Extra-terrestrial collection touches down

The University of Manitoba Archives receives local UFO collections

Sketch of UFO by Stefan Michalak / Photograph provided by Chris Rutkowski

Storytelling has always indicated that we are not alone in the universe.

There are Indigenous tribes who have stories of their ancestors encountering the “Star People.” Even Second World War pilots from both the Axis and the Allied forces reported that they were being followed by what they called “Foo Fighters” while flying during the war.

The most documented incident in Canadian history, however, is the 1967 Falcon Lake encounter.

On Nov. 7, the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections held an event to announce that UFO files — consisting of both the 1967 Falcon Lake encounter and a large collection of 20,000 separate Canadian UFO reports — have been donated to the archives by U of M media relations officer and renowned Canadian ufologist Chris Rutkowski.

The burned shirt, burned hat, Mayo Clinic identification badge, as well as several other items related to the case of Stefan Michalak — the man who encountered a UFO near Falcon Lake in 1967 — were on public display in the university’s Archives and Special Collections room for the first time.

Though there are many other witnesses who saw a strange orange object in the sky that day and who recount the town of Falcon Lake being ambushed by reporters and strange men in suits a few days after the news broke of Michalak’s encounter, Rutkowski’s files consist of Michalak’s account and a bevy of investigative government documentation of the incident.

On May 20, 1967, Michalak — a Polish immigrant, industrial mechanic and amateur prospector — was prospecting for silver on the north side of Falcon Lake, Man.

At around noon that day, Michalak was startled by geese making an unusual racket. Looking up into the sky, he saw “two cigarette-like shape[d] [objects] with a hump in the middle,” glowing scarlet. One of the craft stayed in the air before taking off, the other was coming down to land.

When the craft landed, Michalak started looking for marks on its surface, but did not see any. Nevertheless, Michalak thought the craft was probably part of an experiment being conducted by the United States as it was, after all, the middle of the Cold War.

Michalak described the craft as flawless — as though the craft had been milled out of a solid block of steel. The door to the craft slowly opened and he heard voices.

Crouching in the bush for quite a while, sketching the object, Michalak decided the craft was in trouble. Still thinking it was a U.S. aircraft, Michalak approached the craft saying, “Hey, Yankee boys, seems to me you are in trouble, I’ll help you.”

When there was no response, Michalak offered help in Russian, then in Polish and finally in German. After a few more moments of no response, the craft door suddenly shut. Michalak touched the craft and burned his work glove. The craft suddenly began rotating counter-clockwise and a steam vent lit Michalak’s shirt on fire. The craft lifted straight up into the air and vanished.

Michalak felt strange and vomited several times. While checking his compass to find his way back to the road, the needle was going haywire and never corrected itself. Disoriented and badly burned, he took his best guess at the direction of the road and managed to make his way back to the Falcon Hotel that used to be on the south side of the highway in Falcon Lake. He then got on a bus back to Winnipeg.

His injuries left doctors baffled. The exact same pattern of vent holes Michalak described as being on the craft appeared on his chest as red dots. His symptoms worsened and his body emitted a sulphuric stench with hints of “an electric-burning motor” smell that a bath could not remedy.

He exhibited all the symptoms of radiation poisoning, but it was determined by doctors that he had a chemical burn.

Michalak was even examined at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis, Minn., because of his symptoms — still with no answers.

A few weeks after the incident, a team of experts — including those from the U.S. Air Force, working in co-operation with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — investigated the encounter site: a burned-out circle with a diameter of 30 feet. The trees surrounding the area had dead branches that looked as though they had been touched with intense heat.

The radiation levels at the site appeared alarmingly high and the Canadian health department considered quarantining the area. Later, the team discovered the radiation levels were caused by a vein of radium that ran under the entire region.

Michalak said that for years after the incident, the burn marks on his chest flared up every few months.

However, Michalak never said he had encountered aliens that fateful May afternoon and remained certain he had simply encountered advanced military aircraft.

At the archives event, Michalak’s son Stan emphasized that, throughout his life, his father’s reaction to the two flying objects remained, “What the hell is that?”