In 1989 a young man, barely into his thirties, shared his incredible, possibly unbelievable, close-encounter story with the world. All because his wife thought he was having an affair.
That story, now the stuff of legends, would go on to be considered one of the most important and well-regarded UFO stories of all time. In essence, Bob Lazar is either the world’s most well-known UFO witnesses, or an incredibly convincing liar who has thousands of people, including one award-winning investigative journalist and one respected documentary filmmaker, convinced.
For the first time in 25 years, that once young man, is sharing his story again. This time, with the enthralled crowd waiting with baited breath at the 2015 UFO Congress in Flagstaff, Arizona.
“I’ve waited all my life to see Bob Lazar,” we overheard while waiting amongst the thousand or so people in the audience.
With one look around at the audience attending the Congress it was easy to see that I, and my videographer who is a 23-year-old female, are both in the majority and minority. The majority as nearly every single person there was white, the minority as nearly every single person there was at least twice our age.
But, that doesn’t really give you the whole picture of those who may or may not believe in what Lazar, and millions of others, are claiming to have experienced.
According to a 2012 National Geographic survey, nearly 80 percent of all Americans believe not only that there are signs that aliens have visited Earth, but also believe that the government is keeping it a secret from the public. Compare that to the only only 42 percent of Americans who believe God created man in his current form, and it’s easy to see why a UFO convention in Arizona may have more parishioners than the average church.
And the believers aren’t just people in corn fields in the midwest as movies would have you believe.
The list of believers includes astronauts, scientists, actors, musicians and several world leaders.
Lazar however, wishes he never shared his story at all.
Lazar’s story came out in the most curious of ways, befitting that of a close-encounter claim.
In 1989, investigative reporter George Knapp was told of a man named Lazar who had intimate knowledge of S-4, an extremely secret sub-base, just south of Area 51 in the Nevada desert.
Upon meeting Lazar, a young man with crooked teeth, gangly arms and giant Coke-bottle glasses, Knapp learned that Lazar was claiming to have worked with the government on reverse-engineering an alien space craft.
According to Lazar, he worked at S-4, a place that at the time didn’t officially exist.
During his time working there, Lazar allegedly worked on what he called “the sport model” of the UFO fleet. In all, Lazar says, there were nine crafts. He noted that when he first saw the craft he thought it was man-made. He thought that if the government was building and flying these crafts it would explain every UFO sighting in recent history, but soon, he said, he learned otherwise.
He told the audience at the Congress about how the UFO he worked on generated its own gravitational field, and how no large human could fit inside and operate it. It was so small inside that the team at S-4 lovingly referred to its would-be inhabitants as “the kids.”
He told of how the inside of the craft was completely smooth, with no corners at all, and how he felt an overwhelmingly ominous feeling while inside it, as if he shouldn’t be there at all.
When Lazar got up to draw on the whiteboard, the audience erupted in cheers and excitement. He drew an image of how the craft’s propulsion system actually worked.
Here’s how the craft was able to travel across the galaxy so quickly:
The craft didn’t propel itself forward, but rather used Element 115, an element that wasn’t officially discovered until 2003, to bend space and time in front of the craft, allowing the UFO to essentially fall towards its destination and warp time.
As he drew on the board, if you put a bowling ball on one side of a mattress and press down on the other side, the ball will roll towards you. That’s how, he said, they travelled so quickly.
At S-4 Lazar says he wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone, besides his direct partner. He didn’t hold normal hours, but would rather be called in at any time and needed to be ready in a moments notice.
It was the phone calls that that would ultimately led to his demise.
Lazar, for the first time, discussed how the secrecy of his job, and the late night phone calls led his wife to believe he was lying about his career.
As Lazar says, his wife got tired of his late nights at work. She accused Lazar of having an affair, but he ensured her he wasn’t. To help her pass the time, Lazar says he purchased her flying lessons.
But instead of taking those lessons, Lazar claims his wife started up her own affair with the instructor.
