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The 2003 Canadian UFO Survey

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 05:04:20 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 05:04:20 -0500
Subject: The 2003 Canadian UFO Survey


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                            The 2003
                      CANADIAN UFO SURVEY:
                   an analysis of UFO reports
                            in Canada


                           Compiled by
                          Geoff Dittman
                       Chris A. Rutkowski


        Errol Bruce-Knapp, MUFON Ontario and UFO Updates
            Sue Darroch, Para-Researchers of Ontario
                     Peter Davenport, NUFORC
            Michel Deschamps, MUFON Ontario, Sudbury
                   George Filer, Filer's Files
          Stanton Friedman, Fredericton, New Brunswick
       Anita Goodrich, Hauntings Research Group (Ontario)
                  Hans Grasholm, UFO*BC (Yukon)
              Jen H., Newfoundland UFOs, St. John's
                Martin Jasek, UFO*BC (Vancouver)
              Stephanie Lechniak, Haunted Hamilton
                   Don Ledger, UFO Nova Scotia
                      Dave Pengilly, UFO*BC
                 Jacques Poulet, CHUCARA, Quebec
                    Joe Trainor, UFO Roundup
Elliott Van Dusen, Paranormal Phenomena Research & Investigation
                       Brian Vike, HBCCUFO

                     Chris Rutkowski, UFOROM

              Data Entry, Compilation and Analyses
                      Geoff Dittman, UFOROM

                          Published by

                  Ufology Research of Manitoba
                     Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
                             c 2004

The 2003 Canadian UFO Survey


Since 1989, UFOROM has been soliciting UFO case data from all
known and active investigators and researchers in Canada. Our
goal has been to provide data for use by researchers as they try
to understand this controversial phenomenon. No comparable
studies are currently produced by any other research group in
North America. The only known similar program is one in Sweden,
where UFO report data is analysed by the Archives for UFO
Research. They have lists of Swedish UFO sightings from 1997 to
the present online. 2003 thus marks our fifteenth year of
collecting and analysing Canadian UFO report data. UFOROM
presently has UFO data from 1993 to the present available online,
and is working to add earlier national case data to the database.
The 2003 Canadian UFO Survey: Summary of Results

O    There were 673 UFO sightings reported in Canada in 2003 - or
     nearly two each day.

O    There were about 39 per cent more UFO reports in 2003 than
     2002. The number of UFO reports per year in Canada has
     increased almost 350 per cent since 1998.

O    British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec all had all-
     time record high numbers of UFOs reported in 2003.

O    In 2003, about 17 per cent of all UFO reports were
     unexplained. This percentage of unknowns falls to about
     seven per cent when only high-quality cases are considered.

O    Most UFO sightings have two witnesses.

O    The typical UFO sighting lasted approximately 10 minutes in

The most important findings of this study include the fact that
the number of UFO sightings in Canada has increased over the
past fifteen years, and 2003 saw an all-time record high number
of sightings reported. People continue to report observing
unusual objects in the sky, and some of these objects do not
have obvious explanations. Many witnesses are pilots, police and
other individuals with reasonably good observing capabilities
and good judgement. Although most reported UFOs are simply
lights in the night sky, a significant number are objects with
definite shapes observed within the witnesses' frame of

Popular opinion to the contrary, there is yet to be any
incontrovertible evidence that some UFO cases involve
extraterrestrial contact. The continued reporting of UFOs by the
public and the yearly increase in numbers of UFO reports
suggests a need for further examination of the phenomenon by
social, medical and/or physical scientists.

For further information, contact:
Ufology Research of Manitoba,
e-mail: rutkows.nul

Note: A toll-free telephone number to report UFO sightings in
Canada has become operational. This "UFO Hotline" is:

Raison D'etre

Why bother to collect UFO reports? In one sense, the answer may
be as simple as "because they're there." Polls by both
professional and lay organizations have shown that approximately
ten per cent of all North Americans believe they have seen UFOs.
Given the population data available, this implies a very large
number of UFO reports. If UFOs are trivial and non-existent, as
some claim, then one might ask why such a large percentage of
the population is labouring under the delusion of seeing things
that are "not there." If, on the other hand, UFOs represent a
"real" phenomenon, the data should be examined for insight into
its nature. In either situation, it can be argued that UFO
reports deserve and merit serious scientific attention.

In general, the public equates UFOs with alien visitation.
However, there is no incontrovertible proof that this is a real
connection. In order to determine if there might be signs of
extraterrestrial contact, research on the actual characteristics
of UFO reports is needed. Do the reports really bear out such a
linkage? What, exactly, are people seeing and reporting as UFOs?
Are they seeing "classic" Hollywood-style flying saucers, like
those portrayed in movies and television shows? Are there really
well-documented and well-witnessed UFO reports, with no
explanation as to their nature? Given the general public
perception that aliens exist and are present in our Solar
System, and that the answers to these questions may already
exist in the beliefs and desires of popular culture, a thorough
examination of actual UFO reports would go far to provide
necessary insight into the phenomenon.

What is generally overlooked by most writers and readers on this
subject is that UFO reports are the foundation of ufology (the
study of the UFO phenomenon). While this may seem an obvious
fact, many books on UFOs and related subjects proceed on the
basis of assumptions, theories and individual anecdotal
accounts. Many books about UFO abductions on bookstore shelves
give the impression that this aspect of the UFO phenomenon
constitutes most of ufology. This is certainly not the case; UFO
research begins with the investigation of UFO reports. It is
through later collection and study that researchers can theorise
about the phenomenon and eventually write papers and books
speculating about UFO origins (including the possible evidence
of alien contact.) Abduction cases actually comprise a very tiny
fraction of the bulk of UFO data. The "bread and butter" of UFO
research lies not in fanciful discourses about aliens' genetic
manipulation of humans but in what UFO witnesses are actually
seeing and reporting.

