Friday, July 13, 2018

UFO History: The Saucers from Atlantis



Many of the articles at BBL and STTF begin with a question, and this piece is no exception. Ufology inherited much about exploring the unknown from those who had gone before, from Forteans, science fiction fans - to mystics and spiritualists. When asking how a UFO-related concept originated, it’s often a bit like the chicken or the egg conundrum. The topic in question was prompted by a high-profile UFO interview.

One of ufology’s most prominent figures was awarded the title “UFO Researcher of the Year” in February 2017, and the following October, he was interviewed on The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan asked where the alien Greys come from, and the guest replied: 
“I don’t know. I do know that there’s connections to -umm, eh, you won’t even f***ing believe it... Atlantis... There’s a connection... a very advanced group that left after a catastrophe and hung around in a small outpost here, and throughout time would push civilization forward, and that’s who the Greek gods were... and that’s why it’s very interesting when the Roswell wreckage, there’s Greek writing... It’s online, type in Roswell wreckage... Roswell I-beam, you’ll see it, and it’s got these Greek markings...

Kevin Randle wrote about the source of the visual evidence:
“... about Greek writing found on the Roswell wreckage... The photo they bring up at that point is a shot of the I-Beam... created by Spyros Melaris as part of the alien autopsy hoax.” A Different Perspective, Oct. 31, 2017
The Greek inscription was part of a hoax, but what about the rest - was it based on any better evidence? Even some scientists have given some support to a hypothesis that there is a connection between UFOs and Atlantis.


Dr. Eric Davis works with Dr. Hal Puthoff at EarthTech, formerly a sub-contractor to Robert Bigelow for the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Application Program run by the DIA, often referred to as the “Pentagon UFO Study.” On June 24, 2017, Eric Davis was interviewed on the radio show Coast to Coast about his role in the project. Host George Knapp asked if the study found the answer to the “big questions” about UFOs. Dr. Davis replied:
We know what they are not... They’re not made here, George, but we don't know where they come from. Hal (Puthoff) has a favorite hypothesis, he calls it the Ultraterrestrial Hypothesis. They could be advanced technology - aerospace technology that are produced by a group of evolved hominins that split off from the main human race and they might be that fourth unidentified hominin that was discovered and announced in the news over the last couple years, they are the fourth one after the Denisovans. So yeah, you have Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, and you have the Denisovans, and there's the genetic evidence of a fourth hominin, and so maybe they split off and they became very advanced, they could be the basis or the foundation for the legend of Atlantis, for all we know. And they saw the human race arising, they didn't like our warlike nature and they probably went underground and shielded themselves with their advanced technology to protect themselves from us, and they're the ones who have the Tic Tacs and other UFOs. ...that’s a hypothesis.
That ultimately set the question in motion, and I wondered:

How did flying saucers get connected to Atlantis?

The myths and arguments about Atlantis itself are not the question; we’ll just be looking at how it was tied into UFOs. In The Coming Race, the 1871 novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, there was a hidden race who were descended from people who in ancient times, escaped “the flood,” by taking refuge in mountain caverns which led to “the bowels of the inner earth.” They created a technological utopia, and their greatest achievement was  mastery of the force, the “Vril,” an energy that could be used as a weapon or to heal. The story has been incredibly influential and laid the foundation for much since, from science fiction to spiritualism and ufology.

As to Atlantis itself, Ignatius Donnelly is to blame for reviving and popularizing it. A passage from his presentation of Plato's History of Atlantis from The Antediluvian World, 1882 by Ignatius Donnelly:
“Now, in the island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire... shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind; for she was the first in courage and military skill...”
The Atlantean civilization was said to have art and science beyond the rest of the world, and as the legend was retold, it was updated with more miraculous technology to keep ahead of the present day.
Atlantis was embraced by mystics, and they were the ones to connect Atlantis to outer space, but in a dreamy, quasi-religious sort of way. Gareth J. Medway wrote that Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, in her
“...key work Secret Doctrine was taken up with the theory (derived in some obscure way from Hindu scripture) of the seven "root races" of humanity, of which we are the fifth. The fourth race had lived on Atlantis, and the Third on Lemuria, these two being lost continents of the Atlantic and Pacific respectively. Atlantis, whose legend goes back at least as far as the time of Plato, had recently been publicised in a book by Ignatius Donnelly... 
In 1883-6 Frederick S. Oliver, then a teenager living with his parents near Mount Shasta in northern California, penned a lengthy manuscript entitled A Dweller on Two Planets... an entity called Phylos the Tibetan had dictated it to him... More than half the narrative concerned the author's past life as Zailm, an Atlantean, with many details of that civilisation. They had developed "vailxi", aerial ships of torpedo shape which could travel at hundreds of miles an hour (an incredible speed in the 1880s)."
"Beyond the Reality Barrier, Part One: Many Mansions,” Magonia 94, January 2007

Atlantis and Space Ships

 There was a widespread interest in Atlantis without the spiritualism, and it was assimilated into popular culture. The immensely popular newspaper comic strip Buck Rogers by Philip Nowlan and Dick Caulkins featured a serialized that began in 1930, the “Sunken City Of Atlantis.” 



