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Falcon Lake UFO Incident 1967: The Claims Of Stefan Michalak & The Investigation That Followed

Updated: Jan 18

In 1967, Stefan Michalak claimed to witness a landed UFO at Falcon Lake, Canada, which resulted in severe burns, weight loss, nausea, and a string of other ailments. The claims made by Michalak were investigated heavily.

Stefan Michalak Falcon Lake UFO
Stefan Michalak was treated in hospital for unexplainable burns to his stomach and chest following his UFO encounter

On May 19, 1967, Stefan Michalak, an occasional quartz prospector, left Winnipeg for Falcon Lake, a Manitoba resort town on the southern boundary of Whiteshell Provincial Park, a wilderness area the size of Rhode Island. He stayed that night in a motel on the Trans-Canada Highway and rose at an early hour to go into the bush. Around 9.00 a.m., having discovered a quartz vein near a marsh, he set to work. At 12.15 p.m., hearing the sounds of geese acting startled, he glanced upwards, where he spotted two red, glowing cigar-shaped objects.

Descending at a 45-degree angle, they began to look more like discs than cigars. The more distant one abruptly ceased its flight while the other landed on a large, flat rock some 160 feet away. The first UFO hovered for a short time, then headed west and was lost behind clouds.

The grounded UFO, more than 35 feet wide and 10 feet thick, with a three-foot-high cupola, looked like "hot stainless steel." A gold hue surrounded the UFO, and purple-coloured lights shone through openings in the structure. The openings consisted of 12-inch-long horizontal splits on the cupola as well as nine vent-like shapes on the lower part of the UFO. Even through the welding glasses Michalak was wearing, the glow was enough to generate red afterimages. The object emitted a whirring noise and a hissing sound. Warm air, along with a smell reminiscent of sulphur, wafted from it.

Over the next half an hour, from his position near the rock from which he had been extracting quartz, the witness sketched the object, which he assumed to be an experimental American aircraft. Then a small door opened on its side - revealing a lighted interior but nothing else - and Michalak decided it was time to get a close-up view.

At about 60 feet distance away from the structure, Michalak heard voices. Though they were "Somewhat muffled by the sound of the motor and the rush of the air that was continuously coming out from somewhere inside," he could tell that one was more highly pitched than the other. He shouted out a sarcastic remark: "Okay, Yankee boys, having trouble? Come on out, and we'll see what we can do about it." When the voices did not respond, the multilingual Michalak tried other languages: Russian, German, Italian, French, and Ukrainian. Still no answer. Now, standing in front of the craft, overwhelmed with curiosity, he tried something daring:

"Placing green lenses over my goggles, I stuck my head inside the opening. The inside was a maze of lights. Direct beams running in horizontal and diagonal paths and a series of flashing lights, it seemed to me, were working in a random fashion, with no particular order or sequence. I took note of the thickness of the walls of the craft. They were about twenty inches thick at the cross-section."

Michalak moved his head back. Almost immediately three panels moved to close off the opening. He examined the highly polished exterior. When his glove accidentally touched the surface, it burned and melted.

Falcon Lake UFO Sketch
Stefan Michalak's sketch of the UFO that he encountered

The UFO angled slightly upwards so that the gridlike "exhaust" he had seen earlier on the craft's bottom-left now faced him. Nine inches high, six inches wide, the vent was made up of a uniform pattern of 3/16-inch round holes. From these holes a blast of hot gas erupted and seared his chest, sending him reeling. In agony, Michalak ripped his burning shirt and undershirt off his back just as the UFO ascended in a rush of air. Once it had cleared the treetops, it headed off in the same direction as its companion had. It looked again like a cigar shape.

Physiological Effects.

Fearing that the flames from his incinerated shirt could start a conflagration in the dry woods, Michalak took care to stamp out the flames. Then he went to the spot on which the UFO had landed. It had a swept-clean appearance, surrounded by a 15-foot circle of pine needles, leaves, and soil. By now a sensation of extreme nausea consumed him. An overpowering stench of burning electric circuits merged with the already present sulphur odor, to a decidedly unpleasant effect. A headache that had begun as a dull throb now was causing him dizziness. He began vomiting.

Michalak managed to start on a trek back to his motel. He stopped regularly to throw up and garner the strength to move forward until the onset of the next nausea episode. It took close to two hours to get to the highway. Seeing that he was a mile from the spot where he had entered the woods, he made off in that direction. Soon a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) car appeared on the road, heading towards him. He flagged it down and related his experience to the officer, who acted as if he thought Michalak was drunk. Declining Michalak's plea for help, he drove on. A few minutes later, with much difficulty, Michalak got to his motel.

