Vail Symposium hosts Col. John Alexander to talk UFOs and other unexplained phenomenon

If you go…
  • What: Anything That Does Happen Can Happen: An Evening with Col. John Alexander and George Knapp
  • When: 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday
  • Where: Edwards Interfaith Chapel
  • Tickets: $25 ($10 for Vail Resorts employees and school staff, and free for students)
  • More info:

It’s one thing when television shows assert that aliens exist, but listening to research from military officials who have gathered data related to unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) but can’t completely explain it adds a whole other level of credibility. Wednesday, retired U.S. Army Col. John Alexander joins investigative journalist George Knapp at the Vail Symposium’s “Anything That Does Happen Can Happen.”

Alexander opens his book, “Reality Denied: Firsthand Experiences with Things That Can’t Happen — But Did,” by saying: “UFOS are real.” He ends the book by stating, “Whatever this is, is more complex that we can ever imagine.” In other words, even after decades of research, no simple answers exist.

Throughout the years, various forms of multisensory data have provided external validation that something beyond our understanding continues to take place both in the sky and, apparently, between mediums, like the ocean.

“We’re not just talking about things flying around,” Alexander said, mentioning subsurface “widgets not just flying but seemingly communicating with something below the surface. These are not really new. What’s new is the actual acceptance within the military and, somewhat, the scientific community that some of these things are real … I used to run the UFO program 35 or 40 years ago, and everything that was found in the program, we already knew in the 1980s … We saw cases of Mach 500 in 1957 — we now talk about Mach 5 being really fast. All those things had been observed decades before.”

In addition to working on international security for 50 years, Alexander researched a range of phenomena, including remote viewing and psychokinesis, and headed an interagency group exploring UFOs. But in the 1980s, political support for UFOs often meant a 20-point hit in the polls.

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“Now, it’s become kind of OK to address these things,” Alexander said, pointing out that some politicians openly support what’s now termed UAP research. “It’s one of the few topics that has bipartisan support.” 

In 2021, the Pentagon released the “tic tac” video captured by U.S. Navy pilots. It revealed an aircraft reaching unfathomable speeds and defying the laws of physics. It was one of the few times the government publicly acknowledged unexplainable events credible witnesses presented evidence of, and it led to the creation of the Defense Department’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), a multidisciplinary agency that now seeks to find answers to unexplained phenomenon and assess any potential threats to the nation. Currently, the organization is investigating 650 UAPs.

During Wednesday’s symposium, Alexander will discuss topics ranging from the history of UFOs to current phenomenon, particularly at Skinwalker Ranch in Utah, as well as Congressional hearings about UAPs.

“What will emerge, I don’t know,” he said about the congressional hearings, which have heard what he classifies as straightforward witnesses backed by a body of evidence to more controversial ones.

Alexander was one of the first to spend the night at Skinwalker Ranch, which holds centuries of “unusual activity that are just mind-boggling,” he said.

“There seems to be a control mechanism that presents events to folks who are there, and it seems to know how the researchers are going to respond even before the event occurs. And then it morphs, and says, ‘Oh, you like that? Try this,’ and gives them (another experience).”

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He tells stories of the original owner, who saw a large wolf try to pull a 600-pound cattle out from fencing. When he hit the wolf at point blank range with a .357 magnum, the wolf kept walking, so he grabbed his elk rifle and shot it. Material flew off the still-ambulatory wolf, whose tracks mysteriously disappeared. When the owner picked up a chunk of material the wolf shed, it was putrefied, or decomposed, Alexander said.

“The things we get into are so strange, they’re almost in the unbelievable realm,” Alexander said.

He tells another story of the former owner tagging a newborn calf, only to return about 45 minutes later to find that same calf eviscerated, with no blood in sight.

“There are just any number of incidents, and they’re all different,” he said. “It’s hard to explain, but intention seems to generate or respond to this phenomenon.”

The fact that Alexander completed his doctorate under Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and became president of the International Association of Near-Death Studies tends to color his perspective of the unexplainable phenomenon. For example, after one researcher spent time on Skinwalker Ranch, the orbs of light he experienced there followed him home to North Carolina. Now, he interacts with them on a nightly basis, with the intention of doing so, Alexander said.

All Alexander can say is: “It is very, very bizarre, with lots and lots of highly credible witnesses.”

He also tends to think that much of the phenomenon are communicating with us, “but what this is and how it fits together is beyond us at the moment,” he said.

Knapp, who has investigated Area 51 — the secretive government research facility in the Nevada desert — and is a Peabody and Emmy award-winning investigative reporter, has also researched a variety of mysterious phenomenon, including Skinwalker Ranch. He will bring his knowledge to the symposium, as well.

“There’s a potential (to discuss) a wide range of phenomenology,” Alexander said. “It is as strange as you can believe, and just as real.”

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