Science fiction to millions of readers, was Buck Rogers. In the story, the Atlanteans had advanced technology, even flying machines, but after surviving the sinking of the island they lived in secret, but sent expeditions out monitor and influence civilizations on the surface world. The Atlantis serial can be read at the Roland Anderson site, Old Comic Strips: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.


The story was adapted into a Big Little Book in 1934 as Buck Rogers in the City Below the Sea, and also part of a Buck Rogers game, as “Search for the Secrets of Atlantis.”

Peeling the Aquatic Onion

Frederick G. Hehr was a Fortean and “deeply learned in occult matters.” Using his initials as F.G.H., he was a frequent contributor to Meade Layne’s Round Robin, the journal of the Borderland Sciences Research Association (BSRA) which accepted “a great mass of psychic and occult data as factual, as established...”

Hehr was talking about spaceships, Atlantis and extraterrestrial seventeen years before the big Kenneth Arnold story broke in July of 1947. Here’s a portion of his letter of criticism to the early science fiction magazine,  Air Wonder Stories, May 1930, edited by Hugo Gernsback.

"Then your space flying stories, every one of them is based on cheap excitement raised by the introduction of war. As it is self evident that the rulers of the universe would never permit the knowledge necessary to conquer space to get into hands morally unfit to hold them. Please read up on the legends about the flood and Atlantis and about former visitors from space and you may detect a certain law pertaining to the distribution and use of power. 
May I add for the peace of mind of timorous souls that a malevolent incursion from space is an impossibility and that benevolent incursions will came as soon as we are morally fit to entertain visitors, from space. I wish I had the writing ability as I would like to write a story based on actual conditions on the planets of our solar system. "

Hehr was not alone in this type of thinking. In 1943, Richard Shaver wrote to Amazing Stories magazine with “Mantong,” a lost ancient alphabet and language, which was supposed to be “definite proof of the Atlantean legend.” From there, Shaver wrote "A Warning to Future Man," and editor Ray Palmer rewrote it and published it as “I Remember Lemuria.” Thus, "The Shaver Mystery" was born, which was the stepping stone between Theosophy and the imaginative side of Ufology. Shaver’s story was about ancient extraterrestrials, the Titans and the Atlans who had lived under the surface of the earth in Lemuria. The backdrop for Shaver’s stories were a virtual blueprint for tales of ancient aliens.

When the flying saucer wave hit, Frederick G. Hehr was ready with an explanation. He sent a letter to Meade Layne who relayed it to BSRA members in a postcard on July 13, 1947. As FGH, Hehr stated that the flying saucers were flown by: 
“an old Atlantean Arcane Order, which has held them in caches; their present mobilization is for trial and for training of crews; they will be used for emergency rescue craft and to gather key personnel and material. They have gravity control, and a speed up to 4000 mi./ hr. above the atmosphere. They become invisible by bending the light rays around them, and are invulnerable to attack by our own forces."The Mystery of Unidentified Flying Objects: 1896—1949, Loren Gross (1971) page 308. 
The BSRA opinion only circulated amongst their members, but early ideas of an Atlantis-saucer connection were mentioned in the newspapers, but as just one of many ideas circulating.
Utahns sure sky saucers no delusionThe Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), July 6, 1947, p. 8A:"Flying saucers" continued to confound sky-gazing Utahns... Explanations for their strange and fleeting appearances ran the gamut from “Atlantis” to “atomic”... 

Putting it into the Mainstream

Desmond Leslie (1921 - 2001) was a British writer who went on to co-author Flying Saucers Have Landed with George Adamski in 1953. In an advertisement from the British Book Centre he was described as “Desmond Leslie, Historian,” and it states that, “He spent years in research gathering information about flying saucers from ancient times to present." Leslie said he was inspired by finding a copy of The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria by William Scott-Elliot, which described “airships” that he thought sounded like flying saucers. See the clip from UFOs: The Contacts – The Pioneers of Space by Michael Hesemann, 1996.


From The Saucers That Time Forgot:


Leslie began researching the connection and asked Meade Layne if he had seen the
“... detailed occult account of the VIMANAS or ancient aircraft in Scott Elliott’s “ATLANTIS”: the exciting Sanskrit reference to an ‘airlift’ to evacuate Atlantis in (Helena Blavatsky's) SECRET DOCTRINE Vol III,  their use in war in the ancient Indian poems such as the RAMA BHARATA,  also an account of a working drawings seen in James Churchward in his MU books.” 
The Meade Layne - Desmond Leslie Correspondence by Håkan Blomqvist, Dec. 1, 2017
Leslie went on to say that he’d been obsessed with the subject, "for over two years ever since I first read a flying saucer report and realised it was synonymous with accounts of the VIMANAS as the disks were called in the Sanskrit.”

