Why Utah's Brandon Fugal Bought an Otherworldly Ranch, and What He's Seen There: Part 2
Header Image: Brandon Fugal with costar Thomas Winterton of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.
Season two premiers today, Tuesday May 4th at 10/9c on The HISTORY Channel.
Editor's Note: This is part two of a two part series. Read part one here.
He seems like a fictional character right out of the action movies he admires so much. Don't let the studious glasses and ubiquitous suits fool you. Brandon Fugal has been compared to Batman, and it's not hard to see why. In the premier episode of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, Fugal can be seen cruising the streets of Salt Lake City in his black Lamborghini Huracan, strikingly similar to the black Lamborghini driven by Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight'. There's a good chance he even has some of the props from that film in his collection, though the Lamborghini he drives is newer than Batman's.
Fugal, like the Caped Crusader, is a bit of an enigma. His professional accolades are already more than most careers ever see. He's built a fortune in commercial real estate, with his name on virtually every commercial development across Salt Lake and Utah Valleys. But he's also a film memorabilia collector, a voracious reader and rare book collector, and shockingly committed to his work, often staying at the Colliers office till early morning hours. Our interview with Fugal happened on a Monday night, were we talked till nearly 9:00 PM.
He's also committing substantial resources to understanding some of the most mysterious paranormal phenomena in the world, with a professional film crew following every footstep on Skinwalker Ranch in Eastern Utah.
This is part two of our discussion with Brandon Fugal, where he shares why he came forward as the owner of Skinwalker Ranch, how the dialogue around UFOs/UAPs is changing, and he shares his own firsthand account of witnessing a UFO on the ranch property.
Going Public, and What Brandon Believes About The Ranch
TB: So who persuaded you to come out in the light?
BF: You know, after a year of persistence and signing a confidentiality agreement, I agreed to meet with executives from the History Channel and their top partner, Prometheus Entertainment. Upon meeting with them, I expressed not only great hesitation, but also required that any effort would have to be 100% factual and based on the truth. Nothing could be fabricated, contrived, or manipulated. They would be required to utilize my trusted team. No Hollywood casting calls or outsiders would be allowed. They agreed to my conditions, but felt that in order to authentically present the current events and investigation, I would need to reveal my identity as the owner and be involved.
Today's story of Skinwalker Ranch is tightly intertwined with my history and motivations. I see my ownership of Skinwalker Ranch as a stewardship. And you could even say it is also part of my spiritual journey. I was raised to believe that we are not alone in the universe, and that there are worlds without number. But any scientific research or evidence proving the existence of a multi dimensional universe or other intelligence beyond our sphere, interacting with us, is lacking.
TB: You and Bigelow agreed on that point.
BF: Yes. And that's why I feel that this is arguably the greatest science project of our time. If you can prove with scientific rigor, and discipline, that we are not alone in the universe, whether that means that we live in a multi dimensional reality or are being visited by entities from other worlds, this could truly be the next great frontier.
TB: This is obviously something you've given a great deal of thought to. Without making any kinds of assertions, what kind of possibilities have you considered? What's the nature of the phenomena?
BF: People ask me all the time whether we are seeing extraterrestrial phenomena, multi-dimensional phenomena, or spiritual phenomena. Or I guess you could say, people ask whether the origin is extraterrestrial, multi-dimensional, or spiritual. And my answer is, yes. I believe that what we are documenting shows evidence that it could be all of the above. The greatest questions surrounding these topics really involve the origin and agenda.
Exploring High-Strangeness and the Paranormal
TB: Your view that it is galactic, interdimensional, and spiritual — sounds very similar to [noted scientist, entrepreneur, and UFO researcher] Jacques Vallée.
BF: I love Jacques Vallée! He's a trusted adviser. We are fortunate to have Jacques Vallée as a trusted advisor who has actually visited the ranch before with me over the last few years. He continues to be briefed on our investigation. Jacques brings a wealth of knowledge and insight along with others. When I entered into the agreement with the History Channel for the investigative series, in full disclosure I informed them that I went six months without personally seeing anything with my own eyes, and that they needed to be prepared that the phenomenon may not be present or reveal itself during filming. If that was the case, that would have to be the show. We were all very surprised by the fact that numerous events occurred on camera with many witnesses. And I don't believe there was one member of the cast or crew that did not have a profound life changing experience while filming and conducting the investigation. After filming for several months, for eight episodes, season one aired during COVID, between the end of March and June, and was a bonafide hit with millions of viewers.
Although I didn't anticipate it being a hit, the attraction and the interest is undeniable. We are investigating topics that mankind has been exploring since the beginning of time. With season one being a hit, preparations were made to commence filming season two, which would include 10 new episodes. That filming took place during the pandemic, between June to the end of September, spanning a four month period involving dozens of professionals who traveled from Los Angeles to carefully document the expanded investigation and efforts of the team. Dr. Travis Taylor was fortunate to be granted permission [by his employer] to live on the property for those months, where he resided in his own trailer and interacted with the team around the clock. I believe what transpired this last season that was caught on camera will continue to surprise people.
The Public Discourse About UFOs
TB: Do you think the conversation around UFOlogy, the paranormal — do you think the tone is changing?
BF: Yes, absolutely.
TB: You’ve come forward, but also Robert Bigelow historically has been an enigmatic figure. He recently did a whole series of interviews with George Knapp, and answered all kinds of questions. He did a 60 Minutes interview recently.
BF: Yeah, Laura Logan at 60 minutes conducted an interview with Robert Bigelow, where he unambiguously stated that we are not alone in the universe, and that the UFO phenomenon is real. I believe that the discourse relative to these topics has been elevated to a new level of credibility, and for good reason. When you have the United States government, along with decorated fighter pilots, and other officials going public regarding the reality of their experiences, you can't help but take note that we are witnessing history in the making.
TB: Is it your opinion, your guess or understanding, that the government does have a greater understanding of what's going on? And do you have a view on “disclosure” as it's referred to in the UFO community.
BF: The government has been well aware for decades of the reality of the phenomenon. They know darn well that our airspace is being violated indiscriminately by craft utilizing propulsion technology that is far in advance of anything we can currently comprehend.
TB: That brings to mind a couple of questions from earlier. You initially started working with Hal Puthoff and others on a very high-science project about gravity. Is that right?
BF: Yeah, my journey relative to Skinwalker Ranch and my introduction to Robert Bigelow began over a decade ago when I was funding a research enterprise studying gravitational physics theory and… I'd say gravitational physics and energy theories.
TB: That's a far step from commercial real estate. How much of these deep science projects have you been involved in in some capacity?
BF: Quite a few. Not only did I fund and lead a private laboratory at the Provo airport, studying gravitational physics theories. I have also funded and launched other enterprises involving everything from developing a software algorithmic approach to noise cancellation known as Cypher that was sold to Cirrus Logic a few years ago, to most recently a scientific device company known as Axcend that has developed the world's first mobile, liquid chromatograph. I have a passion for science, technology, and frontier physics that is unique in the realm of commercial real estate.
TB: It's unique, but it's not singular. Bigelow has followed a similar course.
BF: That is absolutely correct. Robert Bigelow built his fortune as the developer of the Budget Suites of America extended hotel chain, as a hospitality real estate magnate, and has leveraged his success in commercial real estate to fund space exploration and frontier science endeavors. Bigelow acquired the space habitats program from NASA many years ago, that has now found its way onto the International Space Station, and is being prepared to be deployed on the moon and Mars. He's also the only private entrepreneur that has two space stations in orbit over the earth.
TB: What do Bigelow’s space stations do? Research?
BF: Yeah. Research.
TB: You’re a movie buff. You saw the movie Contact. A wealthy tycoon building private space stations?
BF: That’s right. What was his name? He was played by… John Hurt? I don't know if you saw the ‘Alien’ prequel ‘Prometheus’. This [gestures to his movie memorabilia collection] is one of the alien vials that was recovered from the offworld that was used on screen. In Prometheus, you had Sir Peter Weyland, who is this Elon Musk-type character that was obsessed with not only advancing humanity's reach into space, but also understanding our origins. And I think Mr. Bigelow is very much similar to those figures. Bigelow is singularly focused on asking the big questions. And I like to think that I'm, in some way, following in his footsteps, and also advancing the research involved with these topics. One thing that differentiates me from Bigelow is I'm unusually transparent and engaged with the community.
I don't think it is any coincidence that our wealthiest entrepreneurs, from Elon Musk with SpaceX, to Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin, to the late Paul Allen with his space exploration — that all of these individuals are not only funding the private space race, but also asking the big questions. Very few have the courage to go public with their beliefs, or their efforts dealing with what has been deemed to be controversial.
TB: For somebody who hasn't looked into this, this may all look very silly. But as you know, if you really do start looking at the verified, factual, government documents, or just firsthand accounts from credible authorities, there's absolutely a phenomenon going on here. It's not debatable whether something is happening. It's a question of what exactly it’s nature is.
In recent years we have seen multiple Navy Pilots come forward to testify before congress to the existence of extremely radical #UAP technology. #UAP #UAPTF #AATIP #UFOTwitter #EndUAPSecrecy #Disclosure #UFOs #AAV pic.twitter.com/5tI4Ierm0z— EndUAPSecrecy (@EndUAPSecrecy) January 31, 2021
BF: There are thousands of credible witnesses — fighter pilots, to radar technicians, to law enforcement. You couple that with witness testimony, with hard data, some video and photographic evidence, and it definitely attests to the fact that there's more than meets the eye to our existence; that our reality is not necessarily what it seems. My efforts are really focused on understanding, on documenting the nature of the phenomena. For whatever reason, Skinwalker Ranch is the center of gravity for a diversity of phenomena. The frequency and the diversity of events on and around this property continue to defy explanation.
Brandon Fugal’s Eyewitness Experience
TB: You mentioned the numerous credible witnesses. If I understand correctly, you are among those witnesses now, but you hadn't seen anything for the first six months.
BF: Yeah. The first six months of visiting the property every month, meeting with the team yielded no firsthand unusual experience on my part. That all changed in October of 2016, when I was accompanied by visiting dignitaries that witnessed what can only be described as UFO activity above the mesa in broad daylight.
TB: In the plainest language you can, tell me exactly the sequence of events.
BF: We were traveling back to the command center from what we refer to as ‘the old homesteads’ along the dirt road at the base of the mesa. I was driving our open air Polaris Ranger accompanied by visiting guests, and was alarmed when one of those guests behind me shouted for me to stop the vehicle. Upon stopping the vehicle, that individual was pointing above the mesa at what appeared to be a 40 to 50 foot long silver gray disk like object.
TB: A classic flying saucer?
BF: A classic flying saucer.
TB: How far away?
BF: We were surprisingly close, in that it was clearly visible and appeared perhaps 100 feet above the mesa.
TB: Any activity from it or just…?
BF: Upon first spotting it, we noticed it was stationary. But within seconds, it changed position instantaneously.
TB: ‘Instantaneously’ as in teleportation or no acceleration?
BF: It moved in the blink of an eye. I don't know that it was teleportation, but the object moved literally 50 to 100 feet to the side, then dropped to a low hover over the mesa, darted again to the right, and within 20 seconds was gone in the blink of an eye. It almost looked like it was reduced to the size of a dot, or it moved so quickly out of our field of vision that it was reduced to just a dot. It moved so fast the whole event took place over a twenty second period, but was profoundly life changing.
TB: Tell me about your initial thoughts upon seeing this. What was the discussion like afterward? Surely you and your guests were talking about this?
BF: Oh, we were all in shock. I couldn't believe it. We had just witnessed... it was completely unexpected. And the individuals who witnessed the event had never visited the ranch before or had any interaction with me whatsoever.
TB: Were they people from the Ufology world?
BF: No, in fact, two of them had expressed earlier in the day that they did not believe in the existence of UFOs, and were accompanying a visiting dignitary as security. We were all quite surprised and somewhat speechless at what we witnessed.
TB: I presume that you don't have the next 20 years planned out for Skinwalker Ranch?
BF: It’s a multi-phase investigation, we try to methodically improve both the observational and applied science activities on the property as I can justify it.
TB: “Justify it…” financially?
BF: Financially, and frankly, just the bandwidth alone. I mean, it's hard to describe. 95% of my time and attention continues to be consumed by my responsibilities with respect to commercial real estate. That said, I had a heliport constructed on the site, and I'm fortunate to use private aviation as a time machine to allow quick inspection and interaction with the team.
TB: How long does it take you to fly there?
BF: 40 minutes.
TB: That is quick.
BF: What typically takes over two and a half hour drive is compressed to 40 minutes. One of my most effective tools is the new Airbus H130 helicopter that we special ordered. That is being utilized not only with my commercial real estate practice, but also regarding ranch activities. Putting into service aviation assets for the purpose of investigating the phenomenon and accelerating our work is a significant differentiator from the Bigelow effort.
TB: You operate a charter plane service?
BF: My brother Cameron Fugal is CEO and co-owner of Aero Dynamic, which is one of the only licensed charter operations in Utah. We have a private hangar facility at the Provo airport with direct runway access that features office space, conference space, and the ability to effectively stage tours and activity.
TB: Your gravitational investigation was also at the Provo Airport.
BF: Correct. We had our hangar facility for a period of three years housing the gravitational physics laboratory until we ceased operation in late 2013.
TB: Are more aerospace ventures in your future?
BF: Yes, I believe so. I am very fortunate to have a brother who is a skilled aviator and operator, and access to resources that will allow us to explore other opportunities with aviation and aerospace.
TB: On the topic of other opportunities — the Skinwalker Ranch venture is an investigation that's been going on for four years. Do you see yourself investigating other paranormal activity? Do you have interest in other locations?
BF: I see the potential for Skinwalker Ranch to act as a platform for investigating other locations that may be experiencing similar activity, and as a springboard to other frontier science endeavors.
Collaborating With Others in the Investigation
TB: You've probably had people reach out to you who have been conducting their own investigations, whether those have resources or whether it's one person on the internet. Have you looked at doing collaborations with people to bring more resources, or more focus, or more expertise to the investigation?
BF: We have established strategic relationships with third party engineering firms and technology companies that provide resources that strengthen our investigation. We have a website that we just barely launched that profiles a lot of this — www.skinwalker-ranch.com — It's really in the early stages of development. Our web portal will ultimately be an important resource for public engagement and peer review. We currently feature some highlights relative to our infrastructure, strategic partnerships, and a handful of documented events that have occurred on the property. Season Two, which will feature 10 new episodes, is anticipated to air within the next few months [beginning May 4th on the History Channel], which will undoubtedly drive even more activity and interest. The ranch has quickly become ‘Mecca’ for the paranormal community, and we have visitors on a constant basis approaching the gates and sometimes... “interacting” with our security. We have had a number of people escorted out of the area by law enforcement and our security. This is not only to protect the integrity of the scientific research being conducted, but is also for their own safety. There are serious liability and safety issues relative to visiting the ranch. In the last year alone, we've had a number of individuals end up in the hospital with unexplained injuries and illness.
Getting Ready for Season Two
TB: Any particular teasers for season two?
BF: Yes, I think that you're going to see the investigation advance quite a bit further. More data and evidence and hard scientific evidence will be brought to bear. And the team is more determined than ever to get to the bottom of what the hell is really going on.
The first season of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch can be streamed now on Hulu, History.com, Discover+, DIRECTV, and more.
TB: So Prometheus [Entertainment, the producers of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch] approached you over a series of meetings. You worked out that you were going to do the show. Are they the ones who persuaded you to come forward?
BF: I agreed reluctantly with a number of conditions. They ended up requiring that I get involved. They really brought the leading professionals to the table in cable television. We have the leading production professionals in what they call ‘unscripted series’ right out there on property.
This is completely unscripted. Nothing is contrived. We have a number of experiments and activities, an agenda that we're following. But we're following that regardless of whether there's television cameras rolling or not. I can honestly state that no one has ever put a script in front of me, or a piece of paper with something to read, or something to regurgitate. And the same goes for the entire team. This is all being captured on camera spontaneously. None of us had any experience with television before. Not one of us, with the exception of Dr. Taylor, had ever been on television, and frankly most of my team had no interest in being part of a television show. They were all so reluctant.
How Dragon Got His Nickname
BF: Dragon didn't want to be part of it. In fact, he hates the name Dragon. He's grown to just accept it. He was never called Dragon before. It's just that someone misidentified him online. When a picture surfaced of him with a gun standing as security at Skinwalker Ranch several years ago, someone on an online bulletin board stated (mistakenly) that they believe he went by the codename ‘Dragon’, was ex-military, and had a history of violence and aggression. I laughed my ass off, I thought it was the funniest thing. So from that day forward, I told everyone, ‘Bryant is no longer Bryant. He's Dragon.’
TB: We have you to thank for the name ‘Dragon’?
BF: Entirely! And I was insistent they recognize him by the nickname, that we were calling him to his great frustration. And now it's just grown on him. It's funny to see how everything has evolved.
The Show as a Global Phenomenon
BF: It's now a global phenomenon. We have millions of viewers across the globe in virtually every continent, that have been emailing, have posted on Twitter, there's quite a following. I anticipate that it will only grow because we're asking some of the big questions. A lot of this really hearkens back to the questions that have been posed since time immemorial, which are: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Are we alone in the universe? Is there an intelligent design to our existence? If so, what proof exists of that? And I think Skinwalker Ranch stands to be a living laboratory that may ultimately prove on a scientific level the reality of these things. It's pretty cool. There's nothing like it on the planet.
Fugal's Work in the Community and the Future of Utah
TB: A lot has changed for you in the past few years.
BF: It has. I'm still on the Governor's Economic Council, and have been privileged to work in that capacity, really engaged with economic development efforts in the state. As fun and interesting and fascinating as Skinwalker Ranch is, it's quite a rush to see our skyline changing in a dynamic way. I think what we're witnessing right now, with not only Skinwalker Ranch and these very intriguing topics being elevated in the public, is we're also seeing a renaissance with people addressing everything from consciousness studies, to the nature of our universe, the discovery of exoplanets, of water on Mars, all these things, and I think we're just barely scratching the surface of what lies ahead. I think we're right now on the precipice of probably the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind coming forward, and it's gonna be insane.
I met Ray [Kurtzweil, futurist and technologist] a number of years ago. We discussed it a bit privately. He described this hockey stick curve of the singularity event where science, technology, consciousness, there's this great advancement.
TB: Right. Escape velocity, it starts going faster than we can keep up with it.
BF: Oh, it's mind blowing.
I'm a 17 year old stuck in a 47 year old body, because I've not let go of my childlike curiosity. That same curiosity that was born of watching science fiction films and Raiders of the Lost Ark, still, I believe, fuels my passion for understanding our world and discovery.