Lansing Movie

17 Feb 1967, about 9:45 PM, Palmer, Massachusetts: Mrs. Stella V. Lansing, a housewife, part-time nurse, and mother of five children, the oldest then in Vietnam, was parked with her car on Old Warren Road, just off Route 32, in the double-row, high-voltage power-line area.  This was about a kilometer east of Palmer Center, away from street lights and houses, alongside Burleigh park, and no more than a kilometer from her home at Thompson Lake.  Earlier this evening she had seen a yellow-orange globe of light near the old cemetery and now hoped to see it again.  She had been puzzled frequently by strange lights in the Palmer area and this time brought a borrowed movie camera.  She was ready.

Fig. 1.  Sighting Area

Waiting patiently under a black, starlit sky with the moon nearly half full, she saw three distinct globes of yellow-to-reddish-orange light coming from the southeast, along the power line.  Except for an occasional cricket-like sound they were silent, as low as the power line poles and no more than 20 m from them.  Mrs. Lansing recalls: "They generally glided, sometimes bouncing in a dipping manner, as though riding the crest and ripples of a water wave."  She started filming the approaching objects and was amazed when they suddenly retreated: "They bounced back like a rubber ball on a rubber string."  She then realized why, as a car came along, heading northeast toward West Warren.  It stopped and the driver got out, thinking Mrs. Lansing had car trouble.  The three globes were now hovering far back to the east, at about a 20-deg elevation, one behind the treetops.

Mrs. Lansing recognized the young lady, Ms. K., as an occasional visitor to Palmer and asked her to look at the orange balls of light.  Ms. K. was completely unfamiliar with the term "UFO".  In frustration, Lansing explained it to her, whereupon Ms. K. became frightened and left.  The strange objects now advanced as before, gliding along the power lines.

Although no structural details were apparent, Lansing felt someone must be guiding the globes.  Concentrating on one of them, she began waving "Hello".  She did not forget to use the movie camera and alternated between observing and filming throughout the entire incident.

One of the objects, and then the other two, became bluish-white and headed south-southeast, appearing to leave the area.  Lansing had photographed one of them at 16 frames per second (fps) as it appeared to hover briefly about 20 m away from her.  Now she was about to leave and turned to film the moon, which was south.  Suddenly, from her left came a brilliant burst of white light, shooting up into the air in a zigzag motion at a 45 deg angle, engulfed in swirls of white, red, blue-to-bluish-green and yellow light.  It had appeared to originate from atop the knoll of a small hill, behind the second set of telephone poles in the east-southeast, and was headed westward.

Lansing quickly proceeded to film the object, first clicking the single-frame lever and then using 16 fps.  As she stopped to observe again, the object seemed to glide and suddenly changed or extinguished all visible lighting, except for intermittent flashing of a silvery-white, star-like light.  This continued as the object moved lazily but steadily along a westward heading, until it finally went out of range behind trees and ground clutter.

Lansing had borrowed the camera from her employer and this was her first experience with it.  The Keystone regular 8 mm "Capri" had a fixed lens, no telephoto, and did not have a through-the-lens viewfinder.  It was set at its largest opening of f/2.8 during the sighting and no filters were used.  The Kodachrome II Daylight spool was processed locally.

The resulting movie was first viewed on an old projector, which unfortunately tended to burn the individual frames when the stop-motion lever was held too long on "still".  Lansing evidently captured the zigzag motion by using the single-frame lever, but that's all her photo shows -- a zigzag -- with no unambiguous structural detail.

The 16 fps sequence, about 4˝ sec long, has very low contrast, appearing as a yellow rectangle in the upper-left-hand corner of the projected movie.  In her studies of the film, Lansing had switched to a battery-operated, hand-held viewer, to avoid burning any more frames, and only moving, ghostlike images were apparent.  Months later, a modern projector was purchased.  She recalls: "I had a shock of disbelief as I was finally able to see four beings, two of which were turning their heads and moving their lips as though conversing, and which then appeared to be looking down at me."

Fig. 2 shows one frame from this 4˝ sec sequence.  Fig. 3, sketched by artist Frederick E. Fahdt, assists the reader in locating the three occupants in Fig. 2.  The fourth figure, not visible here, is standing to left in the movie scene.  None appears to be the grey alien type usually reported in close encounters nor, with dark hair, are these the occasional blond "Nordic" types.  Most striking is this veridical human character of the images, even more evident from their animated movements during projection.  Who are these people?  Could they be archeologists from Earth's distant future?  With their casual and non-uniform garb, they look more like university researchers than a military crew.

Fig. 2.  Frame from 8mm movie; copyright © 2008 by Stella V. Lansing

Fig. 3.  Artist's clarification; copyright © 2008 by Thomas M. Olsen

Lansing recalls: "I never saw them when filming...I can't tell you what...they came out of or what they were in...They must have come from the soft, white object which seemed to go away to the southeast -- the object that was hovering while I was filming, i.e., during the sequence preceding the zigzag burst of light."

Four or five tiny orange lights are visible above the window area during projection, regularly spaced on an arc of larger radius.  These suggest the window area on this UFO was below a curved outer rim.  Note the lateral compression of the standing figure on the extreme right, like a Cinemascope® image viewed on a standard-definition, 4:3 television screen.  This effect could be expected from the curvature of a thick, cylindrical window.

A final, puzzling detail in the film is a thin, vertical line, moving slowly but uniformly from left to right.  It crosses the field of view several times at regular intervals during the brief 16 fps sequence.  It is a definite part of the image and cannot be validly attributed to a scratch or artifact from processing or prior projection.

Lansing's movie was shown informally at the end of the APRO 1971 "Eastern UFO Symposium", where one of the featured speakers was psychiatrist / UFO researcher Berthold E. Schwarz, M.D.  He subsequently visited Mrs. Lansing twice in Palmer on five days of February and April 1971, and studied her further at his New Jersey office during five days of May 1971.  These investigations were usually attended by members of her family or close friends.  Schwarz even enlisted the help of famed telepathist Joseph Dunninger, as a positive check on her veracity.  Schwarz's on-site field trips to Palmer, numerous telephone calls and correspondence, interviews of her associates, and his psychiatric evaluation and continuing interest in this case, are documented for UFO researchers by seven articles in Flying Saucer Review (see Stewart's index).  Dr. Schwarz's conclusions and comments in brief:

Sources: Personal communications from Stella V. Lansing; Flying Saucer Review 18, 1, pp 3-12, 19; 20, 5, pp 20-27