Leslie’s discovery led him to write Flying Saucers Have Landed, and title a chapter, “Saucers in Atlantis.” The connection made in Desmond Leslie’s mind of flying saucers to Atlantis is directly responsible for giving us the “Ancient Aliens” version of ufology. It might not have mattered if it hadn’t appeared in a best-selling book, but it was a tremendous influence.


 Leslie’s use of the term, “Vimanas” for saucers was embraced by many followers and the notion of ancient ET visitations became a given, a canonical UFO belief, and later popularized by Erich von Däniken. Leslie’s connection of Atlantis to saucers, however, was less widely accepted, but there were some notable converts.

George Hunt Williamson and Daniel Fry
George Hunt Williamson’s 1953 book, Other Tongues, Other Flesh, shows that he was an early adopter.
“...during the catastrophes that struck both Lemuria and Atlantis, groups of people were evacuated from the Earth and taken to other planets. Especially Mars and Venus.”
Williamson also said, “The Vril Stick was used in Atlantis and later in Egypt.” 

Daniel Fry, author of The White Sands Incident, told his story at the first annual international Flying Saucer Convention in 1954, how he’d taken walk in the desert one night and encountered a landed flying saucer. A voice from it spoke to him, the voice of a spaceman operating it by remote control from a parent ship. The Herald Express reported:
The spokesman, whose name was A-Lan, told Fry his ancestors originally came from earth. They got away in a hurry after the big battle in which Atlantis and Mu destroyed each other with weapons that would make the hydrogen bomb look sick. Now A-Lan’s people were figuring on another descent to earth. They needed samples of our air and the bacteria it contains to see if they could take it.
- The Los Angeles Herald Express, June, 5, 1954, “Space Pilots Give L.A. Smog Wide Berth”

Gavin Gibbons’ 1956 book, The Coming of the Space Ships, covers the flap of UFO sightings that began in June of 1954 in the UK and he was on board with Leslie’s notions of saucers from Atlantis. As his title suggests, Gibbons regarded flying saucers as extraterrestrial space ships, and like Leslie, Gibbons preferred the Atlantean/Sanskrit term “vimanas” (chariots of the sky) for disc-shaped scout craft, and notes:

In 30,000 B.C. Lemuria was destroyed... The few survivors of this cataclysm founded Atlantis. Some survivors from the Atlantis disaster are believed to have escaped disaster by fleeing in machines to another planet, from whence they now send out their patrols to scan the Earth for signs of further atomic activity.

In 1957, The Case for the UFO, M.K. Jessup said: 
"The traditions agree that "Atlantis" or its equivalent, was destroyed about 9,000 years or so BC. ...we are interested in showing that such an antiquity did exist, and that it is conceivable that some very early race, 200,000 years ago or so, may have developed space flight, and after the cataclysm of 12,000 years ago may have chosen to stay in space, thinking it a safer habitat than this uncertain planet.” 

The Atlantis-UFO meme was transmitted to and from such figures as Harold T. Wilkins, George Van Tassel, Brinsley Le Poer Trench Ruth Norman of Unarius, and even Charles Berlitz, the mainstream best-selling author, connected Atlantis to UFOs - and the Bermuda Triangle. Today, it’s mainly up to the Ancient Aliens camp to keep up the Atlantis-UFO connection vital.
. . .

Epilogue: Another Warning to Future Man

In the September 1946 Harper's Magazine, William S. Baring-Gould took a look at science fiction and its fandom in “Little Superman, What Now?” He highlighted a passage from Thomas S. Gardner’s article in Fantasy Commentator, bringing the criticism to a much wider audience. It was a scathing condemnation of proto-Ufology, of Ray Palmer’s “Shaver Mystery” in Amazing Stories - and of the readers who bought it.
"The crackpots, as they are usually called, number at least a million in the United States.  ... A great many harbor seriously delusions of ancient civilizations superior to ours, believe in pyramidology and the like. Indeed, there are today in this country several esoteric societies based on Lemuria, Mu, Atlantis... In fact, these groups are in a way semi-religious... and some have gone so far as to state that they abhor mathematics and allied modern sciences because they disprove their beliefs…Nevertheless, these crackpots constitute a large potential buying-power... To capture these readers it is only necessary to publish... stories which propitiate these crackpots’ views...  Palmer has instituted this very trend.”
Harper's Magazine, Sept. 1946
Ray Palmer left Amazing Stories shortly thereafter, but went on to create Fate with Curtis Fuller in 1948, a non-fiction magazine devoted to just the stew of esoteric topics that Gardner had railed about. In Fate, ghosts, telepathy, reincarnation and Atlantis were regarded as scientific fact, right along with flying saucers. Seventy years later, not much has changed.
. . .


