For 22-year old Kristen Cennington, seeing a UFO was strange enough once, but seeing one a second time turned her into a believer.
Cennington works with the Mutual UFO Network, an international organization that has recently landed its headquarters north of Fort Collins. MUFON, as it’s better known to its members, aims to educate skeptics that UFOs do exist and field calls around the globe.
James Carrion, 41, is the newest director of MUFON and has taken the organization to Bellevue.
“We basically listen to peoples’ stories that other officials don’t want to listen to,” Carrion said. “What we find, is that truth is much stranger than fiction.”
Carrion has been interested in UFOs since he was boy where he naturally ended up doing field investigations after 10 years with the organization, which has been around since 1969.
Not long after Cennington moved to Colorado in April, she noticed an unusual object in the sky while sitting on her porch one afternoon. The UFO appeared to be floating and when the shiny object shot straight up in the air and disappeared, there was no doubt in her mind that is was a flying saucer.
A few months later, Cennington saw another strange object floating in the sky and this time she thought, “It’s coming to get me.”
But Cennington’s sightings have not been the only ones in the state, and in fact there are tens of thousands of UFO sightings all around the world each year. With the help of organizations like MUFON people are able to report any odd behavior and have an investigation take place.
“We have a mission,” Carrion said. “It is a myth that only crazy people see the weird; most are competent observers that when they are seeing something that they can’t explain and at first try to explain it, that then is when they call us.”
Cennington, MUFON’s local business manager, admits some callers could be potentially mentally ill.
“We get a lot of weird people and a lot that could be clinically crazy,” Cennington said. “But I’ve realized it’s not safe anywhere; it’s all over the world. I didn’t use to think about how an alien could come take you away.”
Although Cennington has only worked with Carrion and MUFON for a few months, she is already a believer in the paranormal, while Carrion calls himself a skeptic believer – meaning that although he has never seen a UFO, “there is something to this phenomenon but I just don’t know what it is.
“There is one of two things going on: One, either we have a higher intelligence controlling things and we don’t know how extraterrestrials exhibit technology greater than ours. Or two, the government has exotic technology that we would like to be shared, but they are secretly maintaining it from the public.”
But not all groups that study UFOs believe in the extra terrestrial life or the government-control theory. According to the Committee for the Skeptical Inquiry, not all answers are aliens or the government.
“We try to provide the alternative point of view,” said Barry Karr, 41, the executive director for CSI. “With all of the TV shows today about aliens visiting the planet, in this particular category of UFOs, we look at the claims and reports to see if there are other explanations that should be touched upon.”
But for Karr, it isn’t a matter as to if people are actually seeing UFOs, it is more a matter of the evidence that says that there is extraterrestrial life out there. Karr said that there is “no question that people are seeing things,” but he just can’t accept that they all have to do with aliens.
So are aliens really visiting Earth?
“I think it would be great if we did have evidence of life visiting us, but right now, we haven’t got enough evidence that there is something visiting us from other planets,” Karr said.
For Carrion and Cennington, other life out there is 100 percent possible, and they are just waiting for the phone calls and emails so that they can go and investigate another sighting.
“(Working at MUFON) has definitely changed my perceptions of UFOs,” Cennington said. “It has changed my perspective of what’s really going on and what possibly is most definitely going on. There are the possibilities that you never really thought about before.”
“There’s thousands upon thousands of people seeing the same things, so there has to be something going on,” Carrion said. “This isn’t fiction, it is truly life imitating art where the truth is stranger than fiction, and some of things in our case files are way stranger than folks can imagine.”
Staff writer Valerie Hisam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.