Comment on Martin Kottmeyer's "UFO FLAPS: AN ANALYSIS"

Martin Kottmeyer, born in 1953 in the USA, is an essayist and skeptical ufologist. He has devoted to study different things like classical Greek Astronomy, History of religions, Psychology, Science-Fiction and contemporary beliefs. Kottmeyer is considered an expert on the psycho-sociological aspects of the UFO phenomenon.

I dedicated weeks to study his work "UFO FLAPS: AN ANALYSIS" and here are my 


a) General impression

Reading the 16 pages document, the first impression is how much has been written about UFOs than ends to be totally futile. Rivers of ink and tons of paper wasted in trying to sustain in some way what essentially has been and it is a myth created by the military intelligence.

From the beginning, the main idea that underlies behind the UFO waves or flaps, is that they represent the very existence of a technological reality other than human, e.g. “alien” or extraterrestrial.

For me this is a basic error over which every other thing is built. 

Different would be if the UAPs were considered a natural phenomena not totally known whose activity could be linked to specific geographic places, variations in temperature and pressure, solar radiation, seismic activity, underground rivers, etc.etc.

b) An important distinction

Kottmeyer uses interchangeably the words “wave” or “flap” without any distinction among them, and it has been of common use and accepted within the UFO community that a “flap” is a local concentration of UFO reports, in a very limited geographical area (i.e. Colares, in Brazil).

A UFO wave encompasses a wider area, like a whole country or a geographical region.

c) A needed clarification

From the very beginning it is needed to make it clear that in his analysis, Kottmeyer is not referring to true UFO cases, but just about UFO-reports, which is a very different thing. Therefore in the case of UFO waves, their nature is essentially more cultural than factual. If we were to consider UFO flaps, the situation is totally different.

d) The analysis itself

What Kottmeyer does is to pass in review different theories or hypothesis that along the years tried to give a rational explanation for the UFO waves.

Mars and Venus

One by one is considered and thrown down the Reconnaissance Theory of Maj. Donald Keyhoe;  the various Martian Hypothesis forwarded by Lonzo Dove (a rather obscure character called an “analyst” and an “astronomer”, amateur possibly) that in 1947 joined a group formed by Al Bender;  Edgard Jarrold, of the Australian Flying Saucer Bureau, Aimé Michel and Prof. Charles H. Smiley, Chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Brown University, and the Venus hypothesis offered by Richard H. Hall (NICAP).

Mathematical models

Once the possibility that “flying  saucers” could come from neighboring planets (quite frankly a naïve presumption) a second tier of speculations begun, based on mathematical possibilities starting with the last UFO wave.

Once again, there was not a substantial base to do so, and therefore they ended being pure speculations.

Kottmeyer cites Donald Keyhoe again, predicting a wave in July of 1950 that didn’t take place. The British Brinsley le Poer Trench posited a 2 years cycle, and also failed.  Once again Keyhoe poposed a 5 years cycle. The investigator Jenny Randles spoke about a 21 months cycle, and psychologist David Saunders had a proposal for a cycle of 61 months, meanwhile  the industrial/organizational psychologist and test developer Donald  Johnson suggested that a great UFO wave would take place on February 1988. He failed. Nevertheless in 2003 he predicted that there would be a worldwide UFO wave on March of that year. Regretfully, he failed miserably.

As a corollary, Kottmeyer says: “With such failures, hope has faded for a simple mathematical model of mass ufo appearances.”  This phrase of Kottmeyer, underlines the fact that they continue thinking of UFOs as some kind of flying machines.

Behaviorist notions  

Jacques Vallée appealed to behaviorists to suggest that the occurrence of UFO flaps and waves follows a pattern of a procedure of reinforcement to instill on us an irreversible behavior. 

It is in “The Invisible College”  (E.P.Duttom 1975) that Vallée talks about a “control system” saying that  UFOs and related phenomena are “the means through which man’s concepts are being rearranged” and to be more specific Vallée adds that  “mythology rules at a level of our social reality over which normal political and intellectual action has no power…."

