Fran Ridge              
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May 18, 2009, updated 6 Aug 2020

Fran Ridge:
Most of us are aware that a close encounter is a UFO sighting classification where the witness(es) are within 500' of the object. Dr. J. Allen Hynek of CUFOS devised the system that included CE's in order to set aside events where the witness was able to use stereoscopic vision to determine the realty of a constructed object. Most of the time this is a viable way to determine if an object is or isn't a gaseous mass, etc. Too often, however, an unseasoned ufo enthusiast may conclude anything within 500 is significant because it qualifies as a CE, but but that's not the case. If that were true the MUFON Case Management System and Peter Davenport's National UFO Reporting database is full of "close encounters" but the quality and the value of most of these entries is far less than in previous years. And the databases are literally full of Distant Objects  as well, thanks to the thousands of reports of StarLink satellites. But for the purpose of this short paper we'll deal with close encounters, and what has happened to them

The above now somewhat dated graph shows the evolution and increased usage of cameras from 1947 to 2013, but it does not include video cameras. But it is true that the sudden rise in camera usage in the mid-seventies coincides with usage of VCRS and video cameras connected to them. My first VCR was a heavy, suitcase-sized, $1000 device, with blank tapes costing over $50. And the first video cameras were b&w and had relatively short thick wires running to them. But it wasn't long before they became color cameras and wireless (camcorders), and tapes became more affordable. Because I was involved in all this I can tell you when it all took place. The graph above pretty well tells the story.

Either on purpose or by accident UFOs suddenly became less visible targets. When man and his ability to document many events became more widespread and affordable, UFOs became less cooperative.

Today you would think that with all the cell-phone cameras in use that if a UFO was spotted, somebody would get a good shot, if not a video, of its flyover? Surprisingly not true. Google all you want and you'll be disappointed in what you'll find. With UFOs or any other sensational event, you'll see more what occurred after the event than during. It is human nature, and the nature of the beast. But what is most surprising is that only 4% of the earth is covered by this ability to phototgraph or take live videos of events. But to make things worse, close encounters practically dropped off the charts in the late seventies and certainly in the 90's. Did ET go home? Did people lose interest? Not on your life. But UFO activity became more covert.

Mike Swords:
My opinions on the (relative) disappearance of CE2 (relatively information-rich) cases at the end of the 1970’s are a) simple (“they did”) and b) not proven.  Because of the latter, I’d like to list the steps that led to the former (See link below).

In 2006 I called the Current Encounter list's attention to something I had noticed while doing my database work for the MADAR Project. The graphs that I had produced were based on about four thousand sightings in the MADAR region (certainly not the actual MADAR-range) and I had noticed a significant reduction in good close encounters, and even good distant encounters, and I made the remark that it looked like ET had pulled up their stakes and left. I remember the response I got, some close to outrage, however, and I'm still not sure what the response indicated. Whether it was my reference to ET, or whether it was my reference to the apparent lack of good UFO reports, but I was called on the carpet <grin>. I do remember my trying to clarify my suspicions, if this was a real issue. I compared a UFO wave and other sparked interest over the last half dozen decades to the situation we all have experienced vividly in Iraq. In both instances I believe that something caused an outside party to increase surveillance, then  an increased presence with  nearby "carriers", then an "invasion", which ended with a small "security force" being left behind. But, my research turned up something more ominous, even though not proven and based on limited data:  UFO activity had gone from many years of semi-overt actions, to something possibly more covert. My MADAR study preliminary report is linked below. It suggested, but based on limited data, that abductions (or attempted abductions) may be more of a correlation than we want to believe. At least that's what the graphs suggested.
Mark Rodeghier:
Ominous, very ominous. But seriously, a couple of other points: At about the same time that close encounter cases were diminishing, the common shape of UFOs changed into the now familiar boomerang or v-shaped object. This shape is now so ubiquitous--although UFOs with this shape were certainly seen in earlier years--that if the UFO phenomenon rose into prominence today, its iconic shape would not be a disk, but a boomerang. Second, and related to this, how many cases are there with daylight sightings of the standard-model giant boomerang (as opposed to small ones--under 30 feet or so)? The answer is: almost none. So, in the current era, the most dramatic and hard to misperceive UFOs, the ones that look and behave like solid objects, the reality of which is thus hard to deny, don't appear during the day now. This is unlike good ol' disks, which appeared quite frequently in the daylight, as evidenced by your stats and others. So more to ponder. I don't have any explanations for these changes but I do have the suspicion that these changes aren't a) generated by the witnesses, or b) random.

One thing I HAVE discovered over the years is that activities and trends regarding UFOs vary with the world situation.  I'm convinced that we are being observed and manipulated to some degree. My colleague, Rob Duvall, could (and probably will) write a book about this aspect, which includes a nuclear connection and involves many missile shutdowns. I found obvious correlations, nuclear connections all over the place, in particular 1966-1967. I'm not sure that we will ever get another UFO sighting wave, but sightings are still occurring, and the only way to betray their presence in my estimation is a detection system like MADAR.  With an early warning system we can be more prepared to image and study UFOs, if we are lucky enough to catch them.

Where Have All The CE-II's Gone? - Mike Swords
Where Are The CEs_IURv30No4.pdf (Rodeghier)
Preliminary Report on MADAR Detection Project Study Conducted In Southwestern Indiana - January 1996 (Fran Ridge)
The Brookings Institude Report (NICAP Dir) links

Fran Ridge,
NICAP Site Research Coordinator & Archivist
MADAR Director