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
I’m not afraid to admit I have an addiction. I can’t get enough movies about UFOs, aliens and abductions. No matter how bad, I’m compelled to watch them all. Lately, it seems as though a law has been passed decreeing that all UFO/Alien flicks MUST be found footage with a 10 shilling budget. I’m here to guide you from the darkness and into the light (you know, the one emanating from the underbelly of the Mothership).
Here are my favorite 11 (because anyone can do a top 10 list). I’ve put a quick synopsis followed by my own review for each. When you’re not watching the skies, put your peepers on these…
FIRE IN THE SKY
(Based on a true story) In 1975, logger Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) and his co-workers discovered a hovering UFO. Walton’s pals fled, but Walton was not so fortunate. Whisked aboard the strange craft, he was subjected to a painful, unearthly medical study.
The Travis Walton case is one of the most intriguing abduction cases of all time. The movie is very well done, tense and downright creepy, especially once we get a glimpse of the interior of the gross and trippy alien ship. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Was a damaged alien spaceship really hidden by the government in the infamous Hangar 18? This film shows you how it might have happened. Aired on television as “Invasion Force,” but with a different ending.
I loved this movie when I was a kid. Plus, it stars Kolchak himself, Darren McGavin. It doesn’t hold up so well, but I can’t ignore the pull of nostalgia. 2 of 5 flying saucers
Still reeling from her parents’ divorce, April (Brittany Allen, Dead Before Dawn) is dragged by her boyfriend (Freddie Stroma, Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, Pitch Perfect), and a group of his friends back to the cabin where she spent summers as a child. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. The group venture out to the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet, along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. They soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than anything they could ever imagine.
This is one bat crap crazy movie. And the more I watch it, the more I like it. I especially love the ending, the very point most directors in this little genre drop the ball. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
(Also based on a true story) Whitley Strieber goes with his family and some friends to his holiday home in the forest. They experience some weird occurances, are they UFO activity? Whitley is abducted and then faces a horrible dilema; was I abducted or am I going mad? He sees a psychiatrist who tries to use hypnotic regression to discover the truth.
Now, this one holds a special place in my tin foil heart. Living close to where author Whitley Strieber had his experiences, the book and then this movie totally captured my attention in the 80s. I watch it at least once a year, every year, despite its odd construction. Hey, it stars Christopher Walken and a score by Eric Clapton! 4 of 5 flying saucers.
THE FOURTH KIND
Based on actual case studies, The Fourth Kind uses archival footage and dramatic reenactments to present the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever in this provocative thriller.
Set in a remote Alaska town, I admit I was one of the suckers who bought the line that the footage interspersed within the movie was real. No matter. Even knowing it’s fake, the movie still gives me chills. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
Doctors are baffled when an expectant mother wakes to find her nearly-to-term pregnancy apparently disappear overnight. Police investigate the situation as a missing child, and only her husband and brother trust her version of events.
I’ll bet most of you have never heard of this one. I plucked it off of Netflix one day and was pleasantly surprised. It’s downright haunting and a found footage flick that gets it right. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
In the summer of 1947, a rancher discovers the charred remains of an unidentified flying object in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. 20 years and 350 eyewitnesses later… the truth about what he found is finally coming out.
No, this is not the TV series. I think we all know about Roswell and Area 51 by now, but when this came out, it was pretty riveting. I believe this was produced by Showtime. I had to wait to watch it on VHS because I couldn’t afford Showtime back then. It was worth the wait. 3 of 5 flying saucers.
A farm family wakes up to find a 500-foot crop circle in their backyard and are told that extraterrestrials are responsible. The circles begin appearing all over the world as the family grapples with the fact that Earth is being invaded.
By far, this is my favorite M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson movie. It’s a movie about a broken family smack in the middle of one of the most terrifying alien invasions ever put on film. Very atmospheric and one of the few movies where old Mel is not the macho hero. Swing away! 4.5 of 5 flying saucers.
As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
Another well executed film about a family in crisis. I actually jumped a couple of times when I saw it in the theater. The ending pulls no punches. Pretty bleak stuff. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.
Wow, wow, wow. Don’t expect over the top theatrics and insane special effects. This is pure storytelling woven with some high concept science. It’s taut, intelligent and at times, heartbreaking. A must watch! 5 of 5 flying saucers.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Universally considered the best film ever made about alien visitation to Earth, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind was nominated for eight Academy Awards®, winning for Best Cinematography. Power repairman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) has an extraordinary encounter with a strange spacecraft while out on a call. Recurring visions of a mountain fuel an increasing obsession that drives him to an emotional breaking point.
This is the godfather of all UFO movies. So much of this has become part of our everyday culture. Beautifully shot with a fantastic performance by Richard Dreyfuss, at almost 40 years old, it’s still the one UFO movie to watch if you plan to watch only one. 5 of 5 flying saucers.
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Welcome to the 2nd installment of my MYTHS & LEGENDS series. Last month, I explored the strange world of Hollow Earth. This time around, I’m delving into something I personally investigated in the 1990s – The UFOs of Pine Bush.
If you were into UFOs and living in the lower Hudson River Valley in New York in the 80s and 90s, you were in paradise. Strange lights were spotted in the sky on a regular basis, creating one of the largest UFO flaps in history. From boomerangs to strange shaped craft the size of multiple football fields, all of them hovering in the night sky with nary a sound, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties were a hotbed of the unexplained.
In fact, I had my own experience (along with hundreds of others) with a UFO casually floating over the New York State Thruway back in 1987. It was a life changing event for me, proof that life is truly stranger than fiction. I had a casual interest in UFOs before then, but I became laser focused thereafter. I picked up every book and magazine I could find on the subject, since the Internet was years away from altering our lives.
One of the books that gave me chills was Silent Invasion by the late Ellen Crystall. The book was the result of her years of research investigating an incredible wave of UFO sightings in Pine Bush, NY. The small town is located in Orange County, less than an hour’s drive from New York City. Unexplained lights in the sky were almost a nightly occurrence in Pine Bush from the mid 1980s until the mid to late 1990s.
Circular aircraft, cigar shaped objects, dancing lights, multiple bright orbs in formation, they were all there for the viewing. If you looked up and waited, the impossible would eventually present itself. I visited the town several times in the dead of night. At the time, it was mostly quiet farmland with very little interference from lights on the ground. The canopy of visible stars was jaw dropping.
That is, until some of those twinkling lights in the sky started to move, change color and swoop around the sky with eerie silence. Thankfully, there is plenty of video and photographic evidence to prove that some very strange things were happening.
I only saw a strange flickering light once. My friend and I were walking through an open field, the chatter of night bugs our constant companion. Suddenly, in the distance, we saw a small light move in a looping pattern. What was most unnerving was how every living creature in the field instantly went silent! The light disappeared, and so did we. Concerns about being shot by a farmer for trespassing were just as prominent as seeing a UFO.
The small town was flooded with visitors parking their cars on the side of the road, gazing at the sky. It got so bad, they passed a town law that forbid it. Sky gazing would cost you if you got caught. I didn’t blame them. They had fools like me walking in places I didn’t belong.
I’m sure some of the craft were from the military. Stewart Airforce Base was close by. But there are hundreds of other sightings that are so bizarre, it’s hard to imagine they were a product of the military machine 30 years ago.
What made Pine Bush so intriguing were the other paranormal events that were occurring. It reminded me of what was going on at Point Pleasant, WV during the year of the Mothman in the 1960s. There’s a cemetery in Pine Bush where people reported seeing ghostly apparitions. Strange hums and vibrations could be seen and felt. There were even sightings of Bigfoot! Kolchak would have been right at home there.
Something very, very strange was going on in Pine Bush for over ten years. Were we being visited by space brothers? Was it some kind of government mind control? Mass hysteria? One of the longest running and complex hoaxes in history? I simply have no idea. There is a website dedicated exclusively to the Pine Bush events. Check it out and decide for yourself. There’s even an annual UFO fair. If you’re in lower New York in May, you should come visit. Maybe we’ll run into each other.
Today, the town’s farms are being replaced by strip malls and the skies are no longer teeming with high strangeness. But no one can deny what went on there. We just can’t say what it really was.
I’ve been intrigued by the whole UFO phenomena since I was a little kid, being spoon fed stories about aliens and flying saucers by Leonard Nimoy on In Search Of. Throughout the 80s and 90s, I amassed a sizeable library dedicated to UFOs and aliens. I read everything from Missing Time by Bud Hopkins, to Abduction by John E. Mack and my favorite (since I live in the Hudson Valley of NY that has a long history of UFO sightings) Silent Invasion by Ellen Crystal. Her book was about the too-many-to-count UFOs seen in and around Pine Bush in upstate New York. I actually spent a few nights sitting in dark, silent farmland up there hoping for my own experience. My friend and I did see odd lights one night, but what was most disturbing was how all of the night creatures stopped their nocturnal music the instant those lights appeared. It made for an eerie ten minutes!
There have only been a handful of movies about aliens worth watching, and they are always my go-to when I have some time to kill and can’t decide what to watch. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a slam dunk, but here are some others that feed my inner UFO freak.
Communion. Based on author Whitely Strieber’s personal abductions close to Pine Bush in NY and starring Christopher Walken, I’ve watched this like dudes in their 40s watched Star Wars. It’s not perfect, but Walken is awesome and it has its truly spine tingling moments.
Fire in the Sky. Another true story about the abduction of Travis Walton, a logger who was taken by a strange craft in front of his buddies and was missing for several days. The aliens and ship in this flick are downright dirty and strange and the cast delivers some remarkably strong performance. Everyone involved in the Walton case has passed multiple lie detector tests, which leaves us all wondering what happened that night.
The Fourth Kind. UFOs and abduction in Alaska. ‘Nuff said.
I’m happy to announce that The Monster Men have finally tackled the subject of UFOs. In this episode, I even talk about an experience I was fortunate to be a part of, as well as thousands of others in my area that night back in 1987. And, of course, we go into awesome alien/monster movies that will keep you up nights, and others that will make you want to pull an Elvis on your TV. Watch, enjoy, and let me know if you’ve ever had your own experience.