Kottmeyer criticizes the behaviorist approach of Vallée saying that for a procedure of reinforcement to be such “a stimulus must be of a positive, rewarding character”, and UFOs create fear. But Kottmeyer is wrong on this because behaviorists recognize also that there are negative reinforcements, and I personally do not think that UFOs are neither positive nor negative.

Tourist Theory

Kottmeyer with good criterion calls this theory a “speculation in the extraterrestrial mode”. And indeed it is nothing than that. 

R.H.Marx and R. DeLillo proposed their theory in an article published by  the ineffable “Flying Saucer Review” in July, 1979. They think aliens come to Earth as we go to the zoo. We are the specimens to be observed and eventually hunted.

A small variation is presented in 1984 by F.C. Gillespie and John Prytz, in what they call the activity of “external intelligence” that comes as rugby players go to participate on a championship.

Not in vain, after all these absurd speculations Kottmeyer suggests that: “The necessity of a psychological and sociological approach is mandated by the fact that nine out of ten ufo reports involve misinterpreted stimuli.” I totally concur.

Silly Seasons 

Kottmeyer divides the “sociological explanations of ufo flaps into two general categories” that he divides in “silly season theories” and “crisis theories”.  Silly seasons theories affirm that “news media are a sufficient cause of flaps”.

For Kottmeyer there is no relation whatsoever between what the media (newspapers, magazines, TV shows and movies) does dealing with UFO and the general public. Nevertheless he admits that “A look at ufo numbers before and after the release o twenty popular alien invasion films turns up minor increases for fourteen of them.”

In my experience I can say that a very popular TV program that goes on air every week and that presents “ufo cases” will definitely induce among the general population to report ufo sightings, and it will create a small flap of “cases” among very susceptible people. When those cases are reported to newspapers, the “flap” is already there. 

It all starts with a journalist or a showman/woman that purportedly is looking for “witnesses” to appear in his/her program to talk about their “experiences”.  This procedure launches the “snow ball” of “ufo reports”. Once properly investigated they end in nothing out of this world but the “flap” has been artificially created.

On the other hand, I agree that movies do not tend to trigger “ufo reports”.

Reaction to Science

John A. Rimmer poses the theory that for every scientific advance is an equal and opposite mystical reaction: i.e. the ghosts rockets of 1946 and the saucers of 1947 would be a reaction to the introduction of nuclear weapons in 1945, as well as the Levelland (Texas)  wave of 1957 would be a reaction to the Sputnik.

But no such reaction took place after the Moonlanding.

I would like to take the opportunity to say that transcending the punctual facts of science, there is a dangerous general reaction against science itself and the scientific knowledge for an increasing amount of people that take refuge in mystical organizations, conspiracy viewpoints, the development of religious sects, etc. A grossly divide between believers and rationalists.

Crisis theories

Rodney  Stark and William Banbrigde propose in their book “A theory or religion” that people tend to appeal to the supernatural during times of crisis, and ufos can be seen as “forces outside of nature”. According to this view, people will appeal to ufos every time there is a big crisis.  Facts reject this theory, at least when it deals with ufos. 

Kottmeyer mentions the example of the big crisis of the Cuban missiles in 1962 and there was no “flap” neither any kind of repercussion in terms of an increase of “ufo reports”.

Mass hysteria

“Flaps” explained as “mass hysteria” has been sometimes used as explanations for a series of reports during a very limited time, mostly by official sources. 

I think that we shouldn’t be talking about hysteria but about anxiety, and fear. Wright to the point comes Michael Swords who says that these situations “are more properly  labeled as anxiety attacks and ads the point that the people involved do not display psychotic symptoms” according  to Kottmeyer.

Therefore, mass hysteria is not an explanation for the occurrence of a “flap”, less of a ufo-wave.

Paranoia theory

Kottmeyer starts this part of his study by saying that: “Many facets of the ufo mythos are identifiable forms of paranoid ideation. The core belief that aliens are making a reconnaissance of our planet”  style  “Flying  Saucers are Watching Us” –a book title of the Sixties—“is –continues saying Kottmeyer—a collective variant on the common paranoid delusion of observation, the erroneous impression that one is being watched by persecuting others. Allied to this is a complex of suspicions.”


