By Jay Turner for PCGS ……
Canada 2018 $20 – Falcon Lake Incident – PCGS PR70DCAM
Since early times, reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in the sky have been recorded and disputed. Claims range from the Roman historian Titus Livius (Livy) saying “navium speciem de caelo adfulsisse” (phantom ships had been seen gleaming in the sky) in the winter of 218 BCE to the United States Pentagon admitting a UFO program still exists in 2020 and releasing film of such incidents. Yet for all the believers and skeptics, only Canada has released a coin commemorating an unexplained event reportedly involving a UFO within its own country.
Several versions of a story describing an event at Falcon Lake, Manitoba, on May 20, 1967, have been told. We boil down the story from these sources and with quotes from Stefan Michalak, a Polish immigrant who was prospecting by Falcon Lake when he claims the incident happened.
He was distracted from his work when a flock of geese from the pond below the area he was prospecting started making noise. Looking up, he noticed what he described as “two cigarette-shaped things with humps in the middle” floating in the air. One stayed aloft as the other came down and landed on the rocks. Michalak approached the craft looking for markings, such as those from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to identify it, believing it to be an experimental aircraft of some type. No such marks were seen. Contemporary to the incident, Michalak sketched the craft and described its outer skin as flawless steel. After a few minutes, the door of the craft opened, and, hearing noise and what souned like voices, Michalak approached the UFO believing that help was possibly needed.
“Yankee boys, if you’re in trouble I will help you,” shouted Michalak in English, as he approached the craft. With no response in English, Michalak tried speaking Russian, Polish, and German to see if he could elicit a reply from anyone inside the vehicle. The light emanating from the open door of the craft was so bright as he approached that he had to lower the shades on the welding goggles he wore for protecting his eyes while prospecting. Michalak reached up and touched the craft with his gloved hand and it burned through the fingertips of the glove. The craft started to rotate in a counterclockwise motion. A blast of air or gas from the vehicle knocked Michalak back and ignited his shirt on fire in the process. The UFO lifted itself into the air and vanished.
With the UFO now gone, Michalak decided it was time to leave. He checked his compass to find his way back to the road but found it going haywire. Taking his best guess at the direction, Michalak, now injured, was seeing spots and fell ill. Eventually making his way back home and to the hospital, Michalak was treated for severe, circular-shaped burns and other symptoms. Radiation tests came back negative. He was soon released from the hospital.
Solomon Islands $2 UFO-shaped Reverse Proof, PCGS PR67
The story of this incident was published in the press, compelling many to visit Falcon Lake to investigate the incident. Among the curious was a team from the United States working with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Michalak’s burned glove was discovered, as well as a 15-foot circular ring of dead vegetation in the area of the reported touchdown. Radiation in the area was found to be high. Measurements and soil samples were collected. It would later be discovered that the radiation came from a vein of radium that ran under the area.
A year later melted metal of a pure silver content coated with uranium and radium was found, and this piece was still highly radioactive at that time. This discovery, coming a year after the reported UFO event, is what skeptics point to as proof of the claim’s falsehood, as it seems unlikely that teams of investigators would miss these large shards of radioactive metal buried in the soil at the purported incident site. Some believe these metal fragments were planted later.
Michalak later healed from his burns, though skeptics claimed he concocted the incident to hide burn injuries caused by an accident that stemmed from alcohol use. Michalak came to regret reporting the incident, as people descended onto Falcon Lake – an area he was actively prospecting. Skeptics suggest he made up the incident to keep people away from his prospecting grounds. However, the event had the opposite effect. Michalak, who died in 1999, is said to have believed it was most likely an experimental aircraft and not a vehicle of extraterrestrial origin.
The Falcon Lake incident intrigued people for years to come. It became Canada’s best-documented UFO case, with articles, books, and television shows featuring the incident. The American TV show Unsolved Mysteries featured the Falcon Lake incident on the eighth episode of the program’s fifth season, with Michalak being interviewed and telling his story along with reenactments.
Canada 2018 $20 – Falcon Lake Incident, PCGS PR70 Deep Cameo (showing some of the glow-in-the-dark effect)
In 2018, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a $20 non-circulating commemorative silver coin featuring the Falcon Lake incident as part of Canada’s Unexplained Phenomena series. The coin is shaped as an oval or egg measuring 45 by 33 millimeters and weighs 31.82 grams; it features the usual Queen Elizabeth II effigy obverse overlaid with a cross-grid pattern. The reverse features a UFO in the sky with the grid pattern of dots on a silvery reflective skin. The UFO floats over Falcon Lake with grass and trees in the background. In the foreground lays an effigy of what is to be Stefan Michalak’s back as he is being knocked to the ground; he is not on fire as he reported from the incident. The coin also glows in the dark to mimic the beams of light Michalak claimed he saw.
The coin issued to commemorate the incident had a mintage of only 4,000. The original issue price was $129.95 CAD and it sold out quickly. With its popularity and low mintage, the Canada 2018 Falcon Lake $20 coin today trades for between $700 and $1,500 USD.
Whether or not one believes the Falcon Lake UFO incident is real, it was unprecedented for Canada to issue coins featuring UFOs. The 2018 commemorative coin featured here seems to offer an “official” nod to a phenomenon that has kept people wondering for decades.
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