Author of the Month

Greg Taylor, Author of the Month for January 2008

Her Sweet Murmur (cont.)
By Greg Taylor

UFOs and Aliens, oh my!

Surveying the topic of UFO sightings in regards to the sounds heard is problematic, not least because many UFO proponents will argue that the phenomenon has nothing to do with the paranormal, and that genuine (ie. unexplainable) UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin. Beyond that point, there is also no doubt many UFO sightings are actually of conventional or 'secret' (Earthly) craft. Therefore, roaring, buzzing and humming sounds could well be due to the propulsion systems of these craft (whether Earthly or otherwise). However, it is still worth surveying some of these sounds, especially considering the 'high strangeness' aspect of many sightings, which do suggest a paranormal origin. Researcher James McCampbell identified five distinct types of sounds emanating from UFOs in his survey of close encounters[16], which are strikingly familiar to the sounds we have been discussing:

  • Violent (roar, explosion)
  • Low Pitch (hum, buzz)
  • Rush of Air (whoosh, swish)
  • High Pitch (shrill, whistle)
  • Signals (beeps, pulses)

One such encounter, which featured two of the above sounds, is the UFO sighting of Charles Early. Early was raking leaves at his home in Greenfield Massachusetts, under a clear sky, when he heard a "swishing noise" as if a wind storm was coming. He looked up and saw two rings parallel to each other, one on top of the other separated by a distance of about 4 feet. He estimated the diameter to be about 30 feet and described them as "bright, like polished chrome" and tubular…Early said that when the double ring was directly over him it made a "humming" sound similar to the hum heard when standing under electrical wires.

In his book Forbidden Science, Jacques Vallee discusses the well-known 'Affa' case of 1954: A 'contactee', Mrs Frances Swan, told how she was in telepathic communication (via automatic writing) from the commanders of two alien spaceships (Affa and Ponnar). Vallee recounts that whenever Mrs Swan was in contact with the 'aliens', she would get a buzzing sound in her left ear "to indicate that they were 'on the line'." While this is interesting enough in itself, there was also apparent confirmation from the CIA and Naval Intelligence officers who interviewed Mrs Swan, who told of hearing these same buzzing sounds in their ears (though they did not receive any actual communication).[17] Furthermore, when the officers asked to see one of these alien spaceships, Affa (through Mrs Swan) told them to look outside — and when they went to the window, saw a circular object in the sky.

John Keel recounts the tale of Mrs Malley, who was driving home along Route 34 to Ithaca, New York, at around 7pm, when she saw a red light following her — "a disk about the size of a boxcar, with a domed top and square red and green windows…and it made a humming sound, something like the vibration of a television antenna in the wind." Describing the experience in more detail, Mrs Malley says "a white twirling beam of light flashed down from the object…and I heard the humming sound. Then I began to hear voices. They didn't sound like male or female voices but were weird, the words broken and jerky…it was like a weird chorus of several voices".

In a UFO and humanoid sighting report from 1914…

…the witness was at a local trash dump looking for old discards when he suddenly heard a "musical" humming sound. Turning around he then saw a strange craft hovering above a fence and partially above the street in front of a church. The object was gray in color with a high dome on top and a slight dome on the bottom. An opening, like two sliding doors, then appeared. Then two short figures emerged and took positions each on one side of the object, more came out until there were eight abreast. [18]

Introductory sounds are especially the case with alleged 'alien abductions', an area which has already been associated with what John Mack called "intrusions from the subtle realms." Karl Pflock described one of the original 'abduction' cases — that of Betty and Barney Hill — as being preceded by a sound described as a "buzzing vibration". Brad Steiger too has mentioned the prevalence of buzzing and 'rushing' sounds in both UFO sightings and 'entity' encounters. He also compares the sound to that heard in poltergeist activity:

A number of revelators and UFO contactees have since mentioned to me that just before the appearance of an entity they were aware of a strange buzzing sound. Witnesses of unexplained aerial phenomenon have also referred to a buzzing or rushing sound shortly before the 'flying saucer' appeared over them. I am also reminded that great deal of poltergeist activity produces a preparatory 'signal' of a buzzing, rasping, or winding noise.[19]

In their book The Unidentified, Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman also say that many contactees have reported a bee-buzzing sound that introduced and ended their encounters.

In the aforementioned book on Fatima, Heavenly Lights, Fernandes and D'Armada also recount a number of UFO/alien sightings which were preceded by a buzzing sound (often explicitly described, as at Fatima, as the 'buzzing of bees'.) John Keel also notes the variety of noises heard, in his book Operation Trojan Horse. He points out that the well-known 'high strangeness' case of Joe Simonton consisted of 'humming' sounds and the sound of 'wet tyres on pavement'.

Jacques Vallee has been perhaps the most instrumental in focusing ufological research on the fact that there are significant parallels with UFO/paranormal events and folkloric tales from around the globe — suggesting that this is a phenomena intrinsically linked to human existence. We also find more examples of these same sounds…

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  1. "Effects of UFOs on People", James McCampbell [back to text]
  2. Captured, Friedman and Marden, p. 169 [back to text]
  3. "1920-1919 Humanoid Reports", compiled by Albert Rosales ( [back to text]
  4. Revelation: The Divine Fire, Brad Steiger, p. 148 [back to text]

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