Sunday 13 October 2019

Remote viewing a crashed aircraft in Zaire/DR Congo 1979

One of the earliest examples of an operational success claimed by the US Government sponsored remote viewing team was that of the location of an airplane that had crashed in the African jungle in a country then called Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A recent commentator on this blog asked me about it and I finally decided to sit down and put together what I had on the subject. This is not meant as any definitive summary of events, merely a collection of what I have so far. Hopefully, over time, other people can fill in a few gaps.

First hand documentation on this is sparse since it dates from the very earliest days of the project, before the military team of remote viewers had been put together. The only contemporary document I can find about this is a memo in the Star Gate Archive and it reads:

The Acting Chief/AF summarized a recent interesting case in which an Air Force “sensitive” individual may have aided in the location of a plane which crashed in Africa after its crew members bailed out. Following intensive and unsuccessful efforts to locate the plane wreckage by other means, the “sensitive” was contacted by the Air Force and after a vision provided coordinates, the name of the country, and a description of the terrain in which the plane crashed. Acting upon this information, the Air Force has located an area corresponding to that described by the “sensitive” and is investigating what appears to be a crash site.

The memo was dated 28 March 1979 and the final sentence seems to imply that the search was still ongoing when the meeting was held. The way the memo talks about a “sensitive” contacted by the Air Force indicates that it wasn’t from the SRI remote viewing program run by Targ and Puthoff but was instead connected to another remote viewing project, Project Have Star, that was being run by Dale Graff in the Air Force. It also implies that the aircraft was American since it states that the crew bailed out before the crash. If it had been a Soviet craft, they probably wouldn't have known the fate of the crew [Note: in the comments below my attention is drawn to a source that identifies the pilot as Libyan].

Years later, former US President Jimmy Carter told an audience of students about this episode in 1995 in reply to a question about the existence of extraterrestrials. He went into a little more detail in his recent autobiography, A Full Life.

One morning I had a report from the CIA that a small twin-engine plane had gone down somewhere in Zaire, and that it contained some important secret documents. We were searching for the crash site using satellite photography and some other surreptitious high-altitude overflights, but with no success. With some hesitancy, a CIA agent in California recommended the services of a clairvoyant, who was then consulted. She wrote down a latitude and longitude, which proved to be accurate, and several days later I saw shown a photograph of the plane, totally destroyed and in a remote area. Without notifying Zaire’s President Mobutu, we sent in a small team that recovered the documents and the bodies of the plane’s occupants.

This account suggests that the plane is American (or else how would the CIA know what it contained) and that it was the CIA, not the Air Force, that contacted the psychic.

Other accounts state that the plane was a Soviet craft, specifically a Tupolev Tu-22 bomber. Schnabel wrote in 1997 that both Gary Langford from the SRI team and “Frances Bryan”, working with Dale Graff, worked on this target and that it was the combination of data from the two that lead the search party to the crash site.

In Paul Smith’s book, Reading the Enemy’s Mind, the psychic that Dale Graff worked with is identified as Rosemary Smith, and dates the crash to March 1979.

Though she was only shown a picture of a typical Blinder and told it was down “somewhere in Africa,” her description and hand-sketched map of the crash site closely matched an area where U.S. intelligence assets were not searching. As those assets were being shifted towards the indicated area, she was handed a topographic map and asked to circle the general location, and mark an X where she thought the crash was.

Joe McMoneagle also wrote about this, except in his account it is the military remote viewers and one psychic from SRI who worked on the target.

Mel, Ken, and I placed the aircraft in a specific area of Zaire, our three locations overlapping a thirteen-kilometer circle. A location given by one of the remote viewers from SRI also put it within that circle. Search teams were sent into the area and the plane was located within a kilometer of the location given by the SRI remote viewer. All locations were within eight kilometers of the crash site. Search teams on the ground said as soon as they entered the circled area on the map they began encountering natives on the trail carrying pieces of the wreck to use in the construction or reinforcement of their village huts.

However, in March 1979, the Grill Flame team had just begun training and were using local targets. They wouldn’t begin on anything resembling an “operational” target until September of that year. It seems likely to me that McMoneagle is misremembering other search missions for airplanes he undertook and has mixed in elements from this particular mission based on other accounts that he had heard.

Dale Graff himself spoke about this event for the film Third Eye Spies. In it, he shows two documents to the camera that do not appear to be in the declassified Star Gate Archive. The first is apparently the sketch produced by Rosemary Smith but it doesn’t look like a forty year old piece of paper and, with no serial number, date or official stamp, I suspect it may be a reproduction, possibly solely for the purposes of the film.

He also had a photocopy of a map that resembles those in the Star Gate Archives, but I cannot find it among those documents. It has red ink which would indicate that it’s either a colour photocopy (and, as such, would probably not be part of the entirely monochrome Star Gate Archives) or it’s a photocopy that someone has drawn over. Again, we have to be open to the idea that this might be a prop for the film, created for illustrative purposes.

