The Schirmer Case: The Devil in the Details: Part I

There are still those who think the abduction report of Howard Schirmer, the Ashland Nebraska policeman, is hallucination., His superior officer declared Schirmer to be dependable and truthful, and ruled out hallucination or dishonesty. Predictably however the Condon report found no basis for confidence that the UFO he claimed to see was physically real.


It is worth revisiting his case, for there is certain strong circumstantial evidence of the truthfulness and accuracy of his account, and it should not be allowed to go unnoticed. Schirmer’s account of the events of early morning, December 3rd, 1967 is well known and only the bare essentials need repeating here.


He was a twenty-two year old Viet Nam veteran, and in late 1967 a patrolman with the Ashland police force. He was on duty since 5: P.M the previous day. At 2:30 A.M., near the intersection of two highways he saw lights that he thought came from a truck. But he soon found it was hovering 40 feet in front of him. As far as he later remembered, when he turned his high beam lights on it, it shot off into the sky and he then returned to the police station. He noted it was 3:00 A.M. and added the following to his usual report: “Saw a flying saucer at the intersection of highways 6 and 63. Believe it or not.” At home, he experienced a painful headache, a buzzing noise that kept him awake and soon noticed a red welt running down his neck.


One positive thing the Condon report did was to identify a 20 minute hiatus in Schirmer’s report. Though he was shortly thereafter appointed head of the department, two months later he felt obliged to resign as he was unable to concentrate on his work. He was preoccupied, for one thing, with ridicule and harassment; with another thing, with what might have occurred during the missing 20 minutes. He was put in touch with an author of UFO literature, Eric Norman, who recommended a professional hypnotist, Dr. Loring G. Williams.


Under hypnosis, Schirmer recounted being taken aboard the craft, and, as reported by Ralph and Judy Blum ( “Beyond Earth, pp 107 et seq.))was given much unsolicited information by one of the crew. This alien’s voice seemed to come from deep within him, Schirmer says he also simultaneously received input that must have been through telepathy. It included much of interest, but we home in on three aspects of it.


First, is his description of the craft’s interior and the alien’s explanation of the operation. Asked by Williams how he was told their craft operated, Schirmer replied: “The ship is operated through reversible electro-magnetism… A crystal-like rotor in the center of the ship is linked to two large columns… He said those were the reactors… Reversing magnetic and electrical energy allows them to control matter and overcome the forces of gravity.”


True it is that the central column, with the rotor, in the spaceships had been described as early as 1956, in George Adamski’s “Inside the Spaceship,” but the chances of this 22 year old combat veteran, rookie patrolman, having read, or even having heard of this book, or any other detailed UFO description is vanishingly small. That is true even apart from his statements that he had paid no attention to the subject of flying saucers before this experience. It is interesting to note that toward the end of the Blums’ investigation, he was asked whether he had heard of Barney and Betty Hill. He paused for a moment, obviously thinking, then replied: “Oh, yeah, they were those outlaws in that movie.” He must have been one of a minority who had not heard of the continuing publicity concerning that abduction just six years previously.


No one who treated or spoke with Schirmer thought he was prevaricating. Could this explanation then have come from an overactive imagination?


Sixteen years after his fateful night, on August 12, 1983, at Basingstoke Canal in Aldershot, England, a fisherman, Alfred Burtoo, was also abducted and taken inside a spacecraft (T. Good’s “Above Top Secret, pp 106 et seq.). Once again there is much of interest, but one observation of Burtoo suffices: “What did interest me most of all was a shaft that rose up from the floor to the ceiling. The shaft was about four feet in circumference, and on the right hand side of it was a Z shaped handle.”


Further, a detailed scientific description comes from Mark McCandlish, an aerospace illustrator who worked for many of the top aerospace companies in the United States. His information comes second hand, but through one well qualified to describe what he had seen, probably surreptitiously, first hand. What he saw, in November 1988, was a reversed engineered model termed an Alien Reproduction Vehicle (ARV) in an AF hangar at Edwards Air Force Base. He stated that “On the inside of the crew compartment was a big column that ran down through the middle, and there were four ejection seats mounted back-to-back on the upper half of this column.” His description later added “This central column has a kind of vacuum chamber in it.”

McCandlish states that there is a patent filed by a James King Jr. and that it looks just like this system, and that in the crew compartment “it has a cylinder in the center.” The patent was filed in 1960, but secured in 1967, the same year as Schirmer’s abduction. Guesswork by Schirmer (and coincidentally by Burtoo), or accurate reporting?


One or two columns? The central one with the rotor is apparently the one referred to by Burtoo and McCandlish. A diagram annexed to the McCandlish statement shows other cylinders which may or may not be the ones referred to by Schirmer as two columns. Or perhaps there were two central columns in Schirmer’s case. In any event, too much similarity for coincidence.

The second and third matters of interest will be discussed in a future installment.

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