Journal: Tell us about your interest in UFOs and what brought you to MUFON.
Rachel: I first became interested after I had a bizarre experience in my home during the night in winter 2008. I awoke to noises outside and a deep red light on my wall. It first hovered and then moved up a bit. My first thought was that someone was there to kill me because the light resembled a laser sight that one would use with guns. Due to my line of work, there were a few people going through my mind that might want me killed. I was too afraid to get up to grab my phone to call 911. I didn’t want to move and make myself a target. As I was trying to decide how I could get to my phone without being shot, I heard a noise on my roof and then a thump in back of my house. By this time my neck was sore with my heartbeat pounding in my throat. I was terrified. I didn’t move for what seemed for minutes but it was probably about 30 seconds, but then suddenly the light quickly shot up and dispersed through the ceiling and at the same time I heard a metallic humming sound outside. After lying there for a good 10 minutes without anything else happening, I got up and looked around. I didn’t turn on any lights because I was still a bit afraid of something being outside. As I was trying to come up with explanations it occurred to me that my blinds were closed. How could a red light appear on my wall from an outside source? So I decided not to call 911, as how would I explain this? Since I worked with them, I would never hear the end of it. I calmed down and convinced myself that I was safe. Before getting back into bed, I removed my phone from my charger as it was fully charged and placed it a little closer to me just in case. I managed to get back to sleep, but around 4 a.m. my cell beeped because the battery was going dead. It was fully charged a few hours earlier when I unplugged it. So I plugged it back in. The next day the screen would fade in and out. Since that night it has never worked correctly. I had to get a new cell phone. Whatever had occurred the night before fried my cell phone and drained the battery. At the time, it didn’t occur to me this could have been a UFO encounter. The next day I noticed a limb broken off of one of my trees behind my house. I assumed that was the “thump” I heard. Since I live just 15 minutes from an Air Force Base I thought that perhaps this was “black ops” testing out a new laser or scanning equipment from an aircraft. I started researching different variants of what I had experienced like “mysterious red light” or “government testing red laser on citizens” and I came across several UFO stories. That is when I had the “aha” moment of what I probably experienced. Looking back on several other strange experiences in my life, it really started making sense. I started watching different UFO shows and learned about MUFON. I looked up MUFON online and listened to different shows in ufology. That is when I decided to get involved and joined MUFON in 2011.
Rachel: As a PI, I became even more observant and learned a bit more about human behavior. With my work experience, I dealt with all kinds of people. I am really good at reading people and can usually tell when someone is not being truthful about their experience. I also can attribute this to my college education as well. I have a bachelor’s of science in justice and public safety from Auburn University, Montgomery. We studied human behavior as a science. I try to ask open-ended questions so as not to lead a witness in one direction or the other which is something I regularly did as a PI.
Journal: How does investigating UFOs differ from investigating the paranormal? Are there any similarities?
Rachel: Most of the time with paranormal, an investigation is done in one location because of what others have experienced there and to see if the experience can be repeated. With UFOs, the information is gathered after the experience and it is very rare to go out to a location unless it is a reoccurring experience or a close encounter/landing which would go to a Star Team member. In investigating the paranormal, it takes up a lot more time, which is why I haven’t been in it for a while. It can take hours and feel very tedious. But in both situations, I do research and look for earthly and normal explanations for what the witness observed. In both situations I interview the witnesses to get the information I need to conduct the investigation.
Journal: If you could go back in time and be the lead investigator in any case in UFO history, which one would it be?
Rachel: I believe it would be the “battle of Los Angeles” because there were so many witnesses and just to be there to preserve the scene of the supposed crash and trying to make sense of all of the chaos sounds like a healthy challenge.
Journal: What was your favorite case that you investigated? How about your least favorite?
Rachel: So far it was the case in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Case #47971, where a witness saw a rectangular object with a slant. He said it resembled a house on its side glowing orange and bright white light. This craft moved and disappeared and not beyond the horizon. It just disappeared. I still do not know what this was. I went down to the beach to sky watch but nothing out of the ordinary was observed; but that was a nice reason to go to the beach. I really can’t think of a specific least favorite but my least favorite type of case to investigate is when it is just a moving star-like object or when there is not enough information to investigate. There is really not much I can do with those cases. I do not like “hitting a brick wall” when conducting an investigation. I want to draw some sort of conclusion and I think that is why it takes me two months to get my reports in. I like to take my time, think about the case, and study it before I draw a conclusion.
Journal: Is there anyone at MUFON that you have never actually met that you would just like to sit down and talk with?
Rachel: My first priority is meeting my state director Rich Hoffman which I may be able to do very soon. He is over two hours away so it is hard to make it to the meetings. I was able to make the February 2016 meeting but he was out of the country. We keep missing each other but hopefully we will meet very soon. In just talking with Rich on the phone and email advising me well on my cases, I can tell Alabama is very lucky to have Rich as director. Of course I would also love to sit and talk with Jan Harzan about MUFON and what is on the horizon for us. There are so many others in MUFON who have helped me that I’ve spoken to online or on the phone that I would love to sit down and talk with, like Steve Hudgeons and Mike Lucas. I also would like to speak with others in our organization whom may have had a similar experience that brought them to MUFON.
Journal: In your opinion, what are the qualifications of a good investigator?
Rachel: I think just an open-minded, level-headed person who is a good researcher could learn to be a good field investigator. But I think it is important to try and include people with experience in “knowing what is normal in our skies” such as military personnel, pilots and astronomers. We also need drone experts because there are so many shapes and sizes with different light fixtures on them. I imagine the drone industry will only expand in the future.
Journal: Do you have any advice for any new investigators out there?
Rachel: Yes: Be careful not to jump to conclusions and do not hesitate to ask for help and get second opinions. But I think this also should be advice for experienced investigators as well because “two heads are better than one.” Don’t let your ego keep you from learning something new. I am still learning and have a lot left to learn. By no means do I consider myself an expert. With the emerging flying technology, there is always something to learn.
Journal: Not to get into politics, but recently Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying she will get to the bottom of the UFO question. Do you think she will if she gets elected?
Rachel: I am of the impression that a politician will say anything to get elected, but she might actually put in a request to find out about UFOs. Several past presidents have said they have asked including her husband and haven’t gotten anywhere, so I don’t believe it would be any different if she were elected. From what I understand this information is not privy to even a president. So I do not know what she thinks she can do differently to find out. Also, I do not believe this should be a reason to vote for a certain person for president. There are so many more critical issues to consider.
Journal: Thank you very much Rachel Cordes for sitting down with us for the MUFON One-On-One.
Rachel: Thank you, Marie. I feel very honored to have had the opportunity to share this with you.
To suggest someone from within MUFON as the next One-On-One guest – please get in touch with Marie Cisneros at firstname.lastname@example.org.