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Yes, New York you're seeing things

A great value of education and hindsight is the possibility that one might recognize patterns.

Classic grainy photo of UFO taken in 1952, Passaic, New Jersey.
George Stock/ public domain Creative Commons
There is a classic Fortean flap underway in upstate New York and John Keel would have been on the case.

John A Keel, the tireless, maverick investigator of all things paranormal and many things occult, religious and spiritual, described what he called a paranormal 'flap' area as any geographical region where a large number of strange sightings and experiences are clustered over a period of time, usually about 12-18 months. In his classic works Operation Trojan Horse, The Eighth Tower, and his best known, The Mothman Prophecies, Keel discusses the differences between what investigators in the 1970's referred to as UFO flaps and what he thought of as a "true flap."

From Keel's perspective, the problem with most paranormal investigators is that they tend to focus on only one kind of reported phenomenon or event. Some folks collect UFO reports, others concentrate on Cryptids (e.g. Bigfoot, Chupacabra, Nessie, etc.), and still others on ghosts or other strange psychic occurrences. What Keel noticed is that all of these kinds of events tend to occur in clusters, not only in a given region, but among the observers and/or witness-contacts.

In other words, any particular person who sees a UFO close on is far more likely to also have strange psychic experiences or further sightings of strange beasts and vice versa. This isn't because folks who have these kinds of experiences are more prone to seeing weird stuff anyway, rather, they will more likely start experiencing/seeing such things all at once, at roughly the same time. People who previously had no odd experiences at all will suddenly find themselves deluged.

Similarly, regions that are suddenly awash with UFO reports will also be awash with an increase in reports of hauntings, Bigfoot sightings, even mysterious fires and other odd events. In correlating reports over a couple of decades from all over the country, Keel was eventually able to determine that these 'waves' of flaps occurred in a broad swath that moved pretty regularly through the same areas of the country every few years. His clues to whether a true flap was going on include: Are parallel events happening at approximately the same time in different parts of the country? And, are a wide variety of phenomena being reported all at once in the 'target areas.?'

Unfortunately, Keel is dead and only a couple of people, Andy Colvin among them, are trying to take up where he left off. The research is thankless, requires a great deal of time, legwork and is hampered now by the fact that investigative groups are even more insular than they used to be, what with security concerns and all, and this makes information even more compartmentalized than it was before.

All that being said, it does appear as if a true flap may be occurring in the Hudson Valley and upstate New York. The following bits of information are presented simply for the reader's consideration. Taken as a whole, New York does seem to be in the middle of something.

First, there has been a sharp increase in the number of odd nocturnal lights being observed up and down the Hudson Valley, from New York to Albany with some up to Rochester. These numbers can be found at this national data base which simply collects reports, records them and chooses some of the more complicated ones for further study. It has always been true that most UFO reports are basically reports of strange lights in the sky. What's important about this information is the relative increase.

Secondly, during the same period, very similar things are being seen across the country in California. About two years ago, following the pattern that Keel described, these kinds of lights were being seen in the Midwest of the country.

Thirdly, just in the last six months, there have a sharp increase in the number of people reporting encounters with Cryptids, in this instance, possible Bigfoot type creatures, in the Hudson Valley and Catskills proper. While many of these reports could also be bear sightings, a number of them are quite interesting and include reports of associated sound and electromagnetic disturbance (cameras and phones suddenly not working, odd electrical outages), the classic terrible stench (which is not associated with bear) and some intriguing thermal imaging. Many of these reports are collected and posted regularly at this Facebook page.

Furthermore, at least one of the Bigfoot investigators has been plagued with mysterious fires (as described on the aforementioned FB page). It is noteworthy that the investigators in this case don't seem to be aware that such events are actually common plagues experienced by those who look into reports of unusual encounters. For Keel, this could be a classic sign of the true flap.

Fourthly, there has also been a modest increase in ghost and other reports of haunting across the region, including some photos taken in Hudson, during daylight hours, and reports of increased ghostly 'behavior' noted in places where strange sights/experiences have occurred in the past. Some of these reports can be found at this Hudson Valley ghost reporting site.

Fifthly, the personal investigations of this author have indicated a sharp increase in the number of strange dream and/or temporal disturbance events that many individuals across the region seem to have experienced in the last 4-6 months, particularly among people who don't particularly know one another or tend not to have vivid dreams or out of body experiences. A temporal disturbance is an experience of losing/gaining time in a manner than cannot be explained by inattention, drug/alcohol use or anything obvious.

Finally, and most disturbingly, Keel noted that true flaps are often signaled by the untimely, sudden deaths of individuals who are known to have investigated these phenomena. The deaths often occur at the peak of the flap or right as the flap is beginning a sharp increase to reach its climax. In a number of his writings, Keel lists the individual researchers who passed on during clustered reports of the very things that most interested them. A few of these unusual deaths are recounted at this site, even though it's not as reliable as Keel.

A similar kind of circumstance has occurred in this flap. A long time investigator in the Hudson Valley, well known for her thoughtful and prescient comments and observations about these kinds of events, suddenly died about a month ago. Her name is known to many of us who have studied these things, and for the sake of her family, will not be mentioned here, although the investigative reader will not have to go far to find her. It is difficult to say whether her passing had anything at all to do with the events currently being reported by others. What can be said is that she had reported to this author that she saw many of the same connections mentioned above and her passing fits within the pattern that Keel discerned.

Unfortunately, it is ultimately difficult to determine how "true a flap," in Keel's sense, this all might be. Ghost hunters don't collaborate with Bigfoot chasers and people who collect UFO reports often regard the former two communities with disdain. Those investigators who try to see the larger social, cultural, psychological and even physiological reasons for these reports, particularly when they all come together, will continue to have to work in virtual solitude.

But yes, something seems to be happening in New York state. Right now.

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