He then turns to paranoia to explain the growing number of ufo-reports after the Arnold case, incredibly relating  then to a speech of President Truman that “spoke in sweeping apocalyptic terms of communism as an insidious world menace.” on March 12, 1947.

But the argument made by Kottmeyer ends in a nonsense, because he also says that “One of the earliest moves by the government in investigating the flying saucer problem included background cheks of those who claimed to have seen saucers to determine if they had communist ties”.  Badly this could create a jump in ufo-reports.

The other assertion made by Kottmeyer is that “Ufo numbers respond to developmens in the steel strike in a convincing manner” and relates the steel strike with the Washington National sightings.  

I would admit this assertion if Kottmeyer would say that ufos were used as a distraction of the impact the steel strike had in the country.  But he does not offer these explanations. Simply correlates them because of timing.  On the other hand, he does not explore the Ufos over Washington case and simply accepts the explanation of “temperature inversion”.

Sputnik and Sixties

The successful launching of Sputkik I and later II by the Soviet Union was –according with Kottmeyer—“the central trauma of the fifties”.

The same criterion of trauma he extends for the sixties due to the Vietnam War. In both cases Kottmeyer affiliates himself with the Paranoia Theory that we can summarize in these terms: every time the American people is seriously affected by something negative the reaction is an increase of Ufo-reports.

Once again, what is not demonstrated is the link between both factors, but simply a coincidence in time.  Had Kottmeyer investigated and be able to demonstrate that government agencies used the media to promote some ufo-reports in order to create public interest on the subject, that could be an explanation. But that investigation was not done.

Nevertheless, if negative situations affecting the American people would trigger a “ufo wave” why nothing happened after September 11, 2001?

My explanation is that the historical time was different and the mechanism of the intelligence were not used to create a “ufo wave” in this case, because all the country reacted positively and with patriotism in the face of the attacks suffered. 

Other resolutions

A wrong evaluation of the very important  Cuban missile crises, makes Kottmeyer to say that there was pride in the resolution of the conflict, but diminishes the fact that during many days previous to the solution of the conflict, there was fear and anxiety among the American people, but there was not any “ufo flap”.

Kottmeyer uses the doubtful source of the so-called National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) a center managed by one person that only collects ufo-reports, to demonstrate a link between the scandal Clinton-Lewinsky in 1998 with “mass sightings of spheres and fireballs”.

This procedure to try to link a situation lived in the USA with “ufo flaps” or “ufo waves” lacks totally of rationality.  

The first thing to question is how many of those ufo-reports ended to be classified as “unknown” , because the answer to this question would demonstrate the artificiality of the idea of “ufo waves” or “ufo flaps”.  In any event, we would be talking about “report flaps” or “report waves”. 

The second thing is that Kottmeyer do not analyzes the real cause of those rumors that create the “report flaps or waves”. He simply affiliates to the Paranoia Theory (mentioning the work of W.W. Meissner “The Paranoid Process”) to explain the “flaps” and “waves”. 

The third thing is the extreme provincialism that Kottmeyer exhibits:  if (and this is a great if) the ufo activity that supposedly is the base of ufo-reports is a worldwide phenomenon, the exclusive reference to the United States does not explain intrinsically the phenomenon itself.

What about then, to “ufo flaps” or “ufo waves” in other countries and regions?

Are also them related to moments of fear and anxiety? 

This approach obviously eliminates UFOs as the real cause of “flaps” or “waves”. UFOs therefore are inexistent, what exists is fear or anxiety in the public.

I think this vision of the whole subject is very poor.

What is rich anyway is the effort done by Martin Kottmeyer to list the different explanations given to the “flaps” and “waves” by different authors.

Personally –and based on my experience as investigator—I tend to think that the media plays a very important role in the creation and feeding of “ufo flaps and waves”. What has still to be investigated is what turns suddenly the interest of the media to the UFO subject.  It could be due to competence, low ratings, wish to increase earnings, or the work of intelligence.

Milton W. Hourcade

May 24, 2016.

