For the past several months, I’ve been conducting interviews with leading UFO researchers from countries around the world in an effort to paint a clearer picture of global UFOlogy today.
This week, our global UFO trek takes us to Sweden, and to Clas Svahn. The author of more than 25 books, Clas features regularly on TV, radio and in printed media as an expert in UFOs, astronomy and space research. He is the editor of UFO-Sweden’s quarterly magazine UFO-Aktuellt and has been Head of Education of field investigators since the late 1990s. He has personally investigated somewhere in the region of 1,500 reports of alleged UFOs.
RG: Who have been the defining figures in Swedish UFOlogy over the past 70 years, for better or for worse, and why?
The first big name in Swedish UFOlogy was Gösta Rehn who published four books (one translated into English) between 1966 and 1976. Rehn, though an ET believer, advocated a more scientific approach to the topic as a reaction to the early-1960s Adamski-and-contactee-oriented debate. After Rehn, several more ET-oriented authors followed, like Staffan Stigsjöö and Boris Jungkvist. In the early 1990s, several new age-focused authors like Sune Hjorth and Kristina Wennergren took yet another step from the scientific approach suggested by Rehn. Since the middle of the 1990’s I have tried to change this and today the Swedish UFO debate is more balanced. My books have been read by tens-of-thousands of Swedes and I am often interviewed on TV, radio and in newspapers.
RG: In terms of UFOlogy, Sweden is known for its historic ‘Ghost Rocket’ sightings of 1946. Could you explain the general nature of these sightings and share with us the best theories to account for them?
It is not possible to answer this question short and concise since the material covering the Ghost Rockets is huge and compelling. What I can say is that the Ghost Rockets are one of the truly mysterious phenomena connected to UFOs. They got their name from a Swedish newspaper editor in May 1946 since they looked like the V-bombs used by Nazi-Germany during the last years of WWII. On August 14th, Swedish Air Force pilot Lieutenant Gunnar Irholm and Corporal Möller were flying on a training mission between Malingsbo and Krylbo in Dalecarlia. The time was a couple of minutes after ten o’clock in the morning and the visibility was good with a rainstorm coming in from the southeast. The two men were flying a B18A bomber at 650 feet (200 meters) over a forest area 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) east-northeast of Malingsbo church when Gunnar Irholm suddenly saw an unknown aircraft coming from his left on a southeasterly course in front of their airplane. Gunnar Irholm remembered when interviewed in 1986: “Just over the horizon I could see an elongated object without the typical features of an aircraft. It had no tail fin, for example. What we saw was the picture of a cigar, a torpedo. We were close enough to be sure that this was not an aircraft.”
His report was filed just minutes after landing in Västerås. There, Gunnar Irholm wrote that after spotting the object they lost eye contact for a short period of time, but after adjusting their height it reappeared 20 seconds later. “I immediately put my aircraft on a parallel course and put on full power. The shortest distance we had to the craft was just over 3,000 feet [one kilometer] but I soon realized that we were not able to catch up with the craft which speed I estimate to between 370 and 430 miles [600 kilometers and 700 kilometers] per hour. Two minutes later it had vanished to the South East,” Irholm wrote in the official report. The unknown object vanished into the storm cloud.
A full investigation was made and Lieutenant Irholm and Corporal Möller were both summoned to a meeting with one of the prime investigators from the Ghost Rocket committee, Eric Malmberg, eight days later. Eric Malmberg’s conclusion was that the object had not been a Swedish aircraft. But what was it? Malmberg later said in an interview: “He must have seen something. I later got to know Gunnar Irholm very well and he was always a very balanced person.” And Gunnar Irholm was a pilot with great experience. At the time of the observation he was in charge of a division of B18s and would later the same year fly to Britain in charge of bringing four J28 Vampires back to Sweden. He was later appointed to head the military testing grounds at Malmslätt where new aircraft, missiles and rockets were tested before being used by the armed forces.
Beside this report, the crashes are still one thing that puzzles me. I have spent days together with the witnesses of the July 19th crashes where four objects dived into lakes during four hours. Search teams from the Swedish military looked for them but found only holes at the bottom of the lakes, no debris. What did they see? I do not know but I am sure that they witnessed a real, physical phenomenon.
RG: What is the Swedish government’s official stance on UFOs? When was the last time it issued a statement on the subject?
During the last five years or so the Swedish armed forces have distanced themselves from the topic and are not publishing any statistics anymore. I have even been denied a short summary of how many ”unknowns” the air force investigated during 2000 to 2018. This is a break with how the military used to handle UFOs. After the Ghost Rocket wave the military put a great effort into investigating sightings and did so for many years until 1965 when this responsibility was handed over to the Defense Research Institute (FOI). After that, real investigations ceased and the reports coming to the military were just filed without any interviews or investigations being conducted. Our proximity to Russia makes the military cautious to publish reports of unknowns since they could be used by other countries as a means to measure the capacity of the Swedish radar systems.
RG: Does the Swedish Ministry of Defence have an official UFO investigations unit?
No, not any more. There is still a ”UFO desk” but it never investigates UFO reports from the public but sends the observers to UFO-Sweden instead.
RG: Has the Swedish government shown more or less transparency on the UFO subject than the US government?
Hard to say. A couple of years ago UFO-Sweden had all the reports in the FOI files scanned and handed over on a hard drive when I asked for them. And I have never had any problems with getting comments regarding UFOs when I have asked for them – until now. As I see it, the Swedish military doesn’t know much more about the origin a of the unknowns than I and UFO-Sweden do.
