LAS VEGAS (KLAS) - by @G_Knapp
Thousands of people jammed into a small Oregon community this weekend to celebrate a famous UFO incident, and to party down while wearing alien costumes.
The UFO Fest in McMinnville celebrated its 20th anniversary by inviting some of the best known UFO figures, including the former navy pilot who had a close encounter with the now famous "Tic Tac" craft and the guy who put Area 51 on the map.
There was no way the I-Team could miss an event like this.
Preparation for the annual McMinnville UFO Fest Parade starts early, by necessity. Each year's event has grown larger than the year before, to the point where most of the community, and thousands of visitors, participate one way or another. And anyone who isn't watching the parade is probably in it.
This is Mardi Gras meets Halloween meets the Day the Earth Stood Still, with aliens of every shape, size, and color, and some from planets not yet discovered.
The crowd stands five deep in some parts of town. Businesses offer their own E.T. decorations and specials, and at the head of the parade are the invited speakers, who despite the revelry that takes place on the outside, get fairly serious on the inside.
The lineup this year attracted the largest attendance in the fest's 20-year history. Former police officer Dave Paulides lecturing about strange disappearances, filmmaker Jeremy Corbell who screened two of his documentaries, including one about former government scientist Bob Lazar, and Lazar himself, whose appearance produced the first sold-out event in the history of the festival and, in what he says was his first and last public appearance - former naval aviator Dave Fravor - the pilot who got the closest look at the now famous Tic Tac UFO.
That incident in 2004 off the coast of Southern California, recorded on a video that was officially released by the Pentagon, sparked renewed international interest in the UFO subject. It was reported worldwide, including a 2017 front page story in the New York Times.
Fravor, who was commander of the elite Black Aces F-18 squadron, engaged the Tic Tac and saw it do things earthly technology cannot do.
"I watched it for five minutes, Fravor said. "It's not a bird, not a weather balloon. I've heard all the Internet speculation. I don't know what they're talking about. I don't know what it is. It's way beyond the capabilities of a Super Hornet."
In an on-stage interview, Fravor described the Tic Tac in great detail and said the original video showed it had two appendages, like legs. He might not have even noticed it if not for something much larger in the ocean just below where the Tic Tac maneuvered.
"It's what drew us to it. It was a perfectly calm day, and it was causing white water, in the shape of a cross, about the size of a 737. The Tic Tac was moving around that white water. I didn't see what was below the water. We just know it was causing the water to break on a pristine day," he said.
Fravor has speculated the craft used gravity propulsion, something beyond known technology, and pretty much identical to claims made by former Nevadan Bob Lazar, who in 1989 said he worked in a program to reverse engineer spacecraft of unknown origin.
Fravor and Lazar spent a lot of time comparing notes during the fest.
"The craft he described, and talking to him in person, it operates exactly like the craft I worked on," former government scientist Bob Lazar said.
He and Fravor both said if the Tic Tac was human technology that had been mastered back in 2004, it would be tough to hide for 15 years.
"You can't tell me they have that technology and not exploit it. It would make us invincible. We'd jump on it the second we can duplicate it," Lazar said.
"This technology would change humanity, change our lives. You can hide stuff for a long time but 15 years and no hint of it?" Fravor said.
The festival was inspired by a much earlier demonstration of a similar technology, seen and photographed by an Oregon farmer in 1950. Despite numerous attempts to debunk the so-called Trent photos, they are still considered to be credible evidence of something unknown.