A UFO Conference Begins This Weekend in Philly – Q&A With Speaker Chris Augustin
Not too much into Occupying Philly? Or, you know, art and music stuff? Then have no fear, because of course this city has you covered. Tonight begins the Pennsylvania Mutual UFO Network conference at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel on Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philly.
The conference’s website promises multiple speakers from near and far, who’ll be discussing their UFO/paranormal research and, in some cases, experiences. Two of those speakers include Chris Augustin and Bob Gardner, who run a UFO Meetup group that meets once a month in South Philly. We’ve actually talked to them a couple times now.
Augustin, who speaks at the conference Sunday morning, was kind enough to give us some info on the conference and what’s to be expected throughout the weekend.
How did the annual MUFON conference come about?
Jennifer W. Stein, a local of the Radnor suburbs starting coordinating monthly meetings for MUFON september 11, 2002 in an effort to bring awareness to the general public of the reality of UFO’s and other phenomena. Her web site is www.MainLineMUFON.com for the Philadelphia area. She joined forces with John Ventre and Bob Gardner when they became more active in MUFON PA in 2007, and started doing investigations into the UFO flaps happening then and in 2008, and 2009…The current conference happening this weekend is a combination of these efforts from the joint UFO communities.
UFO conventions are depicted a certain way in the media. Guys walking around in costumes, shit like that. How much of that is real and how much imagined?
Our conferences do not feature any planned costumed impersonators that we know of and we do not encourage that sort of nonsense, as it only serves to debunk the reality of the issue. We can have a laugh like everyone else from time to time but our conference is designed to bring top experts from around the US to present years of seriously focused research on the phenomena.
Certainly that is the focus on Main Line MUFON for the past 10 years. You can access the archives at Main Line MUFON to see the past experts brought to the area on a monthly basis. It is quite impressive. Additionally Jennifer Stein has served as Liaison to the Free Library of Philadelphia series on this topic. Jennifer is currently in discussions by email with Michael Burch, the Franklin Institute education coordinator, about hosting future events on this topic at the Institute as a fundraising endeavor. They hosted Leslie Kean last year with an interview with Derrik Pitts, the chief Astronomer for the Franklin Institute, who confesses to being most impressed with Kean’s book. We hope to invite Leslie Kean to next year’s MUFON PA conference as a keynote speaker.
We know the main conversation will be aliens—but what are some topics that’ve been discussed that might surprise your average non-UFO enthusiast?
MUFON’s mission statement is scientific research of UFOs and the phenomena. Mostly, there will be a lot of good research presented about cases form various researchers. There have been a collection of additional topics presented in the past that include crop circles, paranormal encounters and even Bigfoot.
History Channel shows like Ancient Aliens have become super popular in the past few years, and UFO sightings in the area are way up. Has that corresponded to larger crowds at UFO conferences?
Maybe it is hard to say…I think the sightings have always been going on but more people are aware now and looking up and noticing the sightings happening and more people are smart enough to figure out there is a policy of secrecy at play. Especially the pilots, government officials and expert testimonies that have come forward in recent years have given the public more ease to acknowledge their own experiences as real.
What big names have showed up to some conferences in the past?
Here’s a small sampling of the speakers who have graced us with their presence: Stanton Friedman, David Jacobs, Peter Robins, Richard Dolan, Tom Carey, Linda Moulton Howe, Antonio Huneaus, Zechaira Sitchin, Leslie Kean, Bill Birnes, Kathy Marden, Karen Dolan
I know you’re speaking on Sunday morning at the conference. So, aside from your talk on Sunday, who would you recommend checking out?
One of the most popular and well-known subjects that’s being presented is the Phoenix Lights by Dr. Lynne Kitei. The Phoenix Lights are one of the most documented and controversial mass UFO sightings on record, occurring in March of 1997. Dr. Kitei has left her medical career in the past to fully investigate and document this phenomenon and share it with the masses. Her documentary is being shown in its entirety on Friday night after the cocktail party, will be conducting a Q&A and on Sunday will be speaking about “Beyond the Phoenix Lights.”
Can we get a preview of what you plan to talk about, too?
My presentation will be on my personal experiences over the past 12+ years. They’ll cover UFO sightings, run-ins with the military while visiting Area 51, missing time, abductions, possible implants, hypnotic regression and more. For the first time, I’ll truly be sharing my life and the strange events that I’ve encountered while researching this phenomenon.