I recently had the pleasure of interviewing researcher and author Palmiro Campagna on his book The UFO Files: The Canadian Connection Exposed. Palmiro is the leading authority on the Avro Arrow, and was responsible for having several files declassified so that we as a nation now have a truer picture of what happened during the dark days of Canadian aviation history. As a retired staffer of the Department of Defence Mr Campagna was a Canadian representative to NATO in the area of electromagnetics in military aircraft.
Anyone who is interested in the history of UFOs and government involvement, especially in Canada should read The UFO Files. The Toronto Star noted that The UFO Files provides "a detailed and convincing portrait presented with an astonishing array of archival evidence and photographs." George Filer, New Jersey State director of the Mutual UFO Network, said this book "is well worth reading and helps unravel the true story of UFOs in Canada."
I personally own two copies one is my good copy and the other my working copy that I keep notes in I keep within arms research of my "UFO" research desk.
by Palmiro Campagna
Publisher: Dundurn; First Edition Dundurn Paperback (February 17, 2010)
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Basically I am a recently retired engineer from the Department of National Defence, with degrees in bioengineering and electrical engineering from the universities of Guelph and Queen’s respectively. In my spare time I have been a researcher and writer on the subjects of the Avro Arrow and of UFOs in Canada. My work has been based largely on documentation which I have found and had declassified from our National Archives and related sources. On the Arrow for example I have been responsible for having declassified perhaps the largest group of documents concerning the development and demise of this aircraft. Key documents are reproduced in my books, Storms of Controversy: The Secret Avro Arrow Files Revealed, The UFO Files: The Canadian Connection Exposed and Requiem for A Giant: A.V.Roe and the Avro Arrow.
I have also written numerous articles on these subjects for various magazines in Canada and the UK and have been interviewed by numerous media sources in print, radio and television. I have appeared in documentaries such as “The Sea Hunters: The Search for the Avro Arrow Test Models”, (National Geographic), “Indians and Aliens”, a 6 part series by Rezolution Pictures for APTN, “Avro Car Saucer Secrets from the Past” from Mid Canada Entertainment and “The Shag Harbour UFO Incident” by Ocean Entertainment.
Having recently retired I am taking it easy for now.
2. What initially sparked your interest in UFOs?
Back in 1966, my brother was given a copy of Flying Saucers: Serious Business by Frank Edwards. Having always loved science fiction movies about space aliens and such I began reading the book and was hooked.
3. Has your research and writing on this subject ever created any professional challenges?
No none. I have always made it very clear that my work on UFOs and the Arrow had absolutely nothing to do with my job or the views of the Department. The only interest from the Department’s perspective was to ensure that whatever documents I found, were properly declassified before being made public. In fact I had to submit requests to the archives and pay the related fees like anyone else, before I was given access to any files and then only after those files had undergone whatever levels of scrutiny were required from the respective Department’s involved.
4. What inspired you to write The UFO Files?
As I was doing my research on the Arrow, I came across numerous documents about the Avrocar, a saucer shaped aircraft Avro was building for the US. As I got more information, I began requesting files that might have had a connection to UFOs. Many had already been declassified years earlier by other researchers but I did get lucky on a few new ones like the memos from our embassy in Washington regarding the Wilbert Smith episode and others concerning the level of involvement of various government Departments and agencies. It was then I decided to write a book and The UFO Files was born.
5. Which Canadian case intrigues you the most, and why?
The case I find most intriguing is the one I open Chapter 9 of my book with. It is the Falconbridge incident of Nov 11 1975. Falconbridge in Northern Ontario was the site of a radar station at the time. In a nutshell, at about 3 am folks in Sudbury began reporting to the police, the presence of lights in the sky exhibiting some strange behaviors. It was seen and reported by some officers themselves. The objects were also seen by personnel at the Falconbridge radar station. Eventually jets were scrambled from Selfridge AFB in Michigan but arrived to find nothing although The North Bay Nugget, a local paper, would publish a photo taken by a staff photographer. The story was reported by The National Enquirer which stated that one of the objects was tracked on radar. The 22nd NORAD Region control center in North Bay reported to the papers that the objects were tracked and several explanations were put forward as to what these objects might have been. In my research, I found and got declassified, pages from the 22nd NORAD Region Air Traffic Control Log book. It gives a blow by blow description of the events of that night including the fact that at least one object was picked up on the height finder radar and was exhibiting the behavior on the screen that was being reported by eye witnesses outside, namely that the object was shooting straight up from what appeared to be a hovering situation. The radar had it at 44,000 feet and then suddenly at 72,000 feet.
The reason I like this case is because it involved multiple witnesses from different vantage points and different backgrounds ie police officers, military, a photographer, regular citizens and so on. On top of that, what was being seen was being corroborated by instrumentation, the radar. So this was not a case of illusion or one individual’s perception or misperception of Venus or something else. There was something up there that night. The question is what?