However, if we take this photocopy at face value it tells us that the plane crashed near Lake Kivu in the east of the country. If these documents are genuine or are an accurate reconstruction of genuine documents, then it still poses a few questions: if the circle and dot is the crash site, then what are the arrows? Is that where the psychic said to look, or is it where the search party were already looking?

My attempt at putting the red marks from the photocopy
onto Google Maps for the region

Most frustrating is the lack of any corroborating documents from other sources: no mention of a crash in Zaire in early 1979 in any contemporary newspapers nor lists of aviation crashes. This is perhaps not surprising since the aircraft, whether it was American or Soviet, was clearly a spy plane so these events would have been classified at the time [Note: as per the comments below, it could have been Libyan and not a spy plane at all]. Sadly, it appears that it remains that way today.

In conclusion, we have a story of a successful remote viewing session backed up by one contemporary document and a statement from a former US President. The details of the psychic prediction and of the circumstances surrounding the plane itself remain unknown.


Carter, Jimmy. (2015) A Full Life: Reflections At Ninety. Simon & Schuster, New Nork

Third Eye Spies (2019) dir. Lance Mungia. USA, Conscious Universe Films

McMoneagle, Joseph. (2013) The Stargate Chronicles: Memoirs of a Psychic Spy: The Remarkable Life of U.S. Government Remote Viewer 001 Crossroad Press. Kindle Edition.

Shnabel, Jim. (1997) Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies. Dell Publishing, New York.

Smith, Paul. (2005) Reading the Enemy's Mind: Inside Star Gate: America's Psychic Espionage Program,p. 97. Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

Sunday 8 September 2019

Remote viewing the Stealth Bomber, August 1987

It has been claimed that the Remote Viewing project sponsored by the US Government from 1974-1995 scored a notable success when asked to try to perceive the Northrup B-2 Stealth Bomber which was currently in development behind a curtain of absolute secrecy (although its existence was known to the general public, no details were widely circulated).

In the book Remote Viewers by Jim Schnabel, there is a brief description of Mel Riley’s success with this target. Jim writes about “Riley’s sharply detailed sketches” and that the Air Force were so concerned with the accuracy that they ordered that no one else try to remote view this target. [1]

Paul Smith goes into more detail in his book Reading The Enemy’s Mind, quoting Fred Atwater, the project manager, on the sessions.

If I recall correctly, the first targeting was a set of coordinates, and we came back with an aircraft. And Mel’s now-famous drawings. When the first drawings came back, I showed them to the outside analyst, and I said, “Well, it looks like we’re looking at some kind of aircraft, but this is really weird. Please forgive the remote viewers, because sometimes they don’t draw accurately.” And the guy says, “No, I think this is the right aircraft you’re looking at.” [2]

Paul Smith illustrates this with a comparison of sketches by Mel Riley and himself next to photographs of the target, the B-2 bomber, as well as another combat aircraft, the Lockheed F-117 which was not the target of the sessions. [2] [3]

From Paul Smith's book, "Reading the Enemy's Mind"

From an online parapsychology course, 2015

Accounts usually give the impression of a bare minimum of sessions completed in order to get the reported results. However, the project (code number 8709) included four remote viewers supplying 31 sessions. Additionally, the blinding of the viewers to the target was highly suspect and there is evidence in the notes of some pretty overt leading questions. Further complicating matters, at least at the start, was the fact that another project (8711) was still underway. [4] Project 8711 was targeted at Iran and, specifically, an underground missile store. It had been running for two weeks and this may have caused some imagery to cross over. [5]

Project 8709 began on Thursday 30 July 1987, with a session with Mel Riley that did not get any relevant images. The second session was over a week later (10 August) with Lyn Buchanan and, given only encrypted coordinates, he started talking about an airport and was told he had acquired the target when he described the whine of jet engines.

Clearly, the interviewer was not blind to the target and gave cues to each of the four remote viewers on this project. For example, Angela Dellafiore began well: With only encrypted coordinates she described something that flies that was very technologically advanced. In her second session, the interviewer asked multiple times what was so secret about this object. She didn’t give a satisfactory answer and when her third session began she was instructed to talk about the “secret aircraft,” effectively telling her the target of the session.

A collection of sketches from various session notes

Mel Riley struggled early on with this project. His first two sessions were not successful but he had mentioned a “pointed object” which the interviewer told him to focus on in the third session. By now (19 August) Lyn Buchanan had been told that the target was a jet plane and Angela knew that the target flew, so Mel’s immediate description of a plane is an interesting development. Had he overheard something about this project in conversation between sessions? Very early in session three Mel mentioned the SR-71 and was then told that he had acquired the target.