This last point cannot be overemphasized. The UFO reports
collected and analysed in our annual Surveys are the only data
upon which studies of Canadian UFOs can be reasonably based. As
UFOs are a worldwide phenomenon, the results of analyses of
Canadian UFO reports can easily be applied to cases in other
countries. In effect, this is the empirical data for research in
this field. If one wants to know what people really are seeing
in the skies, the answer lies within these reports.

The General Collection of UFO Data

Many individuals, associations, clubs and groups claim to
investigate UFO reports. Many solicit reports from the general
public. Comparatively few actually participate in any kind of
information sharing or data gathering for scientific programs.
Some are primarily interest groups based in museums,
planetariums, church basements or individuals' homes, and do
essentially nothing with the sighting reports they receive.
Because there is no way to enforce standards in UFO report
investigations, the quality of case investigations varies
considerably between groups and across provinces. Quantitative
studies are difficult because subjective evaluations and
differences in investigative techniques do not allow precise
comparisons. UFOROM's requests for data from Canadian UFO
researchers and investigators include only basic information
that can be used in rigourous analyses. This includes things
such as date of the sighting, the time, duration, number of
witnesses and their location - facts which are not subjective
and can be used in scientific studies before interpretation.

The Official Collection of UFO Data

Until 1995, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)
routinely collected UFO reports from private citizens, RCMP,
civic police and military personnel. This collection of data was
in support of the NRC's interest in the retrieval of meteorites,
with the idea that witnesses' reports of bright lights in the
sky were mostly fireballs and meteors which could then be
triangulated to locate fallen meteorites. (In fact, the
Innisfree meteorite was found in Alberta through this system.)

This practice ceased as a result of budgetary restrictions,
lowered prioritization of meteoric research and the perceived
reduction in importance of UFO data. However, included among the
NRC reports were many observations of meteors and fireballs, and
these have been added into the UFOROM database since 1989. For
several years, the collection of such reports was in an
effective hiatus, but in 2000, an arrangement facilitated that
UFO sightings reported to Transport Canada could then be
referred to UFOROM for research into the phenomenon. This does
not mean that UFOROM receives all official government or
military UFO reports. UFO sightings reported to the RCMP, for
example, will normally get sent only to RCMP Divisional

Another reason why UFO data should be collected and studied is
found in official directives of the Department of National
Defence regarding the actions of all pilots in Canadian
airspace. In documents relating to CIRVIS (Communications
Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings), both
civilians and military personnel are instructed that:

     CIRVIS reports should be made immediately upon a vital
     intelligence sighting of any airborne, waterborne and
     ground objects or activities which appear to be
     hostile, suspicious, unidentified or engaged in illegal
     smuggling activity.

     Examples of events requiring CIRVIS reports are:

          - unidentified flying objects;
          - submarines or warships which are not Canadian or
          - violent explosions; and
          - unexplained or unusual activity in Polar
          regions, abandoned airstrips or other remote,
          sparsely populated areas.

     [DND Flight Information Publication - GPH 204. Flight
     Planning and Procedures, Canada and North Atlantic,
     Issue No. 57, Effective 0901Z 20 May 1999]

In other words, it is considered in the best interests of
everyone to report UFO sightings, and certainly of interest to
the Department of National Defence. The annual Canadian UFO
Survey looks critically at UFO sightings and assesses their

 For the purposes of this and other scientific studies of UFO
data, UFO sightings which have been made to recognized
contributing and participating groups, associations,
organizations or individuals (for a list of contributors see
page 2 of this report) are considered officially reported and
valid as data in this study. The collection of Canadian UFO data
is challenging. However, the data obtained for analysis yields
results that can be compared with other studies. This is useful
in understanding the nature of UFO reports not only in Canada,
but can shed light on the nature of UFO reports elsewhere in the

UFO Reports in Canada

The following table shows the numbers of reported UFOs per year
since 1989.

        Year            Number of cases       Cumulative total

        1989                  141                   141

        1990                  194                   335

        1991                  165                   500

        1992                  223                   723

        1993                  489                   1212

        1994                  189                   1401

        1995                  183                   1584

        1996                  258                   1842

        1997                  284                   2126

        1998                  194                   2320

        1999                  259                   2579

        2000                  263                   2842

        2001                  374                   3216

        2002                  483                   3699

        2003                  673                   4372

The number of UFO reports per year has varied annually,
depending on a number of factors. However, yearly totals have
generally been slowly but steadily increasing since 1989. The
year 2003 saw a 39 per cent increase in UFO report numbers over
2002. Remarkably, between 1998 and 2003, there has been an
almost 350 per cent increase in the number of UFO reports. This
clearly contradicts comments by those who would assert that UFOs
are a "passing fad" or that the number of UFO sightings is
decreasing. In fact, since media coverage of UFOs has been
decreased in recent years, it is more striking that without
media stimuli, UFO sightings are being reported in greater

Still, we must recognize that yearly figures are greatly
dependent on many factors, especially the cooperation of
contributors to the annual survey. The large number of UFO
reports in 1993 was almost entirely due to a single major
fireball event which spawned reports by hundreds of independent
observers across the country. Similarly, the dramatic increase
in UFO reports for 2003 is partly due to a single major event on
July 28, 2003, in the Okanagan Valley, in which literally
hundreds of people observed and reported seeing a band of white
light arching across the sky. This spectacular sight was
certainly not a fireball but may still eventually have a
conventional explanation. There is no question that something
was seen, due to the large number of witnesses reporting it over
a very wide area. Nevertheless, the 2003 data represents the
largest number of UFO reports ever recorded in a single year in
the 15-year history of the annual Canadian UFO Survey.