Sources and Further Reading 

Frederick G. Hehr, for more information see:

Of Biographical Interest,” by F.G.H., Round Robin April 1947

BSRA Principles (Letter to Roger Graham, Oct. 1946)

Many of Ufology's concepts had their origins in 19th century mysticism. Here's a discussion of those occult ideas from Astounding Science Fiction, May 1947, "Pseudoscience in Naziland," by Willy Ley. https://archive.org/stream/Astounding_v39n03_1947-05_AK#page/n89/mode/2up

Desmond Leslie, “Desmond Leslie, George Adamski, and Ancient Aliens”

On Atlantean airships and ancient astronauts: “How to Write a Bestseller” by Gareth J. Medway, Magonia 81, May 2003
“When Atlantis became popular in the late nineteenth century...”
http://magoniamagazine.blogspot.com/2014/01/bestseller.html


Coast to Coast, Dr. Eric Davis interview, "Pentagon UFO Study,” June 24, 2017.

Also, a special thanks to: 

Roberto Labanti,  author of “Totò e i dischi di Atlantide”
UFO - Rivista di informazione ufologica No. 43, Sept. 2017 pps. 38-43

Isaac Koi, for his preservation of UFO documents.
. . .


Bonus: A Book Review of Venus Speaks


From Uranus Vol. 1 No. 2, Oct. 1954edited by E. Biddle, a review of Venus Speaks by Cyril Richardson, Regency Press, 1954:

It is claimed that the contents of this little book were obtained by direct telepathy from the Chief Scientist of the planet Venus! It is a book which will appeal to some, while others will be strongly repelled by it. 
The Venusians, we are told, were originally natives of Earth and lived here in the days of' Atlantis and the old Inca civilisation of S. America. Until one day strangers filled with greed came to the land of the Incas (we are not told who the strangers were but it was evidently long before the days of the Spanish conquistadores). Where upon the Incas took to flight in spaceships and after finding the Moon unsuitable, went on to Venus, where they settled and lived in peace and harmony, despite what must have seemed a very trying climate. From time to time they kept an eye on the Earth and of late have been very active in the Flying Saucers. Their motives are wholly friendly and they promise us instant and decisive help should an atomic war start. If, however, their help is on a par with their scientific knowledge as expounded in this book, we should do well not to rely too much on it! 

The latter part of the book contains interesting remarks on Diet, Sound Vibrations, the Power of Thought etc. 

Quite fantastic and entirely contrary to elementary scientific facts, however, are many of the statements regarding the origin and end of worlds, conditions on other planets (including Venus!), the past history of the Earth, etc. 

Indeed, I find it impossible to take this part of the book seriously, though others may think differently, of course. If you have an inclination towards the hazier forms of Theosophy, Occultism, Spiritualism, etc you may be glad to have this book. If, on the other hand, these things are anathema to you, you will do better not to listen to the voice of Venus....  
E.B. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

UFOs Hoaxed by Military Pilots



The study of UFOs has always been complicated by hoaxes, either from false reports or by events staged to fool witnesses. 

The Air Force’s “Status Report: Project Blue Book - Report No. 10” from 27 February 1953 reviewed the record-setting year of 1952, and of the 1000 cases analyzed, less than two percent of them were found to be deliberate fakes, “Hoaxes 1.67%

The problem is that within the remaining cases, we cannot know what fragment of hoaxes were successful and remained undetected, possibly remaining on record classified under “insufficient information” or as an “unknown.”

One particularly interesting species of hoax is when an actual aircraft is involved, but the pilot operates it in a manner to deceive witnesses. This results in sincere testimony by the witnesses, but of a false UFO. The pilots perpetrating the hoaxes are unlikely to confess since it could result in anything from the loss of their pilot’s license to criminal prosecution. Or in the case of military pilots, the loss of their flying career.

Documentation



Few of these hoaxes by pilots have been documented, but a good example was included as part of the Condon Report: the University of Colorado’s Scientific Study Of Unidentified Flying Objects led by University of Colorado Dr. Edward U. Condon, completed in 1968. In Chapter 1,  “Field Studies” by Roy Craig, he summarizes how in the spring of 1967, seven witnesses were interviewed about their UFO sighting.
Case 23 is an example of a simple prank by the young at heart. A pilot, about to take off from an Air Force base in (a twin-engine Navy) airplane equipped with a powerful, movable searchlight, suggested to his co-pilot, "Let's see if we cant spook some UFO reports." By judicious use of the searchlight from the air, particularly when flashes of light from the ground were noticed, the pilots succeeded remarkably well. Members of the ground party, hunting raccoons at the time, did report an impressive UFO sighting. Our field team found, in this case, an interesting opportunity to study the reliability of testimony. 
That summary is from page 90 of the Condon Report.  
The incident itself is detailed on pages 494 - 497, “ Case 23, North Central, Spring 1967.” 

