15 February 2014


David Marler. Triangular UFOs: An Estimate of the Situation. Richard Dolan Press, 2013.

Today it would appear that good old disc-shaped flying saucers and passé and have been replaced by huge flying triangles, so much so that the triangles now have a book of their own. In many ways this is a sensible UFO book, such as used to be written in the 1960s, which avoids tales of crashed flying saucers, ice-cream loving aliens, abductions through solid walls and secret conspiracies by human-alien hybrids, concentrating instead on unusual things seen in the sky.
Marler undoubtedly possess more of a critical faculty than most American ufologists, and tries to portray himself as an open minded but sceptical investigator, however there is no doubt that his leanings are towards viewing the flying triangles as the products of “non-terrestrial technology”. He is not impressed by claims that some of them represent secret terrestrial technologies, especially super-dooper high tech stealth planes, and argues that it doesn’t make much sense to test over population centres when you could so in remote places. That is a cogent argument, though a counter argument might be that if you were developing some smoke and mirrors technology to over-awe an enemy, you might indeed want to test it out on the home population to see what happens. The same presumably applies to “non terrestrial technologies”.

Marler starts by discussing in detail a flying triangle case from Lebanon, Illinois on the 5th January 2000.   http://www.ufoevidence.org/cases/case277.htm.
He then undertakes a historical survey going back to the 1890s, where Donald Keyhoe has it that “[in 1895] England and Scotland buzzed with stories of triangular shaped objects”. The only reference I have been able to find is this from 1894
A METEOR AT NOON-DAY. A resident at Handsworth writes: —" While walking down Robert-road, Handsworth, about 12.20 p.m. on Thursday a sudden flash of fire travelled across the sky—which was perfectly blue and clear at the time as a meteor does night. Its shape was that of an isosceles triangle with the base foremost, and appeared to about the length of two yards. I should be glad to know if any of your readers have noticed it, and if any explanation can given to the cause its appearance." Another correspondent says:—At 12.30 noon on Thursday large meteor travelling in northward direction passed across the sky. The sun was shining brightly the time, but notwithstanding this the meteor shone with the brilliancy of the electric light. Its apparent size was that of a cocoa-nut and it seemed to be a liquid state, the streaming in the l ear somewhat resembling the tail a comet. It was plainly seen from the Bull Ring. -- Gloucester Citizen, 9 Feb 1894.
Which looks like a bright daytime meteorite. The historical cases include some from contemporaneous newspaper reports while others are the classical reports made decades after the alleged events. After the historical review, Marler then goes on to examine various military reports, to profile individual aspects of the reports and then to interview an aerospace expert Prof John E Allen, which interview however ends up rather as a monologue by Marler, to which Allen simply mumbles “yes” from time to time.

Clearly taken at face value many of these cases, like UFO cases in general, are not easy to explain, perhaps however the rub lies with the taking at face value. Some of the cases here hit the trip wires for astronomical misperceptions (e.g. something seen for three hours, or lights pacing vehicles), some may be reflections, others optical contrast illusions, still others a variety of microlights, blimps, balloons, clouds etc. etc. Marler includes among his cases the 1954 BOAC case, which Martin Shough suggests was probably a mirage after all: http://www.caelestia.be/BOAC.html

A further indication that Marler is too willing to take exciting stories at face value is his acceptance of the every growing mythos of Jim Penniston of Rendlesham fame. The problem seems to be that however “open minded” American ufologists might genuinely try to be, it is almost impossible for the vast majority of them to escape from the mental hold of the ETH or is more esoteric cousins, or the belief in the inerrancy of eye witness testimony.

Marler is to be congratulated in his attempts to build up a comprehensive UFO archive in the United States and I hope he can cooperate with our friends in AFU in this venture. -- Peter Rogerson

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