Interview with UFO Researcher and Author Ryan Sprague
For anyone who follows current trends in the UFO field, the name Ryan Sprague has been as ubiquitous as the phrase, ‘the truth is out there’. You can hear him on his podcast, Into the Fray, as well as a guest on just about every UFO/Paranormal podcast out there. You may have also seen him on TV on the Travel Channel, Science Channel and more. A New York playwright, he’s also the proud author of Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon. I recently sat down with Ryan to talk about his book, the possible truth behind the UFO phenomenon and where to get the best hot dogs in New York.
Tell us about your path from accomplished playwright to author of Somewhere in the Skies : A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon and podcaster on Into the Fray Radio. If life is all about experience and diversification, you’re doing it right.
Well, I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but I am definitely trying to do it! And if people want to follow me on that journey, I couldn’t be happier and more appreciative of that. My stage and film writing began in college at Oswego State University (Where snow would reach my neck during most winters, and ropes were put between buildings to pull your way to class… no joke). My main focus was theater, but I just happened to take one playwriting course my sophomore year and I was hooked. I then dove head first into playwriting, and have since made that my main focus here in New York City where I’ve been living for the past ten years. I was also always fascinated by the UFO topic, having had a rather dramatic triangular UFO sighting over the Saint Lawrence River in Upstate NY when I was twelve years old. I started writing for several alternative print magazines about UFOs, and even began work on a stage play about the 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO incident. I finally decided that I wanted to write a book and really get my own voice and thoughts on the the topic out there, and that’s how the book came about. After two years of research, it’s finally out on the shelves and I couldn’t be happier. As for Into the Fray, I am an avid podcast listener as I’m constantly commuting to and from Manhattan here in NYC, and there’s nothing better than listening to something on your headphones than to hear New Yorkers complain about their day. I remembered hearing a show about Bigfoot, a topic I never really took an interest in, and the co-host was so knowledgeable and passionate about the topic, and reminded me so much of myself when I talked about UFOs. That’s when I contacted the host, Shannon LeGro, and we started talking about how cool it would be the start a show where we literally taught one another about a topic we knew very little about. And it sort of culminated into what is now Into the Fray, featuring Shannon, Sam Shearon, and myself. We chat weekly about weird news, the paranormal, cryptids, UFOs, and even true crimes, bringing on guests and experts to join the conversation. It’s been an amazing ride, and we’ve really only begun!
I know a lot of people are calling you the bright young voice in the UFO field. You’re in your 30s, which makes you about 30 years younger than the familiar names that we’ve all come to know. Who are some of your biggest influences?
My biggest influence and the person I consider my mentor in this field is author and investigative writer, Peter Robbins. Robbins, along with Larry Warren, wrote the British Best-Selling book, Left at East Gate: A First-hand Account of the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident, Its Cover-up, and Investigation. After reading his book, I immediately contacted him to discuss this deeply compelling case and we’ve become wonderful friends and colleagues ever since. My other influences really come from those who aren’t afraid to step out of the mold of nuts-and-bolts Ufology and dig a bit deeper to bring fresh perspectives to the phenomenon and the study of it. Those individuals include the late Mac Tonnies, who really inspired me to step out of the box and look at alternative theories on what UFOs may be and what the occupants who supposedly control them may represent other than aliens from outer space. Others who currently keep my own research fresh and exciting would have to be Greg Bishop, MJ Banias, and of course, Dr. Jaques Vallee. These researchers have (and continue) contributed so much to the field in terms of alternative ways of looking at and trying to explain aerial phenomena and the question of possible contact with non-human intelligence(s).
You’ve had your own UFO experience. On that, we share common ground. Care to describe it? How did you feel as it was happening? Did it change your worldview?
My interest stemmed from a sighting I had in 1995. I was twelve years old, and I was on a weekend getaway with my parents to the Saint Lawrence River, which runs all through upstate New York and separates The New York border from Canada. I was fishing off a dock one night, listening to Green Day on my headphones, and I notice three white lights reflecting in the water. I look up, and there’s this massive triangular formation about 300 feet above me. There’s this fuzzy orange/red sphere in the center of the formation. I couldn’t see any type of structure, but I also couldn’t see the stars behind this formation. I rip my headphones off and my disc-man goes flying down the dock, and I’m expecting to hear this thing above me, but there was nothing. All I could hear was the water hitting the dock. And I could feel this low vibration running behind my ears, down my neck, and into my chest. I yell for my Dad to come out and he sees this thing slowly disappear off in the distance. That night terrified me, and I became obsessed with UFOs after that. At the age of twelve, I started researching the UFO phenomenon and it opened the floodgates for me. I knew there was so much more out there than we’re told or conditioned to believe. Whether or not what I saw that night was alien or man-made technology, I may never know. But it challenged my perception of reality and what is possible. And it’s led me on a journey of both self-discovery and opened doors to opportunities I never would have imagined walking through. That sighting scared the living hell out of me, but I wouldn’t trade it in a million years.
What’s your take on the UFO phenomenon? Do you think we’re being visited by alien beings in physical craft, our future selves from other dimensions or time slips, a kind of mass hallucination or something so out there, we don’t even have a proper way of defining it?
I honestly believe all these theories as right. And wrong. And somewhere in between. We have spent the past seventy years studying UFOs in many different capacities and any type of singular answer remains just as elusive as it has since Kenneth Arnold’s sighting over Mount Rainier when the term “flying saucer” made its way into the mainstream. But what some may not be aware of is that what Arnold saw that day actually weren’t saucer shaped at all. A misquote in a newspaper ushered in this term, and for decades and decades after, people reported seeing flying saucers all over the world. This brings up the question of the mass hallucination you speak of. UFO researcher and author, David Clarke, termed this the “UFO Syndrome”. We tend to connect many things to UFOs, even if they have conventional or prosaic answers. This is when we must remain objective and open to the possibility that UFOs may indeed have nothing to do with aliens whatsoever. Could they merely be manifestations of our own minds that we’ve been so culturally ingrained and conditioned to believe are little green men from space? It’s possible. Could they in fact be humans from the future coming back to check on us? Possibly. The fact of the matter is, I have no fucking idea. But I’m going to keep taking the journey and see where the research leads me.
What do you think is the most fascinating but underreported UFO sighting of the past 60 years?
I would have to say that the 1976 Tehran UFO incident is the most fascinating sighting that I’ve personally come across. This case consisted of radar and visual sighting of an unidentified flying object over the capital of Iran. On September 19th, after several reports were phoned in to the local air traffic controllers, the Iranian Air Force was eventually called in to investigate. Two F-4 Phantom jets were sent up and observed a diamond-shaped craft, massive in size, floating effortlessly. The pilots reported losing instrumentation and communications as they approached, only to have them restored upon withdrawal; one of the aircraft also reported suffering temporary weapons systems failure, while preparing to open fire on the object. The case was later investigated by U.S. Intelligence as well, and information pertaining to the case is now available through the Freedom of Information Act. This is a documented case with ground radar, flight transmissions, and official documentation of unknown objects interacting with military aircraft. It also included pilot witness testimony and two government agencies from two different countries. Yet many people have never heard of it. It is certainly worth further exploration.
A lot of people are hooked on ancient alien theories. The show has definitely sparked some creative ways of looking at our past and linking events, places and people to UFOs and aliens. What do you think? Has the Earth been a way station for passing civilizations since time immemorial?
This is a massive can of anthropological worms that I simply haven’t focused my efforts or time researching. While I find the work of Erich von Däniken or Zecharia Sitchin very interesting and alluring, there simply isn’t enough proof, in my opinion, that this is the case. Now, I am not saying that IF aliens have visited our planet, that it began with a crash in 1947 in Roswell, but I believe we also do not give humankind enough credit of our vast intelligence and persistence to evolve and progress technologically. The idea that some sort of ancient extraterrestrial civilization has intervened in our history strips us of responsibility for that which we’ve created. It also opens an entire alternative history where these non-human intelligences have co-existed insidiously with us for countless centuries. Again, I have entertained the many theories brought forth by trailblazers in the ancient alien and ancient astronaut theory, but right now my attention is focused on moving my own sights towards the future of possible alien contact from a scientific standpoint, and even more ambitiously, from a consciousness standpoint. The only thing I know for certain, in terms of ancient aliens, is that if my hair ever grows to the towering heights of Giorgio Tsoukalos, someone please force me to get a haircut.
What’s the one thing the UFO field has been missing or needs to improve upon not just to gain legitimacy in the mainstream, but move it forward to finally finding concrete answers?
In my opinion, there needs to be a convergence of the UFO experience and the UFO study. This topic covers the most broad umbrella one can possibly imagine. Whether seen through the lens of science, philosophy, theology, anthropology, psychologically, sociologically, economically, or even academically, there is a place in our world view for the phenomenon of the UFO. That being said, we need to find a way to bring forward the most analytical and credible data from each of these camps, get the top researchers in one room together, and hash it out. Instead of saying that one viewpoint isn’t as important as the other, let’s work together to really look at what this phenomenon could represent. Let’s put a mirror up to ourselves and really ask the hard questions. There is some amazing scientific work being done on searching for extraterrestrial life right now by young, ambitious individuals. The same could be said in the fields of psychology and hypnotherapy in terms of possible alien abductions and/or contact with said aliens. While this may be extremely challenging, the outcome may be inevitably much more rewarding. We live in great times of uncertainty here in America and abroad. So maybe by coming together and putting that microscope on the human side of a possible alien phenomenon, we can glimpse into the heart of these mysteries and come out much more accepting of one another on the other side. As for concrete answers… I wouldn’t bet on it!
Here are just a few quick hits :
Favorite part of a UFO con.
Meeting witnesses and experiencers who trust me enough to tell me their stories. There is nothing more galvanizing then sitting face to face and hearing the story straight from the individuals themselves. Those are the moments when it really hits me and I’m like, “Holy shit. This is really happening to these people. And there are things out there that we’ve only begun to understand.”
Favorite UFO/Alien/Abduction movie.
I’m going to have to go with three different films on this one which all hold special places in my heart and mind. The first is “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951), “Close Encounter of the Third Kind” (1977) and “Arrival” (2016) — Hunter : “I almost have the same top 3, with War of the Worlds replacing The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Dream guest to have on your podcast.
Jaques Vallee. No question. The man is a legend in the UFO field in so many ways. Also, I wouldn’t mind getting Chris Carter on just to be a fanboy for two hours straight. I am a self-professed “X-Phile.” —Hunter : “I think I’d be too tongue tied to interview Chris. Fanboy paralysis”
Gray’s Papaya hot dogs, yea or nay? (since you live in NY. And if you haven’t had one yet, I’ll treat!)
Had em. Loved em. But being from upstate NY, I have to represent Hoffman’s Hotdogs. And don’t even get me started on the coney snappy griller up in Syracuse, NY. If you’ve never had one, head up to the ‘Cuse and ask for one. Just imagine a sweet and spicy hotdog… with relish of course!
Best book you’ve read about UFOs.
Passport to Magonia by Dr. Jaques Vallee. Leslie Kean’s UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record is a close second. — Hunter : “Just read the latter, will pick up the former. Great picks!”
The one place you’d love full and unfettered access to investigate.
Either Dugway Proving Ground in Utah (Supposedly an Area 52 location) or Hangar 18 in Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.
Please tell us about your book, where folks can find it and learn more about you and your amazing work.
The book is called, Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon. It covers a wide array of my two year investigation into UFOs, close encounters, and possible alien abductions. But rather than focus on the where and when, this book covers the who and the why, really putting a microscope on those who’ve had the experiences, what they believe it to be, and what they might tell us about what we may be dealing with somewhere in the skies.
All of my UFO work can be found at: www.somewhereintheskies.com
You can hear me on the Into the Fray Podcast at: www.intothefrayradio.com
For my stage and film work, you can visit: www.ryandsprague.com
Book is Available in Paperback and E-Book on Amazon at the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Skies-Human-Approach-Phenomenon/dp/0967799589/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481577910&sr=8-1&keywords=somewhere+in+the+skies