ARGENTINA: CEFAE investiga el tema OVNI

En diversos países se ha dado la formación de comisiones oficiales de investigación de la temática OVNI.

Argentina no escapó a esa tendencia, y creó la CEFAE, Comisión para el Estudio de Fenómenos Aeroespaciales.

Con un local muy austero en el histórico Edificio Cóndor, en el centro de Buenos Aires, la Comisión formada por tres integrantes de la Fuerza Aérea Argentina, asesores científicos y técnicos de la misma y colaboradores ad-honorem, sin presupuesto propio, realiza la labor de investigar, estudiar y concluir las denuncias de OVNI sometidas a su consideración.

La Comisión tiene previsto un informe anual, y a fines de 2015 emitió el primero (que abarca el período de Noviembre de 2014 a Noviembre de 2015) donde de 10 denuncias de OVNI, sólo una no ha podido ser explicada por el momento.

La Comisión se creó en 2011, cuando al frente de la misma estaba el Capitán Mophaut, quien luego se retiró de la comisión para desempeñar otras tareas. 

Ahora, al frente de la misma está el Comodoro Rubén Lianza, piloto aviador, quien tiene

muy claro el cometido de la Comisión, así como la conceptualización del tema OVNI. Sus palabras trasuntan un apego al método científico, y sensatez en el razonamiento, algo poco común en algunas otras comisiones oficiales de América Latina. 

Salim Sigales es un estudioso mexicano del tema OVNI, y tuvo la oportunidad de entrevistar personalmente al Comodoro Lianza en la sede del Estado Mayor General de la Fuerza Aérea Argentina. Por considerarla de interés para ufólogos, reproducimos aquí el reportaje que extraemos de

¿Objetivo de la CEFAe?
RL: Brindar un transparente servicio público, estudiando en forma objetiva y neutral los avistamientos OVNI denunciados por los testigos a su dirección email, facilitando a la sociedad las resoluciones de dichos casos a través de un informe anual publicado en la misma página web de la CEFAe. Es menester aclarar que esto último únicamente aplica a denuncias de Fenómenos Aeroespaciales avistados en territorio Argentino.

¿Los Fenómenos Aeroespaciales representan un riesgo para la seguridad nacional Argentina?
RL: Hasta el momento, no existe en nuestro país ninguna evidencia que pruebe que así sea.

¿Hipótesis sobre el origen que se tiene sobre estos Fenómenos?
RL: Los investigadores de todo el mundo concuerdan en que el 98 % de los casos que ingresan como OVNI, terminan siendo causados por interpretaciones honestas pero erróneas de cosas ordinarias, tomadas como extraordinarias por los testigos, al momento del avistamiento. El otro 2% NO ES GARANTÍA DE EXTRAÑEZA, ni de que sea ordinario, pero tampoco extraordinario.

¿Existe la posibilidad de que sean objetos pertenecientes a otra inteligencia ajena al género humano?
RL: Si bien en Investigación Científica nunca hay que descartar ninguna posibilidad, lamentablemente dicha pregunta sigue sumergida en el pantano de la especulación, puesto que hoy por hoy no existe ninguna prueba aceptada por la comunidad científica, de que alguna nave de otra especie inteligente esté evolucionando en la tierra…. ( Recordemos lo que dijo Carl Sagan “Afirmaciones extraordinarias requieren pruebas extraordinarias”)

¿Zonas donde son avistados con mayor frecuencia estos Fenómenos Aeroespaciales? Por ejemplo Zonas restringidas, mar, volcanes, aeropuertos otro.
RL: La mayoría de los casos que nos llegan son en época de vacaciones, lo cual es lógico porque la gente tiene más tiempo de mirar el cielo y el paisaje. Por ello las zonas en que se producen avistamientos son en su mayoría al aire libre y generalmente en áreas recreativas (playas, sierras, lagos, rutas, etc.)

¿La existencia de estos Fenómenos Aéreos es aceptada por los científicos e instituciones académicas de Argentina?