UFOs and IFOs

For this study, the working definition of a UFO is an object
seen in the sky which its observer cannot identify.

Studies of UFO data routinely include reports of meteors,
fireballs and other conventional objects. In many instances,
observers fail to recognize stars, aircraft and bolides, and
therefore report them as UFOs. Witnesses often report watching
stationary flashing lights low on the horizon for hours and
never conclude they are observing a star or planet.

Some UFO investigators spend many hours sorting IFOs from
UFOs. Historically, analyses of UFO data such as the American
projects Grudge, Sign and Blue Book all included raw UFO data
which later were resolved into categories of UFOs and IFOs.
Sometimes, observed objects are quickly assigned a particular IFO
explanation even though later investigation suggests such an
explanation was unwarranted. The reverse is also true.

The issue of including IFOs in studies of UFO data is an
important one. One could argue that once a sighting is
explained, it has no reason to be considered as a UFO report.
However, this overlooks the fact that the IFO was originally
reported as a UFO and is indeed valid data. It may not be
evidence of extraterrestrial visitation, but as UFO data, it is
quite useful. It must be remembered that all major previous
studies of UFOs examined UFO reports with the intent to explain
a certain percentage of cases. These cases were the IFOs -
 definitely part of the UFO report legacy.

IFOs are problematic in that they are not interesting to most
ufologists. In fact, some UFO investigators readily admit they
do not record details about UFO reports that seem easily
explained as ordinary objects. This may be a serious error. The
UFO witness may be conscientiously reporting an object that is
mysterious to him or her - the exact definition of a UFO.
Therefore, even late-night, anonymous telephone calls that are
obviously reports of airplanes or planets should be rightly
logged as UFO reports. It seems reasonable that all UFO reports
be included in statistical databases and in later studies on the
phenomenon, regardless of the cases' later reclassification as

The IFO question became more significant in 2003 as many more
fireball and meteor reports than usual were added as data from
astronomical sources. Brilliant fireballs have always been
included within UFO data, especially the American military
studies, and have been included in the UFOROM annual studies as
a matter of course and to allow better comparisons with
historical studies. As fireball reporting networks become more
efficient, however, the number of IFOs in the UFO database
increases dramatically. Many fireballs are reported as UFOs and
are thus justifiably included in the UFO database. Others that
are reported as fireballs and bolides might not be considered
appropriate for inclusion, and this problem should be addressed
in later analyses.

Since most UFO reports can be explained and reclassified as
IFOs, this fact attests to the reality of the objects seen. UFO
reports actually reflect real events which occur. When a UFO is
reported, a real object has been seen that was not just a
fantasy of a witness' imagination.


Data for each case was received by UFOROM from participating
researchers across Canada. The information then was coded by
members of UFOROM and entered into a Microsoft Excel database
and statistically analysed.

     An example of the coding key is as follows:

Example: 2003  01 09 1530 Vernon BC DD 900 silver  2    ps  6   5
UFOBC  p  four objs. seen

Field:           1     2   3     4         5       6     7      8
9     10  11 12 13     14      15    16

     Field 1 is a default YEAR for the report.
     Field 2 is the MONTH of the incident.
     Field 3 is the DATE of the sighting.
     Field 4 is the local TIME, on the 24-hour clock.
     Field 5 is the geographical LOCATION of the incident.
     Field 6 is the PROVINCE where the sighting occurred.
     Field  7  is  the  TYPE of report, using the Modified  Hynek
     Classification System.
     Field 8 is the DURATION of the sighting, in seconds  (a
     value of 600 thus represents 10 minutes).
     Field 9 is the primary COLOUR of the object(s) seen
     Field 10 is the number of WITNESSES
     Field 11 is the SHAPE of the object(s) seen
     Field 12 is the STRANGENESS of the report.
     Field 13 is the RELIABILITY of the report.
     Field 14 is the SOURCE of the report.
     Field 15 is the EVALUATION of the case.
     Field 16 includes any COMMENTS noted about the case.

Analyses of the Data

Distribution of UFO Reports Across Canada

In 2003, British Columbia had more than 45 per cent of the total
number of UFO sightings reported in Canada, a substantial over-
 representation based on population alone. Ontario and Quebec
together constitute more than 60 per cent of Canada's
population, but had less than 30 per cent of the total number of
UFO reports in 2003. Only 31 cases were reported east of Quebec
in 2003. In 2003, the numbers of UFO reports in BC, Alberta,
Ontario and Quebec were the highest ever recorded.

                             TABLE 1
             Distribution of UFO Reports by Province

       BC   AB  SK   MB  ON  PQ  NB  PEI  NS  NF  YK  NT  NU

1989   15   16  18   22  34  28   1   -    3   3   -   1

1990   76    9  10   20  21  36   7   3    5   4   1   2

1991   59   22   7    6  30  16   9   1    7   4   1   -

1992   90    8   9   23  56  10   9   -    3   4   3   1

1993  157   56  93   74  51  32   3   1    3   7   -   5

1994   14   39   8   10  51  34   6   -    9   6   3   3

1995   45   10  11   48  41  20   -   -    1   1   -   4

1996   43   10  11   39  63  45   1   -    9   1  35   -

1997   99   11   5   32  72  24   1   1    6   3   8  22

1998   58    6  14   15  59  15   1   1    -   -  22   2

1999  118   19   1    6  79   8   1   1    0   6  20   0

2000  102   17   8   19  53  22   0   0   15   0  26   0

2001  123   40  12   20  87  34   5   2   21   6  18   1

2002  176   51   6   36 128  34   4   0   23   3  20   0

2003 304   76   19   25 150  49   4   2   21   4  16   2   5

In addition, the geographical names of UFO sighting locations
were examined for trends. Many cities were found to have
multiple reports, and these are noted in the following table.
Large metropolitan areas include their suburbs.

