"Aliens exist" is something that is generally accepted as an absolute truth by the select few who take the class of Dr. Richard O'Connor and Dr. Joan Bird.
The Helena College continuing education course titled "Are UFOs a threat to national security?" is a trip down the rabbit hole of nationwide and Montana-specific extraterrestrial activity. The aim is not only to educate those who choose to take the class on the extensive history of this activity, but to also encourage engagement in a topic previously considered taboo.
As for the title of the class, O'Connor has an answer for that:
"Are UFOs a threat to national security?" he asked. "Should we just ask them?"
This question and response acts as a kind of thesis statement for the entire mission of the class. The course is taking place each Thursday night for four weeks of October. O'Connor dedicated the first 2 1/2 hour class to breaking down the taboo around discussing possibly extraterrestrial activity.
"For a long time there was no way you could get a class like this in a college anywhere," O'Connor said. "The fact that we are in an academic setting discussing this shows how far we've come."
O'Connor believes that the nationwide discussion is at a tipping point as it becomes less and less taboo to openly discuss UFOs and extraterrestrials. He said the more people talk about it, the more normalized it becomes. O'Connor backs this theory up with articles in major news publications like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and USA Today. The phenomena has also received major television news coverage from major networks like Fox News, CNN, NBC and more.
This all culminated in September 2019 when the United States Navy confirmed that videos released by former Blink 182 singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge were "Unidentified Ariel Phenomena." DeLonge has long been one of the most outspoken about the release of information the U.S. government has on extraterrestrial life. He founded the To The Stars Academy and has contacts with Rob Weiss, a former executive vice president at Lockheed Martin, and two United States Air Force major generals, William McCasland and Michael Carey.
DeLonge also sought information about alien technology from John Podesta, former White House chief of staff, during the 2016 presidential election.
O'Connor said he spent the past few years charting the progress in the national conversation. This is typically the first step for those interested in finding out more, which is why it leads the course as the first class.
Bird took over for the second class and focused primarily on UFOs and extraterrestrial activity in Montana. This included a deep dive into the history of Montana-specific sightings, nuclear missile shutdowns and the correlation between the two. Bird said though there are many sightings all across the state, the Hi-Line is a hotbed of activity. She believes this is largely due to the number of missile silos in that region of the state.
Nuclear weapons remained a topic of discussion during the third week as O'Connor dove back into that discussion and the threat of nuclear war. The final week of the class has Bird discussing contact instances in Montana, how it's changed the perspectives and impacted those involved.
Bird's fascination with extraterrestrial life began in 1998 when she was asked to investigated crop circles in the area of Flathead Lake. Though at least one of those turned out to be human made, she started looking into the phenomenon more. She saw circles in England and the scientific research with them that put their origins in question. She said it provided her glimpses of other realities.
"Then I discovered highly credible military witnesses and the secrecy around missile shut downs," Bird said. "I went through the door at that point. I'd have to be too cynical to not believe."
Bird was later contracted to author a book in 2007. She released "Montana UFOs and Extraterrestrials" in 2012.
"I'm kind of bored by the convincing. I believe they're here to help," Bird said. "We (humans) are too dangerous and we have to ask for help. We have a lot to learn from them."
O'Connor is a retired former anesthesiologist who spent 28 years at St. Peter's Hospital. O'Connor became fascinated by UFOs after his colleague, Dr. Jesse A. Marcel Jr., told him about seeing debris from the famous 1947 Roswell crash. O'Connor said he did not believe Marcel a liar.
For the past 10 years, O'Connor has maintained the Jesse A. Marcel Library, an institution to enhance public awareness about this activity, in Helena. O'Connor is also responsible for the www.jaml.org billboard between Helena and East Helena. The billboard has achieved some nationwide attention for being one of the only UFO billboards in the U.S. promoting UFO disclosure.
The library has acted as a safe space for this discussion, once a month, since its inception. In that time, the Helena community surrounding UFO and extraterrestrials has grown significantly. So far Bird and O'Connor have taught a UFO class at Helena College three times. O'Connor taught an earlier class before Bird became involved.
Though the class skipped spring 2019, it was taught for three semesters prior.