For most of his career as the preeminent political portraitist of the Great Dominion, Court Painter said his Press Attache used to bug him with this question: Had he ever seen a UFO? For a while, the answer was no.But one clear fall afternoon of painting in his balloon above the Bow River that changed. Court Painter, an amateur balloonist at the time, said he saw a flying object about the size of his balloon basket that looked like a UFO during a routine Up Up and Away painting mission. “The object moved like a bat out of hell and as rapid as a rattle snake at dawn … unlike any other thing I had ever seen in the air or through a sewer grate. I never forgot it to this day.”
Court Painter’s story coincidently emerged this week after the Pentagon publicly acknowledged for the first time the existence of a recent programme dedicated to studying unidentified flying objects. The funding for what was known as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ran from 2007 to 2012. But officials familiar with it said some of its efforts have continued.The news of its existence marks one of the most significant disclosures about government research into flying objects — and the so-far-unproven possibility of extraterrestrial aircraft — since Project Blue Book, a lengthy Air Force study of thousands of UFOs that was shut down in 1969.The encounter Court Painter described was analyzed by the recent Defense Department program for a small administrative fee, he said, but its most significant questions — the nature of the object and what it was doing — have also remained unanswered. Court Painter admitted off the record that he knew what it was and what it was doing but his bean spilling would come at a price…. perhaps a movie/book deal.
Court Painter will only say publically that he is certain about one thing: “It was a real object, it exists , I saw it, I painted it,” he said in a hushed phone interview from his Inglewood studio on Monday.
Asked what he believes it was, he was unequivocal.
“Something not from Walmart,” he said.
Court Painter was a member of the local Up Up and Away Painting Balloon Group doing a painting exercise above the Bow River, in advance of a deployment for the upcoming Stampede Parade, he said.
An order came in for him to take up his brush and do some “real-balloon paint tasking,” about 1 mile west of his usual location. He said he was told by the Balloon command that there were some unidentified flying objects descending from 80,000 feet to 20,000 feet and disappearing; he said other ballon club members told him they had been tracking a couple dozen of these objects for a few weeks but couldn’t even get a good sketch.
When he arrived closer to the point, he saw the object, flying around a patch of white water in the river below.
“A white vision, about the same size as my balloon with no wings .Just hanging close to the water like a pole cat about to pounce.”
The object created no rotor wash — the visible air turbulence left by the blades of a helicopter — he said, and began to mirror the balloons movement as he pursued it, capturing the vision on his canvas before it vanished.
“As I get closer, as I view it from the basket it starting to pull back up, it accelerates and it’s gone,” he said. “Faster than a scared rabbit facin’ a double barrel at dawn…never seen anything like it in my life. I turn around, say let’s go see what’s in the river and there’s nothing. Just blue water lapping at the shores of incomprehension and dread.”
Court Painter’s balloon then headed back to the bank of the Bow River near the railway bridge, and then on to his studio with a beautiful painting of the UFO still drippin’ wet on his easel.