The fighting that went on between the various UFO groups and personalities is best documented in Craig Myers book, The war of the words (Amazon.com website)

Charges and countercharges: June 1988 to January 1990

Tim Printy October 2008

Bob Boyd had been frustrated in his attempts to get those closest to Ed to take a more skeptical look at what was happening. In May of 1988, he had released several letters and a paper titled Failure at Science that expressed his deep concerns about Ed's sightings. Boyd was also not wooed by Ed's charm as easily as the investigators close to him and he was making it known publicly that, in his opinion, the case was seriously flawed. As a result, Bob began to take some heat from the MUFON hierarchy. As the Alabama State director for MUFON, Boyd had a high profile position and such anti-Ed talk would not last for long. Walt Andrus asked Bob to "resign" from his position because of "unprofessional investigative techniques" (Speiser Tensions). Boyd refused the offer so Walt relieved him of his position! While Boyd protested that he had been kicked out of MUFON, Andrus denied it. Instead Andrus expounded on why he fired Boyd,

My action [regarding Boyd] was due to his spreading false and grossly irresponsible information about Ed in the name of MUFON. I would never ask anyone to resign simply because they didn't agree with me. But we have a certain standard of responsible investigation that needs to be adhered to. (Speiser Tensions)

Boyd's removal from his position at MUFON signaled that Andrus was not about to listen to any negative talk about this case.

Meanwhile Dr. Maccabee produced a paper on Gulf Breeze at the 1988 MUFON Symposium. His goal was to explain the history of the sightings and his analysis to date. He added in his conclusions that he "could find no convincing proof of a hoax" (Walters Sightings 302). He also released his conclusions of the Road shot based on Ed's testimony of what had happened and his measurements at the scene. He concluded that the light on the road was a reflection and the amount of light hitting the road was much greater than the 100,000-candlepower light he used to experiment with. It was also revealed that the UFO was 185 feet from the photographer. According to Maccabee,

... with the wealth of foreground and background information, it was possible to return to the scene and literally match up the tree branches along the horizon until the location of the camera was determined. Once this was done it was determined that the object was about 185 ft from [Ed's] truck. (Klass 2)

This distance made it possible to determine the dimensions of the object. The UFO was 9 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and 3 feet off the surface of the road. All of these values were based on Ed's identification of tire marks on the side of the road as to being where he took the images but it seems that Dr. Maccabee's tireless calculations had confirmed this location by matching up the trees in the picture with the location. One of the most important values arrived at was the width of the "power ring", which was 7.5 feet. In several photographs, the only thing really visible is the "power ring" and this diameter is what is expected from a Gulf Breeze UFO. I notice that whenever, Maccabee tries to interpolate data and distances, he usually tries to work towards this value. Recall in the second SRS image, he determined the distance to the UFO was 300 feet but he could only determine that the distance was greater than 60 feet. So, Maccabee figured that the ring must be 7.5 feet wide and therefore the distance was 300 feet. Instead of recognizing that these were unknown values, assumed that this one value was known to arrive at the distance. If photo#19 were a hoax, then all of his calculations would be completely off and wrong. Maccabee's methodology for calculation was flawed because he made many assumptions that could not be backed up by facts.

The rest of the summer, Dr. Maccabee spent his time researching the videotape. Bob Oechsler, a self-proclaimed NASA mission specialist, did a considerable amount of analysis on the tape as well. Both felt that the UFO could not have been a hoax model suspended in the air. Oechsler wrote:

