I was only a year into high school when the episode of Unsolved Mysteries aired with a segment about a Canadian UFO encounter. Commonly known as the Falcon Lake Incident, the story is permeated with physical evidence and lasting physical effects which lend the story immense credibility.
The story of the Falcon Lake UFO incident begins in May of 1967 when outdoor enthusiast Stefan Michalak not only witnesses a UFO, but has an extended encounter that ultimately leaves him injured and fighting a mysterious illness for the remainder of his life.
The incident takes a place as one of the most well-documented sightings ever.
The Falcon Lake UFO Encounter
Falcon Lake is a tiny lake about 50 miles west of Lake Manitoba. The area is rich with quartz and silver veins. As a hobby geologist, Stefan Michalak regularly spent time in the hills around Falcon Lake exploring for mineral deposits.
That May weekend, while he was prospecting, his attention was drawn to the lake by some geese. The geese had been startled by something and, according to Michalak, upon investigation he witnessed two cigarette shaped objects in the sky. One of them descended and appeared to land nearby.
Stefan watched the object sitting there for about a half hour, and drew a sketch of what he saw before approaching it – he believed it to be a secret US military craft that was possibly in distress.
His sketch appears to be a classic flying saucer with a raised dome. His son, Stan recalled his father’s description of the craft was that the surface was flawless with the exception of a grid of holes:
It was as though you had milled, out of a solid block of steel, this disc… this saucer with a dome on top.
Stan Michalak during an interview on Unsolved Mysteries
After approaching to just an arm’s reach, a door on the side of the craft opened. Michalak, still believing it to be as US military craft, began to call out asking if someone needed help but received no answer. Peering through the open door, the interior was so bright he had to put down the visor on his welding googles (which he used to protect his eyes while chipping at rocks) in order to see.
Michalak claimed to have seen no people or beings inside the craft, but he did hear what appeared to be muffled voices during the initial door opening. He also claimed to have seen beams of light inside and what appeared to be control panels with flashing lights of different colors. He only got a short look before the door closed itself. Upon reaching out to touch the craft, the fingertips of the glove he was wearing melted.
Moments later, the craft began to rotate and as the grid of holes on the hull got closer to Michalak, he was blown back by a blast of hot air which set his shirt and hat on fire.
The blast appeared to have injured him pretty badly, he suffered burns & nausea and had to be treated at a hospital for the injuries. He also had the same grid pattern burned into his flesh, the scars of which stayed with him for the remainder of his life.
Stefan Michalak’s injuries were more than just skin deep. His health declined after his encounter. According to his son, for weeks after the incident, Stefan appeared to be very ill and also had some very peculiar symptoms in the form of an odor that seemed to follow him around.
It was this sulfur ozone, electric burning motor stink… about him. It’s like he’s carrying an aura of this smell, wherever he walked… and he got close to you, you could smell this. Not bad, [but] showers wouldn’t take it out. That lasted for weeks. I remember seeing him in bed, constantly… tired, nauseous, headachey, not feeling well, losing a lot of weight.
Stan Michalak during an interview on Unsolved Mysteries
Tests for radiation poisoning turned up negative, though later the grid pattern of burns were determined to resemble chemical burns instead of radiation.
The ongoing health problems suffered by Stefan created a wealth of documentation. Hospital and doctor records are solid proof that something did happen to him. In addition, the site was investigated heavily after the reported encounter.
A visit to the site some weeks later, revealed a circular pattern burned out into the ground. Soil samples taken from the site were found to be radioactive. A year later, another visit turned up some pieces of metal which also were coated in a radioactive substance.
The site was investigated by officials from the US as well as from the Royal Canadian Air Force who confirmed high levels of radiation. The official word is that the event remains unexplained.
So, what could the Falcon Lake incident have been? Like most unexplained sightings & encounters, it usually boils down to 3 possibilities: a military craft, a hoax, or something else unknown.
Investigation did reveal that a vein of radium lies beneath the region, which can adequately explain the high radiation levels that were found.
