When is a balloon not a balloon? When it's a UFO, of course. There’s a point near the end of his conversation with Dubliner Colm Kelleher when Ray D’Arcy asks, "What’s going on here?" It’s a fair question, given that Kelleher has recounted stories from multiple eyewitnesses the likes of which would cause Fox Mulder’s eyebrow to travel northwards. Kelleher’s response?

"It’s technology of unknown origin, is the bottom line."

Let’s rewind. Colm Kelleher is a biochemist from Dublin who’s been living in the US since the late 1980s. He answered an ad in Science magazine and started working for a man called Robert Bigelow, a commercial real estate businessman with an interest in the paranormal. Kelleher describes Bigelow as:

"He’s a very wealthy guy, very interested in pushing back the frontiers of science for humanity, essentially."

Bigelow initially focused on human consciousness but had to switch to looking into UFOs, such was the overwhelming nature of the phenomenon. He bought a ranch in Utah, which was widely reported to be a focus of unusual activity. It would become known as Skinwalker ranch. Kelleher told Ray why the place had caught Bigelow’s interest:

"This was a property in north-eastern Utah that had a lot of UFO activity, as well as other bizarre instances of paranormal activity, poltergeist activity, all mixed in like a Grand Central Station, essentially."

Part of the vast Defence Department, the Defence Intelligence Agency has a unit called the Defence Warning Office which wanted to look at the national security implications and threat analysis of the UFO phenomenon. The DIA hired Bigelow on contract and Colm joined him in Las Vegas to run the operation. And he was excited at the prospect:

"It was just like a dream come true because, the fact that the United States government was putting money behind this and also top-secret security clearances, meant that this was the first time in history that a serious look at UFOs was possible through the Defence Intelligence Agency and the United States government."

Kelleher assembled a team that went out and interviewed people who had reported experiencing bizarre or seemingly unexplainable events. The ranch seemed to be like some sort of open-air laboratory because a lot of the things that people were reporting from various parts of the country were all happening at Skinwalker ranch. Some of the things that Colm describes people telling him are astonishing. There’s the Tic Tac incident, involving US Navy fighter jets in 2004:

"They visually engaged this object off, like I said, off the coast of San Diego and this thing had no flight surfaces, it had no obvious means of propulsion, it was shaped exactly like a Tic Tac, except it was about 45 feet long and it was hovering over the water when one of the pilots went down to engage it. And so immediately the pilot started circling it, it stopped what it was doing, reoriented and obviously recognised that it was being dived upon, so immediately, from just above the water, it jumped 20,000 feet. I mean, it didn’t sort of slowly accelerate, it jumped from the sea level all the way up to 20,000 feet and then jumped several miles away in a matter of seconds."

All without any obvious means of propulsion. Pretty impressive. And that’s just one example of many instances of unusual activity detailed in the book. So, it’s all just... unknown technology? Given a gentle push by Ray, Colm gave his opinion on what he thinks it all means:

"It looks to me like some sort of surveillance operation and also it’s a sort of gradual acclimation because, I mean, over the last 75-80 years, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of people who’ve come very close and upfront with these objects. So it’s no longer a set of fantasies. In June of 2021, the United States Pentagon officially announced that UFOs were real."

The truth is out (there). You can hear Ray’s full conversation with Colm by going here.

Skinwalkers at the Pentagon: An Insiders' Account of the Secret Government UFO Program by James T Lacatski, Colm A Kelleher and George Knapp is independently published and available now.