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The experience of Stephen Michalak in the Falcon Lake area in Manitoba, at noon on May 20, 1967, is a CE-II (Close Encounter of the Second Kind) on two counts: physical traces were found on the area where the UFO reportedly landed, and the witness experienced a series of physiological effects apparently linked to his close encounter with a metallic-looking, disc-shaped object. Michalak is an industrial mechanic from Winnipeg who was doing some amateur prospecting in the area.

Drawing with notes by Michalak of the landed UFO

Drawing with notes by Michalak of the landed UFO he encountered at Falcon Lake. Notice grill pattern (encircled) and compare to burn marks above. From the declassified files of the RCAF and RCMP. Courtesy of ICUFON Archives.

The case was investigated extensively by Canadian authorities, the Condon Commission, and several civilian UFO groups from the U.S. and Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Department of National Defense (DND), the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), and the Manitoba Department of Health were some of the agencies involved. Canadian officials reacted quickly after some radioactive traces were detected in soil samples from the landing area as well as on Michalak's garments. Many reports and documents on the case were eventually released by the Canadian government. One document provides a full summary of the case and investigation:

"A Mr. Steven Michalak of Winnipeg, Manitoba reported that he had come into physical contact with a UFO during a prospecting trip in the Falcon Lake area, some 90 miles east of Winnipeg on the 20 May 67. Mr. Michalak stated that he was examining a rock formation when two UFOs appeared before him. One of the UFOs remained airborne in the immediate area for a few moments, then flew off at great speed. The second UFO landed a few hundred feet away from his position. As he approached the UFO, a side door opened and voices were heard coming from within.

"Mr. Michalak states he approached the object but was unable to see inside due to a bright yellow bluish light which blocked his vision. He endeavored to communicate with the personnel inside the object [in English, Russian, German, Italian, French and Ukrainian], but without result. As he approached within a few feet of the object, the door closed. He heard a whining noise and the object commenced to rotate anti-clockwise and finally raised off the ground. He reached out with his left gloved hand and touched the object prior to its lifting off the ground; the glove burned immediately as he touched the object.

"As the object left the ground, the exhaust gases burned his cap, outer and inner garments, and he sustained rather severe stomach and chest burns. As a result of these he was hospitalized for a number of days. The doctors who attended and interviewed Mr. Michalak were unable to obtain any information which could account for the burns to his body. The personal items of clothing which were alleged to have been burnt by the UFO, were subjected to an extensive analysis at the RCMP Crime laboratory. The analysts were unable to reach any conclusion as to what may have caused the burn damage.

"Soil samples taken by Mr. Michalak from the immediate area occupied by the UFO were analyzed and found to be radioactive to a degree that the samples had to be safely disposed of. An examination of the alleged UFO landing area was made by a radiologist from the Department of Health and Welfare and a small area was found to be radioactive. The Radiologist was unable to provide an explanation as to what caused this area to become contaminated.

"Both DND and RCMP investigation teams were unable to provide evidence which would dispute Mr. Michalak's story."

The RCAF investigation of Michalak, undertaken by Squadron Leader P. Bissky, was tough and highly skeptical. There were a few problems: Michalak failed to locate the landing site on two occasions when accompanied by the RCMP, but found it later with a friend. Much was made of this by physicist Roy Craig of the Condon committee, who eventually dismissed the case.66   However, Canadian researcher Chris Rutkowski makes a reasonable case of "disorientation in the wilderness" in discussing the details of the initial searches. Michalak had literally been taken from the hospital and flown in a helicopter by the RCAF to search for the spot. By the time of the third search, Michalak had partially recovered from his burns.67

Stephen Michalak showing the geometric burn pattern

Photograph of Stephen Michalak showing the geometric burn pattern on his body. Courtesy of ICUFON Archives.

