Not everyone knows of the UFO landing that occurred in 1994 within the Jewel of Africa, and not even the local military took immediate notice. By the time they were informed and arrived at the scene, the aliens were gone. But the Ariel Phenomenon—named after the school–is a concern.
Many kids (over 60 of them) were affected in some level, and 28 years later, most have tried to move on. But the images haunted them; they were traumatised. As adults, these individuals still don’t understand what happened. Filmmaker Randall Nickerson tracked down a few of those eye-witnesses willing to recount that meeting in Zimbabwe, and it’s their journey that he chronicles about how they are coping.
One aspect of the production that I liked is that it’s not filled with recreations. Another aspect is that it looks at what goes in on other parts of the world. It’d be arrogant to think activity only happens in certain countries. The USA, Peru and Mexico always tops the lists, but we rarely hear about UAPs in Africa. In what this filmmaker focuses on are these people coming to terms with what they experienced. His approach to let them talk about what happened is like therapy, and we can follow along to figure out all that they’ve gone through.
This encounter isn’t talked about as often when compared to other famous UFO cases. I surmise it’s because those witnesses aren’t spreading the message they were given, and there’s just not that many television shows that look at UFOlogy as a whole.
These days, every one is mostly watching or riffing on Ancient Aliens. The 90s news program Sightings was the de facto program I tuned into, and this alien encounter happened during its run. It may have been mentioned, but not fully investigated if the online episode summaries are accurate. Thankfully, we have plenty of online articles to get more information. But for viewers, there’s an Expedition Unknown Special and a documentary simply titled The UFO Phenomenon (available to view on Amazon Prime) to add to the story. But I feel it’s not enough. Nickerson’s documentary was made to spread the word and examine the psyche of those affected.
Ariel Phenomenon overs a lot of ground and it’s excellent at covering all the bases. That includes the days leading up to the close encounter of a third kind. BBC war correspondent Tim Leach was assigned the task to cover this news, as it was hot.
Harvard scholar John E. Mack saw this meeting as a chance to prove ETs exist. But his peers questioned his study, believing it’s some kind of mass hallucination caused by something else. As a result, his career may have suffered. The flak he faced was quite detailed, as he was steadfast with making this case well known. I feel he got redemption in this work.
Ironically, what Leach uncovered haunted him. Both are equally examined, but I felt more invested in Mack’s story. He had more to lose should he be proven wrong. One detail that’s talked about is his campus’ spiritual connection. I believe what was experienced in Ariel is like the Miracle of Fátima. Both deliver a similar message.
This work still leaves us with lingering questions rather than absolute answers, though. Everyone may not heed the message the aliens left behind (if we’re willing to believe, much like the adage Mulder goes by in The X-Files). And it’ll take more close encounters, perhaps of the fifth kind, before humanity figures out their role in the grande scheme of things.
4 Stars out of 5