In 2003, Vancouver (including Surrey, North Vancouver, etc.) was
cited as a location where UFOs were most frequently observed.
Metro Toronto held this honour in 2002, but was second in 2003.
Two small towns in northern British Columbia appeared on the
list as third and fourth. Making the top ten list for the first
time were Airdrie (Alberta) and Kelowna (BC). Calgary and
Edmonton's traditional rivalry persists in both cities making
the list. Kimberly, Vernon and Winnipeg also had significant
numbers of UFO reports.

     Canadian Cities With the Most UFO Reports in 2003

 Rank    Rank         City          Province        Number of
  in      in                                         Reports
 2003    2002

   1       2       Vancouver           BC              41

   2       1        Toronto            ON              34

   3       4        Houston            BC              33

   4       3        Terrace            BC              30

   5                Airdrie            AB              17

   6                Kelowna            BC              16

   7       9        Calgary            AB              15

   8       6        Edmonton           AB              14

   9       5        Winnipeg           MB              13

   9                Kimberly           BC              13

   9                 Vernon            BC              13

Monthly Trends in UFO Reports

Monthly breakdowns of reports during each year tend to show
slightly different patterns. For example, in 1999, UFO cases had
no clear peaks in monthly report numbers, but the year 2000 saw
a very significant set of peaks in August and October and
troughs in May and June. UFO reports are generally thought to
peak in summer and trough in winter, presumably due to the more
pleasant observing conditions during the summer months, when
more witnesses are outside. In 2003, a very unusual monthly
variation was found. With the exception of a large peak in
July/August and a lesser one in October, there was almost a
constant level of UFO activity reported throughout the year. The
yearly trough in May/June was slightly evident. This is counter-
intuitive to the belief that more UFOs are seen when there are
more people outside during warmer periods of the year.

                             TABLE 2
                     Monthly Report Numbers

         J    F   M    A    M    J    J    A    S    O    N    D

1989    13    9   6    9    5    9    5    5   12   32   27    9

1990    17    7   6    47   10  10    9   47   15   16   10    -

1991    13    7   17   12    7  12   16   25   16   12   11   17

1992    15   16   27   16   22  16   23   19   11   16   21   21

1993    59   15   20   22   14  38   27   49   41  152   24   21

1994    16   12   15   21   15  37   19    8   15   10    7   13

1995    14   12   13    9    9  10   28   33   28   11   11    5

1996    37   18   20   16    8  20   30   32   10   22   30   11

1997    19   11   31   29   17  13   29   29   22   16   26   37

1998     3    4    8    5    9  13   16   40   45   35    7    4

1999     8   20   22    7   31  10   27   36   30   29   30    7

2000    21   17   15   21   12  11   19   46   20   44   15   19

2001    36   19   33   25   17  26   51   81   25   17   27   16

2002    31   54   41   28   36  44   73   74   42   26   19   14

2003    41   46   46   46   31  30  131  102   46   64   43   47

UFO Report Types

An analysis by report type shows a similar breakdown to that
found in previous years. The percentage of cases of a particular
type remains roughly constant from year to year, with some
variations. Nocturnal Lights (NLs), increased 51 per cent in
2002 to 64 per cent in 2003. Daylight Disc reports decreased
from 15.8 per cent in 2002 to 11 per cent in 2003. In general,
more UFOs in 2003 were simply lights seen in the night sky.
Nearly 87 per cent of all UFO sightings in 2003, including both
NL and Nocturnal Disc (ND) cases, occurred at night.

Less than 3 per cent of all reported UFO cases in 2003 were
Close Encounters. Very, very few UFO cases involve anything
other than distant objects seen in the sky. This is an important
statistic, because the current popular interest in abductions
and sensational UFO encounters is based not on the vast majority
of UFO cases but on the very tiny fraction of cases which fall
into the category of close encounters. The endless speculation
of what aliens may or may not be doing in our airspace seems
almost completely unconnected to what are actually being
reported as UFOs.

                              TABLE 3

          Report Types (Modified Hynek Classifications)

          NL    ND    DD    C1    C2    C3   C4

1989      84    20    16    10     7    -     2

1990     141    24    15     2     1    -     4

1991     110    26    13     7     4    1     2

1992     136    44    20    15     5    2     3

1993     372    77    26     8     2    1     1

1994-95  234    78    28    21     1     1    5

1996     170    40    27     8     3     4    1

1997     145    62    52     4     2     5    8

1998     115    23    25     6     1     -    -

1999     163    44    37     3     7     1    -

2000     179    31    26     4     2     2    -

2001     218    80    55     8     1     3    3

2002     293    94    76     8     5     0    1

2003     431   152    74     5     5     3    2

For those unfamiliar with the classifications, a summary

NL (Nocturnal Light) - light source in night sky

ND (Nocturnal Disc) - light source in night sky that appears
     to have a definite shape

DD (Daylight Disc) - unknown object observed during daytime

C1 (Close Encounter of the First Kind) - ND or DD occurring
     within 200 metres of a witness

C2 (Close Encounter of the Second Kind) - C1 where physical
    effects left or noted

C3 (Close Encounter of the Third Kind) - C1 where
   figures/entities are encountered

C4 (Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind) - an alleged
   "abduction" or "contact" experience

Note: The category of Nocturnal Disc was created in the 1980s by
UFOROM originally for differentiation of cases within its own
report files.

Hourly Distribution

The hourly distribution of cases has usually followed a similar
pattern every year, with a peak at 2200 hours local and a trough
around 1000 hours local. In 2002, there was an unexpected slight
shift in the peak from 2200 to 2300 hours, and a shift in the
trough from 1000 to noon. In 2003, the peak is again at 2300
hours, but the trough has shifted earlier than before, to 0900.

