Photo by Carlos and Jason Sanchez
Twenty-nine years ago, during the global energy crisis of 1975, David Hamel was watching The Waltons on his home television in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, when two grey static pixels emerged from the screen and enlarged into alien beings on either side of him. They appeared to him as a humanoid male-female couple, although he admits that’s an arbitrary visualization his brain concocted when engaged telepathically by beings from another dimension.
They introduced themselves as “A” and Arkan, from the planet Kladen. They brought Hamel aboard their flying saucer—“They sent me through the roof!” is how he describes the paranormal out-of-body experience—where their androgynous android companion, On, illustrated how they travelled from their distant galaxy to Earth: their ship floated in an anti-gravity bubble powered by electrically charged vortical airflow between magnetic rings. It was, the aliens said, the same method they had used when they visited the ancient Egyptians prior to the construction of the great pyramids at Giza, when they turned up as three wise men in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus and when they appeared to Third Reich scientists before World War II in an attempt to avert global military conquest.
On explained that the ship’s motor needed no fuel except the inherent magnetic forces that attracted and repelled its components. By varying the relative position of the magnetic rings, a vortex of charged air could be created intense enough to suck the ship through a surrounding electromagnetic disturbance, escaping gravity, radar and common sense. Hamel received a breathtaking fifteen-minute demo ride at hypersonic speed over the Canadian landscape, pausing only to hover over a man carrying a yoke laden with two buckets, who collapsed when he saw the ship overhead. Hamel was then instructed to do two things: develop the aliens’ technology on earth in order to save the human race from “the Grid” (the world’s asphalt-electrical network) and use it to build a survival ship like Noah’s Ark. At last, “A,” Arkan and On dropped Hamel back home into his body, and he emerged in the immersive flicker of his TV’s cathode static.
Though he says, “They’re in my body, my mind, I can’t get away from them,” Hamel’s next and final direct encounter with the aliens came just three months later, when they returned in a black car with red diplomatic licence plates. He admits to feeling a little hurt by that visit, because they ignored him and instead communicated for three hours with his wife Nora, whom they had in fact visited once before, six years earlier.
Back then, in 1969, David Hamel was training baton-twirling girls at the local Legion hall in Maple Ridge. Nora, who is unable to walk and has limited motor skills due to the cerebral palsy with which she was born in 1944, would sit in her wheelchair, enjoying the manoeuvres. The two struck up an understanding, with David’s horrific World War II trauma balanced by the pain Nora had suffered because of fourteen botched operations to mend her misshapen legs.
It was after one such surgery that the aliens came to Nora, comforting her during her recovery and, curiously, leaving angelica leaves on her hospital bed, in her hair and on the floor of her room.
Moved by her situation, David asked for Nora’s hand in marriage after several years of twirling courtship—to the disbelief of Nora’s family. “I thought for four days about it,” says Hamel, who still has three children from an ill-fated first marriage he embarked upon while on leave in Scotland after the war. “They were going to send Nora for more operations. She showed me what they’d done to her, those goddamn doctors. I said, No rotten bastards are going to cut her up again. So I decided to marry her.”
Still very much in love, David and Nora now live together in rural Gilmour, Ontario, a God-fearing, Twin Peaksesque hamlet in the Precambrian Shield forests south of Algonquin Park. Their modest two-storey home at the end of a dirt road is close enough to town that Hamel can drive in daily to get food, but far enough away that he can build and test flying saucers on his sprawling lightning-prone property without causing too much of a ruckus. NASA once came to visit him here after hearing of the six forty-five-gallon oil drums Hamel rocket-launched using motor prototypes developed immediately after his abduction, and of the power outages he continues to cause in the vicinity of his ongoing testing.
“I would work for NASA if they would listen to me, but they don’t!” he rants. Hamel is outspoken, independent, egomaniacal. He’s also a practical, hands-on guy, having received only an elementary-school education during his schoolboy days in 1930s Montreal. During the Cold War, he operated radios along the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line in the Arctic and worked as a rock-cutter for a marble company that designed bank lobbies. “I’ll put the lights out for miles, then they’d listen, they’d know what I’ve got. The scientists come here, but they can’t accept the magnetic. They’d rather play around with nuclear rods, but they’re poison. There’s too much lying, too much greed. Everyone wants the truth, but they won’t find it, they won’t plant the seed, people are dying, the end is coming!”
