Ninety percent of reports filed about unidentified flying objects can be identified, according to Weirton resident Fred Saluga, a longtime UFO investigator who is teaching a series of free classes on the subject beginning Monday at Eastern Gateway Community College.
Those, he said, could be meteors, stars or planets, for example.
Seven percent "would be government stuff we're not aware of," says the state director of MUFON of West Virginia.
READY?TO?LISTEN, INVESTIGATE — Fred Saluga of Weirton is a longtime investigator of reports of unidentified flying objects and is the state director of MUFON of West Virginia. Saluga is teaching a series of free classes on UFOs that begin Monday at Eastern Gateway Community College.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
MUFON, an acronym for Mutual UFO Network Inc., is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1969 that's dedicated through its volunteers to resolving the scientific enigma known collectively as UFOs.
The other 3 percent?
"We really don't know what they are," admits Saluga, who says the subject of UFOs is one that has fascinated people for a long time, although most of what the public knows about UFOs comes from the silver screen.
His 10-week free class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays starting tomorrow and continuing through May 20 is a way for its participants to "learn the truth from research that has been conducted from the last 50 years to gain a better understanding of the UFO phenomena," according to Saluga.
The class is his second go-round on the subject, as one last fall, also at EGCC, attracted about 25 participants, more women than men, the women were "into it."
"Many of them had seen UFOs when they were young but didn't want to say anything for fear of someone saying something to them," he said.
Saluga's breakdown of class sessions begins with an introduction to the UFO phenomena, past and present attitudes and a history of UFOs.
Other topics are:
A definition of UFOs, their types and descriptions and the difference between them and conventional aircraft;
UFO sightings by government, presidents, celebrities and astronauts along with the 10 most famous UFO sightings made and why people don't report them;
UFO reports with students assigned to make up a UFO sighting and file a report;
Alien abductions; and
Cattle and human mutilations.
Two classes will feature guests speakers. Brian Seech of Beaver County, Pa., will discuss "Bigfoot and His Connection to UFOs," and Sam Colisomo, state section director of MUFON of Pennsylvania, will talk about UFO investigations.
Beyond the class, Saluga hopes to bring exposure to what MUFON is and how area residents can get involved, either by not being afraid to report a UFO sighting - reports are confidential, he emphasizes - or by being a volunteer.
MUFON's mission is "the scientific study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity" with its four goals, according to the website, listed as to investigate UFO sightings and collect the data in the MUFON database for use by researchers worldwide; to promote research on UFOs to discover the true nature of the phenomenon, with an eye toward scientific breakthroughs; to educate the public on the UFO phenomenon and its potential impact on society; and to ensure the economic viability of MUFON to achieve its mission and goals.
Saluga refers to the February report by MUFON that logs a total of 452 around-the-globe reports of UFOs with the United States having the most at 381. A state-by-state breakdown shows Ohio with 12 for February, West Virginia with two and Pennsylvania with 11.
A former law enforcement official, Saluga is attempting to contact people who live in West Virginia or on its borders who may have information on the following:
Past and current UFO sightings and landings in the area;
Unexplained animal (Bigfoot) or humanoid sightings in the area of a UFO sighting;
Anyone who has experienced missing times or believes that they were abducted or knows someone who was abducted;
Anyone who has experienced any type of poltergeist or paranormal activity after a UFO sighting;
Conspiracy theories pertaining to UFOs or UFO-related activity; and
Cattle or human mutilations associated with UFO activity.
"We want people to know MUFON is here," Saluga said. "We need volunteers and helpers to take and make reports. Right now people are calling the national UFO reporting center, and they just get it and put it in their database. We will go out and investigate the case, then we'll let the person who made the report know what we found instead of people keeping this to themselves as a lot of people do. People see stuff that they are afraid to report, and what we're trying to get across is we want people to make reports of the UFOs and any type of cryptid to get a database (established)," he said.
A crytpid is a creature whose existence has been suggested but not yet recognized by scientific consensus, according to a Wikipedia definition.
Saluga estimated that he has investigated "a couple thousand" UFO reports since the 1970s. A native of Fayette County, Pa., Saluga was a police officer there for about 10 years, then lived in Florida for 20 years, working as a child abuse investigator. He returned to the area, working in Pittsburgh as a child abuse investigator in Allegheny County.
It was as a police officer in Fayette County, however, where his first UFO call came as a responder to a burglary call.
"We went on a case one night, and it turned out to be a ghost case. There were ghosts in the house. We were called out on a burglary in process. It ended up the woman said she had ghosts in her house, and when I wrote the report up, I put ghosts in there so any time there was a paranormal call, they called me," Saluga said of what initially prompted razzing but what ultimately peaked his interest.
Saluga, who also is a Western Pennsylvania section director of MUFON of Pennsylvania, has done investigations in Pennsylvania and then in Florida in the Daytona Beach area and the northern part of the panhandle of Florida.
So there are UFOs?
"Yeah," he pauses, nods his head in the affirmative slowly. "There are."
Asked about local calls he had been involved in, Saluga said, "There was supposed to have been a big case down here in Steubenville a couple years ago - a triangular case which I never could get the information on it, and I the think the police department handled it. We had a case down in New Cumberland, a man who saw UFOs down here and ended up actually seeing Venus. Then I'm sure you heard of the case last year where two lights were coming down by Follansbee. They talked about it on the news and that and I investigated that. As far as I am concerned I have no idea what it was."
Saluga said just the mention of UFO conjures a particular image, that it's from outer space, an alien, "which it's not. If I throw this hat up in the air, and you don't know it's my hat, that's a UFO," he said.
The UFO subject is an intriguing one to Saluga, who is a presenter at times on the subject and willing to do so more often upon request, for free. He also does Bigfoot investigations and will be a presenter in September at the annual Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, W.Va.
Saluga said there are often Bigfoot sightings at Salt Fork, and that's where he said he saw a "grey," an alleged extraterrestrial.
"When you talk to people about UFOs and Bigfoot and paranormal stuff, you can tell a lot of these people are actually scared. It's like 'My God, you wouldn't believe what I saw,'" he said. "I know a couple people that report UFOs all the time. They actually believe that they see what they see. They're not hokesters."
When conducting an investigation of a UFO report, Saluga said he approaches it as a skeptic, not as one inclined to hopefully substantiate the claim. An investigation involves interviews, a site visit and report filing to generate a database.
"You've got to go in with the impression that you're there to actually find out if it's true or not. You're called in to this report. I don't know if it's true or not. I come in and interview you and check everything out I can, and I make a decision from there," Saluga said.
"We go out and dig and try to find something," he said.
"A lot of people see things that they don't understand, and being in this area, we may be able to help you out and explain things," Saluga said.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)