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Case File: Guardian UFO
Location: West Carleton, Ontario
Date: August 18, 1991
Description: West Carleton is a historic township in Eastern Ontario, Canada. It is located in the rural parts of the new City of Ottawa, west of Kanata. It is located forty miles north of the United States/Canadian border. Local Diane Labenek described a UFO craft as having a blue flashing light on top and another light on the bottom with burning red flames.


History: On the night of August 18, 1991, housewife Diane Labenek of West Carleton, Ontario, put her children to bed while her husband was out running an errand. At around 10pm, she heard her dogs barking, so she went to the back window to investigate. She saw red flames and smoke coming from a field nearby. She did not think it was a fire because it did not spread throughout the field; instead, it stayed in one spot. She then saw an unidentified object come down to the ground, next to the flames. On top of the object was a blue flashing light. Another bright light was on its bottom. She watched it for about ten minutes. It then lifted up, went behind some trees, and disappeared. At the same time, the flames disappeared as well. She was very frightened by the encounter and wanted to call the police. However, she figured that no one would take her seriously. About ten minutes after the flames disappeared, a helicopter appeared. The unmarked craft flew low to the ground over the field where the flames had appeared. After crisscrossing the area, it flew over Diane's house and rushed off into the night.
At the crack of dawn the next morning, Diane ran out to the empty fields surrounding her house, searching for evidence of the previous night's events. She found no marks, spots, matches, or any other evidence to explain what had happened. She only told her husband and mother about the sighting. She was upset that she was unable to come forward with her story at the time. However, she knew that no one would believe her without evidence supporting it. The 1991 sighting was the second unusual event she had witnessed in West Carleton. In 1989, she was one of several residents who observed a sudden explosion of extraordinarily brilliant light over a nearby swamp.
Diane might have remained silent about her 1991 sighting if not for a controversial videotape which seemed to verify her account. In February 1992, six months after the sighting, a package from Canada arrived at the Edgewater, Maryland, office of Bob Oechsler. He is a well-known UFO researcher and former NASA mission specialist. The package had no return address. Inside were documents, pictures, a map, and the tape, all pertaining to the 1991 sighting. The tape's label had the word "Guardian" and a fingerprint on it. He was not familiar with the word and did not know of a connection between it and UFO literature. At the time, he was unaware of Diane's sighting. However, he soon discovered that the videotape depicted what she had reported with stunning accuracy.
The tape showed a cluster of brightly burning red flames, similar to flares. A dark disk-like object hovered to the right. It emitted a bright glow from its underside. It was capped by a rapidly strobing blue light. The tape was among the most convincing documentations of a UFO Oechsler had seen in his twelve years of research. He could tell that the object was a disk-looking shape because the flashing light on top reflected off of the curved surface of the disk. He felt that this was a real event occurring in a field, as opposed to a prop set up in a room. It had an extraordinary amount of luminosity characteristic to it that made him believe that it was authentic.
The map sent with the tape showed the area of West Carleton, Ontario, as the location where the tape had been made. Oechsler went to West Carleton, along with UFO researcher Graham Lightfoot. Together, they interviewed Diane, whom Lightfoot had met when he investigated her 1989 sighting. To their surprise, she described exactly what they had seen on the tape. Lightfoot felt that her description was so vivid that she could not have made it up. She was shocked when she saw the tape, as it accurately depicted what she had seen. However, she was also happy because she now had evidence to support her sighting.
Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a U.S. Navy physicist and photo analyst, has studied UFOs for years. He examined the tape and did not believe that it was a hoax. He noted that it was the clearest video he had seen that showed a structured unidentified object. He pointed out: the blue beacon light on top; a reflection of the light on the object's body; the outline of the object itself with dark lines on it; some brightness in the structure, indicating that something generating green and blue light was hanging down below the object; and the possibility of other structures obscured by the glare from the bright light.
Maccabee was particularly intrigued by the bright, strobing light. He noted that it was unusual because it was blue and running very fast. It was running about seven cycles per second, much faster than ordinary flashing beacons on aircraft, which usually run about one or two cycles per second. The section of the video which showed the object appearing over a rise was quite convincing to him. It was what one would expect if the cameraman was in the field trying to get closer to the object. He believed that the cameraman turned on the camera as he approached the object. He then moved the camera down until the entire object was in view. The lights coming towards him became brighter and there appeared to be a big diffuse reflection or image in the camera. This suggested to Maccabee that the object shot a beam of light at the cameraman.
Maccabee estimated the unknown object to be twenty to thirty feet in diameter. According to Oechsler, the object's apparent size argues against it being a hoax. He felt that it was so large that it would not be logical for someone to set this up at night under darkness. According to him, there would have been evidence during the day of movement of generators, of somebody hauling cables, or of a big apparatus that they would have had to bring in there for that night. If it was a hoax, Diane would have seen evidence of it in advance. Audio analysis of the tape revealed only the distant barking of dogs, perhaps those reported by Diane. The object itself appeared to be silent. There was no audible trace of power generators, which, if the object was staged, would have been necessary to run its massive lights.
