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Dr. Ellen Crystall, Ph.D.

Although the Pine Bush area hosted UFO activity as far back as at least the 1950s, it was Ellen Crystall who put the town on the map as a UFO hotspot. In early 1980, she journeyed from her North New Jersey home to meet OMNI writer Harry Lebelson in the fields adjacent to the town of Pine Bush to investigate a couple’s claims of nightly UFO activity, and thus began her adventure that resulted in, among other things, the book Silent Invasion, published in 1991. Her book is fantastic in the true sense of the word; it contains descriptions of her experiences that makes the Pine Bush area out to be a wonderland of the elusive UFO phenomenon, a Disneyland of paranormal activity. She talked about repeatedly observing in very close proximity unconventional crafts flying in remarkable manners, landing in fields, and seemingly defying physics time and again. She also claimed to have taken hundreds of photos of this activity, repeatedly documenting what previously has only fleetingly been able to be caught on film.

The publishing of her book brought about polarized reactions and responses. There was a sizable amount of UFO buffs in the Northeast who were immediately captured by the concept that the UFO phenomenon was so concentrated in one small area. But others didn’t react so favorably to Silent Invasion. Certainly the publisher’s presentation of the book was geared towards sales rather than giving the impression of legitimacy. The publisher used a dramatic illustration of the now-familiar "grey" alien in front of a landed craft, an image that wasn’t as much a part of pop culture back then as it is now, and which still looks striking. The publisher also printed Ellen’s photos in black and white, further obscuring the images that were difficult to reprint as color to begin with. Many in the UFO community immediately wrote the book off as fantasy or outright fiction, an updated version of the tales woven by the 1950s contactees like George Adamski. However, some noticed that Ellen’s tale did not conclude in the familiar fashion that the fictional contactee tales did, as it did not give a firm resolution to the story and thus no emotional payoff. It was also noticed that a number of local and media people were involved in the story which would be risky for an author to do if the story wasn’t truthful in nature. Also, Ellen referred to the works of Harley Rutledge and Thomas Bearden, two of the most forward-thinking authors on the UFO subject at the time, as a basis for how to proceed with her investigation of the Pine Bush area which suggested a seriousness to her claims.

The publishing of Silent Invasion resulted in a surge of interest in people to travel to the Pine Bush area to see if they could see what Ellen described. The negative aspect of this was that it created at times a party atmosphere along the roads where people lined their parked cars, which in turn angered the residents along those roads. But the most fruitful aspect of the interest that Silent Invasion produced was an increasing group of people who found themselves sensitive to the mysterious stimulus in the Pine Bush area, and who then became dedicated to observing, chasing, and documenting the UFO activity in and near Crawford Township. Indeed, a small community developed who could vouch for the existence of the phenomena that Ellen described in Silent Invasion, seemingly an ideal result of the book’s publishing. However, Ellen was increasingly disturbed by the crowds that came to Pine Bush to line West Searsville Road on the weekends. Incidents of drinking and littering suggested that many were not really interested in being there to experience the UFO phenomenon. A very confident person who firmly stood by her controversial beliefs in the nature of the Pine Bush phenomenon, Ellen also found herself with different opinions and beliefs than many of the devoted local people who were now nightly pursuing observing the phenomenon, and greatly lessened her interaction with the local UFO community from the mid-nineties on.

Towards the end of 1996, the UFO activity in and around the Pine Bush area greatly decreased, and the crowds eventually went away to leave only the faithful local community to sky watch each night. In 1997, a developer planning on building on West Searsville Road, once the primary location for observing the UFO phenomenon, made it known not so subtly that skywatchers were no longer welcome to park along the street, and eventually the Montgomery police enforced the law that to park on the street all tires must be off of the road which was near impossible now that developing began. Houses went up, skywatchers found different locations, and Ellen, who for years traveled up to Pine Bush the majority of nights during the week found herself only occasionally visiting the area to look for the now-sparse UFO activity. She continued to occasionally give lectures on her Pine Bush experiences, which she did from the late eighties on, and she finished publishing a newsletter that she named "Contactee", which stands as a vital document to her experiences beyond what was covered in Silent Invasion. During the mid-nineties she also earned a Ph.D. in music composition from New York University, and continued to develop her interest in electronic music and synthesis.

Tragically, Ellen developed pancreatic cancer during 1999 and fought the disease vigorously for more than two and a half years, never giving up hope that she could overcome it. Many from the Pine Bush UFO community contacted her during her battle, and found that despite being in great pain, she still displayed her confident personality and unique outlook. She sadly succumbed to the disease December 16, 2002. She was 52 years old.

To this day, people are still discovering Silent Invasion, and intrigued by Ellen’s story, they journey to the Pine Bush area to attend the monthly open discussion meetings on the UFO subject, and to sit along one of the roads in hope of seeing what Ellen saw. There exists a large group of people who can vouch for the existence of the UFO activity that Ellen wrote and talked about, and although some have differing ideas and opinions on the subject; they feel that Ellen’s book was a truthful account of her experiences in the fields of the Pine Bush area. The mysterious activity remains sparse in the area, and one wonders if the changes in the area could possibly effect the phenomenon’s manifestation, but occasionally a dramatic sighting is made that renews interest in the area’s UFO history that was first documented in the writings of Ellen Crystall.


Sources: http://www.pinebushufo.com/pinebushpage25.htm
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