It’s hard for Stan Michalak to discuss what happened to his father Stefan during Victoria Day weekend, 1967.
The elder Michalak, an industrial mechanic and amateur geologist was looking for silver not far from Falcon Lake on May 20 when he saw two cigar-shaped crafts in the sky.
One of them descended and landed, giving Stefan Michalak a chance to sketch it. He suspected it to be an American military craft. Eventually, curiosity would urge him to investigate the craft. It was hot to the touch and the smell of sulphur was overwhelming.
Once the craft was ready to leave, it rotated, revealing a grid pattern on its surface, which would eventually expel hot air and leave an impression on Stefan Michalak’s body. Doctors in Manitoba were perplexed by the grid impression, and eventually, he would travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, N.Y. to get a second opinion.
“Whatever had burned him, whatever had struck him, that jet of gas, whatever that was made up of some compound, and it burned him and it left his marks,” Stan Michalak said during a late July phone conversation. “All he was experiencing was an allergic reaction. The doctors (at the Mayo Clinic) said this is going to continue to recur. But every time it does, it’s going to be less and less. And that’s exactly what happened.”
The 64-year-old added that years after when he felt his father’s abdomen, he could still feel the scar tissue underneath.
The Falcon Lake incident, as well as Nova Scotia’s Shag Harbour incident, are both featured in Saloon Media’s “Encounter: UFO”. The eight-part series airs on T+E on Aug. 10.
Revisiting the past
Executive producer Nick Crowe said he was excited to include two of Canada’s big UFO stories amongst the international collection featuring Barney and Betty Hill’s alleged abduction in rural New Hampshire, the USS Nimitz and Britain’s infamous Rendlesham Forest event.
“There’s a real excitement around this idea of we’ve entered this new age of UFO studies that it’s no longer the realm of the tinfoil hat brigade,” he said. “We have serious, credentialed people like Avi Loeb that are spending their time and energy wondering and researching.
“We thought to go back to some of these stories, of regular people encountering the most irregular things imaginable, and hear their stories again through these new eyes where they’re not likely to just be dismissed as publicity seekers or kooks.”
Crowe and his team sat with several experts from the UFO research community, including Winnipeg’s Chris Rutkowski, Halifax’s Chris Styles and Trent University professor Laura Thursby.
Styles shared his ongoing research into Shag Harbour with the Saloon Media team via a monitor as Nova Scotia had just gone into lockdown due to COVID-19.
“There were a few questions that went on beyond the scope of Shag Harbour, and I always enjoy that because so often the answers don’t change, it’s a matter of record based off what me, Don Ledger and Graham Simms,” he said in a phone interview, adding he was able to share new information with Crowe from a recent interview.
Styles had spoken with a witness, face-to-face, who not only witnessed the night of the Shag Harbour impact but witnessed the actual moment of impact in the water. Most witnesses had their line of vision obscured due to trees.
“They actually were able to discern this thing was a flying saucer,” he said. “There’s no doubt as to who they were, the position they were in or where they were. It was a lightkeeper’s wife. We’d always known she was witness, but she had remarried and left the area.”
It’s an interview that adds more depth and new wings to a story that was almost forgotten when Styles and Don Ledger started investigating it during the 1990s.
The 1990s were a period of time where UFOs were front and centre in pop culture in television series like “The X Files” and “Sightings”.
The stories remain the same
It’s the culture of American ufology that draws in Trent University professor Laura Thursby. For her Ph.D. paper at the University of Toronto, she proposed why stories of alien abduction continue to persist in the modern age.
She has been diving deep into American history to uncover how stories about aliens have circulated. And she said she’s interested in the overlap between Canada and the U.S.
“I think there are very good reasons why these stories continue to exist and we lack a lot of explanation with our current world view, so we try to explain things like UFOs, extraterrestrials and give them shape through the stories we tell.”
Though Stan Michalak is still hesitant to share his father’s ordeal in the wilds of Manitoba, it’s been a process of understanding just what happened; making that experience tangible.
In 2017, Stan Michalak was encouraged by close friend and UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski to visit the site where his father had his close encounter.
“At the time, we had been basically exposed, flayed naked by the media and all that attention and exposure really does a number on you,” he said. “You don’t want to talk to anybody.
“When I did go out there and finally walk in his footsteps, it was hard, but it was cathartic,” Michalak added. “I don’t think I’ve felt anything quite like that, you know, vindication.”
The world broadcast premiere of “Encounter: UFO” airs Tuesday, August 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on T+E.