Interview with Pat Uskert of “UFO Hunters”

Pat Uskert, a central member of the “UFO Hunters” show, is under my microscope today and he kindly agreed to answer some questions about the show and the UFO phenomena in general. The investigative show, which uses science to try and reproduce/prove elements of UFO reports, airs every Wednesday at 10 PM on the History Channel.

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself. How were you caught up in the UFO fever originally?

Pat Uskert: It’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly when I became curious about UFOs. I think it’s sort of always been there as a peripheral interest, probably due to being a child of the seventies and watching “In Search Of” religiously. (For those who weren’t there, America in the 70s was a land of UFO-mania.) Then of course seeing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” as a kid sealed the deal. It was the most exciting movie I had ever seen. I wondered if contact would ever take place. Would beings from some other world actually come here? What would they think of us? Thoughts that probably stayed with me in some latent way most of my life.

But I can’t really say I was active in UFO research until recently. I’ve never been part of any sort of UFO organization. The UFO interest was just a conversation that would surface on occasion. I don’t think my interest was unusual, given the amount of UFO shows that are part of our culture.

In 2001, a friend told me that government insiders had come together in Washington DC to blow the whole lid off the UFO thing. This was Dr. Steven Greer’s Disclosure Project conference held at the National Press Club in 2001. Of course I bolted for the internet and watched the conference the first chance I got. And, probably like most people who watched it, I was dumbfounded – absolutely enthralled as I absorbed every word from every witness. It was incredible, and played on my mind for years. Were they all telling the truth? Why would they lie? Why would people of that caliber make that sort of thing up? It just didn’t make sense. And soon after that I saw James Fox’s documentary “Out of the Blue” – where astronauts Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell discuss UFOs as a reality. And I’m thinking, OK, serious people are talking about this. It’s not a silly topic.

All of this stuff just sort of simmered in the background of my life, coming up in conversation on occasion. I found the whole question very interesting but did not actively pursue it. But this all changed in May of 2004 when, basically, I saw something in the sky I couldn’t explain.

It’s a long story and I don’t want to bore you with details. Suffice it to say I was walking to the beach on a sunny morning, I noticed a small silver disk holding its position over rooftops. It moved mainly horizontally, very smoothly, as though on a plain of glass. Eventually it ascended and moved north… moving perpendicular to the breeze blowing in from the west. It just didn’t make sense – the disk shape, it’s metallic appearance, its direction against the wind. I honestly don’t know what happened that day – and it bugs me.

But I don’t want us to get too focused on my sighting because… one, I don’t expect people to believe my UFO story, and, two, I have no way of knowing what it was. Maybe it was a millionaire flying his remote controlled UFO around, I don’t know. But always there is that possibility that I saw…well, a UFO. It certainly fit the description, and two other people with me watched the object as well, and agreed it was very strange.

To answer your question, this was the single event that pushed me over the edge into actively looking into the UFO phenomenon. I was haunted by what I saw that day. It played in the back of my mind again and again, how the sun streaked across the surface of this thing. I had dreams about it.

Anyway, I’m sorry if I’m blathering on about this. But you can see how it still annoys me. In the weeks following the event I tried to understand what it was. Eventually it pushed me into buying a camera and editing equipment in an attempt to start my own documentary about the phenomenon. I was in Los Angeles, after all. It just seemed like a good subject for a film, and a way for me to answer some questions in the process. If any of this is real, I thought to myself, this is a very important subject to explore. And if none of it is real, that is also a good documentary.

2. What’s the story behind the “UFO Hunters” production and your appearance on the show?

Pat Uskert: Well, that’s where the little documentary leads us. Basically, I actually did get around to making that little UFO documentary with UFO personality David Sereda, if you know who that is. It was called “Visitors: California UFO Wave”… but that’s a whole ‘nother story. It was…uh…not the best film ever made.

Anyway, around the same time, I was also getting to know Bill and Nancy Birnes of UFO Magazine who lived in Marina del Rey, not far from me. They paid me a visit after my sighting, and put my UFO experience in their magazine. As I was grew more curious about the phenomenon, I contributed a few articles to UFO Magazine, eventually working part-time at the magazine, and developing a friendship with Bill and Nancy.

One day Bill called me over to their place. So I paid them a visit on their boat. (They live on this cozy little sailboat in the Marina.) They sat me down in their tiny little galley, made some coffee, we talked about this and that, and eventually got around to talking about “Visitors: California UFO Wave.” They said they watched it. We all laughed and agreed it was pretty rough. But Nancy insisted there was something special about it. She said it was the most fun she’s had in a long time watching a UFO documentary.

They then suggested that we collaborate on a project together – for a possible TV show. I was like “What?” It sounded completely insane to me. They suggested that I shoot and edit it a demo, and Bill would pitch the concept to the networks. The concept was, of course, investigating the UFO truth in a fun and exciting way, in a sort of reality style. Nancy came up with the name “UFO Road Trip.” We all agreed and shook hands and raised cups of coffee, toasting our new project. That was somewhere in 2005.