Anecdotes from Aviation Week


Philip J. Klass, was a senior avionics editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology, but in his spare time, he was studied, debunked, and wrote about UFOs. In his 1983 book, Klass discussed incidents engineered by military pilots.
Some UFO incidents are more accurately characterized as practical jokes. For example, a neighbor of mine confided to me that he had generated a few UFO incidents during the 1950s when he was a Navy fighter pilot based on the West Coast. He explained that Navy pilots would practice intercepting an enemy bomber in darkness by using an unsuspecting airliner as a mock target. The authorized procedure called for the Navy aircraft to come no closer than about ten miles before breaking off. However, this former Navy pilot (who requested anonymity) said that if he felt in a "playful mood" he would turn off his aircraft's external lights and approach quite close to the airliner.
Then, he said, he would reach for his emergency cockpit flashlight and flash it on and off until he could see passengers in the cabin reacting to it. Then he would maneuver to the other side of the airliner and give a repeat performance. Finally, he told me, he would drop below the airliner and turn on his jet-engine's afterburner, creating greatly increased thrust and a long rocketlike plume, and would zoom out in front of the relatively slow-moving airliner. Then he would return to base. "The next day I would scan the newspapers and sure enough there would be a story about an airline flight crew who reported seeing a rocketlike UFO, with confirming reports from a number of passengers who described seeing a bright flashing light,” my neighbor told me.
During one of my UFO lectures, I recounted the story of how this former Navy pilot had generated UFO reports that would be extremely difficult to explain in prosaic terms had he not chosen to confide in me. After the lecture, a man came up to tell me that he was a former USAF interceptor pilot and that while based on the East Coast he also had generated a few such airliner UFO-encounter reports "for kicks." He added: "Here I was creating UFO incidents that another branch of the Air Force (Project Blue Book) was trying to solve, but I dared not reveal my role because it was a serious infraction of the rules."
From UFOs: The Public Deceived by Philip J. Klass, 1983 (pgs. 298-299)

Interesting examples, but Klass was unable to name his sources, so by his own debunking standards we would have to consider them hearsay. Other such rumors have surfaced over the years, but usually just as vague with anonymous pilots. Something more definite recently surfaced - and from an unlikely source - a prominent UFO witness.

The UFO Pilot


Navy Commander David Fravor became famous in late 2017 for speaking about the “Tic Tac” incident, his UFO encounter while flying an exercise from the USS Nimitz on November 14, 2004. Fravor is considered an ideal observer, credible due due to his qualifications, rank and aviation expertise. He’s like a modern Kenneth Arnold, the original all-American UFO witness.

In a recent audio interview about his sighting and its aftermath, David Fravor discussed the need for further investigation, and used his own pranks hoaxing UFO sightings in the 1990s as an example.


“I’ll tell you- so I flew night vision goggles, okay? You know when you’re a pilot, you gotta grow up, but you don’t have to grow up? Sometimes, we can be a little bit childish, ‘cause you’re 34 years old and you’re flying super-cool jets, and even if you are 25 when I started flying a real jet, it’s just fun, and it’s cool, and it’s a great job.
So, we would fly around - I had a NVG O qual. So we would fly around at 200 feet at night with no lights on. ‘Cause we’d be in the warning areas where we’re allowed to do that. So we can technically fly around with no lights on. So, we would. And then we’d see - you can see campfires ‘cause people are below us camping. You can see campfires  from way, way away. ‘Cause the goggles will pick up that light from way, way, far away.
So we would get going really fast, and then we’d pull the power back to idle, so we’d go zinging over the top of these campfires. And then you just light the afterburners and pull up. And you’d leave ‘em on for a minute, then turn ‘em off. So think about - You’re sitting on the ground, got a nice campfire, it’s a pretty starry night, and you don’t hear anything. The all of a sudden, there’s a loud roar, there’s fire above your eyes, you're like, ‘Oh, my God,’ and then the fire goes out, and there’s nothing there. ‘What is that?’
… So when you do that, we always think, God, they’re crazy. Well, maybe they are not crazy, and can you explain it? Now, if there was real investigation… they could track and say that there was an airplane in that area doing low training, and he was just messing with you, but if people never report it, then they’re going to think for the rest of their lives that they saw something you can’t explain.”
Commander David Fravor had a distinguished 18-year career as a U.S. Navy pilot, and retired from the Navy in 2006. Any UFO fireballs seen by campers after that are not his responsibility.