RL: En general la comunidad científica acepta el hecho de que un 98 % de los avistamientos corresponden a alguna causa conocida (astronómica, aeronáutica, astronáutica y hasta biológicas en el caso de aves que frecuentemente se cruzan frente a las cámaras). Lamentablemente también hay un pequeño porcentaje (dentro de ese 98%) de fotos con montajes o vídeos trucados. Los CGI (Imágenes Generadas por Computadora) están proliferando ahora mas que nunca a medida que la gente tiene acceso a programas para hacerlo.

El trabajo de investigación de la CEFAe se divide en 2:

Investigación de Gabinete: Esta se refiere al trabajo que se realiza puertas adentro. Incluye: reducción y procesamiento de datos de entrevistas a testigos, análisis vídeo fotográfico, análisis de evidencias materiales así como el uso de herramientas para el estudio de Fenómenos Aeroespaciales como lo son los Registros de Reentradas observadas, Registros de Lanzamientos, softwares de seguimiento satelital y astronómico tales como Stellarium, Sat Flare y Orbitron, fotos satelitales meteorológicas en tiempo real y diferido, etc.

Investigación de campo: Si bien aquí debemos aclarar que CEFAE no participa en “Vigilias OVNI”, toda vez que se requiere trabajo de campo, ya sea por petición judicial o denuncias de fenómenos recurrentes o que dejaron huellas, el Trabajo de Campo requiere un elaborado Plan de trabajo y una muy buena estrategia de comunicación. En esta investigación se utilizan herramientas de recolección y transporte de evidencias, como así también instrumentos de lectura directa como lo son: Detector de metales, Contador Geiger, Termómetro Laser, Gausimetro etc) y si el caso lo justifica, instrumentos de medición a distancia.

Tareas a emprender por CEFAe

• Adoptar y mantener el camino de la Metodología de Investigación con el propósito de “Identificar” las causas de avistamientos denunciados ante la FAA y publicar los resultados al final de cada año.

• Constituirse en un organismo rector por derecho propio, totalmente conocedor de OVIs (Objetos Voladores Identificados) tanto de origen natural, como tecnológico, para tener la capacidad de separar lo ordinario de lo extraordinario.

• Conseguir presupuesto y un marco legal adecuados a sus nuevas tareas.

• Firmar convenios con otros organismos nacionales e internacionales de Investigación.

• Formar recursos humanos para garantizar continuidad.

Los cielos del Siglo XXI no son iguales a los cielos del Siglo XX. Nuevos satélites reflectantes para experimentos geodésicos (Ajisai, Stella, Starlette, Lageos y Starshine) producen destellos intermitentes que causan asombro por mostrarse muy diferentes al destello continuo de los satélites ordinarios. En algunos países se conocen como LIA (Luces Intermitentes Aéreas) y en otros hasta lo llaman “Pacman”. Por otra parte la irrupción en el mercado de los “Drones” (especialmente cuando son avistados en vuelo nocturno) agregan aún más posibilidades de confusión en este nuevo Siglo.


La sigla OVI (Objetos Voladores Identificados) significa dos cosas:

1) Las causas reales de un abrumador porcentaje de “falsas alarmas” y

2) El status final de CUALQUIER CAUSA de avistamiento, debidamente identificada.

Con esto quiero decir que AÚN SI FINALMENTE SE IDENTIFICA COMO NAVE EXTRATERRESTRE, la misma dejará, inexorablemente de ser un OVNI para pasar a ser un nuevo “OVI”

O sea OVNI y OVI no son “IDENTIDADES”….. SINO NADA MAS QUE SIGLAS, que denotan un “status” del objeto en cuestión (temporario en el primer caso, permanente en el segundo)


– Lamentablemente el imaginario popular “Identifica” con “Identidad propia” algo que aún no está “Identificado”, ….. recordemos tres cosas:

1) Cuando la gente ve cosas al límite de la visión, el cerebro completa “la información faltante” recurriendo a la imaginación.


3) Pero lo que sí existe son los testimonios de avistamientos OVNI. Las denuncias de los testigos son reales, y merecen que alguien les dé una respuesta lo más precisa, veraz y certera posible.

Nota: para ver el informe oficial de la CEFAE ir a: