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Out of This World : UFOs: A former Soviet air force colonel preaches the gospel of extraterrestrial visitation, in which the friendly folk from outer space are waiting for us to get our act together.


But one dark night, says Popovich, "two giant hands grabbed hold of my daughter and tried to pull her out of her sleeping bag." The daughter saw nothing.

The next night, she claims, "a ball of light appeared . . . and three beams of light fell on the camp. It hovered for a while before zigzagging away at high speed over our valley.

"It wasn't an aircraft. It wasn't a helicopter. It was a UFO."

It also was a sign, Popovich says, to devote her post-military career to studying airborne phenomena.

In that work she writes, lectures, heads organizations researching anomalous phenomena and is proposing a series of television programs to contradict what she considers the UFO-busting propaganda of the PBS series "Nova."

Popovich also is aviation consultant to such groups as the Inter-Sectoral Scientific and Technical Center of Venture Non-Traditional Technologies, which addresses the theoretical, applied and technological problems of torsion field magnetism. (No television program is planned.)

Popovich does not believe that Twilight Zone experiences in the Soviet Union have been any more startling or detailed than events reported in the United States.

Our grocery store tabloids accuse the Air Force of holding mummified remains of a space being found in New Mexico. The main Soviet rumor, says Popovich, is of extraterrestrial metals found at a saucer crash site near Minsk.

We have a UFO Information Retrieval Center in Phoenix and Citizens Against UFO Secrecy in Alexandria, Va. They have the National Assn. of Ufology in Moscow and the Soyuz UFO Center in St. Petersburg.

Both nations, agrees Popovich, have stacks of photographs of glowing blobs said to be flying saucers. Crackpots who believe Elvis was kidnaped by aliens are not exclusive to America. And both sides have crops of the untalented who enter apparent trances and produce abstract paintings and oddball music.

Popovich believes these people are mediums--or telepathic cordless phones--who bring painted, printed and musical messages from space. She travels with samples.

"This is Los Angeles," she says of a small painting by one Soviet medium. It is in tempera and shows royal blue smog clouding a twinkling skyline. The effect is of fireworks over Las Vegas.

"This is the structure of the human soul," continues Popovich about another painting. It shows two clusters of eyeballs hovering in space like celestial frog spawn.

"This next one is a picture of the language structure of the constellation of Orion, believed to be the basis of Mayan," she adds. Or the basis of any Chinese menu.

As expressions, the paintings certainly may be accepted as personal interpretations. As a collection of art, they are very poor Dali.

Popovich wears an amethyst necklace that she says contains power to ward off evil spirits. She also wears a NASA watch that only keeps her safe from being late.

From her work, from her absolute faith, Popovich believes the Force is with her. Unfortunately, it hasn't carried through to her terrestrial life.

She is divorced from her cosmonaut general and says their differences were out of this world.

"I had the guidance," she reasons. "He didn't."

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