Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Issue #2 Land Navigation

Welcome to the second installment of "The Field Investigator's Toolbox"! This week I'll be demonstrating how to navigate on land using only what is available around technology!

All of us have come to rely on a level of technology in our day-to-day lives. From our laptops and tablets, to our cell phones that never leave our side, we are connected in ways that were not possible a hundred years ago. Yet, some of the greatest feats of navigation took place years, if not centuries before any of these things were invented. If all of our technology was suddenly shut off, who would know what to do "the old fashioned way"?

So here's the scenario: You have been sent to investigate reports of an unknown object crashing in the desert, in a spot that is very inaccessible by any other means than on foot. You have printed out your topographical maps, and have driven to within a mile of the crash site, but uneven ground and rough terrain force you to park and hike the rest of the way in. Your evidence kit is packed in your backpack, and you are cautiously moving towards the scene and taking readings with your Geiger counter and TriField meter. You can see something ahead of you about a hundred feet from you and you raise your camera to try and take a picture when all of a sudden the battery dies. Frustrated, you pull out your cell phone because you know that you can at least get a quick picture with it, and to your amazement it too has quit fact a quick check reveals that all of your equipment has failed. All of a sudden there is a blinding flash, and whatever was there before has disappeared, and you are left out in the middle of the desert with nothing to guide you.

Most important...DO NOT PANIC! (No, this is not a sequel to "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe"). Someone who is unprepared might feel a little "inadequate" at this point, but you are not even fazed by this development because you know what to do! Right?

Not all Field Investigator's have the benefit of military training, or for that matter even Boy Scout training. Fortunately for me I have both, which has helped me on numerous occasions to make the most out of challenging situations. Even though some might have had extensive training, a little review here will only reinforce lifesaving knowledge.

Here I am going to split this exercise into two parts; daytime and nighttime. In daylight hours determining your cardinal directions (N,S,E,W) is very simple and can be done in just a few minutes. The first thing that you want to do is find a stick or branch (a pencil will do if you can't find a stick) and stick it in the ground. At the tip of it's shadow, place a rock or other marker, then wait ten to fifteen minutes. Place another rock where the tip of the shadow is now, then draw a straight line in between the two markers. This is your east-west line. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so the first shadow mark is always west, and your second is always the east end. Draw a line at a right angle to your east-west line. This is your north-south line. You have now just determined your directions and thanks to the fact that you downloaded your topographical map, you will now be able to find your way back to your car.

Nighttime. Obviously the above method will not work. Hopefully though, the sky is clear enough for you to see the stars. Man has navigated by the celestial heavens for thousands of years, and it's fairly simple to at least get your relative bearings without too much effort. In the northern hemisphere we navigate by using Polaris, or the North Star, while in the southern hemisphere the Southern Cross is used.  For this demonstration we will assume that we are in the northern hemisphere. First locate the Big Dipper. The last two stars in the "cup" point directly at Polaris, which is about five times as far out as the stars in the "cup". Facing Polaris you are facing north with the east on your right and west on your left.

Remembering these simple yet effective methods can at least keep you from becoming hopelessly lost, and might even help to save your life sometime! I hope this was a helpful tip for all, and please remember to subscribe so  you don't miss an issue! See you next week!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Issue #1 Basic Gear

The Field Investigator's Tool Box

Welcome to the first installment of "The Field Investigator's Tool Box"! Here we are way beyond the question of "what if" and deal with the issues of "how to". I will be covering a variety of topics, all of which will have to do with the practical applications of equipment and techniques used in the field. In time I will hope to include articles from other contributors in the field who have their own tips and ideas that can benefit all of us in our investigations of UFOs and related subjects.

To kick off the first installment, I'll be covering the "basics" we all should have with us when out in the field. Of course the first item that every Field Investigator should have on them at all times is a compass. More valuable than determining direction, it can be a first indicator of the presence of a magnetic field. If you are at the site of a suspected landing, one of the first things one should do is check for any kind of residual field before approaching the area in question, and the easiest way to quickly check is to pull out your compass and see if it is behaving in an erratic fashion. Do not assume that because your compass is acting normal, there is no cause for concern...a compass will only detect a magnetic field, not radiation! The compass is a good first indicator, but keep in mind that more sensitive readings will be necessary. That brings me to the next two items that I feel are mandatory in everyones field bag; a Geiger Counter and a TriField Meter.

After reviewing many accounts of crash retrievals and trace landing cases, it has become apparent, to me at least, that the hazards of radiation associated with some cases is cause enough to warrant a specific radiation protocol whenever approaching questionable material. Since it can not be assumed that all events will occur in a location that is easily accessible, I find it more practical to prepare for the more likely scenario; that one will have to carry equipment a considerable distance over unknown terrain. For this reason my philosophy in the field is: Don't bring a thoroughbred, bring a mule. I have chosen the Sper Scientific Model #840026 Geiger Counter. It measures both Gamma (including X-Ray) and Beta radiation, and is sensitive from 0 to 100mR/hr. I consider this piece of equipment one of the most valuable as it just might save your life. Whenever approaching ANY crash or suspected landing site, ALWAYS do a radiation survey as you approach! Remember, the object doesn't need to be broken to emit radiation! Radiation will naturally cling to anything that is travelling through space without shielding. If a reading over 3 mR/hr is read, I would strongly consider stopping right there, taping off the area, and immediately call your SSD to confer on a safe way to proceed from that point. 

The next item I would recommend  is a good TriField Meter. My personal choice is the TriField Meter Model 100XE. It does an outstanding job of measuring magnetic fields from 0 -  100 milligauss, electric fields up to 1,000 volts/meter, and radio/microwave fields (mW/cm squared - into front of box). Make sure to always write down not only how strong the field is, but also how far the measurement was taken from either object or area. You also want to be sure to make the proper notations on your diagrams of the scene. Determining where the differences in field strength are will help to map out the site.

TriField Meter Model 100XE

Sper Scientific  Model #840026 Geiger Counter

Both instruments are easily available on (see above links - might have to cut and paste in browser) and are medium priced, but deliver just as well as the pricier models. I especially like the fact that a replacement GM tube is only $50! That is the one element in the Geiger counter that is most likely to break as they are extremely fragile. Always pack your Geiger counter with care!

With the proper training all three of these instruments can be your first line of inquiry in an on-site investigation. What the data from these instruments provide to YOU the Field Investigator can determine how you proceed in the first moments on the scene. Remember: Whenever in doubt about any situation NEVER hesitate to call your SSD or even your SD if you have questions!

I hope you all enjoy this first issue of "The Field Investigator's Tool Box"! Please leave any comments or ideas for things you would like to hear about in the future. It is my hope to make this a great resource for all who enjoy the investigation of UFOs and other related topics!