Ninety-three-year-old Bill Buckingham had a secret to share when he called the News Bulletin – one forged by three men who saw something 45 years ago they felt no one else would believe.
The pact made by Buckingham and two other men was never to tell what they saw in October 1971, until there was only one of them left.
Lying in his bed at a Nanaimo seniors facility, hard-of-hearing but with watchful eyes, Buckingham said the last of the crew died in April. He was ready to tell their story.
Buckingham was a man of all jobs at MacMillan Bloedel, but on this day in October he was driving a truck with fuel and logging equipment and two passengers, a machine operator and spotter. They’d just gone over a hill overlooking Whiskey Creek north of Qualicum when he saw an object he believes to this day was a UFO.
“I thought, a torpedo? No. Shell? No. I’ve seen too many of those,” he said. “There was this object, flaming red, and it was coming closer to us and I said to the two guys who were with me – get out.”
The trio hid and the object came so close he said he could hit it with a stone. He describes the object as six metres long, just like two inverted saucers and in the middle, what might have been a command post.
“It was like – you know what a Dixie cup looks like? The Dixie cup for ice cream? It was like that.”
Then it left, looking to Buckingham like a lit cigarette on the horizon.
He tried to tell the logging superintendent about what he saw but the reply was, “oh I’ve seen pigs fly, did you see them yesterday?” He tried telling one of his friends, but he thought Buckingham had been into the “goose goose.”
So a pact was made not to say anything to anybody.
UFO sightings happen every year in this country including 1,267 in 2015, according to the Canadian UFO Survey, which collects data on reported sightings. Last year saw the second-highest reported number of sightings in 30 years after 2012, when there was media attention and pop culture that brought attention to the so-called end of the world.
There were 244 UFO sightings last year in B.C.
Chris Rutkowski, a Canadian science writer who puts out the survey, said Buckingham’s story is similar to what people were reporting in the ’60s and ’70s, and there were a number of cases in Canada descriptive of objects seen in close range. Rutkowski found there was a UFO sighting on New Year’s Day 1970, in Cowichan, where two nurses observed an object outside a hospital window.
He said it’s unfortunate Buckingham felt he couldn’t tell anybody.
As for why people connect what they see in the sky with UFOs, Rutkowski says it’s a yearning for meaning in our lives which is sometimes upwards rather than in our own selves – that we are looking for salvation.
“And of course with the continued exploration of space, astronomers have found thousands of possible plants that might harbour life,” he said. “It’s very possible to believe that we’re not alone in the universe and if we’re not alone then maybe somewhere out there, there’s someone who’s asking the same questions about life in the universe as we are.”
For more, please visit www.ufobc.ca.