At first, he would not go inside. Fearing that he was "contaminated," he stayed outside in a small wooded area near the building. He walked over to park headquarters, but they had closed down. At 4 p.m., all but crippled with pain, Michalak entered the motel coffee shop and asked where he could find a doctor. The news was not encouraging. The nearest doctor was 45 miles to the east, in Kenora, Ontario. If he went there, Michalak would be even further from Winnipeg. He might as well return home, he decided.

He called the Winnipeg Tribune and spoke with someone at its desk, he proposed that if a reporter took him to a doctor, he could give a full account during the ride. At the same time, he added incongruously, he wanted "no publicity." The newspaper turned him down. Michalak then phoned his wife to say he had had an "accident"; would their son Mark pick him up at the bus stop at Winnipeg at 10:15?

Once in the city, Michalak had Mark drive him to Misericordia Hospital. There Michalak told the attending physician, a Chinese immigrant with an imperfect command of English, that an exhaust from an airplane had caused the thermal burns on his upper chest and gridlike mark on his abdomen. He was too tired to try to relate what had really happened. The doctor gave him a sedative. Once back in his house, Michalak took a bath and fell asleep.

In the morning he was feeling no better. He could not hold food down, and his body gave off a terrible odor. That evening he saw his personal physician, R. D. Oatway, who gave him painkillers and referred him to a skin specialist for treatment of the burns. Oatway wrote some months later:

"He complained of band-like headaches, hot forehead, anorexia, and nausea, feeling of blacking out. On examination, he appeared rather depressed, dazed, apathetic, but rational and coherent. There was singeing of the hair on the forehead at the hairline and over the lower sternal and upper abdomen region. Over the upper abdomen, in the mid-portion and especially to the left of the midline, there were numerous reddish, slightly irregular, oval-shaped, slightly raised lesions, arranged with their long axes mainly in a transverse direction. These lesions seemed to be consistent with a first-degree burn. As I recall they were painful and tender but not severely. I also observed the burnt undershirt which had holes with charred (or blackened) edges corresponding to the sight of the burn."

Michalak lost, according to his own testimony, as much as 22 pounds in the week following the encounter. He fainted on several occasions and experienced periodic vomiting episodes, but before long he began to feel better.

On May 23, at the urging of ufologist Barry Thompson, Michalak had radiologist T.D. Cradduck examine him. Dr Cradduck found nothing out of the ordinary. Exactly a week later, at the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment in Pinawa, Manitoba, he was again tested for radiation, again with routine results.

The chest burns healed, but the grid pattern remained. It faded for brief periods but always returned. In addition, a rash broke out suddenly on September 21 as Michalak was at his job at the Inland Cement Company. He experienced worsening pain and burning in his throat. In his words:

"My body began to swell. Tearing off my shirt, I noticed large red spots in the same place where the burns from the ship had been before... In the next 15 minutes, my body had turned violet. The swelling progressed so quickly that I could not take off my shirt again... My hands looked as if they had been inflated with air... My vision was failing... The room was spinning around and I felt myself fading out into unconsciousness."

He ended up at Misericordia Hospital again. He was released at noon the next day. "Doctors at the hospital said that the swelling was the result of some allergy," Michalak wrote, "but it seemed rather strange that the spots appeared in the same places where the UFO had left its marks."

The burnt remains of the Stefan Michalak's shirt
The burnt remains of the Stefan Michalak's shirt

When the symptoms continued well into 1968, Michalak grew frustrated with his own physicians' inability to diagnose the problem. So he made arrangements to visit the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, even though all expenses would be out of his own pocket; Canadian health insurance paid for nothing. In the summer Michalak stayed for two weeks, living in a nearby motel and undergoing treatment as an outpatient. While there he saw both physicians and psychiatrists. As it turned out, they provided no remedies either; they did little more than describe his symptoms and indicate causes. For example, they linked his fainting to sudden cerebral blood pressure losses. The diagnostics report reads in part:

"Since May 1967, he has had repeated clearing-up and recrudescence of the erythematous and pruritic lesions on his chest and legs. Sometimes these occurred at intervals of approximately 112 days, but this has not been consistent. Since January 1968, reoccurrences have been more frequent but the symptoms were briefer in duration. Generally, the chest lesions appear as minute points or 'grains,' enlarge progressively to the size of a quarter or a half dollar, and are very pruritic... The time between initial appearance and disappearance has ranged from a few days to several weeks. Various medications have not been helpful...
"(His) main reason for coming to the Mayo Clinic now is because of headaches and 'blackout spells' which have attended the other symptoms since he was severely ill in January 1968. Headaches are mainly bitemporal, steady, and excruciating. Skin problems occur at the same time. Blackout spells are not sudden but cannot be predicted accurately enough to permit him to drive during symptomatic periods (he is fearful of hurting himself and/or others). Gradually, his eyesight begins to dim until everything goes black. He has time to sit down but is... unconscious for a few minutes or more. Allegedly, his wife has viewed him during these spells and he recounts no symptoms suggestive of seizures. He declares that he is unable to hear during the spells."