Since most UFOs are nocturnal lights, most sightings will occur
during the evening hours. Since the number of possible observers
drops off sharply near midnight, we would expect  the hourly
rate of UFO reports would vary with two factors: potential
observers and darkness.


The category of Duration is interesting in that it represents
the subjective length of time the UFO experience lasted. In
other words, this is the length of time the sighting lasted as
estimated by the witness. Naturally, these times are greatly
suspect because it is known that people tend to badly misjudge
the flow of time. However, some people can be good at estimating
time, so this value has some importance. Although an estimate of
"one hour" may be in error by several minutes, it is unlikely
that the true duration would be, for example, one minute.
Furthermore, there have been cases when a UFO was observed and
clocked very accurately, so that we can be reasonably certain
that UFO events can last considerable periods of time.

The average duration of a sighting can be calculated as the sum
of all given durations divided by the number of cases with a
stated duration. This value has varied somewhat, from seven
minutes in 1994 to 25 minutes in 1996. In 2002, the average
duration of all cases was 920 seconds, or about 15 minutes, but
this duration fell significantly in 2003 to 613 seconds, or
about 10 minutes. This drop is probably due to the increase in
very short duration meteor/fireball reports.

Previous analyses have shown that long-duration sightings tend
to occur in the early morning hours, from about midnight until
6:00 a.m. It is probable that the majority of these observations
are of astronomical objects, moving slowly with the rotation of
the Earth.

The duration of a sighting is one of the biggest clues to its
explanation. Experience in studying UFO reports has shown us
that short duration events are usually fireballs or bolides, and
long duration events of an hour or more are very probably
astronomical objects. In between, there can be no way to
distinguish conventional objects from UFOs solely with Duration
data. One study by an Ontario UFO group which timed aircraft
observations found that the duration of such sightings varied
between 15 seconds to more than eight minutes. Therefore,
sightings with durations in this range could very well be
aircraft, providing other observational data do not contradict
such an explanation.


In cases where a colour of an object was reported by witnesses,
the most common colour in 2003 was white (37 per cent). The next
most common colour was "multicoloured," with 13 per cent of the
total. Next in order were orange, green and red. This is somewhat
different from 2002 in that red was much more common last year.
Since most UFOs are nocturnal starlike objects, the abundance of
white objects is not surprising. Colours such as red, orange,
blue and green often are associated with bolides (fireballs).
     The "multicoloured" designation is problematic in that it
literally covers a wide range of possibilities. Some studies of
UFO data have partitioned the category of Colour to include both
"primary" and "secondary" colours in cases where the observed UFO
had more than one colour. The multicoloured label has been used,
for example, when witnesses described their UFOs as having white,
red and green lights. (Many of these are certainly stars or
planets, which flash a variety of colours when seen low on the
horizon. Aircraft also frequently are described as having more
than one colour of light.) For our study, the Colour
classification refers only to the primary colour in the witness'


The average number of witnesses per case between 1989 and 2002 is
approximately 2.00. This value has fluctuated between a high of
2.4 in 1996 to as low as 1.4 in 1990. In 2003, the average number
of witnesses per case was 2.04.

This indicates that the typical UFO experience has more than
one witness, and supports the contention that UFO sightings
represent observations of real, physical phenomena, since there
is usually a corroborator present to support the sighting.


Witnesses' descriptions of the shapes of UFOs vary greatly. In
2003, almost 40 per cent were of "point sources" -  that is,
"starlike" objects. The next most common shapes were "fireball,"
with 26 per cent and "triangle" at five per cent. The classic
"flying saucer" or disc-shaped object comprised only slightly
more than three per cent of all UFO reports, contrary to popular

The shape of a perceived object depends on many factors such as
the witness' own visual acuity, the angle of viewing, the
distance of viewing and the witness' own biases and descriptive
abilities. Nevertheless, in combination with other case data
such as duration, shape can be a good clue towards a UFO's
possible explanation.


The assigning of a Strangeness rating to a UFO report is based
on a classification adopted by researchers who noted that the
inclusion of a subjective evaluation of the degree to which a
particular case is in itself unusual might yield some insight
into the data. For example, the observation of a single,
stationary, starlike light in the sky, seen for several hours,
is not particularly unusual and might likely have a prosaic
explanation such as that of a star or planet. On the other hand,
a detailed observation of a saucer-shaped object which glides
slowly away from a witness after an encounter with grey-skinned
aliens would be considered highly strange.

The numbers of UFO reports according to strangeness rating show
an inverse relationship such that the higher the strangeness
rating, the fewer reports. The one exception to this
relationship occurs in the case of very low strangeness cases,
which are relatively few in number compared to those of moderate
strangeness. It is suggested this is the case because in order
for an observation to be considered a UFO, it must usually rise
above an ad hoc level of strangeness, otherwise it would not be
considered strange at all.

The average strangeness rating for UFO reports during 2003 was
3.6, unchanged from 2002, where 1 is considered not strange at
all and 9 is considered exceptionally unusual. Therefore, most
UFOs reported are of objects which do not greatly stretch the
imagination. Hollywood-style flying saucers are, in reality,
relatively uncommon in UFO reports.


The average Reliability rating of Canadian UFO reports in 2003
was 5.39, similar to 2002, indicating that there were
approximately the same number of higher quality cases as those
of low quality. Low reliability was assigned to reports with
minimal information on the witness, little or no investigation
and incomplete data or description of the object(s) observed.
Higher reliability cases might include actual interviews with
witnesses, a detailed case investigation, multiple witnesses,
supporting documentation and other evidence.