An extensive analysis of the two part video tape was started in March and continues today. Various enhancement techniques were performed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Among those tests a variable speed element was employed to make tapes for viewing the entire tape at one-tenth speed. A Sony Video Editor model B VU820 was used with a digital time base corrector to supply a direct signal to a Video Hard Copy Unit made by Tektronix, model 4632. The thermal printer generated photo images of both phases of each frame. A ten-second portion of the videotape requires 600 single copy prints. Each print is measured to define altitude, flight path, rotation characteristics, frequency of beacon lights, ring aberrations, attitude in flight, air speed/velocity, a acceleration/deceleration and an analysis of direction reversals. A preliminary analysis of the audio track indicated that no sound could be identified with the object. More sophisticated equipment is being sought. A preliminary analysis concludes that the object observed in the videotape closely resembles objects photographed with the Polaroid cameras. The object has a clockwise or left to right rotation. The dome or beacon light blinks on and off at no consistent rate or pattern and displays a variable luminosity with each cycle. The object loses altitude moving to the left of the camera just prior to blinking out. A ghost image appears in the first phase of the next frame approximately two object widths to the right that may be related but is apparently not visible through the transmission medium. There are certain restrictions in the evaluation of the videotape. Due to the horizontal resolution lines, we are viewing the object through what is analogous to jail bars turned sideways. Nonetheless it appears conclusive that the bottom or power source light has a variable luminosity characteristic which is not synchronic with the beacon light on top of the object ... The specifications detailed in this case, most notably the absence of audible sound from the UFO craft in the 8-mm video and the rotational characteristic of the "power ring," create enormous difficulty when an attempt is made to recreate what is observed by constructing a model to examine the technology. It is quite clear to this investigator that we are examining a truly anomalous technology. (Walters UFO Abductions 70-1)

With the videotape being considered a record of an alien spaceship, Ed was again vindicated.

Even more revealing was Ed's psychoanalysis concerning the abductions. Dr. Dan Overlade had begun an analysis of Ed's character and events surrounding the abductions. Maccabee checked with Dr. Overlade, and discovered that he had concluded that Ed was not a sociopath and believed the stories he told. Overlade had begun to hypnotize Ed and taught Ed how to relax himself. When Ed attempted these techniques at home, he began to recall the events of May 1. Later, Dr. Overlade managed to go back and discover more about Ed's abductions prior to the events in 1987. Ed had been abducted three times before. Was this reason that Ed was the target for the UFOs?

One last check by Maccabee was to talk to Harvey McLaughlin, the polygrapher who had tested Ed. Dr. Maccabee quotes McLaughlin in that "Ed really believes what he is saying" (Walters Sightings 306). Additionally, Ed was subjected to more tests. Bob Oechsler had submitted two taped interviews of Ed to a security firm in Maryland for Voice Stress Analysis. Michael P. Kradz wrote in his report,

The way the interviews were done and the type of information discussed does not give the examiner the verbal material necessary for him to be able to say if these individuals are being completely truthful with the interviewer ... The rest of the interview, for what it's worth from the standpoint of being able to say he is being truthful about what he saw and what he did, does not show any reactions to cause this examiner to doubt his answers but the interview is not covering any specifics, therefore a more general discussion and it appears Ed is enjoying the discussion mainly about photography. (Randle 75)

Many of Ed's supporters (and Ed himself) proclaim that he passed these tests but it seems that these Voice stress tests were inconclusive at best. Even if these tests were inconclusive, Ed still had his polygraph administered by McLaughlin to bolster his case.