David Fravor is supporting UFO research and investigation, and by speaking publicly, encouraging other witnesses to come forward. If other retired military pilots would also come forward to disclose and document incidences of hoaxing UFOs, that would also be valuable. The more that is known about UFO incidents - false and genuine - the more we can hope to understand the phenomenon and the experience of the witnesses.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Hangar 18 and The Saucers That Time Forgot

The companion blog to BBL is The Saucers That Time Forgot, where the focus is strictly on historical matters, "Flying Saucer tales that UFO history has overlooked or would rather forget." Besides lost saucers, we look at topics like the underappreciated influence of seminal events, hoaxes, and the people behind the stories. 


Most often the stories are prompted by original newspaper coverage of the events, and other primary sources. For STTF, Curt Collins relies heavily on Claude Falkstrom who has a knack for unearthing news stories from local papers that provide details the national wire services often missed. There's also an occasional look at the early flying saucer researchers and authors, "The Ufologists That Time Forgot" as well.

Most STTF articles are stand alone pieces, but sometimes there are longer serialized articles such as the investigation into the origins of the Hangar 18 story. Here's a look at the opening installment: 

After the UFO Crash of 1969

The Dark Days after 1969

The flying saucer fever of 1947 created a big problem for the Government, and the United States Air Force was stuck with the job of  handling it. The fact that there was an official investigation was exploited by believers (and opportunists) who insisted that if the USAF was spending time and money investigating UFOs, that must prove that flying saucers are real - and that they were hiding the evidence. Two decades later, the Air Force finally got out of the saucer business, as briefly stated in their UFO Fact Sheet:
From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force investigated Unidentified Flying Objects under Project Blue Book. The project, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was terminated Dec. 17, 1969... The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled, "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects;" a review of the University of Colorado's report by the National Academy of Sciences; previous UFO studies and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports... 
Following the closure of Project Blue Book, public interest in the UFO subject took a nosedive. 


Empty Space

UFOs and outer space were out of fashion in the entertainment industry as well. Paranormal, ESP and psychic topics were what the public was buying, and shows like Night Gallery and The Sixth Sense had memorable runs on television and in 1973, The Exorcist had been a commercial and critical success. Entertainment was coming out of period barren not of just UFOs, but of science fiction, at least of the outer space variety. In the moves, about the closest thing to space aliens was The Planet of the Apes movie series. On television, NBC’s Star Trek series had been the cancelled back in 1969, but was popular in syndication and alive as a Saturday morning cartoon. On prime time, The Six Million Dollar Man was about as "far out" as TV got.


"Somewhere in the universe there must be something better than man."

The Literary Front

There were a few important UFO books published in those days, some in response to the Condon Report that enabled the Air Force to shut down Blue Book. Dr. J. Allen Hynek and his 1972 book were profiled by Ian Ridpath in New Scientist,  May 17, 1973, “The man who spoke out on UFOs”:
He is highly critical of the report called The Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, produced in 1969 by a University of Colorado team led by Dr Edward U. Condon and based on US Air Force Project Blue Book files. He has since written his own book, called The UFO Experience, which has been called "Hynek's version of what the Condon report should have been." The book is now in its fourth printing in the United States. 
In 1973, Major Donald E. Keyhoe, the man who had written the first non-fiction book on flying saucers, wrote his last, Aliens from Space. He also blasted the Condon Report, depicting it as part of the Government’s UFO cover-up policy. Keyhoe closed the book with a more optimistic note, proposing an ambitious plan to build a facility at a remote location that would attract extraterrestrial visitors, lure them into a landing where a peaceful close encounter would establish formal contact.



Flying saucers were out of fashion, though. About the closest related matter to the UFO topic that the public really cared about was the ancient astronauts theory as popularized in the Chariots of the Gods? books and its sequels. In 1974, Chariots was in it’s 27th printing and still on the bestseller lists. Publishers Weekly, describing the paperback of its second sequel.
“The Gold of the Gods" ($1.75, Putnam), the latest best seller by Erich von Daniken, is getting a cover stamped with gold metallic letters for its paperback edition — the first time that Bantam has used that process, usually reserved for deluxe editions of hardcover books... will have a first printing of 800,000 copies...


Putting UFOs Back in Business


In late 1973, UFOs made a big comeback in the press, jump-started by the media frenzy surrounding the alien abduction case on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, making 1974 a very good year for the UFO business. In Michael Rasmussen’s 1985 book, The UFO Literature: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography of Works in English, he describes the resurgence:
By 1973, a major new wave of sightings was developing in the U.S. and around the world, and public interest in UFOs again began to swell... By 1974, UFO-mania was again in full swing. Ralph and Judy Blum's Beyond Earth — Man's Contact with UFOs was a national bestseller, signaling the dawn of a new boom in commercial UFO literature. The Blums surveyed the recent history of UFOs, and summarized the sensational sightings of the year before, including the Pascagoula abduction claim of Calvin Parker and Charles Hickson.