Reliability and Strangeness ratings tend to vary in classic
bell-shaped curves. In other words, there are very few cases
which were both highly unusual and well-reported. Most cases are
of medium strangeness and medium reliability. These are the
"high- quality unknowns" which will be discussed in a later
section of this study. However, there are also very few low-
strangeness cases with low reliability. Low-strangeness cases,
therefore, tend to be well-reported and probably have


UFO data used in this study were supplied by many different
groups, organizations, official agencies and private
individuals. Since this annual survey began in the late 1980s,
more and more cases have been obtained and received via the

In 2002, about 32 per cent of the total cases were obtained
through the private and non-profit National UFO Reporting Center
in the USA, which has a toll-free telephone number for reporting
UFOs and a large sightings list created through voluntary
submission of online report forms by witnesses. This
contribution dropped to 19 per cent in 2003. About seven per
cent of the 2003 cases came from UFO*BC (a significant drop from
about 67 per cent in 2001), which also has a toll-free number
and a significant public presence in its province. One can
speculate that if there were a well-advertised toll-free number
and accompanying website for reporting UFOs in each Canadian
province, perhaps yearly report numbers would increase
dramatically. The Houston BC Centre for UFOs (HBCCUFO) had the
lion's share of contributions, with 38 per cent, and it, too,
has a toll-free number for reporting UFOs across Canada. The
Meteor and Impacts Advisory Committee to the Canadian Space
Agency (MIAC) was the source for more than 16 per cent of all
fireball reports.

A little less than four per cent of the cases in 2003 came as a
result of information obtained through Transport Canada and the
Department of National Defence.

Evaluation (Explanations)

The breakdown by Evaluation for 2003 cases was similar to
results from previous years.  There were four operative
categories: Explained, Insufficient Information, Possible or
Probable Explanation, and Unknown (or Unexplained). It is
important to note that a classification of Unknown does not
imply that an alien spacecraft or mysterious natural phenomenon
was observed; no such interpretation can be made with certainty,
based solely on the given data (though the probability of this
scenario is technically never zero).

In most cases, an Evaluation is made subjectively by both the
contributing investigators and the compilers of this study. The
category of Unknown is adopted if the contributed data or case
report contains enough information such that a conventional
explanation cannot be satisfactorily proposed. This does not
mean that the case will never be explained, but only that a
viable explanation is not immediately obvious. Cases are also
re- evaluated periodically as additional data or information is
brought to attention or obtained through further investigation.

Since 1989, the average proportion of Unknowns has been about 13
per cent per year. In 2003, this was about 17 per cent. This is
a relatively high figure, implying that almost one in six UFOs
cannot be explained. However, there are several factors which
affect this value.

The level and quality of UFO report investigation varies because
there are no explicit and rigourous standards for UFO
investigation. Investigators who are "believers" might be
inclined to consider most UFO sightings as mysterious, whereas
those with more of a skeptical predisposition might tend to
subconsciously (or consciously) reduce the Unknowns in their

During the first few years of these studies, an evaluation of
Explained was almost nonexistent. At first, contributors tended
to ignore UFO sightings that had a simple explanation and
deleted them as actual UFO data. Hence, the only UFO reports
submitted by contributors tended to be high-strangeness cases.
Contributors were then encouraged to submit data on all UFO
reports they received, so that a more uniform assessment and
evaluation process could be realized. Because many IFO cases
such as fireballs and meteors are initially reported as UFOs,
the Explained category was considered necessary for a full
review of UFO data. As noted previously, early American studies
of UFO data included such cases, so present-day comparative
studies should include such data as well. Furthermore, since
there are no absolutes, the subjective nature of assigning
Evaluations is actually an interpretation of the facts by
individual researchers.

The process of evaluating UFO sightings is often complex,
involving a series of steps that take into account errors of
observation and unpredictable but natural phenomena. Checks with
star charts, police, air traffic control operators and
meteorologists are often performed. Where possible, witnesses
are interviewed in person, and sketches or photographs of the
area may be examined. The intent is to eliminate as many
conventional explanations as possible before allowing an
evaluation or conclusion.

                             TABLE 4
                 Evaluation of Canadian UFO Data

         Explained    Insuf. Info.  Poss. Explan.   Unexplained

         #      per     #      per    #      per     #      per
               cent           cent          cent           cent

1989     0      0      74     52.5   47     33.3    20    14.2

1990     0      0      90     46.4   78    40.2     26    13.4

1991     2     1.2     80    48.5    69    41.8     14     8.5

1992    17      8      83     37     74     33      49     22

1993   154     1.5    170    34.8   115    23.5     50    10.2

1994-95 71    19.1    124    33.3   131    35.2     46    12.4

1996    24     9.3    105    40.7    87    33.7     42    16.3

1997    17     6.0    106    37.3   122     43      39    13.7

1998    10     5.1     75    38.7    87    44.8     22    11.3

1999    10     3.9     82    31.5   135    51.9     32    12.3

2000    22     8.5     94    36.4   108    41.9     34    13.2

2001    22     5.9    130    34.7   165    44.1     57    15.2

2002    12     2.5    192    39.7   192    39.7     87     18

2003   110    16.3    166    24.7   286    42.5    111    16.5

Total  471    10.7    1571   35.9   1296   29.6    629    14.4

There were 111 Unknowns out of 673 total cases in 2003. If we
look only at the Unknowns with a Reliability rating of 7 or
greater, we are left with 28 high-quality Unknowns in 2003
(about four per cent of the total). This is in agreement with
previous studies. As a comparison, USAF Blue Book studies found
three to four per cent of their cases were "excellent" Unknowns.

It should be emphasized again that even high-quality Unknowns do
not imply alien visitation. Each case may still have an
explanation following further investigation. And of those that
remain unexplained, they may remain unexplained, but still are
not incontrovertible proof of extraterrestrial intervention or
some mysterious natural phenomenon.

