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The 1966 Ann Arbor "Swamp Gas" fiasco and UFO abductions

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Dirk Vander Ploeg's picture

by Rich Reynolds,  the RRRGroup

 willowtree.jpg

J. Allen Hynek’s albatross – the 1966 Ann Arbor/Dexter/Hillsdale “swamp gas” fiasco – was covered by this writer when he was an intern at the Detroit NEWS.

Click here for the Hillsdale newspaper account of that area’s sighting. (Disregard the Manor name in the article. The correct name is Mannor.)

The reporting and stories about the UFO sightings – flying saucer sightings – are well-known to UFO aficionados, but there is an aspect that seems obliquely interesting…

Dirk Vander Ploeg, Publisher of UFO Digest, provided, just recently, an account of alleged UFO abductions of two young boys (the Reed brothers) in Tennessee in the Spring of 1966; the Michigan incidents took place in late March (20th and 21st) of 1966.

Here are links to Dirk’s intriguing recountings:

http://www.ufodigest.com/article/196669-reed-abductions

http://www.ufodigest.com/article/willow-tree-and-ufos-down-near-lake

Frank Mannor and his son, Ronald, along with several Hillsdale College students were not abducted, nor were any of those, as far as we know, who also saw a UFO in the Spring of 1966, all around the country:

http://www.nicap.org/waves/1966fullrep.htm

And no one reported seeing any beings, such as those described by the Reed boys.

So what is the connection, if any?

When the Mannor farm (now replaced by a housing development) and the Hillsdale area just outside the campus (where the coeds spotted their UFO) was surveilled by reporters, a significant element was noted, at both locations: the plethora of willow trees.

Both sites were boggy, as Dr. Hynek cited, and used to explain his “swamp gas” explanation. Willow trees made up much of the flora for both sites.

Were willow trees an important ingredient in the UFO appearances? That both the Hillsdale and Dexter locations were replete with willow trees, coupled with the alleged Reed abductions wherein a willow tree plays a significant part, seems more than a vegetative coincidence.

We’re checking to see if there are references or notes about what greenery was in proximity of other Spring 1966 sightings.

Here is a synopsis of the Willow Tree myth from the Tree of Life web-site:

http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/willow.html):

Most willow species grow and thrive close to water or in damp places, and this theme is reflected in the legends and magic associated with these trees. The moon too recurs as a theme, the movement of water being intimately bound up with and affected by the moon. For example, Hecate the powerful Greek goddess of the moon and of willow, also taught sorcery and witchcraft, and was 'a mighty and formidable divinity of the Underworld'. Helice was also associated with water, and her priestesses used willow in their water magic and witchcraft. The willow muse, called Heliconian after Helice, was sacred to poets, and the Greek poet Orpheus carried willow branches on his adventures in the Underworld. He was also given a lyre by Apollo, and it is interesting to note that the sound boxes of harps used to be carved from solid willow wood.

We don’t see a connection but maybe someone like Nick Redfern can intuit a meaning if there is one.

We just found it interesting, that's all...

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