S/L Bissky looked at the possibility of a hoax, searching for small details; for example whether Michalak had handled "radium sources" at the cement company where he worked as a mechanic. Although S/L Bissky was trying to find holes in the story, he had to admit that "notwithstanding the evidence as it appears, the abdominal burns sustained by Mr. Michalak remain unexplainable as to the source of the burn."68

Michalak underwent several medical examinations in the course of the following months. The first took place on the evening of May 20 at Misericordia General Hospital in Winnipeg, where Michalak was taken by his son following his return from Falcon Lake on the same day of the incident. The RCAF file includes a memorandum by a Deputy Base Surgeon who interviewed the physician who examined Michalak. The physician was not aware that the injuries were reportedly linked to a close encounter with a UFO, but had just been told that it was an accident. Surgeon D.J. Scott reported:

"At examination the physician found an area of first degree burns over the upper abdomen, covering an area of 7-8 inches [17-20 cm.] and consisting of several round and irregular shaped burns the size of a silver dollar or less. These were a dull red in color, the hair over the lower chest was singed as was the hair on the forehead with some questionable redness of the right cheek and temple."69

It is interesting to note that the geometrical burn marks on Michalak's chest and abdomen appear to conform to "a grid-like exhaust vent" observed by Michalak. According to Rutkowski's report:

"Unexpectedly, the craft shifted position, and he was now facing a grid-like exhaust vent which he had seen earlier to his left. A blast of hot air shot on to his chest, and set his shirt and undershirt on fire, and also caused severe pain. He tore off his burning garments, and threw them to the ground. He then looked up in time to see the craft depart like the first, and felt a rush of air as it ascended... He walked over to where he had left his things, and noticed that his compass was behaving erratically; after a few minutes, it became still. He went back to the landing site, and immediately felt nauseous and a surge of pain from a headache."70

Rutkowski summarized other physiological effects such as weight loss, "a drop of his blood lymphocyte count from 25 to 16 per cent," swelling of his body, and other ailments. He described as well the circumstances surrounding a series of physical and psychiatric tests undertaken by Michalak at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota in 1968, at his own expense. Since Michalak was found in general good health, normal medical explanations such as neurodermatitis and hyperventilation were hypothesized. The psychiatrists determined that, despite the stress caused by all the publicity generated by his UFO experience, "there was no other evidence of delusions, hallucinations or other emotional disorders."71

One of the weaknesses of the case is that Michalak was the only witness. No one corroborated his crucial testimony of the landing or overflight of a disc-shaped object. Professor Craig chose to dismiss the whole incident with curious reasoning in his final "Conclusion of 'Case 22'" for the Condon Report:

"If Mr. A's [Michalak] reported experience were physically real, it would show the existence of alien flying vehicles in our environment. Attempts to establish the reality of the event revealed many inconsistencies and incongruities in the case, a number of which are described in this report. Developments subsequent to the field investigation have not altered the initial conclusion that this case does not offer probative information regarding unconventional craft."72

Yet a careful review of all the physical and medical evidence collected by the RCMP and others could easily lead one to the opposite conclusion. Moreover, some of the physiological effects reported in the Falcon Lake incident are not isolated events in the UFO literature. Aerospace engineer John Schuessler has been documenting UFO medical cases for many years, compiling a Catalog of Medical Injury Cases. The 1995 version of the catalog contains approximately 400 cases.73    Although this particular field requires further research, it is one area where at least "partial proof" can be offered.


65. "UFO Report - Falcon Lake, Man." Document in the RCMP case file; no author, agency or department are identified.

66. Gilmor, Daniel S., ibid.

67. Rutkowski, Chris, "The Falcon Lake Incident," 3-part article published in Flying Saucer Review, July, August and November 1981.

68. Bissky, S/L P., "Report of an Investigation Into the Reported UFO Sighting by Mr. Stephen Michalak on May 20, 1967 in Falcon Lake Area," in the RCAF file.

69. Scott, DJ, Deputy Base Surgeon, Memorandum to S/L P. Bissky, May 26, 1967; in the RCAF file.

70. Rutkowski, C., ibid.

71. Rutkowski, C., ibid.

72. Craig, Roy, "Case 22 North Central Spring 67," in Gilmor, D.S., ibid.

73. Schuessler, John F., "Developing a Catalog of UFO-Related Human Physiological Effects," MUFON 1995 International UFO Symposium Proceedings.