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
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
He determined that what distinguished these UFO waves from other,
possibly publicity-generated UFO waves, was the shape of their
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 (1).
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
Each successive wave appeared to move approximately 30 degrees east
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 tell).
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(?)
Apr. 1993 150o E Guam(?)
A corrollary 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 11
We shall soon see if new evidence merits the revival of an old
(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.
We received a call from a fellow working in GUAM…he had
a photocopy of the 61CYCLE article and had projected the
next UFO flap to occur in that region of the world.
So, there is now a worldmap (61CYCLE.GIF) showing all the
cycles from 1947 to what should follow for 1993 and 1998.
Note, the flaps are projected to occur every 5 years
(61 months) and at 30 degree longitude intervals as they
cross the globe. They are not exact.
The fellow who called wondered if any person or group
might wish to monitor this area to collect data in the
event this cycle can be predicted.