A Mayo psychiatrist found "no overt evidence of significant mental or emotional illness."

The investigations.

On the evening of May 21 - the day after the encounter - Winnipeg Tribune reporter Heather Chisvin called on Michalak at his home. Within a short time the story had become an international sensation. Soon investigators from a number of agencies, projects, and organizations were seeking information on the case.

Among them were ufologists Edward M. Barker, Brian C. Cannon, and Barry Thompson, associated with the Canadian Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (CAPRO). In 1967 Michalak wrote and paid for the publication of a 40-page booklet, My Encounter With The UFO, which sold out without recouping print costs.

Squadron Leader Paul Bissky, who investigated the case for the Royal Canadian Airforce (RCAF), led the first search party to try to find the site on May 25, but had no luck. He met with Michalak five days later to ask him to take him there. But Michalak begged off; he was too sick to go anywhere, he said. Instead, he provided a sketch and a detailed description of the area. The next day, the thirty-first, police and military searchers, aided by an H112 helicopter, again explored the region and again failed. On June 2 Michalak consented to participate in a fly-over in a helicopter. Bissky reported:

"Mr Michalak... found no recognizable features. He stated he could probably do better on the ground. The search then proceeded with him leading the ground party, with the helicopter monitoring the proceedings from the air. With the aid of RCMP portable radios, an air/ground link was possible, and this greatly assisted in directing the ground party to the most likely-looking areas as described by Mr Michalak. Following a frustrating afternoon and evening search... Mr. Michalak insisted the ground party had been very, very close to the sought-after location as he recognized several physical features and areas where he had chipped rocks during his last prospecting visit."

On the fourth, University of Colorado UFO Project representatives Roy Craig and Mary Lou Armstrong, and Life reporter John Fried accompanied Michalak to Falcon Lake, but Michalak professed not to be able to find the location. As other investigators would confirm when the site was found, the location sat amid heavy bush and undergrowth and was not easily accessible. Meanwhile, however, Bissky and the Colorado people suspected that Michalak was lying to them, presumably because he wanted to conceal a mining claim.

After another failed hunt later in the month, Bissky confronted Michalak:

"Mr. Michalak objected very strongly on the basis that during his 25 June hunt he had in fact located what he had searched for originally and until such time as he could stake his claim, he had no intention of having anyone go near this area... Mr. Michalak stated that no matter what anyone thought of him, he would not cooperate until his claim was filed."

On the thirtieth, Michalak and his new partner, Gerald Hart, went to the site. According to the witness, the two noticed that the leaves on nearby trees had withered and died. There was also, Michalak wrote, the clear "outline of the ship on the ground," plus the "remains of my shirt... (and) the tape measure I lost that day." They placed these, along with rock and soil samples, into separate plastic bags and brought them back to Winnipeg - even though the RCMP had asked Michalak to leave the site intact should he find it.

In time Michalak was persuaded to cooperate with the authorities. On July 28 he, Bissky, and other official representatives collected samples at the site. They observed, in Bisskys words, "the outline of an approximate 15-foot diameter circle on the rock surface where the moss and earth covering had been cleared to the rock surface by a force such as made by air at very high velocity." But the investigators thought that an object of the size claimed by the witness should have affected the trees during its descent and ascent; "yet there was no indication of any such effect at all," Bissky asserted. Civilian investigators told a different story. According to Cannon, writing of the site as it looked in late May:

"The lichen and moss which covered the other rocks in the group of three, was brown clear and was heaped in a ring around the edges of the rock over which the object was said to have hovered. A small tree which was growing through a crack in the rock, had been bent and broken and now lay on its side. The leaves of this tree were discoloured in the following manner: on each leaf, there was a round circle of brown within which was an area of red in the center of which there was a hole."

