November 24, 1990
A Revival of the 61-Month Wave Theory
by Donald A. Johnson, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 161
Kirkland, Washington 98033
The Knowles family CE-II encounter with an ovoid-shaped UFO on the Nullarbor
Plateau in Western Australia January 20th was right on target in terms of time
and place, according to the 61-month wave cycle first proposed by Dr. David
Saunders back in 1971. At least two other UFO encounters of major importance
occurred that same night in Australia and Tasmania.
If the indications are correct and this is not an isolated incident but the
beginnings of a major UFO wave, we will have to reconsider the significance of
this long-term prediction in terms of our ability to predict and act upon the
occurrence of this and future UFO waves.
Dr. David Saunders first noticed the regularity in major American UFO waves
(1947, 1952, 1957 and 1967) in the early months of 1971 while working with the
UFOCAT computer catalog at the University of Colorado.
He determined that what distinguished these UFO waves from other, possibly
publicity-generated UFO waves, was the shape of their distributions.
These were waves of UFO reports in which the frequency of daily reports began
building slowly, built to a crescendo, and then diminished rapidly. These
negatively-skewed UFO waves occurred with a periodicity of five years, or more
accurately 61-months, with an accuracy in peak prediction to within a day or so
Furthermore, another characteristic of these five-year waves was the
progressively eastward movement of their loci of activity.
The first wave crested in July 1947 and occurred predominantly in the Pacific
and Mountain States. The 1952 wave reached its peak in late August 1952 with the
majority of reports coming from Midwestern States.
Each successive wave appeared to move approximately 30 degrees east in
The absence of a 1962 wave was accounted for by a search of South American
references which revealed a Brazilian and Argentinian UFO wave in September, and
the 1967 wave–which began on the Eastern seaboard of the United
States–actually crested in November of that year in England.
Saunders was able to make his first prediction that a major UFO wave would occur
in the vicinity of 30 degrees East longitude and peak in December 1972 over a
year prior to its occurrence.
This prediction was borne out by the occurrence of a UFO wave in South Africa in
late November. However, most ufologists lost interest in the theory when the
predicted waves for 1977-78 and 1983 failed to materialize (so far as we can
Both of these waves should have occurred in countries controlled predominantly
by governments unfriendly to the West.
Saunders continues to have faith in the theory and has offered a consistent,
convincing response to critics: that it is unfair to judge the merits of the
theory on what we may or may not hear about from the Soviet Union.
According to calculations (see table below), the next great UFO wave should
occur between now and the beginning of March, centered at 120 degrees East
longitude. The Nullarbor Plain is at approximately 127 degrees East longitude.
The wave should also unfold in the same characteristic manner as the earlier
waves, building slowly in intensity in the number of daily reports and
diminishing rapidly after reaching a peak.
The 61-Month Wave Cycle and Corresponding UFO Waves
Predicted Actual Peak Predicted Actual
Date Date Longitude Location
July 1947 July 8, 1947 120o W Northwestern U.S.
Aug. 1952 Aug. 3, 1952 90o W Central & Eastern U.S.
Sep. 1957 Aug. 21, 1957 60o W Central & Eastern U.S.
Oct. 1962 Sep. 1962 30o W Brazil
Nov. 1967 Oct. 24, 1967 0o W Atlantic, England
Dec. 1972 Nov. 1972 30o E South Africa
Jan. 1978 ? 60o E ?
Feb. 1983 ? 90o E ?
Mar. 1988 Feb. 1988(?) 120o E Australia(?)
A corollary to the Saunders’ spatio-temporal wave theory is that physical
evidence cases should occur at approximately the same time world-wide; thus, if
the Australian close encounters continue to occur during the pre-dawn hours, we
should expect U.S. CE-II cases to occur in the evening hours between 4 and 10
p.m., since the United States and Australia have a time difference of some 8 to
We shall soon see if new evidence merits the revival of an old theory.
(1) Saunders, D.R. (1976). A spatio-temporal invariant for major
UFO waves. In N. Dornbos (ed.), Proceedings of the 1976
CUFOS Conference. Evanston, IL: Center for UFO Studies.