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SEPTEMBER 2003 - 17/09/2003

MICHAEL GLICKMAN opens fire on military helicopters… or, rather, those who spread paranoia about them regarding crop circles…


You enter the turbulent and unpredictable waters of crop circle studies at your own risk. In fourteen astonishing years I have known many - some of them dear and close friends - who were unable to handle the treacherous currents. Some were swept away and a few were sucked below the surface, never to reappear. Most were simply beached. As we swim by, they remain standing on the banks, embittered and bewildered, searching to relive the moments before they took the wrong turn.

And, looking back, I see that every accident, every drowning, was simply the result of a lack of discernment.

I do not claim here to be the most discerning person in the world, but I flag it as a goal. The weight of humanness lies as heavily on my shoulders as it lies on yours!

I mention all this because a ‘Marshall Masters’ has just jumped in and very publicly immersed himself. He disdains discernment. He doggy-paddles like crazy, but clearly finds it hard to swim in these waters.

He posted a piece on the Net entitled “Are England’s Crop Circles Being Covertly Suppressed?” My readers will know that I am allergic to the “Ooh, scary/Paranoia/Conspiracy” school of commentary. I did not bother to read it until I received several requests from people who had been disturbed by it and sought my view. And here we go again. Discernment. There are many sites out there which simply publish anything with the words “Crop Circle” in the title.

So I looked at it. After all everything should be considered.

Let us start with that good old staple of crop circle paranoia, the military helicopter. Dozens of researchers, over dozens of years, have based elaborate nightmares on a sighting or two. Inevitably, they assumed that they were the first to have the idea. There is a book to be written on crop circle/ helicopter scare stories.

Marshall Masters puts much emphasis on Linda Moulton Howe’s sighting of a helicopter at Lockeridge. He goes to great lengths to give us specification details of the AH-64A/D Apache attack helicopter. He give us its history and some of its radar and armament capacity. Why exactly? What has this to do with crop circles?

It would have taken little research to discover that, just ten miles south of the main crop circle area is Salisbury Plain, one of the largest military locations in Europe. Several times a month, the windows of my house shake to the reverberations of their artillery practice. Two days ago, returning home from a shopping trip to Marlborough I saw - shock! horror! - a military helicopter! They are part of the landscape (the airscape) here, and those who report them would do us all a service if they were a little less excitable, indeed, sensationalist. What exactly does Linda Howe mean by “bristling with all its gun ports”? How does a gun port “bristle” unless armaments were massively deployed? Were they? According to Linda’s report the helicopter was “only about 300 feet above me” but Masters goes on (after saluting Linda for having the “guts” to report this entirely commonplace event) to speak about her being “buzzed” by “the most advanced and dangerous helicopter in the world today”. (Most helicopter pilots would snort with derision at the idea of someone being “buzzed” at anything above 50 feet.)

Masters then says “Now all this brings us to a simple question. Why would anyone use such an impressive armada of technology to harass English farmers and crop circle researchers?”

I live here. I know several local farmers personally. Not one of them believes that they have ever been “harassed” by military technology. As to crop circle researchers, does he believe that Ms Howe was being personally scanned with the Northrop Grumman millimeter-wave radar for eventual targeting with the Longbow Hellfire missile?

But this brings me to two simple questions of my own. First, why do certain people feel so compelled to publish such fear-based and paranoia-promoting fantasies? Second, why does Masters not follow his own ideas through? If this cover-up notion of his had the slightest validity, the army would be excluding the public from large areas while crop circles were cut out. This has never happened. What part does he imagine helicopters might play in this scenario?

In Southern California girls bathing topless in secluded and private areas often find that LAPD helicopters are hovering overhead to spy on them. Why? Because the police department uses male earthlings as pilots! They simply want to look.

Why do British army helicopters look at crop circles? (There might be all kinds of reasons that we do not know about, and I am sure that I can comfortably leave those speculations to conspiracy theorists everywhere.) However we might give some consideration to the idea that the human beings flying over them are also simply intrigued by these huge and inexplicable patterns in the fields.

Another prop to Masters’ argument was that nothing appeared in Southern England after 10th August. He had been hoping for a “much awaited continuation of the Crabwood 2002 message” and was naturally upset that nothing arrived. Now, I am all in favour of predictions but, when something I had hoped for did not arrive, I have tended to shrug my shoulders and accept my wrongness.

Marshall Masters, however, constructs a whole tale around it. Covert Suppression! He e-mailed Steve Alexander and Karen Douglas, who replied to tell him simply, that, because of the unusually hot summer, farmers had harvested two weeks early. There were no circles simply because there were few fields left unharvested.

But - even after this exchange - he went ahead and published his story.

There are other inaccuracies in Masters’ piece. Let me just mention two. The excellent astronomical analysis of the 1995 formation which predicted 6th September 2003 was done by Jack Sullivan and this is made clear in Andy Thomas’s article, which is quoted. However, Masters writes as though these were entirely Andy’s discoveries. Jack Sullivan is nowhere mentioned.

Historically, the 1995 formation has been referred to as both Gander Down and Tichborne. This throws Masters into a tizzy. A simple enquiry might have clarified for him that Gander Down is a specific field in the vicinity of Tichborne village. There are probably many Gander Downs in Hampshire and Wiltshire. However, Masters sees the use of two names as indicating the possibility that the formation NEVER EXISTED!

After a little rudimentary investigation he admits that, yes, it DID appear in 1995. There are many people who have given their lives to crop circle research. Does he truly think that we have been waiting for him to confirm for us that the Gander Down formation of 1995 did actually occur?

I have not got his expertise in astronomical matters and so I cannot comment on the astronomical components of the piece. I assume simply that his standards of scholarship and research must be better in his own area than in ours.

Discernment. Another unknown hopeful lost in fast-flowing waters.

Marshall Masters should now take responsibility and apologise or correct his details. His speculations and hypotheses are valuable, but how could he publish such a story when he had already been informed of its inaccuracy? He will never know the trouble he caused.

The crop circles will develop in their own sweet and inexorable way. We have seen the ugly results of the attempts to associate the phenomenon with hoaxing. It is no surprise that there are still those who are desperate to link the military and the intelligence agencies with this most gracious of phenomena. How astonishingly they miss the point.

In my next column I hope to present my thoughts on heart surgery. I know absolutely nothing about it and I certainly will not stoop to take any advice!



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