So that was the plan. I was to shoot and edit a video demo that Bill would then pitch to various parties. I enlisted the help of two buddies – one a skeptic, and the other a Ph.D. in biochemistry. From early on we had the formula of three men – scientist, skeptic, and UFO believer – adventuring into the UFO phenomenon.

The “UFO Road Trip” demo made its way around various production companies, went through a few changes, and eventually caught the attention of producer Jon Walz at his production company in Santa Monica (Motion Picture Production, Inc.) They landed a deal with History Channel, who changed the name to “UFO Hunters” and there you go.

I still can’t believe it actually happened.

Anyway, I hope that answers your question – how I came to be part of the show. I shot and edited the original demo material for the show, which Bill Birnes used to pitch the concept. (You can see some of that original material on the website

3. In your opinion, which UFO-related incident so far is the most telling and best backed-up by proof?

Pat Uskert: Before I answer this, I just want to make it clear that I don’t consider myself a ufologist. I am not an expert in this field. I consider myself a regular citizen who is fed up with the lack of straight answers around the UFO question… and I simply want to know what’s going on.

I probably know as much about UFOs as most people who follow the topic, and might even know less than you! I’ve read the same books and watched the same DVDs as most people interested in this. Season 1 of UFO Hunters has been my crash course in UFO investigative fieldwork. That being said, I’ll take a shot at your question.

I wasn’t there at Roswell, but I have to say Roswell really bugs me. It bugs me that it’s never been properly explained. Why can’t people just explain what happened? Why come up with crazy stories of dropping dummies from the sky? Would air force officers really be confused by crash test dummies?

It bugs me that multiple officers swear there was a crashed vehicle and ET bodies involved. Lt. Walter Haut, Major Jesse Marcel, Col. Phil Corso, and Colonel Marion MacGruder all shared accounts that point to the crash of an extraterrestrial vehicle with occupants. Now the real question is, are they telling the truth? And if not, why would they make that up? Were they crazy? All of them? Were they so dim that they couldn’t identify the air force’s own mogul balloons? I don’t think so.

What would it take for a group of outstanding officers to go public with a crashed UFO story? They must have known how insane it sounded. Why risk it? This all doesn’t make sense to me. These guys weren’t stupid. In fact, they were models of excellence. I find this group of outstanding men to be some of the best evidence that something very serious happened in Roswell, that cannot simply be shrugged off. Can you imagine that today? U.S. Officers of the Iraq War mistakenly releasing statements of a crashed flying saucer? It would be insane. So Roswell is a big deal.

Ultimately, however, I have to agree with skeptics, that we are left with only testimony…and I understand why it’s not enough to persuade people.

So I’ll move on to incidents with more persuasive evidence. Keep in mind I’ve come across incredible accounts from highly credible people – fighter pilots, radar operators, astronauts – witnesses like this. But there are two UFO incidents I feel are excellent evidence of the phenomenon.

The 1965 Edwards Air Force Base Incident, and the 1986 Japan Airlines Incident. The reason is that these involve actual recorded data that reveal real events. Data that supports the eyewitness accounts of unusual flying objects. There is no denying that UFO events occurred in these two cases.

During the course of shooting UFO Hunters, I was actually able to meet and interview witnesses that were closely involved with these events. In Washington DC, I was able to meet with John Callahan, retired FAA Division Chief of Accidents and Investigations. Possibly one of the most credible people to come forward and discuss UFOs seriously, he was involved with investigating the 1986 JAL Flight 1628 incident, in which a Japanese crew saw strange objects over Alaska. This entire incident is supported by pilot testimony, cockpit recordings, and radar data. Callahan has stated in other interviews that the CIA moved to bury this incident by collecting the radar data, and telling him that “this never happened, we were never here.”

I asked him plainly “Is there a UFO cover-up?” He paused for a moment and replied, “Well…yes.” This is an FAA Division Chief of Accidents and Investigations. How can I ignore that?

The other incident I believe to be very important is the 1965 Edwards UFO Incident, involving multiple UFOs appearing over Edwards Air Force Base for more than four hours, and involving multiple radar sites in the Los Angeles area that all reported these objects. I recommend that people listen to the audio on the NICAP website and take it all in: page1, audio1, page2, audio2 etc).

During filming of the Edwards episode, I was able to meet retired Air Force Tech Sergeant Chuck Sorrels – the man who was the main air traffic controller on duty that night. To this day he has not changed his story. I found Chuck to be a no-nonsense military man, proud of service and country. He wants no money, no book deals, he wants nothing for sharing his experience.