Not all of Hamel’s neighbours approve of his ufological eschatology, but he doesn’t bother them at the local parish—televangelical Sunday service suits him just fine. Many know him as “the UFO guy,” who earlier this year escaped from a head-on collision with an oncoming truck while attempting to turn his car off the highway into the parking lot of a local restaurant. “I don’t know how he survived that,” says the restaurant owner incredulously. “He sure is stubborn.”
But wouldn’t you be stubborn if the signs were everywhere? After David and Nora moved here from British Columbia in 1980, they found—left behind in the attic by the previous occupant—a yoke matching the one carried by the man Hamel saw from the saucer. And patterns of angelica leaves identical to those left behind for Nora were discovered beneath their wallpaper during renovations.
Nowadays the Hamel home is a treasure trove of occult ephemera. Lining the living room wall (opposite the wood carvings of scenes from the Book of the Dead depicting what some believe are ancient Egyptians receiving radiation therapy from primitive electrode effigies) are blueprints for Hamel’s Ark of the Covenant—the Noah-inspired spaceship he hopes will carry survivors of the coming apocalypse. Hamel plans to launch the craft from a giant slab of granite rock near James Bay. Also hanging on the wall is a framed black-and-white airbrush illustration of a domed saucer hovering within a glowing aura, taken from a 1970s pulp sci-fi illustration. Hamel claims the illustration, in the form of undeveloped microfilm, was subcutaneously embedded in his palm following his original abduction. A stigma remains on his hand from the emergency surgery required to remove it.
David Hamel is an inventor. Not only of stories that just might be true, but also of machines that just might work. He is as much an artist as an engineer, weaving alternate realities from historical and scientific anomalies, sculpting metal according to intuited designs. He works alone or with friends in the backyard shed he built himself. He supports his wife on a meagre military disability pension, which he began receiving in the mid-1960s as compensation for crippling bullet wounds suffered during the Second World War.
As if the bureaucratic ineptitude of a twenty-year pension delay doesn’t irk him enough, Hamel knows he would now be rich if his magnet-related patent applications hadn’t been misfiled years ago. He can’t remember when, but he is sure he attempted to patent the process of magnetically aligning individual atoms within a lattice (an idea that is now a profitable emerging procedure in nanotechnology). So upset was he upon arriving at the Canadian Patent Office in Gatineau, Quebec, to find that his entire file had gone “missing” that he slammed cross-shaped vibrating magnets on the counter and had to be removed by police for causing a scene.
Life in Gilmour is not easy for the Hamels. At the start of every day, sixty-year-old Nora is hoisted out of bed by David, twenty years her senior, using a chain-link pulley system he’s rigged into the bedroom and bathroom ceilings. Then he purées her meals so she can feed herself through a large red straw while listening to the radio. An intimate and warm sense of humour helps keep their spirits up. “Oh, Nora, you’ve gone and made a mess again,” Hamel chides with mock seriousness while wiping food from her bib. Nora squeals with delightful denial, her face scrunching into a chagrinning “who, me?”
Both are serious when it comes to saucers. They see their situation as part of a ten-thousand-year legacy of alien contact all over the earth. They also know that David could get more work done on his Ark of the Covenant if Nora were put in a government home, but they tried that for a year a decade ago, and both lost their will to go on without the other’s compassionate support. Poor and crippled, but rich with ideas and love, the Hamels get by with a little help from their friends, and from God.
The Hamels attract all kinds of devotees. For many, a visit to David’s shed is a spiritual pilgrimage, a conspiracy confirmation and an environmentally friendly energy workshop all rolled into one. Many of these trips have been turned into fan fiction or film documentaries. The four-title Eyewitness series (available on VHS from www.world-famous.com) captures the true Hamel low-budget ethos, using a handheld camera to capture the man himself ranting and line drawings to explain the aliens’ technology.