RG: Tell us a bit about your organisation, UFO-Sweden. How many members do you have, and what kind of activities do you engage in? How many smaller Swedish UFO groups are you aware of, if any?
UFO-Sweden started in 1970 (and we will be 50 years 2020) as an organization more inclined to publish cases that showed that we had an ET presence on Earth than to try and find explanations to those reports. Ten years later UFO-Sweden was divided into two groups, one that took a more scientific stance and one that continued on the ET path. It was a very painful process since most of the persons once founding UFO-Sweden were convinced that the UFO enigma already was solved and that all that now had to be done was to inform the Swedish citizens and our leaders that the Earth was visited by beings from other worlds. This standpoint made several serious investigators leave the organization or decide not to join it in the early years.
Today UFO-Sweden is a stable and very well maintained group of dedicated researchers. We have around 500 members and a circulation of our glossy magazine UFO-Aktuellt of 1,200 copies. Our report centre investigates between 250 and 300 reports every year.
UFO-Swedens delivers lectures and training courses, and, since 2019, also holds regional meetings with members. We publish yet another magazine beside UFO-Aktuellt called Rapport-Nytt aimed at members and field investigators (500 copies).
There are no other groups in Sweden anymore.
RG: What are the most active regions of Sweden for UFO sighting reports?
The most active regions are the regions where UFO-Sweden has field investigators or groups. Where people can find someone to report to. There are no "hotspots;" the reports are evenly distributed over Sweden. When UFO-Sweden, during several years, made a survey by knocking doors and asking people all over the southern part of Sweden if they had seen anything in the sky that they couldn’t explain ten per cent of the 1,600 we talked to said that they had. Just a few of them had reported their observation to the authorities or to UFO-Sweden which makes us think that there are one millions possible UFO observations out there (Sweden has a population of ten millions) that we still don’t know of. Today UFO-Sweden has 20,000 reports in our files.
RG: Have you personally had any UFO sightings?
Since I am an amateur astronomer I have been standing outside beneath the dark and starry sky for hundreds of hours. I have seen a couple of strange lights and objects but only one that still baffles me. It was in November 1995 when me and my wife stood outside our house just after 1am after returning home from a friend looking to the East. A couple of minutes earlier we had passed two men standing at a bus stop pointing to the sky looking at something, which we at the time could not see. Trying to locate whatever it was we both scanned the sky but saw nothing but stars. Suddenly three white-glowing objects, all formed like a cross with even arms like plus signs, flew out of the darkness from East. They flew over us without changing positions and my first thoughts that they were birds reflecting the lights from the city below soon turned out to be wrong. As I ran around the corner of our house I could see the three objects vanishing from my sight. I have no idea of what they were or where they came from and the investigator that was assigned to investigate our observation never found an explanation.
RG: How long have you been involved in the UFO subject; roughly how many cases have you personally investigated; and what conclusions, if any, have you drawn about the underlying nature of UFO phenomena?
I started out as an avid amateur astronomer when I was eleven years old in the late 60s, and astronomy is still one of my biggest interests. But soon I got interested also in UFO anomalies. I started reading as many books as I could find and cut out newspaper articles and pasted them on paper (I still have them!). When I was 16, in May 1974, I started a local UFO group in my hometown and began to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects. Since then I have investigated around 1,500 cases but have not one simple single explanation for all of them. To me UFOs are not just one phenomenon but many, and I am cautious when it comes to saying what it all could be. But I think it is way too early to say that we have visitors from other planets coming here in spaceships. To me, the UFO enigma is much more complex than that.
I consider myself to be a critical investigator and all answers, as long as they could be substantiated, are good answers. To me there are no easy answers to be found when it comes to UFOs. If you stick with one favourite hypothesis, that could be ETH or many skeptics point of view that there is nothing to UFOs at all, you are bound to miss vital information. For me, UFOs are a label for many different phenomena. I do not think that what often is called The UFO Enigma has just one answer. Reading reports of strange lights, “crafts, ”“aliens” and other anomalies in books and newspapers from earlier days it is clear to me that the alien answer is not the only one. Some reports that I have investigated have had a very physical part which to me points to these objects being a real phenomena.
RG: How can Swedish UFOlogy, and UFOlogy in general, better itself?
In many ways of course. We are good at many things like educating our field investigators which we’ve done since the mid-1970s during yearly courses. But we need to get better in making them stay within the organization. But that is a problem we share with all other UFO organizations around the world. There are only so many very good and interesting reports every year and the field investigators must work with loads of mundane and not very exciting observations before getting to a ”good case.” That is a problem because many of the investigators get frustrated and drop out while waiting.
I am also chairman for Archives for the Unexplained (AFU), the world’s largest archive when it comes to the unknown. We are growing all the time, but so fast that we are lacking money for making our holdings available in the way we would like them to be. I hope that AFU (www.afu.se) will get more funding from interested persons around the world and maybe my new book (”Files of the Unknown) about AFU and a crowd funding effort we are starting soon will change that. AFU is hugely important for researchers and I would like the archive to be used even more.
When it comes to UFOlogy, in general I think that we all must be better researchers and better educated in physics, psychology and the misinterpretations that may account for than 90 per cent of the observations. Real UFO phenomena are not as common as you may think.
For more information about UFO Sweden, visit their website.