As part of Lazar’s contract with S-4, he says he had to agree to have his phones tapped. According to Lazar, those listening to the calls learned of his wife’s torrid affair and stopped calling him into work, hoping it would blow over. Lazar added that they could not tell him as he needed to have a stable mind to work at the site. He explained all of this, with a slight chuckle, as 25 years later he can now see how unfortunately funny this all was.
Lazar says he didn’t get a phone call for weeks.
He became frustrated, so he decided to tell a few trusted friends what he had been up to out there in the desert.
For three Wednesdays in a row, Lazar took his friends out to the area just outside of where he says S-4 is located and watched test flights of the UFOs he had been working on.
It was on the third Wednesday at 3 am that he says they were caught. It was from there he says, that all his educational and work records were destroyed, thus destroying any hopes of proving his story without having to out others he worked with. To make matters worse, the government officials he worked for not only erased his past, they then also informed him his wife was having an affair and informed him how they could easily just kill him.
His friends who went with him those three Wednesdays 25 years ago claim that they did in fact see UFO activity and maintain that they believe everything Lazar has ever told them to be true.
Lazar says he was privy to information about aliens visiting Earth for at least the last 10,000 years.
Lazar doesn’t care if you believe his story or not, in fact he wishes you wouldn’t, as he also wishes he never shared it in the first place.
That sentiment is also partly shared by those who told his story in the first place.
By 1989 George Knapp had already accomplished more than most journalists do in their entire career.
He is the recipient of over two dozen Emmys and two Edward R. Murrow awards for his work. But it is the story of Lazar and his UFOs that have followed him over the years.
As he says, he has covered mobsters, gangs, political corruption, salacious celebrity news, environment and more all thanks to being stationed in Las Vegas. But it is the UFO story of Bob Lazar that resonates today. It’s a story Knapp nearly said he regretted telling, but stepped himself back.
Knapp came to meet Lazar via a tip from a friend. Lazar was looking to come forward to protect himself after his old bosses informed him that they could indeed kill him if they wanted it.
It took months for Knapp to convince Lazar to show his face. It took even longer for Knapp to believe him. To this day, Knapp still protects some of the sources who confirmed to him Lazar’s fantastic story.
At the Congress, Knapp described what it’s like to be “the UFO guy, as if it’s tattooed on my butt,” among his journalism peers adding that he, “took it personally when people didn’t believe it” because as he said, “it is potentially the biggest story of mankind.”
Knapp described the story of Lazar to us, and the audience at the convention, as something difficult to report, because others in “our” industry do not want to believe.
As Knapp said, it can certainly be difficult to pin down a source, find the right fact, or thing to prove that you should believe a source with such an incredible, out of this world, story.
He said it was hard to watch others in the news business constantly make fun of sightings. Every time there is a sighting, or a source comes forward, odds are that broadcast news will play the theme song to “X-Files” before signing off with some sort of phone home message.
As Knapp described, it’s journalistic laziness. He spoke of how those journalists are casting off a story without ever following up with a source, doing the research, or making a call. Something they would never do, say, with a story about war, or scandal, so instead they make it one big joke in the industry and to their audience.
While attending the conference, he even quietly warned one of our dinner guests to think twice about sharing their UFO story, as it comes with a lot more than he’d expect.
But here, at the Congress, Knapp is nothing but respected. Especially by the other man following Lazar’s story, Knapp’s mentee, filmmaker Jeremy Corbell.
“If only one of the millions of sightings throughout history is true, then it’s true,” Corbell told RYOT in the car as we went to pick up Knapp from his hotel. “Truth is perceived in fragments, and only from different angles of vision.”
Jeremy Corbell is not someone you would ever stereotype as a UFO fan. He has a long thick beard, sideswept dark hair with a streak of white right down the middle. He has tattoos from fingertips to shoulder blade. He wears clothes you’d more likely find in Brooklyn than in the middle of the Arizona desert. He’s cool. Not that UFO believers aren’t, but it’s more than his look. Corbell is just really, really collected.
It’s that level focus that makes him such a formidable UFO filmmaker. No bullshit. He just wants the truth, and he finds it using the scientific method and only releasing his results when he believes he has empirical evidence to back it up.
