Harry Willnus knows all too well that eyebrows will rise when he talks about unidentified flying objects, but that doesn’t stop the retired social studies teacher from continuing his 60-year quest to see the issue become accepted by the mainstream population.
“UFO sightings are reported every day around the world and in every country around the world,” said the Salem resident and former president of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), the world’s largest investigative body looking into the UFO phenomena.
Willnus, like other UFO enthusiasts ask, “Are we alone in the universe?”
That question will be the focus of his appearance on the Science Channel’s show “Close Encounters.” Now in its second season, Willnus will appear on an upcoming episode scheduled to air at 10 p.m., March 10. Willnus will share his vast knowledge about the highly publicized March 1966 reported UFO sighting in Dexter,. He’ll be on the show again, at 10 p.m., March 31, talking about a reported sighting in Exeter, N. H.
In the March 20, 1966, Dexter case a group of people, including police officers, reported seeing an object turn from a blue green to a brilliant red to a yellow coloring. It rose 500 feet and returned to the ground, one man said.
Trying to investigate further, the officers said they went out to the far edge of the wooded area and also saw a brilliant light appear and then disappear. The officers said when they returned to their patrol vehicle, a group of people had gathered and reported seeing something similar. These witnesses said the object departed in a western direction at a high rate of speed.
A UFO investigator, Willnus sat in the living room of his home and retold other stories of what he believes are extraterrestrial visits. Like a sighting by WJR reporter Marc Avery on Feb. 10, 1978. Avery was on his way to the airport on Interstate 275 when he and his wife saw two lights hovering over their car “for 30, 40, 50 seconds.” He called the radio station and spoke on air, describing the aircraft with Warren Pierce. Willnus has the report recorded on his smart phone.
The citing was never debunked, Willnus said. In fact, two men, who were walking in the Merriman Road and Michigan Avenue area later reported they saw a similar aircraft about five minutes before Avery’s report.
The U.S. Air Force investigated UFO sightings from 1947 to 1969, in Project Blue Book, which consisted of 12,618 accounts spanning nearly 130,000 pages, Willnus said. The project was discontinued, however, after a committee formed at the request of President Gerald Ford concluded UFOs weren’t a threat to national security.
Sightings on the rise
Sightings have doubled in the last couple of years, Willnus said.
“This major increase shows there’s something going on,” he said. “It’s driving the interest in the number one question: ‘Are we alone?’ Are there other intelligences out there?
“After studying UFOs, it becomes obvious we are not alone,” Willnus continued. “I base that on the fact that there are 200 sightings every day around the world. There’s pictures, photos and movies. It’s not a hoax when these crafts can disappear before our eyes. Or fly at over 1,000 miles an hour and make a right angle turn – or, stop on a dime.”
Willnus also refers to a case involving former Novi resident Nancy Tremaine, who had described being abducted by a UFO off Orchard Drive near Meadowbrook Road in the 1960s. Former Novi Police Chief Lee BeGole, who spoke to the Novi News last year at age 93, didn’t see the UFO, but he was on duty at the police station the night the incident occurred.
BeGole said an off duty officer told dispatch he saw a strange object overhead and police dispatch took multiple calls from people who said they also saw a strange object in the sky.
If you ask your 10 best friends if they ever had a UFO experience, Willnus said, 10 percent would say, “yes.”
“But, people get laughed at once they say that,” Willnus said. “And then they say, ‘I’m not going to share that again.'”
Not always out of this world
He does note, however, that 90 percent of reported UFOs can be explained by something other than an extraterrestrial visit. The “UFO” might actually be a blimp, a flock of birds flying at night or even the planet, Venus, because it’s the closest to Earth and moves quickly.
“The other 10 percent, we’re not sure what they are,” Willnus added. “I think a good many of those are that we are being visited by intelligent life off the planet Earth. Look at the evidence. The evidence is, overwhelmingly, there is a UFO phenomenon that we don’t understand at this time.
“I’m getting up there and I want this story to break before I pass,” he said. “Some people in the U.S. government are aware we are being visited. This is a cosmic Watergate where there is a cover-up keeping this from people. The best thing that could happen is if governments, including the United States, would come out and say, ‘The UFO phenomenon is real and don’t panic, because they don’t appear to be here to harm us.'”
Diane Gale Andreassi is a reporter for HometownLife.com. Contact her at dandreass[email protected], 734-432-5974 or on Twitter: @HeraldReporter.
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