Lots of people have heard of Roswell, America but what about Canada’s most famous UFO encounter? Known as the Falcon Lake Incident, it involves amateur prospector Stefan Michalak who claimed to have encountered an unidentified flying object, experiencing physical injuries and presenting compelling evidence to support his account.
Michalak’s story has proven more difficult than most to disprove, making his UFO encounter one of the most interesting on record. Decades after the event enthusiasts and skeptics alike have some important unanswered questions. What is it that makes the Falcon Lake Incident so fascinating and was Michalak telling the truth? Let’s find out.
Aliens or Experimental Aircraft?
The Falcon Lake Incident was a UFO sighting that took place on May 20, 1967, in Manitoba, Canada. An amateur prospector, Steam Michalak, claimed to have not just come across an unidentified flying object (UFO) but actually suffered physical injuries from it.
Michalak claimed that while inspecting a quartz vein he became startled by a flock of geese that had been agitated by an object. He looked up and saw two saucer-shaped objects descending from the sky, hovering around 45 meters (150 ft) above him and emitting a red glow. According to Michalak, the objects were, “cigarette-shaped things with humps in the middle.”
At first, he presumed the UFOs were American experimental aircraft but became less sure of himself when one of the objects landed nearby and shifted into a disc shape. Initially cautious, Michalak hung back for about 30 minutes and made a quick sketch of the craft. He then decided to take a closer look.
Still suspecting the object was an experimental aircraft Michalak looked for identifying insignia but found none. He noted that the craft was also devoid of any seams and had an unusual metallic surface that was completely smooth, almost as if made of glass. The UFO was, he estimated, 10.5 meters (34 ft) in length and 4.5 meters (15 ft) in height.
Stranger still, Michalak claimed the aircraft’s color shifted between gray and red, resembling “hot stainless steel” that emitted a strange golden glow all around the craft. The air was also unusually warm around the UFO and Michalak noticed the smell of sulfur.
There was an open, hinged door that Michalak decided to try and communicate through with the craft’s occupants. He believed he heard muffled voices coming from the doorway which sounded human, although he couldn’t work out what they were saying. He initially tried speaking to them in English but received no response with the voices going quiet. He tried switching between Polish, Russian, and German but the occupants remained silent.
Whether brave or foolish, Michalak was undeterred. He decided to put on his welding goggles for protection and tried to get even closer to the craft. He claimed to have seen flashing lights and panels within the craft but there was no sign of the occupants. When he touched the craft, he found it so hot to the touch that his glove began to melt.
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Michalak finally decided to give up and began walking away from the craft. As he did so the UFO spun around and revealed a new panel, full of holes. Before Michalak could react, the panel let out a blast of heated gas which hit him hard in the chest, burning his clothing and causing severe injuries, including burns to his abdomen. This same blast propelled the strange ship into the sky. Michalak later sought medical attention and reported the incident to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Michalak felt that the police never took him seriously, presuming he was drunk. He eventually ended up asking for help from the Mayo Clinic after suffering from long-term diarrhea, headaches, blackouts, and continued weight loss.
The clinic deemed him to have been of sound mind and felt that his symptoms resembled those of radiation poisoning. Yet tests showed no signs of a heavy dose of radiation in his system. His lymphocyte count, however, was found to have fallen to near-fatal levels.
Michalak never fully recovered from what had happened to him that day. He eventually told his story to The Winnipeg Tribune and published his story in 1967 in his book My Encounter with the UFO. Until his death in 1999, Michalak believed the UFO was an experimental aircraft, never claiming to have met aliens.
Was It a UFO?
While UFO interactions are usually dismissed pretty quickly, the Falcon Lake incident seems to have been taken relatively seriously. It was investigated by various important authorities in both Canada and the United States, including the US Air Force as a part of the Condon Committee.
But what makes Michalak’s account so special? There are several factors at play.
1. Witness credibility: Stefan Michalak, the main witness to the incident, was considered a reliable and credible individual with no history of making sensational claims or seeking attention. His reputation lent some credibility to his account. Even better, Michalak’s claims were never too outlandish. For example, he didn’t believe in aliens before or after the event.
2. Detailed description: Michalak supplied a detailed description of the UFO and the beings he encountered. He described the craft as disc-shaped, metallic, and emitting a hot blast of air. His account included specific details about the craft’s appearance, such as the hinged opening, which added to the belief that he had a genuine experience.
3. Physical evidence: Michalak presented physical evidence to support his claims. He had visible burn marks on his body, which were consistent with his story of being exposed to a blast of hot gas. Likewise, the Mayo Clinic’s findings helped to support some of his claims. The presence of burned vegetation at the landing site was also seen as corroborating evidence.
4. Lack of conventional explanations: Skeptics and investigators have struggled to provide a satisfactory conventional explanation for the incident. While alternative theories have been proposed, such as a conventional aircraft or military vehicle, no one has been able to fully account for all the reported details and the physical evidence.
5. Similar sightings: The Falcon Lake Incident is often considered in the broader context of UFO sightings and encounters reported by other individuals. When multiple independent witnesses report similar experiences, it can contribute to the belief that something extraordinary or otherworldly occurred.
What Do the Skeptics Say?
That being said, not everyone is convinced that Michalak really encountered a UFO. Skeptics have put forward several alternative explanations for the Falcon Lake Incident, including:
1. Hoax or fabrication: Every skeptic’s first response. It has been suggested that Stefan Michalak may have made up the entire incident as a hoax to gain attention or financial gain. This explanation does not explain the physical evidence or the fact that in later life Michalak shied away from all the attention.
2. Misidentification: It has been proposed that Michalak may have encountered a conventional aircraft, such as a helicopter or a military experimental vehicle, which could explain the unusual appearance and behavior of the object. This doesn’t really disprove anything though since that’s exactly what Michalak claimed to have seen.
3. Natural phenomena: Another skeptic’s classic. Some theories propose that the incident could have been the result of natural phenomena, such as a meteorological event, electrical discharge, or a rare atmospheric phenomenon.
4. Psychological factors: Another explanation suggests that Michalak may have experienced hallucinations or delusions, either due to psychological factors or through substance abuse. Michalak claimed to have been sober when the event occurred, but a local bartender later reported that Michalak had consumed five bottles of beer the night before. Some skeptics have used this to imply Michalak was an alcoholic.
An Enduring Puzzle
The Falcon Lake Incident is so interesting because unlike so many UFO interactions it is incredibly hard to discount wholeheartedly. Michalak appears to have been a reliable witness with no affinity for conspiracy theories before or after the event. He also had real physical evidence, some of it very weird, to back him up.
Both the Canadian and US governments also seem to have taken his claims seriously. While their reports never officially accepted the existence of Michalak’s UFOs, it is interesting in and of itself that they dedicated resources to looking into it in the first place.
Sadly, Michalak died in 1999 and like him we’ll likely never know the truth of what happened that day. Skeptics have spent the last three decades trying their best to discredit the man, painting himself as either a drunk, a madman, or a liar. They have, however, failed to give satisfactory answers for everything Michalak said he experienced that day.
Top Image: Nobody has been able to adequately explain the Flacon Lake UFO incident. Source: Xanthius / Adobe Stock.