Even Bissky could not dispute the existence of the "very evident circle remaining at the site," as he put it in his official report. He also conceded the puzzling nature of Michalak's illness and burns. Beyond that, though, Bissky looked for discrepancies in the testimony. One concerned the problem of the direction of the UFO's departure. Michalak had said it left through an opening in the trees, which would have put it on a north-northeast path; yet the witness stated explicitly that it had gone off towards the west-southwest. Bissky was unwilling to credit Michalak with simple confusion.

Nonetheless, more serious questions were raised by Colorado project investigator Roy Craig. At the conclusion of the abortive June 4 search, Craig interviewed local individuals whose jobs or pastimes might have put them in a place where they could have witnessed the presence of an unidentified object. The project's report on the case notes:

"According to the Conservation Officer Jim Bell, the fire lookout towers were manned on this date after 9 a.m. A ranger with Officer Bell indicated that the forest was dry at this time. Both rangers felt that a fire capable of burning a man would have started the forest burning. They commented that watchmen in the towers generally noticed smoke immediately from even a small campfire, and felt that a small fire in lichen and moss, such as Mr. A (Michalak) said he tramped out when he threw his burning shirt to the ground, would have been seen by the watchmen. They also believed objects as described by Mr. A would have been seen by the tower watchman, had they been present for even a fraction of the time Mr. A claimed. Watchtowers are 8' x 8'. About six other towers are visible in the distance from the tower near the alleged landing site. Although a 35-40 ft. metallic saucer only 1/2-2 mi. away should have attracted the watchman's attention, nothing unusual was noted from the watchtower."

The second point seems more compelling than the first. The moss fire was small and apparently lasted no more than seconds. The fire-watchers' nonobservation is, however, difficult to square with Michalak's testimony. (Nonetheless, there were, as we shall see later, some possibly corroborating sightings.) Craig found no verification for the proposition that Michalak was a habitual liar:

"Mr A was deemed very reliable by his employer. He had convinced representatives of the RCMP and RCAF, two of the several physicians involved, as well as his family, that he was telling the story of a real event. During the project investigator's interview, he seemed honest, sincere, and concerned. His presentation of his story was convincing. His wife and son verified his claim of an unusual odor coming from his body after his alleged UFO experience indicating that the odor permeated the bathroom after Mr. A had bathed."

A question of radiation.

The RCMP analyses indicated an alarming amount of radiation in the samples. The Radiation Protection Division of the Department of National Health and Welfare, which had studied one sample at the RCMP's behest, noted "a radiation value of .3 microcuries... The radiation is from a radium source and is a possible serious health hazard." The division also examined the soil, burnt shirt, and steel tape Michalak and Hart had retrieved from the site on their June 30 visit, Initial gamma reading indicated a marked amount of "Ra 226 or its equivalent."

A piece of the radioactive metal that was retrieved from the site at Falcon Lake in 1968
A piece of the radioactive metal that was retrieved from the site at Falcon Lake in 1968

Stewart E. Hunt of the division's Safety Assessment and Control Section flew from Ottawa to Winnipeg to meet with officials to put together a plan of action. Their inquiries would focus both on the physical evidence and on the backgrounds of Michalak and his principal supporters among the ufologists, and they wanted particularly to look into the possibility that someone (presumably Michalak or his allies) had planted either radioactive hazardous waste or flecks of radium at the site.

The investigation laid both concerns to rest. No hazardous waste was missing, and Michalak's place of employment, which the team visited, did not use radium in any product.

Hunt was among those who participated in the July 2 expedition. According to his report:

One small area was found to be contaminated. This was located across the crown of the rock. There was a smear of contamination about 0.5 x 8.0 inches on one side of the crack. There was also some lichen and ground vegetation contaminated just beyond the smear. The whole contaminated area was no larger than 100 square inches. All water runoff areas were checked for possible contamination, but nothing was found.

The amount of radiation was slight - about one-third that associated with the typical wristwatch - but as a commentator in the office of the Chief of Defense Staff remarked in a 1967 memo, there was no apparent explanation of "how this 'smear' got on the rock at the alleged landing site. This is what is bothering the scientific people."

Pieces of metal.