Dr. Robert Nathan of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reviewed the tape in a non-official capacity. He could not explain the images. He also could not categorically dismiss it as a hoax. In a puzzling coincidence, low-flying helicopters have cruised over West Carleton regularly since the 1991 sighting. According to Diane and other residents, the helicopters are black, green, or maroon in color. They are unmarked and have darkly tinted windows. The Canadian military denies any involvement in it. Where the helicopters come from and what they are searching for remains a mystery. According to a Canadian military official, the helicopters used in that area of Canada do not fly that low. They have designated flying training areas about thirty miles west. Therefore, there should be no reason for the military helicopters to fly near private citizens' properties.
Oechsler believes that the 1991 sighting was either an elaborate hoax, a military operation on private property, or some sort of non-human technology. The key to the case lies with the person using the name "Guardian". The presence of the mysterious individual in a remote field late at night with video camera in hand just in time for a UFO sighting can hardly be ascribed to luck. According to Oechsler, whether the event was real or an elaborate hoax, Guardian had prior knowledge that it was going to happen. He believes that Guardian is connected to it in some way. He does not believe that Guardian would have just stumbled upon it.
Virtually nothing is known about Guardian's true identity. Curiously, he has contacted UFO researchers only in connection with the two sightings reported by Diane and others in West Carleton. When Oechsler and Lightfoot began looking into the sightings, they speculated that it may have been a hoax since Diane was involved in both of them. However, after getting to know her, they decided that she was not involved in any way, other than being an observer. On the other hand, purported military documents that arrived with the tape raised serious questions about Guardian's credibility. Among other preposterous claims, the papers allege far-reaching conspiracies involving UFOs, Red China, and nuclear weapons. Oechsler questioned the authenticity of the documents because they did not look like typical government documents. The Canadian military official pointed out that the documents were clearly fake because of the number of errors within them.
Also included on the tape were obscure images which Guardian claimed show an alien being. Oechsler noted that the "being" appeared to be someone dressed in a costume. This led him to wonder why, if the video of the object was authentic, Guardian would add fake images of alien begins to it. Lightfoot noted that the "stories" Guardian wrote to go along with the events do not seem to match the quality of the event itself. The stories seem far-fetched, while the events were credible and seen by reliable witnesses.
In spite of the dubious images and questionable documents, many experts believe that the event shown on the tape did indeed take place. What really happened in the fields of West Carleton? In the wake of its brief appearance in summer 1991, the strange luminous object left only questions. Questions, perhaps, Guardian alone can answer.
Background: Diane Labenek has lived in West Carleton, Ontario, with her husband and two children. In 1989, she and several others witnessed a loud and bright explosion over a nearby swamp. "Guardian" also reportedly sent several UFO agencies documents about this sighting. West Carleton Township is located in East Ontario, near Ottawa, and was created in 1974.
There is no information known about the mysterious "Guardian."
Investigations: UFO researchers Bob Oechsler and Graham Lightfoot investigated the videotape left by "Guardian" and Diane's eyewitness account. They believe that she is telling the truth and that the tape depicted what she had seen.
Dr. Bruce Maccabee and Dr. Robert Nathan both examined the tape and concluded that it was not a hoax.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the February 3, 1993 episode.
The episode was the first time the Guardian tape was shown on national television.
Results: Unresolved. In November 1992, Lightfoot met with a man who believed he knew the identity of "Guardian". He claimed that his friend, Bobby Charlebois, had an ongoing interest in UFOs and had called himself "Guardian" in the past. Others who knew Charlebois confirmed that he had been interested in UFOs for several years. Diane also confirmed that he was a good friend of hers who had visited her often. When UFO researchers tried to get his fingerprints, he was evasive. It is not known if his prints were ever compared to the one found on the tape. MUFON, or the Mutual UFO Network, later discovered that Diane's nephew owned an older model white pickup truck, which was similar to the size and shape of the object seen on the tape.
In February 1993, the RCMP investigated Diane's claims of low-flying helicopters near her house. Although some neighbors reported seeing helicopters in the area, none reported seeing them flying low like Diane had claimed. After the RCMP investigation, Oechsler located a witness who claimed to have seen the lights and object in Diane's backyard. The witness also claimed to have been abducted by the object. MUFON investigators were skeptical of the witness's story, as it was inconsistent and had details that changed over time. They were also suspicious of Diane's claims that she knew nothing about UFOs and was not interested in them. When the Unsolved Mysteries crew visited her home, several UFO books were seen on her bookshelves.
In September 1994, Oechsler retired from UFO investigation. By then, many in the UFO community had distanced themselves from him, based on his poor handling of this case and the Gulf Breeze UFO case. In August 1995, MUFON Ontario released a report, stating that they believed the case was most likely a hoax. They, along with several other experts, believe that Diane's nephew's truck (with several lights attached) was used to create the object shown in the tape. Due to the dark background and other special effects, it could appear as if the truck was a UFO flying in the night sky. They believe that the Labeneks, Charlebois, and possibly others were involved in setting up the hoax and the tape. They also believe that Oechsler knew that it was a hoax, but went along with it in order to benefit personally and financially. However, Diane, Oechsler, and other UFO researchers still insist that the incident was real.
Oechsler passed away on June 6, 2020, at the age of seventy-one.