At the end of 1974, NBC broadcast “UFOs: Do You Believe?” It was a one-hour special that featured UFO witnesses such as Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker, experts such as Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Jim & Coral Lorenzen of APRO, Stanton Friedman, and Walt Andrus of MUFON. The ratings broke records. UFOs were a viable commercial property once again, and there was an explosion in sightings, hoaxes, news coverage, and also an uptick in UFO lectures and conferences. It was a UFO Revival of sorts. 

In the special STTF series that follows, we’ll examine how a particular chain of events in 1974 changed UFO history. It begins with a paranormal conference in the Tampa Bay area by promoter Lawrence Brill.

The saga continues at The Saucers That Time Forgot:






The UFO and Bermuda Triangle with Charles Berlitz  
. . .


Acknowledgements

Thanks and acknowledgements to those who provided support, materials, and background detail for this project.

Claude Falkstrom, my co-author, for his work in digging deeper and finding the stories behind the stories, particularly in the case of Lawrence Brill.

Martin Kottmeyer for reference materials from his own Hangar Minus One.

Isaac Koi, for his dedication to the preservation of UFO literature, which helped greatly in the research of this project.

Also, thanks to those who provided other details, materials and verification:
Lance Moody, Brad Sparks, Roger Glassel, Robert Sheaffer, and Rich Hoffman.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Capt. William Davidson & Lt. Frank Brown, 1st Casualties of Ufology

Captain William L. Davidson (L) and Lieutenant Frank M. Brown

Remembering Captain William Davidson and Lieutenant Frank Brown, and how the Maury Island hoax of 1947 marked the first casualties related to ufology.



The Galveston Daily News Aug. 3, 1947



Excerpts from The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects by Edward J. Ruppelt, 1956.
Ruppelt changed the names of Kenneth Arnold, Ray Palmer (publisher of Amazing Stories and Fate magazine, and also the "harbor patrolmen," Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman. 

For clarity, I've inserted the true names in parentheses.

For the Air Force the story started on July 31, 1947, when Lieutenant Frank Brown, an intelligence agent at Hamilton AFB, California, received a long-distance phone call. The caller was (Kenneth Arnold), who had met Brown when Brown investigated an earlier UFO sighting, and he had a hot lead on another UFO incident. He had just talked to two Tacoma Harbor patrolmen. One of them had seen six UFO's hover over his patrol boat and spew out chunks of odd metal. (Arnold) had some of the pieces of the metal.

The story sounded good to Lieutenant Brown, so he reported it to his chief. His chief OK'd a trip and within an hour Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson were flying to Tacoma in an Air Force B-25. When they arrived they met (Arnold) and an airline pilot friend of his in (Arnold's) hotel room. After the usual round of introductions (Arnold) told Brown and Davidson that he had received a letter from (Ray Palmer) a Chicago publisher asking him, (Arnold), to investigate this case. The publisher had paid him $200 and wanted an exclusive on the story, but things were getting too hot, (Arnold) wanted the military to take over.

(Arnold) went on to say that he had heard about the experience off Maury Island but that he wanted Brown and Davidson to hear it firsthand.

He had called the two harbor patrolmen and they were on their way to the hotel. They arrived and they told their story...
two men (Harold Dahl) and (Fred Crisman)... 

In June 1947, (Harold Dahl) said, his crew, his son, and the son's dog were on his patrol boat patrolling near Maury Island, an island in Puget Sound, about 3 miles from Tacoma. It was a gray day, with a solid cloud deck down at about 2,500 feet. Suddenly everyone on the boat noticed six "doughnut shaped" objects, just under the clouds, headed toward the boat. They came closer and closer, and when they were about 500 feet over the boat they stopped. One of the doughnut shaped objects seemed to be in trouble as the other five were hovering around it. They were close, and everybody got a good look. The UFO's were about 100 feet in diameter, with the "hole in the doughnut" being about 25 feet in diameter. They were a silver color and made absolutely no noise. Each object had large portholes around the edge.

As the five UFO's circled the sixth, (Dahl) recalled, one of them came in and appeared to make contact with the disabled craft. The two objects maintained contact for a few minutes, then began to separate. While this was going on, (Dahl) was taking photos. Just as they began to separate, there was a dull "thud" and the next second the UFO began to spew out sheets of very light metal from the hole in the center. As these were fluttering to the water, the UFO began to throw out a harder, rocklike material. Some of it landed on the beach of Maury Island. (Dahl) took his crew and headed toward the beach of Maury Island, but not before the boat was damaged, his son's arm had been injured, and the dog killed. As they reached the island they looked up and saw that the UFO's were leaving the area at high speed. The harbor patrolman went on to tell how he scooped up several chunks of the metal from the beach and boarded the patrol boat. He tried to use his radio to summon aid, but for some unusual reason the interference was so bad he couldn't even call the three miles to his headquarters in Tacoma. When they docked at Tacoma, (Dahl) got first aid for his son and then reported to his superior officer, Crisman, who, (Dahl) added to his story, didn't believe the tale. He didn't believe it until he went out to the island himself and saw the metal.

