OMEFT Interview with Angelia Joiner

On Friday, July 11, 2008, a seminal event in the history of UFO investigation took place. A report titled, "Stephenville Lights: A Comprehensive Radar and Witness Report Study Regarding the Events of January 8, 2008 4pm to 8pm" was released to the public.

The report carefully documents information gleaned from four hours of civil aviation radar tracking data from several facilities during the core period of sightings over Erath County, Texas. More importantly, the authors, Glen Schulze and Robert Powell, correlate the positions, headings and speed of several unmarked objects detected by radar with ground sightings from eight different eyewitnesses.

Such a meticulous comparison involving multiple sightings and apparently multiple objects over a long period of time has never been accomplished before.The radar data corroborate the witness testimony and also document the actions of military aircraft in the area of interest.

News of the release of this report was broken nationally on that evening's episode of "Larry King Live" on CNN. Schulze and Powell were guests on the show, as were several Erath County residents who have become famous in ufology circles.

Instrumental in bringing the radar report to the national stage was Angelia Joiner. Angelia first broke the story of the UFO sightings in an article on January 10th in the Stephenville Empire Tribune, and subsequent articles launched the event into the global spotlight as regional, national and international news outlets picked up the story.

I had the chance to speak with Angelia Joiner about the report on Sunday two days after the release of the report.

What follows is an interview with Angelia:

Larry King Live

Razpad: I want to ask you how you got the show [Larry King Live] turned around to the topic of the report.

AJ: I did contact the CNN producer (before July 4th). I told her that I had some new developments and I thought Larry King would be interested. Well, lo and behold and to my surprise, she said, "We'll be calling you next week because we'll be coming back there."

I tried to find out why they were coming back. I knew that Ricky Sorrells had been invited by James Fox to go to Los Angeles to appear on the Larry King Live show [in May]. Ricky didn't feel like he could leave his animals, his cows were calving, and he had some other things going on, so he refused that offer. I thought they were coming for Ricky. I called Ricky over the weekend and he didn't think it was for him because he had not heard from James Fox for a while.

The producer did get back in touch with me. She said that James Fox was coming with her. She told me they planned to interview Ricky Sorrells and me. She told me Dr. [Seth] Shostak, Ken Cherry and Mike Zimmerman would be on and they would be talking about the [David] Coran video. Mike Zimmerman is the former protector of five Texas governors. He is somebody that I interviewed then put the story on www.stephenvillelights.com.

So, I wasn't really sure why we would be talking about something that is old news when we could be talking about this very-well-done report, very thoroughly researched, and it was new. I felt like the public deserved to know that something on radar did show up on the night of January 8, 2008 in Erath County. The other two witnesses that they were going to discuss on the show were not witnesses on January 8th.

If you look at the report it says an object was going 500+ mph then slowed down to around 49 mph, depending on deviation error. Officer X clocked it on police radar at 27 mph. He said that was one of the things that caught his attention because it looked like it should be falling out of the sky. I thought it was interesting that other witnesses did see it moving very, very slowly and so did Officer X. That was one of the reasons why I urged the producer to change the show line-up. I told the producer, "Look, I don't understand why we're going to talk about Zimmerman and Coran. For one thing, that's old news and, for another thing, neither one of them filed a MUFON report,"

Razpad: Is Officer X the same person as the Witness M, the last-minute appendix added to the report?

AJ: Yes, he is. I did a story on Stephenville Lights about Officer X's sighting, along with two other officers.

So, my goal was to get out what was new. I didn't want to rehash what was old. The other thing I had a problem with was that neither David Coran nor Mike Zimmerman filed MUFON reports.

Razpad: On Larry King's web site, it said, "We are revisiting the Stephenville, TX UFO case. Our guests include three of the History Channel's UFO Hunters!" It looked like UFO Hunters was getting top billing. Was that the way it was set up to start and you managed to flip it around?

AJ: Live TV shows change all the time. I'm not saying that Stephenville would have gotten less time than UFO Hunters. As far as I know, they were going to get equal time.

I had to ask about the line-up with the UFO Hunters. The producer told me we wouldn't be on with them. She told me that things could change right up to 15-20 minutes before the show started.

Razpad: Regardless of how it started, you did a tremendous job of getting your story "above the fold", as they say in newspaper jargon.

AJ: I'm not here to rub it in, though.

Razpad: Well, you did a great job.

AJ: Another thing, as soon as it started being publicized, that Larry King Live was going to revisit Stephenville, I started getting all kinds of emails. I had emails from Hong Kong and Europe asking questions. I was told some of Europe's top ufologists were gathering to watch the show, which I couldn't believe. I did forward some of those emails to the producer so she would know that a lot of people all over the world take a great interest in the Erath County sightings, even though several months have passed a lot of people are still following it.

