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UFO conference to be held at Lake this weekend

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By John Barnhart

The Virginia and North Carolina chapters of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) will hold a conference at Mariners Landing this weekend. It starts, Saturday, at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 10 p.m.

According to Susan Swiatek, state director for MUFON's Virginia chapter, MUFON is a 501(c)3 national non-profit organization that promotes the scientific study of UFOs. Swiatek said the national organization maintains a case management system that allows the public to report sightings and investigators to update information on sightings. She said the database is still evolving.

The group also produces a manual which interested individuals can study for an open book test to be certified as investigators. Swiatek said that this includes areas such as basic astronomy and how planets look in the night sky. It also provides instruction on how to screen out IFOs (identified flying objects) as well as how to carry out an investigation.

Swiatek said that she chose Mariners Landing for the conference because it is a central location for the two-state conference. She also liked what she saw on Mariners Landing's Web site. Furthermore, Swiatek said that her organization is getting a lot of reports of activity in this area.

According to Swiatek, the subject of UFOs is broad. She said that there are visual sightings in the night sky and in the daytime. There are also pilot encounters at close range, UFO landings seen by credible witnesses and abduction cases.

She said that she is featuring, at the conference, a Richmond area abduction case in which the witness provided provided good full-color drawings of the beings that she said she saw. Swiatek also cited a rural Virginia case in which a man was injured badly from his experiences aboard a craft. She did not give his name and would only say that he lives within an hour's drive of the conference location.

Swiatek said that she has been interested in UFOs since she saw a Look magazine article, when she was a young girl in 1966, on a UFO abduction. After that, she began reading everything she could find on the subject and began attending annual MUFON symposia in 1987.

The Virginia chapter of MUFON has 55 members, plus a number of actively participating non-members, according to Swiatek.

Saturday's conference, which Swiatek said will feature nationally known speakers, is open to the public. The price depends on how much of the conference you attend. The entire day costs $55. For more information, contact Swiatek via e-mail at sueswi@iglide.net"sueswi@iglide.net, or give her a call on her cell phone, (571) 262-1496.