(Dahl's) trouble wasn't over. The next morning a mysterious visitor told (Dahl) to forget what he'd seen.

Later that same day the photos were developed. They showed the six objects, but the film was badly spotted and fogged, as if the film had been exposed to some kind of radiation.


Then (Arnold) told about his brush with mysterious callers. He said that (Dahl) was not alone as far as mysterious callers were concerned, the Tacoma newspapers had been getting calls from an anonymous tipster telling exactly what was going on in (Arnold's) hotel room. This was a very curious situation because no one except (Arnold), the airline pilot, and the two harbor patrolmen knew what was taking place. The room had even been thoroughly searched for hidden microphones.

That is the way the story stood a few hours after Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson arrived in Tacoma.

After asking (Dahl) and Crisman a few questions, the two intelligence agents left, reluctant even to take any of the fragments. As some writers who have since written about this incident have said, Brown and Davidson seemed to be anxious to leave and afraid to touch the fragments of the UFO, as if they knew something more about them. The two officers went to McChord AFB, near Tacoma, where their B-25 was parked, held a conference with the intelligence officer at McChord, and took off for their home base, Hamilton. When they left McChord they had a good idea as to the identity of the UFO's. Fortunately they told the McChord intelligence officer what they had determined from their interview.

In a few hours the two officers were dead. The B-25 crashed near Kelso, Washington. The crew chief and a passenger had parachuted to safety. The newspapers hinted that the airplane was sabotaged and that it was carrying highly classified material. Authorities at McChord AFB confirmed this latter point, the airplane was carrying classified material.

In a few days the newspaper publicity on the crash died down, and the Maury Island Mystery was never publicly solved.
Later reports say that the two harbor patrolmen mysteriously disappeared soon after the fatal crash.

They should have disappeared, into Puget Sound. The whole Maury Island Mystery was a hoax. The first, possibly the second-best, and the dirtiest hoax in the UFO history. One passage in the detailed official report of the Maury Island Mystery says:
Both ______ (the two harbor patrolmen) admitted that the rock fragments had nothing to do with flying saucers. The whole thing was a hoax. They had sent in the rock fragments [to a magazine publisher] as a joke. ______ One of the patrolmen wrote to ______ [the publisher] stating that the rock could have been part of a flying saucer. He had said the rock came from a flying saucer because that's what [the publisher] wanted him to say.

The  publisher (Ray Palmer), mentioned above, who, one of the two hoaxers said, wanted him to say that the rock fragments had come from a flying saucer, is the same one who paid (Arnold) $200 to investigate the case.

The report goes on to explain more details of the incident. Neither one of the two men could ever produce the photos. They "misplaced" them, they said. One of them, I forget which, was the mysterious informer who called the newspapers to report the conversations that were going on in the hotel room. (Dahl) mysterious visitor didn't exist. Neither of the men was a harbor patrolman, they merely owned a couple of beat-up old boats that they used to salvage floating lumber from Puget Sound. The airplane crash was one of those unfortunate things. An engine caught on fire, burned off, and just before the two pilots could get out, the wing and tail tore off, making it impossible for them to escape. The two dead officers from Hamilton AFB smelled a hoax, accounting for their short interview and hesitancy in bothering to take the "fragments." They confirmed their convictions when they talked to the intelligence officer at McChord. It had already been established, through an informer, that the fragments were what Brown and Davidson thought, slag. The classified material on the B-25 was a file of reports the two officers offered to take back to Hamilton and had nothing to do with the Maury Island Mystery, or better, the Maury Island Hoax.

(Arnold) and his airline pilot friend weren't told about the hoax for one reason. As soon as it was discovered that they had been "taken," thoroughly, and were not a party to the hoax, no one wanted to embarrass them.


The majority of the writers of saucer lore have played this sighting to the hilt, pointing out as their main premise the fact that the story must be true because the government never openly exposed or prosecuted either of the two hoaxers. This is a logical premise, but a false one. The reason for the thorough investigation of the Maury Island Hoax was that the government had thought seriously of prosecuting the men. At the last minute it was decided, after talking to the two men, that the hoax was a harmless joke that had mushroomed, and that the loss of two lives and a B-25 could not be directly blamed on the two men. The story wasn't even printed because at the time of the incident, even though in this case the press knew about it, the facts were classed as evidence. By the time the facts were released they were yesterday's news. And nothing is deader than yesterday's news.



(Twin Falls) Times-News Aug. 3, 1947


Oakland Tribune Aug. 6, 1947
For further reading, see the case files in Project Blue Book on the Maury Island UFO hoax.

For more coverage of historical UFO cases, see our companion blog, The Saucers That Time Forgot.

A special thanks to Claude Falkstrom for locating the 1947 newspaper clippings.