Unfortunately, as with so many sightings, there is never enough information to provide a definitive answer. Could it have been some form of natural phenomena? Could it have been extraterrestrials? Could it have been extradimensional beings? Could it have been time travelers and so on? Still I like it because of the multiple lines of evidence involved.
6. Which International case? And Why?
I like the Roswell Incident. It was mentioned by Frank Edwards in 1966. I like it because there is a certain tie-in if you will with the story of Wilbert Smith and the information he obtained from Dr. Robert Sarbacher. Now, whether Smith was referring to Roswell or some similar incident we don’t know but the concept of a crashed disc is most intriguing. Here again though, I am not aware that any definitive proof has been produced and so the case remains open for me.
7. What's your assessment of the current state of UFO studies and research?
It is my understanding that there are a number of individuals and groups doing what they can to come to grips with the phenomena, whether it is MUFON or the SETI folks or private researchers like myself. I think this is a good thing. Where I start to get a little concerned is when I hear definitive statements being made that they are here so let’s just acknowledge it and forget about evidence. I also get concerned when anonymous sources are used, but without evidence to back up the claims or just generally when fantastic claims are made by folks without any or little supporting evidence or reasoning.
8. How do you feel about the UFO Government Disclosure movement? Do you think world governments or more specifically Intelligence gathering agencies like the CIA have further knowledge of the UFO phenomenon to disclose? If so, do you think we can believe what they are telling us?
On the Disclosure movement, if folks feel this is a way to get at the truth then go for it but hopefully not to the exclusion of other forms of investigation. As to the rest, I am not convinced everything on crashed discs has been revealed. Now, suppose the intelligence agencies have in fact already revealed all that they know, are we believing them? I think many will have trouble believing them because of past practices of secrecy on such matters.
9. In the book you state that the reality or truth of UFOs will one day be revealed. Are you still as optimistic that the mystery will be resolved?
I am hoping that it will be yes. I remember a time not that long ago when some scientists scoffed at the notion of other planets beyond our solar system and now thanks to technology we keep discovering new planets all the time. Eventually something will give. The question of who ordered that Arrow physically destroyed was kept secret for some 35 years before I found and published the relevant documents explaining the whole affair. People who had denied any knowledge of the affair had to finally fess up because their signatures and names were on the destruction documents. Now I am not saying similar documents will be found in regards UFOs but I think with the expansion of our knowledge of the cosmos and continued strides in technology, the truth will eventually come out.
10. Since writing the book have you come to any definite thoughts on the causation of genuine UFOs?
By genuine I have to ask what you mean. If we are talking whether UFOs are spacecraft piloted by extraterrestrial beings, then I would say I have a belief in that but I have zero proof. If by genuine you mean things in the sky that people cannot identify then yes there are all kinds of genuine cases. Many are caused by misidentification of known objects and phenomena, if not by extraterrestrials. The point is we don’t know. That said, I look back at some of the cases in the early sixties of cigar shaped glowing objects moving a tremendous speeds. People were ridiculed for reporting these; that they were hallucinating or were inebriated and so on. In fact we know some of what they were seeing were secret military aircraft like the SR71. So what they reported was a genuine object and UFO to them but in reality was a weird looking airplane. People can only report what they see and if they cannot identify it immediately, it does not mean it is extraterrestrial even if it makes some bizarre maneuvers but, neither does it mean that it isn’t. What it means is that these people are not to be ridiculed anymore.
11. Do you have any advice or suggestions for young scholars or people in general who may want to tackle the subject of UFOs or other highly controversial studies?
I mentioned that the reason I liked the Falconbridge incident was because of the multiple witnesses and corroborating radar tracks. I think when you get into this kind of work or study you have to look for multiple lines of evidence and sources of corroboration in order to gain credibility, even if the answers are not definitive. Also, if documents are available, reproduce the key ones for others to see. Now if the evidence or information you are finding is taking you in a direction that may go contrary to your original beliefs or thinking, follow it through. Don’t drop it because it doesn’t fit with any initial thoughts you may have had. In other words keep an open mind to all possible answers, not any particular one you may be hoping for and see where the search/analysis brings you. Stay objective, and of course, persevere.
12. What author/s aside from yourself do you consider a must-read for information on UFOs?
I still consider Flying Saucers Serious Business number one.
13. Where can we purchase your book?
My book(s) are available through Amazon, Chapters, various booksellers and the publisher Dundurn in Toronto. The UFO book has been translated into Czech and is available from online book sellers as AKTA UFO. You can find links to all these sites.
14. Are you working on any future UFO books or other subjects of interest?
At the moment I am not although I have been skulking a bit through the archives again.
15. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven't included?
I Want to Believe!
My thanks and appreciation go out to Palmiro Campagna for allowing us this opportunity to interview him for the PSICAN readers, and for the excellent research he has done on Canadian aviation and UFO history. If you have the opportunity go out and purchase his books you will not be disappointed.