Meanwhile, things at MUFON became very testy. Walt Andrus wrote in the August issue of the MUFON journal, "The overwhelming evidence is in. Gulf Breeze is indeed one of the most incredible cases in modern UFO history" (Christensen). This kind of theatrics began to wear thin with many of the MUFON staff. Several desired that an independent analysis be done of the images. The only person that had access to all the images was Dr. Maccabee. Dr. Robert Nathan, who originally had copies of some of the images, was somewhat skeptical of them. With the exception of Nathan, the others were working closely with Ed Walters. Those worried about the conduct of the investigation, wanted somebody to conduct an impartial analysis. On the 31st of August, Dr. Willy Smith requested some of the photos from Dr. Maccabee for independent analysis. Dr. Maccabee did not reply to this request according to Dr. Smith in a December 1988 MUFON article. An additional request to Bob Oechsler for a high quality copy of one of the photographs was also never answered. Being unable to access the images, Dr. Smith released his skeptical paper titled "The Gulf Breeze Saga" at the September 17th National UFO conference. Mr. Andrus did not accept it very well since he had made the bold proclamation the month before. Even more devastating was that Dr. Smith was a member of the MUFON board! With such a high profile position voicing a negative opinion, Andrus was forced to remove him the same way he fired Bob Boyd. At this point, things were becoming highly stressed in MUFON. Marge Christensen, the public relations director for MUFON, also began to voice her concerns. Andrus convinced her to take a leave of absence in order for her to reconsider. Marge told Paranet that, "Walt seems bound and determined to make this case a cause celebre ..." (Speiser Update). Like Smith and Boyd, her days appeared to be numbered as well. MUFON would suffer greatly from the upheaval that was happening.

Other contradictions in Ed's story began to surface inside the community of Gulf Breeze. The Mayor, Edward Grey, had become disturbed by the whole show and began to point out problems with the star witness MUFON had been backing. When Paranet talked to Mayor Grey he stated, "Ed is a heck of a nice guy, very charming, but it is totally consistent with his personality to pull off a stunt like this" (Speiser Update). When MUFON investigators followed up on this comment, they concluded that the Mayor had an axe to grind against Ed and dismissed his opinion the case was a hoax created by Ed. These investigators continued to proclaim that Ed was a highly respected citizen despite persistent rumors of him being a prankster and having a criminal record.

As the end of the year approached more questions were raised. The December issue of the MUFON Journal presented a negative article on the Gulf Breeze case authored by Willy Smith and Richard Hall. If Richard Hall (One of the most prominent UFOlogists in the United States) had not put his name on the article, it seems it would have been unlikely the article would have been printed. Again, concerns were raised about the conduct of the case. In the author's notes, Richard Hall stated,

My criticism is largely directed at process and procedure. As I hope we have demonstrated in this article, many loose ends remain. It is anything but the "open-and-shut" case represented by proponents. Both Bruce Maccabee and Bob Oechsler have told me about ongoing, in-depth analysis work presently underway on the photographs and videotapes, not yet close to completion, much less reporting. Until the full results of all investigations and analysis are shared, peer reviewed, and - in some cases -replicated by impartial parties, there is no excuse for a rush to final judgment about Gulf Breeze...Science cannot be forced to fit the timetable of TV programs or books. Scientific analysis must be allowed to run its course at its own pace, whatever it takes to ensure that the most thorough and objective study humanly possible has been done; the pro's and con's must be thoroughly sifted before we commit ourselves to any one interpretation. (Hall and Smith 3)

In their basis for their skepticism, Hall and Smith raised some of the points many UFOlogists, outside of the Gulf Breeze group, had been asking:

...if the Gulf Breeze events are genuine, then the entire character of the UFO phenomenon has suddenly changed. (Not impossible, but if so, we should begin seeing other confirmatory signs elsewhere in the country and around the world.) No precedent exists in the literature for a 6-month siege of one individual by UFOs, or the taking of dozens of photographs - almost at will - by one individual (other than Billy Meier, whom MUFON rates as a hoaxer).

Numerous veteran UFOlogists have commented from the outset that the photographs look "hokey." This is not a trivial remark, and cannot be answered as lightly as Maccabee has tried to do by observing that we don't really know what alien craft are supposed to look like. In fact, we thought we did know, based on a very long record of UFO sightings, including sketches and photographs. To the best of our knowledge, there is no precedent for the UFO type (or roughly similar types) said to be haunting Gulf Breeze.

...Most "hokey" pictures in fact did prove to be hoaxes, or very probably so. Obviously, intuitive impressions of UFO photographs do not, alone, constitute science; objective analysis must be done. Nevertheless, experience does count for something, and the established record of photographic UFO images generally considered to be valid records of UFOs does not contain support for the Gulf Breeze UFO(s).