Summary of Results

As with previous studies, the 2003 Canadian UFO Survey does not
offer any positive proof that UFOs are either alien spacecraft
or a specific natural phenomenon. However, it does show that
some phenomenon which often is called a UFO is continually being
observed by witnesses.

The typical UFO sighting is that of two people together
observing a moving, distant white or red light for several
minutes. In most cases, the UFO is likely to be eventually
identified as a conventional object such as an aircraft or
astronomical object. However, in a small percentage of cases,
some UFOs do not appear to have an easy explanation and may be
given the label of "unknown."

What are these "unknowns?" From a completely scientific
standpoint, we have no way of extrapolating a definitive
explanation based on this data. Biases for or against the view
that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft often hinder the
scientific process and cloud the issue. A 'debunker' who has a
strong belief that UFO reports are all fabrications or
misinterpretations may tend to dismiss a truly unusual case out
of hand, whereas a 'believer' who believes aliens are indeed
visiting Earth may read something mysterious into a case with a
conventional explanation.

All that a study of this kind can do is present the data and
some rudimentary analyses. The recognition that there really are
only a handful of higher-quality unknowns among the mass of UFO
cases might lead a debunker to believe they, too, might find an
explanation if enough effort were to be expended, but to a
believer this might be the required proof that some UFOs have no

The Evaluation value is a subjective value imposed by the
investigator or compiler (or both) with a scale such that the
low values represent cases with little information content and
observers of limited observing abilities and the higher values
represent those cases with excellent witnesses (pilots, police,
etc.) and also are well-investigated.  Naturally, cases with
higher values are preferred. The interpretation of the 111
Unknowns is that these cases were among the most challenging of
all the reports received in 2003. It should be noted that most
UFO cases go unreported, and that there may be ten times as many
UFO sightings that go unreported as those which get reported to
public, private or military agencies. Furthermore, it should be
noted that some cases with lower reliability ratings suffer only
from incomplete investigations, and that they may well be more
mysterious than those on the list of Unknowns. And, above all,
these cases are not proof of extraterrestrial visitation.

Other comments

Since 1989, rate of UFO reporting in Canada has been an average
of 20 cases per month, although this has been increasing during
the past five years. In 2002, the monthly rate was 40 per month,
or at least one UFO sighting each day somewhere in Canada. The
rate jumped significantly again in 2003, to more than 50
sightings per month.

The increase in the numbers of UFO reports with time likely
does not have a simple explanation. It could be related to a
growing awareness within the general population that there are
agencies which collect UFO reports. It could be that there really
are more UFOs physically present in the sky. It could be that the
collection of UFO data is becoming more efficient. While media
have been noted as playing a definite role in UFO waves (a
national increase in UFO sightings), media coverage of UFO
reports has significantly declined over the past decade while the
number of reports has risen. Perhaps a cultural factor is at work
as well, where "aliens" and UFOs are now well-entrenched within
the societal mindset and are accepted as more probable than
fiction. This question by itself is deserving of scientific

UFO witnesses range from farmhands to airline pilots and from
teachers to police officers. Witnesses represent all age groups
and racial origin. What is being observed? In most cases, only
ordinary objects. However, this begs a question. If people are
reporting things that can be explained, then the objects they
observed were "really" there. Were the objects we can't identify
"really" there as well? If so, what were they?

These are questions that only continued and rational research
can answer, and only if researchers have the support and
encouragement of both scientists and the public.

       Contributing Organizations

AUFOSG (Alberta UFO Study Group)
e-mail: aufosg2003.nul (Jim Moroney)

National UFO Reporting Center
e-mail: director.nul (Peter Davenport)

UFO Nova Scotia
e-mail: dledger.nul (Don Ledger)

MUFON Ontario
e-mail: mufonont.nul (Errol Bruce-Knapp)

HBCC UFO Research
e-mail: hbccufo.nul (Brian Vike)

e-mail: dave.nul (Dave Pengilly)
et al.

UFOROM (Ufology Research of Manitoba)
e-mail: rutkows.nul (Chris Rutkowski)
e-mail: gdittman.nul (Geoff Dittman)

Box 61
La Prairie, Quebec    J5R 3Y1
e-mail: jpoulet.nul (Jacques Poulet)

UFO Updates
e-mail: ufoupdates.nul (Errol Bruce-Knapp)

UFO Roundup
e-mail: masinaigan.nul (Joseph Trainor)

Filer's Files
e-mail: majorstar.nul (George Filer)

Para-Researchers of Ontario
e-mail: sue.nul (Sue Darroch)

Haunted Hamilton
e-mail: info.nul (Stephanie Lechniak)

Hauntings Research Group (Ontario)
e-mail: agoodrich_hrg.nul (Anita Goodrich)

Paranormal Phenomena Research & Investigation (PPRI) (Nova
e-mail: foxmulder.nul

Newfoundland UFO Research (NUFOR)
e-mail: nufor.nul

Newfoundland UFOs
e-mail: nfufos.nul (Jen H.)

UFO Yukon Research Society
e-mail: mjjasek.nul (Martin Jasek)

Transport Canada
Department of National Defence
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

          Most Interesting Canadian 'Unknowns' in 2003

The following are those Canadian UFO reports in 2003 which had a
Reliability Rating of 7 or greater, a Strangeness Rating of 6 or
greater and which were also assigned an Evaluation of Unknown.

January 31, 2003
10:30 pm  Villeneuve, AB
Two witnesses watched a large, white object, described as "two
saucers rim to rim," move slowly through a farm yard and over
some houses, then out of sight.

February 12, 2003
9:02 pm   Vancouver, BC
A dark triangular craft with some sort of structured
undercarriage was seen to fly silently over the city. It was in
view for three minutes by two witnesses.

