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Close Encounter: Falcon Lake Incident

          This month we’re back on track with our normal posting schedule. That means we’re back with a supernatural post. Falcon Lake is considered the most famous and most well-documented UFO sighting (and encounter) in Canadian history. So what happened on that May night in 1967 that caused so much investigation and fanfare? Let’s explore.

The Encounter

          On May 20, 1967, a man named Stephen Michalak was searching for minerals near Falcon Lake. He had a job as an industrial mechanic – though he did enjoy geology and being in the outdoors. The lake, which is near Winnipeg in Manitoba, was said to have veins of silver and quartz deposits, to which Michalak had staked a claim in 1967. While exploring the area, Michalak said the incident began with a flock of geese were startled into flight. This caused him to look up, where he saw two UFOs.
          The crafts have been described as oval or cigar shaped and both were glowing red. Michalak saw both descending towards him. One craft pulled up and hovered, but the second UFO landed on a flat rock nearby. Michalak said it was about 15 feet high and 40 feet wide, and resembled a bowl that had a dome or bubble on top of it. There was a grid of holes on one side and an opening. It smelled like sulfur and Michalak heard humanlike voices from that opening. Knowing that what he was seeing was strange, Michalak took some time to draw what he was seeing, as he did not have any other way of capturing the moment.
          After he was finished with his sketch, called out in a few different voices, but the craft and those presumably inside of it showed no signs of hearing or understanding him. So, curious and willing to help, Michalak approached the craft. He described the metal as being one solid piece with no seams. He put on protective goggles that he used while chipping rocks before looking inside the craft, where he claimed to have seen a “maze of lights.”
          Then, as if the beings inside the craft realized they were being watched, panels slid across the opening, cutting off that light. Michalak touched the metal, and it was hot enough to melt the glove he was wearing. The UFO then began spinning, and hot air was expelled from that grid of holes on the side of the craft. The air was hot enough to ignite Michalak’s shirt, and he stumbled back before ripping it off. He staggered through the woods and vomited. Eventually, through his disorientation, he made it back to his hotel, where he packed and caught a bus back to Winnipeg.

(Michalak’s sketch of the landed craft
via CBC)

The Investigation

          In Winnipeg, the investigation began. Michalak went to a hospital to get the burns on his chest treated. The burns were equidistant and symmetrical, and they would have been very difficult to fake. Michalak was plagued for weeks after the encounter by a seemingly sourceless illness that had symptoms like diarrhea, weight loss, and blackouts. Which sounds a bit like Radiation Sickness – we’ll get back to that in a bit.
          Once the news of Michalak’s encounter got out, everyone wanted to know what happened. There were the usual suspects – the conspiracy theorists, the looky-loos, the nay-sayers – but investigative agencies were also keen to look into the claims. They returned to the site of the encounter, where they recovered Michalak’s shirt and glove. They also noted a circle of about fifteen feet that was just soil, even though vegetation was thriving everywhere else in the area. Investigating officers took soil samples and found metal that had melted into nearby rocks – both the metal and the soil were deemed to have high levels of radioactivity.
          No sources of the burns on Michalak has ever been concretely found, though they do match up with his sketch. He ended up at the Mayo Clinic, where he was eventually cleared of any mental or physical illness. The attending psychiatrist even claimed he was a pragmatic guy. So, let’s look at the theories.

(A photo of Michalak with the grid-pattern burns.
via CBC)

The Theories

          There are three main theories here: 1) Steve Michalak made the story up as a hoax for some unknown reason; 2) Steve Michalak thought he saw the UFO’s as a result of being exposed to high levels of radiation in the area; or 3) Steve Michalak told the story exactly how it happened. I’m just going to outright say that I don’t think Michalak made up this story as a hoax. He didn’t benefit in any way from this story coming out – in fact, he stated in many interviews that he wished he’d never told anyone. People close to him and mental health professionals said he was down to earth and sensible. It just doesn’t make any sense that he’d make this up.
          The second theory is slightly more plausible – though I must say up front that this is 90% speculation. We know that radiation sickness can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, weakness, and fatigue. All of which Michalak in the weeks after the encounter. What I can’t find information on, however, is whether being exposed to high levels of radiation can cause hallucinations. I also can’t find whether the Falcon Lake area had ever been tested for radiation prior to this incident. So, could it be possible that something else happened in the area to make it radioactive. Then, when Michalak was visiting that day, he became affected by the high levels of radioactivity and he hallucinated the craft. This theory, however, does not explain the near-perfectly circular burns on his abdomen.
          The last theory is that Michalak saw what he saw and told the truth. This theory explains the burns, the landing area devoid of growth, the radioactive metal melted into the rock, everything. It seems far-fetched, but let’s take a step back. I can believe that Michalak saw these crafts, but seeing a UFO doesn’t necessarily mean that it was an alien craft. Overall, this seems like the most likely theory, but there are still so many missing pieces. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth, short of someone with a time machine going back and observing that night for themselves.


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