A representative of Manitoba's Department of Mines and Natural Resources, E. J. Epps, visited the site on several occasions between July 1967 and May 1968. His checks for radioactivity detected nothing out of the ordinary. Yet on May 19, when Michalak and a friend visited the spot, they found (in the words of Roy Craig):

"Massive pieces of radioactive material in a fissure of the rock within the 'landing circle.' This... consisted of two W-shaped bars of metal, each about 4.5 inches long and several smaller pieces of irregular shape. These items were said to have been found about 2 in. below a layer of lichen in the rock fissure... The two fragments each consisted of a central massive metal portion what was not radioactive. One of these was 93% and the other 96% silver. Both contained copper and cadmium, and had a composition similar to that found in commercially available sterling silver or sheet silver. The metal was coated with a tightly-adhering layer of quartz sand, similar to that used as foundry sand. This also was not radioactive. The radioactivity was contained in a loosely-adhering layer of fine-grained minerals containing uranium. This layer could be removed steadily by washing and brushing. The minerals were uranophane and thorium-free pitchblende, characteristically found in vein deposits."

A Pittsburgh-based group, the UFO Research Institute, gave a specimen to physicist J. Roesner, who performed an analysis. He determined:

"The gamma spectra were complex; 15 distinct energies ranging from 0.11 MeV to 2.57 MeV could be resolved. The three major contributors to the total gamma radioactivity had energies of 0.61 MeV, 1.10 MeV, and 1.53 MeV and decayed with half-lives of - 14 days, 8 days, and 21 days, respectively... A semiquantitative chemical analysis ... showed that 95 percent of the specimen is silver. The amount of copper in the specimen was determined to be 0.5 percent... The energies and half-lives of the gamma rays emitted by the specimen do not agree with the expected decay of silver activation products formed in an (n*y) reaction on natural silver."

Some investigators suspected the materials had been planted at the site. As Craig remarked, "In view of the thoroughness of the earlier searches ... it is improbable that the particles discovered a year later would have been missed." CAPRO, on the other hand, characterized as "overwhelming" the evidence that the metal had been there since at least July 1967:

"When the metal was located, and since it was taken from the middle of the rock, we examined the soil samples removed from the site in July 1967. These samples also contained tiny fragments of the same metal and no doubt the samples taken by the authorities contain pieces as well.


"Analysis confirmed the presence of Radium 226, the same source as was found in the soil specimens. The luminous watch dial paint theory dulled considerably."

But later soil-sample analyses conducted at the University of Manitoba found only natural uranium activity and no indications of radium - replicating a 1968 analysis done at the Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment laboratory.

Chris Rutkowski, a leading authority on the case, observes:

"The original soil samples retrieved from the site contained only natural radioactivity. However, radium 226 was detected by some investigators. It is not clear whether or not this was an error. The metal samples, on the other hand, are definitely mysterious and do not appear natural. To solve the puzzle, it would be most useful to obtain a small sample for reanalysis."

Other Sightings.

During the third week of May 1967, a number of residents of southern Manitoba reported sighting UFOs variously described as glowing, red, round, or cigar-shaped. Such descriptions are consistent with Michalak's. So, possibly, is a May 25 sighting over Winnipeg of "two very brilliant stars in close proximity to each other."

These reports were published in the local press at the time of their occurrence. Other reports came to light years later. In 1978 a man told Ufology Research of Manitoba that around "the same time as Michalak," he and a companion were walking along a highway between West Hawk Lake and Caddy Lake, immediately to the North of Falkon Lake, when the companion knelt to tie his shoe. As he was looking downward, the informant, who was staring straight ahead, was startled to see a large disc-shaped object come in from just over the trees. Making no sound, it crossed the road and disappeared over the trees on the other side. The incident happened so quickly the other man never saw the object.

A view over Falcon Lake, Canada
A view over Falcon Lake, Canada

In 1992 a woman recalled a sighting she and her daughter had shared on the same weekend as the Michalak encounter. Driving west on the Trans-Canada Highway from Falkon Lake at 4 p.m., they spotted a "perfect flying saucer" just above the trees on the north side of the road. The UFO was hat-shaped and silvery, with windows on the upper surface. A "pinkish-mauve" light shone from within the object. It abruptly vanished as if "into thin air." Rutkowski remarks, "Independent sketches of the object by both witnesses agree in detail and seem to show a craft similar to that encountered by Michalak."

Rutkowski, who has known the Michalak family since his youth, calls them "sincere people... intelligent... levelheaded... well-read on many subjects." The ambiguities and incongruities notwithstanding, it is hard to believe that Michalak engineered a complicated, expensive hoax to no apparent purpose, endangering his health in the process. Another fascinating account of UFO encounters and the in-depth investigation that followed that just appeared to disappear and was spoken about no longer. Let us know what your thoughts on the Falcon UFO sighting are in the comments section below. Now you have read this article make sure you check out the Scoriton UFO Incident: Arthur Bryant Claimed That In 1965 He Made Contact With Aliens From Venus.


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