After numerous changes of format, with number 25 Magonia settled down to the A4, 16 or 20 page standard that continued until the closure of the print magazine. Magonia had now moved into the computer age (sort of) and this issue was produced on one of Alan Sugar’s Amstrad PCWs, a pretty basic word processor which was blessed with one of the world’s worst dot-matrix printers. This meant that the typographic quality of the next few issues of Magonia varied from the desperate to the unreadable; and as you can see from the reproduction below, the cover design took a hammering as well!
The first article in this issue was by Dennis Stilling, who edited the magazine Archaeus. He looked at the manner in which helicopters had been incorporated into accounts of UFOs and other phenomena, in particular cattle mutilations. The infamous ’black helicopter’ had become a standard part of paranoid conspiracy theories. As Stilling points out, these ’helicopters’ were far more than just mechanical devices:
"They move silently or with sounds unlike those of normal helicopters: they fly at abnormal, unsafe or illegal altitudes; they appear both shy and aggressive … They are reported to carry ‘oriental-looking’ people … they are observed in association with nocturnal lights … All of this sounds very much like the sort of behaviour typically reported of flying saucers. Strangest of all is that UFOs are occasionally reported to change into helicopters, or that the helicopters are seen shortly before or after the arrival of UFOs.”But the idea of the helicopter as something slightly mystical, more than just a nuts-and-bolts machine was around before the era of the saucer. Arthur Young, a helicopter pioneer, who developed the Bell 47 helicopter, as far back as 1947 was writing about the machines in a deeply occult manner: “The many headed dragon of the helicopter seemed to be growing more heads all the time … I am working on the psycopter within the helicopter. I experimented with the self instead of the machine.” His writing becomes alchemical: “Bell has become a laboratory in which I try to distill myself. The helicopter is only the vessel … I am continually directing myself towards the attainment of the psycopter.”
Stilling also looks at the way the helicopter has been portrayed in a near-mythological manner in films such as Apocalypse Now, Blue Thunder, and Iceman, where the helicopter almost takes on the form of a trickster or a Mercurius figure.
Earthlights were big in 1987, and not just in Japan. Cheerleader for the earthlight hypothesis was Paul Devereux, who spent a great deal of time deploring the apparent neglect of the hypothesis by more mainstream ufologists, asking “Why does not Maugé, or Magonia in general, turn their critical facilities back on themselves, and produce a sociological study of the extraordinary negative and hostile original response to the earth lights theory?”
Of course, there was not an “extraordinary negative” response to the theory from ufologists, and many, including leading figures like Jenny Randles, were quite open to the idea, but most ufologists realised that, like most other UFO theories, it can only account for a part of the phenomenon at best, despite the extravagant claims that Devereux made for the theory - “It is regularly producing stronger evidence, and it it highly desirable that such an area be fully investigated … We are entering an exciting realm of hitherto unexplained energy effects … The implications cannot yet be discerned other than to suggest that they are going to be momentous”.
In the following article Hilary Evans looked at some of the implications of earthlights in the UFO field and asked some interesting but ultimately unanswerable question on how they might manifest. We hear little of earthlights today, and although they seemed very exciting at the time, in retrospect we can see that they were really only relevant to a very small number of UFO accounts.
After upsetting Paul Devereux by not being impressed enough with earthlights, Claude Maugé turned his attention to demolishing the basis of his countryman Claude Poher’s statistical analysis of UFO cases, concluding “… this is after all only one of numerous examples which show how competent scientists forget their professional methodology and skills when they deal with ufology.”
As true now as then!