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2 Fossils and fighter planes


Keen to return to fieldwork after the gallery was completed, Gord Edmund organized a trip to Morden, Manitoba, where plesiosaurs and mosasaurs had been found. A good teacher, he showed me everything, from how to excavate bones, to making the protective field jackets of plaster and burlap used to encase them for transporting back to the museum.


Morden was full of surprises. One of the locals was a pilot who traded in World War II aircraft. Hearing of Rudy’s wartime experiences, he invited us to visit him.


On arriving, I was astonished to see a Fairey Firefly on his airstrip, a single engine fighter strikingly similar to the legendary Spitfire of the Battle of Britain. Some time before, he had acquired and subsequently sold a Messerschmitt--109. Rudy told him that this is what he had flown, prior to the rocket-propelled Messerschmitt--163.


When the pilot mentioned his difficulty in taking off in the 109 because the view ahead was obstructed by the nose section, Rudy explained the solution. One simply had to swing the aircraft from side to side while accelerating down the runway.


Manitoba is remarkably flat, with large expanses of prairie giving unobstructed views across the land. The wide open spaces may have had a bearing on a subject of much interest in Morden that summer: Unidentified Flying Objects. UFOs were the focal point of some of the chats we had with the residents.


One night, with a vast sky full of stars, some of us, including Rudy, decided to join some locals to look for UFOs. There was an old barn nearby which would make an ideal lookout, so we all boarded our van and drove off.


Clambering up the stairs, we found a large open area, giving us a clear view of the sky. And there we watched and waited. After some long time without seeing anything unusual, I was not the only one thinking it was time to head back. Then five small points of light suddenly appeared above the horizon.


Keeping the same small distance apart in the same horizontal formation, the points moved up and down and from side to side. We did not watch for very long, maybe a minute or so, before they dipped down and disappeared. Completely mystified, we decided to drive off in the direction where the lights had disappeared, hoping to see something more. We never saw anything else.


So what could it possibly have been? Certainly not pranksters using some type of lights. And how could such an illusion be created anyway? It was definitely not any kind of aircraft. As Rudy had pointed out, no aircraft existed that could fly like that.

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