Razpad: That was very savvy of you to do that.

AJ: It worked out how it worked out. I think we got 40 minutes and UFO Hunters got 20 minutes.

Razpad: Where was Steve Allen? He was the only one of the Mount Rushmore of Stephenville who wasn't present.

AJ: I wish I knew. His email box is full and if I try to call him or his wife it goes to voice mail. Maybe they are on vacation.

Ken Cherry was supposed to be on the show but he wasn't. I hope he isn't too upset with me. I did offer to give up my seat because I felt bad about that. I don't really have anything new to add. I kept telling the producer that but she had me on for all four segments of the show.

Razpad: You're the personality for the Erath County sightings. I thought it was very good the way you addressed the questions. You pulled everything back on point, on the message, very well done.

The Report

Razpad: You were familiar with this radar investigation for months and you had been in contact with the authors. How did you first learn about it?

AJ: I understand that Texas MUFON said they began seeing an escalation of sightings beginning in November of 2007 going through February of 2008. Glen Schulze contacted me shortly after he received the information from the FAA. He was very impressed with the data. He said something to the effect that it was the best, most complete set of radar data that he had ever received and that he has done a lot of radar report research.

Razpad: When was this?

AJ: I believe it was around the end of February. It might have been the first of March, somewhere around that time. He told me his background. He has a very impressive background that is included in the report. It seemed like everything he was telling me was above board. I called the Texas MUFON directors and asked if they would work with Glen Schulze because I knew they were going to put out a report. They declined the offer. I knew that Robert Powell was doing some serious probing for information. So when Texas MUFON said they didn't want to work with Schulze, I contacted Robert Powell. Robert checked into Schulze's background and they started working together. They work extremely well together, and Robert was grateful they could work together. Glen has a lot of expertise in radar. Robert is a very, very intelligent man and he knows a lot about statistics.

Razpad: Did Powell bring in all the ground reports, the witness reports from MUFON?

AJ: Yes. He correlated the witness reports to the radar data. It took a lot of time on both their parts, hundreds of hours. I'm surprised their families still have anything to do with them. That's all they did for months.

Razpad: Why did they zero in on just eight reports out of hundreds?

AJ: No, not hundreds. The Texas MUFON reports are from November through February. And that was the focus of the Texas report. On January 8th MUFON had 17 reports, so it's eight out of 17. That is the focus of the national report. The witness reports that didn't pan out had various reasons, something that made the report invalid such as unsure of the time or direction of the sighting. Eight valid reports is still a good amount.

It is just mind boggling to know they worked hundreds of hours on just four hours of radar data, from 4 o'clock until 8 o'clock. If they had to do it over again, they might have requested another hour or two of data for that day.

Razpad: Yes, because there are things that happened after 8 o'clock that are interesting.

AJ: Yes. There is a limited time to get FOIA requests submitted for radar data before it is erased. So that was their best guess at the time. I'm very pleased with the report. There were many people involved. They always copied emails to me that were about the report. Sometimes they would ask me a question. They really tried to look at all of the "what ifs" and tried to deduce the best answers they could. Otherwise, debunkers would try to tear it apart.

And that's really why other people were involved, to produce a good report and to get varied opinions. A lot of the material in the report is very technical, which I didn't understand. I told them, "I'm a regular person." They were very patient and explained things to me.

Razpad: On the other hand, that helps them write the final report in a clearer fashion because it's written for anyone to read, not just for radar experts to read. You provided that angle for them. Being a scientist, I know that sometimes you have to write in a clearer way because others reading a report might not have the background to understand.

AJ: My problem was trying to understand all of the acronyms.

Razpad: Which they put in the front of the report, I noticed. Schulze and Powell were very coy about author credits, they listed themselves as the primary authors. I presume that the other people involved want to remain anonymous?

AJ: Yes. Some of the other people involved have jobs so that going public could present a problem for them. There were a couple of people early on who were going to help with the interpretation of the data, but it got so in depth that they decided to bow out.

Razpad: There was an external review, right?

AJ: Yes, that's right.

Razpad: Did they say who?

AJ: I know who it is but they want to remain anonymous.

Razpad: Oh, okay. Is it a peer review?

AJ: Yes, I would call it a peer review.

Razpad: I wasn't sure if it was that or just a general review for clarity or perhaps even if it was reviewed by government or military personnel who maybe redacted some things they didn't want known.

AJ: The peer review came from radar professionals. Anyone can take that anyway they want to. That could mean they are from the military or FAA or air traffic controllers. It could mean a lot of different things. They aren't people that do it as a hobby. Professional people, either still working or retired.