Mel's "pointed object" that, in the following session, became an aircraft

Mel Riley's sketches from 19 Aug

Paul’s first session was on the 12 August 1987. His initial response was to describe a desert area with bivouacs. Even though he had been told explicitly that this was a new project he hadn’t targeted before, there seems to be some overlap with Project 8711 for which he’d already done three sessions in that month. On the other hand, that description could fit the area of the United States where the B-2 bomber was being tested, so his second session began with instructions to concentrate on the “object of special interest located at the bivouac area described in the previous session.”

Paul began by describing and sketching a rocket (“reminds me of a cruise missile”). As the session went on, the interviewer became more active in steering Paul in a certain direction. There isn’t a full transcript but the notes list a number of statements given by the interviewer that have the clear purpose of changing Paul’s rocket into a plane: “In an earlier drawing you started to add “side images” or projections and in this drawing you seemed to have started that again.” The interviewer’s interest in these “side images” reached a peak later on where, in succession, he says to Paul:

“Let’s objectify the term projections. You repeat that phrase frequently.”

“Add the wings to your sketch.”

“Does it bother you if it turns into an airplane”

This is the most overt example of leading a remote viewer that I’ve seen in the entire Star Gate Archive and, if this weren’t enough, at the beginning of his fourth session Paul is told to focus on the “unusually configured aircraft.”

This fourth session took place on 20 August 1987 and, by now, each of the four remote viewers knew that the target was a secret jet aircraft. The sketches used to illustrate how accurate Paul Smith was in describing the Stealth bomber (as shown at the start of this blog) date from this session.

Paul Smith's sketch from his fifth session, on 24 Aug

Finally, although the Northrup B-2 was still shrouded in absolute secrecy at this point, Paul Smith appears to have been influenced by another previous attempt at guessing the appearance of the Lockheed F-117 fighter. In July 1986 a toy company, Testor Corp., released their imagining of the F-117 based on what was known in the public domain and basing it on the Lockheed SR-71. The model, which I recall gained quite a lot of publicity at the time, bears certain similarities to Paul’s later sketches and may have acted as a subconscious cue to the remote viewer.

Paul Smith's sketch and the Testor Corp. model [6]

In summary, the sketches illustrating the efficacy of remote viewing were selected from a much larger pool of sessions and were drawn after the remote viewer was no longer blind to the target.

[1] Shnabel, Jim. (1997) Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America’s Psychic Spies (pp. 51-52) Dell Publishing, New York. (NB, Jim also writes that Joe McMoneagle did a session against this target but, if this is true, it must have been an informal session since Joe McMoneagle had retired from the project several years earlier. No session notes or any mention of sessions with any non-project viewers is present in the declassified documents.)

[2] Smith, Paul. H. (2005) Reading the Enemy's Mind: Inside Star Gate: America's Psychic Espionage Program (p. 371). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

[3], Smith, Paul. H. (2015) Remote Viewing: Antecedents, Conditions, People, Protocols, Applications, Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education Massive Open Online Course,, Saturday, February 7th, 2015

[4] Just to complicate matters, Project 8709 had two phases. The first was to remotely view the B-2 bomber and the second was to then attempt to remote view any Soviet counterpart currently being developed. The existence of a Russian stealth bomber had long been considered (and a reduced-radar aircraft, the Tupolev Tu-160, had just gone into service in April of that year) and the B-2 was used as a kind of calibration target to make sure the remote viewers were "online" before they attempted the Soviet target. However, phase two didn't begin until the later stages of the project and so for the sake of simplicity I have skimmed over this detail, except to note that Mel's sketch (21 Aug) and Paul's second sketch (24 Aug) are both from sessions targeted at the Soviet craft, not the American one.

[5] Usually, the use of different encrypted coordinates given to the remote viewer at the start of a session would be enough to inform them that they were working on a new target. However, Project 8711 had used two sets of encrypted coordinates and so a new set might not have had the usual effect of removing the remote viewers' preconceived ideas about the target.

[6] photographs of model taken from Popular Science, September 1986, p79

Thursday 18 July 2019

I've written a book about Japan

After a recent trip to Japan I found myself a bit perplexed that there was no book about Matsue on the market (apart from Glimpses of an Unfamiliar Japan by Lafcadio Hearn, but that’s over a hundred years old). So I sat down and wrote one!

It’s an introduction to the city, but very much from my experiences there. I did a little research to add a little background, but it is by no means a history of Matsue. I thought I’d mention it here on the off chance it’d interest you. It’s on Amazon only (self-published Kindle, you see).

It’s subtitled The Storytelling City and, as I explain on Amazon, “Of course, every city can tell you stories, but Matsue is almost overburdened with them, stretching back over a thousand years. From myths described in ancient texts, through the tales of the Edo period and on to a Victorian ghost story collector, it seems as if every street has, over time, acquired some kind of fable. Around all of this is a small city of uncommon beauty and character.”