In addition to "hokey," intuition suggests that several of the pictures appear "stagey."... (Hall and Smith 4)

Due to space limitations in the journal, Hall and Smith could only make a few specific arguments but put a major emphasis on the investigative process surrounding this case, which had been suspect for almost a year.

The supporting witness testimony was a major concern because most of it was based exclusively on what was published in the Gulf Breeze Sentinel and had been collected by the same investigators, who were in close contact with Ed Walters:

Despite the fact that hordes of investigators, newsmen, and townspeople were staked out in Gulf Breeze at the height of Ed's reported encounters, not one ever witnessed Ed taking a photograph or separately witnessed a UFO that coincided with one of Ed's reports, while he took some 40 pictures over a six-month period. Only a few independent witnesses to UFO activity in Gulf Breeze report anything like Ed claims to have observed. The more than 130 other cases claimed are - as of this writing -either weak and not supportive of Ed's sightings or not yet even investigated. (Hall and Smith 6)

The witness problem was an important point to make. The number of witnesses who seemed to have been reporting UFOs all over Gulf Breeze numbered a little over a hundred. However, only one professed to see the events that Ed described in his book. This was Hank Boland (AKA Patrick Hanks), a personal friend of the Walters. Others had been mentioned but their sightings had not been at the same time Ed was photographing the UFO.

Charles and Doris Somerby, who happened to be related to Duane Cook, the editor of the Gulf Breeze Sentinel, were considered the most important witnesses to Ed's claims. They reported seeing a UFO flying towards Gulf Breeze only a short time before Ed took his first UFO photographs. The only problem with their sighting was that it was made from a location about ten miles from Ed's home. This puts the UFOs flight path passing over highway 98, which connects Gulf Breeze with Pensacola. The following two or three days did not bring any concerned drivers reporting strange craft flying over the road. Although it was Veteran's day, there was still traffic going back and forth between the two communities. The time of the event was during rush hour and it is odd that there were no mass reports that evening or the next day. Ed also reported that the UFO appeared from the west in his book, making the UFO have to conduct a loop around the city in order to come up from the west side. Later investigation would reveal that the Somerby's reported the UFO being some 150 feet across. This is much larger than any of Ed's sightings. While the Somerby sighting is considered to be highly supportive of Ed's initial encounter, deeper investigation cast doubts on these claims.

Another witness trotted out to defend Ed is Mrs. Billie Zammit who reported seeing a UFO emit a blue beam. This sighting was during the morning of the 11th (2:30 AM) and one can not conclusively connect the two sightings. In fact, early on, Ed did not even mention the blue beam in his letter to the paper or in his initial reports to MUFON. Only after the blue beam sighting by Zammit had been reported did Ed suddenly reveal that the UFO was emitting a blue beam. The one photograph of a UFO with a blue beam was not presented until after Ed began to describe the beam in his reports. The Zammit blue beam connection is, therefore, highly suspect.

Another important set of witnesses were Art and Marry Hufford, who claimed to see a UFO like Ed's on or around the date of the 11th. Unfortunately, they weren't in Gulf Breeze but in Pensacola. They also only got a momentary sighting of roughly 20 seconds while driving home and reported no windows on the spaceship. Later evaluation of this sighting put the date as November 14th or 15th because they were returning home from church. The Huffords did not report their sighting even after the Walters photographs appeared in the paper. Instead they waited until February to start telling their friends that they had seen one of the UFOs. The Huffords did not even fill out an official UFO report until over a year later! This included a drawing of the UFO, which was published in the 1990 MUFON proceedings. When asked by Zan Overall if his report had been published anywhere, Hufford could not recall. At the time, Hufford was part of what became known as the Gulf Breeze Research Team (GBRT) and very involved in the local MUFON chapter. Still, he had no idea that his report was being published by MUFON. Barbara Becker came to an interesting conclusion about the Hufford sighting:

What did Hufford see that day? Something in the sky caught his attention. At that moment, however, he could not recognize it as something familiar. Hufford saw the object only in glimpses while driving with the entire duration of the observation lasting 15 to 20 seconds. The eyes hold an image for only a fraction of a second; images change constantly as a part of the visual process. Since he was driving his attention would have been divided, whatever images would have been stored would have been fragmented and probably not cohesive enough to make a positive identification ... There is really no way to know what Art Hufford saw that day. Too much time had passed, and too much misleading and inaccurate post event information has become available. A photograph taken in Pensacola accompanies this paper. It is of a water tower which Hufford would see each time he went to his church. No, Hufford could not have seen this water tower from where he believes he saw the "UFO." I am not saying he misidentified a water tower. What I am saying is that there is a striking similarity between the tower and the "UFO"-- a similarity too close to be coincidental. In compromise memory information already contained in memory is unconsciously mixed with new information. The result is a memory that resemble and accommodates both pieces of information ... The only reason to call what the Huffords saw that day a UFO is that the report is incomplete; whatever they saw is unidentified and will remain unidentified. It is easy to group uninvestigated unresearched cases in the "unidentified" category, but there is absolutely no usable UFO information that comes out of that kind of blind-faith anecdote-collecting. (Becker 20-3)

Still, the Huffords are often declared to have seen the same UFO Ed had seen. They, along with the Sommerbys are considered the most important witnesses for Ed's spaceship. Again, upon closer examination, this sighting was not as supportive of Ed's case as claimed.

Only Brenda Pollack reported a sighting near where Ed took a picture. She reported a light headed towards Ed's location. While this may sound important, it could have been a misidentified aircraft. The report can imply she saw Ed's craft but it does not confirm it. After all, Ed stated the craft "winked" in and then "winked" out. If it came and went like that, it is hard to believe that Brenda could have seen anything at all. Never discussed is that her sighting lasted significantly longer than Ed's, who saw the UFO only for 10 seconds. As stated previous, there are significant problems with her sighting being used as confirmation of an "Ed" event.

Even more revealing was the claims later made by one of the writers attached to the Gulf Breeze Sentinel, which became the main collector of these UFO reports. Kimberly Blair started working at the Sentinel just after Ed began to submit his photographs and exposed some of the problems in the July 8, 1999 issue of the Pennsacola Independent Weekly. She reported that a friend of hers at the newspaper, Dianne Hansen (not related to Ed), began to question these reports but, "When she spoke out, she got harassing, even threatening, phone calls. So fearing for her safety and her children's, she went silent" (Evans). Kimberly made a very astute observation about the sightings:

I could not chase away the nagging question, how was it possible for a UFO the size and proportion Walters claimed to drop from the sky and hover over his house without dozens if not hundreds of even thousands of people seeing it? Our geography - surrounded on water on three sides, bordered by two bridges that give drivers a bird's eye view of Gulf Breeze makes that impossible. (Evans)

As for the Sentinel's involvement in investigating the case, Blair was appalled that there was no investigation of any of the reports and anything Walters had presented to the paper:

... and we became a propaganda machine for Walters' story and the book he later published. The paper played a big role in perpetuating the illusion ... It became clear that there was no newspaper investigation, or any real desire, to reveal the truth of what was happening in Gulf Breeze ... One of the most significant clues was in Walters himself. Here was a man who said he was being stalked by aliens who were trying to suck him up in a blue beam. Yet nearly everyday he be-bopped into he Sentinel with a smile like a Cheshire Cat's as he headed for Cook's office ... Never did I pick up fear or concern. Walters behavior raised the bar on my suspicions - especially when so many people were gripped by the fear of his claims, everyone except Walters that is. (Evans)