The definitive text, though, is Jeanne Manning and Pierre Sinclaire’s The Granite Man and the Butterfly, an engaging retelling of Hamel’s abduction, philosophy and inventions. It forms the basis for Granite Starship, written by Paul Coulbeck. “He’s the bastard who copied my book,” says Hamel. Coulbeck stayed with Hamel for a week, then published the abductee’s life story—with all the relevant characters renamed and no credit given to Hamel. Bob Thomas of Arlington, Texas, hopes to set the record straight later this year in The Word Made Manifest Through Sacred Geometry: The Work of David Hamel, a book he co-authored with Hamel himself (Hamel ranted, Thomas wrote) following a two-month stay with the inventor.
On the Internet, the Hameltech Yahoo Internet group is ground zero for the inventor’s worldwide support network. Established in 2000, the forum is now home to over six hundred members, who pool their resources to realize Hamel’s vision. Core member Dan LaRochelle began networking with other Hamel fans online after reading about the enigmatic0engineer on the KeelyNet alternative energy website in 1997. A family man from Wethersfield, California, LaRochelle first visited Hamel seven years ago, while his wife was pregnant with their first child. Like Hamel, LaRochelle is a Christian, and he says he was “flabbergasted” when Hamel told him that the ship “A,” On and Arkan rode in was the Star of Bethlehem. “I’m not saying that’s exactly what happened,” he says, “but there’s something religious to it. The main message is that the world will be completely destroyed very soon, so you’ve got to build this survival ship otherwise humanity could be wiped out.”
“There are very powerful controlling factors in this world,” LaRochelle adds, “and they don’t want people to know this stuff.” Continuing, he muses about a potential conspiracy surrounding the recent mysterious murder of Gene Mallove, the editor of Infinite Energy magazine. “He was on the verge of a big discovery. We’re still forced to put gasoline in our cars and send the utility bill every month.”
LaRochelle has spread the Hamel gospel via his self-produced booklet “The Gods Have Returned,” which he has distributed at the Tesla Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and at the Exotic Research Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. These events attract hundreds of participants annually from the diverse environmentalist “free energy” community. He admits to getting a lot of his facts wrong in the booklet.
Even the schematics LaRochelle correctly reproduced don’t yield working machines. He knows as many as forty people who have tried to build a forty-five-gallon oil drum device based on Hamel’s design—all unsuccessfully. “I had a friend spend $10,000. He stayed a month with Hamel. He’s a bullheaded guy, spent his life savings, his wife divorced him.”
Steve Hiscock, a forty-four-year-old magnet aficionado from Belleville, Ontario, has so far spent between $4,000 and $5,000 on an eight-inch model, which remains incomplete despite twelve years of active collaboration with Hamel. He says he’d need to spend another $5,000 to $7,000 to build a model two feet wide, the minimum size at which the motor can function. His lack of concrete, reproducible results notwithstanding, Hiscock feels the decade-long process of discovery has been an enriching experience. “I would consider myself a very spiritual person—in a metaphysical sense, not in a conventional orthodox religious way,” he says. “The concept of the technology is rooted in a very fundamental understanding of the nature of reality, which is spirituality.”
Hiscock is wary of the delusional ego Hamel is developing with age and fame, and understands that magnetic free-energy is considered fringe even among wind, solar, geothermal and cold-fusion advocates. Still, he believes that Hamel is onto something that, with proper development, could revolutionize power supply for the coming age. He notes that earlier this year inventor Mike Brady of Johannesburg claimed to have developed the first fully functional fuel-less magnetic motor after three decades of research and testing. Brady’s company, Perendev Power, has licensed a twenty-kilowatt generator model to German and Australian distributors. (A four-megawatt model exists in blueprint form.) According to Perendev, each twenty-kilowatt unit is capable of producing enough energy to power an average home; the cost of purchase would quickly be recuperated as the owner uploads excess power to the local network. Sounds great, but without publicly available information published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, this technology will remain relegated to the lunatic fringe, even if the products are commercially viable.