It’s also highly unlikely that the metal fragments found by Michalak a year later were missed by the massive team of investigators. The general consensus, appears to be that someone planted them in order to lend credibility to his story.
If you’ve read my articles before, this one is almost always at the top of the list when it comes to UFO sightings, especially those occurring in this time period. The United States was testing secret aircraft and, at the time, was all too happy to allow the public to believe they were alien space ships – it was an easy and free cover story. And, in this case, it is still the most likely explanation. That doesn’t close the case though…
The big question in this case would be why the US military would be testing secret aircraft over another country’s airspace? It makes much more sense for the military to be testing these types of vehicles in another remote domestic area such as Area 51. Military test vehicles frequently crash, testing them over foreign soil would make recovery efforts extremely difficult and increase the potential for technology to fall into the hands of another government.
There’s also the possibility that the craft was operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force, but this is also unlikely as there’s very little evidence they were working on secret technology at the time. In 1967, the world of secret aircraft was monopolized mainly but the United States and the Soviet Union.
Like all sightings, especially those with a single witness, we must consider the possibility that Stefan Michalak made the entire thing up. The man was obviously injured in an abnormal way so we can’t dismiss his injuries, but could he have made up the UFO story to cover up what really happened to him? Did he suffer from some type of accident of his own doing, possibly something which may have gotten him in trouble? If so, this could have been motivation to create a cover story to explain away his injuries.
It is important to note however, that Stefan’s story, while widely considered to be consistent wasn’t so much so. He mentions having asked a policeman for help during his trek back to the motel, but that he was not provided any assistance and the officer either drove by without stopping or ignored him after hearing his story (it’s not clear which of these is the actual claim). The problem with this part of the story is there’s no reason to think that an injured man, even with a wacky story, would be ignored by law enforcement. In fact, there’s proof that he wasn’t left or ignored in the form of an actual report filed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
Speaking of consistency, Stefan’s verbal description of what he saw doesn’t match his sketches. He consistently said what he saw was a cigarette shaped craft, and yet his sketches look like a classic flying saucer.
It’s also been proposed that since Michalak did own the prospecting rights to the area, perhaps he made up the story to keep out other prospectors & miners. I find this explanation to be unlikely because if he were to make up something to scare away trespassers, he could have done it without causing himself such gruesome and painful injuries. A simple Bigfoot sighting report may have been enough to keep people away.
But Stefan did eventually write a book about his experience and got a little bit of fame for his story. Would some money from a book deal and 15 minutes of fame be enough motivation to hoax a UFO sighting? Well, I guess that depends on the person.
So if it wasn’t military craft and it wasn’t a hoax, then what was it? Aliens? It’s always a possibility. But would aliens really leave any trace behind? One might imagine that alien technology would be so far advanced that they could come and go as they please without leaving such primitive burn marks and radioactive debris behind.
While nothing specifically points to alien craft as an explanation for the Falcon Lake Incident, there isn’t much disproving it either – so it must be left at least as a consideration.
Falcon Lake Incident: Final Thoughts
Stefan Michalak died in 1999 at the age of 83 and never once claimed that what he saw was extraterrestrial, though he did admit it was a possibility. I find this to be one of the most telling parts of the story because most hoaxers will be quick to say, “it’s aliens”.
While there’s not enough evidence to definitely say what happened at Falcon Lake, we can simply not rule out any of the possibilities. It’s a true unexplained mystery. And as those involved grow older and pass away, the likelihood the case will be solved is waning.
The Falcon Lake Incident will probably sit in the bin of unexplained sightings and encounters indefinitely.
Sources & Additional Reading:
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Falcon Lake incident is Canada’s ‘best-documented UFO case,’ even 50 years later
Unsolved Mysteries Wiki: Falcon Lake UFO
Wikipedia: UFO Sightings in Canada
How Stuff Works: The Falcon Lake Incident
The Iron Skeptic: Stefan Michalak’s Story: No Aliens Required