It’s the unsolved mystery of an unsolved mystery.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Who was “Guardian” — the person whose blurry videotape of strange flashing lights in a field near Carp more than 30 years ago lured UFO researchers and TV crews to West Carleton like conspiracy theorists to an Area 51 picnic.
It’s the question Toronto filmmaker Nick Crowe plans to explore when he visits the area next month to film a documentary on the events of the fall of 1989 for CBC’s Point of View. The film, Searching for Guardian, is looking at the eye witness reports of a purported spacecraft landing and lurid claims of aliens who worked with the Nazis and planned to enslave humans.
“A lot of serious UFO types don’t even bother with it because there was something so strange about it and people thought it was just a hoax,” Crowe said.
“We’re treating this less like ‘Whoa. Did a UFO really land there?’ to ‘Why did someone go to so much trouble to do this? What’s the human story behind this?’”
Whoever launched the unidentified alien frenzy went to a lot of trouble. The incidents spanned over several years and included claims of a UFO crash landing near Manion Corners on Old Almonte Road and an “eye witness” report from a woman, Diane Labenek, who claimed to have seen a strange, brightly lit craft land in a field near her house the night of Nov. 4, 1989.
Coupled with those stories was the video mailed to several UFO researchers in Canada and the U.S., signed only with the name “Guardian” and a thumb print. The night-time video shows a brightly lit object with a blue flashing strobe approach a clump of bright flares in what appears to be a landing zone.
The video, though blurry and inconclusive, didn’t appear to have been doctored, Crowe said.
“It was a fairly convincing attempt at showing a spaceship landing,” he said. “The feeling among people with expertise in photographic analysis was that it was a pickup truck with road flares. Some of the hoaxes over the years have been downright goofy. This one… this one was OK.”
The tape became fodder for several TV shows, most notably Unsolved Mysteries, which aired on Fox from 1987 to 1996.
Canadian UFO enthusiasts who investigated the Guardian video and Labenek’s claims concluded it was all a hoax, but in February 1992, Guardian mailed another copy of the video to a prominent U.S. UFO researcher, Bob Oechsler. That was enough to bring a crew from Unsolved Mysteries to Carp.
The show interviewed Oechsler and others and featured a recreation of Labenek’s sighting, played by Labenek herself. But the highlight was the Guardian video, which host actor Robert Stack gravely intoned was “to be shown for the first time ever on national television.”
“That’s what everyone remembers — that videotape” Crowe said.
Searching for Guardian is a natural follow for Crowe, whose previous documentary, Spaceman, was about an eccentric 32-year-old B.C. mechanic who was building a spaceship in his yard. The man vanished before it was finished, telling his family he was going on a journey with extra-terrestrials.
It’s the human story behind the Guardian hoax that intrigues Crowe, but finding area residents with firsthand memories of the incident has been difficult.
“What we’re lacking is anyone who had a personal connection to it. We’re not making something salacious or a ‘gotcha’ piece looking to explain the whole thing away. I just think there’s something really fascinating about that time.”
At the end of the 1992 Unsolved Mystery broadcast, a stone-faced Stack resolves the West Carleton mystery leaves only questions, “Questions perhaps the person called Guardian alone can answer.”
Crowe hopes he might find some of those answers, maybe even Guardian himself.
“My gut tells me it that it started as a lark and it grew into something larger than anyone anticipated and that’s why they’re so reluctant to talk about it,” he said.
“I think it’s like Spaceman. I think they’re may be something sad at the end of this story. I don’t know if there was a breach of trust with the people of Carp when these Americans came up, shot their shows and left (but) I’d love to know the person behind these packages.”
Source: Ottawa Citizen