February 19, 2003
9:20 am   Raymore, SK
A fast-moving silvery object, "like a cruise missile," flew
swiftly across snow-covered fields east of Regina, heading

March 3, 2003
7:55 am   Houston, BC
The driver and passenger of a truck travelling along a highway
watched as a silver object the size and shape of "an Airstream
trailer" flew alongside them, then zoomed away.

April 21, 2003
11:45 pm  Houston, BC
Two people watched an unusual black object with several rows of
lights on its surface swept back in a "V" shape as it flew
silently west to east.

July 7, 2003
10:30 pm  Verdun, PQ
A witness watched a gray, teardrop-shaped object moving slowly
at low altitude over rooftops, making an unusual whirring sound.

July 31, 2003
1:00 am   Glenmore, BC
Eight people saw some unusual, green nocturnal lights moving in
the sky. Shortly thereafter, two of the witnesses began having
odd dreams and panic attacks, and believed they had periods of
"missing time," suggestive of alien abduction.

August 6, 2003
12:32 am  North Bay, ON
Three witnesses watched as a gray, cigar-shaped object,
stationary in the sky, became "wavy" and then suddenly
disappeared from view after five minutes.

August 10, 2003
2:22 pm   Whitehorse, YK
A large fuselage-shaped object flew low along a road, under some
guy wires, and among trees.

August 23, 2003
6:45 pm   Winnipeg, MB
A saucer-shaped object with "protrusions" was observed by three
witnesses for 30 seconds as it flew over some cars on a highway.

September 21, 2003
Whitehorse, YK
A triangular object with red lights flew over a pair of

December 8, 2003
8:45 pm   Houston, BC
An unusual white, oval object with a ring of blue lights hovered
overtop a house, dropping sparks, then flew steadily towards the
mountains and was lost to sight.

December 24, 2003
1:00 pm   Airdrie, AB
Three people watched a chrome-coloured "marble" hanging
motionless in the sky. After about
15 seconds, it vanished without a trace.

A note about the "Okanagan Arch"

On July 28, 2003, two very unusual objects were observed in the
night sky by literally hundreds of witnesses in southern British
Columbia, many of then in the Okanagan Valley.

First, at approximately 12:45 am, a "moon-sized" object was seen
flying over the region. The object traveled from the northwest
to the southeast, changing direction in some cases to move over
local mountains, and dropping into valleys. When it did this the
object traveled briefly to the west then made its turn back on
course to the southeast. The object was reported by all
witnesses as being "as large as a full moon" and extremely
bright white in colour. Its movement was described by several
witnesses as a "zig- zag." No sound was associated with the
object. The weather conditions were clear, as it was a star-
filled night. Shortly thereafter, a beam of light appeared
overhead, arching across the sky at about 1:00 am and persisting
until at least 2:00 am. The beam or ray of white light was
observed from Kamloops to as far south and east as Jaffray,
British Columbia. People who watched the strange and puzzling
event said the white light looked "as bright as a fluorescent
tube" and said it was arced from horizon to horizon as if one
was viewing a rainbow. The beam of light sat almost stationary
in this position for approximately an hour before dissipating.
Almost everyone who witnessed the beam of white light said they
had never seen anything like this before. All said they had
watched the northern lights many times, but they insisted this
was certainly not the aurora.

The fact that hundreds of witnesses reported the two events is
testament that something physically real was observed. In some
cases, both objects were reported by the same observers. The
possibility of an astronomical cause was first considered, but
this does not seem a viable explanation. If the arch was a
meteor train, its hour-long persistence would be highly
unlikely, especially one as bright as reported. As it turns out,
there was a bright bolide reported near Omak, Washington, at
12:27 am on July 28, 2003, fragmenting as it flew in the
northwest sky. It lasted for two seconds. Although its location
and direction would place it in the right area, it is very odd
that none of the hundreds of witnesses of the arch reported
seeing such a bright fireball.

Another factor that could be involved in the arch is the fire
situation in the BC interior about that time. Forest fires
ravaged much of the Okanagan Valley during the summer,
especially where the arch was seen. This seems more than a
coincidence. It is quite possible that the first object could
have been, perhaps, a water bomber or a related fire fighting
aircraft. As for the arch itself, one can speculate that light
from the fires reflected off their own clouds of smoke. One
problem with this suggestion is that witnesses of the arch
described it as brilliant white, whereas reflected fire light
would likely be more red or orange in colour.

An astronomer at Penticton Observatory was asked to comment on
the arch, and he noted:

My recollection is that the fires had started before then so
their effects are certainly something to consider. On the other
hand, this summer I became aware of a phenomenon known as the
'Okanagan Arch', a whitish band which crosses the sky, similar
in form to an aurora but not an aurora colour, persists for
hours, is seen in the Okanagan from time to time, and nobody
knows what it is, in particular nobody at the observatory. One
of these was reported in mid-August, and the descriptions for
July 28 sound very similar.

So even astronomers were scratching their heads over this
phenomenon. Where does this leave us? A persistent aerial
phenomenon that is not astronomical could therefore be
atmospheric in nature. Noctilucent clouds, perhaps? But why
suddenly, for an entire hour, so geometrically perfect and so
long after sunset? Earthquake lights? Yet the description does
not match most EQL reports. Further, the arch did not precede or
follow any significant seismic activity in the region. There was
a minor 3.2 M earthquake on August 12, 59 km west of Kelowna,
but it would be difficult to connect such a low-energy event
with such a phenomenal aerial display, especially since stronger
events in the same area did not generate such arches. For
example, a much stronger 4.6 M earthquake in Wyoming on August
21 has not been associated with any luminous aerial displays.

Unfortunately, we are left with many reports of a well-witnessed
luminous aerial phenomenon with no explanation.

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