Chuck retired after 20 years of service in air force. He has no reason to create a story like this. He will look you square in the eye and say that there were unidentified objects over Edwards that night – glowing aerial objects that defied explanation by multiple Air Force witnesses and radar sites. Basically, no one in the entire Las Angeles Air Defense System could identify the objects. Now, since we were in the middle of a cold war at the time, this was very serious incident. To suggest that there were experimental planes, kept secret from our radar facilities makes no sense.

When you think of what happened that night, it boggles the mind. Multiple radar stations all over the Los Angeles area picked up these targets and couldn’t identify them. Chuck was the air traffic controller on duty at Edwards, and all he could do was watch these strange objects. There was visual and radar contact. It was all out of anyone’s control. It escalated to the point of scrambling an F-106 jet, which eventually painted a target in the air.

There was also an F-106 pilot on the ground, a Captain Clark, who later admitted in a deathbed letter that the events were real – he saw a UFO over Edwards that night. All of this evidence together points to a very real event. It was buried for decades until a UFO investigator named Sam Sherman started digging things up, and contact Chuck Sorrels.

Actually, this kind of brings to light the whole purpose of UFO Investigation, now that I think of it. Incidents will remain buried unless investigators keep digging. There are people like Chuck Sorrels keeping amazing UFO experiences to themselves, perhaps planning to take them to the grave.

So this is a huge incident that has been buried. I recommend people look into it, listen to the chatter between radar sites, listen to the witness testimony, and contemplate what it means.

4. Do you believe that Full Disclosure is near, or as far as ever?

Pat Uskert: I love the fantasy that disclosure is just around the corner. I say fantasy because I’m sure many UFO investigators have lived their lives thinking that it was close, and then they passed. I imagine the frustration of being a Donald Keyhoe, or a J. Allen Hynek, hoping that disclosure was just around the corner. The question lingering on their deathbeds. I don’t want to go out like that…wondering with my last breath. For me, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

Although, it certainly is something to hope for. I’d love to see how our society would change if we all admitted that we are not alone, and we are all basically the same human family – and Earth is our home.

But I’ve had a chance to speak with some people who have contemplated this much longer than I have, and they’ve convinced me disclosure will not happen. It will not happen for a long time. There is just no way our current society can handle this right now. Oh, we THINK we can, but we haven’t thought it through. Imagine how many Heaven’s Gate cults would spring up. Imagine the panic of an abduction hoax. We need a lot of spiritual work, I think, before we can accept beings from another star. Homo sapiens has enough problems, without mixing in other beings.

5. If UFOs exist, why is the US military denies us the knowledge?

Pat Uskert: I only know what other, more experienced researchers have told me.

If UFOs are indeed a reality, there would be plenty of reasons to deny us the knowledge. The foremost reason would be that those in power would lose power by admitting there is a power greater than them. They could never admit that they are not in complete control. To admit that there are ET vehicles in our skies that can outmaneuver our best jets, is to admit to the general public that our military and our leaders are not in complete control. No leader can do this. It would be a huge, irreversible move, with an unpredictable outcome. Who would want responsibility for this?

So we need to think about where disclosure eventually goes. Sure, we might party at first – Hooray, we’re not alone! But then would come the questions…well, what do they want? Are there others? Do they have the cure for cancer? Is their god better than ours? I think basically the whole scenario described by the Brookings Report is correct. We would lose it. Sure, many of us wouldn’t. But many of us would. Bottom line – I think the public would begin to demand more access to information to the ETs, and less from earth leaders. Like Sergeant Major Bob Dean told me personally, it would open up a Pandora’s Box…and nothing would be the same.

Another reason would be that these UFOs would be the key to advanced propulsion and weaponry, to be studied by special departments. The more secrecy for them, the better. While everyone else is chuckling about UFOs, certain programs are secretly developing better weapons to ensure them more control and power.

This secrecy, however, is why some people, like Stephen Greer of the Disclosure Project believe UFO disclosure MUST happen. I think he’s right. I just don’t know if our current society can handle it.

6. On the show you feature two lab/scientists guest stars that appear on almost every episode, trying to prove or disprove the various cases. Have they become more convinced about UFOs since they started working on the show, or they remain as skeptical as ever?

Pat Uskert: Do you mean Ted Acworth and intern Jeff Tomlinson, and our experiment designer John Tindall? These guys all rock, and have their own opinion of what’s going on. You’d have to ask them.

I can say that Ted is mostly skeptical, but not closed-minded, and on occasion we catch him admitting there is no explanation for certain UFO events. Especially after talking with certain fighter pilots who shared their UFO experiences with him, he seemed unable to explain away their accounts.

Tindall keeps to the experiments, trying to remain as unbiased as possible, and doesn’t offer any opinions on UFOs.

Jeff Tomlinson, the intern, is a bit of a free-thinkg child of the cosmos, and is open to anything.