He is someone who doesn’t take anything lightly. In fact, prior to taking the UFO world by storm, Corbell was an accomplished jujitsu sensei. He came to filmmaking by mere accident. After contracting valley fever and nearly dying, Corbell became an artist and was given a camera as a gift. “It’s the things in life that we least expect that end up influencing us the most, ” Corbell said.
There was no looking back from there. Everything he does is done with intense purpose. He is not someone to present information without really doing his homework and believing it himself.
Corbell got out of the car to greet his mentor at his hotel like a kid meeting his favorite sports star.
Knapp looked far more stern than the guy you see on TV. He was wearing a dark suit with dark sunglasses. You can make your own “Men in Black” joke here, but Knapp is as serious as a heart attack.
“He’s finally coming to grips with it. He’s still surprised people care,” Knapp said to Corbell, updating him on Lazar from the front seat of the car on the way back to the convention.
Upon arriving at the Congress, we had to walk in a side entrance at the convention hall, otherwise Knapp and Corbell would be mobbed on sight.
Both men, are not here to convince people of anything. In fact, they might be ufology’s anti-heroes.
Corbell went on stage first. The women behind us keep commenting on how cute he is.
Corbell talks about his life story and how he got to be on the stage today. He then showed a home movie of what looks like a UFO flying over Santa Monica, California.
In the video you can hear Corbell muttering, “holy shit,” which the audience loves. Corbell explains how his video later appeared on local TV, only to be refused by Bill Nye the Science Guy, who said the footage was probably created by some guy superimposing sea monkeys onto the screen.
The audience is eating it up. Corbell then goes on to explain how several other people took similar footage that night, and he dug deep and he found the truth. The truth, he said, was better than fiction.
The light swirling through the sky that night was none other than the Red Bull skydiving team doing practice jumps before an aerial show the next day.
The audience isn’t loving it as much anymore. Probably because they wanted to believe that Corbell was bringing them further verification that their own beliefs are right.
“At the end of the day, you gotta have a good BS meter for this, ” Corbell said about UFO culture in general.
And some have tried to take that BS meter to Lazar’s claims.
In fact, one of Lazar’s biggest detractors sat in the audience, mere rows away, listening to everything Lazar said, waiting for his turn on stage later to refute all of his claims during a panel with Corbell.
Stanton Friedman, a respected ufologist and nuclear physicist has spent years researching Lazar’s claims. For Friedman, it is Lazar’s lack of paperwork from the schools he claims to have attended (the ones Lazar says were destroyed once he outed S-4) and the places he claims to have worked, that are proof enough that he is lying.
During the panel discussion with Corbell and Friedman, the two furiously debated proof. For Friedman, it’s paperwork. For Corbell, it’s testimony and sources.
In fact, Corbell just this week revealed a new source who came forward for the first time in a quarter century, to validate some of Lazar’s claims that he worked at Los Alamos. Surely, this source will also be vetted by all sides.
Both Corbell and Knapp are continuing their journey of truth, hoping to find something that will perhaps convince even them that we are not alone in this vast and wondrous universe.
Like Corbell, Knapp remains a skeptic saying, “Ninety percent of it is crap, but that 10 percent, that kernel of truth, is there.”
But Corbell, as he says, no longer has “the luxury of disbelief.”
He, and perhaps Knapp, may be skeptical, but they are no longer skeptics. Through extensive and exhaustive research, the evidence to Corbell has become weighty, in favor of the unknown intelligence engaging with humanity. What Corbell is now seeking to do is “separate the wheat from the chaff,” and get closer to the truth.
In the end, Lazar went on stage, and was greeted with cheers as if Elvis had just reappeared on Earth. Once his interview was over he quickly left the stage, answering no audience questions, and swiftly left the building. Almost as if he was never there at all. But that didn’t matter to the audience. They just wanted to catch a glimpse of their hero who has fed their belief for the last two and a half decades. And that, was enough proof for them.
Written for RYOT NEWS / HUFF POST by Stacey Leasca @sleasca