive way to basically insert ourselves into positions of power on that planet. Quite frankly, the one thing that I would do, if I were an E.T. in charge of taking over a planet, is inject that planet with DNA from my own race and grow a colony on the planet. Our own history of colonization, from the 15th century to the present, has not been to send huge invading armies across the sea, but was to do business first and then fight the war second.
EASTER: Basically, there are several types of reports, across the globe, of different shapes. It’s not in one specific area. Multiple types of objects or phenomenon are reported from all over the world. Through the case management system at MUFON, we get an average of a little over 600 reports a month and it’s all broken down into the type of report that it is. The majority of the reports do come from the United States, and that’s only because people in the United States know more about MUFON than anywhere else in the world. Right now, because MUFON is a non-profit organization in the United States and our membership is mainly in the United States, we get most of the reports from here. But, we do get reports from all over the world, with similar types of objects.
BIRNES: UFOs have been reported in North America, ever since before the Revolutionary War. The most consistent shape has always been an orb. In the 1950s and 1960s, people were seeing what looked like flying hubcaps that were basically disc-shaped flying saucers. The first flying saucers – the ones that crashed at Roswell and the ones that we saw in 1947 over Mt. Rainier – were flying crescents that were like slippers. Today, people are seeing huge football field size flying triangles, over Phoenix, over the Nevada desert, over Belgium, over China and over Russia. So, the shape has changed. Usually in the United States and in Western Europe, we’re seeing flying triangle. We’re seeing orbs, all over the world. In the Soviet Union and in China, they’ve historically also scene flying cylinders. There have been different shapes around the world, but usually they’re orbs.
SALAS: About a year ago, or a little longer, the British announced that they were going to release their UFO files, and they have released quite a few files, but we don’t think they’re released all their files, or maybe even the best cases. We know the French are moving in that direction. Many of the South American countries, including Brazil and Mexico, are also releasing their UFO files. There is a push in that direction, and we hope to see more.
BIRNES: Mexico and Brazil have been very forthcoming, and they’ve had some stunning UFO encounters. If you were the President of the United States, would you actually stand up at a press conference, with all the world’s media looking at you, and say, “We’ve been visited by flying saucers”? You wouldn’t. Disclosure has already happened and we all know they’re here. The majority of the American public believes that we’ve been visited by UFOs. Five presidents have admitted to it, from Gerald Ford, all the way to George H.W. Bush. It’s a matter of whether enough public weight will create a tipping point, so that what we’re calling disclosure happens by itself.
For more on Battle: Los Angeles, click here.