7. What’s your personal opinion on the Isaac documents and the drone case? An elaborate hoax, or something more?

Pat Uskert: The whole Isaac thing sounds like a huge waste of time to me. There is no way to prove it is anything more than a hoax. But as UFO Hunters, we actually went to Colorado to meet with MUFON Director James Carrion to discuss the Isaac material. Carrion is of the opinion that it is disinformation, perhaps released by some government agency.

I’m of the opinion that anyone could have fabricated the documents, the drone footage – as in a hoax. But I want to make it clear this is only my opinion. I have no absolute knowledge of the origins of these documents. The footage and photos, however, with their ridiculous Star Wars font hieroglyphics, are all easily hoaxed, and so I assume that they are. Would alien ships have glyphs from Star Wars?

A good friend of mine worked in Sony’s video game division, where he and associates spent months and sometimes years designing imaginary worlds, languages and hieroglyphics, and strange vehicles. The whole Isaac thing could have simply been part of a game designer portfolio, or a student art project. I don’t know. There are many explanations far less insidious than government plots. Anyone who thinks the Isaac documents and drone footage are authentic should really check out Playstation.

8. The interesting thing about the UFO community is that there is no real community. There is so much uncertainty, doubt, hoaxers, pop culture, paranormal and new age stuff added on top, paranoia etc. Do you think that this is a strength as it allows taking into accounts all possibilities or a weakness that doesn’t allow a collective mind to fight the system and acquire answers?

Pat Uskert: You are so right. The waters are very muddy, aren’t they? Bill mentioned to me that the government doesn’t have to cover up the UFO problem, they just let the UFO community strangle itself. Basically, the UFO community is its own worst enemy.

There are many factions, all with different beliefs, some that actually conflict with each other, some with beliefs that are just too far out, some that expect alien invasion, some that expect hybrid indigo children to save humanity. Most of it is insane, really. I see it as a weakness, personally. How can anyone seriously bring this issue to congress it it’s associated with so much insanity? If anyone wanted to cover up the phenomenon, the found the perfect way to do it – just associate it with total absurd insanity. Nobody will touch it.

But somewhere in there, in that circus of the insane, is a hard core of cases that define this UFO phenomenon, cases like those mentioned above, with serious witnesses and recorded data. With military witnesses willing to testify before congress. With real government documents discussing UFOs. We should not lose sight of this. There is a real UFO phenomenon, no doubt about that. What it is exactly, I don’t know.

9. And the million dollar question: In your opinion, if they exist, are the Gray aliens… good or bad?

Pat Uskert: Ha! I wish I knew! I won’t pretend to have knowledge that I don’t. There’s already too much speculation out there.

I can offer only my opinion. If there were bad aliens out there, with superior technology, why not simply get the invasion over with already? A couple of alien viruses would do it. They could target humans alone, wipe us out, and take our planet without firing a shot. They could enslave us for their genetic experiments, keep us in labs. Much easier than all this skulking about and floating into bedrooms on light beams, don’t you think? But they haven’t done that. So I don’t think there are bad grays stalking us. I think that’s a fiction that’s been developed in recent times – newly fashioned demons to haunt us.

On the other hand, as I said earlier, there are very serious military witnesses who describe seeing gray-type aliens from the Roswell crash – Colonel Corso and Colonel Marion MacGruder. Read up on their military records and ask yourself why they would make up stories like this. These are war heroes. If you believe guys like Corso and MacGruder, gray aliens exist. If you don’t believe them, well, they don’t.

I think people are misplacing their energy, anyway, if they are worrying about grays. We need to be worried about US – homo sapiens. I think WE are just as scary as any alien could be. We might actually be the most terrifying being in the galaxy, with all the nuclear missiles we are pointing at ourselves, bombs we drop on each other. I mean, we watch killing for entertainment. Extraterrestrials that visit us might shake their heads in disappointment, and leave at the speed of light.

10. What the “UFO Hunters” show means to you?

Pat Uskert: For me, UFO Hunters is a quest on a number of levels. First, it’s a search for the UFO truth.. I mean, is any of this real? What are these astronauts and pilots talking about? It’s a legitimate topic to investigate.

But I hope it is also is a quest for truth in general. I hope it inspires all people to ask questions, and think about the universe we live in.

My original hope in being part of a fun UFO show, is to bring back that sense of wonder I experienced as a child watching “In Search Of” hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Wow, that was the show! It looked at the mystery all around us, marveling at universe we live in. And it seems like we are losing that sense of wonder. I hear people only talking about movies, about new cars, about what they want to buy. I want people to be reminded that “wow! we are all on a giant ball hurling through space – and it’s fantastic!”

I hope that people will watch UFO Hunters and, for a little while anyway, forget the bills and shopping, and remember that we are all living on a giant ball, floating through space together, and feel the wonder and adventure that is all around us…whether you believe in UFOs or not.

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