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Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, September 2019

by: Brent Raynes

An Alien Xpo in Tennessee

Me on stage giving a talk about John Keel. Look at the size of that screen!!

After 52 years of traversing through a field where I have felt barely noticed and recognized at times, a field that I’ve long held an intense and obsessive fascination and preoccupation over (just ask my wife who has suffered through much of it), on the weekend of August 17th and 18th, at Tennessee’s first major UFO conference called Alien Xpo, (www.alienxpo.com) held at the ultra-modern and spacious Convention Center in Knoxville, I got to not only deliver a one hour talk, I also got to be, for the very first time in my life, a Master of Ceremonies! For those two days, I kind of felt like I had reached celebrity status, which is generally reserved for only a very select few in this wacky-weird and thought-provoking field that the late saucerian jester Jim Moseley referred to as ufoology.

Alien Xpo had a healthy dose of serious stuff for the dedicated ufologist and a smattering of silly and fun for the kiddies and light-hearted adults, with “aliens” in costumes, even the ghost busters and their fully equipped ghost mobile [with Slimmer sitting atop with an aluminum hat on his head]. I spied UFO experiencer Thom Reed engaged in a mock hand-to-hand battle with someone dressed as that dastardly blood-thirsty ET from the movie “Alien.” Of course, a bunch of alien types showed up for the Alien Costume Contest, including one Conehead! There were lots of cool photo opts. Vendors were everywhere selling all sorts of merchandise and memorabilia, much of it, appropriately enough, with an out of this world orientation, from Alien Xpo T-shirts of course, UFO guy and UFO girl T-shirts, and so many other variations, along with so many other things.

Ghost Busters on standby

My wife Joan met friendly ET

One lady had a table lined with alien pet clay figures she had made for sale (like no earthly pets I’ve ever seen, I can assure you) and then there was a table with three novels on ETs and alien abductions, written by the author herself, Ester Lopez. Naturally I just had to ask, and sure enough one evening back in 1989, just as it was getting dark, she was driving a Chevy van in the Fort Pickens area of Florida, near Pensacola Bay, when she saw a black object rise up from the beach on the Gulf side. She remarked, with the military bases nearby like the Pensacola Naval Air station and a Coast Guard Station that it must have been a military helicopter on maneuvers. A man sitting in the seat behind her saw it too and stated that he had designed helicopters for the Navy and it was no helicopter. Then suddenly it appeared an estimated 25 feet up in the air in front of their vehicle, and had flashing red, green, and yellow lights. It appeared to be round. The windows were rolled down, and yet there was no sound that they could hear from the object. The thing stayed with them for an estimated seven miles. “I never would have thought about writing something like that if I hadn’t experienced this,” Lopez told me.

Ester Lopez

It was thrilling to finally get to meet in person people I had emailed, Skyped and Zoomed with over the years but had not yet had the pleasure of interacting with face-to-face. One very notable first meeting was with celebrity status alien abduction researcher, author, and hypnotherapist Kathleen Marden. Back in the 1970s, a former resident of Maine, I often traveled to the neighboring state of New Hampshire and would drop in and spend hours chatting with Betty Hill at her home in Portsmouth. Betty, as most of you know, along with her husband Barney, are ufology’s most famous “alien abduction” experiencers. Betty just so happens was Kathleen’s aunt. In July 1976, I spent four days in Kingston, N.H., and this is when Betty introduced me to her sister, and Kathleen’s mom, Janet Miller. I was told that Janet’s home had a lot of strange things going on. Janet felt her home was “haunted.” In fact, while we were waiting to go up on stage to the podium, where I would give Kathleen an introduction, we talked again briefly about the time she was visiting her mom’s home and she heard a commotion from a room where her then 5-year-old son was staying the night. To her shock, she found him swatting with his hand at a small flying glowing spherical orb. She grabbed him up and took him to her room for the rest of the night.

Me and Kathleen Marden, at long last!

Rey Hernandez of FREE (Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Encounters) had flown in from Miami, Florida, and while we had had many ZOOM exchanges in the past, he didn’t recognize me with longer hair. We laughed and Rey said obviously now that I am retired I can let my hair grow out longer, and I added yes, that was something that the Tennessee Department of Correction, with whom I had worked for over 28 years, frowned upon.

Me and Rey Hernandez

I recall how someone had asked Rey what was the truth behind the UFOs and he replied that we’re just learning to ask the right questions, that we still have so much to learn. He even remarked at another point in a conversation with me and Kathleen about preparing the next generation who will follow us in this work. I also learned of Rey’s plans to organize a new academic research team that he intends to call the Consciousness and Contact Research Institute (CCRI) that would continue to research the relationship between consciousness and contact experiences with “non-human intelligences” through what he continues to refer to as the various “Contact Modalities” like NDEs, OBEs, ghosts, spirits, channelings, EVPs, remote viewing, UAP/UFO phenomena, etc.

Also got to meet in person for the first time the Rev. Michael Carter, a contact experiencer who works with FREE and gave a talk for which the audience gave a standing ovation. Soon after meeting him, I did an interview with him, and so you can give it a listen and hear his thoughts on UFOs and spirituality for yourself.

Also next to our vending table was a table shared by famous ‘alien abductee’ Travis Walton, who is a regular at such events, and my first time meeting him in person too, along with MUFON State Director Angelia Sheer [who I have met and interviewed previously for this magazine, and who is well aware and well versed also in the high strangeness components of this enigma]. Once again it was good to connect with Angelia as well.

Other speakers at Alien Xpo were Stephen Bassett, the executive director of the Paradigm Research Group; Mike Bara, self-described “born again conspiracy theorist”; Dean Haglund, one of The Lone Gunmen on The X-Files; Andrew Gough, chairman of the esoteric research society The Rennes Group and the Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Sciences; Ken Johnston, a retired aerospace engineer; Thom Reed, a noted UFO experiencer; and Mary Joyce, editor of Sky Ships Over Cashiers website (www.skyshipsovercashiers.com). In this issue, you will find an article by Mary on the Cherokee “little people.”

Though details are not yet known at this time, Alien Xpo is slated to reappear again next year on August 1st. Location and speakers to be announced later. Rumor has it that Linda Moultan Howe will be putting in an appearance. Meanwhile, Britain’s Nick Pope and our own Peter Robbins are slated to speak from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. at the UT Conference Center in Knoxville on Saturday, March 14th. A continental breakfast, lunch, and beverages are included. Ticket sales end by February 16th. You will not be able to purchase tickets at the door.

Thursday, August 18, 2022