“What has to happen,” says Hiscock, “is that we need a mathematical model based on a working device, so people can understand and reproduce the idea.”
David Hamel’s story sets off every skeptic’s alarm bells. As it should: he advocates an alternate chronology of human evolution that traces our origins to pre-Sumerian alien ancestry. But with the vast quantity of data available these days drowning historical and scientific knowledge in a sea of disinformation, what—and who—do we believe? The revolutionary theosophical and historical revisionism advocated on mega-sites like www.bibleufo.com and www.violations.org.uk? Or their opposite, sites like www.badastronomy.com and www.skeptic.com, which pool the world’s hoax-debunking resources with equal force?
Hamel represents the ultimate consolidation of every cliché conspiracy into one major anti-establishment theory. He has become an official mascot for shifting, subjective, spiritually situated knowledge and action, as opposed to “objective” truth imposed by the orthodox establishment. In a way, he is a true contemporary of Linus Torvalds and Michael Moore. Like Linux vs. Microsoft, the battle Hamel is fighting pits open-source communal energy-sharing against top-down infrastructure. And like Moore vs. Bush, Hameltech vs. Big Oil is calculated satire. “Art is a lie that reveals the truth,” as Picasso said.
The Biblical David had only to throw a rock to kill Goliath. Hamel’s task in our world of spiralling chaos is far more daunting: how do you effectively throw the Book at today’s energy crisis? The technocrats keep the faith, Hamel argues, and we pay the price for their power—in our homes, our vehicles, all over our polluted planet. With the “oiligarchy” (on both Christian and Islamic sides of the fundamentalist fence) hell-bent on harnessing dwindling fossil fuel resources, Hamel—and the full spectrum of more moderate free-energy supporters inspired by his passion—are taking aim.
So if you feel you must treat Hamel’s messianic message as a crackpot UFO odyssey, fine. You won’t be alone. But Hamel would remind you that the Battle for Oil is a crackpot odyssey pursued with far more damaging messianic zeal. Hamel has been living on the brink of Armageddon for as long as he can remember, and he’s not about to wait for you to come around before trying to build a magnetic free-energy device that he believes can save the world from the tyranny of the Grid. If you feel you don’t need saving, that’s fine too. He hopes not to see you in hell.
It was no ordinary blaze that engulfed Dresden, Germany, on February 13, 1945. Three waves of Allied bombers unleashed a precision-engineered firestorm on the city from above, killing between 25,000 and 135,000 people in a heat of such intensity that many died of suffocation before burning, as air was sucked from the ground as if by the bellows of a furnace.
Among the million-plus people then crowded into the city were thousands of Allied POWs, made famous by fellow prisoner Kurt Vonnegut, who science-fictionalized his fiery escape from Dresden in his novel Slaughterhouse Five. One of the POWs was Montrealer David Hamel, the firstborn of fifteen children, who in 1939, at the age of fifteen, joined the Canadian army because it was the only work he could find during the Depression. He landed at Dieppe and survived a bullet to his spine before eventually being captured and detained at Dresden in 1944.
When all hell broke loose that February night, Hamel says he fled his prison through a window and, using a horse blanket and metal wire taken from a barn, rigged himself a makeshift bed hung from the underside of a train headed for the drilling fields of Ukraine. After ten days of living off of stolen food, he smelled gasoline and noticed he was rumbling through a Nazi-held oil well zone, so he signalled with a flare to notify the Russians of this crucial bombing target. For this heroic feat, Hamel was awarded the Order of the White Eagle by the Russian military. Unfortunately, the medal was stolen from his burnt hands as he lay on a stretcher in Belgium, en route to Buckingham Palace.
A photomontage from his subsequent audience with King George VI now hangs on Hamel’s wall, ensuring he cannot escape the memory of Dresden. He won’t discuss his time as a prisoner, but he’s emphatic about what he saw while running from his prison to the train. “I looked up, and saw the ships join together in formation—one, two, three, four … the corners of a pyramid. And above them, I didn’t know what it was at the time, at the apex, I know now, was a flying saucer.”