As if these suspicions were not enough, Blair made it important to note that when she went UFO watching with some local residents, they began to point out the UFOs they kept reporting. Like many UFO reports, there was an obvious explanation. They were misidentifying planets. Somewhat disappointed about this report, she went on to say:

The next morning I reported my findings to Cook. I laughed as I told him that I could not believe that the group thought the planets were UFOs. I remember the look on his face and the tone he used ... he leaned forward in his desk chair, stared me in the eyes and said firmly, "Write it up as a UFO report". "I was stunned! Confusion and realization washed over me on the way to my desk. I sat down and re-thought the conversation. Did I not make myself clear? Confusion gave way to relief. Now I knew ... this was all a scam and the paper was playing along. (Evans)

As noted by Blair, the whole circus-like atmosphere of the Ed Walters story had produced a significant share of ridiculous claims and unsubstantiated reports.

What is important to note is that most, if not all, these reports came out AFTER Ed had his pictures published! This contaminated any independent testimony of the witnesses. Any strange light in the sky was suddenly being interpreted to be just like Ed's pictures. The vast majority of witnesses were suddenly looking up and seeing things in the sky they may have never noticed had it not been for Ed's pictures.

Ever since the Gulf Breeze case had become public knowledge, MUFON had become the center of the publicity. This publicity appeared to influence decisions made by those involved with the case. Richard Hall and Dr. Willy Smith had noted this in the conclusion of their MUFON article :

Until independent photoanalysis work is completed and reported, the supposedly supporting evidence systematically analyzed, and the central questions answered, skepticism about Gulf Breeze is entirely justified. Unfortunately, Ed and his wife now are publishing a book. They are receiving the help and cooperation of Donald Ware, Budd Hopkins, and Bruce Maccabee, whose minds appear to be made up. Although they are close to the case and may be right in their judgment, this approach departs drastically from long-established scientific procedure (including published MUFON procedure). It is all the more reason for careful, continued outside investigation and analysis of the key aspects of the case, including the integrity and motivation of the main witness. (Hall and Smith 7)

The book was big news and eyebrows were raised when Ed was offered a $200,000 check to write it. What I have come to call, "the inner circle" (Maccabee, Oechsler, Hopkins, Ware, Flannigan, Wright, Andrus, Reid, and Watson) seemed to want to be in on the book for various reasons. It was MUFON's and others chance to make a big splash with the media and potentially benefit financially.

 

Works Cited

Becker, Barbara. "The Invention of a Gulf Breeze UFO". International UFO Reporter. Vol 17 No. 2 (March/April 1992). 19-23.

Christensen, Marge. MUFON, 1990 - An Organization At Risk. On line posting. Available WWW: http://www.skiesare.demon.co.uk/gb+mufon.html

Evans, Terry. "Re: Bruce Maccabee and Gulf Breeze Photos." 23 September 1999. UFO Updates Mailing List. Online posting. Available WWW: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/1999/sep/m24-011.shtml

Hall, Richard and Willy Smith. "Balancing the Scale: Unanswered Questions About Gulf Breeze". MUFON UFO Journal. September 1988 3-7.

Klass, Philip. "Award-winning MUFON investigators find evidence of hoax in Ed Walters' (Gulf Breeze) UFO Photos--But MUFON director Walt Andrus dismisses their findings." Skeptic's UFO Newsletter, November 1990.

Randle, Kevin. The Randle Report: UFOs in the 90s. New York: M. Evans and Company inc., 1997

Speiser, Jim. "Tensions Mount Over Gulf Breeze" Inside UFOlogy. Paranet online newsletter August 10, 1988.

-. "Gulf Breeze Update" Inside UFOlogy. Paranet online newsletter September 14, 1988.

Walters, Ed and Frances. The Gulf Breeze Sightings. New York: William Morrow and Company, inc. 1990.

-. UFO Abductions in Gulf Breeze. New York: Avon Books. 1994.

 

Ghosts, lies, and videotape: December 1988 - September 1989

The Ed Walters case directory

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