Investigators Doubt UFO Author

Myers, Craig: Pensacola News Journal, samedi 27 octobre 1990

Two investigators for the MUTUAL UFO Network said Friday they believe Gulf Breeze author Ed. Walters faked some of the photos of UFOs that appear in his book.

"We believe that UFOs exist," said Rex and Carol Salisberry of Navarre of their study of several of Walter's photos. "We entered this investigation with a natural and favorable bias toward the Walter's case," but "our investigation and analysis lend to the conclusion that several, if not all of the photos are probable hoaxes."

Walters, who co-wrote "The Gulf Breeze Sightings" with his wife Frances, maintains the photos are real and that they were taken during numerous encounters between November 1987 and March 1988.

Walters has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including "Unsolved Mysteries" and the Oprah Winfrey Show, to recount his experiences with UFOs.

He was reported to be out of town Friday and could not be reached for comment.

In July the couple was named "Investigators of the Year" at a MUFON Symposium in Pensacola.

Walt Andrus, MUFON's international director, said Friday that his organization is not yet ready to give its stamp of approval to the Salisberry's four month investigation of the photos.

"I don't know how they arrived at that decision." Andrus said from his office in Sequin, Texas. "It is certainly premature. He has no business talking to reporters. It has never been cleared through here. He can't make representations for the organizations."

Andrus, who has for two years endorsed the Walters case, appointed Salisberry in July to take a second look at the case after questions surfaced about the credibility of Walter's photos.

The first question arose after a model was found in the Walter's former residence in Gulf Breeze in March. The Styrofoam and drafting paper model was found in the attic of the home and strongly resembled a drawing Walter's made of one of his UFO sightings.

The second question arose when Tommy Smith, formerly of Gulf Breeze, said in July that he witnessed Walter's fake UFO photos. Smith said Walters asked him to take some faked UFO photos to the Gulf Breeze newspaper and claim they were real.

But Andrus on Friday said Smith is lying and the UFO model was hidden in the attic by someone who wants to discredit Walters.

"Tommy Smith can't prove any of his statements- they are outlandish lies," Andrus said.

The Salisberrys said Smith's testimony and the model contributed to their conclusion, but more convincing was an analysis of Walter's so-called "road shot" that shows a UFO hovering over a road.

Salisberry said the reflection of the spacecraft, which should be flat, actually is at an angle that does not match the road's surface. The triangular shape of the reflection also does not match the round light source on the bottom of the craft, he said.

The Salisberrys said the photo and a second photo probably was created by a double-exposure-- a process by which a model is photographed and the image is exposed again onto the same frame of film.

"With these photos reassessed as probable hoaxes, the other photos... should be considered as highly suspect, "Salisberry wrote in the preliminary report.

Seven MUFON members investigated the sightings in 1988 and concluded Walter's story was true. The Salisberrys were not among the original investigators, but joined MUFON in November 1988.

Andrus said that while the Salisberrys are good investigators, they cannot yet speak for MUFON.

"They (the Salisberrys) do not have grounds to arrive at that conclusion until it is submitted to us. We will have to look at their facts," Andrus said.

The Salisberrys have not yet submitted their report to MUFON.

Phil Klass, a contributing editor to Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine and a longtime Walters critic, said Andrus is too "proud and stubborn" to accept the report.

"I think the Salisberrys should be commended for being willing to change their earlier opinion," said Klass.

But Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a photographic analyst who has defended Walter's photos. said the road reflection does not discredit the photo.

Maccabee said his analysis of the photo shows light from beneath the object was projected at an angle-like car headlights shinning ahead of a car on a wet road.

Maccabee said Friday he still is open-minded about the Walter's sightings, but said it would take more convincing evidence than Salisberry's report to convince him of a hoax.

"Nothing I have seen has changed my mind," Maccabee said.

Salisberry said his conclusion on Walters' photo does not shake his own belief in UFOs. And he said his report won't end the Walters' debate.

"The problem with Walters' story isn't a UFO problem, it is a human problem". Salisberry said. "If the Walters' case is typical of most UFO cases, the debate will probably go on for years in spite of any evidence pro or con."