Razpad: In the report, they come up with values for the size of the objects between 500 feet and about half a mile in diameter. How does that jibe with eyewitness reports and things that you've heard from talking to people?

AJ: One word that keeps coming up over and over is "huge". When I talk to people, everyone has a bit of a different perspective. I liken that to a vehicle accident scene where ten people witness the accident and I get ten stories, each a little bit different. None of those witnesses would be lying to me. It's just that from where they were, from their vantage point or their perspective, each story would be a little different even though they all saw the same accident. These witness sightings remind me of such a scene, really.

That and the speed. Most people talk about it shooting off, that it was very fast. Except for Officer X, who said it looked like it was just slowly falling out of the sky but then it did leave at a very quick speed. I can't figure out what it could be but there was definitely something here that night. I think the radar certainly proves that. Of course, the radar won't prove what it was or wasn't, but it does seem to vindicate some of the witnesses.

Beyond the Report

Razpad: At the end of the report, there is talk about the craft that is slowly moving toward Crawford late in the evening that goes outside of the four-hour window of data. Did you hear anything more about that from witnesses further south toward Crawford or about the Secret Service getting up in arms?

AJ: No. I lost a lot of data that was on my work computer when I left the newspaper. People were definitely calling and speculating if this had anything to do with Crawford and if jets scrambled because it crossed Crawford airspace. I can't remember even one person that called that lives near Crawford saying they saw something that night.

Razpad: I remember also on the UFO Hunters show they talked about the wider range of MUFON reports. They talked about the sightings in Stephenville and then sightings moving southward, over the subsequent days, towards Houston. What was happening before that? Does that mean that in December there were sightings in Oklahoma? Is that part of a larger trend?

AJ: I'm not sure we could say that because if you went to each MUFON database or even if you went to each state's UFO databases you would see sightings all over the place. I'm not sure how much we can read into that because it just seems like there are more and more sightings everywhere or they are being publicized more.

If it were really researched, there might be another pattern going toward the east. I don't know. I do remember somebody from Channel 10 in Corpus Christi came up and did a 3-day special on the sightings here. The people in town were very excited. The reporter was also very excited because three nights was a lot of airtime for him, 6 or 7 minute reports. There were some things going on in Corpus Christi, to the best of my recollection, right after January 8th. So, maybe that is what the UFO Hunters were referring to.

Razpad: I've heard reports, and you've heard them too, about a lot of air traffic over the area in the subsequent days, not just on January 8th. I know that was outside the scope of the report. Do you know if there was any discussion or new insights about that?

AJ: On the 10th, the day my first article about the Selden sighting came out, I got a lot of calls that day. People were asking me if that's the reason for all the transport helicopters and the jets. I didn't have a good answer for them. I do remember that day, January 10th, when I went to my car to go to lunch there were two big transport helicopters flying over us. So, I wondered too what was going on, if they were looking for something. We are used to those jets flying over us going to Brownwood, but it still seemed that there was more air traffic than usual.

I'm in a professional women's group. One of the members in that group emailed me. She had been coming home from Fort Worth on the 8th and took pictures. She said they were waiting to see an air collision because there was so much air traffic. She sent me the pictures and it looks like a grid pattern of contrails. Those pictures she sent me are on my web site, www.stephenvillelights.com. So, I got a lot of phone calls and emails about the increased air traffic. This was before the story picked up steam because the first stories came out on January 10th and 11th. The next Monday is when I talked to the Associated Press and they came down and interviewed Ricky Sorrells.

Razpad: Okay, so almost like a search pattern with aircraft flying in grids?

AJ: A whole lot of air traffic. You can't help but look up when those jets fly over because they are so loud. I did start making phone calls to try to find out if President Bush was at Crawford that night. He was out of the country, I believe.

Razpad: I have one last question, Angelia. Were there any reports from any of the eyewitnesses of any offensive or aggressive maneuvers by these UFOs?

AJ: No, I'm not aware of any reports like that. I haven't heard anybody say they were frightened. They said it disturbed them to think about what it could be, or something like that.

One of the things I was surprised about, I'm not now because I know more about it, but I received a lot of email from people containing bible verses. One lady wrote me and said that if I continued writing about UFOs then I was writing for the devil. You know, that caught me off guard. I wasn't really expecting those kinds of things. I got a lot of bible verses that were for and against, saying that UFOs have been around since the biblical days because there was the fiery chariot and that was a UFO and then the lady that said if I continued to write about UFOs I was writing for the devil.

Razpad: It takes all kinds! Thanks, Angelia.

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