Håkan Blomqvist´s blog: UFO-Sweden Memories

Håkan Blomqvist´s blog: UFO-Sweden Memories


From a larger cultural
perspective the impact of the UFO phenomenon on society after the Second World
War has been tremendous. It has engendered a military, scientific, religious
and popular culture response. But first and foremost it has generated a world
wide movement of private organizations and groups dedicated to investigating and
documenting an unknown and intriguing phenomenon. The history of the UFO
movement and the ideas and activities of the diverse personalities involved is
for me almost as fascinating as the phenomenon itself. I have been a part of
this heretic underground movement since a teenager so it has become sort of
homebase. This has also made me aware of the importance of documenting the UFO
movement for future generations and researchers.
UFO-Sweden in the middle of the 1970s was a young
and from an ideological viewpoint rather unsettled organization. But around 1975
this began to change largerly due to one man, Thorvald Bertelsen, who changed
his name to Bevan Bertelsen in 1980. Thorvald was the chairman of the local group
 Köpings UFO-förening and he and his
group
in many respects, laid the groundwork and changed the direction of
ufology in Sweden to a more serious and scientific endeavor. Thorvald was elected chairman of UFO-Sweden in 1976.
Thorvald Berthelsen
entered the ufological scene with a fervent commitment and soon became a
leading public figure and spokesperson for the Swedish UFO movement. Together
with collegues from 
Köpings UFO-förening he started a massive information campaign ranging from
November 10 to December 15, 1975. During these weeks he lectured in 22
different Swedish cities and travelled more than 200 Swedish miles. In many
cities there were hundreds on listeners. A second information campaign was
conducted between February 3, and March 23, 1976. As a result many local UFO
groups were founded all over Sweden and many of the active ufologists today
began their ufological career after hearing a lecture by Thorvald Berthelsen in
the 1970s.

Thorvald Bertelsen 1977

In order to improve the
quality of investigation Thorvald together with the Köping group started the
first weekend seminars for field investigators in September 1977. Since then
hundreds of field investigators have received their basic UFO education in the
annual seminars. This has helped to improve the quality of investigation and
documentation of UFO observations and incidents.



Bertelsen realized the
need for better and more qualified field investigation. To realize this
ambition the Köping group initiated weekend seminars with education on
misinterpretations, psychology, photography and basic field investigation
proceedures. Participants were accommodated at Lersäter, a rural estate close
to the municipality Kolsva, in the center of Sweden. The estate belonged to the
Baptist Union of Sweden and consisted of five rooms with 30 beds.

Ufologists gathered at Lersäter for the first seminar September 24, 1977

Participants in todays
field investigation seminars are used to quite luxurious accommodations, a sort
of all inclusive with private quarters, excellent dinners and general good service.
 Lersäter was very primitive, with severeal
bunk beds in the rooms and only two outside dry toilets. Food was prepared at
Lersäter by friends of the local UFO group. During the first three years of the
1970s there were between 70-75 participants. With only 30 beds you were lucky
to find a bed and people slept on mattresses everywhere on the floor. Getting a
good nights sleep under these circumstances was virtually impossible. I participated
at the Lersäter seminars 1984, 1992-1995 and remember always being tired during
lectures. But most of the ufologists were young and enthusiastic so sleep was a
minor problem.

Practical field investigation training September 24, 1977

The first weekend seminar
was arranged on September 24-25, 1977, with 73 participants from all over
Sweden. Different types of misidentifications was discussed and exemplified. A
climax was the evening demonstration of how star shells and parachute lights
appear in darkness, demonstated by military personnel. They also flew a small
airplane at low altitude over Lersäter showing how landing lights and
navigation lights could be identified. Social activities and entertainment
became an important part of the seminar already from the beginning. Åke UFO Gustafsson played on various instruments. Press coverage of this first
weekend seminar was very good and generally serious.

Åke UFO Gustafsson entertaining September 24, 1977

Bärgslagsbladet September 26, 1977

The UFO-Sweden field
investigation seminars were, with a few exceptions, arranged at Lersäter between
1977-1995. Part of the seminar during these years was a practical demonstation
of investigating and documenting a UFO landing site. A type of cases now almost
totally unheard of. A delicate problem occurred during the seminar September
8-10 1978. The people responsible for the dinner had prepared a homemade
Bulgarian lentil soup. But it had a rather unexpected effect on the stomach on
the 75 participants who unfortunately only had two outside dry toilets – say no
more, say no more. In spite of this little mishap the seminar was a great
success with Anders Gernandt, amateur magician and member of the Swedish Parliament
demonstrating lots of magic tricks.

Anders Gernandt showing magic tricks September 9, 1978

Vestmanlands Läns tidning September 9, 1978

What is today called
the UFO-Sweden spirit began to develop partly as a consequence of the annual field
investigator seminars starting in 1977 at Lersäter. These weekend seminars soon
also developed into pleasant social gatherings for UFO-Sweden members and the
notion of the 
Lersäter spirit was formulated. The annual field
investigator seminars still have a very important social function when it comes
to introducing and getting to know new members. 

Carl-Anton Mattsson, Annika och Christer Nordin, seminar August 8-10, 1980

Thorvald Bertelsen, Håkan Ekstrand, Mats Nilsson, seminar late 1970s

The last seminar at
Lersäter was arranged Septermber 1-3 1995. It coincided with the UFO-Sweden 25
years anniversary. Many special guests, active during the earlier years, were
invited to the dinner, a.o. Thorvald (Bevan) Bertelsen and Christer Nordin
(chairman 1980-1988). Clas Svahn, chairman from 1991-2012, proposed a toast for
old and new ufologists, hoping for a successful future for UFO-Sweden.
Entertainer this evening was as many times before Åke UFO Gustafsson from
Tranås. This was the last time the weekend seminar was arranged at Lersäter but
many of the UFO-Sweden oldtimers remember this place and seminars with much
nostalgia.

Three former UFO-Sweden chairmen at the seminar September 2, 1995, from left Christer Nordin, Clas Svahn, Thorvald Bertelsen

Evening chat at the last Lersäter seminar, from left Jörgen Granlie, Håkan Ekstrand, Tage Bång

Åke UFO Gustafsson entertaining at the last Lersäter seminar

We use to say there is a spirit of place, the special quality associated
with a city or rural area. Every group and organization also creates its own,
special spirit or Genius loci. The unique and distinctive character of the
organization shaped by the ideas, activities and personalities of the members.
This also applies to UFO-Sweden. New active members will not only be confronted
with magazine articles, Internet discussions and the official ideology but at a
more subtle level experience the UFO-Sweden spirit. Much of this spirit was
initially formed at Lersäter. I believe this spirit was very well expressed by
then newcomer Amanda Fredriksson
 after
having participated in her first annual weekend field investigator seminar in
November 2008: “My general impression is that there is so much joy in
UFO-Sweden”.

Amanda Fredriksson and Clas Svahn at field investigation seminar 2008



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